Thursday, July 07, 2011

Hitting For ThE Cycle

Anyone who spends even a short time on this blog knows I'm in the tank for bicycle races.
This year's Tour de France is shaping up to be one of the most exciting since, well, certainly last year's but perhaps as far back as Lance Armstrong's first win.
Defending drug abuser...I mean, champion...Alberto Contador has had major casualties befall him over the first four stages, yet he's managed to stay within two minutes of the overall lead, currently held by Thor Hushovd, who has been known to be a power sprinter but seems to have developed his climbing skills sufficiently to a) win the world championship last year and b) hold his own in other grand tours this season. Contador has never lost a grand tour that he's entered (the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and the Vuelta Espana.)
Andy Schleck, Contador's main rival last year and the heir-apparent to last year's yellow jersey once Contador is bounced out on appeal later this summer, has had his share of problems but along with his brother Frank (who fell and had to withdraw last year, or I can guarantee you Contador would have lost) are within seconds of the lead themselves.
And then there's Cadel Evans, former world champion in his own right who held a short stay in the yellow during last year's race. He's just one second behind Hushovd. Evans won the Tour of Romandie earlier this year and placed second in the Dauphine, a week long race in France that includes many of the obstacles the Tour de France will pass along.
Of course, there are riders like Jurgrn Van Den Broeck who stand an outside chance of upsetting the field and stealing the jersey.

Whoda Thunk?

Celeste Holm is in the middle of a battle with her children over her new husband.
I mean, OK, she's 94 and he's 48, but still....

And Yet, They Want To Dismember It


Oh thank God, it's not just me!

Here I thought I was weird.
Well, I mean, I am, but...

Cool Picture Of The Day

Thunderstorm on the planet Saturn.
That just runs rings around Uranus.

Finally, Some Good News...

...For The American Worker
Taxes on the wealthy are and have been at historic lows for almost a decade now.
Corporate profits are at all-time record highs and companies are stuffing cash in mattresses, they have so much of it. The trickle-down theory suggests we should have booming employment.

I Knew They Could Be Dangerous, But...

I never imagined fake boobs could explode!

That Word, "Unifying"...

...I do not think it means what you think it means.
(Ironically, her first TV ad is entitled "Waterloo"...)

Could Rupert Murdoch Tear Down A National Leader?


Oh Dear God, No!

President Obama, what the hell are you thinking????

President Obama has said he wants to use a looming deadline over raising the amount Congress is allowed to borrow to work a deal with Republicans on something "big."

And now he plans to propose major changes to Social Security as part of that "grand bargain," which he hopes will reduce the deficit by as much as $4 trillion over the next decade, administration sources tell CBS News.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to meet at the White House Thursday morning with congressional leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, from both parties to negotiate a deficit reduction deal.

So let me get this straight: you'll trade a piece of the retirement plans of hundreds of millions of Americans in exchange for some minor, and I stress minor sacrifices made on the part of the richest 250,000 thousand of us?

What? Really?


Here We Go Again!

Another spring, another oil spill. This one, however, is not anywhere near a coastline. It's worse. Much worse.

BILLINGS — Exxon Mobil Co. had reassured federal regulators and officials from a Montana town since December that an oil pipeline beneath the Yellowstone River was safe, buried deep enough to avoid any accidental ruptures.

Then, on Friday night, the pipe failed, spilling an estimated 42,000 gallons into the flooded river.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation, but the prevailing theory among officials and the company is that the raging Yellowstone eroded the riverbed and exposed the line to damaging rocks or debris.

There is still no definitive word on how far downriver the spill could spread.

Here's a few simple background facts to keep in mind as you read the story at that link:

1) The infrastructure of America, from roads and bridges to rail lines and water mains, is in shambles. It could conceivably cost the equivalent of a year's GDP just to bring the entire infrastructure of the nation up to code.

2) There are only 110 inspectors in the US government for over 400,000 miles of pipeline for oil and natural gas. Current requirements are for inspections to be done on a rotating basis every five years, but those don't take into account follow ups to ensure compliance with any repairs.

3) Exxon claims "only" 42,000 gallons of oil spilled. By comparison, BP's first claims last year was zero oil was released. The US Coast Guard had an initial estimate of a 1,000 barrels a day. 42,000 gallons translates to....1,000 barrels. The final official estimates for the BP spill were 62,000 barrels (about 2.6 million gallons) a day. Worst case estimates were nearly triple that.

4) The Gulf oil spill affected a wide swath of open water. The Yellowstone spill is concentrated and on a moving body of water. Oil has been unofficially reported as far away as 240 miles.

5) Wildlife in the Gulf can swim away from the oil. Wildlife in Montana relies on the oil for drinking, and eventually the river creatures bump into barriers to further movement, effectively trapping themselves in the spill.

6) Overlaying all this, of course, is the fact that Republicans control the purse strings to assist in all this.  Montana has a Democratic governor who is, in fact, a soil scientist, so Exxon will be hard pressed to buffalo him.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

No Shock Here, However


I'm Shocked!

Suddenly, healthcare reform is not the bugbear the Republicans made it out to be!
Which would explain this.

Is There No Depth Rupert Murdoch Will Not Sink To?


The scandal over Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid has exploded across London, with Scotland Yard investigating the possibility that reporters and investigators for the paper hacked into the phones of victims of 7/7 -- the so-called London bus bombings of July 7, 2005, in which terrorists targeted the city's bus and subway systems and killed 52 people.

Outrage has spread since the original accusation that News of the World hacked the cell phone of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl who disappeared in March 2002. Her remains were found southwest of London six months later, and a man was convicted this spring of killing her. Police are now trying to determine whether reporters not only listened to the teenager's voicemail, but deleted voicemail messages -- leading her parents to believe she was still alive and potentially obstructing the police investigation into her disappearance.

The investigation will now stretch back ten years. Expect similar investigations to be launched around the world, wherever News Corp has holdings.

In addition, the London Metro Police have admitted that cops have taken bribes from reporters for News Of The World for tips.

Yea, journalism...


Con Job

No way Twitter can generate the kind of revenue stream to justify the new $7 billion valuation placed on it. It's just not that effective an advertising stream.

When Did Republicans Become Such Chickens?

A terror trial has them searching out their fainting couches.

Remember When...?

Arizona passed a noxious, bigoted law last year to try to deal with its immigration problems and undocumented workers.
Latino baseball players, noting the 2011 All Star Game (July 11, 2011) was slated to be played in Phoenix, threatened to boycott.

Meet George Jetson

Albeit with many many codicils and conditions.

No Child Left Behind

If you teach to the test, you'll cheat to the test. That's just a fact.

DeMinty Fresh

Senator Jim DeMint is whistling past the graveyard here:

Don’t expect any resolution from this week’s debt ceiling talks between President Barack Obama and GOP leaders, Sen. Jim DeMint said Wednesday as he charged the White House with “creating a crisis.”

"Doh-de-doh-de-doh! Nope, no one's going to notice that I'm lying through my teeth, no sirree!"

If anything, the White House has done yeoman work to lay down a path that avoids a debt ceiling crisis, consistently ready to offer compromises so long as some form of...well, let's call it "revenue enhancement" like the Republicans on the table.

The headlines reflect this in Realityland, but apparently, in The Village, the elders have determined that the scary man in the Oval Office is holding the nation hostage. Attempts to paint Obama as the bad guy have fallen flat no their faces, right up to and including Mark Halperin's ad hominem attack last week.

Indeed, Obama has floated the interesting contingency plan of ignoring the debt ceiling based on a very clear passage in the Constitution that no limits on national debt may ever be placed (the 14th Amendment, for those of you playing along at home.)


Flaws Exposed

It doesn't surprise me that Casey Anthony was acquitted in court, even if the rest of the world is certain she killed her baby.
After all, the prosecution couldn't even prove that Caylee was murdered.

Gilding The Lily

As bizarre as this sounds, Mitt Romney is out on the hustings, drumming up campaign funds-- in London(?)
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is raising money today from Americans in London, hoping to add to his already fat campaign account.

Romney is reporting today that he raised $18.25 million in the second fundraising quarter and has $12.6 million in the bank.

The former Massachusetts governor, who is ahead in Gallup and other national polls, is far outpacing all of his GOP rivals in the race for campaign cash. Much of his haul came from a one-day "call-a-thon."

This on top of his sizable personal resources make Mitt the nominee-apparent in my book. There's really almost no point to holding the primaries, except for two things: one, to watch Michele Bachmann self-destruct and two, to keep an eye out to see how enthusiastic Teabaggers are to vote for Romney.

My guess is the turnout after Iowa, should Mitt win handily, will wither away. If Bachmann can somehow cobble together an insurgent campaign, while she will still lose, at least it will make for a fun Spring 2012.

If you haven't guessed by now, this is the week campaigns must report their second quarter numbers. There are no real surprises on the Republican side of the race: Romney is running up his totals, Newt Gingrich is finding out just how unliked he really is, Ron Paul is finding out that cheap-ass...I mean, no-tax...Teabaggers are cheap, and the rest are, well, putting lipstick on a pig.

To coin a phrase.

Bachmann does not have to report since she entered the race so late in the quarter, and President Obama has not released his final tally yet, but my recollection from the solicitations I received indicate that he was running ahead of his stated goals, and I suspect he will return a surprising total, on a par with Romney and perhaps well in excess of his.

In truth, a popinjay politician who surrounds himself with yes-men and toadies, like Newt and Bachmann, learns a harsh truth each quarter: he (or she) is not universally loved by so many people who throw money at candidates like Elvis got panties.

This is one of the joys of American politics. A person can be so removed from reality and yet suffer such indignities as, first, having to beg for money and then, having to take "no" for an answer without recourse.

This dynamic goes a long way to understanding why we're so fucked up. It certainly does not help that the SCOTUS saw fit to scrape away any pretense of fairness in campaign financing by allowing corporations to dump unlimited amounts of the trillions they have in bank accounts in favor of or against any candidate they see fit to pick on.

Perhaps one day, the concretization of idiocy that this nation has undergone under Republicanism will crack, shatter, and the tree of liberty will finally grown once more. They've paved paradise and put up a parking lot.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Suddenly, Nuance Matters In Florida

I'm not going to call the verdict in the Casey Anthony case a travesty of justice, because frankly, I don't recall a single piece of evidence that one could trace, Tinkers to Evers to Chance, from Casey to Caylee's death. Not that I paid that much attention, but I read the summaries.
Sure, there were obvious clues that the girl was murdered and there were obvious clues that the mother was a prime suspect, and a good prosecutor would have made the case establishing a more firm connection.
What I do find interesting is that suddenly, Floridians, at least these twelve, decided that laws were paramount.

Why Americans Suck, Part 1776

A four cent (3/4 of a percent) tax on junk food comes under attack...for helping poor children get to school!

EJ Dionne Talks Turkey

How do the Teabaggers stack up against the American Revolution?
Errrrrrr, not so well...

Note To Automakers

b) You sort of owe us. Yes, even you, Ford, even if you didn't need a bailout.

Born On The Fifth Of July

(possibly NSFW)

Andrew Cuomo Comes Under The Spotlight

After his triumph on gay marriage, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking heat from the left on his attempts to lift the ban on hydrofracking.
I'm concerned, of course, being a resident of the city that stores its drinking water in some of the poorest counties in the state that my water will be filled with all kinds of byproducts of this dirty process.
Cuomo gives assurances of oversight, and that's comforting to a point.
But what's more comforting to me is, he's appointed Robert F. Kennedy, Jr to the oversight board. A former cousin, yes, but an unparalleled figure in environmental causes.
I guess I can live with this.

Godspeed, Ruth


It's Kind Of Scary

When I was born, my odds of living past 70 were less than 50-50. Now, it looks more and more like I stand a decent chance of living twice that long.
I hadn't planned on that. I'm not sure I even want it.

Right Wing Poutrage

Google will take some heat on this
Apparently, the Statue of Liberty just isn't patriotic.

Why The GOP May Fade Into Oblivion

When you scare the Bloomberg box with your hate-mongering, you really have problems.


TO: Twitter Hackers
FROM: Actor212
While I sympathize with your cause in taking down FOX News' Twitter feed, it might have been better (certainly funnier) if you had made up a better story.

Is This Man Crazy?

The GOP is sure hoping not. They need him to save them from themselves

But I Thought Lower Taxes Brought Investments Home?

The Wall Street Journal whistles past the graveyard:

It is true that foreign direct investment rose to $236 billion in 2010 from $159 billion in 2009. But that was still well below the $310 billion invested in 2008. The White House also neglected to disclose that in the first quarter of 2011 foreign investment fell by 51% from the first quarter of last year, according to data released last month from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. Foreigners of late have not found the U.S. to be a receptive, high-return home for investment.

Much more worrisome is that Americans are taking their investment dollars abroad at a faster pace than foreigners are bringing capital to these shores. In 2010, for example, U.S. investment abroad was $351 billion—$115 billion higher than foreign investment here. Economic recoveries are periods when investment capital usually surges into a country, but since this weakling rebound began in the middle of 2009 the U.S. has lost more than $200 billion in investment capital. That is the equivalent of about two million jobs that don't exist on these shores and are now located in places like China, Germany and India.

[...] So why did the investors put their money in the U.S. in those years? We'd say it was a combination of low tax rates, a strong dollar, low inflation and other free-market reforms. Capital flows to where it is most highly rewarded, and low marginal tax rates on the returns to capital and business income create a gravitational pull on global funds. A strong and stable currency allows businesses to invest in innovation, employees and productivity rather than inflation hedges. It also encourages investors to wait longer to cash in their profits without worrying about the losses of a depreciating dollar. In the high-tax, high-inflation 1970s, the U.S. was a net exporter of risk-taking capital. As we are now.

Tax rates in Germany on businesses (foreign investments are taxed locally if invested in German companies or enterprises): 30%

Tax rates in China: 25%

Tax rates in India: 33%

Tax rates in the US: 0-35%. It was 45% and more in the "risky Seventies" the WSJ refers to. Clearly, they missed the point.

"American" companies are investing roughly one-third the current annual budget deficit abroad most a ten percent reduction in taxes (nevermind the intricacies of repatriating those monies, something the Republicans have tried to make, um, easier (read: greedier).

The lion's share of this problem comes down to this: American companies are no longer American. As such, the government should treat them as illegal immigrants: decertify their recourse to the American legal system, force them to work the fields (so to speak) and suspend their "civil rights". They simply refuse to act like patriotic Americans, and I'm surprised...ok, not really, but still...surprised the Teabaggers haven't turned their attentions to these asshats.

No one blames foreigners for keeping their monies in China, Germany, and India, where growth is evident and the economy is stronger. One could make the case, however, the American investor should be encouraged to keep his money here at home, investing in businesses and enterprises that will return long-term capital gains (15%) and create jobs for Americans.

Apparently, greed runs rampant.


Photo Of The Day

A freeze-frame of team Garmin-Cervelo in Sunday's team time trial at the Tour De France. The team went on to win the 23km (14.25mi) stage by four seconds.

Wait...So It's Not "Big Feet" Anymore? I Can Go Back To Wearing Normal Sized Shoes?