Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Month: July 2008 Page 2 of 8

MPD Stonewalling on Alice Swanson’s Death?

In the weeks since cyclist Alice Swanson was killed by a driver who came into her lane and crushed her, I’d been expecting to hear that the driver had been charged with – at least – reckless driving.  But I’d not seen anything about it, and had hoped that maybe it had just gone unreported.  Well, it seems that the MPD isn’t answering any questions about it.  From today’s Washington Post live chat with Eric Gilliand, executive director of the Washington Area Bicycle Association:

Eric Gilliland: We are watching the Alice Swanson case very closely, but in spite of our repeated efforts to get more information about the case calls to the Major Crash unit have not been returned. We are in the process of setting up a meeting with MPD to discuss this, but have nothing solid yet. We have been pretty disappointed with the reaction to the tragedy by the city as a whole.

If you live in the District, please call the Mayor and your council member, and ask them why the MPD doesn’t seem to be taking the death of one of its residents very seriously.

Public service? Hah. It’s *W* Service!

I’m sure others will be going to town on this, but here’s a few gems (as ID’d by the Washington Post) from the DOJ IG’s report on the politicized hiring practices at DOJ:

Goodling regularly asked candidates for career jobs, “What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?”

And while that might be amusing, this most definitely isn’t:

In my view, the most damaging conclusion is this one from p. 136:

Goodling’s use of political considerations in connection with these details was particularly damaging to the Department because it resulted in high-quality candidates for important details being rejected in favor of less-qualified candidates. For example, an experienced career terrorism prosecutor was rejected by Goodling for a detail to EOUSA to work on counterterrorism issues because of his wife’s political affiliations. Instead, EOUSA had to select a much more junior attorney who lacked any experience in counterterrorism issues and who EOUSA officials believed was not qualified for the position.

There’s the money quote, folks. Bush official endangers national security for political purposes.

Remember, McCain and all his pathetic supporters are telling us that we’re supposed to trust the Republican Party to keep us safe.  And they will!  You know, unless the wife of the guy that is better at keeping us safe once said something some incompetent young staffer at DOJ didn’t like.

Paul Kimmage: Back from the Abyss

Paul Kimmage, knowledgeable (and frequent) critic of pro cycling, wrote a column that’s a must-read for any pro cycling/Tour de France fan.  It starts with:

If there’s one thing professional cyclists have always been more proficient at than racing bikes, it’s telling lies. From Richard Virenque to Bjarne Riis to Tyler Hamilton, the angel-faced maestro of deceit, the sport has fostered some of the finest liars in history. So a year ago, when Jonathan Vaughters began making headlines for his innovative plans at Slipstream, the new antidoping team hoping to ride the Tour de France, it was hard not to snigger. Did he seriously expect us to believe him?

And then he takes us through his efforts to answer that question.  Well worth reading.

10:15/Saturday Night: Expectations Edition

You know, I’m not sure what I want this to be.  At first, it was going to be all about the Mighty Lemondrops, Cure, Joy Division, etc.  But sometimes I’m just not feeling it.  So, today, you get something very different.  I’ve been poking around the fan remix/”vidding” scene, lately, and came across some great stuff.  Those of you who know, will dig.  Those of you who don’t, well, enjoy the music and the pretty girls.


Weekend Music: Thankful for the Summer

Oh, how I love the heat of summer.  I’ve got a few tunes lined up, but I’ve got to run out (to do something very summery) right now.  So enjoy William DeVaughn’s (very summery) Be Thankful For What You’ve Got.


Another picnic in the park classic, Sly & the Family Stone’s Hot Fun in the Summertime:


And when everyone shows up, we enjoy this Sean Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra Cover (if you click on nothing else, click on this):

And when you’re done, get a glass of water, send the kids home, and check out this series of covers of a perfect heat of the night song (I’m rather fond of the last (non-video) version, myself).

Friday Notes: Stringing It Together Edition

Still not done with the project that’s keeping me, but (finally) making substantial progress.  So back here soon, I think.  In the meantime:

Hey, turns out that there’s lots and lots of oil in the Arctic, and whaddya know, all that troublesome ice that kept us from it before is disappearing.  Now, the national lines up there aren’t entirely clear, but really, what’s Greenland going to do about it?  Who’s up for a little Arctic Invasion?


Speaking of madness (and on a much more serious note), Bob Herbert’s column on Jane Mayer’s “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals”, has convinced me I need to pick up and read this book.  In his view:

Americans still have not come to grips with this disastrous stain on the nation’s soul. It’s important that the whole truth eventually come out, and as many of the wrongs as possible be rectified.

Ms. Mayer, as much as anyone, is doing her part to pull back the curtain on the awful reality. “The Dark Side” is essential reading for those who think they can stand the truth.


On the subject of awful realities, I’ll again urge readers to give a few minutes to Vivian Paige’s (multipart) review of Tom Schaller’s Whistling Past Dixie.  Simply offering practical solutions and better governance will not overcome the cultural beliefs and practices of some groups, and it’s time for the Democrats to stop banging their heads up that electoral wall.  She’s got some very smart readers who, despite the best efforts of her resident trolls, could put together a very good discussion there.  Pop in for a bit.


And on the topic of important discussions, it sounds like Congress actually took a few minutes to have one.  Fifteen years (and how many wars?) has been more than enough time to demonstrate what an asinine policy Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has turned out to be.

Religion and Race in Southern Politics

Vivian Paige has the second part of her review of Tom Schaller’s Whistling Past Dixie up.  There’s lots of stuff to dig into.  She’s highlighting some of the interesting facts (the particular focus of Southern Christians) and taking apart some of the myths (Southern black people vote disproporitionately less than other Southerners).  Check it out.  It’s a conversation I hope to jump in on, a little later.

TSA: Protecting You From News About Them

CNN Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin did a series of reports about TSA’s practices in May, and guess what?

[S]hortly after I began a series of investigative reports critical of the TSA. Eleven flights now since May 19. On different airlines, my name pops up forcing me to go to the counter, show my identification, sometimes the agent has to make a call before I get my ticket,” Griffin reported. “What does the TSA say? Nothing, at least nothing on camera. Over the phone a public affairs worker told me again I’m not on the watch list, and don’t even think that someone in the TSA or anyone else is trying to get even.”

The TSA, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, said Griffin’s name wasn’t even on the watch list, and the agency blamed the airlines for the delays the reporter experienced. The airlines, on the other hand, said they were simply following a list provided by TSA.

Forced to clear himself 11 times in two months, just to get on a plane?  Yeah, he’s not on the list at all.  And it’s this sort of petty – yet effective – harrassment that will help subtly shape norms and discourse around TSA’s practices.

Lockheed Martin or Counterterrorism in Pakistan? Easy Call!

When given the choice between advancing (admittedly troubled) counterterrorism operations in Pakistan, or making sure that Lockheed Martin gets a couple hundred million dollars, it’s an easy call for the Bush Administration.

Buying a New Bike? Consider a Scott

So yeah, another Tour, another doping scandal (or three).  Saunier Duval has elected to drop its sponsorship in light of the recently uncovered doping habits of Ricardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli.  Which is, on many levels, understandable enough.  But as anyone who saw the photos of the Saunier Duval team mechanics – sitting on the side of the road, crying their eyes out, heads in their hands – knows, there’s more to any given team than a couple of riders.  And with a view to that, Scott is going to carry the team through the end of the season:

Scott, second sponsor of the Saunier Duval-Scott cycling team, will continue to support the squad managed by Mauro Gianetti.

Scott think that the situation the team coped with during the Tour de France resulted from individual choices and that the team and their managers did everything they could to avoid this kind of situations.

“To leave the team and seek for other sponsorship opportunities would be the easiest thing for us to do. However, we trust the team´s young riders and staff. They do not have to pay for the mistakes made by individual riders, and this is why we´ve decided to stand by the team. We´ll continue to support Mauro Gianetti´s men so that they can go on competing this season. We consider this tough situation as a chance to struggle against doping and we´ll ask for anti-doping tests to be stricter in the future. All the riders in the team have signed the so-called biological passport, and we believe this is great a step forward to eliminate doping from cycling. We´ll not leave the team, as all the people in it have done an excellent job in the past years. We want the young riders of the team to be given a chance.” Pascal Ducrot, Vice-President of Scott Sports, S.A.

Scott.  They make nice bikes.

(h/t to Cycleto.com for the release.)

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