Monday, June 19, 2017

Past U.S. Open Championship proves that without Woods, mediocrity reigns in golf

Since the exit of Tiger Woods from the PGA tour I have lost almost total interest in golf, save to observe that there has been a succession of “young guns” who have turned out to be mere pretenders to his pedestal. At this year’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day—the 1, 2 and 3 ranked players in golf—failed quite miserably to even make the cut. Another darling of the tour, Jordan Spieth, finished over par and in 35th place. All told, 8 of the top 12 golfers failed to make the cut. 

One would assume that the course must have been extremely difficult, as the U.S. Open historically is meant to be. But in a “record-setting” tournament, it played more like a free-swinging PGA Championship; 32 players broke par for the tournament. Some no-name named Brooks Koepka won the tournament by four strokes with mind-boggling 16-under par—in a tournament where the winner is often the only player to sneak in under par. Five other players came in with double-digit scores, none of them “stars” on the tour. Steve Stricker was the closest “name” player, finishing 11 strokes off the pace in 16th place.

None of this should be a particular “shock” to anyone, given the current state of the “talent,” and the way the sports media has attempted to inflate the current state of the game. Is it “good” that there is no one “dominate” player in the game who represents the gold standard? Not really. For the “casual” fan, you need to have a vicarious connection to a player who you know is going to be not just competitive every week, but has a very good chance of winning. Instead, we see McIlroy falling off the map after one stellar season, and Spieth has done nothing since winning two majors. They are not Woods’ “successors”—they are just more of the same that he would have run into the ground in his prime. 

The “dominate” factor in professional golf (other than the fact that the LPGA is dominated by Asian players) is that there is a lot of mediocrity, with being the “best” meaning fortunate in having a good season or two before returning to mediocrity. In other words, golf without Woods is back to being what it was before.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Behind closed doors, the American people are faring worse than Trump

For months now, attacks upon the person and character of Donald Trump have continued unabated, while fired FBI director James Comey’s recent Congressional testimony offers fuel to those with a conspiratorial bent, and Reichsf├╝hrer Jeff Sessions—taking time off from overseeing his chain of “secret” concentration camps for immigrants down in the Southland—expressed his deep anger about the “lies” told about him before appearing weak and defensive running any credibility he ever had into the ground. As a side note, only the UK’s aptly named The Guardian newspaper has reported in depth at the outrages occurring at those immigrant concentration camps; one may recall (or not, if you are watching “mainstream” cable news) that is was a Guardian reporter who was physically assaulted by the Republican candidate in Wyoming’s recent House special election for merely for being there. Since there are no white “Handmaids” whose rights are being molested at those camps, Wonder White Woman doesn’t have any rationalization to show-up and save the day (more on that for another day). 

While all this is going on, under-the-radar the full-on assault on the American people has slivered its slimy way through the halls of Congress. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives just passed what it calls the Financial Choice Act, but don’t be fooled; it doesn’t provide you with a “choice” to decide how financial institutions “handle” your money, but allows banks to do anything they want with your money. You know, the way things were in the run-up to the Great Depression and the recent Great Recession, which was instigated by another financial “reform” act back in 1999. Is this a set-up of a repeat of 2007? Probably, but who said Republicans and people dumb enough to vote for this behavior had the “common people’s” interests in mind, ever? All they want to do is take every right you have and give it to the power elites, whether economic or political. Of course, they use social code words to suggest that other groups of people, who have no “power” save that which those with the actual power deign to toss at their feet, are the ones who are responsible for this country’s vast wealth disparities. But as long as the search for scapegoats does not go beyond race in the minds of many, the real villains will continue to be protected from their crimes in this way.

Just as bad if not worse for the low-income of all age groups, the Republicans in the Senate have quickly disavowed their “disdain” for the House “healthcare” bill, meeting in secret to craft their own version that eases the fears of “moderate” Republican senators in Medicaid expansion states at least long enough to the next election. The principle “change” from the House bill is not to maintain the Medicaid expansion or preventing insurance companies from pricing-out those with “pre-existing conditions” as the House bill does, but to drop Medicaid expansion after seven years instead of three. That is supposed to “appease” queasy “moderates”? Trump has supposedly asked Republican senators to be more “humane” than the House bill which he previously praised, and put more money into their bill. The problem, of course, is that the Senate has to match the supposed cost savings of the House bill, and to do that and make their bill more “humane” means to keep certain taxes they wish to cut, such as for the wealthiest who don’t even need insurance to afford the best health care. 

If they do that, alt-right elements in the House will not support the bill, and Mitch McConnell and company desperately want to pass something, which explains the bill being crafted strongly resembles the House bill, only extending the day of judgment for four more years. Meanwhile, many insurance companies are pulling out of the current marketplace plans not because the ACA is “bad” for them, but because of the uncertainty that Republicans are placing on the system. Why continue to offer plans if the Republicans are going to kill the concept anyways? Currently, only those states with Medicaid expansion are able to offer insurance to the poorest Americans, but that will be all over before you know it. And Republican and Trump voters thought they “cared” about you. They don’t. They conceptualize this country not by the people in it and their requirements, but by the way they want to “project” their personal power. 

And where is the media in all of this? In today’s pathetically slim  Seattle Times, there is a brief story about the Republicans’ secret meetings on page 7—out of a total of 9 pages devoted to “news.”