The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, August 07, 2004


Well, isn't that sweet.
President Bush said Friday colleges should end so-called "legacy" admissions, a practice that favors the children of wealthy alumni and helped at least three generations of his family get into Yale.
Having suggested this, the President then proceeded to tidy up his bottom with his Bachelor's from Yale, and promptly enrolled in 12 units down at ol' Crawford CC.

Well, he was for legacy admissions before he was against them.

But in the process of explaining himself, it just gets weirder:
Defending his position on affirmative action before a less-than-friendly audience of minority journalists, Bush said admission to college should be "based upon merit" and not on racial or ethnic quotas.

At the same time, the president said he supports colleges "affirmatively taking action to get more minorities in their schools," a statement that drew applause and a salute from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was seated in the front row.
What in the name of Zeus's rectum does that mean?

As President-Elect Al Gore put it in 2000, this was probably just another example of "nice-sounding words" from Bush to a minority audience. Nice-sounding, but ultimately toothless. He'll shake your hand with his right hand, and slip an amicus brief in your back pocket with his left hand.

Heck, it could be good politics. John Kerry incorporated elements of his fellow Democratic candidates' most effective rhetoric into his own public speeches. So on that level, anyone could do that.

The difference, though, is how transparently false this is on Bush's part. And not just false in that it's a different shade from his actual position, but that he's co-opting the language of affirmative action, while he directly opposes the actual policy. His own administration took it all the way to the Supreme Court.

There's lurching toward the center in a general election campaign, and then there's lying toward the center. For other examples of this, open a new window and Google "peace president".
The Republican governor of Minnesota is upset with Bruce Springsteen:
Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he's "heartbroken" that Bruce Springsteen plans to rock against President Bush. Opening his weekly radio show Friday with "Born to Run," the 43-year-old Pawlenty called Springsteen one of his musical idols.

"I really appreciate his music, but I wish he wouldn't interject his music with politics," said Pawlenty, co-chairman of Bush's re-election campaign in Minnesota. (emphasis mine)
Let's just say that anyone familiar with the Boss's music just slapped their forehead right about now. I'm worried that Alterman's head will explode when he hears about this. Anyway...

Friday, August 06, 2004

The folks at MediaMatters thoroughly expose Jerome Corsi, co-author of the Swift Boat Liars' attack book on John Kerry, for who he is... and it's not pretty. A couple examples:
• Corsi on Muslims: "RAGHEADS are Boy-Bumpers as clearly as they are Women-Haters -- it all goes together"

• Corsi on "John F*ing Commie Kerry": "After he married TerRAHsa, didn't John Kerry begin practicing Judiasm? He also has paternal grandparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry?"

• Corsi on Senator "FAT HOG" Clinton: "Anybody ask why HELLary couldn't keep BJ Bill satisfied? Not lesbo or anything, is she?"
Read the rest, there's a lot more.

The United States economy added only 32,000 jobs in July.

The economy needs about 5 times as many new jobs as that per month to keep up with the expanding workforce.

And let's not forget that when the Bush administration pushed their most recent round of tax cuts last year, they predicted an average of 300,000 jobs per month would be created thanks to it. Well, a tenth of something is better than nothing!

All this happened, even though I forgot to do my Evil Democrat Anti-Growth Rain Dance this week.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD (+ gitmo, abu ghraib)

...had this to say today during a bill-signing ceremony:
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
O . . .

. . .

. . . kay.

(Thanks to Alex for the link)

No debunking yet over at Volokh, since this one is pretty much straight-up accidental stupidity, none of this "their hands were cut off" or "he was making an ironic musing about Brazil's demographics!" mitigation yet. (Okay so I haven't heard anyone try that 2nd one) But as a public service, I will try to break this one down.

President Bush runs into trouble when he deals with subjects, verbs, and objects (of all kinds) when he's not speaking from a script. I suppose that's majestically faint praise on my part. Anyway, his big errors come when he applies the same verb and object to different subjects. In this case, he applied the verb-object phrase "never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people", he applied it to America's enemies, and he then applied it to "we".

Slate's "Kerryisms" feature attempts to fault John Kerry for beefing up his sentences with unnecessary extras. It appears that Bush has a mutant variety of that same problem; he beefs up his verb phrases to a high degree of specificity, but neglects to make necessary adjustments to the phrase when he tries to apply it to a different, sometimes opposing subject. The end result? Hilarity!

Bush has a history of this sort of verb-subject error. In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, he addressed Saddam Hussein in a speech by saying:
Either you disarm, or we will.
The only way that works is if we're to believe that "you" is both a subject and and object. But to an impartial ear, all we get is more hilarity!

The Republican Party has offered Alan Keyes, a resident of Maryland, the opportunity to run for the Senate in Illinois.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


Kudos to President Bill Clinton who, in his appearance on last night's Late Show with David Letterman, described the regimen that has helped him recently lose 20 pounds: "I eat less, and I exercise more".

Put that in your bunless patty and smoke it, you carb-less freaks!

Josh Marshall notes that though Dick Cheney is going around blaming Democrats for high gas prices because they've stalled the Bush energy bill, a study by Bush/Cheney's own friggin Energy Department says the bill's effects on gas prices would be negligible.

I guess ol' Dick just said this to the truth!

The NY Times has sources saying that fresh intelligence was part of the cause of this week's orange alert.
Senior government officials said Tuesday that new intelligence pointing to a current threat of a terrorist attack on financial targets in New York and possibly in Washington - not just information about surveillance on specific buildings over the years - was a major factor in the decision over the weekend to raise the terrorism alert level.

The officials said the separate stream of intelligence, which they had not previously disclosed, reached the White House only late last week and was part of a flow that the officials said had prompted them to act urgently in the last few days.

The officials disclosed the information a day after the Bush administration acknowledged for the first time that much of the surveillance activity cited last weekend by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to justify the latest, specific warnings had been at least three years old. At the same time, the White House offered a vigorous defense of its decision to heighten the alert in Manhattan, Newark and Washington, with officials saying there was still good reason for alarm.
Why didn't they previously disclose this? Nobody's identifying themselves so far, so where's the downside? As of now, the timeline is:

Day 1 - We have urgent, specific, new information about possible impending attacks in New York, New Jersey and Washington! Orange alert now!

Day 2 - Okay, okay, it looks like the reports upon which we based the urgent alert were three or four years old. But we still felt they warranted a public alert, and we are not, repeat, not politicizing these alerts!

Day 3 - Oh, by the way, we also have spankin'-new intel, fresh off the burner, that contributed to the rationale for the alert. We've had it since thursday, but we've kept it from you up until this point, when some anonymous "senior government sources" leaked it.


As I said yesterday -- and quite level-headedly, I might add, hehe -- this stinks.

Maybe, if the intent here was to bait people into questioning the timing of this alert, there was a strategy at play here. But that would be, you know, politicizing the alert and all, and we can't have that, so they're damned either way.

The excuse they give?
A senior White House official who mentioned the new stream of intelligence in an interview refused to say anything more about its source or content. The official said it had not been publicly disclosed out of concern that such a step could compromise intelligence and law enforcement operations in the United States and around the world. Officials would not describe those operations but said they were meant to disrupt a possible plot.
Hmm, maybe this senior administration official should hang out with that other senior administration official who talks to that Bob Novak guy. Yeesh. And besides, I don't quite see how disclosing the new info now, as opposed to sunday, wouldn't mess with ongoing intel and enforcement operations.

Complicating the matter is that two other anonymous officials involved in the investigation say they didn't see evidence of an impending attack, according to USA Today.

Let's keep an eye on all this in the coming days. (links via Slate's Today's Papers feature)

Tuesday, August 03, 2004



I was about to criticize Howard Dean. I was about to say to him, "Look, if the administration has specific intelligence of this nature about possible impending attack, then they should get it out to us, regardless of what some might say about the timing. Howard, suppose the Clinton administration had urgent intelligence of this nature, and they swiftly went public with it, even though it was a mere few days after Bob Dole's acceptance speech at the GOP convention. How would you have reacted under those circumstances?"

That's right, I was prepared to take this new terrorist warning seriously. I was willing to look the other way when Tom Ridge, while making the announcement, praised "the president's leadership in the war against terror", a nice politicizing touch. (Krugman and others noticed this) Yes, I had concerns about the timing of previous warnings, particularly the last one in May I think, with Ashcroft's rather transparent press conference. But this time, I thought it was dead serious.

Oh , well!
Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terrorist plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way.

But the officials continued to regard the information as significant and troubling because the reconnaissance already conducted has provided Al Qaeda with the knowledge necessary to carry out attacks against the sites in Manhattan, Washington and Newark. They said Al Qaeda had often struck years after its operatives began surveillance of an intended target.

Taken together with a separate, more general stream of intelligence, which indicates that Al Qaeda intends to strike in the United States this year, possibly in New York or Washington, the officials said even the dated but highly detailed evidence of surveillance was sufficient to prompt the authorities to undertake a global effort to track down the unidentified suspects involved in the surveillance operations.

"You could say that the bulk of this information is old, but we know that Al Qaeda collects, collects, collects until they're comfortable,'' said one senior government official. "Only then do they carry out an operation. And there are signs that some of this may have been updated or may be more recent.''

Frances Fragos Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser, said on Monday in an interview on PBS that surveillance reports, apparently collected by Qaeda operatives had been "gathered in 2000 and 2001.'' But she added that information may have been updated as recently as January.

The comments of government officials on Monday seemed softer in tone than the warning issued the day before. On Sunday, officials were circumspect in discussing when the surveillance of the financial institutions had occurred, and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge cited the quantity of intelligence from "multiple reporting streams'' that he said was "alarming in both the amount and specificity of the information.''

The officials said on Monday that they were still analyzing computer records, photos, drawings and other documents, seized last month in Pakistan, which showed that Qaeda operatives had conducted extensive reconnaissance.
Okay, sorry, but this is fuckin fishy. First you check the date, then you scare everybody.

This appears to be the terror-alert version of all those WMD "discoveries" in Iraq. Big loud headlines on page A1 about "mobile weapons labs" being found in Iraq, then a few days later an article deep inside the paper explaining that the offending trailers actually had a non-military purpose.

So Howard, I'm sorry, let's never fight again. And frankly, you and Kerry had a good-cop-bad-cop thing going, very nice.

Monday, August 02, 2004


A convention bounce, I think, happens because of the actions of three groups:

1) The party base becomes energized and unites around the candidate.

2) Some undecideds say "hmm, maybe I'll support this guy"

3) Some soft supporters of the other candidate say "hmm, I'm not so sure, I think I'll be undecided now"

The largest part of a candidate's bounce probably comes from the first of the three groups, the party faithful. This was certainly the case for the Democrats in 2000, when a general party apathy produced a reluctance to fully embrace Al Gore before the convention. He had been trailing Bush substantially up to that point, and the relative party unity coming out of the convention was a big part of why he shot into the lead, bouncing up in the polls by more than a dozen points.

On the other hand, for John Kerry, group #1 was not going to be a part of his convention bounce, because the party was very united and energized coming into the convention. Thus, the 5-8 point swing in most polls after the convention consists mostly of undecideds who now back Kerry, and some soft Bush supporters who have been rendered undecided by the convention.

Because of the high level of base consolidation in both parties right now, Bush's bounce is likely to be no larger than Kerry's. Bush is the incumbent, and he's been introduced to the public just about as much as any candidate ever could be. What all this means is that we're seeing something that hasn't happened in a while: Convention bounces made up almost entirely of swing voters.

Bush's goal at the RNC convention will be to drain the pool of undecideds as much as he possibly can (note the moderate face they're putting on the party with primetime speeches by Giuliani, Pataki, etc). In re-election campaigns, undecideds traditionally break away from the incumbent, the thinking being if they aren't sold on him at this point they won't ever be.

UPDATE: The thing that throws a wrench into this analysis is the comparison between Bush and Kerry on the issues. The new ABC/WashingtonPost poll has Kerry gaining modestly overall against Bush (net 8 points), but issue-by-issue, the bounce is Gore-ish (scroll down until you see the table). Kerry leads big on everything except handling terrorism, and even there he gained 15% to close Bush's lead to just 3%.

The CNN/USATODAY/GALLUP poll taken after the convention had a strange result.

Among around 700 "likely voters" (leans toward those who voted in previous elections), the poll found Bush had a 50-47 lead.

However, among around 900 "registered voters", a subset of whom are the "likely voters", the poll showed Kerry with a 50-47 lead.

Sooooooooo which one's right? Future polls will shed light on that.

Though I would mention, a large portion of the difference between likely and registered voters is made up of first-time voters. Many of those voters are young voters (many of whom were either apathetic or not of voting age in 2000), and that jives with the post-convention findings over at Zogby.