The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, November 01, 2003


The flood-lights were on full blast over at DP last night for the annual Halloween let's-videotape-people's-asses extravaganza!

It had rained most of the day, but mother nature and father strict republican cooperated and gave us Santa Barbarans clear skies for the evening's festivities.

And what are said festivities? They basically revolve around the idea of packing thousands of people on to one small street, and packing them in so tightly that each participant has a greater-than-even chance of inadvertently impregnating the person next to them.

Being a complete nerd, I had something Dean-themed ready to go for a costume, but deciding that such an idea was a shade, uh, cerebral for the crowd, I had a backup plan that I opted for at the last minute (Aragorn. Hey, equally nerdy indeed, but how could I waste my long hair and stubble?). Now on to the TFM Headquarters Costume Roster:
Ben: Homestar Runner
Emily: a mechanic
Greg: an M&M as Eminem
Caris: Lara Croft
Kim: a Viking of some sort
Aaron: (DNP - work)
Brian: (DNP - probably washing car)
Dave: a shirt with sharpie scribbling "Sperm Doner" (sic)
Kristin: Sandinista, but then she changed her mind and did something else
Nate: Luigi
Kylie: angsty 90's teen
Fair enough. Costume highlights from the street?
--To my great surprise, I only saw a couple of Steve Bartmans (the infamous Cubs fan)

--There were the requisite throngs of girls wearing virtually nothing, and the equally requisite throngs of guys following them around with cameras and camcorders, chanting "show your tits!"

--At least a half-dozen costumes consisted of, well, large penises. Think of them as the dirty, late-night works of Klaus Oldenberg.

--One scantily-clad girl walked the streets holding a large cardboard standee of Kobe Bryant in handcuffs while she wore a forlorn look on her face.

--Lots of people as UFCW strikers. Or perhaps those were actual employees.

--The "Chief Cunnilingus Award", for the stupidest sex-themed costume, goes to a couple of guys wearing pool goggles, and t-shirts that read: "Fallopian Swim Team".

--I saw a Robin without a Batman, and a Phillip without a Terrence. Sad.
Anyway, if you're a guy like me who has no need for alcohol or haphazard sexual activity, there wasn't really that much to do on the streets and the adjacent DP parties, so after an hour or two outside, myself and a number of other kindred partiers returned home and had a good grouply get-together.

This will probably have been my last IV halloween, given my academic future.

Friday, October 31, 2003


Holy crap, I have internet at my house! Long story, anyway...

Paul catches a story from the WashPost that, as he put it, might make Ward Connerly's head explode:
A Harvard University study released yesterday found that "binge" drinking by college students was significantly lower on campuses with more female and more black, Asian and other minority underclassmen.

The study, to be published in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health, said that "the student-body composition and demographic diversity should be examined by colleges wishing to reduce their binge drinking problems."

Previous studies have shown that younger, white male students, particularly fraternity members, are at higher risk for binge drinking, which is defined as having five drinks in succession for men and four for women. The Harvard study does not conclude that the presence of minority students directly results in less binge drinking, but rather that there is a correlation between diversity and less heavy drinking by students.

"This is a very interesting finding," said Carol Boyd, director of the Substance Abuse Research Center at the University of Michigan. "In fact, this study contributes to a growing body of research showing that a diverse student body positively contributes to all aspects of student life and, in many cases, contributes to a climate that encourages less binge drinking."

Binge drinking has been a continuous problem on college campuses, said the study's principal researcher, Henry Wechsler, director of college alcohol studies at the Harvard School of Public Health.

"It's the number one public health problem that college students face," he said. "Many colleges are trying a variety of actions respond to this problem. Our research suggests this possible approach to correcting the problem" -- meaning greater diversity -- "has not been discussed."

Of course, this is precisely the sort of study that Ward himself was trying to keep Californians from launching in the first place. But of course, we showed him the door.

Okay, so it's Halloween. And not only that, I live in the board-certified Single Most Exciting Place In California For Halloween. Yep, I'm a block and a half from Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista, the sexual assault capital of the world! But don't worry, your humble TFM correspondent wont be doing that. I'll be going downtown to assemble a costume of some sort, and I'll have a mini-report tomorrow on the goings-on tonight.

Have a great Halloween everybody, and remember, we're winning the hearts and minds.

Thursday, October 30, 2003


Ahh, nothing like some good ol' war profiteering...
Many of the U.S. firms doing billions of dollars of work in Iraq and Afghanistan have been big donors to President Bush and his Republican Party and fill their boards with political and military heavyweights, a report on Thursday said.

The report by the watchdog group, the Center for Public Integrity, said most of the 70 firms and individuals getting up to $8 billion in contracts for post-war Iraq and Afghanistan donated more to Bush's presidential campaign -- a little over $500,000 -- than any other candidate in the past decade.

"There is a stench of political favoritism and cronyism surrounding the contracting process in both Iraq and Afghanistan," said Charles Lewis, executive director of the group, which investigates public service and ethics issues.

The report said 60 percent of the firms with contracts had employees or board members who served in previous administrations, for members of Congress and at the highest level of the military.

A rift in Israel between a top general and the Sharon government:
Israel's tough restrictions on Palestinians have led to a rare public rift between the army and the government, with the nation's top military leader warning current policies will lead only to more violence.

The split, played out in Israeli newspapers over the past two days, highlights leaders' increasing frustration over their inability to end continuing attacks by Palestinian militant groups more than three years after the current violence began.

The measures, which have prevented Palestinians from reaching jobs, visiting family and tending their fields, have made them increasingly bitter. "Closures, sieges and assassinations are adding to the complexities and widening the cycle of violence and counter-violence," Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said.

The dispute in Israel was set off by Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, the army chief of staff, who argued the tough policies are increasing Palestinian hatred toward Israel and fostering sympathy for the very militant groups Israel is trying to destroy.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz agreed only to a minor lifting of the travel bans and closures.

On Wednesday, newspapers carried interviews with a "senior military official," saying the government's policies were destructive, and that crushing militants was effective only if accompanied by peace negotiations. Hours later, a firestorm erupted when it was revealed that Yaalon was the official.

Mofaz and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were reportedly enraged. Sharon's close associates said Yaalon had gone too far, making it more difficult for Israel to defend its policies to the Americans, the Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported.

Sharon and Mofaz, acting on the advice of Israel's Shin Bet security service, have favored leaving restrictions in place. The Shin Bet has warned that lifting them -- and giving Palestinians greater freedom of movement -- would increase the chances of terror attacks.

Yaalon, meanwhile, also accused the government of helping bring down former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas' pragmatic Cabinet by not making concessions that would have boosted his credibility.

The army also opposes the planned route for a security barrier that would dip deep into the West Bank and isolate Palestinian towns and villages, he was quoted as saying. That route would require vast numbers of soldiers to guard it and would make the lives of Palestinian farmers "unbearable," he reportedly said.

In addition, Yaalon said the Cabinet's decision to "remove" Yasser Arafat had only strengthened the Palestinian leader.

Israel's last chance to end the violence is to support Abbas' replacement, Ahmed Qureia, by easing restrictions, he reportedly said.

Yaalon's comments -- a rare instance of such a high-ranking military official publicly criticizing the government -- shocked many, especially because he has long been considered a hawk.

Vice Premier Ehud Olmert said Yaalon's comments were "blown out of all proportion."

"There are certainly different views in our establishment, even among defense officials," he told Israel Radio.

But his comments also inspired a debate among weary Israelis about the government's methods in ending the attacks that have killed nearly 900 Israelis in the past three years, along with more than 2,500 Palestinians.
My cynical side is telling me not to expect anything to come of this. But it would be the equivalent of Tommy Franks criticizing the Iraq war, I guess.

Of course, if I were General Yaalon, I'd remember not to worry about American support for Israel. Let me get this straight: The general is concerned that the current Israeli policy, which calls for more aggressive restrictive and military action but only results in more bombings and attacks from the Palestinians, might be something of which the Bush Administration doesn't approve. Uhh, perhaps the general should pick up the NYT, or stare east a few hundred miles.

Via John Kerry:
Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry said Wednesday that the Bush administration's statements on Iraq remind him of Vietnam-era claims of imminent victory and he faulted the commander in chief for "sidestepping the truth."

"At the rate that they're going, it reminds me of the 'light at the end of the tunnel' language during Vietnam," said Kerry, a decorated war veteran who opposed the conflict upon his return from Southeast Asia.
Kerry also scores some points going after the "desperate" meme:
"If the president thinks that the reality is that we're being attacked and the bombings are taking place because we're putting on electricity and because it's just a dangerous place, I think he's really sidestepping the truth," Kerry said.
Well said.

(psst, TFM, why aren't you mentioning those 3rd quarter economic numbers? you chicken? buck buck buck! Well, wake me when there's sustained growth, and wake me when the numbers translate to actual job creation. It's gonna take a fuck of a lot more than that for Dubya to create a single net job.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Now, time to just sit back and wait for my lawsuit. Damn stalker.

UPDATE: Atrios has posted a very comprehensive roundup of commentary on the threatened lawsuit. So far, I like Northrup's the best. Though the TFM cap is doffed to Digby as well.

UPDATE: ...DeLong, too.

This line jumped out at me in an Arab News piece on the latest round of violence in Iraq:
The latest attacks — 233 over the last seven days according to the US military — have driven the combat death toll during the occupation over the number killed before President George W. Bush declared an end to active combat on May 1.
GM Chrysler! Obviously, only a small percentage of these are resulting in coalition casualties (of course, we're too busy to keep track of dead Iraqis). Still, along with I don't know, everything else, suggests that the guerilla opposition is pretty well coordinated.

The slog continues.

Sorry, I've been working hard on a Hist145A paper, but now I'm back!

And I'm just in time to say goodbye to British Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith.

I want to move to a country where the right-wing is in complete disarray. On the other hand, a country where the right-wing is in disarray, while not at the same time being led by Dubya's Poodle, would be preferred...

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


In case you missed it, Dubya had a rare, rare press conference today, when he took questions from the press.

Among the more preposterous statements made, Dubya said this, regarding the USS Lincoln stunt from May 1:
Q Mr. President, if I may take you back to May 1st when you stood on the USS Lincoln under a huge banner that said, "Mission Accomplished." At that time you declared major combat operations were over, but since that time there have been over 1,000 wounded, many of them amputees who are recovering at Walter Reed, 217 killed in action since that date. Will you acknowledge now that you were premature in making those remarks?

THE PRESIDENT: Nora, I think you ought to look at my speech. I said, Iraq is a dangerous place and we've still got hard work to do, there's still more to be done. And we had just come off a very successful military operation. I was there to thank the troops.

The "Mission Accomplished" sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished. I know it was attributed some how to some ingenious advance man from my staff -- they weren't that ingenious, by the way. But my statement was a clear statement, basically recognizing that this phase of the war for Iraq was over and there was a lot of dangerous work. And it's proved to be right, it is dangerous in Iraq. It's dangerous in Iraq because there are people who can't stand the thought of a free and peaceful Iraq. It is dangerous in Iraq because there are some who believe that we're soft, that the will of the United States can be shaken by suiciders -- and suiciders who are willing to drive up to a Red Cross center, a center of international help and aid and comfort, and just kill... (emphasis TFM's)
In other words, he's blaming the sign on the Lincoln's sailors. Huh!?!? Everything about every Bush photo-op is carefully controlled, and the Lincoln landing was no exception.

In fact, Kos provides a link to a NY Times story from last May, talking about the orchestration of the landing:
The most elaborate — and criticized — White House event so far was Bush’s speech aboard the Abraham Lincoln announcing the end of major combat in Iraq. White House officials say that a variety of people, including the president, came up with the idea, and that Sforza embedded himself on the carrier to make preparations days before Bush landed in a flight suit and made his early-evening speech.

Media strategists noted afterward that Sforza and his aides had choreographed every aspect of the event, even down to the members of the Lincoln crew arrayed in coordinated colors over Bush’s right shoulder and the ‘‘Mission Accomplished’’ banner placed to capture the president and the celebratory two words in a single shot. The speech was specifically timed for what image-makers call ‘‘magic-hour light,’’ which cast a golden glow on Bush.
one...two...three... LIAR!!!

From Milbank and Ricks of the Washington Post:

Bush Says Attacks Are Reflection of U.S. Gains

President Bush yesterday put the best face on a new surge of violence in Iraq as his top defense aides huddled to discuss additional ways of thwarting the anti-American rebellion there before it becomes more widespread.

The president, speaking after attacks on police stations and a Red Cross facility in Iraq killed at least 35 people, said such attacks should be seen as a sign of progress because they show the desperation of those who oppose the U.S.-led occupation.

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," Bush said as he sat in the Oval Office with L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq. He added: "The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity is available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become, because they can't stand the thought of a free society."
As others have noted, there is nothing "desperate" about these attacks. They appeared to have lied on significant levels of intelligence, and the attacks appeared highly coordinated. And given recent reports that the resistance has access to an abundance of arms, it's doubtful that the attacks will substantially slow down.

What a mess.

UPDATE: Marshall singles out a funnier line from the piece, citing its origin as the "Department of Sublime Understatement":
Experts in public opinion said it would be difficult for Bush to convince Americans that the violence was a byproduct of success.

...made it into today's UCSB Daily Nexus!

They made a couple of grammatical touch-ups (yes, I should know better about when to use "toward" and "towards"), and they gave it a splashy title, "Letter Slips Down Slope to Just Plain Name-Calling", though I didn't specifically charge Mr. Roney with that specific trespass.

In Bates-ian fashion, I picked up a couple dozen copies of the paper for my records, as I am ridiculously excessive about this sort of thing.

Monday, October 27, 2003


Dick Cheney, 9/8/2002:
(UPI) Senior Bush administration officials on Sunday continued efforts to convince the American people that a pre-emptive strike against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would be in the best interest of the international community.

Their arguments came four days before President George W. Bush is to speak on the issue before the U.N. General Assembly that the Iraqi leader was attempting to develop nuclear weapons and other instruments of mass destruction.

"Recent developments have to do with our now being able to conclude, based on intelligence which is becoming available, that he has indeed stepped up his capacity to produce and deliver biological weapons, that he has reconstituted his nuclear program to develop a nuclear weapons, that there are efforts inside Iraq to expand his capability," said Vice President Dick Cheney on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Washington Post, today:
According to records made available to The Washington Post and interviews with arms investigators from the United States, Britain and Australia, it did not require a comprehensive survey to find the central assertions of the Bush administration's prewar nuclear case to be insubstantial or untrue. Although Hussein did not relinquish his nuclear ambitions or technical records, investigators said, it is now clear he had no active program to build a weapon, produce its key materials or obtain the technology he needed for either.

Among the closely held internal judgments of the Iraq Survey Group, overseen by David Kay as special representative of CIA Director George J. Tenet, are that Iraq's nuclear weapons scientists did no significant arms-related work after 1991, that facilities with suspicious new construction proved benign, and that equipment of potential use to a nuclear program remained under seal or in civilian industrial use.

Most notably, investigators have judged the aluminum tubes to be "innocuous," according to Australian Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Meekin, who commands the Joint Captured Enemy Materiel Exploitation Center, the largest of a half-dozen units that report to Kay. That finding is pivotal, because the Bush administration built its case on the proposition that Iraq aimed to use those tubes as centrifuge rotors to enrich uranium for the core of a nuclear warhead.
Oh, but this was all part of a rich tapestry of evidence, right? Right?

Jeff at Greenthink comes out of hiding just long enough to tell us about the dress code at Liberty University. (you know, Jerry Falwell's digs)

Hey Laurie, don't you have the shirt on the top-right of this page? Her attire, along with that of virtually everyone on my campus here in SB, would be deemed "unacceptable".

And I couldn't agree more. Who wants to see Falwell wearing stuff like that?

Hey Brendan, the mannequins are all white, you gonna make something of that? -ed. Perhaps that's part of the dress code? Actually, in the very last slide, the Dean of Women (as opposed to, say, Women for Dean) offers special thanks to the Family Life & Consumer Science Department for use of the mannequins. Looking at the department's faculty page we see that three of the six professors cite the Bible on their biography pages, including Dr Joseph A. Mix, who teaches such courses as "Infectious Disease" and "Drugs in Society". I shudder at what his thoughts on AIDS and the relative merits of pot and Viagra might be...

First, read Loren Williams' "Marriage Protection Week Is a Time to Fight Love", in defense of gay marriage.

Then, read conservative Scott Roney's rebuttal.

I couldn't help but notice he tried to use a slippery-slope argument against gay marriage. I wasn't gonna let him get away with it, so I wrote a letter to the editor, I'll inform you if it makes it to print. Here it is:
Editor, Daily Nexus,

In his Oct. 27 response to Loren Williams' Thursday column "Marriage Protection Week is a Time to Fight Love", Scott Roney argues that Williams' support of gay marriage as a "loving relationship" would imply an acceptance of incest and bestiality as well. This is reminiscent of the slippery-slope reasoning of religious bigots like Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), who sought to equate homosexual relationships with "man-on-dog" sexual activity. This line of thought should be rejected on its face, as it is blatantly degrading to an entire segment of the population, and insulting to far more. The motivation behind the movement for gay marriage includes a desire, among gay couples, for the opportunity to handle the same rights and responsibilities, be they legal, personal or financial, that are currently afforded to straight married couples, and not to lead America down a cliff towards mandatory sodomy, daily bestiality calisthenics and Antonin Scalia’s worst nightmares.

Furthermore, Roney goes on to charge Williams of ignorance, saying that Williams' comments "apparently indicat[e] he has never known any socially conservative married people." However, Roney's attempts to link gay marriage to incest and bestiality apparently indicate that Roney has never known any homosexuals.

Brendan Getzell
Senior political science major
We'll see how it goes.
A request for one weekend free of sexual assault in Isla Vista was met with profanity and flying eggs one night and cheers the next.

A group of 20 students, three-fourths of which were female, marched on Del Playa Drive supporting the "I Want A Truce" campaign on Friday and Saturday nights. The demonstrators chanted, "We want a truce; end sexual assault." The event met different reactions each night.

"Saturday night we were cheered on, whereas Friday night we were heckled," event co-coordinator Meredith Donin said.

On Friday, partygoers at a DP home threw food at the procession and chanted, "I wanna fuck a bitch" almost in unison with the demonstrators' chants. (full story)
A pox on those boys' houses. And when I say "pox", I mean "ulcers on their scrotums".

Of course, if you committ sexual assault enough, boys, your use of the word "bitch" may prove quite ironic.

Tresy at Corrente makes an interesting point about the assassination attempts against Wolfowitz in Baghdad: Ironically, they validate the "flypaper" theory pushed by some Iraq hawks.

We can give them more prominent targets than Wolfy, right? Tresy has doubts:
Maybe Cheney should go next? After all, didn't his boss famously say, "If some tinhorn terrorist wants me, tell him to come and get me! I'll be at home! Waiting for the bastard!"?

Despite the demonstrated validity of the flypaper theory, however, something tells me we're going to go back to buying generic from now on--"other priorities" and all that. Besides, Kuwait City is lovely this time of year...
Well, once a chickenhawk...

UPDATE: And while you're at Corrente, read Tresy's thoughts on the GOP rumblings about making gay marraige a campaign issue.

A good idea from Old Fashioned Patriot. He wants as many websites and blogs as possible to link to the bio page for Bush on the White House website, using the phrase "miserable failure". I'm game.

Say, that George W Bush is a miserable failure. You know it. I know it. And the American people know it.

Question of the day:

Do these events jive more closely with

A) Don Rumsfeld's outward statements to the press
B) Don Rumsfeld's private memos
A series of suicide bombings shook Baghdad early today, including an attack on the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross and blasts at four Iraqi police stations that punctuated two days of bloody violence in this capital city.

Iraq's police chief and deputy interior minister, Ahmad Ibrahim, said at a news conference that 34 people had been killed and 224 had been wounded in the attacks. He said 26 of the dead were civilians and 8 were police officers; 65 police officers and 159 civilians were wounded.

The explosions plunged the capital into chaos at the outset of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Ambulances raced through the streets and smoke rose from smoldering cars blown up in the blasts. Iraqi police officers dug through rubble to search for bodies.
[buggyprof]Hey, at least there wasn't an outflow of refugees! It's going great![/buggyprof]

UPDATE: Via Billmon, we see that this new wave of attacks gives the Bushies another chance to trot out their favorite word: "desperate".

Sunday, October 26, 2003


As you probably noticed from the unusually daunting, power-packed music coming from your telescreen CNN, there are big-ass wildfires reducing homes and vast acreage in the greater LA area to ash and chards.

As you can see from this graphic, the locations of the fires range from Simi Valley in the west, to Crestline Claremont and SanBernadino in the north, to the SD suburb of Ramona in the south.

Now I had assumed that since I am located in the Santa Barbara area, our local air quality wouldn't suffer from the effects of these blazes, since prevailing winds generally take stuff to the east, away from us.

Boy, was I wrong.

The first moment I stepped outside, I was struck by not only how hazy the skies were, but by how the air stung my face and scratched at my windpipe when I inhaled it. I couldn't believe it.

Yes, even westerly Santa Barbara had achieved "satan's asscrack" status.

And it could get even worse here, according to the National Weather Service:
...A Red Flag Warning Through Monday Afternoon For Extremely Low Humidity In The Santa Barbara County Mountains...Zone 252.
All it would take is one disturbed or disgruntled UCSB student, annoyed by his looming PS104 research paper, or one girl completely fed up with the prospect of men enjoying themselves by watching her.

And it could happen, as I've had a run-in with arson here at UCSB. It was March of 2000, it was 4 in the morning, and I was leaving my 4th floor dormroom in San Miguel Hall to go to Freebirds and get a monster burrito. Well, it was a convergence of hungry/studing, I know. As I walked back from Isla Vista, I could hear the distant ringing of what sounded like a fire alarm. I remarked to myself "please don't let that be my building". But yes, my tower was evacuated, and I met up with my friends on the lawn below. The funny thing was, they were all in their PJ's, and there I was in full clothes and jacket . . . and holding a very large burrito.

"Hey guys, what's up!", I remarked.

Apparently some troublemaker went into the bathroom on my floor and started a healthy wastebasket fire, the alarms went off and everybody got the hell outta dodge. A number of us were questioned as to what happened, though the actual perpetrator was apparently never found. Some people think it was an upset outsider; my floor was part of the "Creative and Performing Arts Interest Hall", and thus, we made a lot of noise over the course of the year, so perhaps someone was fed up with us. Others think it may have been an inside job; it's not outside the realm of possibility that there may have been a pyro or two on our floor. Despite the incriminating fact that I was awake at the time the fire was started, my huge burrito made for a handy alibi.

So in light of all this, I have reason to be concerned that firestorm conditions, and not just their air-quality effects, could make there way here.

In a related note, today's LA Times weather section labels air quality in the area immediately around SB as "good". The air today was worse than the worst day in the Bay Area. If this is "good", I shudder at the possibility of "bad". Cancel those plans to move to LA after I graduate. I want those extra few years of my life back.