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Wed Nov 12, 2014 at 02:17 PM PST

My Concert for Valor Redux

by VeloDramatic

I stumbled into last night's concert on the mall with mixed feelings. While fully supporting the ordinary service men and women put in harm's way, I didn't fancy a jingoistic night of bespangled stars punctuated by chants of USA, USA.

I caught the show from Dave Grohl's set to the finish and grew increasingly fascinated by the substance and subtext of the event.

For starters, the Capital dome wrapped in scaffolding seemed a fitting metaphor for a government and a country badly in need of repair. For some strange reason I kept waiting for a corporate logo or the bat signal to appear on the dome.

When Grohl, Brown and Springsteen sang Fortunate Son, it surprised me and I immediately imagined the chickenhawks in Congress wrapping themselves in the flag while queuing up at the microphone to denounce the affront to their privilege. I wondered if a fully hydrated Marco Rubio was prepared to offer a musical rebuttal for the GOP?

The Metallica performance was interesting because so many in the audience knew all the words. And that's when I really noticed how young the soldiers were. Juxtapose those faces with Congressional haircuts talking about the troops and it makes you want to puke at the hypocrisy of it all.

Springsteen's stripped-down acoustic set of Promised Land, Born in the USA and Dancing in the Dark quieted the crowd to where you could hear a pin drop. I don't know whether they all "got" it; so many misconstrue the meaning of his anti-war, working-class Born in the USA to be a nationalist anthem. But he brought a poignant, sobering conscience to bear on the stage and that was the high point (and low point) for me. I just wished he'd sang "If I Fall Behind" to wrap his set. I love that song.

The Rihanna and Eminem performances brought it back to the 20 and 30 year old's who don't fit into conservatism's cookie-cutter patriotism; chasing relevance, sanity or celebrity in a fucked up world. The profane intensity highlighted the disconnect with the mythology.

I continue to hope we bring all our veterans home and improve our poor record of caring for them when their fighting has stopped.

Postscript: I highly recommend Sebastian Junger's Last Patrol documentary on HBO.


Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 10:09 AM PDT

Ferguson: Sprinting in Flip Flops

by VeloDramatic

We can see Michael Brown's backless flip flops in the gratuitous convenience store video. And we can see that same footwear still ON his feet* where the police left him for four and a half hours on that street. *trigger warning

The witness accounts we've heard all indicate Michael moved away from the police vehicle and that he was being shot at. We also know that Michael did not die beside the police vehicle. If we're to believe the third-hand account of officer Wilson's story, Michael Brown ran away (to establish some greater distance between the police vehicle and his body) while being shot at; then he turned and CHARGED at the officer (closing the initial distance he covered but NOT returning close to the car) again while being shot at.

I defy anyone to sprint in flip flops. Run fast, or stop start, and the flip flops are coming off your feet. If the just-released audio recording captures the actual gunfire sequence (perhaps with an earlier single shot), we know there's no way Michael Brown covered any great distance in the available time.

We've all seen accident photos, and X-Games sequences of laced-up shoes leaving feet in high speed collisions or falls. Does it make any sense that someone charging in backless flip flops would still be wearing them when he fell?

It doesn't.

What's far more plausible is that Michael Brown moved in one direction and one direction only; away from the police car, away from the bullets and not very quickly. Michael Brown stopped and turned around, perhaps during that pause between bursts. It was officer Wilson who closed the distance as witnesses describe, and it was officer Wilson's second barrage of bullets that caused Michael Brown to pitch forward dead or dying onto the pavement, still in his flip flops.

The only time the word "charging" should be used in the context of this attrocity is when charging the officer.


Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 08:39 PM PDT

Bill Maher's Patriot Diapers

by VeloDramatic

I have to say I was delighted to see Bill Maher's bit tonight on Patriot Diapers. It's great to see how much influence Daily Kos has on the wide range of stories we see on MSNBC and the Comedy Network. I'm sure you all recognize where stories are going on Ed, Rev, Chris H, Rachael, Lawrence and even Chris M's shows before they finish the lead in because you've seen them here first and read great diaries from this community.

Tonight I had that same recognition but this time it was my own artwork I created and uploaded to Jed's diary making fun of the 30-million patriot march on Washington back in May. Now of course it's entirely possible Bill Maher's writing team made up the bit themselves but I like to think we played an inspirational part in another great bit of satire.


Our pilot has shut down the engines to protest the inflight meal service. Be advised we'll be on the ground soon.

If you're on the left side of the aircraft you'll be able to see the ground rapidly approaching, those on the far right side of the aircraft will see nothing but blue sky.

We'd like to thank you for flying with Republican airlines, now with non stop service to Somalia.


This really isn't a diary, just an idea that offers a delicious double hook to the ribs of the GOP extremists.

The administration should add all the necessary elements to any insurance card issued by Federal Exchanges under the ACA to satisfy Republican Voter ID laws. Imagine the scene as a frothing Tea bagger poll watcher confronts an elderly African American citizen demanding to see identification.

"Where's your photo ID?"

"I've got my ID right here!" as she slaps down her ACA insurance card.


Continue Reading

Adding to the Tea Party driven list of demands that House Republicans have been floating in the last week, it appears there's an eleventh-hour demand for Romney/Ryan Cruz/Lee to have equal rights to Air Force One.

A hastily scribbled note stained with tanning solution emerged from a cage where Speaker Boehner was being held awaiting his next session in the purification pit.

The Tea Party asserts that presidential elections don't settle major policy issues when the sitting President's pigmentation conflicts with National Gallery norms AND all televised Presidential public statements should be rebutted by one or more equal time statements.

The note goes on to suggest that Senator Cruz's recent filibuster performance triggers a little known constitutional device known as the "Doover Clause" whereby the Romney Ryan loss can be transmogrified into a quasi victory. While it cannot technically change the vote count in the past election cycle (subject to state-by-state challenges beginning in Florida in 2014) it does mandate equal time on Air Force One.

"Why should this President have exclusive use of a great national symbol when patriots like Senators Cruz and Lee have to fundraise fly in lesser aircraft. This is not what the founders intended" - Louie Gohmert

When asked for comment Senator Cruz said "I'm flattered. While I can walk on water I have yet to master the art of flight. Until that shining day when I can take to the skies with Mike Lee on my back I would appreciate the honor of traveling this great nation on Air Force One"

Senator Lee, who was shining Senator Cruz's shoes at the time, looked up and added "as a Constitutional scholar and gun owner I'm going to insist that Air Force One is renamed Patriot Eagle One In the Chamber"

Apparently the flip side of the note was a receipt for 2 cases of Jim Beam and a dozen Titleists.


Fri May 24, 2013 at 09:17 PM PDT

Liberty Bridges

by VeloDramatic

Given the most recent bridge collapse and the general state of disrepair of the American infrastructure I have a simple idea that harkens back to the Liberty ships that were mass fabricated during WWII.

Why can't we design a range of standardized bridges that fits a significant cross section of the crumbling national inventory. These bridges would be engineered and constructed in several regional centers (jobs) in modular fashion and then transported to the bridge site and erected IKEA style by local workers (jobs) supervised by a growing cadre of engineers versed in Liberty bridge construction (jobs).

I've got to believe thousands of the failing structures, simple bridges over simple spans, could be remedied by this kind of national program. Designed with the latest technology, steel, anti-corrosion, concrete, lighting and environmental knowledge they'd benefit from mass production, quality control and standardized site prep.

Rather than build custom spans for every failing structure the Liberty Bridges would instead rely on making the site fit the bridge rather than vice versa. A range of discreet sizes and extensions (far better engineered) would answer the common need.

By all accounts the scale of the problem merits a rapid, efficient, dare I say national response but of course in these times when Republicans turn down healthcare dollars there's no guarantee sense will prevail. Anyway for what it's worth I wanted to throw this out.


In the afterglow of Obama’s resounding second term victory much will be written about the popular vote, a still-divided nation and the need for compromise.

When the chattering classes and the closet centrists in the GOP finish skeletonizing the desiccated carcass of the Romney campaign and prescribing a cure for the GOP’s demographic presbyopia we’re going to hear a lot about the absence of a mandate.

Not so fast.

While the popular vote suggests a nation bifurcated at its roots, it is, to use a favorite notion in the vernacular of the right, not a legitimate 50/50 division and Obama should not lead based on that assumption. No one questions that a considerable percentage of the GOP vote was against Obama and NOT for Romney. During those unending Republican debates it was clear to any reasoned observer that an uninspiring Romney was a reluctant choice for the tea party led right.

That faction was not running against President Obama but an imagined bogeyman, the angry, un-american, Kenyan, socialist apologist in league with the dark powers of the UN, Europeans, terrorists and science. Limbaugh, Walsh, West, Bachmann, Trump, Aiken, Broun, take your pick, these were the voices fanning the flames of irrationality.

We don’t know yet when or if the tea party fever will break, but I doubt it.

That parochial, reactionary America is in decline. It has isolated itself in superstition and paranoia and it may choose to perish in its ideological bunker rather than come out and experience the real world.  So be it.

As a result it’s not reasonable or defensible to argue that this group should be counted in the political calculus moving forward. It may be difficult to precisely estimate their contribution to the GOP vote total but let’s go with half. Twenty-five percent of the voting public stood with, believed in, sympathized with or deferred to the lunatic fringe.  They are unaffected by facts, resistant to change, and painfully ignorant.

So when we talk about mandates let’s excise this sorry tribe and feel secure in the direction that America has chosen. President Obama should, and I believe will, act confidently in this watershed second term. I have no fears that events will overtake him. He has proven more than a match for these times, and the country and world is better for it. It’s a new America where there’s plenty of room for conservatives but the crazies; we’re leaving them behind.


Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 09:35 PM PST

Paul Ryan's Math

by VeloDramatic

Paul Ryan proves a mathematical truth that division BY A Zero is meaningless. I love the news that he's shuttling back and forth in his motorcade before his inevitable exile. To all those pundits that are now turning on Romney (Todd and Fineman to name two) how do you feel about the GOP's intellectual center now.

He was and is a complete zero.


Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 04:43 PM PDT

Fun: Two Women Shipping Binders

by VeloDramatic

This will be really quick. I know we're all anxious to see this thing to the finish. Nice little story.

I'm just back from dropping off a package at Fedex.

Two women who are shipping large boxes, ask the service person "Oh, we also need some boxes to ship a bunch of binders"

Without missing a beat, I quip "Full of women?"  There's a three second pause before they both start laughing. Grinning, I add "don't forget to vote... for Obama" as I head for the door.

Another woman working at one of those rental workstations, lifts her head as I walk by and says "Amen"

Made me feel great.


I posted this diary to my blog today. I'm a photographer who shoots cycling for a living so all this is very close and personal for me. Eventually a lying Romney shows up late in the piece. If you're not that interested in cycling skip down to the Age of Liars section.

I wrote in 2008.

Frankly I cannot imagine that if he had doped that he would come back to the sport with so much on the line; his legacy; his endorsements; his charity; and most importantly the hundreds of thousands of cancer survivors that continue the fight because of his inspiration. No one with that much spiritual responsibility would risk destroying so many hearts.

When Lance Armstrong announced his comeback to an excited interbike press conference in September 2008 I was sitting front row center. It was the first time I'd been in proximity to the rider who'd got me out of bed at 5:30 am each July while he ran the table in France.

At the time I wrote about how Neal Rogers from Velonews had left the seat near to me to charge his laptop. With my camera focused on the stage I'd not noticed Greg Lemond take his place, and so when Greg was recognized by Armstrong for the first question, I was as surprised as anyone in the room.

A nervous Lemond struggled to structure his question. His hands fidgeted with a phone apparently recording the exchange.

Freeze frame. I don'€™t know if it'€™s fair to characterize the general mood of the room. In those first few seconds when all attention swung to Lemond there seemed to be a collective inhalation, and the adrenalin rush that comes with a confrontation. How was this going to play out?

It didn'€™t take long to find out. Relatively quickly Armstrong took charge, deflected the technical grounds for Lemond'€™s doping question, and shut the whole thing down with "Greg we'€™re not going to go negative here"€ I suspect most felt Lemond had lost the exchange and wanted to get back to the scheduled second coming of the sport'€™s biggest attraction. I know I did, and I was wrong.

Analysis with Hindsight

The question had ostensibly been asked of Don Catlin, the testing specialist retained by Armstrong to ensure the highest level of doping scrutiny for his comeback. When I spoke to Catlin after the news conference he hadn'€™t been able to hear the full question. Catlin asked me to reconstruct the question as I understood it, and I went through Lemond's assertion that V02max was the baseline predictor of athletic performance and conversely performance enhancement. Catlin acknowledged it was a legitimate question (but I didn'€™t report that) because he really hadn'€™t answered the question he didn'€™t hear. For my part I was not aware of the question'€™s subtext.

I didn'€™t know that Greg's wife Kathy had alleged a conversation between Lance and Greg in her 2006 SCA deposition. Essentially Lance had claimed Greg must have doped with EPO to win his tours. Greg countered that the difference between the two men was Lance had a VO2max of 82, Greg'€™s was 95, and Lance "didn't know what he was talking about"€

A month later in October 2009 Armstrong spokesperson Mark Higgins responded to Pierre Bordry's (then head of the French Anti-Doping Agency) proposal to retest samples from the 1999 Tour de France, claiming all sorts of procedural and technical impediments to any retesting.

Five months later the total transparency promised by Armstrong's Catlin testing program was gone, ended I believe when Armstrong felt he didn'€™t need the cover story, and possibly because Catlin wasn'€™t prepared to spin his limited access into the indisputable validation Armstrong wanted.

Call it smoke and mirrors or spin, whatever looking back it was cold and calculated politics from the Armstrong camp.

In the aftermath of USADA'€™s chainshot volley the good ship Armstrong has lost it'€™s mast, the brand's rigging and sails are in tatters, and a once loyal crew of sponsors has abandoned ship. His defending public have fought a brave if deluded retreat to increasingly awkward positions: the level playing field; government waste; and moral equivalency between a positive (Livestrong) and a negative (doping).

The Age of Liars

It'€™s now quite clear that Lance Armstrong has been lying about his own behavior and character for more than a decade. Worse still the USADA report makes absolutely clear that he went on the offensive to pull others into the doping conspiracy, influence them to commit perjury, encourage them to smuggle drugs across international borders, hide from anti-doping tests, and collaborate with a heretical doctor running a highly lucrative and sophisticated doping program.

To perpetuate the fiction of innocence he aggressively worked to destroy the reputations of original whistleblowers, Betsy Andreu and Emma O'€™Reilly. Investigative journalism from David Walsh and Paul Kimmage was attacked and the writers ostracized. He sued and won lawsuits to benefit financially and may have bribed UCI officials to make doping problems go away.

Reading the 200-page Reasoned Decision I was struck by many of the small details. Selling team bikes to pay for dope. Levi and Floyd renting a French apartment to cover their tracks, the Hincapie Affidavit's rather insipid closing points defending Lance but most of all I was offended by Armstrong'€™s enduring belligerence. All those years, all those denials, denigrations and defamations to what purpose, but narcissism and greed.

We have it seems found the bottom of the barrel. It'€™s no coincidence at the precise historical moment that Armstrong has fallen we've seen the ascendancy of a new mendacity in American politics. In Mitt Romney we have a cipher willing to say and do anything to win. After all no principle is worth losing for.

Armstrong and Romney are two sides of the same coin that sadly has become the devalued currency of contemporary American life. Leave integrity at the door, win at all costs, cheat to get what you want, and when challenged or caught, lie some more.

I'€™m not sure where cycling goes next. Perhaps there is room for truth and reconciliation, but I'm adamant that whether Armstrong comes clean or not, he shouldn't find personal redemption having had so many opportunities to tell the truth before and crushing anyone brave enough to stand in opposition.

I'm dismayed that riders like Indurain and Contador continue to miss the point of these revelations. Armstrong has been calling the tune for more than a decade, and now the music has stopped. If you want to be fair, send a thank you note to Betsy Andreu or make a donation to the Kimmage defense fund, and as strongly and clearly as possible join the voices calling for McQuaid to resign.


Thu Oct 18, 2012 at 04:46 PM PDT

Potential Ad: Who's the Real Boss

by VeloDramatic

I thought James Lipton nailed it when he characterized Romney as "that boss" who told bad jokes and made you uneasy. He's definitely emblematic of the CEO who shares none of the business risk and lines his own pockets with outrageous compensation and restricted stock (whether the business thrives or fails).

The ad would begin with a montage of Romney's CEO moments. Corporations are people; I like firing people; 47%; big bird; binders of women; the Ohio miners; his "maybe" arrogance about releasing his taxes etc.

Voiceover. Mitt Romney believes he should get your vote, but America needs a president not a boss. Romney's bottom line has and always will be profit. He's asking us for the same Blind Trust that he once called an old ruse.

He wants to tell women what they can and can't do with their bodies but he can't ensure they'll be given equal pay for equal work. He wants employers to tell employees how to vote and doesn't mind when workers lose a day of pay to make a good background for a campaign stop. He promised to give the 1% more tax cuts and influence while his party works to suppress the votes of the 47% he dismissed.

Mitt Romney's America is a gated community on a hill where only money, not hard work and sweat, makes money. It is an old America that sees enemies where none exist and conspiracies behind every fact.

America does not need a boss, we have a president and we're keeping him.


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