The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Good for Wal Mart, though apparently this came about because they were cutting serious corners on background checks. In that case, good for Bill Lockyer!

The Iraq civlian casualty number keeps going up, to 764 after 2 weeks and 2 days.

What I'm wondering is: 764 Iraqi civilian deaths every 16 days is our current rate in this war. Something tells me that's probably far above Saddam's 16-day average over the course of his rule.

Let's see, according to this article, there is a stat that Saddam killed 100,000 of his own people in a 20-year period as dictator.

20 years x 365 days, plus 5 leap year days, equals 7305 days. Divide by 16 days, and you get 456.5625 periods of 16 days. Thus, we need only to divide 100,000 by that number to compare Saddams rate of slaughtering Iraqis to our own.

100,000/456.5625 = 219.03 dead Iraqis every 16 days

Meaning: we are killing Iraqi civilians at three and a half times the rate Saddam Hussein has. How bout that moral clarity!

Friday, April 04, 2003


John Kerry is really starting to make me proud. At a speech in New Hampshire yesterday he said:
"What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States,"
Naturally, the congressional GOP vampires (DeLay, Hastert, Frist, etc) went after him, as they have with everyone who's said anything not 100% pro-war in the last several months. Often these types -- including, say, Daschle or to a lesser extent Patty Murray -- regardless of the nature of their comment, recant or apologize for overstepping. But Kerry? They didn't count on this:
WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry lashed out at top congressional Republicans on Friday after they assailed him for saying the United States, like Iraq, needs a regime change.

"The Republicans have tried to make a practice of attacking anybody who speaks out strongly by questioning their patriotism," the Massachusetts senator said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I refuse to have my patriotism or right to speak out questioned. I fought for and earned the right to express my views in this country."


"If they want to pick a fight, they've picked a fight with the wrong guy," Kerry said in a telephone interview.

The lawmaker said this round of charges and countercharges is not the first time Republicans have made a "phony issue of patriotism." He cited last year's campaign against former Georgia Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who lost both legs and an arm in the Vietnam War.


"I watched what they did to Max Cleland last year," Kerry said. "Shame on them for doing it then and shame on them for trying to do it now."
Kerry is catching up to Dean in the Brendan Primary. Frankly, I'd be happy with either of them securing the 04 nomination.

Between this and Estrada, that donkey backbone is solidifying...

Eddie and the boys go after the guy who wrote this piece, and they go hard...
"There were close to 12,000 people at the April 1 Denver show. It's possible two dozen left during the encore, but it was not noticeable amongst the 11,976 who were loudly applauding and enjoying the evening's music," the band said in a statement. "It just made a better headline to report otherwise."

The headline in question stemmed from a story by Scripps Howard News Service reporter Mark Brown, who wrote on Wednesday that dozens of angry fans walked out after Vedder's tirade, complaining that he went too far during his anti-Bush song "Bushleaguer" (the lyrics says the President is "not a leader/he's a Texas leaguer"), which concluded the show.

Brown didn't note that some concertgoers traditionally leave during the encore just to beat the traffic. In its statement, Pearl Jam also points out that Brown never mentioned any incensed fans in his review of the concert for the Rocky Mountain News, entitled "Pearl Jam Show Will Make a Great CD."
They go on to defend their rights to that thing, you know, free speech:
"Dissension is nothing we shy away from--it should just be reported about more accurately," the band says. "Ed's talk from the stage centered on the importance of freedom of speech and the importance of supporting our soldiers as well as an expression of sadness over the public being made to feel as though the two sentiments can't occur simultaneously."
They hit the nail on the head here. That's the idea of those who question the "patriotism" of others in this time of unjust war. They want to make a lack of support for the Administraion and its war tantamount to lack of support for the troops. Two separate concepts artificially glued together . . . hmm, sounds like Saddam and Osama to me! This is how they work.

From Roger Ebert's weekly movie answer man column:
Q. In your review of "Shanghai Knights," you say "The whole point is that [Jackie Chan] does his own stunts, and the audience knows it." I'm curious what you think of Chan's recent admission that this is no longer true--he does use a stuntman for stunts that he does not feel safe doing.

Geoffrey Romer,

Claremont, Calif

A. We may be up against an urban legend. The authoritative Web site says that Chan has never done all of his own stunts, and never claimed that he did, although he sometimes just smiled when others made that statement.

Why doesn't he do his own stunts? The reply: "He'd be stupid to do all the stunts in all his movies. And as Jackie has said many times, 'I may be crazy but I'm not stupid.' Jackie began his career in the movies as a stuntman and did many dangerous things that no one else would do because he was trying to make a name for himself. After he established himself as a well-regarded stuntman, he no longer had to do it all to prove anything to anyone. So he began to do as much as he wanted to do. In the old days, that meant nearly all the stunts. ... As he got older, he began to use stunt doubles for several reasons. The studios ... sometimes insisted that he use stunt doubles so that their star wouldn't be put in any danger. He also began to be more careful about his own body. Doctors warned him about doing things that might cause permanent damage."
Geoff ("don't call me 'geeee-off'") Romer was what one would charitably call a "nerd" back his Nueva days. Translation: he will rule the world. I believe he's still a student at Harvey Mudd, or one of them other Claremont schools. Also, his grandfather was the governor of Colorado, as well as former chair of the DNC. I guess this puts him on par with my appearances on, MediaWhoresOnline and Tuesday Morning Quarterback, hehe. Congrats Geoff!

According to Rocky Mountain News,
DENVER - Dozens of fans walked out of a Pearl Jam concert after lead singer Eddie Vedder took a mask of President Bush and impaled it on a microphone stand.

Several concertgoers booed and shouted Tuesday night for Vedder to shut up as he told the crowd he was against the war and Bush. He impaled the mask during the encore of the band's opening show of a U.S. tour.

"It was like he decapitated someone in a primal ritual and stuck their head on a stick," fan Keith Zimmerman said. (full story)
Apparently the alleged walkouts (oooooh, dozens! yikes!) occurred during . . . the encore. You know, the end of the concert?

My bigger beef is that this is another example of the press' desire to give equal voice to very different-sized groups. Anti-war demonstrations number in the hundreds of thousands. "Pro-America" (read, "anti-anti-war") demonstrations always seem to stop at "dozens" or "several".

Anyway, go Eddie! The best part is that you can't boycott Pearl Jam, because their fans are all on their side already, and more importantly they couldn't give a shit if their record doesnt hit #1.

Speaking of boycotts, how are the Dixie Chicks doing? Hehehe.

* - from Pearl Jam's "Bushleaguer"

I never liked Michael Kelly. My roomate is a devoted reader of and subscriber to the Atlantic, which took a marked turn to the right when Kelly assumed his editorship there. And over the years, Kelly used a disturbing amount of column space to unfairly attack Clinton and Gore, particularly the latter; Kelly did a lot to perpetuate the myth that Gore was a "liar" and was "uncomfortable in his own skin". Plus, he had been pushing hard for this war in his columns, so in a way his death is tinged with a shade of irony.

That being said, I mourn his death, just as I mourn for the loss of everyone killed in Iraq up to this date. He has a family, and TFM sends its condolences.

Thursday, April 03, 2003


The Horse is back from another untimely (as usual) vacation, and they have some stuff to say about Michael Moore's recent appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher. On whether we should get over the 2000 election theft:
To his everlasting credit, Moore said he would never get over it. In one of those through-the-looking-glass moments, Moore was compelled to patiently explain to a bewildered Maher why it was we shouldn't accept stolen elections.
Then the ACADEMY AWARD WINNER (hehe) said something antithetical to many of his fans from the Green Party:
Moore was asked if Al Gore would have governed in the same way had he not been prevented from serving in the office to which he was elected. He answered with an unequivocal "no" and added that Al Gore was always a better candidate than George W. Bush. (emphasis mine)
The Horse goes on to ponder the connotations of that statement, and no liberal site (save for maybe Alterman's) oozes with anger at Nader's 2000 campaign more than they do.

Anyway, the bigger news here has to do with Moore's next movie:
We look forward to Moore's next film, which will focus on a subject too taboo for the media to address in a forthright manner: the Bush Regime's grotesque exploitation of the victims of 9/11 - people who, much to the delight of Karl Rove and George W. Bush, can no longer speak for themselves and can thus be portrayed as martyrs for the Regime's demented and unAmerican right-wing agenda.
Wow. What an interesting acceptance speech that's gonna be!

Senator Jim Bunning (R-Phillies) wants former MSNBC correspondent Peter Arnett tried for treason for the interview he gave to Iraqi tv where he committed the sin of telling the truth (all without giving away troop locations, ahem geraldo!)

Thus the standard for trying for treason is appearing on TV with the enemy?



You know, as opposed to "smart" bombs? Well, we're still dropping them.
The United States is showering targets in Iraq with the most unpredictable weapons in its arsenal: tiny cluster bombs so deadly they can demolish a tank, but so erratic they can take years to blow up.

The U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, said it is investigating reports that cluster bombs killed at least 11 civilians in Hillah, a city 60 miles south of Baghdad and the scene of heavy fighting.

The military acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that cluster bombs were being deployed. Human rights groups have called for their ban, and their use during the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein is particularly sensitive because of the stated aim of the U.S.-led force to minimize civilian casualties.
According to the article, the US denies targeting civilians. But um, that's not the point. A good strawman, yes, but not the point; the thing with cluster bombs isn't that they target civilians, but above all other bombs we are employing in Iraq, cluster bombs just can't help but hit civilians. Not only that, but they have a very high dud rate, which also poses a serious long-term threat to civilians.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the Bushies could accomplish the disarmament of Saddam Hussein without cluster bombs being used. Not using them is in the interest of Iraqi civilians, of whom we claim to be the advocates. Don't you just love compassionate conservatives?

Wednesday, April 02, 2003


Once again, this is pretty graphic. Graphic as in "brutal and disturbing", rather than "computer generated simulations of b-1 bombers and apache helicopters on cnn or fox news".
Knowledge is to power as Brendan is to:
A) hot
B) sexy
C) all of the above

greetings all you TFM fans! This is ‘she shook me all night long’ signing one…aka Laurie Lyser
As you all know, the mainstream news sources that most Americans read either are in favor of the war with Iraq or neutral. They do not discuss critically why the war is happening and what the consequences for Iraqis as well as American troops will be. and-fyi, I heard that a lot of news programs decided to cut coverage of protesting because it was ‘upsetting’ their viewers. yikes
In my fabulous ‘International Rural Development Policy’ class I received a list of alternative media sources that delve into why the war is happening, give brutal truths about the war and do not confuse Osama bin Laden with Saddam. Tehran Times, has a definite anti-US/IK invasion slant includes sections on the war Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting Radio Free Europe Deutsche Welle TV Iraq Daily News quality! hehe

Something I’ve been hearing about, and not from a source like CNN, is Project For A New Century. It is the brain child of a think tank that is mostly comprised of people who are elected government officials and/or are on the boards of big oil corporations or weapons companies. i.e. Cheney, Wolfowitz, Libby, Rumsfeld, Pearl, Kristol. The project had reports come out in 1998 and 2000 which outlined basically exactly what is happening with the war in Iraq right now. US companies will gain control of Iraq’s oil fields and the US will expand its control in the Middle East.

Is the US trying to gain control in the region for economic/oil reasons? Could the war be happening for the economic gains of a few companies? How did the world get to a place where this kind of thing could happen? If anyone wants to answer these questions for me and inform the American public about it, I’d be forever grateful.

but… don’t let all this get you down, life is beautiful and Brendan is in the world!!!

As you probably remember a few days ago, war correspondent Peter Arnett, of MSNBC and National Geographic Explorer, was fired by NBC after giving an interview to Iraqi TV.
In the interview, shown by Iraq's satellite television, Arnett said the United States was reappraising the battlefield and delaying the war, maybe for a week, "and rewriting the war plan. The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance. Now they are trying to write another war plan."
As controversy grew back home, Arnett tried to distance himself from his action, characterizing it as "bad judgement". And insofar as it applies to desiring to keep a job as a correspondent for a major American news channel, or in this case MSNBC, I would agree: Arnett should not have expected to keep his job after such an action.

However, on grander scale, exactly what did he do wrong? All he did was tell the truth. Remember all those rosy pictures from proponents of the war about how Iraq would welcome our troops, laying down their arms, throwing roses and blowing kisses? All those two weeks ago? Remember? Given that Bush is now hinting that the war could go on for months -- "as long as it takes" as he put it -- Arnett just may be on to something here, hehe. And are we writing another war plan? Maybe, maybe not, but it seems that there is significant infighting not only between moderate Republicans and Bush, but the State and Defense departments as well.

Anyway, to conclude this post, here's Arnett's first piece for the Mirror.

UPDATE: Arnett gave an interview where he offered an opinion about the war, one shared by many here, including in the military. Geraldo Rivera, on the other hand, gave away very specific troop info and battle plans. Why is Arnett getting so much more coverage? Which one would you consider the worse offender?

Bush and Blair sure liberated the hell out of these kids. (note: graphic photo)
TBOGG, who experienced the same blogger bug that I did, has a lot of fun with this USA Today puff piece on Bush's lifestyle during the war. Apparently since Dubya went awol from the national guard back during 'Nam, he's found the perfect way to make up for it: He's giving up sweets.

Now this is a man who knows a good sacrifice when he sees it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003


If you visited this blog between 9pm last night and earlier today, you may have noticed some technical difficulties. Well, according to Blogspot status monitors:
The publishing server for non-pro has had serious hardware failure
Related to the publishing trouble Rudy mentioned, we're seeing cases where a blog's template has been swapped with that of another.
That's why, if you went to TFM during that period, you saw my blog entries, but apparently over the template of a very, very lonely female of some sort. Don't worry, the bottom didn't just fall out of my life or something. All is happy here at TFM!

Regular blogging will resume later today...

Monday, March 31, 2003


I am in the middle of a home recording project, rerecording half of the songs from Hedwig & the Angry Inch. I finished "Tear Me Down" today (playing all of the instruments as usual), and will start work on four more songs soon. I just started this project within the last few days, but lo and behold, I've been beaten to the punch!
The pairing of Yoko Ono and Yo La Tengo leads the all-star list of contributors to Wig in a Box: Songs From "Hedwig and the Angry Inch", a charity collection of covers from the movie due in October from Off Records. Other contributors include Rufus Wainwright, the Breeders, Cyndi Lauper, Jonathan Richman, the pairing of Sleater-Kinney and the B-52s' Fred Schneider, and the trio of Ben Kweller, Ben Folds and Ben Lee (performing as "the Bens"). More artists are expected to participate.
Wow, most excellent. Apparently, though, They Might Be Giants is covering "The Long Grift", ouch. Though since the album comes out in October, I should be done long before then, hehe.

(thanks to patrick for the link)

Feast your eyes upon (or avert them from)

The first thing you should do after arriving at the laugh-a-second site is to hit Control-F and search for the word "lafayette". Once you notice that such a search bears no fruit, scroll down and commence laughing.

Their boycott list is also very entertaining, for among other things the cognitive dissonance it inspires...

-They want us to boycott the Jerry Springer Show, but aren't the sort of redneck hicks who'd boycott France the exact demographic that not only watches Jerry but appears as guests on the show!?!?

-They want us to boycott Smart & Final. But they run ads during Rush Limbaugh! Does . . . not . . . compute!

-They want us to boycott Vivendi-Universal. Gee, don't they employ a country artist or two?

-Motown. Something tells me the average France-boycotter was already doing that...

-As for Jameson, Seagram's, Wild Turkey and Motel 6, you can make up your own joke.

You can watch System of a Down's video for "Boom!" (directed by michael moore) through these links:
Real VIdeo

If you watched the Oscars last week, you probably noticed many blunt and some tacit messages regarding the war in Iraq, the most notable of which was, of course, Michael Moore's acceptance speech (more on that soon). But there was another anti-war message that I didn't notice until I just read about it, and it came during U2's performance of their nominated song "The Hands That Built America". Bono made a bit of a lyric change before the show:
In a veiled protest against the war, which went totally unreported, Bono, lead singer of U2, sang “The Hands that Built America” from Gangs of New York, changing two lines of the song:
It's early fall, there is a cloud on the New York skyline,
Innocents across a yellow line.

Late in the spring, yellow cloud on a desert skyline,
Some father’s son, is it his or is it mine.
You go!

Nevertheless, I still have to go on record and say that "...America" was not an oscar-worthy song and didn't fit the movie for which it was written. Besides wasn't it worth it to hear that orchestra awkwardly blast "Lose Yourself"?

...and TFM returns! Regular blogging resumes today as a new quarter begins, hope your spring break was as lovely as mine.

Also, expect to see occasional posts here at TFM from the distinguished Laurie Lyser, a hardworkin, highminded and compassionate Environmental Economics & Policy major up at Cal. Hence the picture change on the left of this site, hehe.