The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Take Back The Media has a new flash video on the double standards of censorship shown to us by our good buddy, and champion of the working class*, Bill O'Reilly.

*- makes $20million a year

Poor, poor Rummy (registration req'd)
The American defence chief Donald Rumsfeld has been disowned by his anti-war relatives in north Germany, reports Tony Paterson

The Rumsfelds of Weyhe-Sudweyhe, an unremarkable red-brick suburb of Bremen, were once proud of their long-lost cousin, America's secretary of state for defence - but no longer.

Like many Germans, they are appalled by Donald Rumsfeld's hawkish attitude to military action against Saddam Hussein. About 18,000 anti-war demonstrators marched through Munich yesterday to protest at his presence at an international security conference - chanting slogans such as "No room for Rumsfeld!"

"We think it is dreadful that Donald Rumsfeld is out there pushing for a war against Iraq," Karin Cecere (nee Rumsfeld), 59, said from her two-up, two-down home last week. "We are embarrassed to be related to him," she told The Telegraph.

Margarete Rumsfeld, her 85-year-old mother, was equally dismissive: "We don't have much to do with him anymore. Nowadays he's just the American defence secretary to us, but for God's sake, he'd better not start a war," she added.
Read the whole thing, it's a treat.

I hope Rummy doesn't take it too hard. If he's really feeling that bad about it, I know someone who'll let him hang at his place for a while, someone with whom he's been on good terms:


Dave Matthews speaks out on Iraq:
I hope this letter finds you all well and that in these uncertain times you find moments to be joyful.

I want to speak my mind about this war with Iraq, or I will choke on my conscience.

What is the motivation? Regime change? Shouldn't that be up to the people of the region and the people of Iraq? The only real threat from Saddam Hussein is to his neighbors and none of them support a U.S. invasion. Is it to stabilize the Middle-East? Wouldn't it only do the opposite by causing further death and suffering in a country that has had more than its share?

Is it to weaken Al Qaeda? Saddam Hussein is a genocidal maniac but he is not Al Qaeda. He is certainly more visible though. Is he our target because he is easier to identify than the illusive terrorist network? Surely it is more likely that an attack on Iraq would only strengthen Al Qaeda by feeding Anti-American sentiment. Putting out the fire with gasoline, so to speak. It is certainly not to liberate the people of Iraq who suffer under Hussein's rule, unless we call killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis liberation.

Saddam Hussein is a barbaric murderous dictator. I wish the world were free of him. But the answer is not to bomb this great culture of Iraq out of existence to stop him. Why must the children of Iraq die by the thousands to stop a tyrant? It is not justice. And if we kill him what will we achieve? We will have taken the most unpopular leader in the Middle East and turned him into the greatest martyr radical Islam has ever had. The U.N. weapons inspectors must be allowed to do their job thoroughly and any military action should be internationally agreed upon. We must not allow our government to turn us into a rogue nation.

I fear that our true motivation is about oil and our own flailing economy; about the failure to destroy Al Qaeda and about revenge. It is criminal to put our servicemen and women in harm's way and to put the lives of so many civilians on the line for the misguided frustrations of the Bush administration.

Bottom line: this war is wrong and this war is un-American.

Peacefully submitted,
Dave Matthews
Here here.

Scanning the blogosphere, I'm noticing a slight trend, that being the high-profile collegiate lefty bloggers are sticking somewhat-cute pics of themselves on their pages. First Matthew Yglesias, then Jesse from Pandagon.

Well, I know what I have to do!

I'm in the dead-center, in the back with the beard. This picture is from early October of 2000. The person to my right, your left, is Atticus Batacan, whom you might recognize (if you're from the Bay Area) from some tv ads for Heald Business College (pretending to be someone named Nelson).

And hey, as long as I'm looking at my old musical theatre pics, I can go even cuter than that! From a 1992 production of Oklahoma!:

That's me on the left.

And to close the picture show, here's my brother, backstage at Fiddler on the Roof in 1990:


How in the heck did I miss this???

On December 18th 2001 -- the day before my 21st birthday -- I made it into Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback, the best and most literate sports column since the big bang (complete with haikus, complaints about inaccuracies in Star Trek, and discussions about space travel and missile defense). This was back when Easterbrook did TMQ for Slate, before he jumped ship to

I emailed TMQ to complain about a play during the 49ers loss at St Louis earlier in the month. I appear near the bottom, in the "Reader Animadversion" section:
Brendan Getzell pointed out that Kurt Warner's walk-away-from-the-line fake on fourth down against the Niners, however clever-looking, should have drawn a flag because as part of the act, the space alien unbuckled his chin strap. They may allow that on your homeworld, but not here, buddy! NFL rules require that chin straps be buckled at the snap; an unbuckled strap is illegal procedure. Getzell further notes that the Niners defenders who turned away from the line just as the trick play began are thus not to blame—seeing Warner unbuckle, they assumed zebras would wave the play dead.
Hehehe, you tell 'em, me!

So let's see, completely by myself, my worthless opinions have been featured at/on/in: Gregg Easterbrook's TMQ, Rollingstone, CNN, MediaWhoresOnline (the whore of the year page!), the SF Chronicle, the SF Examiner (the old one), the Nueva Notes (hehehe!), the Patriot (sorry to disrupt the circlejerk, boys!), and of course, TFM.

What the heck is this, why's my name over there, and what's my first album doing there? (its other title was "Pain and Armor") This didn't show up the last eight billion times I Google'd myself!
Lots of stuff up at my California Patriot Watch blog, on SUV's, racism, the State of the Union, and Barbara Lee.

Jim Henley at The Poor Man tells us of some rather damning evidence we have on Iraq. hehehe.

Friday, February 07, 2003

I always wondered how I would look on a telescreen. Guess we'll find out. Bust out those Orwell quotes while you still can.

Hey, consumers! Valentine's Day (or "let's make love a corporate thing day") is just around the corner, and as long as we're gonna be slaves to the capitalist concept of the holiday, TFM has a suggestion.

If you love her, get her What Liberal Media?

A lot of it isn't really news to me (like the Huffington speech last weekend), in terms of things like incresingly narrow corporate control of the media (creating countless conflicts of interests), the black-and-white views of conservatives playing on tv, and the other forms of press whoredom, but it's still an important read to really get a clear perspective on the myth of the so-called "liberal media". But it's a good read nevertheless! Anyway, enough about it, go read it.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post reports that Bush's AIDS and hydrogen car rhetoric is not matched by his budget. Really, is anyone surprised?

I have yet to say anything about Colin Powell's presentation to the UN.

According to 90% of editorial cartoonists in America, he showed us a smoking gun, or made the indisputable case for military action.

Am I the only one who noticed that essentially not a shred of new information came from his presentation?

So what's going on then?

Simple: People trust Colin Powell. With Bush's approval ratings dropping, and an actual credibility gap starting to form (finally!), the administration realized something, that being if Bush and Powell each make the same empty case for war, the public is much more likely to be persuaded by Powell than by Dubya. But that doesn't change the facts, which are that he didn't say anything new at the UN. Just the usual . . . guy got medical treatment . . . there's a possible terror camp in a part of Iraq not under Saddam's control, but under that of the Kurds, who are supposed to be our friends . . . they have "mobile chemical weapon factories" of some sort, which are probably just ice cream trucks . . . and let's not forget the empty missile casings.

These are all reasons you'll see me in the streets of San Francisco a week from tomorrow.

On a larger note, this is all part of the usual Bush MO. They take issues and policies, and change the way the are presented until they find a way that idiotic middle America bites on. This is why "privatization" became "personal accounts". This is why, in their desire to repeal the estate tax (a very noble cause, remind me why they needed a tax cut before everyone else?), they called it the "death tax". And that's why affirmative action becomes a "quota system", even though that's not even what Michigan's policy is at all. In the case of Iraq, the question to them is the mouthpiece. They can't do anything to bolster their case for war, but what they can do is take what they have and filter it through someone with half a shred of credibility, and somehow they got Powell doing it. Maybe they promised him the vice presidency. Who knows.

(BTW as long as I'm ranting, a thought about the inspections and patterns among the Bushies: Why aren't they sharing useful intelligence with the UN inspectors? Because doing so wouldn't lend anything to the administration's goal, which is to undermine the inspections. This is what Republicans do, they pretend to be for something and then secretly undermine it. We all like the idea of enforcing laws, but in the mid and late 90's the Gingrich congress worked to gut the IRS so they couldn't audit as many Halliburton's and Tyco's. In the last couple years, while claiming to be champions of corporate reform, the Bushies have been trying to financially starve the SEC, as a wink-nudge for the crooked CEO's of America. And the pattern persists with the inspectors. Bush wants his war, for oil/approval ratings/whatever, and helping out the inspectors stands in the way of that.)

UPDATE: Even weapons inspector Hans Blix denies the existence of the mobile weapon factories. (link via a commenter at Kos)

Humor columnist, author and mostly-centrist Dave Barry has his own weblog. Sounds like endless fun to me. I read a number of his books when i was 13-15, lots of laughter was to be had. I read his recent political humor work Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway, and thought to myself "gee, is this fellow bending bass-ackwards to please conservatives or what!?!?". In this regard, Barry strikes me these days as Drew Carey Lite, which is too bad.

Anyway, I like his blog, but I like Wil Wheaton's better.

Yeah, I know, but I just get the feeling that when the aliens show up and want us to take them to our leader, I hope that by that time, the people of Earth will be done with stuff like this.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Feb. 5 — Some of the activists who gathered here in the Ethiopian capital today to combat the traditional practice of genital cutting had had the procedure performed on them when they were girls. Others, before learning of the serious health risks, had allowed their daughters to undergo the painful rite, which is steeped in tradition and myth.

But whether they knew the practice personally or not, the women from across Africa who attended an international conference on genital cutting said that far more had to be done to end what they consider female genital mutilation.

To lend urgency to the campaign, the first ladies of Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Mali and Guinea all condemned the cutting of young girls, which is practiced in 28 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Chantal Campaoré, married to Burkina Faso's president, called female genital cutting "the most widespread and deadly of all violence victimizing women and girls in Africa."
I am, and shall ever be, pro-vulva. Hell, I drive a Vulva! Oh, wait, that's Volvo. It's a safe car!

Anyway, where was I? I wonder why we never hear about this stuff from American Jesus conservatives. Gee, maybe because with a clitoris comes pleasure, and as we all know, Christian conservatives are anti-pleasure?* So what if girls have to go through excruciating, traumatic pain, and certainly risk complications, infections and death? We have an agenda to satisfy!

Just in general, if I'm reading something, and it causes my legs to cross uncomfortably, then something needs to change.

*- if you think this argument is a strawman, please f--- off, thanks!

Earlier tonight on C-SPAN, I caught a few minutes of Tony "Maggie-Moo" Blair getting absolutely grilled on Iraq and Bush in an interview conducted by a hard-nosed BBC journalist named Jeremy Paxman.

The transcript is a good read. But most importantly, with every question asked of Blair, ponder to yourself a scenario where Dubya had to field likewise questions from journalists, and come up with real, unscripted responses. What a concept.

(link from atrios)
Over at Sludge, we see this...
Place your bets, everybody. All who think this is gonna be another steaming pile of BS, like the "Kerry hates going to Iowa" thing, lay your money down. Or pop in a piece of bubblegum if that's your thing.

Things have been busy here at TFM Central, due to the advent of midterm season, please excuse the temporary downshift in output.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Here's a good graphical representation that shows us what's wrong with the media today.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003


Happy February 5th, from all of us at TFM! (:

Look everybody, a Democratic spine sighting!:
WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers will attempt to filibuster the nomination of Miguel Estrada for Washington's U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before a vote on his confirmation, expected as early as Wednesday, sources close to the Democrats' game plan told Fox News.

Sources said Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- including Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking member, and Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, John Edwards of North Carolina, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Dianne Feinstein of California and Charles Schumer of New York -- met with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and his whip, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, last week to come up with the Democratic strategy for the upcoming floor battle.


Democrats say that even if they don't get the votes, they will attempt to filibuster anyway, on the theory that an uncontested loss "would be worse than no contest," the sources said.
Boy, are they sure making Gephardt look dumb or what! I hope that this sets the tone for the Democrats in congress for the rest of the session. Go after these guys. We saw what happened when you tried to cozy up to Bush leading up to the midterm elections. Now learn from that example. Go get 'em!

U.S. counterterrorism officials say attacking Iraq could be pretense for a terrorist attack on our soil or our interests. Hence, our color-coded warning alert service scare-people dealie went from yellow ("elevated", sounds very sexy indeed) to orange ("high", also known as "what the bushies must be if they think attacking Iraq will bring about world peace").

Hold the phone! What was all that in the State of the Union speech about Bush saying that Al Qaeda was no longer a significant threat to our security? Shouldn't the color system have gone down? Make up your mind!
Blogging may be light today, though you never know.

In the meantime, enter to win an autographed photo of the Star Trek TNG cast!

Tuesday, February 04, 2003


Only out of sheer masochism did I turn on "The O'Reilly Factor" for a few minutes today.

About ten minutes in, he had on a fellow named Evan Kohlmann, and they talked about -- set your phasers to yawn -- a low, low-level member of Al Qaeda who may or may not have received medical treatment as he was passing through Iraq. If it is true, opines the spinmeister, then that would be a "smoking gun" for Colin Powell and the administration.


This is grounds for war? What's more, THIS is grounds to show a significant connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda? That a guy got medical treatment!?!? I don't buy it. Bush tried to make the very same argument three months ago, at that big Iraq speech in Ohio, didn't work. It won't work now. Nice try, guys, but you can file this one next to the Prague meeting, which exists nowhere but within Bill Safire's mind.

(obvious postscript: If Iraq's guilt-by-association with Al Qaeda is that a low-level guy went to a hospital there, then what does that say about Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?)
Weezer mourns Columbia's pilot, who was a big fan, and took a copy of the Blue Album into space with him.

She made a point about Bush's SOTU address that, once again, I should have realized, and it is this:

You know those 1.2 billion dollars he's gonna put into developing hydrogen cars? Sounds pretty groovy at first glance, huh? Well here's the thing. We've been developing hybrid cars for a while now. We have the resources to give hybrids a real fighting chance of playing a large role in the auto market. So suddenly Dubya wants to put over a billion bucks into developing a completely different kind of car? What's the logic behind that?

Here's the logic: By shifting the focus from hybrids to hydrogen cars, Bush is delaying actual change for the automobile industry. Committing to hybrids right now would be a significant change for automakers, and they, just like most other industries, fear fundamental changes like the plague, for cost reasons among others. With hydrogen cars, there is no immediate change; there is billions of dollars for research that will take years, but no actual change or pressure on the automobile industry.

The end result? The auto industry is happy because they get to string out real change, possibly for another decade, in the name of "research". Bush is happy because the $1.2billion to hydrogen car research somehow turns him into Julia Butterfly Hill. The lungs of America are just as unhappy as they were before, as significant drops in emissions, which could take place very soon, are again delayed for years. And in the meantime we're still funding terrorism. Oh and we're still giving Kyoto the finger. I really hate Bush, you know that?

Monday, February 03, 2003


If this is real, then that's pretty friggin morbid. We submit our AP stories ahead of time at some level of peril.

(from Unknown news . . . I found it after looking at the pictures of the teeny tiny pro-Iraq-war rally from 1/18 that Barney Gumble linked to)
Would this be the "wall of blood" technique?
ALHAMBRA, Calif. - Phil Spector, the legendary record producer whose "Wall of Sound" helped change the sound of pop music in the 1960s, was arrested Monday for allegedly shooting a woman to death at his suburban mansion. (full story)
And most of us look around and say "wait a minute, I thought he was dead, and had been for a while!"

As you may have heard recently (and I blogged about, not to toot TFM's own horn, hehe), the surviving Beatles have signed off on a project to release a clean, de-Spectorfied version of Let It Be in the coming months, right on the heels of the discovery of some previously lost tapes of the Beatles' Get Back work. Was this the straw that broke the Spector's back?

Or perhaps hearing what Tom Cruise and Tony Edwards did to "You've Lost That Lovin Feeling" would have been his breaking point. Perhaps it would have been mine, hehe.

Anyway, oh boy, another show trial, another potential distraction from how we're getting robbed raped and pillaged by corporate America and the Bush regime, as well as from the empty case for war in Iraq, not to mention our "recovering" economy.

Robert Blake is gonna be pissed.
Thanks for the explanafication, I needed someone to clear that up.

William Jefferson Clinton shall give a speech on global warming and the environment at a Rolling Stones concert in Los Angeles.

It's a free concert, so there's no way the Drudges of the world can try to push some false-populist bullshit like they did with Gore and Springsteen.

And by the way, Bill Clinton likes the Stones, while Mike Bloomberg hates the Stones. Whose side are you on?


From Ruminate This, via TBOGG, we find out that Guernica, the famous Picasso painting depicting the bombing of a Spanish village by the fascists there, and a reproduction of which has been on display at the UN, has been covered up at the United States' request. Gee, I wonder why.

This is the sort of thing that just might piss TFM off. And it does.

For a well-informed perspective on Columbia (and the shuttle program in general), read this Gregg Easterbrook piece from Time.

And for a well-informed local perspective, here's Josh Braun (TFM's housemate) of the UCSB Daily Nexus.

Ok Tom Friedman, you know I think you're an incredibly smart and well-travelled man, I love your books, and you have improved my life in many ways.

That being said, after reading this (especially after several weeks of nonsense from you), you give me no choice.

You, Thomas L Friedman, are officially on probation on my link list. You can come back when you've learned your lesson, for example when you're done oversimplifying European public opinion and acknowledge that American public opinion can be just as confused and nonsensical as theirs can be. Or when you realize that it's just as important, or perhaps more important, to say "The Bush Administration has been disingenuous in making their case for war" than it is to say "Europeans have been disingenuous in expressing their opposition to the way".

This member of the electronic herd has had enough! (:
Ooh, new Mark Fiore animation, on the SOtU address (both this year's . . . and last year's . . . remember that one? smirk said a lot more than 'axis of evil')

Sunday, February 02, 2003

I saw Arianna Huffington speak today, in Campbell Hall on the UCSB campus.

It was very, very refreshing to hear her speak without her being cut off by either Matthews, Maher or Donahue.

I was underwhelmed by the relatively small number of UCSB students in attendance, maybe a few dozen out of an audience of 800.

She had a lot of great things to say (corporate criminals, SUV's, lobbyists, etc), though frankly she didn't say much of things that I didn't already know. However, these presentations are nice because they enable you to systematize whatever thoughts you already had about an issue.

Also, she's a lot taller than I thought she would be.

Her ex-husband, the once-closeted senatorial candidate Michael Huffington, was there with their two kids. He stood up and took a bow, and everyone applauded politely. A half-hour later, in the context of her anti-SUV campaign, Arianna brought up the fact that Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told her that she's going to introduce some legislation to close some SUV mileage loopholes. If you remember, Feinstein was the one who beat Huffington in 94. Of course, Huffington is a Texas oil man, so I don't know how comfortable he was in the room.

Anyway, good work Arianna!

Check out her two websites:
Arianna Online, and
The Detroit Project, her campaign for more fuel-efficient automobiles, famous for the SUV-terror ads you may have seen. Those adds were co-produced by Huffington and Laurie (hehe) David, wife of writer/actor/comedian Larry David, of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld fame.

Every time I get lunch at Woodstock's (about once a week or so), I find myself reading the house copy of the LAT, and there's always at least one article that gets my spider sense a'tinglin. Here's this week's main offender.

It's on the debate about Dubya's dividend tax cut idea, and how it will probably see changes. Fair enough. But...

...They talk to Republicans, both moderate (Olympia Snowe) and conservative (Tom "Exterminator for Christ" DeLay), but the only Democrat they talk to is John Breaux, a thoroughly moderate senator. The only other Dem they mention is Zell Miller... who seems to support Dubya's tax plan as is. Ugh.

...Also, the entire 2nd half of this article is a Republican love-fest, quoting studies from the Business Roundtable, the Heritage Foundation (!!!), and the Republican Study Group.

What else?
Also, a separate measure the administration proposed Friday to liberalize tax benefits for savings builds on the popular individual retirement accounts familiar to lawmakers and many of their constituents.
Hmm, "popular"? How popular are they when you call them what they really are: "privatization". Oooh! Scary word!
The long fight to repeal the estate tax, by contrast, was powered by an influential coalition of farm and small-business groups; reducing taxes for married couples has been touted by religious groups.
Um no, the long fight to repeal the estate tax was a payoff to Bush wealthy contributors, and he pushed for it by parading around a couple of small businessmen and farmers (for the sake of the super-rich), even though raising the minimum dollar amount where the estate tax took effect would have done the trick.

Ok I'm frustrated, I'll be back later.


...ok maybe that's a bit harsh. But seriously, folks, of all the silly nonsense traditions that have existed, and then unexisted in America, why does this one persist?

I am currently taking up residence in the Santa Barbara area, and we haven't had a single rainy day this year.

So the groundhog says six more weeks of winter. Well DUH! If I were a burrowing furry creature who lived in PENNSYLVANIA all year, and someone asked me in February -- while there's snow everywhere -- how much longer the winter would last, of course I'd be a pessimistic little rat-thing and say "yeesh, this winter's never gunna end!" Now, I don't think we have too many groundhogs down here in sunny sorta-SoCal, but something tells me that if we did, their meteorological predictions would be quite a bit more optimistic.

So to you groundhogs, woodchucks, whatever the heck you're called: Please, stick to chuckin wood. That's your thing.

Nevertheless, um, happy Groundhog Day!