02/14/2014 archive

XXII Day 8

The Ladies are done.  You don’t come back from 1 – 5 in a 9 game Round Robin.

    Time     Network Event
5 pm CNBC Curling, men’s: USA vs. Russia.
5 pm Vs. Hockey, men’s: Canada vs. Austria.
8 pm NBC Figure skating: men’s gold medal final; alpine skiing: men’s super combined gold medal final; skeleton: women’s gold medal final runs.
12:05 am NBC Freestyle skiing: women’s aerials gold medal final; skeleton: men’s competition.
1:05 am NBC Figure skating: men’s gold medal final; alpine skiing: men’s super combined gold medal final; skeleton: women’s gold medal final runs. (repeat)
3 am MSNBC Women’s hockey, quarterfinal: Finland vs. Sweden.
3 am Vs. Hockey, men’s: Slovakia vs. Slovenia.
5:30 am MSNBC Curling, women’s: Canada vs. Japan.
5:30 am Vs. Cross-country skiing: women’s 4x5km relay gold medal final.
7 am Vs. Hockey, men’s: USA vs. Russia.
7:30 am MSNBC Women’s hockey, quarterfinal: Switzerland vs. Russia.
10 am Vs. Skeleton: men’s gold medal final runs.
noon Vs. Hockey, men’s: Switzerland vs. Czech Republic.
noon USA Hockey, men’s: Sweden vs. Latvia.
3 pm NBC Short track: women’s 1500m gold medal final; cross-country skiing: women’s 4x5km relay gold medal final; skeleton: men’s gold medal final runs.
5 pm CNBC Curling, women’s: USA vs. Sweden.
5 pm Vs. Hockey.
6 pm Vs. Hockey: Game of the Day.

Friday medal results are below the fold ~TMC~

My Las Vegas Convention- A Happy Story

(originally in orange Sat Jun 17, 2006 at 07:01 PM PDT)

Can you handle the truth?  How about a good story?

If you are a regular reader you may know that I was State Co-ordinator of my meatspace club.  You may not know I was engaged.

Yes I know, hard to believe anyone can stand ek for 5 minutes in a row, let alone want to spend the rest of their life with me.  But it was true.  She loved me.  A lot.

When we met I told her I was a practicing politician on the make, and what I wanted more than anything was to be King.  And then I was.

The National club was having a little get together in Vegas and as Incoming King I had to get there a day early for my special super secret training.  There was training for spouses too, not that we would have traveled separately anyway.

Part of being ek is procrastinating to the very last second, and then packing everything- kitchen sink included.  By the time we reached the airport for our evening red eye I had already been up for 24 hours.  It was a great disappointment to me that all the restaurants, bars, and gift shops were closed.  And our flight was delayed so I was really looking forward to my bag of peanuts on the plane.

Three cramped hours later in Vegas it is still midnight, my love was dragging and so was I, but-

When you’re on the make, you make things happen.  My political handlers were there to greet me in the lobby.  They had super, super secret training which I found out basically consisted of adjourning early and heading for the bar to trade lies.  They wanted me to circulate and make contacts.

Well, you have to make your marks.

I checked in, took my sweetie to our room and said goodnight.  Not the best goodnight I’ve ever given, but I was still a little cranky.  When I got all respectable again, I went back down to meet and greet.

Just as I was calling the whole thing a stupid waste of time, the delegation from my largest local rolls in.  I had to be nice to them, and they had to be nice to me.  Even so I was genuinely flattered that they invited me out to $1.99 breakfast with them.  It was Vegas, it was a good breakfast.

The sun comes up early on my birthday and I had all that super secret training to get through (mostly meeting the club’s corporate sponsors) so I went back to my room and got respectable yet again, woke up my honey and we went off to get trained.

I’ve already told you the valuable information I got.  My fiance got 4 hours of “you will never see him again” and totally embarrassed me (or so people say) by not sucking it up stoically but wailing “I love him so much”.  And she did, even when we broke up.

We had an awkward lunch together that consisted mostly of salad.  Two more hours of propaganda and we were free.

Well kind of.  In one of those coincidences that happens only in real life, her brother from California was also in Vegas, finishing up a business meeting.  We had about an hour of overlap before he had to jet out.

Wait, it gets better.  When we got back to the room there was a cake from room service.  Emily, my mom, didn’t forget my birthday (even though I was born in the age of epidurals) and had sent me the most expensive cake she never got to eat.  It was good, chocolate with chocolate icing and raspberry filling and some fresh raspberries on top.

Did I say I was wicked?  No rest for.  The one thing my sweetheart wanted to see in Vegas was the Hard Rock Hotel.  Now.  My problem was the incoming chief of the whole shebang was holding a party at 6 pm.  Attendance mandatory.

Incoming chief?  It was a contested race, the other guy could have won.  Who says this isn’t about politics?

Sure honey, we have an hour.  Let’s go.

Got my Hard Rock pin to go in my collection, got my complimentary shot glass.  Put a whole buck of slots on my Hard Rock card which still sits in my wallet to remind me of my misspent youth.  Let’s go.

She was not happy, being hustled around.  I was not happy to do it, but you make your marks.   The chosen one had rented the Grand Ballroom at the top of the Hotel and we arrived breathless and cranky at 5:59.  The line was not long and at 6:05 the other couple left.

At 6:06 the doors opened on this ballroom that occupied the entire floor.  The view was spectacular, all up and down the Strip.  There were 2 Champagne Fountains and 2 Chocolate Dippers.  There were buffet tables and carving stations.  THERE WAS AN OPEN BAR!  Four of them, it’s a fun club.

So basically there were 20 people there.  And me.  And my sweetheart.  All sweaty and flushed and tired, our credentials flopping around our necks.

Remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and company go down the hall?  It was kind of like that, only bigger and longer.  At the end of (no kidding) about a quarter of a mile was the DJ.  We wandered up and said hi and he said- “So is there anything you want to hear?”  I let her pick the song.  It was slow and sappy and we grabbed each other and spun around, alone on acres of dance floor, on top of the world.

After a while some other people showed up so we could ditch, can’t leave a party before it’s started- that would be rude.  We went back to our room and said goodnight again.  I was much better this time, and after an hour or 2 I got respectable, this time in my tux (I own one, cheaper than real clothes) so I could go back to the party and kiss the ring.

It’s all about kissing the ring.

This was a totally different scene.  Though the opposition candidate would come as close as anyone in the previous 10 years to defeating the chosen one, he had totally moved his lame ass party to one corner of the ballroom at the invitation of the magnanimous eventual victor and everyone was doing group shots to ease the sting of their inevitable defeat.  The rest of the place was crowded with people looking for free booze and food (did I mention it’s a fun club?).

I kissed both rings.  It was easy, they were both standing together, the one who would be King and the one who would get a paid staff position as his consolation prize.  No more phoney they than my wishing them both good luck even though I had my marching orders.  And when the time came to convince my delegation to vote for the chosen one, my eloquence changed 60/40 challenger to 80/20 chosen, invoking our block vote rule and sparing us any loss of face as a state.

I was grabbed by a fellow classmate, a state King on the make for the top and dragooned into a conga line of Incoming Kings that he led from bar to bar in the ballroom, bullying his way to the front of the line and buying us all free drinks.

But enough of that is certainly enough and besides I had work to do.  One of the things they teach you in super secret training is to cultivate your base.  In this case that meant post cards to every local officer who was not able to attend.  I stopped at the gift shop in the lobby and picked up the post cards (an assortment, can’t have people comparing notes) and a bottle of Champagne (how do you avoid a hangover for 7 days?  Stay drunk for 6).  You can’t wait to do this because they have to arrive before you return.

When I went in the room my sweetheart woke up, saw the Champagne and said, “Oh, is that for us?”  Sure darling.  I opened it, poured us both a glass.  She took one sip, we kissed, and then she mumbled, “G’night” and rolled away.

So my plan worked perfectly.  About 4 am I was out of cards and out of Champagne so I headed to the lobby again, mostly hoping I could hook up with my breakfast buddies from the day before.  And I did.

Nothing like a good breakfast to energize you.  All the basic food groups, grease and salt and sugar and caffeine, and a mutual game of ring kissing with new friends was a great way to pass the time.  Soon I had to let them pick up my tab and move on.  I went back to my room, showered, changed, wrote my honey a note (because I was in training all day and she was done and had no agenda), and gently shook her awake.  We had a nice chat and then it was time for me to go.

Gotta make your marks.

Now I know what you’re saying- ek you’ve been up for 72 hours.  You should be dead.  Not true, I had a whole 2 hours of sleep on the plane.  And I had meetings, close your eyes, pretend to pay attention, and you can snooze 15 minutes out of every 20.  In great need of chemical stimulation, at the break I bummed my very last cigarette so far- a Merit Light King.

At 3 pm the torture was over and I didn’t have a mark to make until 6.  I went back to my room, hooked up with my sweetie (she had rolled out around 10 and spent a few hours shopping and having lunch with friends), and loosened my tie and napped.  She got many, many ‘candid’ snapshots.

And at 6 we loaded up on the bus for ‘Old Las Vegas’ where there was a big street party.  Thank goodness for busses, I was able to get a half hour head start on my nap on the way home.

When I woke up at 4 am I was hungry.  My fiance was immovable.  I wrote her a note and snuck off to have breakfast.

So that was Las Vegas for a micro-politician on the make.

It went on for a week like that, we actually spent a fair amount of time together after the initial 3 days, shows, restaurants, endless meetings at the Convention Center.

I pause here to pass along a great lesson she gave me.  The most important I took away from Las Vegas.

The food at the Convention Center was terrible.  The first day we got 2 Plastic Pizzas for lunch.  They were about the size of hockey pucks and tasted about the same too.  The second day the Outgoing King gave me a wink and a nod and we joined the Kool Kidz across the street for a lunch that was at least edible.

Afterwards at the light she held my arm and while everyone else went ahead we missed it.  When she turned to me she was as angry as I’ve ever seen her and she said- “Don’t you ever do that again!”


“How do you think those people feel?”, and she pointed at the Convention Center.

She was absolutely right.

You can be King or you can lead.

Lead- be the first and have people follow you.

If you want to be a leader, you have to lead.  You have to be the first.  The first person to pick up a sack and clean up the garbage.  The first person to volunteer to make the phone calls.  The first person to have a hot dog and quip- “What, no Rat?  Only Glue?”

We never crossed the street again, making polite excuses and throwing away styrofoam boxes filled with styrofoam at the same table as everyone else.  As time progressed there were more and more ‘Puffs’ and less Paris Gellers, but we stayed to the bitter end.

Thank you darling, I will never forget.

Some of you may be curious about our break up at this point, but it’s really very simple.  I was a Captain, but she was not the Enterprise and that was what she desperately wanted.  She loved me with a single minded focus I did not share. She was unhappy when I spoke with another woman, or another man, or spent any time away from her.  For my part I couldn’t live up to her expectations- I am after all shallow and one dimensional, I’ve never pushed a noun against a verb except to blow something up.

Since then I’ve never been with anyone else, not that I’ve worried about it- my ego is self sustaining.  I understand she is marrying her 2nd grade crush this summer.  Good for her.  I hope he makes her happy, she deserves it.

I will always remember dancing alone with her in a ballroom in the sky over Vegas.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Mark Bittman: A Valentine for Restaurant Workers

There is long-overdue support for raising the minimum wage. But among generally mistreated minimum wage workers there’s a subgroup of those whose wage experience is even more miserable and unfair.

The group is tipped workers, the majority of whom are restaurant servers. There is a minimum wage for tipped workers, called by those who know the “tipped minimum wage.” An informal survey on my part would indicate that many well-educated professionals, even high-ranking city officials, don’t know about this; that’s excusable, since almost no one talks about it. In any case, few who already know about the tipped minimum wage could guess how low it can go. Try. Are you ready?

$2.13. [..]

On Thursday, (Restaurant Opportunities Centers United) ROC-United had its annual “2/13” day of action, calling on us, and Congress, to “love your server” and raise the tipped minimum wage. Valentine’s Day is the second busiest restaurant day of the year, after Mother’s Day. Thank that server – who is not going out to dinner with her loved one, she’s waiting on you – and think about this: For 23 years the federal tipped minimum wage has stood at $2.13. Isn’t it time to change that?

Dan Gillmor: Comcast’s takeover of Time Warner is a horrible deal for consumers

America already had little TV and internet competition. Unless the government vetoes this deal, there will be even less

As Comcast pushes regulators to approve its just-announced deal to buy out Time Warner Cable, it’ll make one essential point: the acquisition won’t visibly change the competitive landscape for TV and internet customers.

Nice try. Regulators and competition authorities are supposed to consider the public interest when looking at such deals. In no way does the public interest benefit from this one (as Michael Hiltzik pointed out in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday).

We’re talking immense scale with this deal. Comcast – which completed its takeover of NBC Universal a year ago in a deal that never should have been allowed in the first place – is the nation’s biggest cable company, with about 21m subscribers. Time Warner Cable, the second largest, has 11m. According to the Wall Street Journal, the combined company will sell off what amounts to 3m of those subscribers in order to keep its overall market share slightly below a mythical threshold that raises worries about too much market power.

Paul Krugman: Inequality, Dignity and Freedom

Now that the Congressional Budget Office has explicitly denied saying that Obamacare destroys jobs, some (though by no means all) Republicans have stopped lying about that issue and turned to a different argument. O.K., they concede, any reduction in working hours because of health reform will be a voluntary choice by the workers themselves – but it’s still a bad thing because, as Representative Paul Ryan puts it, they’ll lose “the dignity of work.” [..]

The truth is that if you really care about the dignity and freedom of American workers, you should favor more, not fewer, entitlements, a stronger, not weaker, social safety net.

And you should, in particular, support and celebrate health reform. Never mind all those claims that Obamacare is slavery; the reality is that the Affordable Care Act will empower millions of Americans, giving them exactly the kind of dignity and freedom politicians only pretend to love.

Chase Madar: Cecily McMillan’s Occupy trial is a huge test of US civil liberties. Will they survive?

For years, comparing American freedom to Russian tyranny seemed like an exaggeration. But maybe we’re not so different after all

The US constitution’s Bill of Rights is envied by much of the English-speaking world, even by people otherwise not enthralled by The American Way Of Life. Its fundamental liberties – freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom from warrantless search – are a mighty bulwark against overweening state power, to be sure.

But what are these rights actually worth in the United States these days?  [..]

McMillan is one of over 700 protestors arrested in the course of Occupy Wall Street’s mass mobilization, which began with hopes of radical change and ended in an orgy of police misconduct. According to a scrupulously detailed report (pdf) issued by the NYU School of Law and Fordham Law School, the NYPD routinely wielded excessive force with batons, pepper spray, scooters and horses to crush the nascent movement. And then there were the arrests, often arbitrary, gratuitous and illegal, with most charges later dismissed. McMillan’s is the last Occupy case to be tried, and how the court rules will provide a clear window into whether public assembly stays a basic right or becomes a criminal activity.

Thomas S. Harrington: Hypocrisy in Sochi: On Slamming Russian Repression, But Rarely Our Own

Oh, what fun it is to mock Putin and his attempts to present a civilized and modern face to the world.

In the Boston Globe this week, David Filipov who is manning the paper’s “life on the street” beat in Sochi, explains with clear scorn and condescension how, in Putin’s Russia, those that want to protest against the government are relegated to doing so in “protest parks” far from the cameras and the crowds.

Funny how in 2004, at the Democratic National Convention in Filipov’s home town of Boston, neither he nor anyone at his famously “liberal” paper made much fuss about the “free speech zones”-chain link cages with constant video surveillance-that were set up as the sole place where protestors against the political order could say their piece during that key political event.

Indeed, the “free speech zone,” a patently illegal absurdity in the context of the most elemental reading of the US constitution, has become a ubiquitous part of our life in the US, justified, of course, in the name of “security”-or as the more suave disdainers of basic constitutional rights like Obama like to put it, in the name of the “necessary balance” between security and freedom in our society.

Andrea Bower: The Difference Between a Farmer and a Global Chemical Corporation

We are witnessing a strange, though remarkably predictable public discourse, where State lawmakers claim that those “truly serious about supporting local farmers” must abolish Counties’ rights “forever,” and transnational corporations call themselves “farmers.” Legislators attempt to contort the “Right to Farm” into a mechanism for chemical companies to evade health and environmental concerns, as water grabs by these same companies undermine the actual rights of farmers. Meanwhile, the Hawaii Farm Bureau advocates the interests of a few mega-corporations as synonymous with the interests of local farmers (despite never having asked the farmer members that they professedly speak for).

The intentional blurring in the difference between farmers, and the global corporations that use Hawaii as a testing ground for their new technologies, demands some clarity.[..]

Whether one is skeptical, hopeful, or a mix of both about the science and technology of genetic engineering, we must differentiate between what is good for Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, Syngenta, BASF and Bayer, and what is good for farmers and farmworkers. As we debate various policies related to the agrochemical corporations’ experimentation in Hawaii, we do a grave disservice to the future of food and farming locally and globally when we allow the relationship between farmers and mega-agribusiness to be obscured.

On This Day In History February 14

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 14 is the 45th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 320 days remaining until the end of the year (321 in leap years).

On this day in 1884, future President Theodore Roosevelt’s wife and mother die, only hours apart.

Roosevelt was at work in the New York state legislature attempting to get a government reform bill passed when he was summoned home by his family. He returned home to find his mother, Mittie, had succumbed to typhoid fever. On the same day, his wife of four years, Alice Lee, died of Bright’s disease, a severe kidney ailment. Only two days before her death, Alice Lee had given birth to the couple’s daughter, Alice.

Roosevelt left his daughter in the care of his sister, Anna “Bamie/Bye” in New York City. In his diary he wrote a large X on the page and wrote “the light has gone out of my life.”

A short time later, Roosevelt wrote a tribute to his wife published privately indicating that:

She was beautiful in face and form, and lovelier still in spirit; As a flower she grew, and as a fair young flower she died. Her life had been always in the sunshine; there had never come to her a single sorrow; and none ever knew her who did not love and revere her for the bright, sunny temper and her saintly unselfishness. Fair, pure, and joyous as a maiden; loving , tender, and happy. As a young wife; when she had just become a mother, when her life seemed to be just begun, and when the years seemed so bright before her-then, by a strange and terrible fate, death came to her. And when my heart’s dearest died, the light went from my life forever

To the immense disappointment of his wife’s namesake and daughter, Alice, he would not speak of his wife publicly or privately for the rest of his life and made no mention of her in his autobiography.

Have the House Democrats Found Their Spines

Have the House Democrats finally realized there is a way to beat the recalcitrant Republican majority?  Somebody in the Democratic caucus must have been up watching old movies on Netflix and remembered an old House rule called a “discharge petition

A discharge petition is a means of bringing a bill out of committee and to the floor for consideration without a report from the committee and usually without cooperation of the leadership. Discharge petitions are most often associated with the U.S. House of Representatives, though many state legislatures have similar procedures. They are used when the chair of a committee refuses to place a bill or resolution on the Committee’s agenda; by never reporting a bill, the matter will never leave the committee, and the full House will not be able to consider it. A successful petition “discharges” the committee from further consideration of a bill or resolution and brings it directly to the floor. The discharge petition, and the threat of one, gives more power to individual members of the House and usurps a small amount of power from the leadership and committee chairs. The modern discharge petition requires the signature of an absolute majority of House members (218 members). Only twice has it been used successfully on major legislation in recent history.

Democrats plot a way to bypass Boehner

Rachel Maddow explains how congressional Democrats are considering the use of the discharge petition to get votes on immigration and the minimum wage.

Transcript can be read here

House Dems seek to force GOP’s hand on minimum wage hike

By Mike Lillis, The Hil

CAMBRIDGE, MD – House Democrats are launching an effort to force Republicans’ hand on the minimum wage.

The Democrats will introduce a discharge petition later this month designed to force a floor vote on a proposal to hike the minimum wage, even in the face of entrenched opposition from GOP leaders.

The discharge petition faces a high bar, as it would require at least 18 Republicans to buck their leadership and endorse the measure – a scenario the Democrats readily acknowledge is unlikely.

“I don’t think we’re ever confident that we’re going to get 18 Republicans to sign a discharge petition,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) conceded during the Democrats’ annual issues retreat on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. [..]

Hoyer said he hasn’t yet surveyed the Democrats to learn exactly how many would endorse the discharge petition, but he predicted it will be “close to everybody.”

Schumer Offers Long-Shot Option to Skirt House G.O.P. on Immigration

By Ashley Parker and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

WASHINGTON – Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, offered a long-shot option on Thursday to revive the moribund effort to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws that would require the support of more than a dozen House Republicans – and, if nothing else, pressure others to act on an election-year issue that Tea Party-aligned members strongly oppose. [..]

Mr. Schumer was responding to a recent column in The Washington Post by E. J. Dionne Jr., suggesting that Democrats go the route of the discharge petition. He also suggested during a “Meet the Press” appearance on Sunday that Congress could pass immigration legislation this year, but delay its implementation until 2017, to assuage the concern of many Republicans who say they do not trust President Obama to enforce the laws.

Now the issue is getting enough Republicans to vote with the Democrats. It’s an election year and there are a number of Republican seats that are vulnerable. So what will the Republicans do if the Democrats get all their members to sign on to a discharge petition? The bigger question is will House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) be able to rally the troops? We’re watching.

To the Sycophantic Morons Barking About the Courts to Get You to Vote

Guess what? So far, just 10 of Obama's judicial nominations, and less than 4%, have worked as lawyers at public interest organizations, according to this report from Alliance for Justice (pdf). It also shows that only 10 nominees have had experience representing workers in labor disputes. 85% have been either corporate attorneys or prosecutors. Yeah….your pseudo knowledge of civics sure showed us the importance of this issue:

"OMGZ vote! The SCOTUS and the courts, stupid!"

XXII Day 7

Futility continues in Men’s and Women’s Curling.

    Time     Network Event
5 pm CNBC Curling, women’s: USA vs. Japan.
5 pm Vs. Hockey, men’s: Slovakia vs. USA.
8 pm NBC Figure skating: men’s short program; freestyle skiing: men’s slopestyle gold medal final; speed skating: women’s 1000m gold medal final; skeleton: women’s competition.
12:05 am NBC Short track: women’s 500m gold medal final, men’s 5000m relay; cross-country skiing: women’s 10km classical gold medal final.
1:05 am NBC Figure skating: men’s short program; freestyle skiing: men’s slopestyle gold medal final; speed skating: women’s 1000m gold medal final; skeleton: women’s competition. (repeat)
3 am MSNBC Hockey, men’s: Czech Republic vs. Latvia.
3 am Vs. Curling, men’s: USA vs. Germany.
5 am Vs. Cross-country skiing: men’s 15km classical gold medal final.
5 am USA Curling, women’s: USA vs. Denmark.
7:30 am Vs. Hockey, men’s: Sweden vs. Switzerland.
10 am Vs. Figure skating: men’s gold medal final, part 1.
noon MSNBC Hockey, men’s: Norway vs. Finland.
noon Vs. Figure skating: men’s gold medal final, part 2.
noon USA Hockey, men’s: Canada vs. Austria.
2:15 pm Vs. Ski jumping: men’s individual K-125 large hill competition.
3 pm NBC Biathlon: women’s 15km individual gold medal final; freestyle skiing: women’s aerials.
3 pm Vs. Hockey.
5 pm CNBC Curling, men’s: USA vs. Russia.
5 pm Vs. Hockey: Game of the Day.

Thursday Medal Results below the fold ~ TMC