The Facts Machine

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

Friday, August 29, 2003


Expect light blogging the next day or two...

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Josh Marshall dissects a Boston Globe piece on the long-anticipated White House WMD report. Hint: it's less, much less, than meets the eye.

Rollingstone's daily poll:
Who's the greatest guitarist ever?

-Jimi Hendrix

-Eric Clapton

-Eddie Van Halen

-Jack White
Look, I like the White Stripes--a lot--but this is ridiculous. Despite its penchant for abominations like putting the Olsen twins or Ashton Kutcher on its cover, RollingStone's greatest annoyance may be its self-righteous pushing of this-or-that pretentious artist as the Second Coming. Maybe this is my intellectual musician Sister Soljah moment, but I must say that something strikes me as uneasy when I see Jack White or the Flaming Lips treated as deities because they borrowed music from the early 60's that you've never heard, or because they could take sounds not actually made by stringed instruments and percussion, no less!, and put them on their records.

Am I anti-experimentation in rock? Hell no. I love Kid A, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, etc. My point is that just because a band starts experimenting with tape loops and techno beats, that doesn't mean they've suddenly "found their voice". The Bends is every bit as good as Amnesiac, A.M. is just as good as the aforementioned Foxtrot, and so on.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Jack White. While he's made great progress in the realm of distortion, and he has some skill (he certainly needs some to be able to stay with his ex-wife's sister's erratic drumming), he'll never be up there with those other three. Going out with Renee Z doesn't help either.

Again, I want to reiterate, I really like the White Stripes, and their cover of "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself" is among the greates covers in the past decade, if only for the sound of the distortion in the chorus.

The California Patriot has updated. Go next door and watch me watch!

From the looks of it, this should keep me busy for a great while. Or at least until I find something better to do.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Ah good, the Moses monument has been moved. Now we can all go on with our lives, and look forward to an eternity burning in hell. Hehe.

(Chem1179 is the large room on the UCSB campus where those fundie nutbars from Campus Crusade for Christ meet. I went to several of their big meetings three years ago, no experience in my life has made me more value my agnosticism/borderline-atheism)

I was over at the Horse, and they were talking about the O'Reilly Factor's attempts to get the lawyers for convicted child-killer David Westerfield in trouble for, you know, doing their jobs. One sentence got me thinking, though:
The Westerfield attorneys were well within ethical boundaries to suggest scenarios consistent with the facts of the case regardless of what they knew, and that is what they did. It was the jury's job to decide how plausible those scenarios were based on the facts, and that is what they did (Westerfield was convicted).

A "Fox Senior Judicial Analyst" agreed with Bill, however (perhaps the same lawyer urged O'Crybaby to file the Franken suit). (emphasis mine)
Possible? Maybe, it passes the laugh test well enough. But it does bring up a more important point for us cable news nuts: After lawyers for Fox both approve of and actualy file a lawsuit like this against Al Franken, how can anyone ever trust a "Fox News Legal/Judicial Analyst" again? And the next time someone at Fox refers to John Edwards in a derogative manner as a "trial lawyer", will they get away with it given the stupid lawsuits the network's lawyers are oh so happy to clog our federal court system with? Well, of course, Fox has no shame, so nothing will really change.

PS since I mentioned him, have a pic

"I move for a bad court thingy"
From Letterman, the top ten things overheard at Schwarzenegger Campaign Headquarters:
10. "It's pronounced 'gu-ber-na-tor-ee-al'"
9. "Your wife called to say there's no way in hell she's voting for you"
8. "Kids don't need subsidized school lunches--they need mass-building protein power supplements"
7. "Remember, when you're shaking hands, ease up if you hear cracking"
6. "Good news! Lou Ferrigno just endorsed us!"
5. "Don't worry--Mars isn't close enough to hurt you"
4. "I'm not sure saying 'hasta la vista, baby' constitutes an outreach to Hispanic voters"3. "Who's the actor who plays Gray Davis?"
2. "Arnold got his head caught in the soloflex again"
1. "You've lived here for 35 years, why do you have an accent?"
Big "heh" on 10, 9, 8, and 4.

You would do well to disregard most of what Jodi Wilgoren says about Howard Dean in this piece. For instance, the demographics of the Dean rallies are really a non-issue; minority voters will be there for Dean in the general election, and probably in the primaries too. By contrast, the other eight announced Dem candidates would love to have the issues that Dean has; they just need supporters first. And conventional wisdom has been wrong on Dean at virtually every major juncture; this must be the fifth or sixth time Dean has been referred to as "peaking early".

What you should pay attention to, though, is the upcoming Zogby poll mentioned in the article:
Though polls taken this early in the race can be unreliable predictors, there are statistical signs to back up Dr. Dean's surge in popularity on the street. Zogby International, an independent firm, is scheduled to release Wednesday a poll showing Dr. Dean leading in New Hampshire with 38 percent of the vote to 17 percent for Senator John Kerry; in early July Senator Kerry had 25 percent to Dr. Dean's 22 percent. The poll has a margin of sampling error of 4.5 percentage points. (emphasis mine)
As the good doctor would say, "Zounds!!!"

There were rumors that John Kerry's decision to make a high-profile announcement speech in South Carolina was an indication that he was slipping in New Hampshire and he wanted to downplay that state's importance. These numbers seem to confirm his possible worry.

Also, given that Dean's Q2 fundraising goal was $6 million and they got 7.5, expect the campaign to significantly exceed its $10.3 million goal for Q3.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003


Daaaa da-da, HEY!
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Legislature adjourned its second special session of the year Tuesday without passing a congressional redistricting bill, nearly a month after Senate Democrats broke a quorum by fleeing to New Mexico to block the measure.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry said he would call yet another special session to try to get approval for new congressional boundaries.

"When I call that session is strictly up to me, and I'll give the appropriate notice on the appropriate day," Perry said.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, has said the Democrats who went to New Mexico on July 28 are prepared to stay away another 30 days if needed.
Give it up, Goodhair.

I find it rather interesting that the Texas Democrats are more able to stand up to Tom DeLay than George W Bush is!

Just as the Bushies were taking measured steps towards doing the Right Thing -- asking the UN and the international community for help in Iraq -- whoops! Nevermind!
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration, encountering U.N. Security Council resistance, may not seek a resolution giving the U.N.'s blessing for the deployment of additional foreign forces in Iraq, U.S. officials say.

Four days after Secretary of State Colin Powell made a pitch for council backing of his call for more forces, U.N. Ambassador John Negroponte acknowledged on Monday, "We're nowhere near a resolution on Iraq."
One of the main sticking point appears to have been control of international forces. The US wanted complete command of all forces, while Kofi Annan saw it differently.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Friday the United Nations could not send a peacekeeping force to Iraq but added that he could not exclude a council decision "to transform the operation into a U.N.-mandated multinational force operating on the ground with other governments coming in."

He stressed that U.N. approval for such a force "would also imply not just burden-sharing but also sharing decision and responsibility with the others."

"If that doesn't happen, I think it's going to be very difficult to get a second resolution that will satisfy everybody," the secretary-general said.

Powell has made clear that Washington won't cede any of its decision-making powers in Iraq.
The US has bungled just about every aspect of the "postwar" period in Iraq, and the situation would be improved if put in international hands. Of course, that would go against the PNAC vision that Cheney's lil' black heart flutters for (clear! *zap!*), and it sure wouldn't help them get that oil pipeline to Israel set up. (that news comes straight out of the "crazy or stupid? you decide" department)

...the animation. Enjoy!

Recall effort against the governor . . . of Nevada?
A statewide group of activists and conservatives angered by Nevada's record tax increases will notify the Secretary of State's office Wednesday of their intent to recall Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Members of the Committee to Recall Governor Guinn said Monday they have more than 600 volunteers ready to circulate petitions and collect the more than 128,000 signatures needed to recall the governor.

"Guinn wrote the tax plan. He was the catalyst behind it, and we need to get rid of the catalyst," said political consultant Tony Dane, one of five members of the group's steering committee.

The committee is composed of Republicans and members of ultraconservative parties.
Do you think this will work? Somehow I doubt it. Basically, Republicans in Nevada are lowering the standard for recalling a sitting governor from misconduct, ineptitude and/or corruption to "he signed a bill that we don't like". A bill that was also passed by the legislature!

Of course, Guinn is himself a Republican, albeit a moderate, reasonably pro-environment one. It would appear that archconservatives in Nevada have the same view of their own party as the far right GOP in California (motto: "Electability, Shmelectability"). Those in favor of recalling Guinn point to his economic bills, but there's no Cali-esque budget deficit to hang around his neck, and if there was, surely they would have mentioned it here.

Continuing on that theme, this could potentially be a political miscalculation of Issa proportions on the part of the far right in Nevada. By the time signature gatherers retrieve the 128,000 sigs necessary for a recall to go forward, we'll be at the tail-end of the recall race here in the Golden State. Recent polling has shown support for recalling Gray Davis to be waning considerably, and it really has nowhere to go but down as the weeks go by. Naturally, being next door to us, the people of Nevada will observe us and proclaim "we're not gonna take this bullshit" (with a Nevada accent, of course, whatever that sounds like). And unlike Davis, Guinn enjoys widespread support and won re-election last year in a landslide.

POSTSCRIPT: A website put together by Nevada Assemblyman Bob Beers regarding the budget there has incorrectly and, perhaps, illegally used the word "Californication". He should be embarassed . . . and sued! Yeah!
Tom McClintock is being interviewed by Judy Woodruff at this moment. "Under no circumstances will I pull out". I love it.

Things seem a shade desperate at Inside Politics (aka "Blowing Arnold Central"), as they are doing a segment on the Taco Bell poll, being the only poll left that still shows Arnold with a lead.

UPDATE: CNN reports that the AFL-CIO is endorsing the no-on-recall, yes-on-Bustamante strategy. Woodruff is trying to spin it as labor turning against Davis.

You, yes you. Go watch the video for Radiohead's "Go To Sleep". (Windows Media or Quicktime, your choice)

Be ready to draw your own conclusions from the imagery therein.

Both Laurie and myself are good friends of the Daily Cal's new Sex On Tuesday girl, Andrea Demaray. And you're not*.

This week's edition is of an introductory manner, as Andrea promotes the idea of sex-positivity:
What I'm promoting here is sex-positivity. This is a term that is already becoming problematic, despite its tender young age. I've met entirely too many "sex-positive" people who ignore their partners' discomfort with polyamory or insist that all heterosexuals are repressed bisexuals or generally try to force their brand of open-mindedness on everyone else.

Space confines me to brutal oversimplification, but here's the gist. Mainstream society frequently tells us that sexual organs and most forms of sexual expression are dirty, bad and not appropriate topics of polite conversation. This message manifests itself in many ways, from Pat Robertson claiming that homosexuality will unleash the wrath of god in the form of terrorist bombs and natural disasters, to the use of words such as "cock" or "cunt" as insults, or complaining about being deeply "fucked" by your final. This quietly shared belief keeps effective sex-education out of our schools, pushes folk with "untraditional" sexual tastes into fringe groups and makes people ashamed of enjoying the occasional rim-job.

Sex-positivity can be seen as the process of recognizing and resisting sex-negative messages. This occurs when you stop using terms like "cock-sucker" as insults, when you turn off your knee-jerk "eww" response to unfamiliar sexual practices and when you honestly evaluate your own feelings about sex. One ideal vision is a world where talking about sexual preference is as acceptable as talking about musical preference, and where the erotic tastes of another person are as relevant as their taste in food. It may be a distant day in which we can bring up our most recent threesome as casually as our latest road trip, but we've got to start somewhere. As far as this column is concerned, know that whenever I refer to any sexual act, I am talking about girls with girls, boys with boys, heterosexual group marriages, whatever. But we'll get into all that later.
Reading this, I find myself considering where I fit in as a sexually-positive person. (Wait a second, you're a blogger! How could you possibly be sexually active, let alone positive? -ed. Har-dee-har.) I am a well-liberated, sexually positive person, but I am also a traditionalist to the extent that I prefer to link sexuality with romance and love (though honestly, I don't give much of a hoot about marriage at this point). On the other hand, while I currently have no desire to do so, I find it very possible to enjoy sexual activity, or discussion, outside of the context of love, romance, etc.

Andrea brings up Pat Robertson, and this is very fitting, but for other reasons. The connection I would draw lies between sexual positivity and religious positivity. To be religiously positive means that while you believe strongly in your own spiritual/moral/metaphysical/supernatural convictions, whatever they may be, you are also aware, tolerant and in celebration of the beliefs, activities and faiths of others, growing beyond close-minded bigotry. Jesse Jackson and, say, Richard Gere, are much more religiously positive than Robertson, Jerry Falwell, John Ashcroft or Osama Bin Laden. If I were a married Christian man who had mechanical, missionary sex with my wife 4 nights a week at 11pm with the lights out, but after completion she and I would watch a rerun of Sex & the City while in bed, then I would at least have taken the first step towards sexual positivity.

In short, my personal choice regarding sex is not to classify it as a hobby, as Andrea states, but each viewpoint is unique and beautiful, as is the ability to openly and freely discuss sexuality itself in all its many forms.

Okay, this is all starting to read a bit 2AM-ish on my part, so I'll wrap it up. There.

* - statement does not apply to 3 or 4 of my regular readers

The GAO says Cheney has been stifiling their investigation into the nature of Dick's energy task force meetings by refusing to turn over documents.

O-Dub sums it up:
To recap: the sitting vice president held meetings about government policy with a cabal of private industry representatives (including the criminals at Enron) and has refused to divulge what was discussed. On top of that, when an investigation was conducted Vice President Cheney used the power of his office to impede the investigation.
Sounds like obstruction of justice to me. And it's over something more pertinent to my life than blowjobs from dark-haired interns! Whether or not the media sticks with this story will provide some insight into their character, or at least their consistency.

Monday, August 25, 2003


In terms of 2004, we're beginning to see that some of the places where Bush was thought to be strongest are turning out to be potential liabilities for President Whistle Ass.

First we find out from Newsweek that the public is turning on the Bush vision in Iraq.

Now, the New York Times has a piece outlining how Bush's so-called "compassionate conservative" agenda is falling mighty short.
At the same time, some religious supporters of Mr. Bush say they feel betrayed by promises he made as a candidate and now, they maintain, has broken as president.

"After three years, he's failed the test," said one prominent early supporter, the Rev. Jim Wallis, leader of Call to Renewal, a network of churches that fights poverty.

Mr. Wallis said Mr. Bush had told him as president-elect that "I don't understand how poor people think," and appealed to him for help by calling himself "a white Republican guy who doesn't get it, but I'd like to." Now, Mr. Wallis said, "his policy has not come even close to matching his words."


Critics say the pattern has been consistent: The president, in eloquent speeches that make headlines, calls for millions or even billions of dollars for new initiatives, then fails to follow through and push hard for the programs on Capitol Hill.
From AIDS to AmeriCorps to education and beyond, this scenario repeats itself. They all take a backseat to top-heavy tax cuts and unjustified wars for Halliburton contracts.

This is the sort of thing that is obvious to anyone who's paying a decent amount of attention, but to those with only a casual eye on DC, or an inability to read past A1 in the local paper, such thruths are foreign. A Bush "compassionate conservative" proposal is akin to the discovery of those canvas-covered trailers in Iraq; a big roll-out in the State of the Union (like making a huge hoopla upon the discovery of the trailers), followed by a relatively quite unwillingness to pony up the funds required to show actual compassion (shh, the trailers weren't really weapons labs! put it on A17, paperboys!).

Dubya flack Joshua Bolten tries to cover his boss' ass, but winds up saying something a bit disturbing:
"Even the president is not omnipotent," Mr. Bolten said of the House opposition to the AmeriCorps money. "Would that he were. He often says that life would be a lot easier if it were a dictatorship. But it's not, and he's glad it's a democracy."
"often"??? Congratulations, Mssrs Bolten and Bush, you have undercut every wingnut who has tried to accuse the left of "moral equivalency" between Bush and, say, a former business business partner of his dad.
The God Squad is really coming out in full idiotic (and homicidal) force.

We have Justice Moore still yammering on in Alabama, being supported by neo-confederates, among other unsavory characters. (Falwell compared him to MLK Jr? Oh my word)

In Milwaukee, we found out what some churchgoers do to those whose minds work differently. Dwight Meredith is understandably pissed about this case, which has just been ruled a homicide.

And who can forget the attempts to bring so-called "intelligent design" theories to public schools, a back-door tactic that even Rick Santorum would appreciate. (I don't get it, the intelligent-design-types already have a textbook. And the author's son's words are in red! Oh wait, my mistake, she didn't write that)

Sorry about the recent slowdown in posting, I've been busy putting the finishing touches on a couple more songs.
Bill Simon pressured by his party to drop out of the recall race to give the Republicans a better chance of winning: Okay, sounds fine.

Robert Torricelli pressured by his party to drop out of the 2002 New Jersey Senate campaign to give Democrats a better chance of winning: IT'S AN OUTRAGE! DEMOCRATS ARE WORSE THAN NIXON!

Digby has more.

Sunday, August 24, 2003


TF(&B)M's high school drama teacher and musical director Brad Friedman, responding to an article in the SF Chronicle called "Requiem for the Musical", which analyzed the current state of the art form, included some harsh words towards a couple of notables in the history of musical theatre:
I love too many musicals to name a favorite, but any score by Rodgers and Hart, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim or William Finn, among a myriad of composers, has treasures to unearth, while Andrew Lloyd Webber and Frank Wildhorn seem determined to murder this art form.
Ouch! As Jesus Christ Superstar is my 2nd-favorite musical (to Hedwig & the Angry Inch), I may have a bone to pick here. JCS successfully fused contemporary rock music with the traditional structures and arcs of traditional theatre music, in a way that, by comparison, makes Rent (IMO) seem very artificial. Granted, some of ALW's more recent work makes me want to jam a red hot poker in my right eye, but I must defend that which I can stand. Thank you for your time.