The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, August 16, 2003

In a matter of minutes, I'll be heading up to Pac Bell Park in SF, to see the Boss. Good seats, too.

More blogging soon, either late tonight or tomorrow.

Well, that honeymoon ended fast. GO CRUZ!!!...
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 15 -- Before the first television ads have aired, the race to succeed California Gov. Gray Davis (D) if he is recalled came down to just two men, Republican action star Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz M. Bustamante, according to a nonpartisan statewide poll to be released Saturday.

The California Field Poll found 25 percent of registered voters opted for Bustamante followed by 22 percent for Schwarzenegger.

The other candidates trailed in single digits: State Sen. Tom McClintock took 9 percent; businessman Bill Simon won 8 percent; former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth received 5 percent; all three are Republicans. Independent and columnist Arianna Huffington got 4 percent, and Green Party candidate Peter Camejo received 2 percent.
My emphasis, of course.

As you may know, the No-on-recall, yes-on-Bustamante effort has its own site up and running. McClintock and Simon are too righteous about the purity of their respective conservative backgrounds to drop out (as is Ueberroth about his relative "grownup-ness" compared to Ahh-nuld), and the electorate is increasingly less likely to support Schwarzy the more they learn about him beyond the silver screen. That Cali GOP rifle is trained squarely on the elephant's foot. Whoops!

Ok, I've had a looooong, long day, it's bedtime.

Go here for a list of virtually every blogger who hopped on the Fair and Balanced bandwagon.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Kevin Drum has a fair and balanced update on what the Democratic presidential hopefuls are doing today: They're at the Iowa State Fair! And they're balancing stuff!

From Kos, we see that Republicans are doing their patriotic duty to help create jobs . . . in India.

Given that "even the liberal" Washington Post has jumped on the make fun of the French for dying in a heatwave by the thousands bandwagon, a pastime usually reserved For dipshits like these, yesterdAy's blackout in NYC and much of the northeast seems lIke some soRt of kArmic retributioN.

Obviously, in a hectic situation like this, the highest priority is clear: we must make sure our president Doesn't say anything stupid, and if he does, let's just not talk aBout it!

CAse in point, CNN's recap of what Bush said today:
LOS ANGELES, CaLiforniA (CNN) -- PresideNt Bush said Friday the massive blaCkout that struck the NorthEast and upper MiDwest -- as well as parts of Canada -- is a "wake-up call" to modernize the electricity system.

Bush, taking questions from reporters while visiting the Santa Monica Mountains north of Los Angeles, described the delivery system as "old and antiquated"

"This is an indication that we need to modernize the electricity grid," said Bush, who has called on Congress to pass a national energy bill.

Bush praised those residents who had to deal with the blackout, saying they displayed calm during the crisis.

"They showed the rest of the country and the world the true mettle of the American people," Bush said, adding that the government's emergency response to the crisis was good as well.
All fine and good. But... I happened to catch some of these remarks on the local news. He used an old familiar word to describe the outages:
"These rolling blackouts..." (emphasis mine)
Naturally, there is a considerable difference between what the northeast just experienced, and the "rolling blackouts" experienced in California a couple of years back (partially because of gouging by some of Bush's Texas energy buddies). But once again, we have the media cleaning up the messy truth of our president's mouth.

Good to see that people around the world can still poke fun at us, and with good cause:
Now we understand why they (Americans) have been unable to get the electricity running in Baghdad," said 47-year-old engineer Ghassan Tombin in the Gulf Arab country of Dubai.

Thursday, August 14, 2003


As you may know, because Arnold is running For governor, his movies cAn't be shown on network TV untIl afteR the election. Why? BecAuse they would trigger the FCC's equal time provision, that is, the Networks woulD Be obligated to ALlow All 135 caNdidates air time as well. (news programs are, of CoursE, exempt, as is cable TV, thus TNT will still be alloweD to follow its mission statement to show Eraser once every 2 or 3 days)

This rule applies to all of the recall candidates, so not only does this apply to Ahh-nuld and his movies, but we will also be deprived of:

--reruns of Diff'rent Strokes, featuring Gary Coleman
--old SNL reruns with Father Guido Sarducci
--The People vs. Larry Flynt (not like that's ever been on a non-cable network)
--all things Gallagher (not bloody likely, but hey)
--commercials for T3

...and so on.

Here's one you may have forgotten:

Yes, that's the evil toy Funzo, from a Christmas episode of The Simpsons from a few years back. That episode, you may remember, featured a prominent appearance by Gary Coleman, and thus it will not be shown on UPN until after the recall election is complete. We will miss you, writhing Funzo's.

Speaking of the Simpsons, I've noticed a very interesting recent phenomenon. In the seven or so days after Schwarzy's announcement that he would run for governor, virtually every rerun that UPN has shown (twice a day, of course) has featured the Arnold knock-off character, Rainier Wolfcastle, aka McBain.

"Maria, my mighty heart is breaking... I'll be in the Humvee"

And in the one episode I saw during this stretch without him (this is a daily ritual for Laurie and myself), an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon was titled "Last Traction Hero". Very interesting indeed. Of course, this doesn't have anything to do with the FCC equal time rule because it is satire.

Mark emails with a link to Fox's actual filing in its suit against Al FrAnken.

Some of the passages you may have heard about In the news or on otheR blogs (the "shirll AND unstaBle" pArt, for instance). But others rivaL thAt oNe for purposes of humor and otherwise.

Page 3, Paragraph 6:
Moreover, sinCE Franken's reputation as a political commentator is not of the same caliber as the steller reputations of FNC's on-air talent, any association between Franken and Fox News is likely to blur or tarnish Fox News' Distinctive mark in violation of 15 U.S.C...
So when Cavuto takes five minutes out of his program to angrily respond to a reader email and call that reader names, that's indicative of his "stellar reputation"? That puts him miles above Al Franken?

Page 5, Paragraph 14 (goggles on for this one):
FNC was lanched in October 1996. Fromt he time of its launch until the present, FNC has been dedicated to presenting news in what it believes to be an unbiased fashion, eschewing ideological or political affiliation and allowing the viewer to reach his or her own conclusions about the news. FNC was created as a specific alternative to what its founders perceived as a liberal bias in the American media. For example, a highly-rated show on FNC, "Hannity and Colmes" is a primetime debate driven show featuring Sean Hannity, a conservative political analyst, and Alan Colmes, a liberal political analyst. Other popular shows on FNC include "On the Record with Greta Van Sustren," "Special Report with Brit Hume," "The Fox Report with Shepard Smith," and the number-one rated morning cable news show "Fox & Friends."

Some have suggested, humorously, that Franken should organize his defense around proving that Fox is, in fact, not "fair and balanced". Grafs like this tempt us to take that idea very seriously.

Page 6, Paragraph 18:
O'Reilly himself has become a national celebrity and one of America's most trusted sources of news and information. He is inextricably linked with Fox News and the "Fair and Balanced" trademark in the minds of the viewing public.
I was hungry a minute ago, but...

Here, I like this next one...

Page 7, Paragraph 22:
On April 23, 1997, Fox News applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") for a trademark in the phrase "Fair & Balanced" for "entertainment services in the nature of production and distribution of television news programs." On December 22, 1998, Fox News' trademark of "Fair & Balanced" was registered on the PTO's Principal Register. Since then, Fox News has also obtained a registration on the Principal Register in "Fair. Balanced. Unafraid." (Reg. No. 2,713,414) in connection with neckties.
Huh!? I hope Franken wears one on his book tour.

Also, if you want the drunken tirade on Franken, go to Page 15, Paragraph 77.

Marshall on the potential post-LaborDay WMD report that David Kay and the White House are whispering about:
Look at Novak's words: "Kay has told his superiors he has Found substAntIal evidence of biological weapons in IRaq, plus considerAble missile developmeNt." This construction leaves the issue of chronology quite vague. And I suspect that vagueness is going to become a very important point.

We know that the Iraqis haD a BiologicAl weapons program and that there were bioLogicAl weapoNs in the Country. That's wholly undisputED. If Kay produces substantial evidence of such weapons in 1995 or 1998, that's meaningless. What we're trying to figure out is whether he had them in the period when we were considering going to war.

What many suspect is that Kay is going to pull an intel version of a classic 1990s-era document dump. In other words, come forward with a mound of documents detailing the Iraqis' extensive programs, their histories, the means used to conceal them, whom they imported parts from, and so forth. And then conveniently leave as a footnote the fact that these program had gone pretty dormant by 2002. The idea will be to make up with paper poundage what the report lacks in relevance. Hit them with twenty reams of report about the Iraqi WMD programs and then figure that the follow-on reports about how little was actually happening in 2002 are buried in the back of the papers after no one is paying attention.

All of this is to say that we're probably set for an elaborate festival of goal post moving courtesy of Mr Kay -- the widely telegraphed switch from weapons to 'programs' being the key sign.

The point to keep in mind is that at the end of the day the standard isn't any WMD or any identifiable dormant program which might have made non-conventional weapons in the future. The standard is this: If you look at the totality of the White House's pre-war statements about Iraqi WMD, and then look at what's contained in the report, will you say: "Wow, you weren't kiddin!" or "Wow, you've gotta friggin be kiddin!"

That's the standard. Everything else is chatter.
Exactly. Keep in mind in the coming weeks, before the war the administration was not talking about "programs", they were talking about actual physical weapons, and huge stashes of them.

(also keep in mind that the only reason they seem to be looking for weapons is to say "see? the war was justified!". if the bush administration really believed there were all the weapons that colin powell told the UN about in february, wouldn't the prospect of these weapons going missing spur a wee bit more concern from them?)

Ok, I have a paper to finish up...

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

(a UN-sanctioned pre-emptive strike)

If Republicans are going to get their knickers in a twist over a CA Democrat warning Ahhnuld of the "real bullets" he's gonna face in the recall campaign (an unfortunate metaphor? perhaps), then I'm sure they'll line up to comment on the appropriateness of Karl Rove referring to Florida as "ground zero" in the 2004 election. Particularly in light of the GOP's choice of location for their '04 convention. Any takers on the curious choice of words by the puppet master?

Josh Marshall points to a WorldNet Daily story detailing some suspicious bonuses handed out by the administration:
A former Energy Department intelligence chief who agreed with the White House claim that Iraq had reconstituted its defunct nuclear-arms program was awarded a total of $20,500 in bonuses during the build-up to the war, WorldNetDaily has learned.

Thomas Rider, as acting director of Energy's intelligence office, overruled senior intelligence officers on his staff in voting for the position at a National Foreign Intelligence Board meeting at CIA headquarters last September.

His officers argued at a pre-briefing at Energy headquarters that there was no hard evidence to support the alarming Iraq nuclear charge, and asked to join State Department's dissenting opinion, Energy officials say.
Old habits die hard with the Republicans in DC. It's as if they're taking the tactics they used in the Clinton witchhunt and applying them to the Iraq war: They give Iraqi scientist Mahdi Obeidi the Susan MacDougal treatment when he doesn't tell them what they want to hear, instead opting for the truth, that there was no active WMD program in Iraq. Now, from the WorldNet Daily story (which Marshall hopes will be picked up by the big guys) reveals a "would a little $$$ refresh your memory?" strategy they employed with David Hale and the Arkansas State Troopers. But of course, I thought our new leaders vowed to "change the tone"! Yeesh.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003


Once in a while, you catch a break for using relatively archaic technology.

As a user of a 1999 HP desktop computer with Windows 98, I am immune to the big bad blaster worm that is making its way around the globe right now.

Fortunately, it doesn't appear to do a ton of damage, and should be gone in a couple of days.

Nevertheless, if you use Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Windows Server 2003, go here for info.

Oh boo frickin' hoo, Mr Ailes:
NEW YORK - Fox News Channel has sued liberal humorist Al Franken and the Penguin Group to stop them from using the phrase "fair and balanced" in the title of his upcoming book.

Filed Monday in Manhattan, the trademark infringement lawsuit seeks a court order forcing Penguin to rename the book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." It also asks for unspecified damages.

Fox News registered "Fair & Balanced" as a trademark in 1995, the suit says.

Franken's "intent is clear - to exploit Fox News' trademark, confuse the public as to the origins of the book and, accordingly, boost sales of the book," the suit said.

Nice try, guys. For the Faux-News mouthbreathers, I'll go slowly: It's . . . a . . . parody! And thus, it's fair use, and the law is squarely on Mr Franken's side.

Of course, if Bill O'Reilly covers the lawsuit the long enough, who knows, he might win another Peabody Polk award!

"Fox News: Fair and Balanced As Thin-skinned as Savage"

UPDATE: Good work, Fox! Guess who's number one in Amazon's nonfiction rankings.

UPDATE II: Kos has some relevant legal passages regarding trademarks

Monday, August 11, 2003


In my once-every-few-weeks trip to Instapundit, I found that Glenn is pointing to a discovery of chemical weapons . . . in China:
An accident in China involving chemical weapons allegedly left behind by Japanese troops in World War II has left at least 36 people ill. Metal drums containing what is thought to be mustard gas were found on a construction site in the city of Qiqihar in Heilongjiang province.

Most of the injured are construction workers and people who came into contact with the drums after they had been unwittingly opened.
Glenn pulls out his quasi-trademark "indeed" in endorsing these comments from a reader email:
The lessons?

[1] Things can stay hidden for a long long time.
[2] Just because a chemical weapons program may have closed down years ago doesn't mean that barrels of product weren't stashed away for use.
Uhh, that's lovely. This is as good a time as any to note that things can stay hidden for a long long time when no one is looking for them!

I want the last five minutes of my life back.

Sunday, August 10, 2003


I had to post this when I saw it, though I only intend for one person on earth to read it, hehehe.
The' snipper' leaves college town on edge

By Jenna Russell, Globe Staff, 8/10/2003

URHAM, N.H. - Summer is normally the sleepiest season in this small college town, where quaint homes and quiet ponds surround the campus of the University of New Hampshire. But fear and anxiety were building last week after news spread that the man known as ''Jack the Snipper'' had struck again.

In six incidents reported to police since late June, a male intruder entered the apartments of women and, in several cases, cut off or removed their clothing as they slept. None of the women were hurt. In the most recent episode, during the early morning of Aug. 6, the man removed clothing from two women sleeping in an off-campus apartment.

''It's creepy,'' said Lindsay Sliter, a UNH junior living off-campus this summer while taking classes. ''I'm looking in my closets every time I walk by.''

Dorms have been empty for the summer break, and the break-ins have occurred off campus, in residential neighborhoods around downtown Durham. Police have yet to release details of where the crimes occurred, but students at an apartment complex on Dennison Road, near a middle school and several UNH fraternities, said at least one of the incidents happened there. Police were knocking on doors in the area late last week asking people if they might have seen something suspicious, residents said.

Police have not said what kind of tool the man uses to cut off clothing. According to the Union Leader newspaper in Manchester, police said the apartments he entered were unlocked.
I will fight the urge to say something humorous, and let the story stand for itself.

Guess what we used in Iraq.
American pilots dropped the controversial incendiary agent napalm on Iraqi troops during the advance on Baghdad. The attacks caused massive fireballs that obliterated several Iraqi positions.

The Pentagon denied using napalm at the time, but Marine pilots and their commanders have confirmed that they used an upgraded version of the weapon against dug-in positions. They said napalm, which has a distinctive smell, was used because of its psychological effect on an enemy.

A 1980 UN convention banned the use against civilian targets of napalm, a terrifying mixture of jet fuel and polystyrene that sticks to skin as it burns. The US, which did not sign the treaty, is one of the few countries that makes use of the weapon. It was employed notoriously against both civilian and military targets in the Vietnam war.

The upgraded weapon, which uses kerosene rather than petrol, was used in March and April, when dozens of napalm bombs were dropped near bridges over the Saddam Canal and the Tigris river, south of Baghdad.
But those Iraqi bastards deserve it, after what they did in New York and Washington almost two years ago. We can rest easy, for we have exacted our rev-- ...wait a minute!

The US military had a great idea with how to get away with dropping napalm on Iraqi troops: change its name.
The Pentagon said it had not tried to deceive. It drew a distinction between traditional napalm, first invented in 1942, and the weapons dropped in Iraq, which it calls Mark 77 firebombs. They weigh 510lbs, and consist of 44lbs of polystyrene-like gel and 63 gallons of jet fuel.

Officials said that if journalists had asked about the firebombs their use would have been confirmed. A spokesman admitted they were "remarkably similar" to napalm but said they caused less environmental damage.

But John Pike, director of the military studies group GlobalSecurity.Org, said: "You can call it something other than napalm but it is still napalm. It has been reformulated in the sense that they now use a different petroleum distillate, but that is it. The US is the only country that has used napalm for a long time. I am not aware of any other country that uses it." Marines returning from Iraq chose to call the firebombs "napalm".
Changing names worked so well for the estate tax, privatization, civil unions, late-term abortions, and TIA, why not here? Jeebus.

(* - this post dedicated to the late S. Hutchins Hodder)