The Facts Machine

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

Friday, January 24, 2003

Go Elliot Spitzer!

Without him, and maybe Colin Powell at times, the world would have blown up by now.
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer of New York said yesterday that he would file a brief with the United States Supreme Court supporting the University of Michigan's policy of giving extra weight to an applicant's race in deciding who gets admitted to its undergraduate program and law school.


Mr. Spitzer made known his views amid a national debate prompted by papers filed with the Supreme Court last week by President Bush's lawyers contending that the University of Michigan's admissions programs were quota systems in disguise and violated the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection.
Hmm, in 2006 I could be living in a midtown, 2nd-floor apartment, and I'll be right near the front of the line to cast my vote for Spitzer. He'll do especially well after riding the coattails of President Kerry-or-Edwards-or-Dean.

Skip to the last paragraph in this somewhat puffy piece on Karl Rove.
Anxious about 2004

Rove makes clear that he's not taking Bush's reelection for granted. He says he believes the 2004 contest will be another close election, even if the economy revives and a potential conflict with Iraq gives Bush a bounce. "In the aftermath of war, sometimes public attitudes change, and people who successfully prosecuted wars are no longer in office," he says, adding pointedly: "I think that happened recently in our experience."
Hmm, so it'll be close even if the economy gets better, and if America falls in love with the Iraq war. Show of hands, how many think either of those two things are gonna happen?

Translation: Karl is scared. Given the way he quit his job at the DQ to become the President's chief political advisor, it's unlikely they'll let him man the shake machine again.

The amusing Neal Pollack somehow has come into possession of a copy of Dubya's big State of the Union address far in advance of his speech.
A lot of the speech is boring, as speeches tend to be, and some of it, like our declaration of war on Germany, is 100 percent super top secret.
Hehehe. Enjoy!
I will be in transit today, so don't expect more posts until possibly tonight, maybe saturday.

I went with my compadres to State Street this evening to go clubbing for housemate and TFM reader Ben White's 22nd birthday. A number of the songs I heard on the dance floor could be found on some dance mix cd's I helped make for a party this summer. A random thought, I know, but not that random.

Anyway, TFM out! Peace!
HERE'S A HINT: "(+)"

I really dislike this Michael Savage fellow. My first exposure to him was on a drive down to Santa Barbara from the bay area in September 02, rolling around the AM radio dial. He sounded like the worst of Rush and Pat Buchanan rolled into one. He screens his callers with a level of security rivaled by, oh, NORAD. And now, according to Drudge, he's about to have the number-one selling book in America.

By the way, the (+) sign, as a hint, suggest that my suspicion is that when the next New York Times bestseller list comes out, that symbol will be placed next to Savage's book on the list, meaning that bulk orders were made to artificially inflate the amount of copies sold. This is a common practice among fascist books in America.

Anyway, if you'd like to see what's so awful about this guy, the esteemed blogger/talkshow-caller Scoobie Davis has put together an informative breakdown of this Neanderthal. And while we're on the subject of Scoobie, check out this call that he made to Bill O'Reilly's radio show. No-spin, my ass.
President Bush’s popularity ratings — once among the highest of any president in the past 60 years — are eroding across the board, according to a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll. Bush is losing ground in several key areas, including foreign policy, the economy and his handling of the war on terrorism. And as the escalation of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf continues, the poll finds a growing number of Americans oppose military action to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power.


The data indicate that Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with important aspects of Bush’s performance in the Oval Office. The president’s overall approval rating slipped to 54 percent, down from December’s 62 percent and a dramatic decline from his January 2002 rating of 82 percent — the highest approval rating of any U.S. president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose approval rating reached 84 percent after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.


On the economy: 44 percent backed the president’s economic approach. That is a major drop since June, when 57 percent gave the president high marks, and an even steeper drop from an approval rating of 63 percent in January 2002.

On foreign policy, 51 percent supported Bush’s performance, a decline from December’s rating of 57 percent and a significant drop from an approval rating of 81 percent a year ago. (full story)
So in the space of a week, we get three different major polling organizations showing Bush to be in the low-mid 50's.

But I'm sure Bush took those previously high numbers and used them to garner goodwill around the world, steering our nation away from the shame of arrogance and warlike posturing, right? Right? Well, at least he used that national unity to spur on an effort to rid our nation of its addiction to foreign oil and seek out renewable energy sources. Wait. Fuck, that didn't happen either. Well, did he and Rove at least take some time to jerk off to those high ratings after 9/11? Even just that?

The big number is that 51% on foreign policy. It was the public's opinion of Bush on foreign policy -- the "war on terrah" -- that kept his JAR sky-high all that time. Now he is throwing tantrums about Iraq, going all the hell over the place on North Korea, pissing off pretty much all of Europe (except for Poodle Blair of course, though even he is beginning to ask some questions), and much more. But hey, at least he has his broad, strong economic and domestic policy vision to fall back on. Right? Oh, fuck again.

But at least they got that Confederacy wreath thing sorted out. Doesn't change anything. Whether or not people in the GOP are truly racist, the fact is they are the party of pandering and/or appealing to the interests of racists.

Anyway, see you at the Kerry-or-Edwards-or-Dean inaguration!

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Internet providers must agree to requests by the music industry to track down computer users who illegally download music, a federal judge ruled Tuesday in a case that could dramatically increase online pirates' risk of being caught.

The decision by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates upheld the recording industry's power under a 1998 law to compel Net providers to identify customers that illegally trade music or movies online.

Bates acknowledged that the case was an important test of subpoena powers Congress granted to copyright holders under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The judge said that controversial law, which was enacted to uphold copyrights online, permits music companies to force Net providers to turn over the name of a suspected pirate upon subpoena from any U.S. District Court clerk's office, without a judge's order.

Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, said, "The illegal distribution of music on the Internet is a serious issue for musicians, songwriters and other copyright owners, and the record companies have made great strides in addressing this problem by educating consumers and providing them with legitimate alternatives."

During a contentious hearing in October, the judge lamented ambiguities in the copyright act, saying Congress "could have made this statute clearer." At the time, the music industry indicated that a ruling in its favor could result in reams of warnings to scare Internet pirates into taking their collections offline. (full story)
Well if they're going to go after this, they had better keep the pressure on the music industry for its pricefixing of CD's. Remember, they've been ripping us for much longer and more severely than we've ever ripped them off.

I download music. Please, come and get me. Accept it as the new reality, the new commodity. Anyway, I was supposed to be downtown right now. And my housemates are having a very pretentious conversation about Michael Moore. Better go join them.

Huzzah! I come forth with great news. One of my favorite rockstars of the past halfdozen years is engaged to a lovely singer-songwriter and former soap star.


Silverchair's Daniel Johns, and singer Natalie Imbruglia, announced their engagement yesterday!

I don't know why, but I'm incredibly psyched about this news. Daniel Johns was a acne-covered, longhaired 15yearold with a garage band, and at the same time she was a monstrous soap star in Australia. So she's a bit older than he is. Also, she used to go out with Lenny Kravitz, but that was in his post-Bonet damaged-goods period.

Daniel has been ill for several months with an awful case of hereditary arthritis, so sever that he cannot play the guitar he loves so much. I feel for ya buddy. Anyway, he's doing a bit better, and the boys will finally tour to support their smashing album Diorama (#8 in my best of 2002 feature, hehe), and I certainly hope to check that out.

Anyway, congrats to you, Daniel and Natalie!

If you go to my archaic GeoCities website, and then go to Faves, you can check out my wrap-up of 2002 in music, including my selections for the top 10 albums (and top 5 songs) of the year.

Please check it out! Stay a while! It's all rated G, I think.
Hmm, Pearl Jam at Shoreline on Sunday, June 1st. Tempting.

But I'm going to be very busy that week. It shall go in the "maybe" slot.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

compelling social commentary, or something like that

This is probably my last entry before I dive deep into the Crusades for the evening.

Biking to the Music Library today, underwear crossed my mind. How did this happen? Well, as I biked alongside the San Rafael towers, rather leisurely, I was passed on the left by some girl, who I suppose was in a mad crazy hurry. At the time I was gazing at the ongoing construction work they're doing at San Raf (gee, maybe Cheney has something to do with it, hehe). When my eyes returned to the bike path in front of me, I was greeted by the unavoidable visual presence (due to low-cut pants, and a shirt riding up towards her backpack I suppose) of something that, well, would make Sisqo proud. I had no choice in this matter; I was helplessly confronted with butt-floss.

This wasn't the first time I noticed this phenomenon while biking to and from campus. Yet I never saw this during my first go-around at SB, in 1999 and 2000. My theory is: 1) For some reason, really low-cut pants are all the rage these days for trendy females. 2) Thongs, and "exciting underwear" (as they put it in the Monty Python movie) are certainly in demand for many female students at SB for whatever reason, and 3) The relative positions of human beings riding bicycles (i.e. hunched forward) makes this phenomenon unavoidably observable.

I am a fellow with a reasonably-well-developed feminine side, but I am indeed not a female. I do understand, to some extent, that one benefit of regularly wearing thong underwear is that it eliminates any lines through one's pants that are observable when one wears normal underwear. Perhaps to some females, such is unbearably embarassing. The problem is, could such biking-phenomena outweight said concerns on their part? On the other hand, if I had some time to ditch my studies and pursue some independent anthro research project, perhaps there is some overlap between exhibitionist types and propensity to wear crack-liners.

Needless to say, I am not a thong man. As a very-occasionally superficial male, I don't have an underwear preference. But if I may say so, there is a third way, hehe, an outside-the-box (figuratively, people) solution.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that this was the silliest, most non-sensical entry in the history of TFM. Slow news day, I suppose. Back to work!

(sorry, that was the worst smashing pumpkins reference of all time)

I have a love-hate relationship with the L.A. Times. It comes out strongest when pieces like this, by LAT staff writer Robin Wright, make the front page.

Content-wise, there's nothing wrong with it: It details how Bush basically threw an impatient tantrum yesterday in front of reporters in Washington, whining about France Germany and Russia, complaining -- without producing any evidence, of course -- about how Saddam isn't disarming. (cough cough proof would be nice, cough cough). Anyway, as we all know, Dubya is losing patience not because Saddam is "running out of time" as he claims, but because Bush himself is seeing the clock run out on his war. Support for it is waning, both here (finally!) and abroad, and France has vowed to block a UN resolution for war given current circumstances. The man is looking at a serious case of blueballs here.

Anyway, my problem is with the Times, and perhaps Ms. Wright (who I'm pretty sure isn't THAT Robin Wright, hehe). A paragraph in her piece jumped out at me:
"It is very much like what happened prior to our getting a resolution out of the United Nations. Many of the punditry were quick to say no one is going to follow the United States. And we got a unanimous resolution out of the United Nations," he said.
Why does that 2nd sentence sound so familiar? Then I remembered reading this yesterday:
"Many of the punditry—of course, not you (laughter)—but other punditry were quick to say, no one is going to follow the United States of America."—Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2003.
Yes, it was a Bushism! And the LA Times is back in the business of cleaning up Dubya's verbal messes again! I suppose the boy king puts many news editors in a tough position with his odd verbal tangents and contortions, so perhaps we should go easy on Ms. Wright. Then again, it's our president, it's what he said, report it that way! (by the way, I'm curious, how many television pundits said that? give me some names)

In the interest of piling on, though, here's another Bushism:
"When Iraq is liberated, you will be treated, tried, and persecuted as a war criminal."—Washington, D.C., Jan. 22, 2003.
Another helping of pretzels, stat!

I have a paper to write, but before I do, I thought of one more thing that I didn't remember to say in yesterday's entry on the right wing's assaults on A.N.S.W.E.R. And it is this: What does this line of criticism on their part reveal? Maybe, just maybe, that they have nothing worth saying to defend their bullshit war! Their case is empty! As empty as those few warheads they found in Iraq!

...Wait, we knew that already. But it's nice to see evidence of this again. And by the way, the "appeasement" argument Dubya made months ago looks rather silly right now, hehe.

Mr. Fedora is at it again. Last week he attempted to smear 2004 Democratic Presidential hopeful John Kerry with a comment he made about the campaign fundraising process taken way out of context. It appears that Kerry got the last laugh in his most recent visit to Dubuque.

Anyway, unable to slime Kerry, Drudge moves on to another target: John Edwards. Apparently we're supposed to have a problem with Edwards chewing gum.
"I couldn't believe John Edwards is running for President chewing gum on the stage on CSPAN!" one top TV producer e-mailed the DRUDGE REPORT.
Now wait just a minute. Isn't the guy currently occupying the Oval Office the same guy who nearly choked to death on a fucking pretzel!?!?!?

Please, Matt, get a life. Go send some more roses to David Brock or something, or do whatever, just stop spreading nonsensical smear-shit, thanks!

Tuesday, January 21, 2003


The usual suspects on the right have been looking for ways to hack at the monstrous protest rallies that took place in DC, SF and elsewhere on the 18th. First they tried to spread underestimations of the crowd size, but that wasn't going to work the 2nd time around. Well, now what are they doing? They're going after A.N.S.W.E.R., the organization that set up the big rallies.

The most egregious abuser of such tactics, or at least the most consistent one, is our dear friend Sully. That's ok, I expect such tactics from idiotic scum like him. But Eric Alterman?

I'll get back to Alterman in a second, let me take care of Sullivan first:
A few readers have complained that by fixating on the extremes, I'm misrepresenting the marches. The trouble is: the extremes organized the march. Can you imagine if a massive gay rights rally has been organized by NAMBLA, the pedophile group? But NAMBLA is to gay rights what ANSWER is to legitimate anti-war sentiment. And no-one in the liberal establishment seems to care.
A ridiculous comparison. No matter what one thinks of the political views of some members of ANSWER, it's not friggin illegal to have such opinions. It is, however, illegal to fuck little boys. So we can go ahead and toss that comparison out as sensationalist nonsense. Getting that out of the way, Andy's beef is that "extremes organized the march". Well, yes, they did, I'll grant you that. But it's no accident that "extremists" just might be the ones who are most motivated to get large demonstrations together! And that doesn't matter! Why? Ask yourself these questions: Regardless of whatever esoteric stuff any one speaker might have said on saturday, do you think that ANSWER really had any of their peripheral goals in the forefront of their mind for saturday? And were their fringe causes bolstered by saturday in the minds of Americans reading the paper, watching TV, or even at the events? I'm gonna say probably not on all counts. Saturday was about two things: 1) Iraq, and 2) HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE gathered together to oppose an unwarranted, unnecessary war.

This is, of course, nothing new for the likes of Sully and other conservative bloggers and pundits. They take people like Chomsky, Gore Vidal, etc (ok i like them, but what are you gonna do, hehe), and say the represent the entire left-of-center population of the world. That's why we see Sully say
This is the face of the anti-war left.
We're on to you, shmuck.

Regarding Alterman, if you're keeping the center of the discussion on ANSWER's fringe issues, you're playing their game. Let's keep our eye on the ball.

Then again, it's frustrating to turn on MSNBC on saturday, and their poll question of the day is "Are the protesters unpatriotic?"

There's a chance that blogging will be pretty light between now and monday. I may or may not be swamped in school work between now and wednesday night. I will be out of Santa Barbara from thursday afternoon through monday morning. I'll be up in the bay area, but without my computer, though I may find ways to blog yet.

Monday, January 20, 2003


...because it inspired me to ask a question that has yet to be asked this week: Where does Trent Lott stand on the University of Michigan?

Digby has Bill Clinton's MLK-day speech up.

I have been amused -- annoyed too, but amused -- by Dubya's recent crusade (and I know he likes that word) against the admissions policy at the University of Michigan, which does, indeed, take race into account. If Bush wants to look for examples of affirmative action (as well as people who dissent from his opinion), he need look to further than his own administration. Both Colin Powell and Condi Rice have been on TV the last couple days, saying that race should be considered as a factor in college admissions. This after the adminstration tried to parade Rice around as in full agreement with Bush.

Anyway, over the past week I've heard a figure presented by a number of pundits, conservatives, opponents of affirmative action, and people in the administration itself. In a nutshell, they talk about the UM admissions criteria system, which awards points for various attributes an applicant might have. The stat that these folks bleat about (Bush included) is that while UM gives 20 points for race/socio-economic disadvantage, it only awards 12 points for a perfect score on the SAT1.

Hmm, the way they make it sounds, seems like UM cares more about racial/socio-economic background than a stupid fill-in-bubble test, right? Here's where the spin comes in: A number of conservative pundits have spun this stat to say that UM admissions policy values race above academic achievement as a whole.

Ok, calling all high-school students and recent high-school students: Do you consider your SAT scores to be representative of your entire prepatory academic career?

I assume you said (take it away, Worf) "NO!" It's funny I should ask that, because neither does UM! For more, check out the Daily Howler, both today's and friday's (near the bottom).

I could go into wondering just how in the sam hell Dubya got into Yale (and the Texas Air National Guard, for that matter), but I'm sure you've done that in your head already, so I wont waste pixels here. Good day to you!

Courtesy the Microsoft Terraserver:

(ridge house, berkeley)


Sunday, January 19, 2003


Ahh, the philosophy of too many males in America and around the world, summed up. Well, perhaps not too many, the more of them, the more special I am! (:

Anyway, via the insistent promotion of Marissa Mika*, enjoy bangbangbang!.

* - I have received a number of hits from people who have Google'd her name

Last I heard, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's poll numbers are in the crapper.

How does he find a way to reconnect the millions of New Yorkers who don't think much of him right now?

According to Drudge (headline only, no link yet):
Yeah, that's the ticket! Bloomy goes after something everybody hates, like . . . The . . . Rolling . . . Stones.


In a doubly ironic retort, (given his personal history), perhaps he's smoking something!


I had "decent grades" too!


Alert reader J.A. tells TFM that the number of protesters in San Francisco on saturday was "definitely in the 100s of thousands", adding that he had never seen so many people in one place before. Similar sentiments were made to TFM by another alert reader and protester whose initials grace this site daily.

Due to my unfortunate geographical location (nice weather, but hey) I was unable to be in SF for the protest. However, I did watch a significant portion of the DC protest live on CSPAN (they and the major networks did a good job trying to make up for their hideous under-coverage and underestimation of the previous major round of protests, in October). One thing I noticed (a phenomenon certainly present in the SF protest as well) was that there were certain speakers with their own political agendas that were, shall we say, unique from that of averting military action in Iraq. I had a dual reaction to such occurrences. Part of me was annoyed and said things like "OK OK, yes I know that globalization has had, at best, mixed consequences in a lot of parts of the world, but let's keep our eye on the ball here"...

...But then again, another part of me realizes that hey, all people are different and come from different backgrounds, and therefore are going to have large places in their hearts and minds for potentially esoteric, even tangent-ish issues in the scope of an Iraq protest. However, the biggest point of Saturday wasn't necessarily every word that every speaker had to say. I say, look at the sheer numbers of people who were there. Easily a hundred thousand people in DC. More than a hundred thousand people in SF. Thousands in many places across the country. Thousands more in many places around the world -- Japan, France, Germany, South Korea, Russia, ane more. Sure, people are talking about various issues, but they're all in one place, gathered together.

Maybe Bush/Cheney/Rove/Rummy and co. can ignore us. After all, the vast majority of us didn't vote for the Chimp in 2000, and there's no chance in hell we're gonna in 2004. But the American people, turning on their TV's, reading their papers, they can't ignore us. This is about soccer mom's in many ways just as much as it's about Dubya's "Inigo Montoya" instinct.

(and by the way, shame on assholes who prayed for Kent State to reappear. if you love america, then why do you hate americans so much? of course, i don't mind, since you didn't get your wish.)