The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, September 06, 2003


From the looks of this Zogby poll, Dubya is on track to lap his father's post-Iraq approval rating descent.
President George W. Bush’s job performance ratings have reached the lowest point since his pre-Inauguration days, continuing a steady decline since a post-9/11 peak, according to a new Zogby America poll of 1,013 likely voters conducted September 3-5.

Less than half (45%) of the respondents said they rated his job performance good or excellent, while a majority (54%) said it was fair or poor. In August Zogby International polling, his rating was 52% positive, 48% negative. Today’s results mark the first time a majority of likely voters have given the president an unfavorable job performance rating since he took office.
Not only that, but his re-elect numbers may have some Republicans pondering the return of Bob Dole:
A majority (52%) said it’s time for someone new in the White House, while just two in five (40%) said the president deserves to be re-elected. Last month, 45% said re-election was in order, and 48% said it was time for someone new.

A like number (52%) said the country is heading in the wrong direction, while 40% said it is the right direction.
His Bush vs Dem spread is 40-47, down from 43-43.

What's more, this all coincides with the Democratic candidates uniting, if not behind a single candidate, but in training their guns almost exclusively on the Bush administration. This appears to be an indication that the Dean rhetorical strategy is gaining serious traction.

Friday, September 05, 2003


Fist, the Seattle PI's recap.

-A lot of people were forecasting that this debate would be a "gang up on Dean" debate, but aside from some Lieberman silliness, this simply did not come to pass. Nothing that was said in the debate did anything to compromise the slightest bit of Dean's momentum.

-When Lieberman did go after Dean, Holy Joe dug himself quite a hole. He attacked Dean's stance that the Bush tax cuts should be repealed in full, sternly claiming that "the Bush recession would become the Dean depression" if such a policy were implemented. Of course, Dean's stance is that tax rates should be at Clinton levels . . . and Lieberman doesn't want to go back to that? This doesn't matter really, because everytime Lieberman, or anybody for that matter, attacks Dean, the good doctor raises large sums of money.

-Gephardt looked better than I have ever seen him. I admit, I was a little young to follow his 1988 campaign, but he was solid. His repetition of the phrase "miserable failure" gave me chills similar to Howard Dean's "fundamentalist preachers" speech in Sacramento back in February. He's lucky that Sharpton, the king of kickass anti-Bush soundbites, couldn't make it.

-Kerry was good, louder than usual, I just don't feel him distinguishing himself. Same with Edwards and Graham. Those three candidates seemed to get lost in the crowded field.

-Half of the candidates took time to recite a couple lines of Spanish here and there. This was certainly expected given the audience and format (the moderators were bilingual as well), so it escapes the designation of "shameless pandering".

-The first twenty minutes of the debate were a non-stop thrashing of Bush's Iraq policy by the candidates. It's amazing how well-articulated this viewpoint can be on TV when there isn't some wing-nut talking head interrupting every five words. They say that the Democratic Party would be best served if it united behind one voice, its eventual nominee, to focus its attacks on the administration. But I must tell ya, eight voices assailing the administration for its abuses, deceptions and mistakes ain't all that bad.

There will be a number of debates in the coming months, and they may or may not include retired General Wesley Clark, whom I'd be excited to see in a debate format.

What I'll remember most from this debate? 1) "miserable failure", and 2) Lieberman's hapless attacks on Dean.

Because timing is everything, I find it very interesting that Homeland Security is giving us a terrorism advisory scare the same night that the Democratic presidential candidates find their voice in a big way in their New Mexico debate.
A Department of Homeland Security advisory issued Thursday warns that al Qaeda is working on plans to hijack airliners flying between international points that pass near or over the continental United States.

A department official said most of the flights fitting this description originate in Canada, and that U.S. officials have been working with Canada over the past month to ensure it is improving screening and other security measures.

One government official noted, however, the United States has no authority to require security measures of non-U.S. carriers whose flights originate outside the United States.

The advisory was issued because of concerns about the coming second anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a recent uptick in intelligence information, and threats to aviation that continued through the summer.

Issued to state and local authorities and the private sector, the advisory said terrorist operatives have been studying countries to determine which have the least stringent requirements for entry. That could be a factor in their consideration of which flights would be easiest to board and take control of.

The advisory includes a laundry list of possible attack scenarios, and says al Qaeda may be researching how to disseminate diseases and toxins by contaminating water and food, or aerosolizing an agent in an enclosed space.
Why is this a news story? What is this scattershot nonsense? Especially considering:
But the advisory says there is no specific information on individual targets or dates that would warrant raising the nation's threat alert level from the current yellow (elevated) to orange (high).
But it's warranted to keep the media from talking about the Dem debate? This blanket warning has more to do with Richard Gephardt's repeated characterization of the whole of Bush policy as a "miserable failure", than anything Al Qaida might be doing.

CNN reiterates that the advisory wasn't based on anything in particular at the end of its piece, as if doing so would somehow make up for how they splashed the advisory all over the top of their main page:
Earlier in the day, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge held a conference call with state officials to tell them there are no plans at present to raise the threat level in advance of the September 11 anniversary. According to one participant in the call, Ridge said there had been an uptick in threat information, but not in the quantity or quality that would warrant moving from yellow to orange.
But it warrants . . . oh, nevermind, I give up.

This is playing politics with people's fear at its worst. I'll remember this during next september's New York Exploit-o-Fest that the GOP is planning to hold.

Thursday, September 04, 2003


The NY Times has editorial on Bush's desire to cut money out of the AIDS program he proposed! In my best Marvin The Martian voice, "that makes me very angry".
In his last State of the Union address, the president announced a new program to fight AIDS in Africa and pledged $15 billion over the next five years. But instead of using existing channels, Mr. Bush created a new bureaucracy. Now the White House and Congressional Republicans argue that since the bureaucracy is not ready, dying patients must wait.

The Senate is scheduled to vote soon on an appropriations bill that contains $2 billion for the AIDS initiative — only $500 million more than this year's spending. The House has approved even less. This is the White House's doing. It is twisting arms to get Congress to cut its own program. The House and Senate had authorized $3 billion for next year.
Of course, nobody is surprised. And hey, the far right wing is pleased! They saw the allocation of money to fight a global disaster as wasteful, and as a obstacle to tax cuts for the 1%-types. And everyone from the center left who smelled bullshit (aside from the WMD bits) in the SOtU address has had their opinion validated. Life goes on, and people in southern countries get screwed.
Bye bye, Miguel Estrada. Don't let the gavel hit your ass on the way out.

Just caught a few snippets of Orrin Hatch whining and moaning about this on CNN. Sorry, dude, but Estrada was not forthright in his confirmation hearings, and the White House witheld information (not that that's anything new). You guys thought that a Hispanic-sounding name, on its own, would be enough to get a right-wing extremist onto the federal bench.

I can hear Trent Lott from the other room, complaining on CNN. He brings up the American Bar Association's "well-qualified" rating of Estrada . . . but then again, here's what the Bushies think of the ABA. From March 2001:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush White House Thursday formally ended the American Bar Association's role as an early arbiter of the qualifications for nominees to the federal bench and the Supreme Court...

"The decision was based on the principle that the American Bar Association should not receive a preferential role over all other interested parties," said McClellan. "We welcome their input and they will continue to have an important role in the process."
Eh. One down, a few more to go...

(note: no-robertson/falwell zone ahead...)

I'm on a bit of semi-hiatus right now (as in, I haven't felt the urge to write extensively in a little while, outside of music that is). I'll get out of this mini-funk soon, but I did have one little thing to talk about, for no reason other than to have fun with a couple Berkeley blogs I swing by from time to time.

Kevin of CalStuff writes on Andrea Demaray's first Sex On Tuesday column (on which I wrote last week):
The fact of the matter is that Berkeley is already as sexually liberated as it can be-- intellectually. What's holding us back is biological or emotional. I don't know that a sex column about intellectual and linguistic inhibition can do much about this.
Flash forward one week...

Moving on to the meat and potatoes (so to speak) of sex columnry, Andrea now tackles the issue of anal penetration and prostate stimulation. And surprise surprise! Two Berkeley bloggers prove her point (thus, casting doubt on Kevin's) for her.

Albatross Perch:
Special thanks to new Sex on Tuesday columnist Andrea Desmarais for her absolutely fucking filthy article on anal sex, which nearly made me retch while walking between classes...

With sodomy in the courts (ha!) and gay rights being actively debated, it's good to see that sexheads like Andrea and Dan Savage are keeping the healthy image of dick-in-ass right on the level of the conscious, instead of deep, deep down in the subconscious where it belongs.
Beetle Beat:
Sex on Tuesday's obsession with anal continues, this time to the point of encouraging anal rape. "Even if your partner isn't down with the idea of sending anything in the "out" door, if you lightly brush his anus with your fingertips during your next blow or hand job, he might surprise himself by craving more." That sounds suspiciously like "Even if she says no, she really does want it."
First of all, both of these bloggers exhibited precisely the "knee-jerk 'eww' response" that Andrea was talking about in her first column.

Secondly, if the passage BB cited had read "Even if your partner isn't down with the idea of a pair of lips on one's cock, if you lightly toungue the tip of his head, he might surprise himself by craving more", would Andrea be accused of "encouraging rape"? As George Carlin once noted, a sentence never uttered on earth is "stop sucking my dick or I'll call the police!"

If backed into discussing the issue, it would be pretty likely that both responders would try to find ways to intellectualize their inner "eww"'s (they blogged, so in essence they already have). Many other Berkeley students, hell, even some co-opers would do the same. Berkeley, and just about any other place, save for maybe Ibiza, has the capability to become more sexually liberated on an intellectual level. From my end (har dee har), it looks like Andrea is doing her job by flushing out (har dee har again) fear and stigma.

(Perhaps Berkeley's conservative community is upset about Andrea's column because their hero, Ronald Reagan, doesnt even HAVE a prostate anymore -ed. Heh!)

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Great quote from CNN's Inside Politics. From USC professor Marty Kaplan, on Ahh-nuld's 60-second campaign ad that's been running this past week:
"The only message it sends is that he seems to live in a very nice house"

Next week: An ad from the backseat of his H2!

(if you haven't been around a TV the last two weeks, this is the ad)

I missed Al Franken on Letterman, but the Late Show website has a great clip from it (click on "Big Show Highlight"). You won't be sorry.

It's been a long Labor Day weekend, as the TFM-mobile went through a bit of trauma on the streets of Berkeley. Hopefully my team of high-priced attorneys will have everything in order.

Blogging should resume during the day tuesday.

One last cheap thing: It's fitting that ESPN's ads for the upcoming season of "Sunday NFL Countdown" include a parade. Hey, that's not a float! It's just Limbaugh. (heyo!)

Hope everybody had a great Labor Day weekend, and stop by Nathan Newman's site to read some great material on the many virtues of unionization. 'Night!