The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Warren Buffett increases his bet against the US dollar. (link via Drudge)

Why does Arnold Schwarzenegger hate America so much to hire a guy like this as his principal economic advisor?

Media, please don't bother with this one. I've had it with the whole double standard thing. Last week it was all about how you can't be a pro-choice Catholic politician... if you're a Democrat, in this case John Kerry. Rudolph Giuliani, Tom Ridge, George Pataki, and Arnold Schwarzenegger are all pro-choice Catholic politicians. IOKIYAR, I guess.

In that regard, if a stink is going to be made about Warren Buffett and John Kerry, then that stink should make its way to Sacramento too.
As you may have heard, Supreme Court Justice, and George HW Bush appointee David Souter was assaulted while jogging. Reports at this point seem to suggest this was a random attack.

The Freepers are of course, coming to their own conclusions:
To: counterpunch

Let's think about this. Souter is a bachelor. Lives alone. Rumors abound that he is , let's say, not in the mainstream.He's "jogging", at night, maybe in a park, when some "yuths" assault him. He wasn't robbed.


14 posted on 05/01/2004 11:33:55 AM PDT by BabaOreally


To: BabaOreally
There is a reason that John Grisham wrote about a Supreme Court Justice hiding in the closet and visiting gay porno theaters. Perhaps a certain lifelong N.H. bachelor has something to tell about his late night George Michael-type strolls.

23 posted on 05/01/2004 11:43:42 AM PDT by Young Rhino (


To: BabaOreally
Perhaps the youths were offended at being propositioned.

33 posted on 05/01/2004 12:06:54 PM PDT by BlackElk (Dean of Discipline of the Tomas de Torquemada Gentlemen's Club)
...And so on.

I'm impressed that some of these people bring up Supreme Court Justices and porno without the slightest sense of historical irony.

Friday, April 30, 2004

When I linked the new CBS/NYT poll a couple days ago, I neglected to point out that they asked the "was Saddam personally involved in 9/11" question too, just like the U of Maryland poll a few days prior. Over at Uggabugga, they have the Dem-Rep-Independent breakdown of the question.
Yes -- 52%
No -- 39%

Yes -- 28%
No -- 62%

Yes -- 38%
No -- 51%
Hey, not bad, at least half of independents believe an absolute fact to be the truth. But nearly one in three Democrats? Did they all just watch Hot Shots: Part Deux the other day or something?
Matt Davies, Stuart Carlson, and Jack Ohman draw on John Kerry's Vietnam accolades.
What's this about? (via buzzflash)
Shut out of briefing

Last week Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives were given a closed-door briefing by Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, about the Iraq war, the extension of duty for U.S. troops and the June 30 handover of Iraqi sovereignty. Democrats in Congress were not invited and not allowed to participate.

Together, Reps. Martin Sabo, James Oberstar, Collin Peterson and I represent almost 2.5 million Minnesotans, including U.S. troops, reservists and National Guardsmen and women serving in Iraq, as well as their families here at home. Our nation is at war, yet our Republican colleagues are privileged to national security briefings while Democrats are shut out. It appears the Bush administration and the Republicans in Congress don't want to inform us about the situation in Iraq.

Our troops and their families have my support, but my constituents and I deserve to know if President Bush has a plan for a war that is costing hundreds of American lives, thousands of Iraqi lives and $4.7 billion per month. Minnesotans should expect their members of Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, to be given equal, not separate and unequal, access to briefings on this vital national security issue.

Rep. Betty McCollum,

Washington, D.C.
You tell 'em.
Via Altercation, McSweeney's presents "Create Your Own Tom Friedman Op-Ed Column"

A bit more on the prospect of a Roy Moore presidential candidacy.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled against his appeal, denying him the possibility of getting his old job back. This effectively clears his schedule for a White House run with the Constitution Party. And this effectively increases the proportion of my brain allocated to wishful thinking. We'll see...

And by the way, Judge Moore, if you want to run for President, TFM has some free advice for you: Just this week in Pennsylvania, Bush's campaign team led the effort to block the nomination for US Senate of a right-wing Christian Republican, Pat Toomey (endorsed by the Dobson, etc) in favor of longtime moderate-extraordinaire Arlen "magic bullet" Specter. That might be just a wee bit interesting to your potential constituency.

Wedge! Wedge!

Hmm, Moore/McClintock 2004... I like it!
"Whenever Kerry publicly demands debates with George, he should be sure to insist that Cheney can't come."


A lot of the right-wing blogosphere is throwing a party over a State Department report that 2003 saw the fewest terror attacks since 1969. (Here, here and here.) From CNN's report:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- International acts of terror in 2003 were the fewest in more than 30 years, according to the U.S. State Department's annual terrorism report released Thursday.

The Patterns of Global Terrorism report said 190 acts of international terrorism occurred in 2003 -- a slight drop from 198 attacks the previous year and the lowest total since 1969.

The figure marked a 45 percent decrease in attacks since 2001, but it did not include most of the attacks in Iraq, because attacks against combatants did not fit the U.S. definition of international terrorism.
Suddenly the right loves the State Department.

Hey, wait a minute! Gee, I could swear that I heard Dubya say at one, maybe two points that Iraq was a "central front" in the war on terrorism. I could also swear that the RNC put out an ad in autumn 2003 that claimed "some are now attacking the President for attacking the terrorists", clearly referring to Iraq. I also remember that every time an RPG or IED used by insurgents caused the death of American troops, more than a handful of right-wing hawk pundits referred to those who committed these attacks as "terrorists".

And now, suddenly, when they need a tally for annual terror attacks that's favorable to them... the insurgents aren't terrorists? Isn't this a bit hypocritical of Bush supporters, both inside and out of the blog arena, to trumpet?

Look, I don't think the insurgents are terrorists. They're a guerrilla insurgency. Many of them want Saddam Hussein, a bad man indeed, back in power. My point, though, is that right-wing Iraq hawks and many others have so mangled the definition and proper usage of the word "terrorism" that it is blatantly hypocritical of them to celebrate the State Department numbers, because doing so would require them to revert -- an almost Oceanic fashion -- to the textbook definition of terrorism, as if they had never been running around calling everybody terrorists.

Furthermore, one of the arguments floating around among the warbloggers is that these numbers dispel the "myth" that American actions in Iraq have only resulted in more terrorism and less security for America. (click on the 2nd of the above "here" links) This is idiocy of a pretty high order. To those who make this argument, I ask: From conception to execution, how long did the September 11th plot take to develop? And I also ask: Did 9/11 constitute 1, 2, 3, or 4 attacks, and given your answer, would that constitute a good or bad year in terms of terrorist attacks, in itself?

Guys, don't count your chickens. I remember Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, in which with his face set to its most cocky smirk, Bush referred to Al Qaeda:
All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way -- they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies. (Applause.)
13 and a half months later, trains exploded in Madrid. Of course, those weren't Bush's chickens.

UPDATE: I'm an "-ist"! TFM happily proclaims, "finally!"

Kevin Drum nails it on the hawk reaction to recent episodes that have brought the Iraq war-dead into the public's view:
[W]ar supporters need to get a grip. In a popular war, battlefield losses serve to redouble public commitment to the fight, and honoring the dead is viewed as a solemn and patriotic gesture. It's only in unpopular wars that combat deaths cause public support to decline.

Present day conservatives seem to unthinkingly assume that any public acknowledgement of Iraqi war deaths is obviously just an underhanded political gesture designed to undermine support for the war. It never occurs to them either that motives could be genuine or that reaction could be positive, and this hypersensitivity is a tacit admission that this is, fundamentally, a war with very shallow support indeed. If they really believed in the war and in the administration's handling of it, they'd show some backbone and welcome Ted Koppel's gesture tonight. Instead they're acting as if they're ashamed of it.
When I see this,

...I'm moved. In general, supporters of wars -- both good wars and bad ones -- need to understand something about perceptions. By reacting to the recent pictures of flag-draped coffins as if Janet's right boob was on top of them, hawks have moved the goalposts, quite shamefully I might add. This is war, not a video game; there are consequences and they are measured in human lives. Until that is substantially recognized, opinions on a war don't really mean squat.

I'm not an out-and-out pacifist, I'm at best a pragmatic one. But I know enough to know that war is about a lot more than just achieving a strategic objective or forcibly changing a region into a more ideologically palatable version of itself. The decision to go to war means that you have decided to end, destroy, or seriously harm the lives of thousands of people. When we see a vague number of "wounded" American troops somewhere, that often means lost legs, arms, eyes, and so on*.

I disagree with Kevin on one of the things he says. Despite how moving they are, I don't think that picutres of dead troops on their way home increase support for the war in which they died; perhaps they do briefly, as people rally around the leadership to some extent, but that effect fades pretty quickly. However, in TFM's view, seeing these images, or at least being conscious of them in a more-than-abstract way is necessary to cultivating a full opinion of a war.

These outraged supporters -- the ones whose immediate reflex was to question Ted Koppel's motivations when they heard what ABC was going to do -- are cheating. First, you educate the population on the costs of war, the lives lost, ruined and turned upside-down. We should see flag-draped coffins. Then, and only then, when we have those realities, combined with the case made for war by its supporters, can a population make a meaningful, accurate, emotional-and-intellectual judgment as to the worth of a given war. If supporters of the Iraq war are worried about what presenting the realities of the war might do to public opinion on the war as a whole, then I agree with Kevin that they think there's a house-of-cards situation going on with the views of the American people.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the blogosphere, Mrs. du Toit (and by link-related extension, Instapundit) has found the cause of both our victory in WWII and our loss in Vietnam. Clear vs. unclear objectives? Committment of the US government to send the troops to do the job? Exit strategy vs. no exit strategy? Well, you could guess all of those things, but you'd be wrong. The answer: Life Magazine! Oy vey...

Lastly, this post gives me another chance to plug Chris Hedges' outstanding book War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, an enthralling book on the harsh realities of war, written by a non-pacifist war correspondent.

(* if you just thought something snarky to yourself about John Kerry's first Purple Heart, keep in mind that he got three of 'em, one of which for shrapnel that is still lodged in his thigh. anyway...)

UPDATE: Jesse makes the obvious point regarding Nightline: "if Fox News had done the exact same thing, would you be decrying it as a left-wing ratings stunt"

Thursday, April 29, 2004


I must say, Slate's PowerPoint series is the best thing they've come up with in . . . well, ever. Even for a publication that employs both Hitchens and Kaus, that's saying something.

This time around, it's John Kerry's military records.

Slide 5 is just about the goofiest thing I've ever seen. Also note the little joke in the corner of slide 2.

There's plenty for both sides of the aisle to laugh about. Besides, the entire Presidential election is about spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to convince 4 percent of the voting population to vote either one way or the other. Something tells me that a very, very small proportion of those 4 percent read Slate. So let's all pretend we're seasoned inside-the-Beltway correspondent stuck-ups, and have a good laugh together.
Rasmussen's daily tracking poll has Kerry leading 46-44.

TFM officially reiterates his call for Democrats to stop spazzing about John Kerry.
Hoffmania has another take on the new Israeli Iraqi flag.
If you're in Berkeley and love this whole blog thing that people do, maybe this might interest ya:
Revisiting Virtual Communities
The Internet's Impact on Society and Politics

When: Friday, April 30, 2004, 9:00 am -- 10:15 am

Where: North Gate Library, Hearst at Euclid Avenue, Berkeley

Tickets: This is a free event.


Susan Mernit, partner in 5ive consultancy and author of "Navigating the Info Jungle" Weblog

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, author of the Daily Kos Weblog

Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist

Mark Pincus, CEO and co-founder of Tribe Networks Inc.

Paul Grabowicz, new media program director at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism (moderator)
Enjoy! For those not in the Berkeley area who like streaming video, the event will be webcast live tomorrow. I think you'll just have to tell me about it.
One midterm down, one to go

By the way, Mickey Kaus: HACK! More here.

George Bush: Liar about his college athletic record. Big deal? No, but if Kerry had done it...

And new from the Center for American Progress: They've compiled all of their "Claim vs. Fact" pieces into one gigantic Claim Vs. Fact Database, found on the web at . Easily searchable, and full of duplicity galore!

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

A new poll from CBS and the New York Times has Kerry leading Bush 46-44 and Bush's approval/disapproval spread at 46-to-47. To those of you who might be fidgeting in your chairs about John Kerry's candidacy, please stop spazzing, just because of one mediocre set of polls and a phony controversy regarding medals Kerry won for courage and bravery in Vietnam, he's hanging in there. Things will be even better when he finds himself a running mate, which I hope he does in the next two weeks.

Bush has had exactly two good weeks in the course of the campaign in 2004. The first was when some right-wingers made a fuss about Kerry's foreign leaders remark. The second was when some right-wingers made a fuss about Kerry's war medals. That's nice that Bush is keeping up, but is the right proud that it's because of, you know, stupid bullshit?

But back to the poll.

The big news in the CBS/NYT poll is that support for Bush regarding the Iraq war is way down:
After initially expressing robust backing for the war, the public is now evenly divided over whether the United States military should stay for as long as it takes to stabilize Iraq or pull out as soon as possible, the poll showed.

Asked whether the United States had done the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, 47 percent of respondents said it had, down from 58 percent a month earlier and 63 percent in December, just after American forces captured Saddam Hussein. Forty-six percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq, up from 37 percent last month and 31 percent in December.
There's a lot more to digest. Anyway, I have two midterms tomorrow, tata!
Wes Clark has an editorial in today's NY Times:
In the heat of a political campaign, attacks come from all directions. That's why John Kerry's military records are so compelling; they measure the man before his critics or his supporters saw him through a political lens. These military records show that John Kerry served his country with valor, and that those who served with him and above him held him in high regard. That's honor enough for any veteran.

Yet the Republican attack machine follows a pattern we've seen before, whether the target is Senator John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 or Senator Max Cleland in Georgia in 2002. The latest manifestation of these tactics is the controversy over Mr. Kerry's medals.

John Kerry was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for his service in Vietnam. In April 1971, as part of a protest against the war, he threw some ribbons over the fence of the United States Capitol.

Republicans have tried to use this event to question his patriotism and his truthfulness, claiming he has been inconsistent in saying whether he threw away his medals or ribbons. This is no more than a political smear. After risking his life in Vietnam to save others, John Kerry earned the right to speak out against a war he believed was wrong. Make no mistake: it is that bravery these Republicans are now attacking.
While I have questions about the idea that military service earns someone the right to speak out against a war, I do agree with Clark's sentiment there, which should be read more subjectively, regarding Kerry's enhanced perspective on the war after his service.

By the way, Kerry needs a running mate. Soon. I think a lot of people who might be getting a case of cold feet about John Kerry's candidacy should note that right now it is effectively 2 against 1. Perhaps even more than that, because more people are hearing the words of Karen Hughes than those of Rand Beers. More VP thoughts in the coming day or two.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Condi Rice has an editorial of her own . . . in the Onion, in which she provides a new explanation for why 9/11 could not have been prevented:
It is with utmost confidence and sincerity that I assure each and every one of you that there was no way the federal government could have prevented the horrific events of Sept. 11 without accruing an enormous amount of overtime.

My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of all those who died on that terrible day. Our prayers continue to be with you. Unfortunately, there was absolutely nothing we could have done to predict al-Qaeda's evil plot, without requiring many, many people to stay in the office past 5 p.m.

According to federal law, government employees must be paid time-and-a-half for any work hours beyond 40 and double-time on weekends. Ladies and gentlemen, preventing Sept. 11 would have required hundreds of thousands of unbudgeted overtime hours and, in several cases, overtime plus compensatory paid vacation. Again, may I address the family members of Sept. 11 victims: That tragic day changed us all, but you paid the highest price.

The world was a different place before the day of those horrific attacks. Due to tragic budget constraints before Sept. 11, it was impossible to authorize unlimited overtime pay to defend our country from international and domestic threats. Our nation was in the midst of a fiscal crisis and operating under massive jobs-and-growth tax-cut measures. Turning back the hands of time is impossible, just as it would have been impossible to find money to cover thousands of hours of intelligence-agency overtime. Truly, the bottom line weighed heavy on our hearts and minds.

Be sure to check out this week's issue, making sure to read the first "News in Brief" story about halfway down the page.
Tim Dunlop of The Road to Surfdom sums up President Bush's "unprecedented" cooperation with the 9/11 Commission. (link via Drum)

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


Jerome Armstrong:
Bush won this for Specter. Bush beat the Conservatives in his party. They will not forget this lightly. I don't think the Republicans in the White House have any clue as to what they have unleashed. Conservatives though, unlike Deaniacs who always have Nader, have nowhere to go.
Trust me, I never had Nader. That aside, maybe that can change.

Bush Republicans 51, non-Bush Republicans 49. He's a uniter!
Paul Bruno of A Fortiori is hanging it up, to focus on his family the remainder of his college career.

From a blog standpoint, TFM hopes that this retirement is more Michael Jordan than Barry Sanders, so to speak. But from a real life standpoint, he is wished well.

(back in Santa Barbara)

With 85% of precincts in, Republican challenger Pat Toomey holds an 85-vote lead over Senator Arlen "Magic Bullet" Specter, according to this site.

Democratic candidate Joe Hoeffel should have a good chance to beat either candidate. The Repub primary campaign has apparently been an "I'm the bigger Republican!" pissing contest, so whoever wins will have a lot to answer for in the general election. I'll update this when a winner has been declared...

UPDATE: Specter by a few thou with 89% in, but it's still 50-50

ANOTHER UPDATE: 96% in, Specter leads by 16k. That should be it. Yep, race has been called.

What does this mean? It means that in the general election, Democrat Joe Hoeffel will be facing a bruised and battered incumbent who barely survived the primary. In said primary, Specter, known for his somewhat moderate voting record, had to run further to the right than he ever had to in a campaign, so this will provide some decent ammunition for Hoeffel. Certainly, the name "Santorum" will come up.

Also, Kos notes:
[W]ord on the street is that the Bush campaign is using today as a test run for its PA GOTV effort, all on behalf of Specter
(GOTV = "get out the vote", for the uninitiated) So this means that all the Bush people could muster was a win for an incumbent by only a few thousand votes. But if Florida taught us anything, then to these guys, a win is a win is a win! (even if the actual win itself is in question)

Though I'm not hugely mired in Pennsylvania politics -- my closest connection to the Keystone State is that my mother was born there back in the FDR administration -- I'd say that the situation turned out pretty well for the Democrats. Toomey, who ran a great campaign and is a reasonably charismatic guy from what little I saw of him, might have given Hoeffel a lot more trouble given that A) he didn't have to BS Pennsylvania Republicans into getting their votes and B) Pennsylvania isn't unwilling to elect far-right senators (Santorum). But he's gone. Instead we get the Bush-backed candidate, who won with only 51% of the Republican vote despite the Bush team's GOTV effort, and who produced a lot of ad-ready fodder in the primary campaign, in a state that, like others in the Great Lakes region, has taken the brunt of the recession. We'll see how this goes...

Monday, April 26, 2004

President Bush Claims Medals Thrown Over White House Gate Weren't His

WASHINGTON (Art Vandelay Press) -- President George W. Bush is facing a new controversy today when it was revealed, based on video and eyewitness sources, that the war medals thrown over the White House fence in a 1971 protest of the Vietnam War were not his.

A video reel played today by ABC News clearly shows that of the medals thrown in the protest, none were won by the President.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan strongly denied accusations that Bush's medals were among those cast over the White House gate by veterans protesting the then-conflict in Southeast Asia. Speaking this morning to the White House press corps, McClellan noted that not only did Bush not receive any accolades for exemplary performance in combat, but also that he never even fought in Vietnam, serving instead, for a time, in the Texas Air National Guard.

"The closest thing to a medal he ever received at the time was a gold filling at the Alabama National Guard's dental office," McClellan said.

He added, "President Bush served in the notoriously jungle-free state of Texas, for a while, and would not have been in a position to engage in the sort of swift-boat heroics that brought other veterans of the Vietnam era medals such as those involved in the 1971 protest."

Speaking at an airport tarmac in Birmingham, Alabama, the President gave little heed to the questions posed to him by the assorted press on the issue of the war medals. Often prone to citing and quoting his favorite motion picutre Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, a defiant Bush asserted to the assorted press corps, "I swear, they're not mine!"

Asked to comment further, Bush attributed the controversy to "...politics," adding that he is "concerned that the Senator from Massachusetts eventually left Vietnam, showing that he doesn't have the decisive qualities required to handle a job like this."
HEADLINE DISPUTE: Why did ABC News alter its headline about John Kerry's Vietnam medals?

Consider me back tomorrow. Sorry about the unscheduled hiatus, things have been pretty busy this weekend.

This is my first post, btw, from my spankin' new HP laptop. Woohoo!