The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, May 08, 2004

From BushFlash comes this hilarious flash video on Limbaugh (in his own words), found through this Kos diary entry from Pontificator.
Will Congressman Mike Castle of Delaware be accepting communion?
Via Juan Cole, Muqtada Al-Sadr taunts us:
"What sort of freedom and democracy can we expect from you [Americans] when you take such joy in torturing Iraqi prisoners?" asked Sadr, demanding that the US guards who have been charged with abuse be handed over to Iraqi courts for trial. Referring to Mr Bush's apology on Thursday, the firebrand cleric said: "Your statements are not enough. They [the guards] must be punished in kind.
He added: "And it wouldn't have been so bad if people like Nancy Pelosi hadn't made such a big deal out of it."

Meanwhile, the right is desperately trying to paint the prisoner abuse/torture scandal as standard partisanship. Someone tell Lindsey Graham!

UPDATE: This is even stupider than I thought. I skimmed my inbox for past emails from the Kerry campaign, and found a few. All of them, at the very bottom, after a clear line-break, have a button that reads "DONATE NOW" with the caption "keep the ball rolling". In fact, all of Kerry's emails to his supporters have had that box at the bottom, that's the default format. "Keep the ball rolling" certainly means "keep those donations coming in", and not "let's keep exploiting Abu Ghraib for partisan purposes"... unless you're a hack from the Moonie Times, of course. Or The Corner.

So in other words, a non-issue. Next?
Slate's Bill Saletan has put together a chronology of quotes regarding the Bush administration and the Iraq prison scandal. A back-to-back sample:
"A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba … listed some of the wrongdoing: 'Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.' "—Seymour M. Hersh, "Torture at Abu Ghraib," The New Yorker, posted April 30, 2004

"Because we acted, torture rooms are closed, rape rooms no longer exist, mass graves are no longer a possibility in Iraq."—Bush, remarks at "Ask President Bush" event, Michigan, May 3, 2004
One out of three is good in baseball, bad in foreign policy.

Doesn't this highlight Bush's sublime insulation from the world as it actually is?

Look, you can defend Don Rumsfeld or you can not defend Don Rumsfeld. But Dick Cheney pulled an Al Gore* today. From CNN's main page on the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal:
And Saturday, Vice President Dick Cheney issued a rare weekend statement of support for embattled Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "As a former secretary of defense, I think Donald Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had. People ought to let him do his job," he said.
Dick, you mean that the guy who said we could invade and stabilize Iraq "on the cheap" with a small, mobile military force, and a guy who thinks in passive voice is the best Defense Secretary in the history of the United States? Hey Dick, you were a better Defense Secretary!

Well, Dick, thank you very much. Of MoveOn, Media Fund, Americans Coming Together, or Kerry's campaign, which one should use your quote in an ad first?

* - The vast-right-wing-conspiracy types mad a large fuss over an Al Gore speech during zippergate (what will we tell the children?) calling Bill Clinton "one of our greatest presidents".

From AP:
Pentagon officials rejected an Army plan last year to send an experienced military lawyer — who is also a Republican member of Congress — to help oversee the unit blamed for prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib complex outside Baghdad.

That left the prison complex, which holds up to 7,000 Iraqis, without an onsite lawyer to guide interrogations and treatment of prisoners.

The top lawyer for the 800th Military Police Brigade, the Army unit in charge of detainees at Abu Ghraib, later came under fire in an Army report about the abuse for being ineffective and "unwilling to accept responsibility for any of his actions."

The rejected lawyer, Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., and other experts say having had a lawyer at the prison might have prevented or at least mitigated the beatings, sexual humiliation and other abuse detailed in photographs and the Army probe.

"It's always good to have a lawyer around so you've got a conscience for the command and an opportunity to vet questions," said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, who commanded an armored brigade during the 1991 Gulf War.

Pentagon officials confirmed there was no onsite lawyer at Abu Ghraib, but spokesmen for Army Secretary Les Brownlee and Pentagon personnel officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment Friday. Bryan Whitman, a spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, referred questions to the Army.

Buyer, a strong supporter of the Iraq war and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, had volunteered to go to Iraq shortly after the invasion in March 2003.

In a telephone interview Friday with The Associated Press, Buyer said military officials all the way up to the Joint Chiefs of Staff had approved his assignment to the 800th Military Police Brigade, which has handled Iraqi prisoners of war since the beginning of the conflict.

Pentagon personnel officials and Brownlee rejected the assignment, saying the Army could fill the requirement another way. Brownlee also wrote to Buyer that his high-profile status could bring danger to the troops around him.

Buyer said he objected to David Chu, the Pentagon's personnel chief, and Charles Abell, Chu's deputy.

"I expressed the importance of having a (lawyer) at the camp," Buyer said. "You have to ask, when you had a qualified officer, and the civilian leaders, Dr. Chu and the secretary of the Army, said no, who did you send in his place?"
CNN is reporting right at this instant that an Army official is citing a couple of excuses for why Buyer's trip was nixed, both of which were not particularly satisfying. One of them cited Buyer's safety, and the other has slipped my memory, but neither excuse was all that impressive.

Here's CNN's recap.

So now we have the higher-ups in the Pentagon -- and that means Rummy -- rejecting any serious oversight for treatment of prisoners by the US military in Iraq. We already know that some of the torturers in the pictures claim to be acting on the orders of intelligence officials. That, combined with the Pentagon's "nothing to see here" stance regarding Buyer's rejected trip, suggests that these were not acts of a mere few underlings.

Furthermore, now we have the Pentagon -- Rumsfeld -- acting in a way that clearly enabled the torturers and shielded them from accountability. One would think that means his ass.

Well, actually it's a new version of an old song, dating back all the way to January of 2003. I remember those carefree days. Hanx Blix was searching for weapons, and receiving moderate compliance from Saddam Hussein. The Chicago Cubs were dreaming of playoff possiblities in their upcoming season, unable to envision any sort of crazy fan-related scenario that might ever keep them out of the World Series. Gray Davis took an oath of office for what appeared to be a long and productive 2nd term as governor of California. Man, those were good times.

Anyway, the song in question is "Where You Are", which I wrote a long 16 months ago. I recorded a version at that time, which featured vocals, acoustic guitar, organ, a vibraphone of some sort, and I think that's it.

I now present to you a new version of the piece, recorded on the 27th of March, featuring vocals, two electric guitars, bass, and drums. Again, all sounds are made by me.

To download? You must either:
Right-click this link and select "save target as" (4.1 mb),


Go to my old Geocities site and download it there.
I went for a relatively raw, no-frills approach this time around (save for some necessary backing vocals). Well, enjoy!

(NOTE: Once again, if you can't access the site, that means my bandwidth level has been exceeded, which means that I'm a friggin cheapskate. I'll set up an account at the new site soon...)
Republican Jesus weighs in on the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Friday, May 07, 2004


As you may know, Subway now has an Atkins-friendly menu to go along with their normal selection.

Doesn't that mean that when coupled with Jared Fogle and his nonsense, Subway Sandwiches is now advocating two completely different bullshit diets?


"An all-beef patty is not a sprinkle!"

Kevin Drum points to this gem in the NY Times, which quotes the CEO of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts blaming the drop in their stock on the Atkins craze.

You tell 'em! Pardon me, but fuck the Atkins diet. It's the most idiotic and more importantly, space-inefficient diet ever devised. Remember, people who are on the Atkins diet eat a disproportionate amount of food that comes from grazing animals, particularly cows, which use up a very, very large land area relative to the food they produce.

You want to lose weight? Exercise and eat less. As for me? Hmm, the nearest Krispy Kreme is in Oxnard...

Along the lines of the content of this post -- CEO's of companies that make unhealthy stuff -- Jack at TigerHawk has some musings on McDonald's and their revolving door of CEO's with health problems that may or may not be related to their product. One bit of spin Jack didn't mention from the article on the non-dead CEO's health problems made me laugh out loud:
"It always undermines the stability of a company when your CEO dies and the other one has to have a surgery," said George Whalin, president of San Marcos, California-based Retail Management Consultants.
Hehehe, that's about a charitable as you can get for McD's sake. That's one of those sentences that cries out for an additional "...especially when...".

The part that Jack did excerpt is equally telling. My interpretation of the Irwin Kruger quote he points to goes something like "C'mon, do you really think our executives are dumb enough to eat that stuff?" I would probably imagine that a similar bit of logic applies to executives from tobacco companies.

A lot of people like to attack the media for a variety of reasons, from all political perspectives. One we can all agree on is that the media can be a bit lazy from time to time. I think that McDonald's CEO's who die of cardiac events give the media a hyper-superficial dot connection that they can't resist.
Howard Stern's radio audience almost doubled in New York, Chicago, Boston and Hartford, Connecticut, during the first three months of 2004 -- and not because he's added more sex to his shtick. After more than two decades of titillating the masses with crude jokes and porn-star guests, Stern is attracting listeners with his new obsession: attacking George W. Bush.
"Howard's in a war," says Chaunce Hayden, a regular guest on Stern's morning show. "He's spending all his energy and efforts and wit and know-how to have Bush eliminated from office."

Stern's radio show reaches about 18 million people; his Web site -- a clearinghouse for Bush criticism -- draws up to 4 million visitors daily. As the presidential race heats up, Stern aims to turn his millions of young male fans into a new anti-Bush constituency.


Since being cut from Clear Channel -- and since the Federal Communications Commission fined the company $495,000 for a Stern broadcast that made references to anal sex -- Stern has attacked Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for everything from their handling of pre-9/11 intelligence to their avoidance of Vietnam. Michael Powell, the FCC chairman, remains Stern's favorite target. "If [he] was the first president, he would have appointed himself king and turned this country into an aristocracy," Stern said on April 22nd. "An unelected body is not supposed to determine what's offensive and unoffensive." (full story)
Look! Over there! Some guy from Air America quit!

In general, I stopped listening to Howard Stern a few years back -- his separation from his wife was really the shark-jumping point for me, because that rendered his sexual repression stuff quite unfunny sans tension. It doesn't help that virtually every station in my area (SB) is ClearChannel. But certainly, through the FCC, the administration has made a rather powerful enemy in Howard Stern. The man has a real constituency, mostly working and middle class white guys who might not have an opinion either way in terms of November. If Stern asks his audience to help get Bush out of office, who am I to stop him?

The Letterman people have a new idea:
David Letterman will be staying up very late -- or getting up really early -- to tape a show next week at 4 a.m.

"We thought it would be cool, just something different to try," said Rob Burnett, the "Late Show" executive producer. "We've been doing the show for so long that anytime you can come up with something new it makes it interesting for us."

The show that airs on Friday, May 14 will be taped early that morning. Typically, Letterman tapes his Friday show on Thursday evening.

The other days of the week, Letterman tapes his show about six hours before it is aired on CBS.

The show will probably set up remote cameras, perhaps in Times Square, and show other street scenes. "The city is always interesting, but particularly interesting at 4 a.m.," Burnett said.

The show hasn't announced what night-owl celebrity guests will join them.

Burnett joked that the staffer who thought of the 4 a.m. taping has since been fired.
I'm not sure, but this feels like a bit of a reach to me. I will always favor Dave over Jay, because Dave is willing to be irreverent and repetitive in a manner that isn't in the best interests of widespread appeal, but I find very, very funny. That said, this still feels a bit much to me.

Then again, for late-night gimmicks, you can't top claymation Conan. (here's a clip, scroll to near the bottom)

Thursday, May 06, 2004


I only have one question for the good people of Friends and their sappy lil finale:

Who dragged "Yellow Ledbetter" into this?

That is all.

So if the Bush administration, through the FDA, rejects the so-called "Plan B" morning-after pill, wouldn't that lead to an increase in the number of abortions?

Pro-life! Pro-life!

Sure, Donny is gonna testify tomorrow, in what might amount to an audition to keep his job. But in the meantime, some Senators have finally found a different fall guy in the scandal involving abuse, torture, rape and murder at Abu Ghraib prison.

It's the building.
A bipartisan group of senators is urging the Pentagon to demolish the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in order to exorcise a symbol of both Saddam Hussein's torture chambers and an embarrassing episode for the U.S. military.

The Baghdad prison is the focus of a controversy over treatment of Iraqi prisoners by their U.S. captors.

"I think we ought to raze that prison," Senate Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, told reporters Wednesday evening after his panel heard testimony from CIA and Defense Department officials about physical and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

"I think we ought to take it down -- take the damn thing down," said Roberts, who also serves on the Armed Services Committee.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, who first floated the proposal of tearing down the prison to colleagues this week, told CNN that he believes such a move would send a strong signal to the international community that America is ready to "put it all behind us" and begin the healing process.

"We have to send a message here to the world," said Nelson, who said he has received positive feedback from several colleagues on the Armed Services panel.

Nelson said he is in the process of asking the Pentagon whether it has the authority -- and interest -- in destroying the facility on its own. If the Pentagon does not act unilaterally, Nelson added, he is prepared to introduce an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would instruct the military to destroy the prison.
TFM has obtained an exclusive photo of the main hall at Abu Ghraib prison. Maaaan, that place does some weird stuff to your head.

In all seriousness, what are we, stupid? The prison workers were good Americans and Brits, but the aura of Saddam Hussein, via the building, overtook them and caused them to take leave of the moral high-ground, their own good sense, and the Geneva Convention? That's a pretty low bar for our troops.

Then again, all work and no pointing at dicks leaves Jack a dull boy!

One last thing: Does this mean that when Saddam's men were working at the prison, with torture, rape rooms, and soon, were they "blowing off steam", too?

...on things other than strict conservative interpretations of religious documents!

In this case? The gold standard!
A statement attributed to Osama bin Laden offered rewards in gold Thursday for the killing of top U.S. and U.N. officials in Iraq.

The transcript of an audio recording dated Thursday appeared on a Web site known for militant Islamic messages.

The Web site gave links to hear the statement, but none were working.

"You know that America promised big rewards for those who kill mujahedeen (holy warriors)," the transcript read. "We in al-Qaida organization will guarantee, God willing, 10,000 grams of gold to whoever kills the occupier Bremer, or the American chief commander or his deputy in Iraq."

He was referring to L. Paul Bremer, the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, and top military officials.

The authenticity of the statement could not immediately be verified.
Look, that was silly of me. But if that's the way Karen "pro-choice people = terrorists!" Hughes wants to play, then TFM says, game on!
Josh Marshall on the possibility that Rummy may be toast over the prisoner abuse scandal, and why it's problematic for the Bush administration:
Let's say Rumsfeld resigns on Friday. The election is still six months away. And the nation is at war. So a new Defense Secretary would be needed more or less immediately. That would open up a very uncomfortable prospect for the administration.

Confirmation hearings for a new Sec Def would, I think, inevitably turn into a national forum for discussing the management of the Pentagon, the planning for the war and the lack of planning for the occupation. The new nominee would be drawn into all sorts of uncomfortble public second-guessing of what's happened up until this point. Sure, that's stuff under Rumsfeld. But, really, it's stuff under Bush -- the civilian head of the United States military.

That, I have to imagine, is something the White House would like to avoid at any cost.
Well yeah, of course they'd rather have a public debate about John Kerry's first of three Purple Hearts and his wife's SUV than one about the Iraq war. But of course, that's their interest, and not the public's.

Marshall's post didn't even mention the Economist's uh, suggestive cover for this week's issue.

A couple of good tidbits:
--The Center for American Progress has posted a detailed strategy for success in Iraq. It all sounds pretty good, provided we can get NATO to send a force. But of course, our current administration is pretty phobic to a lot of these options, including the recommended international summitt (remember the pointless sham meeting at the Azores?), not to mention turning US Authority over to the State Dept, and having open competitive bidding for future contracts. (link via Yglesias)

--Over at David Brock's new site, Media Matters, they take a look at Dick Morris' new Hillary-bashing book and notice that not only does it have problems with the truth, but Morris has a penchant for contradicting himself, or "self-triangulation", as Brock puts it, hehe. An example:
"She Gives No Indication of Having Learned From the Fiasco of Health Care Reform": "In all of Living History there is almost no suggestion of personal growth. She gives no indication of having learned from the fiasco of health care reform." [Morris, Rewriting History, p. 62]

"Hillary has ... Shown Signs of Growth ... After the Health Care Fiasco, for Example": "Hillary has, at times, shown signs of growth: After the health care fiasco, for example, she backed away from further attempts at broad-scale, utopian reforms." [Morris, Rewriting History, p. 62 (just four paragraphs later!)]
Morris' book seems to be crying out for an editor. Media Matters has an update on his book today.

Bush used the s-word today: "sorry".

Mark your calendars.

Up until now, Bush has avoided the s-word like the plague. His use of it now is an implicit admission that the Iraq prisoner abuse/murder story is both very big and very damaging.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush told Jordan's King Abdullah on Thursday that he was sorry for the humiliation suffered by Iraqi prisoners and their families because of abusive American jailers.

"I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families," the Republican president said during a Rose Garden appearance with the Jordanian monarch.

"I told him I was equally sorry that people that seen those pictures didn't understand the true nature and heart of America. I assured him that Americans like me didn't appreciate what we saw."
King Abdullah, who cancelled his White House visit two weeks ago when Bush backed the Sharon plan, sure walked into one here.

Again, credit where credit is due: Bush did the right thing here. Sure, it took some very pointed criticism of his non-apology yesterday to get it out of him, but he did it nonetheless.

Now if only he could go deliver the Iraqi prisoners some turkey...

Well, not really:
In a moment largely unnoticed by the throngs of people in Lebanon waiting for autographs from the president of the United States, George W. Bush stopped to hold a teenager's head close to his heart.

Lynn Faulkner, his daughter, Ashley, and their neighbor, Linda Prince, eagerly waited to shake the president's hand Tuesday at the Golden Lamb Inn. He worked the line at a steady campaign pace, smiling, nodding and signing autographs until Prince spoke:

"This girl lost her mom in the World Trade Center on 9-11."

Bush stopped and turned back.

"He changed from being the leader of the free world to being a father, a husband and a man," Faulkner said. "He looked right at her and said, 'How are you doing?' He reached out with his hand and pulled her into his chest."

Faulkner snapped one frame with his camera.

"I could hear her say, 'I'm OK,' " he said. "That's more emotion than she has shown in 21/2 years. Then he said, 'I can see you have a father who loves you very much.' "

"And I said, 'I do, Mr. President, but I miss her mother every day.' It was a special moment."
George knows the merits of being a good father.

Maybe that's why he's skipping both his daughters' graduations.

There are a couple of things in this article that I'd like to mention:
"There are no plans at this time to attend these ceremonies," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for Laura Bush. "The Bushes felt the focus should be on the students, and not how long the lines are to go through the metal detectors."
Doesn't that happen whenever a senior administration official makes a commencement speech at a university? Heck, maybe Laura should have told Dick Cheney about that whole "focus on the students" thing before he went to Fulton and threw mud at John Kerry for an hour.
Mrs. Bush told CNN in February that her 22-year-old daughters may help with their father's re-election campaign. "They are terrific girls. They are getting ready to graduate from college, and we'll see when they graduate," Mrs. Bush said. "You know, this will be really their first campaign that their dad has run that they are really old enough to be involved."
Well they were voting-age in 2000. They'll probably stay out of the campaign again, you know, to prevent Dubya from having to answer the Ashton question.
The sisters were freshmen when their father was seeking the presidency in 2000. They have stayed out of the media spotlight, except for an underage drinking incident at an Austin bar when they were 19.
Chelsea Clinton stayed out of the spotlight too. She got a bachelor's from Stanford and a Rhodes Scholarship. People don't irrationally hate the Bush twins. People do, however, irrationally hate Chelsea. People don't call the Bush twins "the White House dogs". I wish people like Derbyshire, Limbaugh and others woke up one morning, looked at themselves in the mirror, and asked their reflection why they have animosity towards people like Chelsea Clinton who never did anything to them or anybody.

Somehow, the two stories meant for this post got me thinking about these double standards. There's an obvious double-standard for the above photo, no doubt.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Jobs data for April is trickling in, and the early word is that the economy added about 170,000 jobs last month. A steep dropoff from March's impressive number (308,000), but but still a smidgen above what is needed to keep up with the growing workforce.

Keep in mind, of course, that when Bush was pushing his latest round of tax cuts last year, he claimed they'd create an average of 306,000 jobs per month. We've had exactly one month of job growth on that level (March) with no other month even coming close.
Hoffmania makes a list:
What The Wingnuts Have On Kerry

Let's review.

He owns an SUV.
He spoke out against the war he fought in.
They think maybe he didn't earn one of his three Purple Hearts.
He served, but not long enough for their liking.
He regrets the wording of something he said in 33 years ago.
He withdrew support of $87 billion for Iraq when the funding was swithced to the deficit.
He's a Democrat.
He's from New England. And maybe France.

This is it, folks. This is all they've got. This is all they've been able to come up with. Pathetic.
Hehehe, true true.
Bush speaks to Al Arabiya:
President Bush, seeking to cool international outrage over the abuse and deaths of Iraqi prisoners in U.S. military jails, submitted to interviews on Arab television yesterday and asserted that "justice will be delivered" to those responsible. He stopped short of apologizing.
Meanwhile, in the alternate world of Mickey Kaus:
It's always an underling's fault with Kerry, isn't it?

His most recent relapse:
CALLER: It was like a college fraternity prank that stacked up naked men --

LIMBAUGH: Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You of heard of need to blow some steam off?
Hmm, "emotional release." Sounds about right. Guess Rush and I are off to the forest with some shrooms and oranges...

I must say, it's good to see conservatives talking like conservatives again. They love the whole neocon fantasy idea, but when the going gets tough, these guys fall back to their mass violence-excusing ways.

Hmm, "emotional release" and "blow". Is that what the "Look at those dicks!" girl was thinking? Why is Rush still blaming Clinton for everything? (:

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

The Agonist has put up the entire Taguba report investigating all the various instances of abuse, torture?, murders and other unexplained deaths of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of American servicemen and women (and some "contractors") at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

I have yet to comment at any length at the growing scandal surrounding our treatment of Iraqi prisoners (and how it's going over around the world), mostly because I'm a bit busy and this situation is developing rather quickly. Here's a recap from the Reuters wire. And here's Sy Hersh's New Yorker story that got a lot of this rolling.
Has he had a change of heart on France?
Maybe I was wrong about The Day After Tomorrow:
No one is pretending the forthcoming film "The Day After Tomorrow" is anything but implausible: In the $125 million movie, global warming triggers a cascade of events that practically flash freeze the planet.

It's an abruptness no one believes possible, least of all the filmmakers behind the 20th Century Fox release. "It's very cinematic to choose the worst-case scenario, which we did," said co-screenwriter Jeffrey Nachmanoff.

Nonetheless, scientists are embracing the movie, unusual for those whose stock in trade is fact.

"My first reaction was, 'Oh my God, this is a disaster because it is such a distortion of the science. It will certainly create a backlash,'" said Dan Schrag, a Harvard University paleoclimatologist. "I have sobered up somewhat, because the public is probably smart enough to distinguish between Hollywood and the real world."

He now hopes the movie will do for interest in global warming what "Jurassic Park" did for dinosaurs.
Haha, trust me, the remains of dinosaurs have been a high priority for the Bush administration and its friends for a long, long time.

Then again, there are more Republicans than Democrats who don't accept the possibility of global warming. And there are certainly more Republicans than Democrats -- in this case, young-earth creationists -- who don't accept the fact that giant reptiles walked the earth millions of years ago. So it kind of makes sense.
Several scientists who are familiar with the film were charitable, even overlooking the rapidity with which events unfold in the movie. "The science is bad, but perhaps it's an opportunity to crank up the dialogue on our role in climate change," NASA research oceanographer William Patzert said of the premise.

Most, including the filmmakers, acknowledge time had to be compressed to keep the audience's interest. When scientists who study climate refer to abrupt changes, they refer to decades, if not hundreds or thousands of years.

"Fox is not going to make a movie that goes on for 10,000 years," Patzert said.
A perfectly plausible explanation. But of course, that's precisely the argument that naysayers will make to use the movie to say that global warming is crap. Perhaps it's a good idea to meet the naysayers head-on here.

Of course, there's one other potential obstacle: The movie might suck. It is made by the brain trust that brought us Godzilla.

Gore is going for it:
An investor group headed by former Vice President Al Gore said Tuesday it is buying a cable channel and launching a news network that will offer "irreverent and bold'' programming for young adults.

The group is buying the Newsworld International channel from Vivendi Universal Entertainment for an undisclosed sum. The deal with Gore's company, INdTV Holdings, was announced during a cable industry convention in New Orleans.

Newsworld International is a 24-hour channel broadcasting international news produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. It is seen in about 17 million North American households, according to Vivendi.

Gore said the network will be "an independent voice in this industry'' with a primary target audience of people between 18 and 34 "who want to learn about the world in a voice they recognize and a view they recognize as their own.''

"This is not going to be a liberal network, a Democratic network or a political network,'' Gore said at a news conference.

The programming will continue to be provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corp., officials said.

Gore will serve as chairman of the board and said he will devote most of his time to the network. Also announcing the acquisition was Joel Hyatt, an entrepreneur and former finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee who lost a bid for the Senate in Ohio in 1994.
I'll definitely give this a chance. But I gotta say, my overwhelming feeling about this is skepticism. From the looks of it, Gore has finally figured out what he should have a long time ago about Fox News and its talk-radio bretheren: In most cases, they aren't attractive because they advertise themselves as conservatives, but rather because they advertise themselves as the center, regardless of what they actually are. Gore's been all over the media in the past year talking about starting a liberal news network which, while a worthwhile project, betrays itself to its potential viewership without any of the subtlety that has allowed Fox to exert so much influence.

It appears, from Gore's description, that he has learned the lesson here, but it may already be too late.

Who knows? It may turn out that Gore's network will just be 24 hours of Daily Show reruns, and that wouldn't be all bad. But since he bought the channel from the Canadians, they can throw an episode or two of The Kids in the Hall in there if they want.

A big, BIG round of applause to SF Chron sports columnist Gwen Knapp for her column on Pat Tillman's memorial service that can only be described as genuine, with all the heroism propaganda stripped away, on both sides of the spectrum (Peggy Noonan on one, Ted Rall on the other).
Yes, there were uplifting tales, moments when tears and pride swelled in everyone watching Tillman's memorial service at the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden. There were jarring moments, too, and they carried the message of the afternoon -- "challenge yourself" -- more powerfully than those laden with conventional inspiration.

Tillman's youngest brother, Rich, wore a rumpled white T-shirt, no jacket, no tie, no collar, and immediately swore into the microphone. He hadn't written anything, he said, and with the starkest honesty, he asked mourners to hold their spiritual bromides.

"Pat isn't with God,'' he said. "He's f -- ing dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's f -- ing dead.''

What? This didn't happen for God, as well as country? A professional athlete turned soldier, and we're supposed to believe that he'd have no use for piety? Robbed of a cliche, where does that leave us?

Challenge yourself.
Knapp goes on to describe Tillman as an inquisitive, thoughtful young man, an avid reader and enjoyer of Guinness beer and transcendentalist writers. Sounds pretty cool. In both his case and that of Jessica Lynch, I'm much more impressed with the people in question after the official propaganda myths have been stripped away like so much tree bark.
Via Atrios and The Liquid List, we learn that Bush's bus tour of Ohio is actually a plane tour.
But Bush has a hard sell in Ohio as he tries to convince voters, especially blue-collar ones facing a bleak job market, that he's the man to guide the U.S. economy for another four years.

As he did in Michigan on Monday, the first leg of a two-day, nearly 300-mile campaign bus tour, Bush acknowledged the despair faced by unemployed workers in Ohio and assured them that the U.S. economy is on an upswing.


Tuesday's bus tour, about 60 miles through western Ohio, actually includes two airplane flights — one from Detroit to Toledo and another from Toledo to Dayton. His first two stops — Maumee and Dayton — are in counties Al Gore won in 2000. The last two stops — Lebanon and Cincinnati — are in counties that Bush won easily.
The idea of calling it a bus tour is, of course, that travelling around in a bus is a lot more folksy and common man-ish that using Air Force One to go short distances.

But the man flew from Detroit to Toledo. I'd be a lot more forgiving about this if those two cities weren't right around the corner from each other. Really, look at a map. It's like flying from SFO to Mineta International. Some "bus tour".

A big deal? Not really, but if John Kerry did this...

UPDATE: the Reuters recap of the tour linked on Drudge makes no mention of the plane flights. Score it: AP 1, Reuters 0!

A belated recognition of 2 years of vegetarianism for both myself and for my girlfriend.

What do you think, Lester?

"You rule!"

Thanks, man.

You should go veg, too.

I'm a good but by no means self-righteous vegetarian. I have years and years of fast food under my belt, so I'm a fine one to talk about dietary orthodoxy. I'm at that cheery stage where I remember what McDonald's and In & Out taste like, but have absolutely zero desire to experience those tastes again. I'm not a vocal supporter of some of the sillier things people like PETA have tried to do, such as bribing small towns to get them to rename themselves something veggie-friendly. However, I'm strongly in favor of any sort of veg infiltration into the Milwaukee Brewers' famous "Sausage Race".

As a vegetarian living in Isla Vista, thus with somewhat limited local veg options, I am pleased to welcome the good people of The Pita Pit into town, despite their silly animal-meat-themed logos which remind me a bit of Saturday Night Live's fake commercial for the "Cluckin' Chicken". But really, try the falafel, it's heavenly.

...that I discussed a few days ago, this time from Yglesias over at Tapped, who essentially notes that to believe the State Dept Report constitutes "winning" the war on terrorism, one must 1) accept the so-called "flypaper" strategy and 2) think that it's a good idea.
For one thing, these statistics exclude most attacks on US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq on the grounds that blowing up soldiers isn't really terrorism. There's a certain logic to that, though it's at odds with the conventional understanding of the attack on the USS Cole and the Beirut barracks bombing as well as deeply at odds with the administration's account of what we're doing in Iraq. If you add those in, terrorism was up in 2003 from it's 2002 status. Even if you don't want to consider those attacks terrorism, the best you can say is that we're distracting would-be terrorists by giving them the opportunity to kill soldiers rather than civilians.
But of course, to think along those lines would be to diminish the humanity of the fallen American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. But then again, if the right's response to Ted Koppel's reading of the names of the fallen was any indication, is that the idea?

Matt goes on to note that recent terror attack numbers are down primarily because of local issues, such as pipelines in Colombia and a recent thawing in the Sri Lankan civil war, rather than as a result of our prosecution of the war on terrorism.

UPDATE: Hesiod has more

Monday, May 03, 2004

Muslims in the United States were subjected to a record number of alleged harassment attacks in 2003, a new report by a Muslim rights group says.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) said it received 1,019 claims of physical and verbal abuse, up from 602 the previous year.

It said Muslims were harassed at work, in schools and in their communities.

Fears of terror attacks after 11 September 2001 and the Iraq conflict contributed to the increase, it said.

The Cair also blamed what it called Muslim-bashing in the US media and the misapplication of the country's anti-terrorism bill, known as the Patriot Act. (full story)
Link via TalkLeft.
The Center for American Progress helps Bush answer the "mistake" question from the April press conference . . . 100 times over!
Rasmussen's stupid daily tracking poll has Kerry ahead 46-43.

[kaus]It's panic time for Bush![/kaus]
These new John Kerry ads, particularly "Lifetime", the shorter of the two, are his best yet. But you know, John, I really wouldn't mind if you went negative at some point. Putting Bush on the defensive on account of your campaign, as opposed to external news events, might be a good idea. Please do that soon, but in the meantime, these ads aren't bad at all.

UPDATE: Ezra gives the ads a well-deserved rave review.

A couple of people have pointed to this post at No More Mister Nice Blog, who points out that the New York City archdiocese are threatening to block John Kerry from attending the Al Smith Memorial Dinner, a election-year ritual for Presidential candidates.

Steve of NMMNB notes that in past years, pro-choice Catholic politicians like Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki have had no trouble getting into the dinner. But of course, they're pro-choice Catholic Republicans, so it's alright! Heck, Giuliani supports both choice and the death penalty!

Of course, candidate-Bush spoke in 2000 at Bob Jones University, a non-accredited institution with a history of virulent anti-Catholicism, showing remorse for his attendance only much later when backed deeply into a corner for it. Yet the Archdiocese had no problem with his attending the Smith Dinner that fall.

Steve also notes that another Democrat, Indiana Governor Joe Kernan, is in the crosshairs of the new Catholic jihad against pro-choice Democratic politicians.

Can we please tax these guys?

Sunday, May 02, 2004

I had a very long fake House Rules Committee meeting tonight, and it has sapped my energy for blogging. I will be fake floor manager for two fake bills in Wednesday's fake session, portraying fake Dennis Kucinich.

You know, it's interesting playing a Congressman that 1) other students had previously heard of and 2) other students adore the views of. On three occasions in the past week, I've had three different fake Democratic representatives come up to me and tell me what they think I should do, on the grounds of "hey, you're Kucinich, you're supposed to be...". Part of me gets really cynical about this, especially at the tail-end of hour 3 of a committee meeting. "Really? I'm a staunch supporter of environmental protection and alternative energy sources? Thanks!"

The best thing for me to do, I suppose, is to calm down and appreciate how cute everyone is being.

Of course, if it really bothered me, I could just not show up half the time, citing "my ongoing presidential campaign." I doubt I'd get marked down for that.
Sure nice of the Republican National Committee to announce the agenda for the New York Convention so far ahead of time...