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Of Politics, Sports and Sex

OK, so there won't be a LOT on here about sex, but tell the truth, that's most of the reason you entered this site, right? So, I'll slip some things in from time to time just to keep you coming...back.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Deregulating the preferred length of my posts

This is just too good not to add here, even though it's longer than I generally like to put on here:


Time to Tap T.R.
And renew the progressive tradition.

by Jonathan Alter June 19, 2010

The BP spill is a failure not just of technology but ideology. That oil flows into the ocean from the deregulatory tide of the last 30 years. President Obama is right to compare the fiasco to 9/11. If he can frame the message more memorably than he did in his Oval Office address, Obama may yet use the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history to speed the transition to a green economy, just as George W. Bush used terrorism to refashion foreign policy. To do so, “deregulation”—once a Reaganite call to arms—must be transformed into an epithet. If the president can’t put the antigovernment, Tea Party types in their place now, when will he? The legacy of the American progressive tradition is on the line.
Regulating industry in the public interest began a century ago with Theodore Roosevelt. He was the last Republican president who argued strongly that government had to check the free market—or else it would kill people. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, and the raft of health and safety rules that came out of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, showed that regulation could save lives. In the New Deal and post-war period, regulations grew like Topsy. Some, like the creation in 1970 of the Environmental Protection Agency (the product of a Democratic Congress and the reluctant acquiescence of President Nixon), had a powerfully positive effect.
Regulating the economy, by contrast, often proved burdensome. Beginning with the deregulation of the airline and trucking industries, consumers benefited from relaxed economic strictures. But then came the Reagan era, when regulatory agencies were stocked with industry lackeys. The pendulum began swinging too far. Clinton Democrats, bolstered by new campaign donations from business, caught deregulatory fever.
This proved disastrous. Clinton protected environmental and safety regulations, but went along with Sen. Phil Gramm’s idea to free financial institutions from meaningful oversight. By the Bush presidency, deregulation was out of control. Dick Cheney convened secret meetings on energy that handed regulation to industry. In 2002 I reported that, during his transition, Bush had assigned an old friend to interview candidates for chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A guy named Ken Lay, of Enron.
So BP’s oil spill, or something like it, was inevitable. Without regulators to insist on unprofitable safety measures, prevent corner cutting, and plan for emergencies, the odds of a disaster shot up. It wasn’t just that the Denver office of the Minerals Management Service gave “in bed with industry” new meaning. Supervision across the government was so lax that every oil company had identical, pathetic gulf cleanup plans, which included references to walruses and other arctic mammals not found in the Gulf of Mexico—and a contact number for a wildlife expert who died in 2005. Congress, long in the pocket of the oil and gas industry, capped liability at $75 million, which is a bar bill at the golf club for these gents. More than 100 GOP members of Congress belong to a committee that attacked Obama’s plan to make BP set up a $20 billion escrow fund.
Conservatives are again trotting out the idea—slam-dunked by history—that energy and environmental regulations kill jobs. If we’d listened to them in the ’70s, we would be living in a cesspool of pollution. And if we listen to them now, and stay addicted to fossil fuels, we’ll miss out on the clean-energy technologies that are already changing the world. On the ballot this fall, it’s the 19th century vs. the 21st.
If you think I’m exaggerating, listen to the Republicans. Glenn Beck believes progressivism is “a cancer” and we should go back to the Gilded Age’s unfettered capitalism. Rush Limbaugh and his Capitol Hill stooges still oppose more stringent regulation and won’t renounce their “Drill, baby, drill!” platform. When Obama said that hazardous deep-water drilling was the result of a scarcity of shallow-water oil, they blamed Democrats for preventing drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf. In fact, it’s states like California and Florida—the states whose prerogatives conservatives claim in principle to respect—that have been most obstructionist.
The president was right to forgo aggressive BP bashing until he had secured the liability fund. The key is to attack the idea of deregulation—and that pressing BP is a “shakedown,” as Rep. Joe Barton put it—without a broad-based assault on all business. Now is the time for Obama to renew some of the older progressive traditions that have helped make the country great—to agitate and regulate in what we must, once again, define boldly as the public interest.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Though I think of him as more of a hot dog


A new job opportunity for General McChrystal when he gets fired later today (pictured here -->):


Pittsburgh Pirate Pierogi Mascot fired for bashing team on Facebook page

Saturday, June 19th 2010, 1:22 PM

Baseball fans lamenting the Pittsburgh Pirates' failure to win a game now have a new loss to deal with after one of the team mascots got booted from his job. Andrew Kurtz, 24, was one of 18 men who take turns posing as pierogi and racing around the PNC Park after the fifth inning every match.

But team officials told him to turn in his black Spandex pants and shirt after posting unflattering comments about the Pirates on his Facebook page.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Can 0 - 0 ties and an offsides rule be far behind?

News Item:

Free Vuvuzelas Cost Marlins an Out

According to the Palm Beach Post, the promotional "vuvuzela" air horns the Florida Marlins gave away on Saturday evening may have been behind a ninth inning lineup snafu that cost the Marlins an out and got manager Fredi Gonzalez ejected. Brian Barden was called out for batting out of order in after the umpires mistakenly thought Gonzalez had told them Wes Helms would be pinch hitting. Umpire crew chief Tom Hallion later blamed the incident on the deafening noise from the vuvuzelas. Vuvuzelas are, of course, the air horn/trumpet contraptions that have been ubiquitous at this month's soccer World Cup in South Africa. Their stay in America is looking short lived.


Somehow this feels like an invasive species of flora or fauna being brought over to the USA or a species of animal with no natural predator that will only multiply and breed and spread unchecked. I have no problem with them in other countries, or maybe even just at soccer games even here in the USA, but baseball games? Please.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reminds me of some of the hostels I stayed in in Europe

This is just too easy, I realize, but it needs to be said by someone.

After the USA gave up 2 goals in the first half against Slovenia, or was in Slovakia...or Serbia, maybe, the FIFA website excitedly announced that the "USA have not kept a clean sheet for 18 FIFA Group Matches in a row. The previous record was held by France." And further, "The last time the USA held a clean sheet was in 1950."

Whaddya mean we don't keep clean sheets - and who's checking them anyway? But wait, do we only keep dirty sheets? And is it because we just don't like to hold them? But really, since 1950? 60 years since we held a clean sheet or kept one? I have just way too many questions about all this.

And considering how rarely they bathe in France, well, I'm glad they at least keep clean sheets again.

Kinda like getting a Thrilling Tie for Fathers Day

Look, I love the World Cup as much as the next guy, well, as long as I'm in the USA and the next guy is actually from here, but there is something about this headline that sort of sums up the whole tournament:

U.S.A. battles back for thrilling tie!

I mean it was thrilling and all, coming back from 2-0, excuse me, 2-nil, but no offense to any of my 3 awesome and beautiful sisters, but if it's true that a tie is like kissing your sister, I just don't see how thrilling it can actually be.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Well, OK, either that or "Plastics", I'm not sure which now

If I were to give a graduation speech...or shall I say, WHEN I am someday asked to give a graduation speech, I will give one piece of advice to my rapt audience (and presumably "rapt" in this case may mean "hungover"). Well, actually, I'll probably be unable to stop myself at just one piece of advice, but my main focus, if they only hear me say one thing, the one thing, that if they use these two words as their guide in everything they do, the rest of their lives, in terms of their approach to their job, their studies, their friends, their loved ones, the simple jobs they do around the house, it's this simple suggestion:

Exceed Expectations.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Please, stop with all the good news!

May 20, 2010

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Inflation has essentially disappeared, and that gives the Federal Reserve more room to keep interest rates at record lows.

Consumer prices fell in April for the first time in more than a year. The figures released Wednesday were welcome news for people who qualify for loans and want to take on more debt. But low rates hurt savers, especially those on fixed incomes.


So let's stop with all the saving and get spending! (and by "let's" I mean you, not me.)

Gathering facts, if not moss

There are a number of reasons I love Rolling Stone magazine, but these snippets from a March 18 story titled: The GOP's Dirty War, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/12697/64858 are a good example:

"President Bush inherited a projected surplus of $5.6 trillion and left behind a forecasted deficit of $3 trillion."

and

"The Republicans' grotesque distortions of Obama's record have become a matter of dogma for the GOP's new grass-roots base. A recent poll found that only two percent of Tea Partiers are aware that the president enacted the largest middle-class tax cut in history. A staggering 44 percent, by contrast, believe that Obama has increased their taxes — and only 16 percent blame the current economic catastrophe on Bush, who ran up record deficits by slashing taxes for the wealthy."

Another source for the "largest tax-cut" claim: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_02/016948.php

Maybe this answers the burning question: Where have you gone, German Jimenez?

From an AP Story earlier this month:

US-Mexico border isn't so dangerous

It's the U.S.-Mexico border, and even as politicians say more federal troops are needed to fight rising violence, government data obtained by The Associated Press show it actually isn't so dangerous after all.

An in-house Customs and Border Protection report shows that Border Patrol agents face far less danger than street cops in most U.S. cities.

The study shows 3 percent of Border Patrol agents and officers were assaulted last year, mostly when assailants threw rocks at them. That compares with 11 percent of police officers and sheriff's deputies assaulted during the same period, usually with guns or knives.

"The border is safer now than it's ever been," said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling.

He also said that illegal immigration has dropped. And responding to security concerns after 9-11, the Border Patrol has doubled the number of agents in the region since 2004.

So maybe that's why major-league pitchers from Mexico, like Yovani Gallardo and Jaime Garcia are doing so well. They go to the border for their off-season training. Or maybe we can hope that's where Oliver Perez of the Mets, who lately couldn't hit the broad side of the fat lady who is singing about his career, will go next.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kind of like watching Republican primaries

I have watched about 10 seconds of the NBA finals because I just couldn’t find a reason to root less hard against one team than the other until driving into work this morning, I heard a post-game sound bite from Kobe. Go Celtics.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I THINK this is good news.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

WASHINGTON—The Treasury Department on Friday said the money repaid to taxpayers for government funds used to bail out U.S. companies has for the first time surpassed the amount of loans.

The Treasury, in its May report to Congress on the Troubled Asset Relief Program, said TARP repayments reached $194 billion, $4 billion more than the outstanding debt of $190 billion.

According to the Treasury statement, the bailout program has generated an additional $23 billion in revenue for taxpayers, bringing the total to $217 billion. Treasury now estimates the total cost of the bailouts will be just over $105 billion, a dramatic decrease from their estimate of $341 billion last August.


I wonder if they have been tearing off their payment coupons correctly to get proper credit for their payments.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Exploding Right Wing Myths

From the Washington Monthly:

In yet another example of the conservative media creating a double standard for President Obama, right wing media outlets attacked him for giving "absolutely no commemoration" of the D-Day anniversary [yesterday].

In fact, Obama's D-Day commemorations mirror the Bush administration's; both commemorated D-Day on significant anniversaries but not annually.


Sigh.

That said, neither of them have a chance in November anyway

I still haven't taken the time to write my thoughts on the PA primaries a few weeks back, but in the meantime, I'll write now, while the Arkansas primary is going on, that much of what I feel about what's going on politically in the USA on both the right and left can be summed up by my feelings about today's Arkansas primary, where President Obama and President Clinton are both campaigning for Mary Lincoln, the incumbent Senator.

I think Bill Clinton is the best President in US history, and so far, Obama is not far behind him, but having said that, I hope their candidate loses today. Part of the reason is that I like her opponent - Bill Halter - much better, and part of it is that she has been a blue dog and was not helpful during the health care debate, but I have to admit that part of my feeling is that if the people in power are for her, then I'm against her.

Shake it up!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Live blogging the Flyers game, or at least I think that's what it's called

Random thoughts watching the Flyers Stanley Cup playoff game #3:

- Mike Emrick is a national treasure
- Hockey is a way better game than it was 9-20 years ago
- The officiating is much better and many of the rules are better, like the way they call interference, but some are way worse, like the way they call slashing
- The more hockey I play, the more I appreciate how great these guys are
- I can't spell the Chicago goalie's name, but it sounds an awful lot like Auntie, Knee Emma, which I hope none of my sisters do to my daughter Emma, and he looks an awful lot like a brick wall right now, with the score 3-3 and the Flyers throwing everything they have at him
- Hockey TV directors still don't know there is no need to go in tight on the players during live action or to put in the PP and PK stats during live action
- I should also add that along with Eddie Van Impe, Mike Emrick is one of the nicest people I met in 21 years of working with the Flyers.
- I just saw my buddy, Terry Lefton, in the stands. Looks like he has a front row seat. That's ok, Lefty, I had to coach Emma's soccer game tonight anyway. Sigh.
- 90 seconds left - man these guys look exhausted. Looks like OT.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So maybe I'm not out to launch

And you thought I never agreed with a majority of R's over D's...

Regarding the US Space Program, do you feel we spend too much, not enough, or the right amount?

RIGHT TOO MUCH NOT ENG NOT SURE

All 28% 47% 12% 13%
Dem 36% 38% 19% 7%
Rep 23% 56% 5% 16%
Ind 25% 48% 11% 16%

Not when we can keep cutting back on the number of teachers

I got this from the Dailykos, but they took it from a link to Conservative Bruce Bartlett's website:

Republicans primarily concerned about national security ought to be in the forefront of efforts to raise revenues to reduce deficits, free up domestic saving for domestic investment, and reduce the importation of foreign saving and the trade deficit. But so far they are not. They remain loyal to the Republican obsession with tax cuts and a refusal to raise taxes in any way for any reason. However, I think my national security-minded friends are soon going to discover that massive defense budget cuts will necessarily be a big part of the price that will be paid for not raising revenues.

Right now, the US spends as much on national defense as every other nation in the world combined.

Yeah, but what can it do after that second is over, huh?!

There's something about this sentence in today's NY Times that just makes me incredibly uneasy:

"The Dawning Nebulae computer has achieved a sustained speed of 1.27 petaflops — the equivalent of one thousand trillion mathematical operations a second."

Maybe it's the part where a computer can do more things in a second than I'll do in my entire life.