02/26/2012 archive


It’s a pretty busy day (and week).  You may not be aware that today is also the NBA All-Star Game.

Of course it’s an Open Thread.

Rant of the Week: Lewis Black

Back in Black – Whitney Houston’s Death

Daytona 500 Open Thread- 2012

Turn Left Racing

I don’t have much respect for the most popular “sport” in the United States.  I’m not talking about Throwball (for which I have very little respect indeed), but Turn Left Racing.  For one thing, the entire skillset is encapsulated in the derisive nickname.

But there are subtleties ek you say, how about that drafting and 4 wide racing?  In the biz they call that packing and makes it one of the most bloodthirsty events in this modern empire of gladiatorial entertainment designed to numb the masses to the atrocities and debauchery of the patrician elite.  These latter day chariot races divide and distract us like the blue and the green.

It’s fortunate for the drivers they build them like bumper cars and make them slow too.  The strict regulations on design and innovation and lack of mechanical connection to their putative brands makes any claim of win on Sunday, sell on Monday mere historic hype.  Who can tell anyway with all the logos?

Motor racing is unique among sports, thanks to its ties to big industry. Nobody ever went to a football game to cheer on a brand of football.

“NASCAR and the Daytona 500 are about as American as you can get, and it’s great to have my campaign represented by one of these incredible machines,” Santorum said in a release. “The race weekend is a wonderful tradition that we’re excited to be a part of as we spread our message. I like how Tony Raines turned some heads last weekend with his qualifying run, and we’d like to keep turning heads, too. I think we’re both looking for a win in the end.”

What’s incredible is that they’re out performed by both the flagship pony cars (and that people still buy this corporate marketing crap).


(P)ack racing is what the fans want and NASCAR is going to give it to them. Well, so far they got it, and they also have seen multiple accidents in practices/races.

The only way you can push these deliberately engineered bricks through the air is by taking advantage of drafting.  It’s the exact opposite of Formula One.  Drivers are encouraged by physics to get as close as they can.  As if this were not enough, there are frequent cautions mandated like TV time outs simply to draw the field closer together.

So far this year Danica Patrick has crashed twice, once in qualifying (she’ll have to start her backup car) and once in an under card race, booted by a team mate drafting behind her.

Patrick eventually got back into the race after her crew made extensive repairs to her car in the garage area. She finished 38th in a wreck-filled race that was won by James Buescher.

Patrick began the 300-mile event up front after becoming the first woman to win a NASCAR pole position since Shawna Robinson in 1994. She led at the start, spent the first part of the race in the top 10 before getting shuffled out of the draft and falling deeper in the field before the tap by Whitt.


Personally I think Turn Left Racing fans are only motivated by the prospect of flaming chunks of twisted metal and getting puking drunk on Bud on the Infield.  Danica Patrick represents a chance to broaden the demographic of people who like to watch flaming chunks of twisted metal and getting puking drunk on Bud on the Infield (not that Formula One is noted for its gynocracy and you have the added attraction of having to bribe your way into a seat), just like Jeff Gordon.

It’s a funny thing to call a crash impressive, but that’s what it was, a tremendous, violent, smoldering head-on wreck. All eyes were on Patrick during Thursday’s qualifying races, waiting to see. Basically, waiting to see if the little girl could handle that great big car, and be a worthy competitor when she makes her debut in Sunday’s Daytona 500. What she gave us was something close to a defining moment. We can stop with the haggling over whether to call Patrick a good or bad feminist, and the hand-wringing over her image. Who cares? After watching that wreck, I know exactly what to call her: a pro.

Expect a lot of commentary like that and this

“It’s great for the sport,” said four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon. “Who doesn’t want to see a female driver come in here and be able to race with the guys and do well and be marketable? It’s great for the sport.”

At least until she crashes out.

Daytona 500 Winner Tough To Predict

Out here machinery is show business, and in service of racier racing, the bosses changed up the tech package this year. Now the constant Rube Goldberg recalculation of fuel injection and restrictor plate and spoiler angle and grill opening and water temperature and suspension tuning has everyone flummoxed. Everything you touch affects everything else — push down here and something pops over there — in new and unexpected ways. All at once the cars are light in the tail and skittish at almost every angle of attack. A harsh word or a hard look at the quarter panel of the car in front of you can send it spinning.

To the extent possible, NASCAR recalibrated all of this in the interest of entertainment to break up not only the traditional mass-draft formations of years past, but the more recent two-by-two bumper car pairings as well. The result of this experiment will be made public Sunday. Forecasts I’ve heard around the tool box call for showers of debris and a partly crashy afternoon.

The fact of the matter is that Turn Left Racing is as predictable as professional wrestling, in the sense of-

Who cares?

There will be 43 bumper cars starting today and those that last until the final five laps will be gathered up for a gripping ‘sprint to the finish’.  Rain is predicted and unlike Formula One and IndyCar, Turn Left don’t do wet.  Might get some rain inside your Bud.

(T)he Great American Race remains the Great American Metaphor. All of us racing in circles as fast as we can, going nowhere, chasing a buck.

Now with pretty table.

On This Day In History February 26

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 26 is the 57th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 308 days remaining until the end of the year (309 in leap years).

Two national parks preserved, 10 years apart. The two national parks were established in the United States 10 years apart, the Grand Canyon in 1919 and the Grand Tetons in 1929.

The Grand Canyon National Park

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon in 1903. An avid outdoorsman and staunch conservationist, he established the Grand Canyon Game Preserve on November 28, 1906. Livestock grazing was reduced, but predators such as mountain lions, eagles, and wolves were eradicated. Roosevelt added adjacent national forest lands and redesignated the preserve a U.S. National Monument on January 11, 1908. Opponents such as land and mining claim holders blocked efforts to reclassify the monument as a U.S. National Park for 11 years. Grand Canyon National Park was finally established as the 17th U.S. National Park by an Act of Congress signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on February 26, 1919.

Grand Teton National Park

In 1897 acting Yellowstone superintendent Colonel S.B.M. Young proposed expanding that park’s borders south to encompass the northern extent of Jackson Hole in order to protect migrating herds of elk. Next year, United States Geological Survey head Charles D. Walcott suggested that the Teton Range should be included as well. Stephen Mather, director of the newly-created National Park Service and his assistant Horace Albright sent a report to Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane in 1917 stating much the same. Wyoming Representative Frank Mondell sponsored a bill that unanimously passed the United States House of Representatives in 1918 but was killed in the United States Senate when Idaho Senator [John Nugent feared that the expansion of Park Service jurisdiction would threaten sheep grazing permits. Public opposition to park expansion also mounted in and around Jackson Hole. Albright, in fact, was practically run out of Jackson, Wyoming, by angry townspeople in 1919 when he traveled there to speak in favor of park expansion.

Local attitudes started to change that same year when proposals to dam Jenny, Emma Matilda, and Two Ocean lakes surfaced. Then on July 26, 1923, local and Park Service representatives including Albright met in Maud Noble’s cabin to work on a plan to buy private lands to create a recreation area to preserve the “Old West” character of the valley. Albright was the only person who supported Park Service management; the others wanted traditional hunting, grazing, and dude-ranching activities to continue. In 1927 philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. founded the Snake River Land Company so he and others could buy land in the area incognito and have it held until the National Park Service could administer it. The company launched a campaign to purchase more than 35,000 acres for $1.4 million but faced 15 years of opposition by ranchers and a refusal by the Park Service to take the land.

In 1928, a Coordinating Commission on National Parks and Forests met with valley residents and reached an agreement for the establishment of a park. Wyoming Senator John Kendrick then introduced a bill to establish Grand Teton National Park. It was passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress and signed into law by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge on February 26, 1929. The 96,000 acres park was carved from Teton National Forest and included the Teton Range and six glacial lakes at its foot in Jackson Hole. Lobbying by cattlemen, however, meant that the original park borders did not include most of Jackson Hole (whose floor was used for grazing). Meanwhile the Park Service refused to accept the 35,000 acres held by the Snake River Company.

Discouraged by the stalemate, Rockefeller sent a letter to then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt telling him that if the federal government did not accept the land that he intended to make some other disposition of it or to sell it in the market to any satisfactory buyers. Soon afterward on March 15, 1943 the president declared 221,000 acres (890 km2) of public land as Jackson Hole National Monument. Continued controversy over the Rockefeller gift still made it impossible for the monument to officially include that land, however.

Opposition to the monument by local residents immediately followed with criticism that the declaration was a violation of states’ rights and that it would destroy the local economy and tax base. Ranchers, led in part by famed actor Wallace Beery, drove 500 cattle across the newly created monument in a demonstration designed to provoke conflict. The Park Service did not respond to the stunt but the event brought national attention to the issue nonetheless. Wyoming Representative Frank A. Barrett introduced a bill to abolish the monument that passed both houses of Congress but was pocket vetoed by Roosevelt. U.S. Forest Service officials did not want to cede another large part of the Teton National Forest to the Park Service so they fought against transfer. One final act was to order forest rangers to gut the Jackson Lake Ranger Station before handing it over to park rangers. Residents in the area who supported the park and the monument were boycotted and harassed.

Other bills to abolish the monument were introduced between 1945 and 1947 but none passed. Increases in tourism money following the end of World War II has been cited as a cause of the change in local attitudes. A move to merge the monument into an enlarged park gained steam and by April, 1949, interested parties gathered in the Senate Appropriation Committee chambers to finalize a compromise. The Rockefeller lands were finally transferred from private to public ownership on December 16, 1949, when they were added to the monument. A bill merging most of Jackson Hole National Monument (except for its southern extent, which was added to the National Elk Refuge) into Grand Teton National Park was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on September 14, 1950. One concession in the law modified the Antiquities Act, limiting the future power of a president to proclaim National Monuments in Wyoming. The scenic highway that extends from the northern border of Grand Teton National Park to the southern entrance of Yellowstone National Park was named the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway to recognize Rockefeller’s contribution to protecting the area. In 2001, the Rockefellers donated their Jackson Hole retreat, the JY Ranch, to the national park for the establishment of the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, dedicated on June 21, 2008.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes: Chris’s panel of guests are Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) (@SenJeffMerkley), introduced the “Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act” in 2010, a plan to eliminate the need for imported oil by 2030; Ann-Marie Slaughter (@slaughteram), former director of policy planning for the U.S. Department of State and professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School; Jeremy Scahill (@jeremyscahill), Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army; Zainab Salbi (@zainabsalbi), founder of Women for Women International; Elise Jordan (@elise_jordan), former speechwriter for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and contributor to National Review and Daily Beast; Eyal Press (@eyalpress), author of Beatuiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times; Hooman Majd (@hmajd), Iranian author of The Ayatollah’s Democracy: An Iranian Challenge and The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran; and Dan Dicker @Dan_Dicker), CNBC contributor and author of Oil’s Endless Bid.

Follow along on Twitter @upwithchris

The Melissa Harris-Perry Show: The guest list has not been posted.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: George Stephanopoulos goes one-on-one with GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Michigan Governor and Romney backer Rick Snyder faces off against Massachusetts Governor and Obama campaign co-chair Deval Patrick. “This Week” roundtable with ABC’s George Will and Cokie Roberts, plus former Democratic Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, host of Current TV’s “The War Room,” and former Republican Michigan Gov. John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable, debate the state of play in the Wolverine State.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Sundays’ guests are New Jersey Governor Chris ChristieMaryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Chair of the Democratic Governors Association, and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY).

The Chris Matthews Show: This week’s guests Liz Marlantes, The Christian Science Monitor; Michael Duffy, TIME Magazine Assistant Managing Editor; Major Garrett National Journal Congressional Correspondent; and

Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: David Gregory’s guests are GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R). The roundtable panel guests are Republican strategist and former McCain ’08 senior strategist Steve Schmidt, Fmr. Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., Washington Post’s Kathleen Parker, and NBC’s Political Director and Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: This Sunday’s guests are Obama Campaign Senior Adviser Robert Gibbs, Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), former Shell CEO John Hofmeister, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

And now a word from our sponsors…


W(h)eat Thins

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Report: Afghan police officer sought in US slayings

 By NBC News, msnbc.com and news services

A police intelligence officer was the “main suspect” in the alarmingly brazen killing of two senior U.S. Army officers at Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, sources told BBC News on Sunday.

Abdul Saboor, 25, fled the ministry after the slayings on Saturday, counter-terrorism officials told the BBC. His family home in Parwan province in the northeast of the country had been raided and his family in Kabul detained, the BBC reported.

A gunman shot dead two American military officials – a lieutenant colonel and a major – inside the heavily guarded ministry in the center of the capital as protests raged across the country for a fifth day over the burning of the Muslim holy book at a NATO base.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Bin Laden’s last refuge is razed in the dead of night

Bloodbath on eve of Syria’s referendum

Nelson Mandela: SA prepares for the day it fears most

Ordinary Russians train to observe presidential vote

War of 1812 bicentennial is a big deal – in Canada