The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Crosswords have been a lazy hobby of mine from time to time.

But they do inspire questions in me.

Do you think that when Elie Wiesel was living through hell-on-earth in Auschwitz, and when Anwar Sadat courageously stood up for peace in the Middle East all those years ago, that either of them thought they'd end up having their names used essentially as dependable standby fillers for crossword puzzles?

Well, we'll all have to wait for Hitchens to start complaining about crosswords...
Smirk says his tax plan would be good for small businesses... giving most of the money to the top 1-2%, it'll help keep those small businesses exactly what they are: small!

(ba-dum ching!)


(you're in there somewhere, I love you!)

And -- no surprise here -- the assholes at Faux News are the first to, um, misunderestimate the crowd:
U.S. Capitol Police estimated 30,000 marched through the streets Saturday afternoon, part of a much larger crowd that packed the east end of the National Mall and spilled on to the Capitol grounds.
If it was just 30,000, then I'm the Cookie Monster. What's worse, they describe the crowd in SF as being "in the thousands". Riiight. Try somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000. Remember, San Francisco is like a foreign country to those Faux-holes.

More Faux annoyances? They back up their misunderestimation of the crowd with a very strategically unflattering photo of the crowd:

For more, check this out from Oliver Willis.

But hey, at least one respected president was present at the demonstrations:

UPDATE: Via Eschaton:
District police officials suggested then that about 100,000 attended, and although some organizers agreed, they have since put the number closer to 200,000. This time, they said, the turnout was 500,000. Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said he would not provide an estimate, but said it was bigger than October's. "It's one of the biggest ones we've had, certainly in recent times," he said.

Here's your vision of the future. Enjoy!

I'm sure our fedora'd closeted friend Mr Drudge has conflicts about being the bearer of bad news for his conservative community.

Bush is down to 53% according to a new Time/CNN poll. The same poll had him at 55% a few weeks ago.

Sure takes the luster out of Drudge's triumphalism on the 5-year anniversary of the breaking of the Lewinsky story. In a word, "MWA HA HA"

Today's protests --- better publicized than previous ones -- won't help the chimp.

Friday, January 17, 2003


The Simpsons has been greenlit for two more seasons, meaning it will run through at least 2005.
The "Simpsons" renewal through May 2005 means the show -- Sunday night's top-rated series among adults 18-49 -- will make it through a jaw-dropping 16th full season and roughly 360 episodes, allowing Homer and Co. to edge past "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet" to claim the mantle of longest-running laffer in TV history.

Nothing like a slow-burn descent into madness to get my laugh-track going.

Anyway, that being said, go check out Ted Barlow, a liberal blogger who had the courage to stand up defiantly and proclaim: "Screw this, I'm gonna make lightbulb jokes for a few days!"

Read the comments and check the links too when you're there. Some of it may be a slight shade esoteric for you passersby.

The best ones so far, in this man's opinion, are the "fisker" one and the "campaign dirty tricks" one (though I must say, something tells me I'm gonna vote for that Q fellow, hehehe)

UN Inspectors find empty shells, chickenhawks spontaneously ejaculate.

Well, maybe not all of them. But certainly Richard Perle.

Anyway, a number of U.S. allies, including Jacques Chirac of France, are urging patience in this matter, as well they should.

If nothing else, this provides room for more goofy Fleischerisms:
``Under the U.N. resolution, Saddam Hussein has an obligation to disarm. It has become increasingly clear that he is not doing so,'' Fleischer said.
Good lord! He has empty shells!!! Protect the women and children!

Some people may try to point to this as a nullification of tomorrow's protests, as well as for the recent tv ads produced by This is simply not the case. Empty casings still result in an empty case for war.

But you know, if you put your ear up to one of the shells, you can hear the oil.

Thursday, January 16, 2003


The usually readable Tim Noah goes after Faux News anchor Tony Snow (or "Brit-lite"), point-by-point, for his criticism of Bush tax plan as being -- get this -- "too redistributive".

(hold on, slowly getting up from the floor)

Ok. One of Noah's pithy takedowns:
Under the Bush plan, "the poor get the largest proportional tax breaks, the richest, the smallest." But the poor don't pay much income tax in the first place, so a small cut is going to look very impressive proportionally. Gentle reminder: The poor don't pay much income tax because they don't have much income.
And by the way, as Noah also mentions, why do conservatives never consider payroll taxes to be part of this issue? It seems that if you are required to wear a hairnet several hours a day, then Dubya doesn't consider your taxes worth cutting or easing. Certainly this is ironic, since if his last name were different, that could have been where Dubya would've ended up.

...actually I'm terrible at self-promotion. I think it's part of my genetic make-up.

Anyway, in his surprisingly skeptical reaction to the "bold" new Bush economic plan (see "rich" "affluent" and "giveaway"), Mickey Kaus -- in his way -- slightly begins to see the light:
Maybe I am a gullible Bush apologist
Yes, what's that he links to in there? His appearance in MWO's "Whore of the Year" dealie, featuring (prominently, hehe) a letter from Yours Truly. (:

Ok, that made me smile. I'll gladly shut up now.
White house says Social Security faces cuts or a retirement age increase whether or not Bush gets his privatization personal accounts.

Well, Dubya, maybe, maybe not, but one thing's for sure: Nothing, come hell or high deficits, is gonna come in the way of your affluent tax cut giveaway, right?

(i must be in a sour mood or sumtin')

Some blond-haired chap in a discussion section of mine -- "don't get me wrong, I support a war in Iraq" -- followed up that lovely statement by saying that America gets a majority of its oil from Venezuela.

Nice try, sir.

How would he explain 1973 then? You should stop listening to your dad all the time, sir.
Check out friday's Krugman, about the administration's suddenly all-too-convenient support for endless deficits. In a way, it's rather, uh, "sobering".

At last, the folks at MoveOn have made the transition from print all the way to television.

Go to their main site,, and on the left are links through which you can view their new TV ads, modeled after the infamous LBJ "daisy" spot from 1964.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003


Congratulations, Maureen Dowd, you're back on my good side.

The significant thing about her wednesday column is this: No matter how you repackage a Bush, it always ends up the same, he always ends up out of touch with everyday Americans.
Craig Patterson, a 45-year-old ironworker in St. Louis worried about dwindling construction jobs, summed it up for USA Today: "I trust Bush with my daughter, but I trust Clinton with my job."

Mr. Bush and Karl Rove may be disproving Santayana: They have dedicated themselves to learning from the history of the first President Bush, and yet they seem doomed to repeat it anyway.
Really, that quote could have come from 11 years ago. But it dates all the way back to... monday.

Boy it feels like ages since those midterms, huh?

Tuesday, January 14, 2003


The Onion returns after a few weeks off.

You get:

A very coherent piece on Bush's foreign policy,
An explanation for the ongoing downfall of McDonald's, and
An old-earth T-Rex in a young-earth museum!

Don't forget Savage Love while you're there.

Also, is this headline a shot at Dubya?:
Harvard-Educated Texan Not Sure Which Place To Mention First
Sure, Bush was a Texan who received an MBA at Harvard. But there's one problem: Has anyone noticed any evidence whatsoever that Bush was educated there in the slightest?

An alert TFM reader whose initials grace this site every day has brought to my attention that I have yet to opine on the impending presidential candidacy of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman (D-sorta). When I did my "huzzah!" story on the decision made by Tom Daschle not to run, my run-down of remaining potential candidates failed to include Holy Joe.

A glaring omission? I suppose. But perhaps it was a look into my subconscious.

My opinion of a Lieberman candidacy, in one word? Take it away, Commander:


First of all, on a superficial level, he's not telegenic, and his voice makes me want to stretch out on the couch and take a nap. He's "droopy", if that makes sense.

More importantly, the guy should be licking Fred Flinstone. Meaning, he's a DINO (democrat in name only). He's been sucking up to Bush on almost every occasion, on Iraq, taxes, prescription drugs, and many other issues as well. His constituency, of course, is Connecticut, home of Hartford, the "insurance capital of the world", and this must inform his politics just a wee bit. He's also a darling of Fox News, what should that tell us? In the 2000 vice presidential debate, he sometimes positioned himself to the right of Dick friggin Cheney on some social issues, particularly on gay rights, which annoyed me significantly.

On the religion thing: I'm not sure. Conservatives complained that he got a "free pass" from the media for his very public piousness (the sort of piousness conservative Christians think the media shits on). As a humanist agnostic, I must admit, I would nearly lose my lunch when Holy Joe would put his faith front and center. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with anyone of any faith becoming president (with exceptions of maybe snake-handlers and scientologists). However, I do have serious issues about fortifying the separation of church and state (Dubya's welfare speech today certainly doesn't help), and Liebermans Tipper/Lynne-esque moralizing on the likes of Eminem, etc, doesn't inspire much confidence in my inner Tom Paine. And of course, is there a chance that a Lieberman administration would be more or less totally beholden to the interests of AIPAC? I'm not sure.

Some Democrats, whose work I have read, are threatening that if Lieberman wins the nomination, they will hold their noses and vote Republican across the board. I am in solidarity with those people, though I don't think I'd go that far in action, hehe.

Anyway, No Joe No!

One thing is for sure, though: By 2016, there will be at least one good liberal candidate out there.

Did you purchase a CD between 1995 and 2000?

If so, go here.

Even after Steve Case leaves, as well as CNN chief Walter "Let's be nice to the Republicans and maybe they'll give us interviews!" Isaacson, the "Welcome" page just can't help itself.

Sure, there's a link to the AP story on how Dubya's approval rating has dropped to 58%, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. But on that "welcome" page, the bold headline is:
Loved, but Not as Much
Loved? LOVED??? How exactly does 58% translate to "loved"? That slightly more than half of the voting public has at least reasonable approval of the job he's doing, that amounts to "love"?

Riddle me this, AOL: On the day that the Republican congress impeached President Clinton, his approval rating was 73%. Going by AOL's logic, that means that at that moment, he was 15% more loved than Bush is now. But somehow I doubt AOL put it that way at the time.

This is about approval, not "love". So America has to love this guy now? And they call Krugman crazy for suggesting that the administration's trying to build a personality cult around the chimp.

Monday, January 13, 2003

The "If it were the other type of Hummer, imagine the outcry" edition

Yes, it's true that the line between collegiate and professional sports (particularly in basketball and football) has become significantly blurred in recent years. So many stories about NCAA athletes (or their relatives) receiving "gifts" from mysterious sources these days. At the end of the current NBA season, Sacramento Kings' near-superstar Chris Webber will be testifying in court in a trial about more "gifts" given to Webber and his fellow classmates at Michigan. No word as to whether Tyra Banks will be counted as one of those "gifts". (By the way, I am a devoted Kings fan these days, hehe, and would be sad to see the sometimes-fragile Webber be distracted by his impending testimony. But I digress. On to my point...)

...Which brings me to my point. According to ESPN, LeBron James, the high school senior, hyped like no amateur athlete before him, perhaps including Tiger, has been spotted driving around in a brand new Hummer lately.

Before I say anything else, may I say to LeBron: Shame on you! What does that thing get, like half a mile per gallon?
Innocenzi said he has not seen James' SUV, and he would not comment on whether he was concerned that James had jeopardized his amateur status.
"Has not seen?" How the hell does one miss a Hummer??? You can see those things from like three counties over! Right now, from my Santa Barbara apartment, I'm watching an H2 cruise north through the San Joaquin Valley on I-5. Seriously.

James claims the Panzer he's driving around in -- equipped with a couple TV's and video games -- was a gift from his mother, who took out a large loan to purchase that behemoth. To me, that seems believable. She's seen all the hype about her son, and knows he's going to be the overall #1 draft pick this summer, and they'll have millions of dollars to fuck around with as they please. That being said, any lending agency or bank on earth would be happy to give that woman a $50,000 loan right now.

No mysterious entities in the NBA are going to give the kid a car. You know what the process is that will determine what team James ends up on? A bunch of numbered balls bouncing around in a chamber. Just like a state lottery. You can't exchange winks and nudges with a chamber of balls.

Perhaps there is a university behind this, a theory slightly more plausible than with professionals. The guy isn't even thinking about college, so perhaps the only way to coax him back to that is to lure him with Hummers. Ok that sounds awful. Of course, such ideas are highly unethical and would lead to NCAA sanctions, but some star-crossed athletic director somewhere could be crazy enough to go through with it.

In the end, I shall issue a (likely unheeded) challenge to LeBron James: With high draft picks come high responsibility. You're gonna have more money than Jehovah soon. You had better help people. I don't want to see any Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan-style apathetic nihilism from you. Especially when Nike comes calling.

Basically, I can count the total population of truly socially-concious and worldly basketball players on one hand. Ervin "Magic" Johnson (who, ironically, may have hurt aids activism in some ways more than he has helped it, that's a discussion for another day), and Manute Bol.

Certainly, other sports aren't much better. Maybe baseball a little (Sammy Sosa's efforts in the Dominican Republic come to mind), and perhaps Tennis (Arthur Ashe). Worldliness in hockey, though, amounts to standing in line to date Anna Kournikova.

If my winter quarter finals aren't wrapped up by March 19th, I'll be upset.

No doubt, of course, that I'll be the guy near the front shouting my requests for Rage songs. ("Testify!!!", "Down Rodeo!", "Know Your Enemy! Chris could sing Maynard's part!") No doubt, I won't be listened to. I'll probably be treated like the guy who was kicked out of a Ryan Adams concert for shouting "Summer of '69!"

Why didnt this occur to me right off the top, when I read it?

Famed fashion photographer and occasional music video director Herb Ritts -- the man who tried, and nearly succeeded in making Michael Jackson "sexy" in his video for "In the Closet" -- passed away two weeks ago, and the mainstream media described the cause of death as "complications from pneumonia".

Incredible. It's 2003, and we're still using stigma-tinged euphamisms for AIDS!

In Botswana, as well as the province of Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa, places where AIDS infection rates are as high as the 30's and 40's (with nearly full infection in some townships), AIDS is not often listed as an official cause of death. At the insistence of those in the community, in its place are "tuberculosis" and other such diseases which may have contributed to their passing, but only because the HIV virus had completely done away with their immune system. Why such labeling? Same reason that Ritts died of "complications from pneumonia": Social stigma.

And like I've commented before, Bush ain't helping. Part of the secret of the doublethink of Republicans in power is, in a quasi-Orwelian fashion, to pretend some things don't exist, or don't matter. You know, stuff like racism, seniors' inability to get the prescription drugs they need to persist on this pleasant blue ball we call Earth, and perhaps -- good God! -- a link between guns and gun-related crime! What is this, Bizarro world?

If I drank, this would be where I'd say "I need a drink." Rather impressive of me, given that it's still ten in the morning here.

Love that Tom Tomorrow.

Congratulations to Bob "Woody" Woodward, you are 2002's Whore of the Year!

Why did he win? Well, mostly for this . . . and a little of this as well.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The way he's been on his knees for the Bush administration, one wonders if he himself was "deep throat"!

(p.s. despite my strong case (hehe), Mickey Kaus finished 7th)

Sunday, January 12, 2003


I'm in the middle of writing a political science paper, but this just pissed me off so much that I have to commence bitching now.

The target of said bitching? America Online.

I've had some problems lately with the, um, political bent shown by our friends at AOL. As have many others (MWO did some coverage on the fact that AOL stuck Dubya on their fromt page like 5 consecutive days).

Now they've crossed a line.

Their "Welcome!" page, the first thing you see when you sign on, has a picture and headline concerning the SUV-terrorism advertisements that a group put together. Below the pic, the headline reads:
Do You Fuel Terrorism?
Group claims SUV Drivers
Unpatriotic, Aid U.S. Enemies
(Don't worry about the link, I just did that to simulate how the headline looks)

When I first glimpsed this window on AOL, and saw that "unpatriotic" was positioned right below "group". Maybe I'm a little paranoid about the media sometimes, but I do think there are secrets of bent to be found in mere formatting from time to time. AOL, I've always thought, has had a bit of Drudge-ism in their headlines.

As for me, I dig the ad campaign, additionally because it was started by, among others, the lovely, talented and independent Arianna Huffington. AOL's online polls (probably freeped) see it differently, saying overwhelmingly that "all [the ads] have is shock value" and SUV's are "useful vehicles", by margins of around 70-30 each. Could be worse, CNN could treat such polls as if they were scientific. Hmm wait, CNN and AOL are the same company. Shit.

Ok back to work!