On two wheels

 

As one who rides a bike to work every day, I find this heartening (from philly.com via Atrios):

As the number of bicyclists on Philadelphia streets has risen, cyclists and city officials have seen a counterintuitive result: The number of bike crashes and deaths has declined.

This “safety in numbers” phenomenon has been documented elsewhere, and safety experts believe it is because motorists become more alert to cyclists when there are more of them

We’ve got some pretty bad drivers in D.C. and definitely not enough bike lanes, but check out Pennsylvania Avenue NW between the Capitol and Treasury during rush hour. Lots of people are using the bike lane. If you ride the Metro regularly, you know why. After living in Washington for a few months, I also realized that at night, I’ll get home usually 15 minutes faster when I ride a bike instead of taking the Metro.

 

It’s worse!

There’s a scene in the first “Star Wars” with Luke, Leia, Han and Chewey in a trash compactor. Luke says “It could be worse.” something growls and Han says, “It’s worse.”

Standard & Poor’s announced Friday night that it has downgraded the U.S. credit rating for the first time, dealing a symbolic blow to the world’s economic superpower in what was a sharply worded critique of the American political system.

Lowering the nation’s rating to one notch below AAA, the credit rating company said “political brinkmanship” in the debate over the debt had made the U.S. government’s ability to manage its finances “less stable, less effective and less predictable.” It said the bipartisan agreement reached this week to find at least $2.1 trillion in budget savings “fell short” of what was necessary to tame the nation’s debt over time and predicted that leaders would not be likely to achieve more savings in the future.

It doesn’t matter that S&P has been horribly wrong before. Consider: A ratings agency that gave a triple-A to completely worthless subprime mortgage fantasies is saying that the wealth of the United States is less credit worthy.

Paul Krugman has a few thoughts:

On one hand, there is a case to be made that the madness of the right has made America a fundamentally unsound nation. And yes, it is the madness of the right: if not for the extremism of anti-tax Republicans, we would have no trouble reaching an agreement that would ensure long-run solvency.

On the other hand, it’s hard to think of anyone less qualified to pass judgment on America than the rating agencies. The people who rated subprime-backed securities are now declaring that they are the judges of fiscal policy? Really?

Just to make it perfect, it turns out that S&P got the math wrong by $2 trillion, and after much discussion conceded the point — then went ahead with the downgrade.

But Atrios says it best:

Apparently we’re supposed to care about what some idiots at some corrupt organization think about anything.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the markets on Monday. Actually, we’ll get the first signs on Sunday night in the U.S. when Monday Asia trading opens. Ratings agencies Fitch and Moody’s have already affirmed a triple-A for America.

And since I enjoy beating dead horses: This is more proof that the posturing in Washinton was pointless. When the world is told by “very important people” that a deal had to be done to protect our credit rating, and the done deal results in a downgrade, it’s time to find new important people.

NPR should learn “The Chicago way”

I haven’t said much about James O’Keefe (the right-wing’s Ashton Kutcher) and how he Punk’d NPR recently because I’ve already expressed my views on him:

O’Keefe is a liar. Everything he does is a lie. Anyone who puts him on air saying he’s telling the truth is actively engaging in and encouraging a lie. If you see his face on your television set everything that comes out of his mouth will be a lie.

But what really pisses me off in the wake of all this is NPR. It’s in a fight for its life. The right wing is giving it the full Acorn treatment and won’t be satisfied until it’s dead. And despite all this, it isn’t fighting back.

Atrios has the perfect reaction to this:

I’ve really lost interest in defending organizations that are uninterested in defending themselves.

Jon Stewart has already used NPR and pussies in the same segment.

And Media Matters chronicled how NPR has let O’Keefe get away with this crap before, without even pointing out the reality that … (see my quote above).

NPR repeatedly covered O’Keefe, and adopted his (false) claims about what his videos showed. But only a single NPR report available on Nexis contained so much as an allegation that he’d ever been less than honest. NPR’s coverage of O’Keefe helped enhance his stature and credibility. And then he peddled a misleading videotape of an NPR executive, and the media ran with it, badly damaging NPR.

Right now, NPR should at least be like Sean Connery in “The Untouchables.”

But I think it’s gone beyond that point. NPR should go Robert De Niro on him:

There’s a certain president in Washington who can learn from this movie.