Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Monkey Hates You For Your Upright Stance

And That's Why He's Wildly Flinging His Feces At You, Markos—You And The Netroots.

One of the things that Steve and I used to e-mail each other about back in the days of the original News Blog, was the futility of the right in its efforts to replicate the grass-roots success of Daily Kos. We'd laugh, and joke about the tepid, jackleg efforts—the weird, red-headed stepkids like RedState and Tacitus, (both started oddly enough, by a really weird, red-headed kid) where the well-known 'top-down" style of wingnut idea management and corraling the community were writ large, and hammer-to-the-head stupid. The cheap, KOOL welcome mat, astroturf/activist sites like the embarassing "Victory Caucus", and perhaps worst of all, the re-launched, much-hyped, Edsel-with-the-fins-sanded-off of a site—Townhall. Run by the amazing, breathless fellatio machine that is Hugh Hewitt, just before its scintillating un-cocooning from dormancy, we heard this, about its wonderful future a year ago:

"While on the air, Hewitt uses the first to surf news sites, then swivels to the second during breaks to update his well-trafficked blog. "Both spoken words and written words are powerful," he says. "Acting in harmony, the effect is exponential." Just ask Rick Santorum. In May, he urged Hewitt's listeners to fork over campaign funds, and the host, ever eager, posted a link. Donations shot up 500 percent.


The hope? That "Web 2.0" wherewithal can transform what was once an op-ed clearinghouse into a single nerve center serving the separate conservative communities of talk radio and the Internet. To Hewitt, a valuable White House ally, the math is simple: add 6 million Salem fans to Townhall's 1.4 million unique monthly visitors and you've got an audience six or seven times the size of liberal site Daily Kos, the Web's biggest political blog. "We will overwhelm them," he says.

Steve and I laughed our asses off when Hewitt put that steaming pile of idiocy out there for all to see. "We will overwhelm them"? Excusemeplease? The only thing missing from that nutty rant was Hewitt whipping off his 38C Maidenform-brand "Mansiere" and banging it on the desk angrily for emphasis, to the whir-and-click of Black and White news cameras.

The issue though, is not a laughing matter for the right. People had plans. Big plans—big, dreamy, cotton-candy on trees, sillyfuck plans to just run shit for-ever, as evidenced by the laughable curio that is Hewitt's Regnery joke book from last Spring, > Painting The Map Red: The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority. You had Rove on the election's eve, angrily crowing about how those who doubted the GOP's chances didn't have "THE MATH". And then... 48 hours later, the flaming windmill fell in on old Frankenstein on November 7th, as the elections upset all that silly-ass map painting, and "math" figuring.

It didn't happen in a vacuum. There were reasons behind it—the souring of opinion on the GOP's lockstep backing of the clusterfucked Iraq war, the corruption as evidenced by the many-tentacled Abramoff/Cunningham/Foley Cover-Up scandals, and yes—the naked racism on the part of the GOP in their ham-fisting of the immigration issue, just to name a few.

But the factor that wounded them the most painfully in the '06's—and the one that scares them more than anything else, is the rise of the Netroots. Liberal, Progressive, Dirty Fucking Hippie online activism kicked the scoffing wingnuts dead between the pegs in '06. The Netroots coalesced into a fact-checkin', investigative journalism-in', story-drivin', candidate-houndin', fund-raisin' machine that the internet right could only wet-dream of being. And DailyKos, with its massive readership, stable of talented scribes/thinkers/members, and sense of actual community was the big, orange lightning rod for the right's bitter "hateration", post-that '06 ass-whipping. Daily Kos' championing of candidates like Montana's Jon Tester, and VA's Jim Webb, along with its ability to get the word out on Dem campaigns needing help, damaged the wingnuts' chances in a big way, and they haven't forgotten it. Add into the mix, the Dems and their '08 candidates realizing the potency of the Netroots in '06, and responding in tangible ways to that concentrated influence on things such as the various war votes, and the folly of kow-towing to the right—i.e. dissing the Fox-"sponsored" Dem debate, and you have a pissed-off, one-time kingmaker/ball-breaker who's desperate to matter again, and willing to scorch the whole fucking earth to make it so.

Which gives us O'Reilly's crazed attacks on Kos and YearlyKos '07 in recent days. Oh, it has been rich, too. There's jealousy, and-and spitefulness galore in this fest of drama-queenery-cum-high dudgeon. Again though, at the core...fear drives this enterprise. A fear spawned by a sad realization of the right's fateful dilemma in an every-possible-way-changing world.

You see, the nature of politics itself has changed. With the internet, and its instant feedback, as well as the ability of its users to create and distribute content, gather in a "space", and commiserate and act, a fatal flaw of the way the right-wing operates was exposed. That fatal flaw being that "community", where people act was never a part of the way GOP politics was supposed to work. Again, their paradigm is the old, "top-down" school of thought, where the "people'—or folks like you and me are supposed to do what the command structure says to do. And the command structure is the typical gathering of jowly, gout-suffering bigwigs who've always run things. The Dems had to get their DLC-worshipping asses kicked for a decade before their "Top-down" paradigm shifted. As such, that kind of style inhibits thought, and imagination from the "community". It locks people in to tired, and ultimately past-their-shelf-life ways.

It relegates the GOP faithful and their "activated" online community to little more than drone status.

Because you can be one of two things as a politically involved person. You can be a carpenter, and actually come up with things to build, and make those things using tools...or you can be a fucking tool that somebody uses to build something.

A tool...a nail, doesn't control its own destiny. It's just a thing to be used. A nail has never built a Goddamned thing it ever wanted to. A carpenter on the other hand... :)

No, I'm not going all messianic or anything like that, with a whole "Jesus/Carpenter" thing, but I think you get the picture. The GOP hierarchy doesn't want carpenters—they are the carpenters. They want nails they can hammer. Which is why in this interactive age of politics and activism, the right lags so far behind. "Top-down" sucks, baby.

I saw Kos at a New York "Drinking Liberally" function last year, and clearly remember him visibly blanching at the idea of his being called "a leader" per se. He stressed the idea of there being a "community of leaders" where everybody does their part towards a group of common goals. He totally eschewed the whole "Dear Leader" mantle some would like to ascribe to a person so they don't have to take responsibility. That stuck with me. Because in the '06's, it all came together. Down the stretch, every batshit freeper on earth was looking to Rove, and Mehlman and the upper end of the GOP power spectrum for guidance when those same people were the ones who had fucked the party raw and ungreased into the painful position they were in as the election neared. The Dems were responding to the grass roots, and squeakiest of wheels online—squeaky wheels representing numbers beyond comprehension.

The people, if you will.

And you see how that turned out. :)

Now you have an angry GOP leadership. Angry because they've lost control of the government. Angry at the Netroots and in shorthand for them—Markos—for soundly whipping their asses while changing the political party paradigm. And angry at a flailing, desperate constituency that wonders "What went wrong?", and is increasingly blaming them for the policy-stalling loss. Included in that GOP leadership is their pundit class, who can only snipe pissily as their Pollyanna, Niedermeyer-"all-is-well"-ing blew up in their faces and tainted what was left of their credibility with "the drones '.

O'Reilly is in that pundit/leadership class...and he's verrrrry angry about how things are going. He sees his nemesis Olbermann, gaining cachet daily, and Keith's rising star hitched directly to the sentiments of the Left's online "community". He also KNOWS about the right's fuck-up with its "drone"/Queen Bee setup, and that they don't dare walk away from it.


Because that wouldn't just upset the applecart of GOP command and control. To see that pissed-off "base"—what there is of it that could actually emulate a Kos-esque community, potentially drive debate—and hold politicos responsible—and fund-raise with gusto, well...that would effectively render the Republican Party's kingmakers in places like The Carlyle Group, its silent, but powerful oil and energy oligarchs, and, and media giants like his fucking bosses Murdoch and Ailes null and fucking void, baby.

It would render Bill-O himself, null and fucking void, too.

He can't let that happen. You helped whip his beloved party's ass. And your success at that risks showing "the drones" how they too can bypass the bullshit we did, and directly impact the landscape—so uh-uh, fuck all that, Kos—you've gotta be stopped now. He's gotta come at you in desperate full-bore, keening all the way. You/The Netroots—FDL, Crooks & Liars, AmericaBlog, Atrios, Greenwald—you've all gotta go down. And if it means jumping up in your face like a an idiot screaming on the playground as his pants fall down, revealing a skid-marked ass, then so be it! They used to mock you, and then you knocked 'em the fuck out, so respect must be regained somehow. Even if it's via hysterical raving about bullshit, and using third parties like sponsors for the dirty work, instead of coming at you like a fucking man.

The best part though, is the utter ineffectiveness of O'Reilly's monkey-scat tossing—1200 whopping responses to his call to drown Yearly Kos in the bathtub, and then of course, the inevitable, embarrassing blowback of his dipshittery.

He screwed up and brought the whole Mackris/Falafel/Dildo thing back into the discourse and saw the words of posters on his own site come back to bite him when Home Depot ditched his show as a sponsor, because of Liberals alerting them.

The stupid monkey hates you for your upright stance, Kos. So he tosses shit at you willy-nilly. And then? Then, he sniffs his own scat-covered finger and passes the fuck out.

Stupid monkey. doesn't he realize how the internet cuts both ways?

But you know what? Bill-O's venom may have another basis as well. We all know about his jealousy, and raging ego, and how he hates to be trumped. I got word that the raging succes of YearlyKos really pissed O'Reilly off.. Primarily because it eclipsed his own secret convention of the faithful.

Yup. He had to scrap it. I grabbed a screenshot he had up for the secret site for it. Here it is:

(Click to enlarge)

Sad, isn't it?

Enjoy YearlyKos '07! :)
There's more...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Chicago Restaurants and local food

Here on falafel day, I am thinking about what foods to try and which restaurant to go to in Chicago during YearlyKos. I will not be eating that culinary monstrosity the 'chicago dog'. [shudders], chaos theory is not substitute for creativity.

Any suggestions?

There's more...

Broken...Busted...And Beat To Hell

Years From Now, Historians Will Look Back At This Administration...And Consider Burning All Records Of Its Existence.

The Alberto Gonzales skid-mark of a tenure as Attorney General has been pretty well-covered by folks all around the reality-based end of the blogosphere. In fact, it's been what's driving the pursuit of this sordid bunch of stories—far better than the so-called digging on the part of print and broadcast journalists still "locked on lazy".

We even covered it at "Ye Olde News Blog” when this exploding cigar of a scandal first blew up in Bush's and 'Berto's faces a few months back—and had this to say about it:

"Simple question--right here and now. Why would an administration, its Attorney General, and involved partisan elected officials repeatedly lie about their involvement in something that they claim to be LEGAL AND ABOVE BOARD?

People lie for one of two reasons.

1.) To cover up a misdeed--an illegal or unethical act.


2.) Because they are compulsive untruth-tellers who prevaricate about pretty much everything for little or no reason.

Neither of these reasons serves this administration well. The latter one indicates that they can be trusted on nothing, and the former one--the supremely prevalent one in general practice indicates serious, and damning illegality. They lied. Before Congress. Under oath. About circumventing the Constitution of the United States. Slaving the judicial branch--law enforcement, to the whims of the political needs of the executive branch. Somewhere in hell--probbly the boiler room, Pinochet, Marcos and Nixon are all smiling sweaty, proud "attaboy" smiles at this justice-poisoning news."

(Editor's Note: I can't front...I don't generally fall in love with graphics I come up with, but I LOVED lookin' at that one again! "Chortle!")

Which seems all the more apt now, as 'Berto's troubles' secondary prong—his differing statements about his involvement in the administration's wireless wiretapping scandal have come a' cropper.

"Come a' cropper" is nice folk-speak for, "caught lying his fucking ass off under oath." Jaws dropped all over the place, over his damning-as-all-hell "testimony" before Congress last week.

'In explaining why he and then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card made a dramatic visit to the hospital bedside of a seriously ill Attorney General John Ashcroft, Gonzales points to a key meeting earlier that same day, March 10, 2004.

At that meeting, according to Gonzales, the bipartisan group of congressional leaders known as the Gang of Eight, which oversees the most sensitive aspects of the intelligence community, demanded that a top secret surveillance program (widely believed to be the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program) be continued despite the refusal of the Department of Justice to sign off on the legality of the program.


But tonight Democratic leaders who were at that meeting dispute Gonzales' version of events. Spencer Ackerman is reporting that Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi at the time the Democratic minority leaders in the Senate and House respectively, dispute Gonzales' account. The Washington Post is likewise reporting that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, strongly takes issue with Gonzales' version of events.
Why would an embattled attorney general whose credibility is in tatters spin a version of events that others are in a position to debunk?'

That's a rhetorical "why" that TPM asks. They later give pretty much the skinny on it, brandishing the word that D.C. folks would sooner eat brine-soaked glass than let pass their lips.


Ooooooh! Clutch the pearls, bitches—I do believe we feel a bout of them ol' vapors comin' on!

We already know he's been lying like a DUI-busted Lindsay Lohan about his level of involvement in the firing of the U.S. Attorneys, but he's been able to hide behind the skirts, odd bangs, squeaky voices and jowls of underlings he's sacrificed in his stead. This nightmare, over the outright lying about the NSA scandal, goes even further—deeper actually, as it goes to the ash-heaping of one of the most fundamental rights we as Americans hold dear. The right to privacy. A laughably ironic one when you consider the AG's boss's claiming of the ultimate privacy right—"Executive Privilege" in the other prong of DOJ scandal, no?

He sat there, Gonzales did—and said that his creepy hospital visit to a Percoset cloud-dancing Ashcroft was about one thing—an alternate domestic spying program that we're not privy to, and claimed a shit-load of other people were briefed about it. Only to have those people ALL deny it, citing a different briefing date and topic of discussion—namely the one he initially denied under oath. The 'nad-kick was when FBI Chief Robert Mueller also contradicted "Seedy Gonzales" testimony—directly. Proven again, this time as a naked, stupid, bald-faced liar.

D.C.'s full of liars though. Sub shops, grimy Lotto joints, and liars—D.C. in a rat-nibbled nutshell. But it seems that all the other liars in town are so much better at lying than 'Berto is. Slicker...more accomplished at least. Halfway able to get close to "putting it over". Gonzales is that rarest of things in Beltway ciecles—a bad liar. A horrific one, at that. Incompetence and toadyism be damned; those are sadly, part and parcel of the Washington insider's game—but to be the sort of prevaricator whose words can be utterly disproven before the end of a news day, to where they are outright criminal? Well...that Ladies and Gentlemen, is a singularly destructive talent—or lack thereof.

But what makes 'Berto's folly soooooooo awful is it's poisonous leaching into things beyond just him, the person. We have seen, in the last 35 years, the office of the Attorney General get twisted around in some bad ways. We have seen the people in the office be little more than near-criminal hatchet-men and trail coverers. We have seen them reviled and heard their names invoked as evil incarnate, when their backing of an act or bill has displeased an "activated" portion of the populace. But by God, in spite of the worst that a John Mitchell might have done, (and please note what he was convicted of and did 19 months in the clink over) or the wild, and outrageous slings and arrows that buffeted a Janet Reno, this Attorney General, Mr. Gonzales, will go down in history as without a doubt, the most ethically damaged AG in U.S. history. He embarrassed himself publicly with the kind of fumbling, shifty, and on-the-fly lying that would make even a Stephen Glass blush, while covering for Constitution-trashing, illegal wiretapping. He wrapped uninvolved others—others who with but a word could expose him—in a badly-woven net of lies and dodges to protect himself and an equally sullied President. He has clearly perjured himself, and obstructed justice via his wavering lies.

But once you add to that, the scandal of the fired U.S. Attorneys, where even more lies were piled, you get a full look at the grotesque, hall-length mural that is the total trashing of the Office of the Attorney General...and, the laying to waste of the Justice Department itself. Fox News this past weekend unbelievably could not get a GOP panelist to come on-air to defend Gonzales. Host Chris Wallace actually said:
"By the way, we invited White House officials and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend Attorney General Gonzales. We had no takers."

The office of the so-called highest-ranking law enforcement official in the land has been turned into a fucking joke. Janet Reno's going on SNL to break through a wall and dance a weird Frug with Will Ferrell left herself with several times more gravitas than Gonzales has today. Can one even cite scholarship in "the law" as something to hang a hat on for him? His lame inability to even parse words well to make a convincing argument when under fire, speaks far less-than-well for the possibility of hidden, great talent as a barrister. The mass resignations of high-ranking Justice Department deputies to shield him, and the awful "rotating of stock" in the department—filling every nook and available cranny with Christofascist toadies who care not for law, but rather, how to apply the law to further the goals of their faux-holy, retrograde, party-first bosses— has so damaged it, that it's a barely functioning arm of the federal government right now. Where the Justice Department was once a place where in spite of who ran it, you could reasonably count on many of the country's best and brightest legal minds finding a place there to flourish, and enforce the laws of the land in a fairly egalitarian manner, we now find it converted mostly into a farm of partisan pods. Pods planted like mad by this administration, that sprout the likes of the Bradley Schlozmans, Monica Goodlings and Rachel Pauloses we now find ourselves bedeviled with in this short six years or so.

That's right...it's The Invasion Of The Justice Snatchers. —which would explain that disturbing, reedy whine of Schlozman's quite frankly.

The Attorney General's office and Justice Department have been rendered un-inhabitable right now. Pretty much unusable, in fact. That is the legacy of Alberto Gonzales. Something John Mitchell and his poisonous hyper-partisanship, and Janet Reno and her gaffes and targeting for hatred by her enemies could never do.

They never managed to wreck the office of the AG—nor did they come close to the crippling of the DOJ itself. Gonzales has...and then some. And it's going to take an awfully long time to restore integrity to the office, regardless of who the next person is (in the next administration, that is—if he were forced out now, which could happen, his immediate replacement would be little more than a seat-warmer) to take the job. It's going to take even longer to fumigate the DOJ itself. The equivalent of scores of "roach bombs" one would think, to de-infest what's presently in there...eating at the walls, and fouling the conducting of business—which is the enforcement of U.S. law—not the creepy Judge Roy Moore school of pick-n'-choose, moralistic bashing.

It's gonna take years to fix. And we can only hope that whoever the President is going to be, has enough stones, and patience—as well as the vision to pick the right person to repair it.

This... smashing of Justice.

Did you ever—EVER, think that you'd look back on John Ashcroft's hoary singing, backward ways, and yes...freaky aversion to breastage on federal statuary with a sense of laughing nostalgia?

Thanks for that, 'Berto. Seriously. Ha. Ha.
There's more...

Hoisting a glass

I dont know how many groupnewsblog readers will be at YearlyKos but Mrs Robinson and I will be going and possibly Lowermanhattanite. If anyone would like to join me on anyone of the nights to hoist a glass for our friend Steve, curse the Yankee's and mourn whats left of our constitution please feel free to post a comment, or just come up and ask; I will be manning one of the registration booths on a number of days. I will post where when I know.

Also, sorry I have not been online recently I was at Fuji Rock Festival, working, and I unexpectedly didnt have any internet access. Sorry for the radio silence.

There's more...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

On Being a Professional

Introducing the GNB Essay Series

I -- and perhaps my colleagues -- will be publishing essays periodically. Some long, some like the one below are shorter than this intro.

These essays aren't our normal format or topic. We know we're a political blog primarily and appreciate your patience as we find our voice, the one which is the Group News Blog, not The News Blog. Primarily politics but some other stuff, reflecting who we are as individual writers and also who we are as publishers. We're not quite certain what that means either. That's what I mean by finding our own voice.

Essays start somewhere, meander here and there, make some points along the way and then end. Paul Graham gets much of it correct. Hopefully their truthiness is clear by the end of the essay. I don't even especially write essays for you; I write them for me.

Essays are a tool I've used most of my life to reflect. The understanding in my head is almost never the understanding I have after speaking with others. After writing on an issue, especially after rewriting at least four to five times (which is the essential part) my understanding is always sharper and my commitment to act has often changed radically.

The key is public commitment. The act of commitment happens in the in-between. Not here in my head, not there in your head. Commitment happens between the two or more of us in what I'm calling the "in-between". When I say, "I am for bringing the troops home now!", I take a stand in public for which others may hold me to account.

(Bringing the troops home now is my stand. Stands in one's head are fantasy. Stands in public are pure declaration, true the moment you speak them aloud or hit the "Publish Post" button.)

Speaking in public, writing in public, The act of. In short, essays or speaking in public allows me to develop the essential me. Many times I'm surprised by who I am; I had no idea! Yet there I am, written down on the page. I have to hurry to post my Self so as not to be afraid to publicly commit to live up to my Self, following General Stonewall Jackson's advice, "Never take counsel of your fears."

My upcoming piece which started out as an article about doping in sports and now has become something more, Should You Lie? About Trust, is part of GNBs essay series.

Now you have a sense of where I'm going with these essays. Hopefully you'll find the essays useful, informative, fun and interesting, as well as readable and worthy of your discussion and comments, even it it takes a while for the series to catch on. Try talking to the essay or reading it several times; see what conversations, automatic reactions and questions it provokes. Does it leave you engaged? In the best sense of the word I'm attempting to bring back the art of the essay. Here now, the first (very brief) essay. Enjoy.

On Being a Professional

LowerManhattanite, what a great post this morning from the GNB Sports Desk. Thank you so much for your writing. Not simply how well you write but how on point you are. I love working with true professionals. Professionals understand how to build up a brand, how to watch each other's backs, how one bit of business feeds other bits. The have... timing, not to mention, er, never mind. But also pros got rhythm and can build a sequence. Plus they've got something to say and are not Ira from Maspeth calling in from his mom's basement. A pro speaks as one with authority. They've been there and done that; they're not some guy in a diner. They know how to give and take notes without bullshit, nor do they put up with bullshit from incompetence without necessity. Professionals can be easy to work with because the best of them care deeply about each other and their craft. They think historically: think Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier and Meryl Streep, gloriously wonderful to work with (so I've heard.) Or pros can be challenging: think Langston Hughes (although obviously he also thought historically.) Hmm. There's a thought. Do the true virtuoso's all dwell historically inside their discipline? I've never met one who didn't. Real pros know the history of their field and how the history of related fields intersect. People, events, inventions and intentions, the whole schmear. As for being easy to work with, either way and most of all, one's level of performance rises up to meet the true professionals, never the other way around. Working with you LM is like that: I simply get better. What joy! The best part of working with professionals? They know when the gig is up and stop.

There's more...

Tour de France: Stage 20

Marcoussis to Paris (Champs-Elysees) 146 km

Stage 20 ends the Tour. What a trip. GNB Sports. Welcome.

A beautiful day riding into Paris. Only 31 seconds separate Alberto Contador in Yellow leading the Tour from Levi Leipheimer in third, both riding for Team Discovery Channel. Cadel Evans 23 seconds back is in second for Predictor-Lotto. It's unlikely Cadel will try to move up but with only 23 seconds between them almost anything could be enough to cause the race lead to shift. The race isn't over till it's over. Discovery's job today is to protect the Yellow Jersey all the way to the finish.

After hours of meandering French countryside we're finally about to make the famous turn onto the Champs-Elysees, the roar of the crowd, and eight increasingly fast laps ending with a bell lap where the 141 riders of the 189 who started the Tour will scream past the cheering crowds in a dangerous sprint for the finish. AND ONTO THE CHAMP-ELYSEES THEY COME, around the right corner the peloton of the Tour de France led by Team Discovery the best team this year and George Hincapie leading out the team riding close around its leader Yellow Jersey holder Alberto Contador, the Discovery boys for the eighth year of the last nine, lead the way onto the fabled cobblestones for the first of eight circuits.

Across the finish line team Discovery rides at high speed with 31 kilometers left. And here we go... An hour of breakaways, quick reactions, attempts to sprint clear, tension, counter moves, and chases. What matters is Alberto Contador staying ahead of Cadel Evans, while Cadel Evans stays ahead of Levi Leipheimer. Any attempt by Discovery or Predictor-Lotto to make a move will be hit back hard and instantly. Everyone else can do as they wish as long as they're not seen to be riding in support of the main riders or a danger to the main riders.

Rabobank -- who you may recall pulled Yellow Jersey holder Michael Rasmussen out of the Tour after he won stage 16 claiming Rasmussen lied to the team, then fired him from Rabobank, then pulled the entire team out of the Tour -- has said that they, Rabobank will pay team members their shares of the GC winner's purse for their hard work over two weeks getting and then keeping Rasmussen in Yellow, that is paying the riders a full GC share just as if Rasmussen had gone on to win the Tour. An amazingly classy move by Rabobank.

Speaking of, Alexandre Vinokourov's B sample has come back positive; we know through a media leak, another violation of testing protocol via the French labs via the French press. Our experience with looking at the Floyd Landis case in lots of detail from a year ago through all of the hearings till today, short version, is we wouldn't want to be on trial on the basis Floyd is being tried. His case and that of other athletes in many sports lacks major elements of due process and what people in the U.S. would consider normal constitutional safeguards and protections. Additionally the presumption of innocence is reversed; the athlete is expected to prove a negative in many cases. Finally, the procedures of the French laboratories are sloppy past the point of being believable in any case where careers and reputation hang in the balance.

Having said all this, of course Vino may have doped. Desperate people do desperate things. We hope however no one reading this believes anything about doping because they read about it in the popular press or because the UCI or the Tour organization or the anti-doping laboratories say so, any more than most of us believe the main-stream media. In the same way, you certainly shouldn't believe the riders any more than we believe major media figures. About the Floyd Landis case, Trust But Verify has enormous credibility about doping. Want to learn more about all of the doping cases? Start there.

From London to Paris in 22 days around France. Now we're in the heart of Paris riding around in circles going faster and faster. The break of ten has 25 seconds on the peloton with two laps to go. A slight drizzle has started. The cobblestones are slick and increasingly dangerous.

Remember that stage 8 famous bidon pull Levi made to get back after mechanical troubles, the infamous ten second penalty? Levi's only down to Cadel by eight seconds. The unexpected penalty -- many would say uncalled for -- cost Levi second place on the final podium. Levi of course is nothing but gracious: "If it was for the win, it would have been more heart-breaking. We have two stage wins, the Yellow Jersey, the White Jersey and two guys on the podium. I think we can be happy with this Tour." Levi -- don't forget Discovery is about to win the Team Classification also!

The peloton swallows the break. It's all coming down to a sprint finish as we hit the BELL LAP. Alberto Contador and his Yellow Jersey is enroute to victory, tucked away and protected by his teammates about 20 riders from the front. It's the sprinters now racing flat-out for the stage win in a long line AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME AT OVER 55 kilometers per hour at 250 meters to the final finishing line, teammates swinging off, Bennati, Hunter, Thor Hushovd, Hunter, Zabel, Boonen, it's Bennati! Daniele Bennati on the line the man from Italy wins today in Paris.

Final Results 2007 Tour de France

Alberto Contador the 24 year old young man wins both the Yellow Jersey of the Tour de France Overall Win and the White Jersey of the Best Young Rider. Tom Boonen wins the Green Jersey of the Points Competition (Sprinters). Mauricio Soler wins the Polka-Dot Jersey of the King of the Mountains. And Amets Txurruka wins Most Aggressive rider.

2,200 miles, 21 days, and 31 seconds -- that's 500 meters at speed -- separates the three leaders from each other in the second closest ever finish in Tour history, behind only the 8 second gap of winner Lemond and Fignon. Alberto Contador may be the future face of the Tour, the first rider since Jan Ulrich in 1997 to win both the Tour and the White Jersey, although certainly Cadel Evans wants another chance to win Yellow. And Levi may have his eyes set there as well.

The Discovery Team wins the Team Classification award for the first time ever including all the years they rode for Lance. George Hincapie looks SO happy. *sighs*

That's the 2007 Tour de France. No way to sum up this Tour. Our article on doping and trust will be published this week. Thank you for for an amazing 22 days, for your insightful comments and for welcoming this series. It's been fun and worthwhile. Go ride a bicycle.

From the GNB Sports Desk, this has been Jesse Wendel. Goodbye.

Today's video highlights -- Great Tour coverage at VeloNews

A Feast on Wheels: Behind the scenes Tour coverage by correspondent Bonnie DeSimone of ESPN, Boston Globe and the Oregonian.

Cyclelicious -- What's Your Source of News for Le Tour?

TDF Stage 20 Results -- Top 5:
The top five in the 20th stage of the 2007 Tour de France is:
1. Daniele Bennati (ITA) LAM
2. Thor Hushovd (NOR) C.A
3. Erik Zabel (GER) MRM
4. Robert Hunter (RSA) BAR
5. Tom Boonen (BEL) QSI

TDF: Standings after Stage 20

1 112 CONTADOR, Alberto ESP DSC 91:00:26.000 00:00:00.000
2 041 EVANS, Cadel AUS PRL 91:00:49.000 00:00:23.000
3 111 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA DSC 91:00:57.000 00:00:31.000
4 031 SASTRE, Carlos ESP CSC 91:07:34.000 00:07:08.000
5 071 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS 91:08:43.000 00:08:17.000
6 018 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP GCE 91:12:03.000 00:11:37.000
7 027 KIRCHEN, Kim LUX TMO 91:12:44.000 00:12:18.000
8 118 POPOVYCH, Yaroslav UKR DSC 91:12:51.000 00:12:25.000
9 073 ASTARLOZA, Mikel ESP EUS 91:14:40.000 00:14:14.000
10 011 PEREIRO SIO, Oscar ESP GCE 91:14:51.000 00:14:25.000
There's more...

A Fan's Notes— 2.0

The Picture Says It All. Sports Sucks Now. Big Time.

Good day from the GNB Sports Desk! Or maybe..not so good day. LowerManhattanite here, with Part One of a Two Part "White Paper" report.

You will find no bigger sports fan than me. I grew up in a house with four boys, and a dad who threw a wicked four-seam fastball and a Doug Williams-tight spiral well into his fifties.

I remember the day I fell in love with baseball—July 13th 1971—watching Reggie Jackson launch that career-making mortar off the transformer atop the right-field roof of Tiger Stadium. It was a Tuesday afternoon. Saw it with my dad at his restaurant. I'll never forget it. Reggie was my idol. But I couldn't follow A's games 3000 miles away, so I lavished my love on the then-horriffic Yankees. Reggie came to the Bronx in '77. How happy do you think I was? :)

Football entranced me—particularly the-just-about-over-the-hill Joe Willie Namath (even in that cool, old L.A. Rams "uni"), and my mid-seventies Steelers, which was extremely difficult as I was in a house full of Dallas Cowboys fans, but I persevered. And found I could just fall in love with watching a great player for another team—namely, the Oilers' Earl Campbell—in spite of his being on a bitter Steelers' division rival—he was simply the most awe-inspiring, punishing runner I've ever seen.

A sublime, indelible NBA memory is of seeing the gentle giant Willis Reed in glorious Black & White TV, uncharacteristically go down the length of the old Baltimore Bullet bench, caving in the grilles of every player who dared remain sitting in a wild, courtside brawl—and a few of the standees in an old WOR free-TV game. Yes, they fought like hell in the olden days of the NBA too, folks. I personally harangued the Rockets' Moses Malone into missing all three shots of a "three-to-make-two" in the waning seconds of a Knicks game, from my near-courtside seat in a two-thirds empty Madison Square Garden in the early 80's.

The Olympics? I remember Tommie Smith, and John Carlos, and Bob Beamon, and Ludmilla Turischeva (who I liked much more than Olga Korbut), and Dave Wottle and Steve Prefontaine.

I lived sports. Breathed sports. Played sports—excelled at Baseball (Pitched and played center), and Football (Wide-Out, Halfback and Safety/Rover). Live and die with my beloved Yankees. My Steelers. Am still in my wishing ill-will on my Knicks until ownership changes (as I did with the Yanks for their unceremonious ditching of Reggie)


Which drives the divinely fucked-up confluence of every single sport seeming to go into the shitter at once to something beyond just painful for a "fanatic" like me.

It's actually numbing. I never thought—in my life ever—that I could be moved to the point where "Sports" per se would begin to lose me...but I'll be damned...

...it's happening. :(

Doc Wendel wrote a post a couple of days ago, stepping away from his strong, derailleur-to-derailleur coverage of the Tour de France, to handle—dead-on—the burgeoning doping scandal that threatened to (pun not intended) derail the tour. He ended it , saying "This is today's doping story. Talk among yourselves. We'll be back tomorrow for Stage 16. If anyone is still left to ride."

"If anyone is still left to ride."

That's a hell of a statement. I could hear the This-is-fucked-chest-kick in Jesse's words. He loves cycling. The way many of us love baseball. And football. And basketball. Now granted, many people are NOT sports fans—and are probably chortling up their sleeves at the seeming total collapse of integrity in sports going on right now, but dammit—there are MILLIONS of Americans, and BILLIONS of world citizens who are sports fans, and the news in recent days—after months and years of building to this point—are just axe-struck by it all. Nearly 80 million people attended Major League Baseball last year. 22 million went to NFL games. Another 22 mil checked out NBA contests. And that's just in-arena viewership—it doesn't include TV and radio fans. I wouldn't even hazard a guess at the number of soccer (football) fans worldwide who dug hard on the World Cup, or the folks like Jesse who live for le Tour. Countless millions...frankly, billions of semi-to-very involved fans—and many of 'em are flat-out-disgusted and heartbroken, very much the way you can "hear" it in Jesse's online voice.

It matters. It just does.

It's an outlet, an oasis and refuge in our lives, and has been forever. And as busy and distracted as people are in this multi-tasking age, sports' ability to make us slow down for those few hours a week to enjoy it, is not a small deal. We find ourselves now, with these awful, and confidence-draining stories rendering those few hours an utter waste of time. How did we get here—At this five-way intersection of sports, with all the cars piled up, —flames and steaming effluent shooting everywhichway?

Where to begin? Where it all ends, of course. MONEY. Now, here's the part where Ira from Maspeth calls in from his mom's basement, railing at the sports talk show host about the players' salaries. "It's a freakin' game! I played it for free when I was a kid, and if I could play it now, I'd do it for a tenth of what these spoiled blah-blah-blabbity-blah-blah, please shut the fuck UP, Ira!

It's actually a lot more complicated than just "those overpaid jerks" you like to call in about when you're not calling in to propose some half-ass trade.

In the olden days of sports—an era which you can place at around pre-1965 or so, teams were owned by involved, sports-loving families of means, or involved sports-loving/business-owning families. Jacob Ruppert owned the Yanks. The Payson family owned the Mets. The Yawkeys owned the Red Sox. And the Wrigleys and Buschs owned the Cubbies and Cards, respectively. The same held true for NBA (The Celtics' Walter Brown, the Pistons' Fred Zollner) and NFL (The Giants Maras, the Steelers' Rooneys) franchises. Note that I use the caveat involved in my description of these family ownerships. What changed post-'65 was the acquisition of teams by outside conglomerates and the neglect of the clubs that weren't, by family businesses that would grow into conglomerates. The expansion of the busineses or corporations owning these teams would break down the fragile command and control structures that ran the teams. The further removed the one-time hands-on ownership was from the running of the teams proper, the worse things became overall. This was manifest most directly in Baseball and Basketball—less so in Football, as the clubby nature of ownership and the macho "Leaders of Men" ethos remains in large part to this day. Those owners are still men, though, tangible human beings for whom the team is an odd extension of themselves. What would damage Football is the monstrous—and I do mean monstrous TV contracts, which turned the rough-and-tumble, almost "outlaw" NFL of the mid 60's into an mega-entertainment venture not unlike a theme park or Las Vegas casino. We saw the birth of NFL Films, The "Super" Bowl, Monday Night Football—hyper-marketing to the Nth degree.

The new, crazy money—via corporatization of ownership, and the tremendous broadcast contracts for the vast majority of teams broke the close bond between team and boss, putting layer upon layer of bureaucracy in between—unlike the ways of the age of Ownership-As-Benevolent-God. In those days of yore, players went almost year-to-year insofar as contracts. A huge year could raise your salary a bit. Another one, maybe a bit more. But have an off year, and you could be taken back to your pre-good two years rate. Free agency for players didn't exist, so you took what the owners gave you. Your salary was LOW, in comparison to what owners made off of your play. You had to have an off-season job—not as a sportscaster or post-season analyst like nowadays, because the press still controlled that, then.

No, you worked on a farm. You coached high-school kids. Ran a dairy, or a cleaners, or a restaurant. You worked a fishing boat. Maybe managed a beverage distributor.

And when you were done...when the fastball would overwhelm you, or the nerves in your knees knifed you with every stride downfield—you were retired by the team. As a parting gift, you got a couple of hunting dogs, a gold watch and a nice rifle in a box. A couple of cows for your farm, perhaps, and a framed plaque with your jersey under glass. That's if you were a good player. Were you a journeyman, you got a ticket home, your last check, and a handshake. Players tired of being nickel and dimed by millionaire owners now fat with huge broadcast money, or untold capital after being bought out by AcmeCo or whoever. So they fought for salary freedom and the opportunity to make the maximum they could get. Now is where the big salaries come into play, Ira, from Maspeth, calling from your mom's basement. All those million and billion-dollar numbers bandied about over owners' capital, set images of fat, dollar signs dancing in their eyes after many decades of being taken advantage of. And after a few lawsuits (Curt Flood's) and victories like Andy Messersmith's over Baseball's reserve clause, the dam broke, and athletes followed their Hollywood acting counterparts in ending their own version of the studio system—controlling their own destinies for the very first time,

Of course...like how not every owner went greed crazy and wrecked things, not every player did either.

But enough did. Guys coming off one career year, signed jaw-dropping (for their time) contracts when they entered the free-agent market. Decent players like Rennie Stennett (Baseball), Chuck Muncie (Football), and Allan Houston signed monstrous contracts, far in excess of their reasonable but grossly overrated talents. But...owners paid them. Why? Because rather than open their books and expose the obscene profits, the bosses simply paid up—hoping to snag the best players, roll those turnstiles and increase those profits further.

So now everybody's out for self. Owners would now move a team on a whim, to more favorable locales to make ever more money. Teams with huge and faithful fan bases like the Cleveland Browns would just up and leave a town where the team history was rich and deeply ingrained. The Baltimore Colts, a legendary franchise, would sneakily book from a historic home, in the dead of night, in a row of moving trucks—lock, stock and barrel—enticed by Benjamins waved around by a beckoning city, craving a ready-made team. The hell with waiting for a chance to snag an expansion franchise. New stadia please, publicly-financed, thank you, or we leave your town, too! Greed...was good. And then the players got in on it, big time—agents negotiating with multiple teams to drive the bidding up, pitting team against team, owner against owner, even player against player. Get the absolute maximum! (And I get my 10%,—partner). The use of statistical formulas rose, often flawed, always skewed—comparing the player being shopped to all-time greats of yesteryear—using odd snap-shotted numbers.

"Hey....you don't want my guy? No problem Owner X in Megatown does. Ooooh! He's your division rival, ain't he? Fans won't like it when they beat you out for the post-season."


Over a barrel, with flames licking from the hole. Got your ass, boss.

And then Ladies and Gentlemen...the wheels come off at Koyaanisqatsi-on-crack speed. Hang on!

a.) Team owners want to "young-up" the talent pool, to decrease the salaries as younger players cost less, and can be signed for long-term, lock-in contracts.

b.) Ultimate controllers of the talent pool—agents, parents of the younger, future stars, and the schools where these stars are now being scouted and touted earlier than ever, realize there's ridiculous money to be made off that younger talent. So, the NCAA changes its rules, letting players leave earlier—many after two years, too many after one year. The days of players staying for degrees or at least three years, ends. The schools reap the benefits of a back-scratch via increased TV contract money facilitated by their professional sport benefactor/pimps. Baseball exploits a signing loophole and harvests super-talented kids from Central America and the Caribbean at the age of 16. The NBA phases out its "hardship" rule—the rare allowance for an underaged/un-colleged player to enter the league, to where all a player has to do is complete high school to be eligible for league play. The NFL walks away from the idea of student-athletes, and encouraging red-shirting in College ball—where players would stay on for extended runs in school to max out full eligibility for collegiate play. A player could be in school five years playing. No more. The pros would like those extra, prime playing years for themselves, thank you very much.

c.) Said schools and parents, realizing the worth of their cash-calves, defer to that "talent"—relaxing one-time rules and tenets of player development to keep the kids happy. Discipline begins to break down. High school and college coaches go from being people-shapers, and teachers, to being baby-sitters and minders—until a kid is ready to "go pro". No one dares piss these hormonal, still-developing "investments" off. They're allowed to behave like children far longer than their predecessors—as long as they excel athletically. Ruh-roh!

d.) The now-absentee ownership, without the old-school command and control structures in place, has two things in mind. MAXIMIZE PROFITS, and WIN. In that order. They stockpile young athletes, getting them "cheap" (but still lucrative for parents and schools), while ditching grumpy, old-school veterans who might "upset" the kids with their views on the game and "archaic" ways. Leadership is attritioned away, leaving a load of kids—rudderless in terms of "respect for the game". The salary gap closes, overlaps, and then races the other way, as pro coaches find themselves making FAR, FAR less than their young, coddled charges. The "old-school veterans" in these ranks are also attritioned away, lest they piss off the kids. The ones that do can be fired with but a word from the player's agent to management. Baby-sitters fill those ranks too.

e.) Now, as salaries ramp up, young players no longer need to "work" in the off-season. The idea of "responsibility" fritters away. Mom, and dad, and school haven't stressed the idea—they're focused on creating millionaire superstars younger and younger. Kids...or rather, immature adults who no one has told "no" since their early teens, now have free off-seasons and increasing amounts of money to spend. Smaaaaaaart.

f.) These "kids" eat better, and have access to better training than any athletes before them. They jump higher, run faster, grow bigger than ever. But the biggest money's out there for the superstars. They have to be better than the next player. Nature, and capitalism abhors a vacuum. Drugs—performance enhancing drugs had long been a part of the game, in terms of keeping players pepped-up, and wakeful for performance after cross-country trips. But now, as science advances along with everything else on the planet, new drugs come down the pike—drugs that can make these already bigger, stronger, faster athletes that much more of all of those things—in combination with better access to fitness equipment to build those bodies. Performance increases—along with the salaries again. With the performance increases, records are eclipsed. Superstars abound. Ownership knows what's going on, but the click-click-click of the tumstiles means ka-ching-ching-ching.

The cycle is on, ya'll, and going into third gear.

g.) Salaries go through the roof, and all that big money doesn't attract the best of folk. Hangers-on, and money-grubbers with selfish, ill-will in mind, hover about the new stars—like blinged-out moths to a flame. These people will never say "no" to the athlete either—and indulge his every whim—while getting fat off their "boy". Family won't say "no" either. 'Cause they're livin' large too. Team bosses look the other way at indulgences—can't antagonize that star! The women? Stardom and money does what stardom and money does, kids. Already fawned over in youth, this new breed of athlete—essentially millionaires in-waiting, get even more ass thrown at them than their counterparts of a mere two decades ago. And there are shady dudes who will supply women as a "honey-pot" strategy to hook a rich, fat, "fish". The sex is easy to get—for the big prospects, from high school on. Fame and future stardom'll draw that. Relationships come cheap as hell. Women are interchangeable. Props and objects to be used. No sense of responsibility to anyone, especially "significant others." The situation just gets better and better.

h.) The pool of potential pro athletes widens and deepens as it becomes evident that there are millions and millions to be made. It draws more people from dire circumstances, looking for the big payday. Kids are groomed and scouted as early as middle school by colleges and pros, and pimped just as early by those crazy parents again. More dysfunctional, albeit talented athletes are in the fray—given over to "mentors" and "handlers" who manage the talent, and hide the dysfunction, and anti-social behaviors exacerbated by that justified feeling of "I can do no wrong".

i.) Ownership/The Leagues push the superficial—the stuff that marketers drool over as fan draws. Home runs. Crazier dunks. Higher scoring, The stuff that lights up the scoreboard and sets the flashbulbs in the stands a' poppin'—and blows the Nielsen boxes to fucking smithereens. So...they skew the game rules—change stuff up. The pitcher's mound is lowered to help the hitters out, and penalize the pitcher—they get rid of the hand-check, and limit tough defense in B-Ball, while promo-ing the wild, solo act that is the slam-dunk competition—and rule in football on things like the "in the grasp" rule, to save QBs, and add the "pass interference" rule to help receivers and juice the scoring. It becomes as Rick James said, "A celebration, bitches!" The triumph of the individual is on. Teamwork as we've known it, dies off. The focus of the game shifts to stats and highlight reels. This stuff gets used by agents in representing their players come contract time. Everybody's Babe Ruth, now. "Everybody...is a sta-aaaaaaar... One big circle going round and round." Hello, Wheaties box. Hello, Nike, Hanes and the automaker of the week. We have a new promotional tool to hype players—and by extension their teams. Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle got $100,000 for wearing idiotic bonnets and promoting margarine in the late 60's. The endorsement money we're talking about now is waaaaaay beyond mere margarine grease. It's the real stuff. True C.R.E.A.M. And worst of all...everybody, and I do mean, everybody—ownership, players, agents—everybody—is out for themselves.

So all of this sits, and festers. It grows mold like an experiment run wild, in the back of a lab and neglected for years. Twenty-five years, actually. A generation goes by and this stuff goes from a fungus on sports, to an integral part of sports—under the skin, and in the muscle and very bone of it. Symptoms are noted. Pains and aches and the occasional numbness, but they...no, we let it slide. We did. The fans are included. We paid lip service to the purism of "the game" and derided in the most superficial way possible, the obscene changes noted above, while not-so-blindly cheering on the eye-and-psyche-pleasing results of said obscene changes. We're all to blame for what's gone on in the last 25 years in sports—every pain, and ache, and bout of numbness.

Until it metastasized. That's what we're looking at now.

All that came before, leads to now. Bonds and the 'roids. Vick and the disgusting criminality. Donaghy and his destruction of faith in the play of the game. In order of heinousness—bad, to worse, to worst of fucking all. The drugs you can test for. You can see the changes in the players using. Brady Anderson's and Luis Gonzales freak, fifty-homer seasons and the swelling of their bodies speak volumes for their puffed-up, number-inflated brethren. That we can fix. Vick and his fellow travelers in recklessness, and criminal stupidity can be brought to heel with stiff sanctions for bad behavior.

Donaghy's misdeeds may actually be the worst of all, because it plays to the worst fears and darkest thoughts of the most cynical sports fan—that the "fix is in". That what you see in the arenas and on your TVs is being manipulated by unseen forces for the personal gain of a very few. That's when it becomes the WWE. A titillating, scripted joke.

And you lose everyone who cares...including even a nut like me.

Lose me, you lose it all. And just for thr record, sports? You're well on your way there.

Wanna know how to fix it? Check back here in a couple of days for the follow-up and some solutions.

There's more...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tour de France: Stage 19

Cognac to Angouleme 55.5 km

Time trial. Racing. GNB Sports, Stage 19. Hello.

Didi Senft, our old friend the Devil is jumping up and down near the start gate as Leipheimer takes the field. *smiles* What good luck for the riders today.

All riders are on course. The three who count for the podium: Levi Leipheimer, Cadel Evans, and Alberto Contador, none of whom have reached the first time check. Unofficially Leipheimer is kicking everyone's ass.

Here comes the first check for the final three: Leipheimer is under 20! First person under 20 minutes. 19:49 for Leipheimer. Evans 14 seconds back at 20:03. Levi needs 59 seconds on Evans to take over second place. Alberto Contador takes the checkpoint at 20:12. Okay, here it is. Evans is gaining on 1st place Contador but losing ground to 3rd place Leipheimer. All three riders are coming together. Right now we can't say who will be 1 - 2 - 3 in the Tour 40 minutes from now or what the gap will be. Which leaves an interesting question... Traditionally no one attacks the Tour GC Leader on stage 20 into Paris. But if the gap between 1 - 2 - 3 is tiny? This has not been a traditional tour...

Vladimar Karpets takes a new best time of 1.04:40. Levi will win the stage we believe so Karpets' time isn't going to hold up. Doesn't mean we're dissing it.

Programing Note: We're not certain where all our colleagues are either but at the moment y'all seem stuck with just us. That's why this is the Group News Blog.

Second check point. Levi blowing everyone away @ 39:44, the winner of the Tour de California this year. Go baby go! He's doing over 40 kph uphill. Tear it up... Pereiro just crossed the finish. May move him into a top ten finish for the Tour. Cadel Evans crosses the second check @ 40:19, giving Evans just a 29 second advantage over Leipheimer in the GC classification from the start of today. Evans damn well better catch Contador because Leipheimer is catching Evans!!!

Here comes Contador across the second check: He's in trouble! 41:13 puts him in fifth overall for the checkpoint, letting Evans come up on him easy. We can't do maths in our head easily but the quick version is, Evans needs less than a minute more either of him going faster or Contador going slower to take the Yellow Jersey off Contador. But that's not enough because Levi Leipheimer is tearing up the GC on Evans; it isn't enough for Evans to catch Contador. He must fight off Levi Leipheimer who could win the Tour de France right here, right now.

Levi Leipheimer passes Carlos Sastre who started ahead of him by three minutes, Sastre who sits in fourth place in the Tour de France. We've never seen anyone ride like this except perhaps Lance Armstrong. This is a ride of the old man who is seeing Yellow. Levi Leipheimer is going to win the stage. He is riding now for the right to wear the Yellow Jersey.

Remember the 10 second penalty Levi got for the bidon pull early in the Tour? He had to get back to the peloton before they started the climb. Had to. So no complaining about it now. One does what one must and deals with the consequences later.

Levi's under the 1 km red kite. Faster, faster! The long straight to the finish has a nasty climb. He's going over 50 kph. Ride Levi. He's in an aero position no one else has seen. He is 8 seconds behind Evans at the last time check. Levi must take Evans RIGHT NOW to win the Tour.

Levi crosses the line. Levi is over with a time of 1.02:44, that's 53.1 kph! Here comes Cadel Evans trying to hold on to a final ranking above Levi. And he does it! Cadel Evans does it. He saves himself with a magical last 5 kilometers over Levi. Alberto Contador on the final kilometer may make it in with 10-15 seconds to spare. He's racing with all he's got. Cadel could still win this and we're not even talking about time bonuses tomorrow. Lance Armstrong rides in the car behind him the greatest rider ever with Johan Bruyneel the greatest team manger ever coaching their rider...CONTADOR SAVES HIS TOUR. CONTADOR STAYS IN YELLOW. CONTADOR WINS BY TWENTY-THREE SECONDS. The final Tour podium is: Contador - Evans - Leipheimer, with Leipheimer wining stage 19 with a glorious ride.

Nineteen stages and the GC first to third place is just 31 seconds. Levi is only 8 seconds behind Cadel Evans. While there are time bonuses on the road and at the finish tomorrow, Levi just confirmed in a television interview what anyone who has watched Levi over the years knew: Levi respects Tour tradition; he will not attack Cadel on stage 20. These are the final podium placements.

Congratulations to Alberto, Cadel and Levi for their final placement in the Tour, for riding an amazing stage today, and special congratulations to Levi Leipheimer after all these years of being the true professional for everyone else now finally winning a Tour stage for himself and for finishing on the podium in Paris: Way to go Levi. Thank you for years of wonderful racing. More than anyone else, you and George are the true heart of American racing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

This is GNB Sports. See you tomorrow for the ride to Paris and the final podium. Good day.

Stage 20 LIVE in the U.S. on Versus: Early Start: Sunday, July 29, 7:30 AM - 12:00 PM ET/4:30 - 9:00 AM PT.

Today's video highlights -- Great Tour coverage at VeloNews

A Feast on Wheels: Behind the scenes Tour coverage by correspondent Bonnie DeSimone of ESPN, Boston Globe and the Oregonian.

Cyclelicious -- What's Your Source of News for Le Tour?

TDF Stage 19 Results -- Top 10:
The top 10 in stage 19 is:
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) DSC - 53.1kmh in 1h02'44"000
2. Cadel Evans (AUS) PRL at 0'51"
3. Vladimir Karpets (RUS) GCE at 01'56"
4. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR) DSC at 02'01"
5. Alberto Contador (ESP) DSC at 02'18"
6. José Ivan Gutierrez (ESP) GCE at 02'27"
7. George Hincapie (USA) DSC at 02'33"
8. Oscar Pereiro Sio (ESP) GCE at 02'36"
9. Leif Hoste (BEL) PRL at 02'48"
10. Mikel Astarloza (ESP) EUS at 02'50"

TDF: Standings after Stage 19

1 112 CONTADOR, Alberto ESP DSC 87:09:18.000 00:00:00.000
2 041 EVANS, Cadel AUS PRL 87:09:41.000 00:00:23.000
3 111 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA DSC 87:09:49.000 00:00:31.000
4 031 SASTRE, Carlos ESP CSC 87:16:26.000 00:07:08.000
5 071 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS 87:17:35.000 00:08:17.000
6 018 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP GCE 87:20:55.000 00:11:37.000
7 027 KIRCHEN, Kim LUX TMO 87:21:36.000 00:12:18.000
8 118 POPOVYCH, Yaroslav UKR DSC 87:21:48.000 00:12:30.000
9 073 ASTARLOZA, Mikel ESP EUS 87:23:32.000 00:14:14.000
PEREIRO SIO, Oscar ESP GCE 87:23:43.000 00:14:25.000
There's more...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Another Loss...

Mrs. Gilliard Loses Her Brother

Mrs. Gilliard's brother (Steve's uncle) passed away this morning. The death and preceding illness according to Family posting in comments.

The Group News Blog -- Hubris Sonic, Jesse Wendel, LowerManhattanite, and Sara Robinson -- extend our deepest condolences to the Gilliard family.

Here are a few of the conversations from Jen's thread in the last 24 hours. I am promoting them from comments as they pertain to Steve, Jen, and the Gilliard family. Mostly however I'm front-paging them because they contain points you should know, for example why you're not ever going to read details about Gilly's funeral/burial if we can help it. Read on...


I am truly sorry that you and other bloggers feel Steve's family have somehow taken him from you. We did our very best to include you in his final arrangements and are working to consolidate his writing for all of you to see as well. We certainly never intended to take him from you. I think Steve would have agreed that we had to share him and we tried our best to do a good job of that for his funeral.

I apologize for anything we have done to make you feel that Steve was not yours to mourn as well as ours to mourn.

Since Steve's illness, Steve's father has been hospitalized and may be put in a nursing home, Steve's uncle (his mother's brother) has had a heart attack and the same surgery that Steve had and is now suffering some of the same results.

His mother is still struggling with Steve's death and is now facing the same situation with her only remaining brother. And just yesterday, my Dad had a stroke and is hospitalized. We have a lot going on.

Can we get a minute please? I'm not sure what we have done to make you feel like you are a unwelcomed reminder but right now everyone's feelings are still very raw and our thoughts are on all of these issues.

I ask that those of you who are offended by Steve's family's actions to note that we had Steve a lot longer that you did. His mother lost a son, her first born child and daily companion. He is no longer there to watch the news with or go shopping with, she is alone; what is the right way to grieve losing a child??? What prepares us for that???

His sisters lost a brother who is no longer there for those phone calls to catch up on and share what was going on in their lives;

To his neice and nephew Steve was an unbelievable uncle who is no longer there to help with those tough homework questions or school projects or to share with them on their wonderful visits to the museums in NY.

He was our family. We were his family. Steve loved his family and we loved him and lost him way too soon.

While some of you may think it's "pissy", that we claimed him, he was ours to mourn too and we willingly shared him with you during his funeral. How we have left you out post-funeral is a mistery to me.

Jen, I'm sure contact with us is a reminder to you as well. Never feel that you can't call, email or write or whatever you need to do to make contact with us. Steve loved you as his best friend. That means a lot. We respect your relationship with him and don't want you to feel ignored or not included.

We all need time to grieve.

Feel free to give any of us, especially Steve's mother a call and check on her if you feel it. She is heartbroken, lonely and still very angry. All the normal stages of grief. Knowing that anyone who cared for Steve thought enough to check on her would make her day.
Feel free to call his sisters, or me, even if you just want to talk and share or vent. None of us would ever refuse to talk with you or show you anything less than compassion.

Finally, I would ask you to get yourself better. The last thing we want is for you to get sick. Our health is truly one of the most important gifts God has given us. De-stress, Lose weight (i'm working on it too) and get well.


Will also email you offline, but wanted to clarify in public also--please don't feel that I am anything but grateful for being allowed to be involved in Gilly's life, and the mourning process.

I just truly did NOT want to be Yet Another Thing for all of you to deal with. You have all been wonderful to me, and I just wanted to make sure to give everyone--including myself--time to work through everything.

To the rest of the blog community who was wondering why no public info was posted RE Gilly's funeral/viewing: We really did have REAL, CREDIBLE threats all along--from the day he went into the hospital--against his safety and that of his family. If we had made a big announcement, the possibility that truly hateful people would have shown up to be disruptive was very, very real.

Back in the day--before the whole Netslaves thing--Gilly did some work on the Sally Hemmings project (the project to prove that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with at least one of his slaves) and was also an advocate of a lot of the "hidden history" of Blacks during the Civil War. This got him on more wingnut's "wanted" list than you can ever imagine; these are violent people with their entire identities vested in their revisionist history. A few of the very persistent ones sent him private "I know where you live" letters years ago, which he shrugged off, but we sure as hell didn't want them showing up when he was ill and vunerable.

Thanks all for your continued support and understanding, and thank you Francine for bridging the gap and coming to the online family out here.

I hoped to find an obituary with his gravesite so I could make him an entry on Find a Grave.

Everyone -

I don't believe it is a good idea to give out ANY further information on Steve's burial site, including not giving out any details about the funeral, the burial or the Gilliard family, anything at all which people of bad intent could use to trace back to the Gilliard family or find Gilly's grave.

I'll explain...

If you read the racially-explicit threads over Gilly's death written by the those on the (way too many) different right-wing sites their talk was filled with vile hatred, joy, and racial & violent imagery over Steve's death. I won't go into detail.

While he was alive, Steve routinely protected all of us from these obscenities including a few credible threats. There was enough specificity in (again, a few) post-death comments from the bigots and haters that I am certain we -- Steve's TNB and larger blogosphere family -- need to act very responsibly to prevent Steve's actual family from further pain even if only emotional.

I don't want the Gilliard family, Jen, or the families where Gilly is buried to have to deal with any of the hatred still directed at Steve now that he has died. Let his body rest in peace; it's only proper.

I believe it would be a major mistake and seriously ill-considered to post details touching on the Gilliard family or their privacy (they are private, not public people), the location of Steve's grave, the town/region where he is buried, or any details having to do with Gilly's funeral or burial. I strongly request no one do so.

Thank you.
Jesse Wendel
I regret to inform you that Steve's mom has lost her brother this morning. We will not post any details on where to mail cards but emailed condolences can be sent to Steve's email and I will see that she receives them.

This is a very sad sad time.

Jen, Thank you for clearing things up. Please stay well.

Jesse - Thank you for saying what I did not know how to say.
Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Gilliard & the Gilliard family at The News Blog.

I'm leaving comments turned on (for now) however trolls will receive short thrift. Talk about why or what should have been done, re: the family, Jen, or anyone, is strictly off limits.

The Gilliards (except Steve) are private individuals within the limits of media law. You are personally responsible for everything you say or imply. Defame them and we will cheerfully cooperate in their defamation lawsuit against you. I suspect a number of excellent firms would happily represent Steve's family pro-bono against any hate groups or trolls attacking his family.

What happened, happened. Breathe... everything else will follow. Eventually. But you must keep breathing even when it's too much trouble and you don't want to.

Take care of Mrs. Gilliard please. It's easy to slip because we're online. No pass. I remind everyone to treat Mrs. Gilliard, Mr. Gilliard, the Gilliard family, Jen and each other with enormous respect in your speaking and listening. Also your own family and the person at 7-11 who speaks in a strange language. All of them.

Mrs. Gilliard lost a son after months in the hospital and now her brother is gone. The depth of her ongoing journey through Self is profound. Respect her or I'll box your ears. Were she not who she is, none of us would be here today. In a very real sense Mrs. Gilliard is the root cause of both The News Blog and the Group News Blog.

I am thankful for my mother every day. Today I am grateful for Mrs. Gilliard, Mr. Gilliard, Steve's family, and sorrowful that yet again they suffer loss. My heart goes out to them. I mourn and I cry.
There's more...