The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, November 29, 2003


First of all, I am thoroughly disappointed in Daschle & co., and the way they caved in royally on the Repub's awful Medicare bill. Of course, because its implementation isn't until 2006, Democrats wont be able to point to its effects, but Bush will be able to say he passed sweeping Medicare reforms. This is going to make it that much harder for Dean/Clark/whoever to top Bush next year.

But all this assumes that seniors are going to buy the tripe that Congress and Bush just fed them. Will they? The NY Times' Robert Pear talks to some who don't.
"We've been waiting, waiting for this prescription drug bill to provide some relief to seniors, but it won't do much for them, not much at all," said Lorraine M. Angelotti, 72, of Fort Lauderdale. "You would have to be a major, major user of very expensive medications to get any kind of halfway decent benefit."

The drug benefit has often been described as the biggest expansion of Medicare since its creation in 1965. Some people here, especially those who have been struggling to pay for prescription drugs, applauded the change. But Ernest D. DeBlasis, 73, echoed the view of many when he said the new coverage "amounts to peanuts."

"It's not going to help me," said Mr. DeBlasis, who spends half the year here and half in Marlboro, N.J., where he was an architect. "Let's hope Congress revises this thing before it takes effect in 2006."


John Anasis, 81, said he did not like the structure of the drug benefit.

"It's not straightforward," said Mr. Anasis, who moved here three years ago from West Yarmouth, Mass., where he and his wife ran a travel and insurance business.

Several Medicare beneficiaries over the age of 75 said they would need lawyers to figure out the new benefits. The options could be even more complex than they realize. Under the bill, insurers could offer variations of the standard drug benefit.

Joseph S. Shapiro, 89, out for his morning stroll on the boardwalk, said: "People have to pray that they get very ill. If you are in semi-bad shape, you get very little or nothing from the new Medicare bill."

A major reason for the convoluted shape of the drug benefit is that Congress and President Bush wanted to limit the cost to $400 billion over 10 years.

In separate interviews, several Medicare beneficiaries questioned the priorities of officials in Washington.

"If they can send $87 billion to Iraq and Afghanistan this year, I think they could do a little better for our citizens, especially senior citizens who are on fixed incomes," said Tony J. Forzese, 71, a small-business man from Massachusetts who has had a condominium here for 20 years.

Annual spending on the new drug benefit would start at $26 billion in 2006, rising steadily to $73 billion in 2013, the Congressional Budget Office says.

Of the new drug benefit, Mr. Forzese said: "I don't expect to get much out of it. I don't think it will help unless I really get sick and need a lot of medicines."
I have a feeling that the Bushies just might have unerestimated the intelligence and political awareness of the senior vote. A pretty impressive feat indeed, from the Marie Antoinette administration. And if seniors didn't expect Republicans to not look out for them, they should have seen Dubya's regard for veteran's benefits, financial compensation for families of heroes who die in combat, and so on.

I'm always a bit wary about the occasoinal Democrat strategy, seemingly employed by Daschle and friends here, of letting the conservatives walk into their own trap by passing flawed legislation that they really want. A similar attitude didn't really work in California (letting Arnold make all those unreasonable, and in some cases, already-broken promises without much of a response). The problem? Republican goals in these matters are much less about policy objectives and much more about consolidation of power. The Medicare bill was part of Bush's re-election strategy. Democrats let him get it passed, and if it catapults him to a victory next November, it's the Dems' own damn fault.

Things look a tiny bit different around here at TFM. I stuck another column on the right, for no reason other than asthetic concerns. I like it better this way, because before it looked as if the actual blog entries were heading out into deep space on the right. Now they are wholly in captivity. Hooray.
BERLIN (Reuters) - German police have arrested a shoplifter who aroused suspicion by waddling through a supermarket with 177 cigarette packets in his trousers.

"He'd filled his trousers in the truest sense of the word," a police spokesman for the western town of Olpe said on Friday. "They were so full of stolen goods he could hardly walk."

The thief, in his twenties, was helped by three accomplices who formed a protective shield by holding newspapers in front of the man and his bulging trousers, police said.

Staff alerted police, who arrested the four as they attempted to transfer the loot into their car. (full story)
The funny thing is, cigarette shoplifting should, in theory, be merely a temporary problem. See, if somebody's swiping ciggy's at 177 packs a pop, their lung capacity is gonna shrink down to the size of a walnut pretty quickly. By shoplifting trip #3 or #4, the perp wouldn't make it pass the express lane without running out of breath.

Friday, November 28, 2003


Remember yesterday, when I voiced suspicion that the prime motivation for Bush's surprise Baghdad trip was to show up Hillary Clinton, who was visiting Afghanistan and Iraq at the time? Crazy, huh?

Well, well, well, what do we have here?
She also acknowledged that the missile attack earlier this month on a German DHL cargo plane had almost caused the White House to scrap Bush's visit, which was planned for weeks starting in mid-October...

Rice also denied that the White House -- which is famed for its attention to political detail -- made the trip to bolster Bush's chances to win a second term in November 2004.

"This originated out of the president and the policy side," said Rice, who stopped short of saying that political adviser Karl Rove did not know about the trip.

Bush's visit overshadowed a similar one a day later by Senator Hillary Clinton. A source familiar with the planning of her visit said the administration was informed in late September that she would go.
Hmmmmmm.... (via dHinMI of dailykos)

My brother, Mark, is always the prime entertainment of the big Thanksgiving dinner (his Nixon impression is rivaled by none). He's about 19 years my senior, by the way.

He told us about an experience he had back in high school, in New Caanan, CT. On many mornings, he would wait at the local bus stop for his ride to school. At said stop, a classmate of his, a relatively tall, thin, blond girl, would mercilessly tease and berate him. Among other things, she attacked him for the way he looked and his choice of wardrobe.

Over the years, he never put much thought into who that vicious woman was. That is, until the last couple years, when she received a lot of media exposure. There was no doubt...

It was Ann Coulter.

No, really! Ann Coulter was my brother's bully. Given this, my brother could have provided confirmation of her actual age (41), in the period last year when she was lying about it.

When Mark made this connection earlier this year, he immediately emailed Al Franken with the tidbit, but sadly, it didn't make it into THE BEST-SELLING NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR. (i enjoyed that)

So when you add it up, this puts me 2 Kevin Bacon degrees from Ann Coulter. Yikes.

Thursday, November 27, 2003


("What do I have to do to get a pardon around here?")

Drudge links to AP's account of Hillary's visit to Afghanistan, with the breathless headline "Hillary Visit Overshadowed!" As in, Bush's secret visit to a 600-troop reception in Baghdad eclipsed Hillary's trip, along with congressman Reed, to Afghanistan, and later Iraq.

(by the way...

Hillary: Extensive tour of Afghanistan, meeting with thousands of troops, followed by a trip to Iraq.

Bush: Secret, 2-hour stop at the Baghdad Airport, gone as quickly as he came.

...more balls in her left index finger than in his entire...)

Anyway, if overshadowing Hillary was BushCo's rationale for the publicity stunt, than that's pretty friggin childish.

One wonders why Bush didn't take any time out of his speech to the troops to inform them that he wont be appearing at any of their funeral services. Unless Bush claims that this was a "pre-emptive" funeral vist. Oy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003


Rush Limbaugh, populist:
“The company that Michael Jackson charters jets from videotaped him - with no audio track - talking to his lawyers. Ladies and gentlemen, let this be a lesson to you. This is why it pays to own your own jet.”
(via tbogg)

More than 75% of movie reviewers have given positive ratings to Bad Santa.

Nicole Kidman and Lenny Kravitz. Why didn't I hear about this earlier?

To say the least, for Nicole, that's an upgrade.

Specifically Judy Woodruff and Inside Politics.

They have a discussion of the various campaign ads running in Iowa. They get to the Bush ad that's "making all sorts of news" (or something to that effect). However, while Dean and Gep's ads are shown from start to finish, the RNC's pro-Bush ad had its first 5-8 seconds cut off.

Well what's wrong with that? Two things: First, it shortens the screen time for the most controversial and unfair line ("Some are attacking the President for attacking the terrorists"). And second, they completely omit the portion of the ad that was apparently dubbed. (The flubbed "it would take one vial..." line. If it was dubbed, that would mean Bush directly took part in the ad, when Ed Gillespie claimed otherwise.)

The effect was that CNN and Woodruff made it appear as if Democrats were upset over nothing, and that the ad was strong but not objectionable. That darn liberal media.

Your party can make progress without the benefit of Ralph Nader fucking it up for the rest of us.

Case in point: Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez is polling ahead of the previously favored Gavin Newsom in the San Francisco mayoral campaign.
A media-sponsored poll released tonight finds that San Francisco mayoral contender Matt Gonzalez leads presumed frontrunner Gavin Newsom by seven points, a greater margin than the same outfit found on Nov. 14.

In automated telephone polling conducted from Nov. 22 through Nov. 24, some 52 percent of participants said they supported Gonzalez compared to 45 percent for Newsom and 3 percent undecided.

The questioning mostly took place before Newsom's endorsement by and partnership with former rival Angela Alioto became public Monday.

The survey involved 543 registered voters who described themselves as "certain'' to cast a ballot in the Dec. 9 runoff election. It was sponsored by television station KPIX and conducted by the New York-based SurveyUSA.
We'll see how the Alioto endorsement plays out, they have a lot of pull with the SF pop. Still, if you're polling above 50% in a head-to-head at this point, things look good for you.

Darrell Issa has decided not to run for Senate in 2004.

Where does that leave the California GOP in their hopes of ousting Boxer?
Several days ago, Rep. David Dreier, who gained visibility as one of Schwarzenegger's advisers during the recall campaign, also opted out of the Senate race.

Former Secretary of State Bill Jones, who has said he is seriously considering a run for the nomination, said he would make a final decision "right away" but declined to say exactly when.

Candidates must file by Dec. 5 to appear on the March primary ballot.
In other words, not good. Dreier, the only guy with a snowball's chance in Hades of beating Boxer, wants no part of it (not that the righties in the Cali GOP would let him get past the nominating process anyway). And Bill Jones finished a distant, distant third in the race for the 2002 gubernatorial nomination.

Well, looks like Dennis Miller and Kelsey Grammer may get the call after all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003


Now you can syndicate my ass! I now have an RSS feed thingy, which you can access through the little "BLOG RSS" icon on the left side of the screen, near the email and Dean links.

For information on how to put this information to good use, Paul, who was just recently turned on to this as well, as a good description of how all this works, with a relevant link included.

Tom Meyer.

Professor Krugman goes after the mock civility police on the right (perhaps including fellow Times columnist David Brooks), and hammers the RNC on its highly uncivil, Democrats-support-terrorists TV ad.
The campaign against "political hate speech" originates with the Republican National Committee. But last week the committee unveiled its first ad for the 2004 campaign, and it's as hateful as they come. "Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists," it declares.

Again, there's that weasel word "some." No doubt someone doesn't believe that we should attack terrorists. But the serious criticism of the president, as the committee knows very well, is the reverse: that after an initial victory in Afghanistan he shifted his attention — and crucial resources — from fighting terrorism to other projects.

What the critics say is that this loss of focus seriously damaged the campaign against terrorism. Strategic assets in limited supply, like Special Forces soldiers and Predator drone aircraft, were shifted from Afghanistan to Iraq, while intelligence resources, including translators, were shifted from the pursuit of Al Qaeda to the coming invasion. This probably allowed Qaeda members, including Osama bin Laden, to get away, and definitely helped the Taliban stage its ominous comeback. And the Iraq war has, by all accounts, done wonders for Qaeda recruiting. Is saying all this attacking the president for attacking the terrorists?

The ad was clearly intended to insinuate once again — without saying anything falsifiable — that there was a link between Iraq and 9/11. (Now that the Iraq venture has turned sour, this claim is suddenly making the rounds again, even though no significant new evidence has surfaced.) But it was also designed to imply that critics are soft on terror.
Go read the rest.

One note: Krugman's big critique of the "some are attacking the prez..." line -- that the Dems are actually attacking Bush for not attacking the terrorists -- was articulated PERFECTLY by General Wesley Clark in yesterday's presidential debate. I'm still a Dean man -- his performance tonight was solid, he did a nice job of defanging the Kerry-Gep tag team -- but I have to say, Clark's two big speeches on Iraq and foreign policy in the debate were pure dynamite, and they blew the roof off the joint. I wish Clark wouldn't propose nonsense like the ol' flag-burning amendment, but this is the second straight debate in which he's impressed me. I think that shouting-fest he had with that Fox talking head last week lit a fire under the General's ass. I don't care if Gep and Kerry are running strong in Iowa and NH, respectively: This race will come down to Howard Dean and Wesley Clark. Everyone else is static.

With that in mind, I present my new 2004 TFM Primary-ometer (TM). I will present a relatively sequential choice of prospective 2004 Dem tickets, highlighting my preference at any given time. They will range from Dean with anybody (D/a), to Dean with Clark (D/C), to Clark with Dean(C/D), to Clark with anybody (C/a), to somebody else (se). To get a better idea of where my preference would go, and why, here's the rub: The higher the confidence I have in a particular candidate (Dean or Clark), the more likely I am to favor that candidate with any running mate. If my confidence in a particular candidate (Dean or Clark) is less than absolutely full, however, I am more likely to favor that candidate provided he runs with the other top-tier man. And away we go:
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

D/a D/C C/D C/a se
Why? Because this week, more than any before, I see the reality that we need a ticket that's both strong and experienced on defense and foreign policy. That RNC ad is really telling in that the Bushies really want Dean to come out of the pack with the nomination. I think Dean is the strongest candidate because he's energized the base more than any other, and they won't flock from him as the GOP base did from Bush I, but the Bush II people think Dean is the easiest candidate to paint as a weak pinko liberal, and that's the only way they can win next year. I think Dean is smart enough and strong enough to handle such attacks, he understands the rapid-response strategies of the Clinton-Gore team back in 92. But TFM is looking for an ace in the hole, a running mate that would turn Dean from a candidate that will turn Florida, Arizona and New Hampshire from red to blue states, to a potential landslide winner. And lookee here, we have a southern 4-star general, telegenic, smart and so on. Does that trivialize Clark? Yes. Would some people say he's overqualified for the VP slot? Sure. But a Dean/Clark ticket would be a juggernaut that BushCo would be unlikely to beat. I almost chose Dean with anybody, because another southerner who's strong on defense, like Max Cleland or Bob Graham, would be a great addition to the ticket. However, there was something about Clark tonight that really made me realize that he probably belongs on the ticket. For now.

Anyway, long way to go!

I'll either make this a weekly or every-other-week thing, or I'll never do it again.
Sorry about the lack of blogging these last few days.

Actually, there's been no lack of blogging on my part. Just a lack of blogging here.

On the other hand, lots to read over at the California Patriot Watch and If Six Was Nine.

Normal blogging here should commence soon.