The Facts Machine

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2003


I took a day off for travel purposes yesterday, but I'd be remiss if I didn't link to yesterday's Krugman, which dissects the first-glance good news of the third quarter GDP numbers, and ponders exactly who is getting richer here.

TFM wishes you and yours a happy and enjoyable 2004. I will be spending my evening somewhere rather appropriate for a raving liberal like me: At the Oakland Arena, for The Dead's newyears show. Oh yeah.

Monday, December 29, 2003


56 percent support President Bush's Iraq policy.

Hmm, that doesn't seem like news, guess it must be residuals from Saddam's capture.

But just in case, let's ask, 56 percent of what?

Of the military.
After a year of constant combat casualties and grinding overseas tours, a majority of men and women in uniform back President Bush and his policies in Iraq, according to a Military Times poll.

Fifty-six percent of those responding to a random Military Times mail poll of 993 active-duty military members who subscribe to the Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times approve of Bush's handling of Iraq. The poll, conducted in the past month, carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

"Fifty-six percent is not very high in terms of support," said Andrew Bacevich, a political scientist at Boston University and a retired Army officer. "There is plenty of reason to be skeptical of the handling of Iraq on the part of the people who are paying the price."
And here comes some spin:
But author and retired officer Ralph Peters called the numbers "a pleasant surprise."

"These are tough conditions," Peters said. "It speaks well of the men and women in uniform that they're maintaining such high morale."
Hmm. When nearly half of our forces cannot support the commander-in-chief's war policy, "high morale" isn't the first thing to cross my mind. (link via Tresy)

You should go vote in our year-end Best of 2003 poll over at If Six Was Nine.

Paul's explanation of the rules is pretty clear, but just in case, here's how it works:

You will be voting on the best songs of the year and the best albums of the year.

For each category you have 50 points.

Taking best album as an example, you can allocate those 50 points to as many different albums as you want, or as few, provided that you do not give more than 15 points to any individual album. Here's a sample:
Nirvana - Nevermind -- 15 points
Beatles - The White Album -- 13
Weezer - Pinkerton -- 9
Ani Difranco - Look At My Vagina -- 8
Bjork - Look At My Dead Swan -- 3
REM - Look At My Scalp -- 1
Kid Rock - Look At My Dead Dwarf -- 1
You should get the idea from that.

This point system should come easy to those of you familiar with sports video games, particularly ones with a "create a player" function.

I've already completed and submitted my entry, I'm not telling. (:

Glenn Reynolds links to a story on the electoral gains of the Serbian nationalist party, half-joking that this constitutes "a Balkan quagmire" and that
Obviously, the Clinton Administration failed to plan sufficiently for the postwar environment.
This is just plain stupid. Has the law professor from Tennessee looked around at Europe lately? There are a number of countries where oppressive, ultra-nationalist parties and candidates have made gains as of late, including France, Holland and Austria. So by Glenn's logic, the rise in support for the hard right in the Netherlands would mean that Truman and Eisenhower didn't plan sufficiently for the post-WWII environment.

This is one of Insty's tricks, the "really stupid and superficial analogy". You may remember an example of this which I pointed out a few months ago. Glenn linked to an article describing the discovery of a very old cache of chemical weapons discovered in China, dating back to the Japanese occupation in WWII. The Prof's enlightened commentary: This proves that weapons can stay hidden for a long time. [Nedra]When Glenn Reynolds makes this observation, he fails to inform his readers that nobody was looking for weapons in China[/Nedra]. Anyway, he's a dunce.
Take it to the bank, or at least your local spider hole

It's NFL playoff season again, and you know what that means: More of those delightful Don Cheadle commercials. Unfortunately, it also means more of those less-than-delightful Kid Rock commercials where he professes his love for "twins".

Okay, let's try this out, scores included, and home team in CAPS:
Wild Card:
CAROLINA 16, Dallas 13
Tennessee 31, BALTIMORE 21
GREEN BAY 38, Seattle 14
INDIANAPOLIS 34, Denver 20
In short, this year's wild card weekend will not be nearly as exciting as last year's. Onward:
Divisional Playoff:
ST LOUIS 20, Carolina 12
Indianapolis 27, KANSAS CITY 24
PHILADELPHIA 17, Green Bay 10
NEW ENGLAND 24, Tennessee 20
A more interesting weekend.
Conference Championships:
PHILADELPHIA 23, St Louis 13
NEW ENGLAND 28, Indianapolis 21
The Pats get revenge for that heartbreaking loss in the RCA Dome a couple weeks ago, and the Eagles finally get over the NFC Championship hump.
Super Bowl Thirty-uhhh... Thirty-Something:
Philadelphia Eagles 27, New England Patriots 23
There you have it, folks. Biting political commentary will resume later today.

Sunday, December 28, 2003


...for the Washington Post to wake up from the "we got him!" victory daydream and notice that US casualties continue to mount.
From Sept. 1 through Friday, 145 service members were killed in action in Iraq, compared with 65 from May 1 to Aug. 30. The two four-month intervals cover counterinsurgency operations, far costlier than major combat operations, which President Bush declared over on May 1.

Increases in those wounded in action have been equally dramatic this fall. Since Sept. 1, 1,209 soldiers have received battlefield wounds, more than twice the 574 wounded in action from May 1 through Aug. 30.

Nor have casualties tapered off since the capture of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein on Dec. 13. Through Friday, 12 service members were killed in action and 105 were wounded with Hussein in custody.

After a summer in which U.S. military commanders believed they were about to turn a corner and see a significant decline in casualties, attacks on American forces increased dramatically in October and early November, prompting a U.S. counteroffensive that culminated in Hussein's capture near Tikrit.

"The rate of casualties over the last four months is an indication that the insurgents are getting better organized," said retired Lt. Col. Andrew F. Krepinevich, director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank. "The insurgents have been encouraged by the fact that they have had some success."
And that doesn't even tell the whole story. Not applying stipulations designed to lower the bodycount, to date there have been 29 deaths (or 22 "hostile" deaths) since December 13th, the date of Saddam's capture.

Some casualty-related polling can be found in the WaPo piece:
Nevertheless, Americans are clearly growing weary of casualties. Washington Post-ABC News polling data from late March, during major combat operations, showed that 58 percent of Americans interviewed said they thought the number of casualties in Iraq was acceptable, with 34 percent saying the number was unacceptable.

The latest results, based on interviews conducted Dec. 18-21 with 1,001 randomly selected adults nationwide, indicate that those percentages have flipped, with only 33 percent saying the number of casualties is acceptable and 64 percent saying it is unacceptable.
The December polling, as I'm sure you noticed, was completed after Saddam's capture.

John Edwards has received the widely-coveted Hootie and the Blowfish endorsement.

With this news, Edwards has shifted his campaign strategy. He now intends to time-travel back to 1996, quit his law firm and challenge Bill Clinton in the primaries. That, as I see it, is the only way a Hootie endorsement can help.

We can now sit and wait for someone from, say, Slate or the New Republic to write an article slamming Daris Rucker & co. for beying anti-democratic.

The Short Version...

Kerry: Dean has no chance vs. Bush.

Dean: Kerry has no chance vs. Dean.

The Long Version...

I have to say, I've read the AP piece forwards and backwards, and I can't find anything, even paraphrased, suggesting that John Kerry thinks Howard Dean has "no chance" of beating Bush. The closest the article comes is this:
Aides to Kerry note that Dean, the former Vermont governor, fares poorly against Bush in head-to-head matchups.

Kerry said "we can't beat George Bush by being Bush-lite," referring to Dean's criticism of more centrist Democratic candidates.

"But we also won't beat George Bush by being light on national security, light on fairness for middle-class Americans or light on the values that make us Democrats."
John Kerry certainly knows that Al Gore fared poorly against Bush in head-to-head matchups at this point in the 2000 election cycle, and we know how the popular vote turned out. Furthermore, AP knows that this is the usual stuff coming from the Kerry/Gephardt/Lieberman camps, so why are they framing this as Kerry saying "no chance"? Sounds to me like they're setting up something to be used against Dean in the general election.

The issue of the headline is, well, complicated by the piece's conclusion:
Talking to reporters after his speech, Kerry stopped short of saying Dean was unelectable.

"All I'm trying to do is point out clear, real differences that matter to people who vote," he said.
Hmm. Say, that's a pretty low standard of headlining. I'll keep that in mind while I'm working on my "Bush: Yes, It Was About The Oil" and "Rove: I Ordered The Leak" articles.

Some of Kerry's other comments are painfully ironic:
"We need more than simple answers and the latest slip of the tongue," he said. "This election is too vital for us to lose it if voters refuse to take a gamble on national security and the steadiness of our leadership."

He pointed to Dean's statements on Saddam Hussein's capture and Dean's answer to a hypothetical question about where Osama bin Laden should be tried, if captured.

"What kind of muddled thinking is it if you can't instantly say that in your heart you know that bin Laden is guilty?" Kerry asked. "After every episode comes a statement trying to explain it away. Will Americans really vote for a foreign policy by clarifying press release?"
All this coming from a guy who's attempted to explain and re-explain his yes vote on the Iraq resolution about 15 different ways in the last 12 months.

Kerry is sheer background static at this point.