The Facts Machine

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

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Awwww, poor Bushypoo needs a 7-mile radius to eat his turkee.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


-- This is just your common tale of congressman posts online poll about an Iraq withdrawl, Freeper hijacks poll with a computer program, poll skews artificially against congressman, World Net Daily writes about poll results, e-mailer tells WND's Joseph Farah about the Freeper bot, Farah sees no problem. Details here.

-- But for the real choice hackery, where else but Fox?
FOX News is refusing to air an ad critical of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, citing its lawyers' contention that the spot is factually incorrect.
I'm curious what the 2004 Kerry campaign staff would think if they heard about this new "factually correct" standard of Fox's. And I find it somewhat hard to believe that Fox -- a network employing Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Brit Hume -- has suddenly become a stickler for the truth.

Very distressing news from the Gulf Coast:
The whereabouts of 6,644 people reported missing after Hurricane Katrina have not been determined, raising the prospect that the death toll could be higher than the 1,306 recorded so far in Louisiana and Mississippi, according to two groups working with the federal government to account for victims.

Most of those who remain listed as unaccounted-for 12 weeks after the storm probably are alive and well, says Kym Pasqualini, chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing Adults. She says they are listed as missing because government record-keeping efforts haven't caught up with them in their new locations.

However, Pasqualini says those counting the victims are particularly concerned about an estimated 1,300 unaccounted-for people who lived in areas that were heavily damaged by Katrina, or who were disabled at the time the storm hit. The fact that authorities haven't been able to determine what happened to them suggests that the death toll from Katrina could climb significantly.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Democrats Demand No-Pardon Guarantee For Thanksgiving Turkey
Flightless Bird Allegedly Woodward's, Novak's Source in CIA Leak Scandal

Washington (TFM Press) - The Democratic leadership in both the House of Representatives and the Senate today called on President Bush to not pardon the White House Thanksgiving Turkey, citing the ongoing investigation into the leaking of a CIA operative's identity to members of the media in 2003.

The turkey, named Marshmallow, is among those rumored to be the secret source of Washington Post celebrity journalist Bob Woodward, who revealed last week that he was contacted by a White House official in June 2003 who told him that the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a critic of the decision to invade Iraq, worked for the CIA.

"Pardoning Marshmallow would send a very bad message to the American people about the administration's belief in justice being served," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters at a hastily-thrown-together press conference. "The turkey may be flightless, but we do not yet know whether he is guiltless."

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was equally adamant, albeit more glib than his colleague. "To pardon the Thanksgiving turkey in the middle of an ongoing espionage investigation would surely ruffle the feathers of the rule of law!"

Following an extended, unamused silence, Reid continued. "Um, Schumee, you wanna finish this up for me?"

Media Conflicted

While the Democratic leadership remains united in their opposition to a Presidential poultry pardon, members of the media have differing views as to the relevance of Marshmallow's potential testimony to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury.

"Marshmallow would be unique from the other major witnesses in this case because, unlike Matt Cooper or Judy Miller, you can draw him by tracing around your hand," ABC's Jeffrey Toobin said on Monday's edition of World News Tonight. "Surely his being allowed to testify would send a positive message to America's sketch artists."

"It is outrageous that a turkey would be forced to testify in a criminal investigation," CNN's Howard Kurtz said on this weekend's Reliable Sources. "Americans are tired of turkey and, frankly, they've had a little bit too much turkey for one day, and they're tired of it... tired... and sleepy..." Kurtz was then nudged awake by his producer. "We'll be right back! Coming up on Reliable Sources: Ninety percent of members of a certain profession want Al Qaeda to win! We'll tell you what profession right after this."

Woodward, Novak source?

Since the news broke of a possible Presidential pardon for him, speculation has been rampant in the media, as well as the halls of Congress, that Marshmallow was the secret White House source who talked to Bob Woodward on June 23rd, 2003.

"They must have spoken to each other," political commentator and blogger Arianna Huffington told TFM Press over the phone. "After all, Marshmallow is one of the few people at the White House who speaks in a way that Woodward really understands."

Added Huffington, "You don't believe me? Check out this passage from Maestro:
Gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble Greenspan gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble Ayn Rand gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble love tryst gobble gobble gobble...
You see?"

While Huffington is confident that the turkey gobbled to Woodward, others speculate that Marshmallow was actually the as-yet unknown second source of conservative columnist and perennial People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive runner-up Robert Novak.

"It's really quite plausible, when you look at it," Howard Fineman writes in a column for this week's Newsweek. "Novak describes the source that gave him Valerie Plame's name as 'not a partisan gunslinger', and there is no less plausible gunslinger than a large, flightless bird with no hands."

When reached for comment, a representative for Novak told TFM Press that the columnist has fully cooperated with the investigation, adding, "Damn you, Matthew McCognahey!"

The turkey pardon controversy was fodder for a contentious White House Press Briefing this morning.

"Helen, I reject the premise of your question," Press Secretary Scott McClellan told the assembled press. "The President has stated repeatedly that forcing a turkey to testify would severely hamper its chances of full membership in the European Union. Helen, stop groaning, he's been clear and unequivocal about this."

A spokesman for Talon News could not be reached for comment, depriving this news organization of the chance to construct another bad bird-related pun. ***


Haven't seen this on CNN yet:
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance.

The final communique, hammered out at the end of three days of negotiations at a preparatory reconciliation conference under the auspices of the Arab League, condemned terrorism, but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens.
(emphasis mine) This, uh, does not bode well, particularly as long as George W Bush equates withdrawing with losing. (It also doesn't bode well for hawkish Democratic presidential candidates in 2008, such as Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden, who both have made similar verbal equations, though I imagine that at least the former of those two will eventually jump ship.)

John notes that the plan called for by the communique is so similar to John Murtha's proposal that we should probably expect Jean Schmidt to start picking off Iraqis with a rifle from a clock tower.

--As I mentioned the other day, I think it's unlikely that Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's former deputy at the State Dept, was Woodward's pre-Libby PlameGate source. However, I find it much more plausible (and likely?) that Armitage was the anonymous whistleblower in Dana Priest and Mike Allen's Post story from September of 2003, as Steve Clemons speculates.

--I didn't blog the developments in the House of Representatives following Rep Murtha's call for a redeployment/withdrawl of US troops from Iraq. You may remember on Friday seeing Ohio Congresswoman Jean Schmidt bring shame upon herself by calling Murtha, a decorated Vietnam veteran, a "coward" on the House floor. But wait, she was quoting somebody else, a Marine! That's what Rummy told Wolf Blitzer on Sunday's Late Edition. Well then, that makes it all better then: Schmidt was merely taking the pulse of the military and not slandering a Nam-vet colleague on the House floor. Except... the person she quoted isn't exactly what we'd call typical. At HuffPo, Max Blumenthal gives us plenty of background on just who Mean Jean's letter-writer, one Danny Pubp, really is. (UPDATE 11/22: Or is she a liar?)

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Ever since Bob Woodward testified to Fitzgerald's grand jury last Monday that someone told him about "Joe Wilson's wife" way back in June 2003, even before Libby went on his leak-fest, everyone has been atwitter as to the mystery of who Woodward's source was.

(And for the reality-impaired, the Woodward revelation does nothing to mitigate Scooter Libby's legal jeopardy. Libby told a bullshit story, repeatedly, to Fitz's grand jury, and he got indicted for it.)

Over at Newsweek, Evan Thomas and -- uh oh -- Michael Isikoff speculate as to the source's identity, and the guess they offer up is...
So who is Novak's source—and Woodward's source—and why will his identity take the wind out of the brewing storm? One by one last week, a parade of current and former senior officials, including the CIA's George Tenet and national-security adviser Stephen Hadley, denied being the source. A conspicuous exception was former deputy secretary of State Richard Armitage, whose office would only say, "We're not commenting." He was one of a handful of top officials who had access to the information. He is an old source and friend of Woodward's, and he fits Novak's description of his source as "not a partisan gunslinger." Woodward has indicated that he knows the identity of Novak's source, which further suggests his source and Novak's were one and the same.

If Armitage was the original leaker, that undercuts the argument that outing Plame was a plot by the hard-liners in the veep's office to "out" Plame. Armitage was, if anything, a foe of the neocons who did not want to go to war in Iraq. He had no motive to discredit Wilson.
Color me highly skeptical. With it already being proven that Libby and Rove were involved, and with a series of reporters told first-hand by senior administration officials about Plame in 2003, the Armitage scenario doesn't add up. It increasingly doesn't add up given the exact qualifiers offered up by the report; it's counterintuitive to the point where it's most likely wrong. Armitage's greatest loyalty (for many years) was to Colin Powell, his immediate boss.

Frankly, given that all we're going on is a "no comment", this strikes me as more Isikoff stenography, just as his "Rove's in the clear!" reporting a few weeks ago was.

On the other hand, there's the London Times, which reports that "lawyers close to the investigation" say Woodward's source was Stephen Hadley, which makes a little more sense.

We'll see.

UPDATE: Raw Story called Hadley's spokesman, who issued a denial as to whether Hadley "[met] Woodward on the dates in question."