The Facts Machine

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

Friday, April 09, 2004


Today is a great day. I had a dental appointment earlier today to fix a problem I had with my teeth that had affected my life negatively for almost 9 years. The results were better than I could have dreamed.

Anyway, that's about it.

Thursday, April 08, 2004


Princeton has a good idea:
Earning high marks at Princeton University may soon be a tougher task.

Faculty members and school officials are reviewing proposed changes to the university's grading system that would limit the number of A's that professors could award. The goal of the proposal made public this week is to lower the number of A's from the current 46 percent to 35 percent for undergraduate courses.

"Curbing grade inflation will require more aggressive steps than we have taken," said Nancy Weiss Malkiel, dean of Princeton's undergraduate college. She sent the proposal to faculty members on Tuesday, and they are due to vote on the proposal later this month.

According to the proposal, grades could vary class by class, but each department would be expected to try to meet the limit on A's. It also would allow faculty members to see the grades for every department.
Yes! People need to learn to live with disappointment. People need to learn that there's much more to life than pleasuring one's self to their GPA.

Of course, this is an Ivy League school we're talking about, so a move like this could up the ol' suicide rate.

Maybe a compromise should be found, wherein all students of Cornel West get A's, while all students of Bernard Lewis get B's. There!

Well, I woke up at 5:58 this morning. And I went back to sleep at 9:05, getting up again at 10:25 for a class at 11.

I repeat, whose idea was it for the testimony to be so damn early? At least in the western half of the country. There was to be no other testimony given today, so there's no reason there couldn't have been a 12 Eastern, 9AM Pacific start. This means that around half the nation won't have been able to see or hear the testimony as it occurred, meaning that their impressions of Condi's words will be somewhat more subject to the spin the media puts on them.

Gee, if the White House had a say in what time Condi went before the panel, they're putting an awful lot of faith in the media. That would kinda cut all these claims of a liberal media bias, dontcha think?

Anyway, my general impression from her testimony is that she didn't blow up.

And I swear, regarding the August 6 PDB -- a source of contention in numerous panelists' questions -- the more I hear from how about how it was a "historical document" (a claim she herself contradicted during Kerrey's questioning), the more I thought of these guys:

"In the years since we first received transmission of your historical documents, we have studied every facet of your missions and strategies."

Anyway, the Center For American Progress has a pretty extensive fact check of Condi's testimony up -- already! -- so you can pretty easily separate the bullshit from the kinda-bullshit. For starters, she repeated the lie about not having known that terrorists could have used planes as weapons. There's plenty more where that came from.

I will say this, she really has the Bush-Russert filibuster style down pat.

And Ms Coulter: Just because I am critical of Rice's testimony, it does not mean that I'm a racist, so don't bother, m'kay?

But of course, Bush thought Condi was "terrific".

UPDATE: and from Jesse, here's some Condi haiku poetry.

NOTE: Today is a travel day for TFM, as I head off to an undisclosed location until sunday evening, so posting will be sporadic for the next few days. Click on links in the "gray area" on the left for more bloggy (and otherwise) goodness.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Ralph Nader is calling for impeaching Bush.
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader called Tuesday for President Bush to be impeached for "deceiving the American people night after night after night" about U.S. involvement in Iraq.

"When you plunge our country into war on a platform of fabrications and deceptions, and you bring back thousands of American soldiers who are sick, injured or dead, and that war is unconstitutionally authorized to begin with, Mr. Bush’s behavior qualifies for the high crimes and misdemeanor impeachment clause of the Constitution," the 2000 Green Party presidential nominee said to applause from about 200 students at Columbia College Chicago.

Nader said President Clinton was impeached for "far less of an offense."

"Lying under oath is not a trivial offense, but it cannot compare with deceiving the American people night after night after night on national television, staging untruths and rejecting the advice of his advisers," he said.
Of course, Ralph is being dishonest in his comments about Clinton, whose impeachment he supported.

Interesting, that Ralph wants the next transfer of executive power to be of a manner that involves the American voting public as little, democratically speaking, as possible!

What is clear, though, is that because Ralph supported both the impeachment of Clinton and the possible impeachment of Dubya, his only interest is in the creation of increasing political entropy. It doesn't matter who it is, as long as it creates chaos from which he could take advantage and ride in as the knight in shining armor, with a gleaming sword in one hand and hundreds of thousands of dollars of Fidelity-Magellan investments in the other. Just go away.
Condi's testimony will be tomorrow morning at 9AM Eastern.

Meaning, around half the country will be unable to see a large portion of it live. Who schedules these things?

In the NY Times a few days ago, Peter Bergen had some question ideas for the commissioners, including:
1. A search of all your public statements and writings reveals that you apparently mentioned Osama bin Laden only once and never mentioned Al Qaeda at all as a threat to the United States before 9/11. Why?

2. Both Bob Woodward's book "Bush at War" and Richard Clarke's "Against All Enemies" show that shortly after 9/11 there was considerable focus by the Bush cabinet on Iraq's possibly being the perpetrator of the attacks. Why was Iraq considered a suspect when there was no evidence that it was involved in any act of anti-American terrorism for a decade — other than a failed attempt to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush in 1993 — while there was overwhelming evidence that it was the Al Qaeda network that attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, tried to blow up Los Angeles International Airport in 1999, blew up American embassies in Africa in 1998 and attacked the destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000? After all, the cabinet did not discuss the possibility that the attacks were the work of Iran, Libya or Syria, all countries that have a history of terrorism directed at Americans.

3. Mr. Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism director, has said that of the 100 or so meetings held by cabinet-level officials before 9/11 only one was about terrorism. Is this true? If so, was this emblematic of the Bush administration's posture on terrorism?
And so on.

And the Center for American Progress has a handy viewer guide.

To set my alarm for 5:55AM when my first class is at 11, or not to set my alarm-- that is the question.
Arianna loves blogs.
The April edition of the California Patriot is out, so that means I'm back to work.

So far, Mr Cise is not showing his quality.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


"Zombies guitarist dead at 58"


Yeah yeah yeah, okay okay, but what's his name? And who, perchance, is his daddy?
Auth and Danziger have essentially the same thought about the "firm" June 30th deadline for power transfer in Iraq.

"Murdoch backs Bush and wants troops to stay" - Sydney Morning Herald
The White House is currently refusing to give the 9/11 commission a transcript of the national security speech Condi Rice was to give on 9/11/01, you know, the one that talked about missile defense but said pretty much nothing at all about terrorism.
the White House has so far refused on the grounds that draft documents are confidential, the sources said
Josh Marshall wonders why, though I think the better question is, "WHY?!?!?!" It was intended to be a public speech, so it's not like there's any classified info in there.

It's pretty simple. The White House released that "background briefing" they made Richard Clarke give in August 2002 with the explicit idea that a Republican 9/11 commissioner would rhetorically hold up a copy of the transcript during Clarke's testimony. But now when something they view as damaging to their own credibility if given high public exposure, such as Rice's speech that never was, comes about, they have to stop it. How dare they even think about using words the White House had Condi say against her!

It's sheer partisan hackery in its most pure form.


Okay, so it's Dick Lugar, who has a penchant for saying this sort of thing first... but often he's the first among the right to actually be right.
Asked on Sunday if the transfer date was unrealistic, Richard Lugar, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on ABC television, "It may be, and I think it's probably time to have that debate."

Lugar, an Indiana Republican, and the committee's ranking Democrat, Senator Joseph Biden Jr. of Delaware, both said they had been advised that Bremer would brief them and other legislators this week. Lugar also said he had scheduled three days of hearings, from April 20 to April 22, to explore the details of the transfer.
We'll see how this plays out. Though everything else has been just about fair game, Bush has stuck hard to the 6/30 deadline. Kerry's been attacking the President, saying:
“I think the June 30 deadline is a fiction and they never should have set an arbitrary deadline, which almost clearly has been affected by the election schedule in the United States of America,”
The worse Iraq gets, and the more unrealistic a 6/30 handover seems, the more fair this charge becomes. If they would manipulate the timeline of the 9/11 commission until after the election by stalling it in the vetting process, they could be just as cynical with this. We'll see. We got them to cave and send Condi to the floor, as well as turn over all those witheld Clinton documents, so hopefully they'll budge on this if necessary.

Via Jesse, apparently Instapundit linked to page 2 of a Washington Post story on Fallujah.

Why page 2?

Well, via Amygdala, the answer may have to do with what's on page 1.

What a paragon of intellectual honesty the man from Tennessee is.

Via Political Wire, a new book on the Bushes says so:
A new book on the Bush political dynasty claims former President George H.W. Bush opposed last year's invasion of Iraq.
In "The Bushes: Portrait of a Dynasty," Peter and Rochelle Schweizer cite as evidence a summer 2002 interview in which the older Bush's sister said her brother had expressed his "anguish" about the administration's preparations for war.

"But do they have an exit strategy?" the former President is quoted as worrying.

"Although he never went public with them," the authors assert, "the President's own father shared many of [the] concerns" of Brent Scowcroft, his national security adviser and a leading war opponent.
This was something a lot of us had suspected, when Scowcroft, Eagleberger and others voiced their concerns. 41's people are denying the accounts from the book:
Top Bush aide Jean Becker denied the allegations yesterday.

"From the very first day, President Bush 41 unequivocally supported the President on the war in Iraq," she said. "He had absolutely no reservations of any kind."
Though the article doesn't make it clear, Becker is a Bush 41 aide, not 43.

Of course, Becker's comment is a non-denial denial. Becker says Poppy had no reservations on having "supported the President", i.e. his son.

The article continues:
The book pries open the door slightly on one of the Bush clan's most closely held secrets: the former President's private qualms about portions of his son's Iraq policy.

"He agrees with the policy goals but not with all of the execution," a close friend told the Daily News.

The older Bush has maintained strict public silence about possible differences, and only last week hammered "elites and intellectuals on the campaign trail" for criticizing the war.

Yet close friends and associates said the older Bush, while fiercely proud and protective of his son, nevertheless harbors concerns about the war and its aftermath.

These sources told The News that aside from his "exit-strategy" fears of a prolonged, bloody conflict, the ex-President is troubled that the war fractured the international coalition he painstakingly assembled to expel deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991.
The author of the book is a member of the conservative Hoover Institute, by the way.
I haven't had much to say about how things have gone to hell in Iraq in the past few days and several hours, including the fall of Najaf, a city about the size of Oakland. This is all really, really heavy, and I'm entirely sure what we're gonna do to solve this situation.

Monday, April 05, 2004


Number of times Clinton's last national security policy paper mentions "Osama bin Laden and his terror network": Four more than Condi Rice was going to in her national security address scheduled for 9/11/01. Give it a rest, guys.

UPDATE: Haha, I should have read further down the article:
Mr. Bush often notes that about two-thirds of al Qaeda's thousands of members — including many key leaders — have been either captured or killed since the attacks, and that 44 of the 55 top Iraqi officials under Saddam Hussein in a deck of cards have been "taken care of."
You don't need to have read Mr Clarke's book to know what's wrong with this. (Hint: think "hydra", and think "Iraq gave Bin Laden the greatest recruiting tool he could have ever hoped for, and so on)

And at the end of the article,
The Bush administration official noted that the planning of the September 11 attacks happened while Mr. Clinton was in power, and said the commission's probe has turned into a search for blame.

"It's a shame we are not focused more on moving forward, instead of about who was concerned more," he said.

The official said he found the lack of bin Laden and al Qaeda references in the final Clinton terror assessment interesting, but downplayed such "word-counting games."

"We don't measure progress or response [to terrorism] by how many speeches, words, utterances or meetings were held on a particular issue, but by action taken," he said.
Gee, I wonder why they'd downplay something like that. (hint: think "four is greater than zero", and so on)

UPDATE: On today's Crossfire, Novakula trotted out this very story, only to get smacked down handily by Carville, who more or less made the same point I did. Is it me, or has Bob Novak been a receptacle for the most ineffective, desperate pieces of spin that have come out against Richard Clarke? Maybe I should have expected that.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum reads the full report and blasts the WashTimes' charge to smithereens:
If you're looking for the four references, note that OBL's name is spelled "Usama bin Ladin." Sure enough, he's mentioned four times.

On the other hand, "terrorism" is mentioned seven times in the introduction alone and 58 times in the main section on "Implementing the Strategy." What's more, in the major section titled "Protecting the Homeland" there are seven primary issues discussed. Two of them are "Combating Terrorism" and "Domestic Preparedness Against Weapons of Mass Destruction."

It's also worth noting that far from considering terrorism a mere law enforcement activity, terrorism gets an entire paragraph in the section titled "Military Activities":
We must continue to improve our program to combat terrorism in the areas of antiterrorism, counterterrorism, consequence management, and intelligence support to deter terrorism. We will deter terrorism through the increased antiterrorism readiness of our installations and forward forces, enhanced training and awareness of military personnel, and the development of comprehensive theater engagement plans. In counterterrorism, because terrorist organizations may not be deterred by traditional means, we must ensure a robust capability to accurately attribute the source of attacks against the United States or its citizens, and to respond effectively and decisively to protect our national interests. U.S. armed forces possess a tailored range of options to respond to terrorism directed at U.S. citizens, interests, and property. In the event of a terrorist incident, our consequence management ability to significantly mitigate injury and damage may likely deter future attacks. Finally, we will continue to improve the timeliness and accuracy of intelligence support to commanders, which will also enhance our ability to deter terrorism.
That's a big *oops* for the Moonies.

FINAL UPDATE: The Moonie Times piece was linked on Drudge late last night, but it's completely gone now. Well, that was fast!

A Krugman column on the administration's mercury policy, guaranteed to piss you off.

Obituary birthday
Your scent is still here in my place of recovery


I was gonna do this, but some research for a paper intervened. Thankfully Quiddity over at uggabugga has a charming list of sites that host or link to Ann Coulter.

Jeneane Garofalo is pondering whether Ann Coulter is the survived incarnation of Tony Clifton. Ha!

Jeneane: How many self-identified liberals would you find at your average lynch mob?

Stephen Colbert: Fiscal liberals or social liberals?

Well said (via tbogg)

Was what Kos said stupid? Of course. Was it pretty damn tame compared to the bile on right-wing sites in many cases? Indeed: Columnist/Democrat-murder-inciter Kathleen Parker has posted multiple times on the Bush blog itself. But of course, it's okay if you're a Republican.

Does anybody else find it odd that while it's the right-friendly bloggers (Kaus, Glenn, others) who whine the most about the need for blogs to be unencumbered by staffs, journalistic editing processes and such, it's also the righty bloggers who are quickest to try to place other bloggers of non like-minded ideologies under the hardest mainstream scrutiny? They're all for the freedom to say something controversial, except when they disagree.

It was alright for Instapundit to call anti-war protesters "objectively pro-Saddam", yet Don Luskin went ahead and threatened to sue Atrios for saying something he didn't like. It's alright to see rabidly anti-Arab bile all over Little Green Footballs (and to be approving of people like Ann Coulter who claim that Islam teaches people to "'kill everyone who doesn't smell bad and doesn't answer to the name Mohammed")...

...yet when Markos Zuniga says something that 1) was emotionally charged, given his Army history, and 2) has, in circles outside of the Right Wing Mock Outrage Brigade, inspired some actual constructive discussions as to what the men of Blackwater were doing in Iraq, it's so over the line that it inspires both unprecedented indignation from the warbloggers and campaigns to get advertisers to pull their Kos ads?

Gimme a break!

World O' Crap has more.

From a quality piece of motion picture history, Michael Bay's unfortunate The Rock, in which the evil renegade General Hummel (Ed Harris) talks to his military henchmen:
Captain Darrow: Excuse me, general... but what about the fucking money?

General Hummel: There is no fucking money. The mission's over.

Captain Frye: Bullshit it's over.

Major Tom Baxter: You're talking to a General, soldier! Maintain discipline!

Captain Darrow: I'm not a soldier, Major. The day we took hostages, we became... mercenaries. And mercenaries get paid! I want my fucking money!
Checking over at OpenSecrets, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and his wife Linda have given about equally to Republicans and Democrats.

Obviously both parties should disassociate themselves from such blatant denigration of mercenaries. For shame, Susan Collins and Max Cleland!

A new Pew poll has Bush down at 43%. Of course, this is no time for us to rest on our laurels.

Of course, now having a two-front war in Iraq isn't exactly helping. But don't worry, America: Despite the growing turmoil, we're still out of there on June 30th . . . no matter what! I second Kevin's semi-rhetorical question:
It's also curious that — as near as I can tell — practically everything is negotiable in Iraq these days except for one thing: that June 30 date is sacrosanct. Why is that?
Yes, why indeed.

Completely and unabashedly ripping off Paul, I've added a link at the top of this blog to Air America Radio's live audio stream. Listen now!

I haven't heard Franken yet, mostly because my schedule keeps me away from the computer in the later hours of the morning. But I'm getting plenty of Randi Rhodes, she's awesome.

Sunday, April 04, 2004


Page 62:
By contrast, Bush and Baker knew that the thought of an American army going to war with an Arab nation could be enormously damaging to America's image in the Muslim world. They believed that the only way to inoculate against that damage was by extraordinary, unprecedented diplomatic effort and coalition building. Both spent long hours on the telephone for months, building and holding together the elclectic coalition. They knew that for that alliance to stay united, they had to demonstrate that they had taken the time and given Iraq every opportunity to avoid war. It could not just look that way, it had to be a really exhaustive effort to achieve a peaceful outcome. Only then could American forces go on the attack, along with the militaries of seven Arab nations. Their historic efforts are in marked contrast to the go-it-alone, hell-bent-for-war policy pursued by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney twelve years later.

Drudge links to this picture and bleats: "FRESH-FACED KERRY BACK ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL"

Let's look at the picture, shall we?

Note that his eyes are closed, his head is back and his eyebrows are down. When one raises their eyebrows, lines appear on one's forehead. I've noted this before, and I regret that I have to set Drudge straight again. In this case, try closing your eyes and putting your head way back, and then raising your eyebrows. Awkward, huh?

Show me a picture with Kerry's eyebrows raised but with no wrinkles, and then we'll talk.
Lisa's happiest day edition

From the 1992 Simpsons episode "Lisa the Greek", in which Homer discovers that his daughter has an innate ability to pick the winners of NFL games:
The happiest day of my life was three Sundays ago. I was sitting on my daddy's knee when the Saints, who were four-and-a-half point favorites, but only up by three, kicked a meaningless field goal at the last second to cover the spread.
-- Lisa's essay, "The Happiest Day of My Life"
Yesterday I happened to watch the last 45 minutes of the NCAA semifinal basketball game between Duke and UConn. When I don't give a rat's ass who wins, my general rule is to root for the public school beating the private, thus, UConn. A free throw with 3.2 seconds left widened their lead to 4 points, effectively sealing the deal, giving the Huskies a shot at the national title, against Georgia Tech on monday. At the very last moment, Duke point guard Chris Duhon heaved a 40-foot desperation 3-pointer, which hit the backboard and, surprise surprise, went in, making the final score UConn 79, Duke 78. For a moment I had thought to myself, "I wonder if that 3-ball covered the spread", but since I didn't have a newspaper around, I let it pass.

But guess what:
It was a shot that meant nothing to some and everything to others.

When Duke senior Chris Duhon nailed a 38-foot three-point shot off one leg as time expired in the semifinal game against the University of Connecticut on Saturday night, the Blue Devils still lost the game. But to those who wagered on the blue and white, the fortuitous bank shot that made the final score 79-78 meant that the underdogs covered the spread, which was between two and three points.

Those who put money on the Huskies, who had a 12-point run late in the game to take the lead, suddenly had lost their bet. Those who put money on Duke to cover collected their winnings.

With approximately $100 million being bet on March Madness each year in Las Vegas and about $2.5 billion wagered online according to the FBI, the Duhon shot transferred anywhere from $30 million to $100 million from those who bet on UConn to cover the point spread to those who bet on Duke to cover, as estimated by those closely tied to the sports gambling business.
Since Duhon is a senior and will not be playing for the Blue Devils anymore (and probably isn't good enough to be a starting point guard in the NBA, otherwise he would've turned pro already), I'm sure he can relax and let various individuals from Vegas take him out to an endless string of fancy, congratulatory dinners, replete with lobster, cigars, and full-body massages, both with and without happy endings.

TFM isn't particularly interested in this year's NCAA Tournament, mostly because TFM has a level-7 case of Baseball Fever.