The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, August 23, 2003


I'm just back from, hey, a wild college party! Laurie's birthday was very well-celebrated.

Anyway, as I'm too tired to think beyond Bush-style 3-word clumps, all I have the strength for right now is to cover all the stuff I missed today in a rapid-fire, single-sentence manner. Here goes...

Faux News loses Franken suit. Booyah, no surprise there, and it's good to see Franken having some fun with the ruling.

Support for the recall is waning. This is expected, Davis' monday speech--no matter how many pundits poopoo'd it--lit a bit of a fire among mainstream Cali Democrats, and support for the recall has nowhere to go but down at this point, so imagine where it will be in six weeks.

John Kerry plans to officially announce his candidacy with the backdrop of an aircraft carrier. At first glimpse this seems dumb and likely to backfire in a very Dukakis-style way, but I like the way that this goes after Bush at his strong point, much as Dean did with his TV ads in Texas a few weeks a month ago. (more thoughts on this later maybe)

Howard Dean and Wesley Clark have had a number of recent private conversations. My favorite potential 2004 ticket is making nice, oh boy! (the one thing on earth as good as watching Clark rip Bush a new one in a presidential debate? that would be watching Clark rip Cheney a new on in the veep debate!)

Judge "Moses" Moore will not stop his lil' monument from being moved, and he's been suspended by the state. Good, back to the 12th Century with you, Mister Moore!

Rumor has it that Madonna, Britney and J Lo will perform together on next thursday's MTV Video Music Awards. The terrorists have won.

Goodnight, all!

Friday, August 22, 2003


TF(&B)M will be busy for the rest of the day, so dont expect any posting until either waaaay late tonight, or tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day, and as you wait for my MacArthur-esque return, be sure to check out some of the great links on the left-hand side of this site.


I have a couple of new songs written, working titles are "On the Outside" and "Country Club House-Band". My re-recording of "Where You Are", a song I originally recorded in Santa Barbara earlier this year (with an infectious chorus, I might add), will take place this weekend most likely, though I have yet to decide whether guitar or piano will serve as the lead instrument. More soon...

I found myself at Instapundit again recently, and--surprise--I read something horribly stupid. It seems that the Professor is attempting to throw Alabama Chief Justice Moore (the Ten Commandments guy, as you know) in the same pile as those who opposed the Iraq war, as in "idiotarians* who wrap their idiocy in 'patriotic dissent'". Over and over, he repeats, sarcastically, that Moore should be "[admired] for his patriotic willingness to dissent!".

That's interesting. Only I, as well as millions of others who opposed the Iraq war, didn't take an oath to protect and defend (and thus, abide by) the Constitution, as a judge surely does. What I did was patriotic dissent. What he's doing is in direct opposition of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, not to mention his job.

As Kos says,
The protesters attempting to save the monument -- they have every right to protest. That's the American way. But Justice Moore "dissenting" is akin to a reservist going AWOL to avoid serving in the Gulf. Once you raise that right hand and affirm an oath you have a duty to perform.
Heh. Indeed.

(* - for those of you who are relatively new to blogs, this is a made-up word childish conservative bloggers use to categorize views different from their own. anyway...)
Regarding the anti-constitution Justice down in Alabama, Oliver Willis sums up a lot of my feelings pretty well.
Some people never get it. It is written as plain as day in America's most sacred document that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

How much clearer can that be? Yet some elements of our society, including those whose job it is to uphold and interpret it, can't tell which way is up. In America we're free to practice our faith regardless of what it is as long as it does not harm another - but some people don't like that. They would prefer to tell you how to live the little dumb plan they've set out for you than have you make your own way, what is wrong with them?

The ten commandments has no room in such a building. It's that simple and its time our homegrown fundamentalists accept that.
And if they don't like it, they can throw in their lot with the Taliban. Our religious nuts should stick to less serious things, like calling Tinky Winky gay and blaming 9/11 on family planning doctors and the ACLU.

UPDATE: Of course, I have no problem with Justice Moore displaying The Two Commandments, as described by George Carlin.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Ahh, humorless conservatives.

Michelle Malkin is the same person who referred to UC Berkeley as "Sodom and Gomorrah University", because--gasp!--gay people meet and have sex there!

(of course, there are myriad Greek organizations that are campus-affiliated/funded that hold functions where straight people meet and often do that, and I don't see Malkin getting her chastity belt in a twist over... hmm, I should really be next door)

In tomorrow's paper, Professor Paul goes after Ahh-nuld economic vision, or lack thereof...
So Mr. Schwarzenegger now says that he will balance the budget, while bravely declaring that he is against any unpleasant measures this might involve. He wants to roll back the increase in the vehicle license fee, which was crucial to the state's recent fiscal progress, and he says he won't propose any offsetting tax increases. And while these promises mean that he must come up with large spending cuts, he refuses to say what he will cut. His excuse is that his advisers couldn't make "heads or tails" of the California budget.

Please. The details are complicated, but the broad picture isn't. Education dominates the budget, accounting for more than half of general fund spending. Medical care dominates the rest. The last remaining big chunk is corrections.

Yet the candidate says he won't touch education. Sharp cuts in medical spending would be not only cruel but foolish, since in many cases they would mean losing federal matching funds. And prison spending is largely determined by the state's "three strikes" law. In short, he's not leveling with voters: there's no way to balance the budget while honoring all his promises.

But the candidate says that specifics don't matter, that the public just wants someone "tough enough." Does he really think that voters will confuse him with the characters he plays?

We shall now sit and wait patiently for Krugman's poor, stupid detractors to find split infinitives and ones he neglected to carry. Yeesh.

From the Fair and Balanced PAC, we get the Recall Bush website, who rather eloquently point out that the criteria for recalling Davis cited by many on the right fits Dubya on a national scale rather nicely. Sure, there's no recall mechanism in our national constitution, but that's not the point!

He may be an ill-informed, inexperienced musclebound moron actor, but at least his aides recognize reality:
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger would consider boosting taxes to mend the state's battered finances and lift its rock-bottom credit rating, the Republican's spokesman said on Thursday.

While the movie star running to replace Gov. Gray Davis in an Oct. 7 recall election said on Wednesday he opposed tax hikes except to possibly deal with something like a natural disaster, his spokesman told Fox News that huge budget shortfalls and protecting the state's credit could warrant such increases.

"The truth of the matter is it could be as high as $20 billion," campaign spokesman Sean Walsh said in reference to a potential budget deficit.

"We do not know what the totality of this fiscal situation is. For all we know, there may be zero dollars in the bank. So, you never say never."
Sources have revealed to TF(&B)M that upon hearing of these comments, Lt Governor Cruz Bustamante was seen touching his fingers together and saying "EXX-cellent".

Of course, all Arnold's people are doing is recognizing the reality of the fiscal jam California is in. And conservative demagogues like McClintock and Simon are still foolish enough to believe that the road to recovery is paved only with spending cuts, particularly considering that education cuts would probably have to be made, and that's not gonna sit well with the legislature or the people of California.
I NEVER REALLY LISTENED Warren Zevon on a regular basis, but he's someone I've always respected, especially in the graceful way he is treating his own impending departure from this plane of existence. From what music of his I've heard, I find his sense of humor much more interesting than those of more recent artists/groups like BNL and TMBG. And from a couple of years ago, "Hit Somebody" ranks as one of the best hockey songs of all time (and not just for including Letterman in the recording).

Anyway, I thought that this AP story on his upcoming final album was really sweet.

Zogby has W's approval/disapproval at 52-48. Not only that, but his re-elect numbers have gone down the toilet faster than a woman being held by Schwarzenegger.
The ‘down’ trend is also seen in the percent of likely voters who say it’s time for someone new in the White House (48%), compared to 45% who said the President deserves to be re-elected.
Whoa. Last month his re-elect numbers were also soft (46 against 47). Of course, the media will keep rolling along with their aircraft carrier fantasies...

Shorter Arnold Schwarzenegger Press Conference:
Read my lips.
Discussion: Saying "you can't ever say never" when asked if he'd rule out raising any taxes isn't likely to peel off any Simon or McClintock voters. He may have just guaranteed that the statehouse will stay in Democratic hands. Or at least that the ultra-conservative Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-really-dum of California wont drop out of the race anytime soon.

One last thought. Consider this quote:
``I'm principally against taxes. The people of California have been punished enough,'' he said. ``From the time they get up in the morning and flush the toilet, they are taxed.''
Well yeah, obviously the first thing a guy does in the morning is flush the toilet, particularly if there's a woman's head in it.

(also, the word "principally" wont inspire confidence in the conservative wing of the Cali GOP)

Wednesday, August 20, 2003


TBOGG has been having fun with the recent writings of George Will, particularly Will's penchant for the word "axiomatic" (here, here, and here, for example).

And now, that other highly-visible bowtied conservative commentator, Tucker Carlson (whose job is mostly to shout over well-earned applause for the words of Carville/Begala/Garofalo) gets in on the act:
Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham is making up for his lack of personality with an oversupply of vehemence. After yesterday's truck bombing at the U.N.'s Baghdad headquarters, Graham put out a statement saying -- quote -- "Had the president pursued the war on terrorism prior to initiating military action against Saddam Hussein, as I advocated last year, it is likely that al Qaeda and other terrorist networks would not have been able to take advantage of the chaos that now exists in Baghdad" -- end quote.

In other words, yesterday's tragedy was the president's fault. Only Bob Graham could have prevented it. The moral of the story: No event, not one, is so tragic that it can't be turned into a political opportunity for a presidential candidate. That's axiomatic. Everybody knows that. But it's still revolting, I have to say, to see it.
Well done! Now if only Tucker could get a "shut up!" in there from time to time, he has a chance to be a full-grown cable commentator. Good luck, my cheeky friend!

I left the A's game on while I cleaned my room, prepping to do some songwriting, when I heard a familiar voice on a commercial. It was the late Academy Award winning actor James Coburn, hawking a video called "Winning Strategies for Slot Machines". In the ad, Coburn tells us,
Is there a smart way to play? Can you maximize the odds of winning and minimize your odds of losing? I'm James Coburn. Join me and discover winning strategies for slot machines...
"Join me"? A dead guy is asking us to "join" him? I was disappointed when Coburn didn't break into a "Thriller"-style dance routine. (the video appears to have been made in 1997, explaining how the commercial was made without the use of Being John Malkovich-style marionette puppets.)

Casino culture is tacky enough without companies using recently-deceased celebrities in ads.

The funniest thing to come out of Fair&BalancedGate has to be Paul Newman's op-ed piece in yesterdays NY Times.

BOGOTA, Colombia, Aug. 19 — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, on a one-day visit to Colombia, said today that the United States would support Colombia in resuming a policy that allows Colombian fighter pilots to shoot down planes suspected of ferrying drugs or force them to land.

Such a policy, which has been criticized by human rights groups, was suspended in Colombia and Peru after a Peruvian jet fighter mistakenly shot down a private plane carrying American missionaries, killing two people, one an infant, in 2001. (full story)
This, uh, doesn't inspire confidence. At best, at very best, this seems like a typical plan for the Bush types to endorse, in that it won't necessarily improve the situation (given the many-headed hydra that is the drug trade), while at the same time giving us objective "results" to look at, in the form of blown-up airplanes. It's the drug-war equivalent of Bush invading a country that didn't do anything to us just so he could get that flight-suit photo-op. And perhaps it's a miniscule step up from defoliation. At worst, however, it sets the stage for another potential mistake, like the above 2001 incident, only now the blood would more objectively be on administration hands.

And in the wake of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians and others, this statement on Colombia doesn't inspire much confidence either...
A White House statement said President Bush had determined that Colombia had since "put in place appropriate procedures to protect against loss of innocent life."

The announcement did not specify those safeguards, but American officials said they would include radio or visual contact, first trying to force suspect planes to land, and then firing warning shots. Only as a last resort, American officials said, would a plane be downed.
It's the equivalent of if Madeline Albright had told our pilots based in Italy to fly low in the Alps to destroy cables from which terrorist hideouts may hang, but also to "put in place appropriate procedures" to not destroy civilian gondolas.

(Strained metaphor? -ed. Oh, bite me. My point is that unlike the Italy incident, this time our government is complicit in potentially reckless and murderous behavior in Colombia. Old habits die hard for us in Central/South Amer., I suppose.)

Bill O'Reilly, last thursday:
The main point here is that trying to hurt a business or a person because you disagree with what they say is simply unacceptable in America. And that message has been sent by FOX. There's a principle in play. Vigorous debate is embraced by us, but smear campaigns will be confronted. It is simply a joke for The New York Times to editorialize that fabricated personal attacks are acceptable under the banner of satire.

I wonder if The Times thought that Donald Sagretti was funny when he manufactured dirt to hurt Richard Nixon's political opponents. I guess The Times editorial board would be yucking it up if their pictures appeared on a book cover accompanied by the word "liar." Satire, my butt. (emphases mine)
O'Reilly seems to doubt the characterization of Al Franken's work as "satire".

On the other hand, maybe ol' Bill should talk to the unnamed reporter who put together this piece on Franken apologizing to Ashcroft for some reason or other:
WASHINGTON — Comedian and liberal activist Al Franken has written an apology letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft after asking him for his personal story about remaining abstinent before marriage.

Franken, a satirist and former writer for "Saturday Night Live," admitted in a letter last month that he deliberately tried to mislead Ashcroft when he sought personal information from him. (again, emphases mine)
And the book in which Franken intended to use Ashcroft's response? It's a satire! Good to see that O'Reilly is just as connected to his own network's news department as the Washington Post editorial page is to theirs!
ARIANNA... on Bill Maher's HBO show right now, taking a bunch of shots at Arnold. What exactly was Kaus talking about when he suggested a possible "armani alliance" between them? (scroll to 8/15)

Oops, I watched too long, there's Adam's Apple Coulter. And Bill is challenging her on her idea that liberals "have joyless sex". Going to school in both Santa Barbara and Berkeley, I think I might just have to second Mr Maher on this one.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Jesse at Pandagon is all over the inappropriate reactions of certain right-wing bloggers to the bombing of the UN HQ in Iraq. As if their true colors weren't already evident, this is still very educational.

I watched Davis' rebuttal speech, and from what I could tell, he hit almost all the right notes.

Five years ago this week, we had the peak of Scaifegate, when Clinton admitted his relationship with Monica, took responsibility for it, and vowed to fight the GOP's undemocratic witchunt. Now, it seems that Davis, who recently hung out with the birthday boy, has taken a former Democratic survivor's advice to heart. In his speech, Davis painted the recall exactly as he should have:
This recall is bigger than California. What's happening here is part of an ongoing national effort to steal elections Republicans cannot win. (long, long applause break) It started with the impeachment of President Clinton, when the Republicans could not beat him in 1996. It continued in Florida, where they stopped the vote count, depriving thousands of Americans of the right to vote. This year, they're trying to steal additional congressional seats in Colorado and Texas, overturning legal redistricting plans. Here in California, the Republicans lost the governor's race last November. Now they're trying to use this recall to seize control of California just before the next presidential election...
If Gray Davis is to survive as governor of the state, this is a big part of what he needs to do. Framing the recall as part of the Republican national trend towards un-democracy seems to be the way to go. One knock on Davis in past elections is that the thrusts of his campaigns haven't been about who he is but rather about considering the bleak alternatives (Lungren, Simon). I'd say that characterization isn't completely fair in regard to his 1998 campaign, but some of the CW was that the recall election would force Davis to have to try to launch a positive campaign about himself, putting him at a distinct disadvantage because he *hasn't* done that before. The thing is, politically, there's a chance that he still doesn't have to do that. If he adopts a twofold campaign strategy consisting of 1) "they wouldn't have done any better had they been in my place during the energy crisis, budget crunch, etc" (a sort of modification of the "consider the alternative" strategy), and 2) pointing out the disdain for democracy held by the Republicans who launched the recall effort, that could be enough to keep him relatively competitive in early October.

Of course, this could all be rendered moot tomorrow if a federal judge agrees with the ACLU and delays the election until march. If that happens, then the high Democratic turnout as a result of the coinciding presidential primary, coupled with a likely erosion of support for the recall due to a number of factors, would not only keep Ahh-nuld or any of the Repubs from winning the statehouse, but would likely guarantee Gray's survival.

UPDATE: obviously Mr Zuniga either reads me, or thinks like me. Probably, nay, definitely the latter.

Monday, August 18, 2003


I have a month, give or take a day, until I head down to Santa Barbara to get that one last year of education out of the way, and I intend to make good use of that month. Largely due to academic concerns, I have just about abandoned songwriting since March. But now that comes to an end. I am beginning what looks like a very ambitious recording project, hoping to produce 8-12 songs worth of new material by the 20th of September. (if you aren't familiar with my musical style, go here, these tracks are a bit old but reasonably representative of what I do) I will start by re-recording a song I wrote earlier this year, "Where You Are", and go on from there. I'll rather egotistically (hehe) provide updates of my progress over the coming month...

Sunday, August 17, 2003

For Jeebus' sake, stop laughing! They're an Islamic nationalist group in the southern Philippines!

Brian: we should be struggling together!

PFJ and CFG: We are!

(end scene!)

("Mr. Schwarze-whatever wants to raise your property taxes from virtually nothing to virtually nothing times three". Oh the humanity! California needs Bill Simon!)
Given my long hair, this is why I skipped my local county fair. (article may not be for the squeamish, no pics or anything though)

Just Springsteen concerts from now on for me!
Moore on Clark

The Wesley Clark Weblog posts some comments from Michael Moore:
"As I suggested to people at the press conference earlier, Dennis Kucinich is good, Al Sharpton is good, but there's a ... I would love to see this. There's a four-star general ... he used to be the commander of NATO. His name is Wesley Clark. He was a Rhodes scholar. He's a Democrat. He would repeal the Bush tax cut for the rich. He submitted a brief in support of affirmative action to the Supreme Court. He's pro-choice. I could go down the list, and he's actually quite good on all the issues -- and he's a general. I would just love to see the debate between the general and the deserter.(Applause.) So if the Democrats really wanted to win, they should run somebody who could win -- and that would be an interesting race."
This is really interesting. Through both his writings, and BFC, Moore has shown his large disdain for the NATO military operations in Kosovo, of which Clark served as commander. He's also a Green and a Nader voter. Of course, recent interviews seem to suggest that he is a somewhat remorseful Nader voter. But what's really interesting is that, much like many liberals and anybody-but-Bush types around the country I presume (myself included), Michael Moore has a fantasy: The idea of a four-star general--a liberal one at that--mopping the floor with Bush's ass in a debate. A handsome, TV-savvy military man throwing the straight, authoritative truth about Iraq, and the administration's attempts to cut military pay, all of it right in Bush's face, giving him no room to wiggle, squirm or make cries of "fuzzy math". Hell, I could see a genuine Bentsen-Quayle moment come out of this.

I really like Wesley Clark, and I think he'd be a strong candidate for president. At this stage, Dean is my guy, but Clark will have a chance to win me over should he throw his four stars into the ring. I am a bit nervous about Dean when it comes to foreign policy and national security, not because I think America wouldn't be as safe under his leadership (in fact, the opposite would be the case), but that Bush and the "liberal" media could fool middle America into thinking as much. My suggested preliminary plan for Howard Dean consists of two parts, 1) hit Bush with hard specifics come the general campaign and the debates, and 2) add the General to your ticket. (I know a lot of Clarkies think their man is overqualified to be VP, but he's never been elected to anything in his career, so I wouldn't go that far... and he'll certainly get his turn at the top job in the future)

BTW, this is as good a time as any to note that Bowling For Columbine comes out on DVD this tuesday, and you can also order it here.

Here's the setlist:

Main set: The Promised Land/The Rising/Lonesome Day/My Love Will Not Let You Down/Prove It All Night/Something in the Night/Empty Sky/You're Missing/Waitin' on a Sunny Day/Darlington County/Worlds Apart/Badlands/Out in the Street/Mary's Place/Across the Border/Into the Fire/No Surrender
First Encore: Bobby Jean/Ramrod/Born to Run/Seven Nights to Rock
Second Encore: My City of Ruins/Land of Hope and Dreams/Rosalita/Dancing in the Dark

Pretty solid, huh? My one, and only one complaint was the lack of Thunder Road. But this will do! (hehe)

Bruce and the boys appeared to be having a great time in SF. The Boss himself complimented us on our weather ("usually I'd be sweating my ass off by now"). Max was a monster on the kit. Lots of great schtik with the Big Man, and with Silvio Stevie.

Bruce swinging his Tele all the way around his body? Check. Bruce hanging upside-down on his mic stand? Check. Nils playing with his tongue? Check. And so on...

Bruce did do a bit of politicizing on Iraq, hinting at his opinion of the Bushies' rationale for the invasion ("In the past, administrations both Republican and Democratic have used deception and lies to take this country to war...").

All but 3 songs from The Rising were played, of which "Into the Fire", "Worlds Apart" and especially "Mary's Place" were particularly impressive (the latter was arguably the highlight of the show). Throughout the show, two large tv-screens, one on each side, showed closeups of the various band members and of the crowd, and nothing else.

Though a decent long-time fan, this was my first concert experience involving Bruce. Nevertheless, given the energy (both onstage and in the sold-out Pac Bell Park), the flow of the show (the music rarely stopped, and went on for three glorious hours) and the expertise of the musicians, it ranks as the best stadium-sized show I have ever seen... yes, ahead of both the Stones and U2.

I have reached into my inner Alterman, and this is what I have found.