Tiger Woods – The Return Of An American Cash Cow

 

It’s media driven.  It’s superficial.  It’s pathetic.  It’s the return of Tiger Woods.  And now, just in time for the Masters, a company that makes athletic apparel has resurrected the voice of his dead father Earl  in a commercial, questioning Tiger like he was a small child with the inquiry, “Did you learn anything?”

How sad.  How humiliating.

Rarely has the perspective on any one issue been so expanded beyond the limits of reasonable thinking.

The man is a golfer.  He has not:

-Molested children.

-Provided cover for subordinates who molested children, so that they could avoid prosecution and move on to molest again.

-Lied to a nation about a threat which did not exist to drag that nation into an unnecessary war costing thousands of lives and billions of taxpayer’s dollars.

-Repealed laws that protected the United States against an economic meltdown and then awarded financial institutions that lobbied for the law’s repeal with billions of taxpayer’s dollars after the meltdown occurred.

-Lied through his teeth to get elected and then lied about the original lies to stay in office while accepting millions in bribe money from lobbyists.

-Smeared others lives with lies to get elected.

-Did next to nothing for days while a major American city flooded out.

-Looked the other way while the rest of the industrialized world pays less for health care and pharmaceuticals and continued to lie to Americans about the quality and cost of what they’re getting and why.

He has committed none of these, or any number of other egregious acts.  What did he do?  He had sex with women other than his wife and then drove his car into a tree.  God help us all.  Saints preserve us.   Tiger Woods fooled around and then hit a tree.

Sure, he’s a role model, but he has admitted his mistaken ways and apologized.   And hey, he’s a golfer.  A great golfer, but just a golfer.  Stop acting like the guy is mankind’s last best hope for salvation.  Get over it. There are other issues that actually deserve our attention.  Like the fact that a third of our kids aren’t graduating from high school.

(Sound of gears grinding and wheels squealing, as I fly into an abrupt u-turn and head the other way, back again on the road to reality.)

All of this would be perfectly logical were it not for the fact that it violates the dictates of our national holy grail.  In America, profitability trumps all and Tiger Woods is more than a golfer.  He’s a profit center, pulling down more than $100 million a year in endorsements alone.

It’s all about the money, stupid.  It’s nearly always all about the money.

Probably better to just let it go.  Take another pill to help you forget all that other stuff.  All those troubling issues that are too complicated for us regular folk to understand anyway and go back to watching your 52-inch mind numbing flat panel tv.   Tiger is about to tee off and it’s in high definition.  Sleep…..sleep……it’s good to sleep……

A Call For Villaraigosa’s Resignation

From columnist Doug McIntyre in the Los Angeles Daily News-

“Our City Council members have either been passive spectators or willing participants in the bankruptcy of the public treasury by handing over billions to well-heeled business interests and various public employee unions. They’ll have to be fired one at a time.

But the mayor could do the right thing and resign today.” –LA Daily News

Your Personal Info Is Out There

     

Everything you don’t want others to know.    At least not without your permission.  Your personal information is out there and much of it is available to anyone with a click of the mouse.

I was made acutely aware of this when a friend tipped me off to a website called  “Spokeo.com.”  It’s a simple search engine that needs nothing more than a name to spit out personal information about you, your family and anyone else you or others might be interested in.

Information like your photo, address, phone number , a photo of your house and the names of your spouse and others who live in your house.  That’s just for starters.

I ran a few tests with the names of friends and relatives and found that some of the information Spokeo returned was inaccurate.  Still, the problem of identity theft being what it is, enough of the information the website returned was accurate to make me uncomfortable with just how easy this thing is to use.

Basic information from Spokeo is free.  If you want more in-depth specifics on someone, like their income level, you’ll have to get out your credit card.  For $2.95 a month chances are they’re going to get a few takers.

According to snopes.com, Spokeo is one of several sites that get their information from ” a variety of other sources….as well as databases of other information aggregators.”   It has a “privacy” feature that allows you to file a request for your name to be removed from their public searches.   When I tried to use it to opt out of their service they demanded my email address.  I declined.  Why would I give them more info on me than they already have?

According to snopes.com, it’s important to understand that even if your name is blocked on the Spokeo site, the information on you will still be available “through the underlying sources used by Spokeo.”

This brave new world is getting scarier by the moment.

Mexico Earthquake

Sizable quake down in Baja.  Preliminary magnitude of 6.9 with an epicenter 38 miles SSE from Mexicali.   ABC now reports the USGS has upgraded the magnitude to 7.2 with the quake felt by as many as 20 million people.  Calexico/Mexicali, Tijuana and San Diego were all impacted.   The LA Times reports two dead and several injured in Mexicali.  Initial reports indicated skyscrapers were shaking in San Diego with the rolling felt from Phoenix, AZ to Ventura, CA.  Just a mild rolling sensation here in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, but it went on for quite some time – 30 seconds, maybe longer.  It occurred at 3:40:39 according to the USGS.  

The USGS also reports a magnitude 5.1 at 4:15:20,  1 mile west/southwest of Imperial, CA.

My wife has left for her yoga class to try and relax….

There will be aftershocks.  Good luck, everybody-

Preventing Another Economic Meltdown

I stumbled across an interesting piece by Paul Mason on BBC Newsnight.   Interesting, that is,  to anyone who has wondered about the continued viability of business models which rely upon the unsustainable idea of unending profit maximization.  Mason’s story is about following models that occur in nature and optimizing what we already have, rather than trying to maximize business models and waiting for the economy to explode.  Again.

Mason’s reports are about the U.K. but the similarities with the U.S. are striking.

“Paul Mason’s fascinating two-part Newsnight investigation of the future of Britain’s economy included another example: ‘bio-mimicry’ in business. What the bio-mimicry movement seeks to understand is how we can learn from the adaptive properties of nature.

Only three years ago, this might have sounded like hippy mysticism. But now, with economic rationalism in ruins and an environmental disaster awaiting, Mason’s interviewees sounded eminently plausible. As one of them said with regard to the notion of profit maximisation, “one thing nature never does is maximise. It optimises”.” -opendemocracy.net

Click here for video Part I  (scroll down the blog)

Click here for video Part II

Apparently Wellpoint Just Doesn’t Care

It would appear that Wellpoint, the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross, is doing all it can to encourage an expansion of healthcare reform.

Duke Helfand and Walter Hamilton report in the Los Angeles Times, that Wellpoint’s CEO Angela Braley received a 51% raise last year, increasing her compensation package to $13.1 million.  This, while Anthem Blue Cross is going after rate increases as high as 39% for many of its 800 thousand individual policy holders in California, despite having record profits.

The newspaper reports that Wellpoint’s stock price was up 38.4% last year.

The paper also reports three other Wellpoint execs are getting “compensation increases of as much as 75%.”

The company argues that they need to pay the hefty salaries to attract top executive talent.

Apparently they missed the debate surrounding the push for healthcare reform in America?  The fact that the high cost of healthcare is a major contributor to people losing their homes to foreclosure?  The fact that 45 million Americans are dying annually due to their inability to obtain healthcare according to a Harvard Medical School study?

Apparently they missed all that?  Or maybe they just don’t give a damn?  Is that it?  Blind arrogance brought on by their feeling of invulnerability after buying off most of the Senate and much of the House?

How can they miss the obvious, that their actions argue for the absolute necessity of government regulation where the public’s health and welfare are concerned?  They don’t see the monster PR problem they have will only grow with what will surely be viewed as a “public be damned” greed-driven lust for money?

Those words “The public be damned” by the way, are said to have been uttered by railroad magnate William H. Vanderbilt.   His bloodline has now given us reporter Anderson Cooper, who, as a journalist, is out working to educate and enlighten the public so that people like William H. and Wellpoint won’t be able to take undue advantage of the system.

Rock on, Anderson.  We’ve come full circle.

Bring on single-payer health care reform.   Pass the public option and expand it to include preventative medicine and dental care.   Time to join the rest of the industrialized (civilized) world and remove the profit motive from the life and death issues of health care.  This is madness.

52 Journalists Remain Imprisoned In Iran

New York, April 1, 2010—“The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed that several Iranian journalists continue to be held in inhumane conditions at the notorious Evin Prison. At least one journalist is reported in deteriorating health, and two are under severe duress to “confess” to charges that could bring execution.

The daughters of Badressadat Mofidi, the prominent Iranian journalist and secretary of the banned Iranian Journalists Association, have published a letter describing the appalling conditions in which their mother is being held. Mofidi has been held in solitary confinement and deprived of phone calls and family visits for several months, according to the letter. Mofidi’s family also expressed concerns about her deteriorating health. She suffers from a heart condition and is being given strong tranquilizers as the interrogations are causing her a great deal of stress and exhaustion,” her daughters wrote. Mofidi’s lawyer has not been able to meet with her or gain access to her file.

Mofidi was arrested on December 29 after discussing the government’s press policies in an interview with the Persian service of the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. No formal charges have been disclosed against her.”

“CPJ research found that at least 52 journalists were behind bars in Iran as of March 1.”  -Committee to Protect Journalists

The Coffee Party – A More Rational Approach To Politics?

I saw it on “KCET’s “SoCal Connected” last night.  Judy Muller reporting on a new approach to politics called the “Coffee Party.”   It appears to be people getting together over coffee to discuss politics without going nuts.  How refreshing.  An attempt at sharing information and ideas without tearing one another to pieces.   Where the Tea Party people seem angry, irrational and lacking in focus, the Coffee Party folks appear….well….collegiate.   People who advocate getting involved in the process to promote constructive change by standing in opposition to the obstructionism that seems to permeate government.  The following is from their website.

“COFFEE PARTY MISSION STATEMENT: The Coffee Party Movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government. We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans. As voters and grassroots volunteers, we will support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them.” –The Coffee Party, USA

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‘”Using social networking outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, it has garnered much attention in its short existence, apparent through its substantial media coverage. While some news organizations portray these movements as honorable and necessary, others criticize the sensationalism and the sometimes-ridiculous outbursts of members during rallies and town hall meetings.

  • Until now, there hasn’t really been an organized counter movement to the Tea Party. So if the Tea Party movement has put a bad taste in your mouth, then grab a mug and join the Coffee Party. The Coffee Party movement is a grassroots campaign that “gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government.”’-GSU Signal

Saudis Set To Execute TV Show Host For Sorcery

Saudi Arabia is threatening to behead a man for “sorcery.”  Really.   He has been charged with insulting God, and in Saudi Arabia,  any perceived insult against God can be punished with execution.

‘ “The condemned man hosted a satellite TV show in which he predicted the future.

He was arrested by the Saudi religious police while on pilgrimage to the country in 2008.

Malcolm Smart, head of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme, said it was “high time the Saudi Arabian government joined the international trend towards a worldwide moratorium on executions”.’-BBC

We need to follow Brazil’s lead and go green.  Do whatever it takes to get away from any need to do business with these backward people because of our ongoing dependency on their oil.  They treat women like cattle and execute men for sorcery.   Welcome to the 13th century.  Their ignorance and intolerance is beyond disgusting.  It’s thoroughly  inexcusable.

We’re America for God’s sake.  We won two world wars and went to moon.  And we can’t  gain our energy independence from a crude, backward society like the Saudis?   Of course we can.  Time to lead by example?

Churches Face Foreclosure

photo: flickr

No one escapes the wrath of the banks.  No one.  Not even the nation’s churches.   Reuters reports that foreclosure proceedings against churches have nearly tripled since 2007.

“Court records also reveal more than 100 churches have declared bankruptcy in the last year, often in a last-ditch attempt to halt a sheriff’s sale. That number could rise fast.

An investigation by a Memphis television station found hundreds of churches in the city fighting foreclosure. Jackson estimates thousands of African-American churches nationwide are in danger of foreclosure, with 200 in Atlanta alone.” –Reuters

This is feeling more and more like the 30’s, real Bonnie and Clyde era stuff.

Pope Claims Immunity From Prosecution

 

 photo:  agência brasil

Here’s a new one, the Vatican claims the Pope is immune from legal prosecution because he’s a head of state.  So says Giuseppe dalla Torre, the head of the Vatican’s tribunal.

‘”Dalla Torre outlined the Vatican’s strategy to defend the pope from being forced to testify in several lawsuits concerning sexual abuse which are currently moving through the U.S. legal system.

“The pope is certainly a head of state, who has the same juridical status as all heads of state,” he said, arguing he therefore had immunity from foreign courts.”‘ –Reuters

While circling their pontifical wagons, church leaders are lashing out at the American media, including the NY Times.

“In the article posted Wednesday on the Vatican’s Web site, Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote: “I am not proud of America’s newspaper of record, the New York Times, as a paragon of fairness.” –AP

Cesar Chavez – Real vs. The Ideal

 photo: wiki commons

An interesting opinion piece by Miriam Pawel in the LA Times on the legacy of Cesar Chavez.

“Chavez merits an important place in the history books, as a civil rights leader, an inspiration for a generation of Chicanos and the founder of a movement that transformed thousands of lives. But the history is more complex than the hagiography, and more enlightening. His birthday, March 31, should be an occasion to educate new generations about Chavez’s remarkable accomplishments, and to learn from his life in all its complexity and contradictions.

Chavez masterminded a grape boycott in which uneducated farmworkers fanned out across the country, persuaded millions of consumers to shun the fruit and forced growers to sign the first-ever labor contracts. Then he doomed the contracts by administering them poorly.

He taught workers how to exert power, then fired leaders who rose up from the fields to use their newfound power.” – Miriam Pawel

Miriam Pawel is the author of “The Union of Their Dreams — Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez’s Farm Worker Movement.”

Fox Cuts LL Cool J Segment From Palin Show

        photo: wiki commons

Matea Gold reports in the L.A. Times, that Fox has dropped a segment featuring LL Cool J from tomorrow night’s Sarah Palin show, after the rapper issued a complaint.

‘“Fox lifted an old interview I gave in 2008 to someone else & are misrepresenting to the public in order to promote Sarah Palins Show,” he tweeted. “WOW.”

Fox News said the program, “Real American Stories,” included an interview the performer gave to the network as part of an online project of the same name that launched during the 2008 election. But producers are now excising his interview from the show after LL Cool J, whose real name is James Todd Smith, raised objections.’-L.A. Times

CNN Hemorrhaging Viewers

The NY Times reports that CNN’s big name hosts have lost nearly half their viewers over the past 12 months.   The ratings are also down for MSNBC while the Fox News Channel just experienced its best quarter ever.

“The losses at CNN continued a pattern in place for much of the last year, as the network trailed its competitors in every prime-time hour. (CNN still easily beats MSNBC in the daytime hours, but those are less lucrative in advertising money, and both networks are far behind Fox News at all hours.)”-NY Times

Conclusion?

People want what they want and not what they need, and what they want is entertainment, not news.   And so the dumbing down continues.

Need proof?  Here it is.

“Sarah Palin is hosting a special — her first as anchor — on Fox News Channel tomorrow night in Greta Van Susteren’s 10 o’clock time slot.

The show, called “Real American Stories,” is another step for Palin toward a substantial TV career and perhaps away from a run for the White House in 2012.

It will be her second TV show in less than a month.”-NY Post