I went on the Thom Hartmann show again last night to get into it with Tim Cavanaugh, Senior Online Editor at The Daily Caller and Conservative Hughey Newsome of the National Advisory Council-Project 21, and MoveOnUp.org. We debated Sen. Tom Coburn’s pledge not to fund disaster relief in Oklahoma, more Benghazi cover up conspiracies, Apple not paying tax, and whether the IRS hates the Tea Party. I was up against a couple of nut cases last week, but last night’s debate was far more interesting as Cavanaugh and Newsome are bright guys. It starts at the 14min 58s mark (video should start there automatically):
Like everything else that is good for the environment, cycling has morphed from being a mode of transport into a weird annoying cult full of pious missionaries spreading the good word. As a driver, I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve been held up by a cyclist (usually with no helmet) taking up the center of the road and holding up traffic. Honk your horn and they’ll erupt in a fury of indignation. “I’m a cyclist dammit! I’m special!”. And there’s not much you can do about it, other than wait patiently until they turn off. Or run them off the road and face jail time…
Like vegans, cyclists want everyone to know that they’re cyclists. The wear cycling t-shirts, post pictures of themselves cycling on facebook, visit cycling website, and even start their own annoying blogs about cycling and how great it is. Cyclists also hate motorists, and make a point of giving drivers dirty looks if they get too close or try to engage them in debate. Motorists are dirty, evil environment killers and are not worthy of talking to. Drive a car to work? Screw you, baby seal killer.
A couple of days ago, a cyclist was killed outside my office in DC. Why? Because he ran through a red light, wasn’t wearing a helmet, and got hit by an oncoming car. He spent a few hours in hospital in critical condition, then died from his injuries. It was a terrible tragedy, but if you’re going to cycle with no helmet and break laws designed to stop people from getting killed, there is a limit to how much sympathy you are entitled to.
In DC, it’s pretty common to see cyclists speeding through the streets without helmets (around 25%, according to the data). The capital’s bike sharing program is increasingly popular, and as a result, increasingly dangerous. Many incidents go unreported, and when they happen, the results are more often than not, pretty horrific.
Hyperbole aside, cyclists do have the right to use their bikes on public roads. In America, most funding for roads comes from general tax, and if anything, cyclists subsidize drivers, and not the other way round. Cycling is good for many reasons: It reduces congestion, is good for the environment, and it keeps riders healthy, lowering health care costs. Which is great.
But let’s be honest here – roads, at least in their current incarnation, are designed for cars and not bikes. And when they share, it can be pretty dangerous, and mostly for the cyclist. The average US car weighs 4,000lbs, while the average American weighs 177.9lbs. If they hit each other at speed, well, you do the math…
Safety issues aside, it isn’t actually all that clear whether cyclists provide much benefit to the environment when sharing roads with motorists. From EnvironmentalResearchWeb.org:
Encouraging people onto their bikes can reduce costs for all users by reducing congestion. But perversely, increasing bike use can actually add to pollution and greenhouse emissions if roads are not updated to accommodate these bikes. “Cities cannot hope to significantly increase cycle ridership without negatively impacting traffic unless they build bike facilities,” said Clarens. In particular, the researchers show that bikes can significantly slow traffic down on steeper sections of road and where roads narrow. The findings are published in Environmental Research Letters (ERL).
Clearly cycling is a good thing, but not when using roads that weren’t designed for it.
I’m all for ripping up current roads and making them bike friendly. In fact, I’d even get behind banning cars in all urban city centers to make them more livable places. Bring back rickshaws, bike taxis and trams, and limit car use to suburban areas and cross country travel.
But until then, cyclists need to accept the roads as they are. If you’re going to use the same space as motorists, don’t act like you own it, because physics dictates you clearly don’t.
An ardent supporter of fiscal austerity, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is demanding budget cuts are made elsewhere before funding disaster relief for the tornado victims in his state. Coburn spokesman Jon Hart wrote to Politico telling them that “He’ll [Coburn] ask his colleagues to help Oklahoma by setting priorities and sacrificing less vital areas of the budget”.
This is clearly political suicide for the Senator, who along with Sen. Jim Inhofe have voted repeatedly against funding disaster relief around America. Reports the Huff Post:
They [Coburn and Inhofe] also have opposed increased funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers federal disaster relief.
Late last year, Inhofe and Coburn both backed a plan to slash disaster relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy. In a December press release, Coburn complained that the Sandy Relief bill contained “wasteful spending,” and identified a series of items he objected to, including “$12.9 billion for future disaster mitigation activities and studies.”
If they remain steadfast and demand the cuts, they should be given credit for consistency. But certainly not compassion.
The Tornado that destroyed an entire suburb in Oklahoma and killed hundreds of people might well have not happened if humans hadn’t been pumping insane amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Or it still might have. We really don’t know for sure.
What we do know is that thousands of people have just experienced unimaginable horror and have been left with an apocalyptic wasteland that used to be their home town. Right now, the country should be focused on the victims in the suburb of Moore, and how they can be helped.
While there is an opportunity to bolster the argument for a strong federal government to help respond to the disaster, and an even better opportunity to promote action on global warming, liberals need to hold off and wait until the panic has calmed before making a point.
It’s not that the arguments are wrong; Disasters often highlight the need for a well functioning, well funded government, and extreme weather events help make the case that rising global temperatures really do have catastrophic effects on all of us.
It is the timing of it that matters.
Republicans will be itching to point fingers at reactionary Democrats (they are already busy smearing Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse for speaking out about it) in order to turn the public off of issues like global warming and funding the federal government. And it works. Republicans, in collusion with oil funded ‘research’, have managed to convince 30% of Americans that man made global warming is a hoax, and even more that government needs to shrink in size. They literally salivate over liberals doing what they do on a daily basis, as they get to look like grownups and swing public opinion in their favor.
So wait, liberals. You’re right about the federal government, and most likely right about the link between the tornado and global warming. Just keep it to yourselves for now if you want your message to actually affect anything.
To donate to the victims of the Oklahoma tornado, go to the Red Cross website here.
Here’s a tip for all you wannabe media moguls: If you want to get ahead in the business, make sure you have a very successful parent.
22 year old Gus Wenner, son of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner has been promoted to head up operations at RollingStone.com after a long career in….college. Via JimRomenesko.com:
Here’s Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner’s memo about his son‘s promotion.
From: Jann Wenner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Monday, May 20, 2013 2:52 PM
Subject: Gus Wenner
Gus Wenner (from his Facebook page)
[Wenner Media chief digital officer] David Kang and I are very pleased — and I am very proud — to announce that Gus Wenner, after leading the re-launch re-design effort for our website, will now continue by heading up the overall operations of RollingStone.com.
Hamilton Nolan’s take:
Gus Wenner, 22, is an amazing media success story. Just a few years ago, he was a Brown University student playing in a band with fellow celebukid Brown student Scout Willis. Today, he’s still playing in a band with Scout Willis— and also running the website of a major national magazine!…..Gus followed the traditional route to a perch atop the media hierarchy: playing in an alt-country band in college.
[Full disclosure: My father was a big figure in the entertainment industry. He did once get me a job in the video tape library of his company as a runner, but after almost getting fired for incompetence on several occasions, I left after 4 months.]
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a man selling shrimp on the side of the road had his sign stolen by a man in passing truck. Taking matters into his own hands, the shrimp seller jumped on the hood of the truck and the driver took off down the freeway with him on it.
A car passing by captured the incident on camera and had the following relatively relaxed conversation with the shrimp seller, going and God knows how many miles per hour:
Man on hood of speeding car: Call the police for me!
Woman holding camera: What’s going on?
Man on hood of speeding car:He ran me over and I jumped on the hood! Call the police for me.
Woman holding camera: Ok.
While the man on the hood of the car was not apparently telling the truth (he didn’t get run over according to the police) he did seem fairly annoyed at the driver:
Apparently, no charges have been filed by any parties involved.
Macho man and JP Morgan Chase Chairman, President and CEO Jamie Dimon is regarded as a titan on Wall St, and a dick by pretty much everyone else. Dimon is a balls-to-the-wall capitalist and unapologetic advocate of the system that makes people like him rich, and brought the global economy to its knees in 2008.
In April 2o12, JP Morgan reported a loss in a London-based division, first calculated to be $2 billion. The estimates then kept going up, finally reaching over $6 billion. Dimon dismissed the incident initially, calling it a “tempest in a teapot”, then embarrassingly had to walk back his statement and accept his bank screwed up big time.
Thankfully, Dimon might get dealt a small dose of humility tomorrow as shareholder groups are calling for the bank to strip him of his chairman job. At the bank’s annual meeting in Florida, several groups including the union AFSCME, the NYCCO (New York City Comptroller’s Office) will ask bank shareholders to approve a proposal that splits the roles of chairman and CEO, giving the chairman job to someone outside the bank. This would essentially strip Dimon of much of his power and ensure he faced far more scrutiny in his job.
But of course Dimon wants none of this, claiming the event is a “sideshow” orchestrated by unions. Dimon wants everyone to understand just how how vital rich bankers are to the survival of America. ”I am not embarrassed to be a banker” Dimon once told a roomful of corporate clients in response to attacks on his industry.
Quite the claim given the public had to put up $12.8 trillion to keep his industry from collapsing.
Dimon, described by the New Yorker “as an overgrown frat boy” has a long history of making dick statements, making his impending comeuppance all the more gratifying.
Here’s 9 quotes from the Wall St mogul that definitively prove that he is in fact, a giant dick:
1. “That’s why I’m richer than you.”
- Jamie Dimon Speaking to Mike Mayo CLSA analyst when asked whether he agrees that customers should feel safer with banks that have higher capital ratios (like JP Morgan).
2. “I have gotten disturbed at… some of the Democrats’ anti-business behavior, the sentiment, the attacks on work ethic and successful people. I think it’s very counter-productive.”
- Jamie Dimon on Meet the Press in 2012
forgetting that his industry almost wrecked the entire global economy.
3. “You read constantly that banks are lobbying regulators and elected officials as if this is inappropriate. We don’t look at it that way.”
-Jamie Dimon in his annual shareholder letter arguing that banks have the right to corrupt the political system with money (JP Morgan spent $7.5 million on lobbying in 2011).
4. “I am not embarrassed to be a banker. I am not embarrassed to be in business.”
Jamie Dimon defending the business of taking tax payers money and lending it back to them
at extortionate rates.
5. “The term ‘too big to fail’ must be excised from our vocabulary.”
6. “Giving debt relief to people that really need it, that’s what foreclosure is.”
-Jamie Dimon arguing that banks taking people’s houses and kicking them onto the streets was in fact, a good thing for people ruined by debt.
7. ”JPMorgan would be fine if we stopped talking about the damn nationalization of banks. We’ve got plenty of capital. To policymakers, I say where were they? … They approved all these banks. Now they’re beating up on everyone, saying look at all these mistakes, and we’re going to come and fix it.”
— Jamie Dimon in 2009 at Davos speaking about the financial crisis, forgetting that his own bank required nearly $100 billion in taxpayer help to fill its own lack of capital during the meltdown.
8. “Just because we’re stupid doesn’t mean everybody else was.”
— Jamie Dimon on the losses incurred by JP Morgan in 2012, rejecting the notion that more regulation is needed to prevent them happening again.
9. “We don’t think there are cases where people were evicted out of homes when they shouldn’t have been.”
— Jamie Dimon in 2010 responding to the investigation led by 49 state attorney generals into bank foreclosure practices. Along with several other banks, JP Morgan settled with regulators after widespread mortgage abuse was found and paid out a combined $9.2 billion to those it foreclosed on illegally.
Having built a business selling enormously high calorie drinks, Coca Cola now wants to help put right the growing global obesity epidemic. From ABC News:
Coca-Cola says it will make lower-calorie options and clear calorie labeling more widely available around the world, intensifying a push against critics who say its drinks pack on the pounds.
The Atlanta-based company, which makes Sprite, Fanta and Minute Maid, already offers diet drinks in most markets. But there’s no consistency in their availability, particularly in emerging markets such as China and India.
Coca-Cola also said Wednesday that it would support programs that encourage physical activity and no longer market to kids younger than 12. That policy is already in place for the U.S., but the company did not say in which countries it currently markets to children.
As a fan of Coca Cola (at least the original drink), I’m slightly reticent to get too sarcastic about this, but it is rather like tobacco companies getting into cancer prevention. Sure, Coca Cola’s new campaign might have some sort of effect, but it isn’t about to do anything too serious about the epidemic. At its core, it is a business that sells sugar, and sugar makes people fat.
So really, it is in the business of making people fat.
If Coca Cola was serious about the obesity epidemic it would support legislation that prevented advertising its products altogether. Of course it doesn’t support this because that would hurt its business, making its announcement pretty much meaningless.
In magical free market fantasy land, this is all ok though because people want sugary drinks, and dammit, Coca Cola is going to give them what they want! If they don’t want it, they’ll make them think they do by having celebrities drink it on television, and if they figure out they’re being duped, they’ll hire more celebrities to drink slightly less sugary versions of it so that they’ll buy that instead. Sure, over 300,000 people a year die from obesity related diseases in America, and obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, but what has that got to do with anything?
Image via Shutterstock
In this weeks edition of ‘Glenn Beck Comment Porn’ we look at his reader’s reactions to an article on Pat Robertson and submissive women. The televangelist had got himself into a whole heap of trouble when he declared that women who have been cheated on by their husbands should stop dwelling on the cheating and “make a home so wonderful that he doesn’t want to wander”.
Reader’s of Glenn Beck’s site ‘The Blaze’ weighed in with their usual combination of wit, intelligence and compassion, offering the following gems all women should take to the bank.
MIKEINLEEDS agreed with Robertson, arguing that most men he knows who “has (sic) cheated is mainly because women are not submissive anymore”:
MODERN_CICERO said that only Jesus Christ can stop men cheating:
Until next week….
Gawker wants you to pay for a video of Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, smoking crack cocaine. Writes John Cook:
As you may have heard, Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, smokes crack cocaine. We’ve seen a video of him smoking crack cocaine, and the people who have the video would like to sell it. Through the miracle of crowdfunding, you can help. Please consider donating to the Rob Ford Crackstarter.
How Much Do We Need? $200,000. That’s what the owners of the video want. That sounds like a lot of money. The good people at Indiegogo believe that, with the appropriate amount of virality, that goal is achievable.
The crowdfunding site Indigogo has the power to help many a worthwhile project, and it’s highly debatable whether this is one of them. Gawker, which is worth in excess of $300 million, is basically asking the public to pay for something it will profit from. They’re obviously calculating that the virality of the video won’t make them $200,000 in ad revenue, so they’re asking their readers to foot the bill. I’m all up for reader funded journalism, but it has to be actual journalism not just slapping a video up of something controversial. If Gawker wanted $200,000 to do a series of in depth pieces on crack use in Toronto, then sure. But this is just a cheap move to get people to pay for stuff they should be buying themselves.
How about this? Let the project stand, but Gawker must use all ad proceeds from the video to doing some serious journalism on the subject (that it can also profit from).
I think Gawker is an excellent site, and while I’m giving it a hard time for this particular story, it does do some very good original reporting (Hamilton Nolan in particular has done some great work on poverty and wealth inequality).
So take up the challenge and put that money to good use. I’ll donate myself, and gladly watch the video of Rob Ford getting high as a kite.