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Archive for the ‘Scandals’ Category

This may sound heartless, but I have absolutely no sympathy for Tiger Woods or for any of his alleged mistresses. If only half of his suspected sex partners turn out to be real and not a figment of someone’s imagination, then we can safely assume that Tiger rates at the top of the Scummiest People in the History of the World.

Why am I rating Tiger Scum One? After all, he’s just doing what comes naturally or would do it if the opportunity arose. I mean, every one of the women named so far has a superstructure to die for and a bottom structure to boot, not to mention boob structure. Every inch of these women cries out, “Do it to me, baby.” How could any heterosexual male resist? Tiger is only a man.

Well, now, is the entirety of the preceding argument true? Let’s examine, starting with what comes naturally. I think we can all agree that sex is built into the human race. We can argue about whether its purpose is procreation or recreation or a combination of the two, but the act of sexual intercourse is certainly an innate part of the human makeup.

But does it follow that we are biologically programmed to engage in sex 24-hours a day? We might wish for that state of affairs, but in reality, humans need time to take care of other matters. They need to eat, shop, bathe, earn money, get drunker than skunks, and perform a host of other biologically and culturally driven activities.  Moreover, most cultures do not tolerate naked humans fornicating in the street like dogs, although Hollywood comes close.

So, there are constraints on the time and place for fornicating. We are, after all, humans and rank at the apex of the living hierarchy of things with brains. We think; therefore we screw when the time is right and under socially and legally acceptable circumstances. At least, most of us do.

Tiger had the poor judgment to screw the wrong women at the wrong time in the wrong place. He violated one of the more important cultural and moral constraints, the prohibition against sex with a partner other than the one we are legally married to. Although a lot of people violate this principle, more do not than do. Therefore, it is a stretch to maintain that everyone does it.

Okay, we’ve demonstrated that, contrary to one of the most commonly presented and accepted arguments, not everyone does it. What about “To err is human?” That’s pretty much a restatement of the ‘everyone does it” argument. It’s true that “to err is human” is correct because “to err” requires a thinking brain to define err. Lower forms of life lack the essential element of reason necessary to include sex in the category of things classified as errors and thus ripe for atonement and remorse.

But that begs the real question. We all err, but we don’t make that error. Adultery may be on the rise, but, still, only about 24 percent of men and 14 percent of women act out their fantasies. That leaves 76 percent of men and 86 percent of women who don’t. Tiger is thus definitely a member of a minority class when it comes to this particular peccadillo.

If none of the second grade arguments suffice to place Tiger at the top of the World’s Scummiest People Pile, what’s left? Here’s the overlooked reasoning factor.

Tiger allegedly has 14—count ‘em—14 mistresses and a wife. This is greed of the first order. Even in a capitalist economic system where greed is good, this is absolute overkill. Tiger is monopolizing the market. Until he agrees to share his supply of women, he will remain at the top of the scum heap.

In other words, Tiger ranks as the World’s Scumiest Human not for his sexual escapades but for his damned greed.

p.s. I apologize for suggesting that women are commodities on the open market. But somehow, Tiger seems to believe they are.

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Around this time of the year, I begin to think about the blogs that I read regularly and boil them down to a select group that I call My 10 Favorite Blogs. Except this year, try as hard as I could, I’ve only been able to come up with My 5 Favorite Blogs. How come? When I began blogging  a couple of years ago, the blogosphere was overloaded with blogs, and for some reason, I seemed to like all of them, or many of them anyway. Everything was so new. What a relief from the sterile reporting and analysis of the mainstream media. Picking my favorite ten was easy then. Almost everything I read was at the top of my daily reading list. As a last resort, when the time rolled around for my Top 10 list, I arranged them alphabetically and lopped off all of those below the first ten. Mechanical but functional.

This year my selection process isn’t going along as smoothly as it used to. I’m puzzled. Has the number of blogs decreased? I don’t think so. In the Bay area alone, there must be several hundred, maybe a thousand. If you don’t believe me, check out CBS5’s Eye on Blogs, the brainchild of Britney Gilbert. She’s compiled a list of Bay Area Blogs complete with links to each of them. Quite an accomplishment.

What about quality? In my judgment, the blogs I check regularly are well-written, topical, and timely. So, there must be another variable to explain my difficulty in selecting ten blogs that I like above all others.

After thinking about it for a minute or two, I’ve concluded that the problem is me. Over time, my interests have shifted. For one thing, I’m not into politics the way I used to be. Maybe I need another election or a scandal to pump me up. Nah. Scandals are so commonplace these days, they’re kind of like clouds of gnats circling around my ears.

I think my declining interest in politics began when I started blogging on Open Salon. The variety of topics and styles of writing that I encountered there led me to think about wider more varied fields of interest as topics for my own blog.

And that’s how it stands at the moment. I have found writers and bloggers beyond my original boundaries. And from my newly-found peers, I’ve compiled my list of a very few favorites, writers who rise above the crowd. Here they are.

·       The Ax Files heads my list this year. I stumbled across the author a long time ago and was struck by her originality. Her name is Alexandra Jones, and she has a captivating way with words combined with a facility in observation and interpretation that can lead you to think you are there with her if you let your imagination go. You won’t be disappointed if you check out her essays.

·       The Renaissance Lady is a prolific author and the repository of a volume of information equal to that in many libraries. I became aware of her blog on Open Saloon and quickly added her to my Favorites list. Her interests are eclectic, ranging from politics to a casita inhabited by spirits in New Mexico.  She writes fascinating material with originality and passion.

·       The Fog City Journal is an online newspaper rather than a blog, but if it were a blog, it would rate with the best. Publisher Luke Thomas is a world class photographer who captures a variety of activities in San Francisco that he uses to good effect throughout the publication. Add to that a stable of top writers and analysts and you have an A-One site.

·       CBS5 Eye on Blogs isn’t, strictly speaking, a blog but a compendium of Bay Area blogs with commentaries by the site’s mastermind, Britney Gilbert. She’s a product of Tennessee where she operated a similar site for a television station in Nashville. Luckily, her talents caught the eye of someone at CBS5 and now she applies her talents to Baghdad by the Bay, as Herb Caen called it. Good for Ess Fff.

·       Jeannie Watt’s Blog on eHarlequin is my latest favorite. Jeannie is a writer of romance novels set in the modern West, primarily Nevada. A product of Nevada’s Cowboy Country, she writes about cowboys most of the time, but she has touched on the ordinary people of small town Nevada in a few of her novels with marked success. I am including Jeannie Watt in my list for a special reason. I have never been a reader of romance stories. I stumbled across one of her books in the bottom row of a book rack in a supermarket one day, thinking it was a story about cowboys. And it was. But it also was woven around a hot romance between a cowpoke and a teacher, which made for a charming story. Jeannie’s descriptions of ranch and cowboy life were so realistic that I became enthralled with her writings. In her blog, she talks about her own life in a small ranching community as well as about the business of writing. She has many fascinating things to say and that’s why she’s the only writer of romances whose works I read.

Okay, that’s my truncated list of favorite blogs for this year. I’m publishing the list well before the New Year because I’ll be on an extended vacation shortly and won’t return until sometime in 2010.  I’ll undoubtedly be enjoying my family more than I enjoy blogging.

But, I’ll be back.

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When the story first broke, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to CNN News. CNN is the news outlet after all that continually flashes “Breaking News” or something similar across the ticker at the bottom of the screen. Every thing is “breaking” or “developing.” My mind numbs itself in self defense.

But then something caught my attention. I heard the words “Richmond High School.” There are other Richmonds in the U.S., including Richmond, Virginia. I went back to my latest issue of Country Weekly magazine.

As I read, I heard the announcer, I think it was Kyra Phillips, mention California. My ears perked up. The gang rape occurred on the grounds of Richmond High School, Richmond, California. Once upon a time, I attended that very high school. My tenure there was brief, but still, things stick in the mind.

Richmond when I lived there was a classic All-American town, or perhaps I should say a classic California town. However, I’ve lived in many towns and the habits of teens weren’t substantially different from the habits of Richmond’s teens.

In Richmond, as in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, cars were a big deal, and every Saturday night, McDonald Avenue, Richmond’s main drag, would be lined with cars full of kids dragging the street from 23rd Street in the east to the train depot at the west end of town.

If the kids weren’t tooling up and down shouting at one another or at a gaggle of girls walking along the street toward the movie, they were parked in or just idling in any available spot near a drive-in with real live and often good-looking girls taking and delivering orders.

If you want to get a good idea of Richmond then, watch the movie American Graffiti. The movie wasn’t filmed in Richmond but in several nearby towns like Petaluma (the primary filming location), Pinole, Concord, Larkspur, Mill Valley, and San Francisco.

Mel’s Diner in the movie was filmed at a diner (since torn down) on South Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. And 4th Street in San Rafael was used for many of the street scenes. Another coincidence: my wife and I lived on 4th Street shortly after we were first married and then later in Petaluma.

Times have changed since American Graffiti was released in 1973. Most of the towns where the movie was filmed have undergone dramatic growth spurts accompanied by an influx of people from other areas of the United States and from foreign countries.

Richmond has also experienced its share of changes. But unlike the positive changes in many other Bay Area communities, the changes in Richmond have been mostly negative.

The reputation of Richmond today is a place to avoid. The town is widely known as the murder capital of the state. In 2007 (last year I have a figure for), there were 37 murders in this town of roughly 100,000 people. And, the part of I-80 passing through Richmond has achieved dubious standing as a war zone based on the number of shootings that happen along that short stretch of the highway.

To compound these negatives, the Richmond-San Pablo area has become rife with gang activity that often erupts in violence. And lesser crimes such as robbery and burglary are beginning to spill over into once small and peaceful enclaves like El Sobrante.

The causes of Richmond’s decline have often been attributed to its ethnic shift. While the town was once overwhelmingly white, today whites make up about 25 percent of the population. The balance consists mainly of Blacks and Hispanics.

However, the attribution of Richmond’s ills to its ethnic balance is a specious argument. So many variables come into play that it’s difficult if not impossible to narrow the root cause or causes to one factor. More likely, the cause lies in both economics and a failure of civic leadership to address Richmond’s burgeoning crime rate and rapidly declining infrastructure. McDonald Avenue, for example, that one-time image of Americana embodied in American Graffiti, became an absolute, decaying roadway to nowhere before the civic leadership seemed to wake up.

Regardless of the reasons for Richmond’s decline, there can be little doubt that many of the students at Richmond High School are products of the current culture of violence, poverty, drugs, decay, and a nation-wide attitude that drives individuals to seek the immediate gratification of their own desires.

Given such an environment, it was probably inevitable that violence would eventually reach the ground of the high school. In fact, at least one of the active participants in the gang rape apparently wasn’t a student and shouldn’t have been at the homecoming dance to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of the school’s students are undoubtedly decent individuals doing their best to make it in a cruel environment. Moreover, the high school wasn’t exactly pristine when I attended it. There were fights, usually between individual boys over a girl, and other students would gather and watch, cheering on one or the other of the gangly teens.

But there were no rapes on campus, gang or otherwise. Those were different times. In retrospect, so innocent. Sadly, once upon a time will never come again.

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Gavin Newsom continues to reveal his lack of judgment and absolute insensitivity to the feelings of those he has harmed.

His newest revelation about his affair with the wife of his campaign manager appeared in Details Magazine in response to a question about his lowest point. Here’s the money transaction:

Details: Was your lowest moment in 2007—after news of your affair broke?

Newsom:  No—not even close. There was clarity then. Honestly, the things that have hit me the most—I’ve been at some homicide scenes that were much more devastating.

Let me see if I understand this. His betrayal of his best friend and campaign manager and the destruction of his family don’t even come close to being the lowest moment in his life. He places more value on a deceased person he doesn’t know than on living humans. By his own words, he characterizes his betrayal as virtually nonexistent in the scheme of life’s low points.

One wonders, if the revelation of his affair was “not even close” to his life’s lowest point, how many other low points rank ahead of it. Two, five, ten? What were those higher ranking happenings: snubbed in the 4th grade by the plainest girl in class? Petulant because Alex and Ruby aren’t still campaigning for him?  The beat goes on.

Contrast Newson’s trivialization of his betrayal (not even close to being his lowest moment) to recent statements by Patti Solomon in The San Francisco Weekly. Solomon, a former receptionist for Newsom’s campaign organization and a close friend of Ruby, said Ruby has struggled immensely. “She lost her husband. Her job. Her identity…She’s working on getting that back…She did get the shaft really bad.”

Her words verify the devastating aftermath of the affair and its effects on Ruby and her family. Moreover, it is clear from Solomon’s statement that Ruby, unlike Newsom, feels an almost overwhelming sense of guilt and remorse.

On the other hand, Newsom suffered no repercussions from the betrayal of his former best friend.  In fact, his fortunes have sailed to new heights. He was reelected Mayor of San Francisco with 73 percent of the votes cast. And recently, he received the endorsement of Bill Clinton, a major money raiser for Democratic politicians.

Still, the cruelest aspect of the entire matter is Newsom’s failure to acknowledge the harm he has caused to others. He continues to trivialize his betrayal and its devastating effects on innocent people.

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This may sound heartless, but I can’t seem to dredge up any pity for Roman Polanski. He was arrested recently in Switzerland and placed in jail pending a deportation hearing on a 32-year old warrant because he  failed to appear in court for sentencing on a charge of unlawful sex with a minor, a charge he pled guilty to. Instead, he fled the United States and has been living in Europe since.

Almost immediately after his arrest, the elites of France went berserk, accusing the United States of picking on this poor old seventy-some year old man. Then several of Hollywood’s biggest names jumped in on Polanski’s side.

Meanwhile, it turns out that a lot of ordinary French people and Americans as well have no sympathy for Polanski, either. He should come back and face the music, many argue. He committed a crime, he ought to do the time. After all, isn’t that what the bigwigs have told us for years and years?

So, suddenly, these same believers in the sanctity of the law want this guy who had sex with a 13-year old girl to escape justice because he spent his life after evading it making fine movies that are applauded by the elites of Europe and Hollywood. I wonder how these individuals would feel if Polanski’s 13-year old victim happened to be a daughter of one of them.

What about Polanski’s victim? For all of the years Polanski roamed as free as a bird, she’s been psychologically imprisoned by the vile acts committed by him on her body, damaged by thoughts of this man working over her, performing oral sex and sodomizing her mind and body.

Those who support Polanski argue that the judge was biased against him. If I were the judge I would have been biased against him, too. After all, he pled guilty to those acts.  He deserved prison time then and he deserves it now.

His supporters also contend that the judge violated a plea agreement that would have placed Polanski on probation without jail time. As a matter of law, judges do not negotiate pleas with defendants. The prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney work out an agreement and present it to the judge. The judge can accept or reject it.

Judges reject plea agreements every day somewhere in America. They also accept them. In the Polanski case, we actually don’t know how the judge would have decided since Polanski cut out before decision time. Now, the judge is dead and we will never know.

Every year there are over 3,000,000 (that’s three million) reported instances of child abuse in America. Not every case involves sexual abuse and not all reports are verified. But if only 10 percent of the reports were valid, that would still amount to a horrendous 300,000 incidents annually. That is one hell of a statistic for a country that purports to be a nation of laws, not of men.

For the sake of our children, men like Polanmski need to feel the heat of prison. If only one incipient predator gets the message and decides to drive on by instead of abducting a child on the way to school, then Polanski’s incarceration will at least have served a socially redeeming purpose.

If Roman Polanski were an ordinary citizen, his victim would be just another statistic, lost in a bureaucratic spreadsheet. But the publicity surrounding Polanski ultimately resulted in the self-revelation of her identity. Samantha Gailey Geimer, now 45 years old, has decided that she will no longer permit the incident that happened so many years ago to imprison her mind. A revelation like that takes courage.

If Polanski had her courage, if he were any kind of man, he’d voluntarily return to the United States and take his medicine. Then, his supporters might have something to commend him for.

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A major recurring theme in the expected gubernatorial primary between Democratic contestants Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown will be the new versus the old. The lines are already forming, as evidenced by the following statement to Politico by Newsom’s political strategist, Garry South.

The contrast [between Newsom and Brown] is obvious. If you want new leadership and you want a fresh face, Jerry Brown is not your guy,” said Garry South, a Newsom strategist. “Will that argument be effective with every voter? Of course not. But will it be enough for us to win? Yes.

Most observers agree that the strategy will be effective in some limited sense. However, Newsom hasn’t been tested beyond the boundaries of San Francisco. Thus, whether the strategy will carry Newsom to statewide victory remains to be seen.

Moreover, Newsom trails Brown in the all-important electoral category of money. Dollars win elections, and no one knows the reality of that better than Garry South. In fact, he has managed to snare one of the Democratic Party’s top fund raisers, former President Bill Clinton, who remains highly popular on the national and world stages. If Clinton performs as expected, he will undoubtedly pump some funds into Newsom’s coffers.

But the South strategy contains within it an inherent contradiction. On the one hand, South holds Newsom up as the bright and shining beacon of a New California. On the other hand, he calls in a shining example of old-time Southern and East Coast politics.

Clinton has been around a long time. He was elected Arkansas Attorney General in 1976 and Governor of Arkansas in 1978, a post he held until 1981. He became President in 1993, holding that office until 2001.

Since then, largely behind the scenes, he has helped advance the career of his wife, Hillary Clinton, assisting her in her campaign to win a Senate seat from the State of New York and more recently an appointment as Obama’s Secretary of State. This is hardly the record of a new generation.

Clinton also brings with him a record of marital infidelity, which will undoubtedly become a matter of discussion during the primary election campaign. The most notable example of his moral lapses is the Monica Lewinsky incident, leading to his impeachment and, as far as I know, the publication and worldwide distribution of the only pornographic report by a Special Prosecutor in the history of this country. Kenneth Starr’s report has undoubtedly been scrutinized by the Brown camp for usable ammunition should the need arise.

Despite his old-establishment power structure ties and his unsavory personal history, Clinton seems highly popular among some segments of California’s voting population, notably Latinos, and his presence as a Newsom supporter will carry a good deal of weight in the Hispanic community.

Clinton is also a classic political carpetbagger. Aside from a few forays into California to raise funds, he knows little if anything of California’s people, customs, habits, politics, or economics. That fact will also produce some ripe areas for exploitation by the Brown camp.

On balance, Clinton’s presence on Newsom’s side may yield some positive results. But the overall effects will probably be less than expected. An alert Newsom strategist would develop a script to explain how Newsom campaigns as a new-age King Arthur while at the same time calling on the help of the most seasoned and old-time politician around today. And a carpetbagger at that.

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Mary Jo Kopechne

July 26, 1940 – July 18, 1969

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