The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Today, of course, is the 3rd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I defer to Meteor Blades, and this petition.

I'll be out for the rest of the day.

In 2000, The American people elected a Democratic President, and guess what happened? We were attacked!

How dare us evil liberals attack Cheney's comments earlier in the week, or even dare to interpret them as we did, when President Gore's administration did nothing to combat Al Qaeda before, and even after the horrible attacks of September 11th, 2001.

Dick really has us there.

Friday, September 10, 2004


Check out the two juxtaposed photos on the right side of this FauxNews account of the CBS memo... uh... situation.
It doesn't get more ironic than this.

The United States Constitution: Fake!
Look at this enlargement from Section 2: Clause 4. If we magnify the image we see that the "h" in When and the are identical. This cannot be possible because at the time the framers of the constitution were using a Johnson-Matlock Quill pen, this was a very messy pen and did not allow for uniform letters. The earliest a uniform quill pen was invented was in 1793. Four years after this document was purported to be written.

(link from fark)

Camille reviews performances by Guster, Howie Day, Matt Nathanson, O.A.R., Jack Johnson and G. Love over at If Six Was Nine.

I adore one of those acts, am relatively indifferent to three of them, my former roomate played one of them to death, and I am sick as hell of the remaining one. Can you guess which acts fit in which category?

Matt Yglesias has started a Nirvana vs Pearl Jam debate.

Let's break this down, shall we?

Best campy cover of an old song: Nirvana's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" from Unplugged tops "Last Kiss" by a nose.

Best song about being a kid: Nirvana wins again, with "Sliver". Eddie's pretentious "I'm Open" lingers far off in the distance.

Best awkward entry into politics: Eddie's Nader-rally serenades are trumped by former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic's aborted campaign for Lt Governor of Washington as a Democrat. (The incumbent was a Dem. Oops!)

Looks like Nirvana's taking a lead. But look out, the fearsome fivesome from Seattle (and San Diego) is quite resilient!

Best worst drummer: Jack Irons, he of the complete inability to press down on the hi-hat, beats Chad Channing's hackery on the 1989 Nirvana album Bleach. Think Meg White with no style.

Best song someone else in the band sings: Stone Gossard's wretched "Mankind" is still better than Dave Grohl's forgettable "Marigold".

Best hidden track: I have a soft spot for "Endless Nameless", the rocker hidden at the end of Nevermind. But the clear winner is that odd Eastern European-ish waltz that closes Pearl Jam's 1998 album Yield.

And we're tied, 3 to 3!

Best abortion-related statement: In this corner, you have Eddie Vedder scribbling "Pro-Choice" on his arm during a performance of "Porch" for MTV Unplugged. And in the other corner, there's the "Heart Shaped Box" video. Two thirds of Nirvana's fans probably didn't get it, and just thought it was weird. Thus, we still have a tie!

Ok double bonus round...

Best shotgun marksmanship: Courtney Love. =P

Still tied...

Best shirt worn by lead singer:
Eddie - "Free the West Memphis 3!"
Kurt - "Kill the Grateful Dead", alt. entry "Corporate Magazines Still Suck"

I'll let you make up your own mind. Goodnight! More politics tomorrow!

Thursday, September 09, 2004


On today's Factor, Bill O'Splotchy quoted some viewer mail in his "talking points memo". Only this time...
...That kind of bias is why many Republicans watch Fox News, which is not selective in its criticism as the liberal press often is. For example, I get a ton of mail from conservatives who object to my independent approach.

John Luke, who lives in Mount Sinai, New York writes, "Hey, Judas, why don't you go sit in the booth with Michael Moore!" Apparently Mr. Luke would feel more comfortable with a pep rally for the GOP. So he writes an angry letter.

Jack Mehoffer, Springfield, Massachusetts says, "O'Reilly, I see the new Fox definition of fair and balanced means interviewing DNC chief Terry McAuliffe at both conventions."
Whoa there.

Jack Mehoffer? Bill, are you trying to tell us something?

As if to say "yes", Bill continues,
Well, right you are, Mr. Mehoffer.

I'll be listening to Franken tomorrow, no doubt.

Greg at The Talent Show does some multicolored superimposing -- enough to give me eye strain, if I may say so -- to show that those who claim to have used a certain Bill Gates-owned word processor to prove that the new Bush memos are forgeries are, well, wrong.
Via Mark Kleiman, the world's shortest blog.
Dear righty bloggers,

1) ahem

2) The White House is not only not disputing the authenticity of the documents, but is releasing their copies of the same documents themselves. Funny, since the documents show that Bush refused a direct order and such. Funny, I thought they had released everything! Yeesh.



Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Via Political Wire, George W Bush sings a rousing rendition of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday".

Teagan also provides a link to the George W Bush Public Domain Audio Archive. Certainly a useful resource for all you home-recording types out there. I've yet to use Dubya, but I have used his dad's speech announcing the beginning of Gulf War I, in a semi-techno song I put together a few years ago.
Bush Campaign More Thought Out Than Iraq War
WASHINGTON, DC—Military and political strategists agreed Monday that President Bush's re-election campaign has been executed with greater precision than the war in Iraq. "Judging from the initial misrepresentation of intelligence data and the ongoing crisis in Najaf, I assumed the president didn't know his ass from his elbow," said Col. Dale Henderson, a military advisor during the Reagan Administration. "But on the campaign trail, he's proven himself a master of long-term planning and unflinching determination. How else can you explain his strength in the polls given this economy?" Henderson said he regrets having characterized Bush's handling of the war as "incompetent," now that he knows the president's mind was simply otherwise occupied.
It's sad that there's some truth to this.

Why has Bush avoided the big M-word (mistake) like the plague? Because if he said it, it would point directly at the folly of supporting a "bold, decisive leader" who "makes a decision and sticks with it".

All of our friends on the right who've been pushing the idea that John Kerry made a mistake by running in significant part on his military service are operating on an incorrect assumption, and thus, are walking right into a trap.

The assumption is that the Democrats, the candidates, and the left in general already went nuclear on George W Bush's intermittent service in the Air National Guard.

Let's compare: The debate over Kerry's military record in August arose because of a highly coordinated, multimillion-dollar ad campaign by an independent group, formed earlier in the year, consisting of veterans who held a 33-year-old grudge against Kerry for his 1971 testimony on Vietnam. This was combined with a skillful game of good-cop bad-cop by Bush and his staff ("I condemn that ad, and all ads that..." -bush), while at the same time carefully sowing seeds of doubt in voters' minds ("I don't condemn the ads!" -laura). Oh, and don't forget the band aids.

And what was the nature of the coordinated effort by the left to bring the AWOL issue to the fore seven months ago? One word ("deserter") in the middle of a Michael Moore speech.

When the media investigated the story, it wasn't due to a highly coordinated ad campaign. It was because a number of newsrooms went through a phase of mass guilt for not having investigated it back in 2000. The candidates themselves, by and large, were not aggressive about the story, rather wanting to focus on the issues (they are, after all, Democrats). And when the administration made a large (but incomplete) document dump (after a week of trickling out pay stubs and a dental record, as if to intentionally arouse suspicion), the press suddenly gave them the benefit of the doubt, as if it was 2002 and 2003 all over again.

That flurry of attention was accidental and unexpected. Some supporters of the Swift Boat Liars have implied a bit of a revenge angle, vis a vis the AWOL issue. Yet while us bloggers got all excited, opponents of Bush, as well as others with an interest in the truth, never went fully nuclear on the gaps in his service.

Perhaps that is about to change.

From the Boston Globe:
In February, when the White House made public hundreds of pages of President Bush's military records, White House officials repeatedly insisted that the records prove that Bush fulfilled his military commitment in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

But Bush fell well short of meeting his military obligation, a Globe reexamination of the records shows: Twice during his Guard service -- first when he joined in May 1968, and again before he transferred out of his unit in mid-1973 to attend Harvard Business School -- Bush signed documents pledging to meet training commitments or face a punitive call-up to active duty.

He didn't meet the commitments, or face the punishment, the records show. The 1973 document has been overlooked in news media accounts. The 1968 document has received scant notice.
The details follow. And the fact that he got a "Hey, your last name's Bush!" honorable discharge doesn't change them.

Kevin Drum rounds up the rest, also reminding us not to forget about the interview of Ben Barnes (the guy who got Bush his cushy spot in the "champagne wing" of the Texas Guard) tonight on 60 Minutes (8pm). Fire up them TiVo's, guys.

And for a more direct, aggressive counteroffensive, you had to expect this.

If Bush survives an in-depth look at his service record intact, then yes, Kerry's emphasizing of his own military service record will have been a mistake.

P.S. Oh, yeah, in case anybody questions whether Bush's service is a real issue or not,

--Bush lied about his service in his 1999 autobiography A Charge to Keep.
--"I'm a war president"
--At the time of the document dump, the administration claimed that it was everything.

And that's just for starters...

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I was going to do a Long Post Evaluating the Current Status of the Presidential Campaign today, but lots of things got in the way (errands, music, lining up housing at SB, and so on). So just one quick hit tonight, and I swear I'll do that tomorrow.

Keyes Says Christ Would Not Vote For Obama - NBC5, Chicago.

Hmm. I'm sure Alan knows that the only society of that period that was even remotely democratic in a one-person-one-vote sense -- Classical Athens -- was full of happily-fornicatin' polytheists! But good try, Alan.
I don't think Rasmussen's daily Presidential tracking poll is all that useful, except perhaps in long-term trends.

That being said, Bush held a 4-5 point lead in the poll in the days immediately following the convention, and now? Tied to the decimal point.

The way the poll works is that each day's poll is the combined results of the previous three days of polls. Kerry went from being down 4-5 to an exact tie in a space of 3 days. Would that mean that the most recent day or two of polling showed Kerry with a lead?

Monday, September 06, 2004

Via Atrios, George W Bush shares with a Missouri audience his vision of what OBGYN's do.

Perhaps he regrets that he never got a hand in that. Heyo!

UPDATE: In case you were skeptical about this one, here's the transcript. It's real. (thanks to josh for the link)

Ken Jennings returns tonight! 7PM. Be there.

At least I think so.

Jon Pennington has already made a substantial mark on my old blog. He's off to a smashing start, keep it up.

Sunday, September 05, 2004


I finally got out to see The Corporation last night. Saw it at the great theater on Park in Oakland, south of Lake Merritt. It's one of those great couch-centric theaters, complete with full dinners, beer, and so on.

My thoughts on the film? It was long, which didn't bother me, but for all its talkiness, it wasn't really all that academic a documentary. It struck me as the equivalent of a decent freshman seminar on corporations from a negative viewpoint.

Its length was justified by the breadth of information presented; it covered just about every implication the existence (and current dominance) of the corporate entity could have on the world. From a factual standpoint, the way the history of the corporation's origins in America was covered (talking about the 14th Amendment, for instance) was quite enlightening and maddening at the same time. Everything was covered, from the environment to cheap labor to child labor to media control to cooperating with despots and dictators (i.e. the IBM/Hitler connection) to just plain greed. The use of a human metaphor for a corporation (i.e. a person with a severe psychological disorder) was presented effectively.

The Corporation's folly is similar to that of Michael Moore's in Bowling for Columbine: Its subject matter casts such a wide net that it dwarfs the possible solutions the movie prescribes. That, or it inhibits the makers from prescribing any specific solution to the excesses and dangers of corporate dominance of the world. The answer offered by the filmmakers is an old one: More regulation and more accountability.

The United States, in its history, has gone through ebbs and flows of deregulation and reregulation. The laissez-faire tendencies of the Gilded Age were followed with the rabid reregulation of Sherman and the trust-busters. The good-time exuberance of the 20's, which yielded the crash and the Great Depression, was followed by FDR's expansion of the federal government to right the ship. Right now, with Reagan, then Newt and finally Dubya, America's deregulative tendencies may be reaching a high point yet again. The difference now is that more than in the past, the swings of America's corporate pendulum have a much more direct impact on the rest of the world, particularly the places were our corporate honchos look for cheap labor. (but don't actually, you know, go to those places)

In all of these cases, the floodwaters receded after it was clear that deregulative tendencies, on a national level, were increasing the divide between the affluent and everyone else. Some people got really fuckin rich on 10/29/1929, and now we're living in the era of Bushian tax cuts where 40% of the money... oh just go get Al Gore to read you the statistics. (: Or go read Kevin Phillips' previous book.

The movie cites a number of small victories as examples of the solution at work, such as Bolivian citizens successfully resisting an American corporation's attempts to keep their water unaffordably expensive. Still, increasing means of accountability, given the comprehensive reach of major corporations in the modern world, will be a new and daunting task.

Other tidbits, scary and otherwise, worth mentioning:

--The interview segments with Moore, Chomsky and Zinn were all either informative or entertaining, but the most interesting bits came from a man who was a CEO of a carpet manufacturing company, who read a book about the current ecological crisis and had an epiphany. I forget his name at the moment.

--There was recycled footage from The Big One on multiple occasions, notably the "Deck the Halls" scene. Thank you for that.

--The scariest stuff, I thought, was with the rush by corporations to isolate, and patent, portions of the human genome, as well as the recent precedent set whereby corporations can patent living organisms.

--No bashing of Enron, as the goal of the movie was to examine the general traits of corporations on the whole, and steer the issue away from any idea that the problem is just a few "bad apples".

--Milton Friedman makes a brief appearance or two, though only making a couple of unprovocative statements about corporations and their moral implications.

In the end, The Corporation is effective as a conversation starter. Given the time constraints and its insistence not to become completely dry and academic, that's about what we could hope for.