Current Events

              The Observer               
Online Edition


Sunday, May 20, 2012
Mitt Romney: high school pranks went too far

Republican presidential nominee and all around no nonsense character, Mitt Romney, had some fun in high school that now has voters taking notice.

At the prestigious Cranbrook School in 1965 when boys were men who dressed sharp and carried a good looking brief case, a new student appeared. This student wore long, bleached-blonde hair that may or may not have been covering a portion of the eye or face.

Hidden to the rest of the population perhaps, but Romney could spot the trouble a school yard away. Backed by a robust confidence and the natural order of the universe, Romney led the charge to hold the offender down and cut his hair.

To onlookers, the incident was nothing more than a prank, used to welcome the outsider to their establishment. But Romney knew what he was doing.

When asked for comment, a laughing Romney said "I don't remember that incident."

Of course. The presidential hopeful has had a lifetime of fighting evil and correcting the errors of society. How could he remember such a relatively small incident?

We can expect the same man who took a stand back then to take D.C. and continue his fearless charge of fixing the country, which, by now, is spiraling out of control.

"I'm a very different person than I was in high school," Romney said.

Well, maybe a reminder of the drive he once had to help save civilization as we know it will reignite the burning flame of protecting American values. Remember, Mitt, when encouraging a closeted homosexual with a firm, "Atta' girl!" in class was all the reverse psychology needed to right the simple wrong?

"I really can't remember that," Romney commented.

That's OK, Mitt. You want to focus on bigger issues this campaign season. It seems the economy and energy policies could use a good ol' snip, snip of the mop on top. And couldn't Iran use an "Atta' girl" on their nuclear development program?

In these uncertain times, it takes a natural leader who’s not afraid to take charge and take action. No apologies for doing what is necessary.

"I certainly am sorry for that, very deeply sorry for that," Romney said. But that's just him playing politics to appease the masses.

Monday, May 14, 2012
The U.S. releases high-level insurgents
Quietly, U.S. officials make deals to release known would-be terrorists

"Give peace a chance." -Random idealist destined for failure 

According to a report from the Washington Post, U.S. officials have released high-profile insurgents being kept at the only American military prison in Afghanistan.

The "strategic release" program allows the U.S. military to negotiate with the Taliban by trading prisoners for peace.

The bold move by the military seems like a deal almost too good to be true, but officials speaking on anonymity confirm its reality. But they would not specify whether insurgents who were granted permission to return home were found later fighting U.S. personnel, an obvious violation of the conditions upon which they would be released.

The program has existed for years and officials have admitted the high risk of their quiet operation.

Risk? You can say that again.

After all, aren't we still fighting a war after we've supposedly traded some prisoners for peace?

Well yes, but the way the program works is for officials to bargain for peace in a given area.

It helps to think of a war like a sheet of those air filled plastic bubbles that protect our shipments. A swelled pocket is an unpeaceful place and by popping the bubble, you have created peace in that given area. As we all know, it's difficult to pop ALL those bubbles and we often don't. Especially when the bubbles can break their agreement and swell up again.

Our military personnel deserve more credit than we can give them in this fight. Peace had it's chance before we were drawn into the war on terror, but as we saw demonstrated more than 10 years ago, peace wouldn't last.

So now we're stuck fighting for peace in what feels like a never ending battle.

In this program that continues the releasement of our would-be, might-be, and gonna-be enemies, it seems we found something else to try. Not fighting, and not peace - yet.

It is a real person-to-person, let's talk face-to-face and try to find some middle ground interaction. The program allows the officials to keep wheelin' an' dealin' for peace.

So move over peace, you've had plenty of chances. Now it's time to try something else. Who knows how effective this has been since its implementation? Nobody commenting can say for sure. But as we continue to learn the ways of the Taliban and the Afghan culture, here's to hoping this sort of bargaining is a step in the right direction.

Friday, January 20, 2012
Happily employed and how it works
What employers are looking for, and why they’re not looking at you

A popular trend in the job market today has employers phasing out job applicants based on what most call an unfair prerequisite. What gives the favored job candidates a leg up on the aggressive competition is whether they are currently holding a job or not.

Hiring executives that found this quality important, until recently, openly advertised that the applicant must be currently employed.

Following the cry for help from the unemployed and what I’m sure was a lot of back-and-forth banter, a law was born. New Jersey is the only state with a law prohibiting the discrimination against the unemployed – so far.

California has sympathetic law makers working to make their state the second to implement such a law. The math done and work checked, that would make 48 states without a so-called security blanket to help the beggared jobless.

Until sentimental law makers of other states get around to pushing similar laws through the system, the destitute jobseekers are going to have to tough it out and maybe even fight their way to success.

A little newspaper out of California some are familiar with, the LA Times, reported on this story stating: “Some companies state that plainly in employment ads. Others are more discreet, screening out jobless workers during the initial application process. Discrimination? Perhaps. But so far it’s legal.”

Bad news for those unemployed who’re looking to gain from this law. This is the media’s way of saying, in their objective voice, that the law sounds well intentioned, but isn’t going to make a bit of difference. As any devious mind would calculate, OK, the ads won’t state they’re seeking only the employed. But applicants are none the wiser to what’s really going on behind the hiring scenes. So the hiring executives can keep on doing what they’ve been doing – discriminating – leaving the losers to fend for themselves.

Discrimination; how’s that for a scary word?

Some argue that, in fact, discrimination is the correct descriptor for this trend. Others argue that it only comes dangerously close to discrimination. All agree that once this word is thrown into the mix, things tend to get ugly, legally speaking.

Because if, in fact, employers have created their own group to discriminate against, consisting solely of the unemployed, then law makers, those sentimental fools, will get their way and denied applicants would have yet another reason to freeload off the system. Because discrimination is valid grounds for a lawsuit.

Potential lawsuits go under the “con” column on firms’ nifty “Pros and Cons” analysis of whether it’s time to hire or not. And if you’re a stats junky, you’ll soon realize, and share with your friends, that factor will hurt unemployment numbers by sending them higher.

Right now the unemployed are a minority. They’re less than 1/10th of the population. Have been for years. Let’s aim to keep them there.

Picture this scenario: a wealthy young CEO hot shot assigns his HR personnel to do his bidding. The HR representative does what the boss says because she is thankful for the position in which she is rewarded promptly. Soon, she has the government breathing down her neck about who she’s hiring. HR looks at two candidates as potential employees; one who stood the test of a recession and demonstrated their motivation by their punctuality and hard work ethic that kept them employed during the recession. The other just enjoyed a nice bout with unemployment and came out the other end smelling of a free ride.

To avoid lawsuit for hiring the wrong person, the company says, “Whoops, we didn’t really have an opening. Thank you for your time anyway.” {Sigh} of relief, they avoided the added expenses of paying wages to another employee. Not to mention the health care and other benefits they would’ve had to dish out. CEO then walks in on his number one man, Jim Johnson. He says, “Johnson. I need you to pick up the extra slack around here and take on these tasks. Here’s a small bonus for being a good company man.”

Johnson’s natural strive for excellence makes him happy to accept the new detail. The young CEO takes his cute HR rep away to celebrate where they probably fall madly in love and get married.

What good does that do the losers? None, unless they just opened a wedding cake shop.

So, it falls on us, the American people, again, to help policy along by preventing law makers from doing something stupid. And we’re already behind in the race. Because if there’s any truth to the president’s American Jobs Act, then the unemployed are protected against that kind of discrimination nationally.

Now I had hoped this kind of issue stayed at the state level where it belongs and here’s why. That act is easy for the president, the U.S. House and the Senate to support. They’re working jobs they set out to do. Some of the currently employed are stuck in jobs they hate. By my latest estimation of simply shouting numbers, more than a million Americans are unhappy in their current position. Sure, people keep saying, “At least you have a job.” But that only marginally makes awful jobs seem better.

This will vastly increase the amount of competition for the cool jobs like the ones that make people rich and happy. The current “unhappily employed” sector’s only hope of moving to the current “happily employed” sector is to navigate loop holes to keep the pesky minorities, the unemployed, from stealing our happiness. It’s easy. “Currently employed” applicants can wink and say, “I am willing to leave my current position to gain employment with you.” And then the employer can wink and say, “Oh, yes. I believe we do have a position for you.” And nobody has to know about the discrimination. In fact, let’s start referring to it as risk assessment, like car insurers do.

So what good news does that leave for the losers?

If all the employed people are being shuffled around, sooner or later, a position will open up. Think of it like a chance to shine for the undrafted rookie out of college.

Applicants need to be at the top of their game if they even want to think about competing with the big leagues. Remember, it’s important to fill those jobs with no government interference, so here’s how to make the best impression.

·        Act serious about the position. Review and edit your application packet, resume and cover letter. Remove all mistakes. Maybe even let a friend or spouse look it over. I’ll bet a spouse wants you employed and out of the house.

·        Dress accordingly. Leave nothing to chance, because they’re not going to say, “Hey, I have the same Lynyrd Skynyrd shirt, you’re hired.” It just doesn’t happen my friends.

·        Refer to a job as a position, even if it is just another job. Would-be employers like to hear that word because it’s a positive word, see, it’s spelled almost the same.

That’s right unemployed Americans. Time for living it up on easy street collecting unemployment checks is over.

I know this is going to offend some people, particularly the unemployed. So let me offer this tidbit of truth. Anyone who is going to exclude the unemployed from even applying for a position has no sense left. The recession hit all fields and all classes of people and some went without work for a while, so what? Doesn’t that mean they’ll be thankful and extra diligent for any position they’re offered?

Any company who looks at whether an applicant is currently employed or not rather than evaluating their skills first, probably makes a lot of crazy decisions and they don’t deserve your quality of employee performance. So let’s hope this legislation doesn’t move past the state level where it can stay to help out those states who, collectively, must be out of their minds.

Thursday, December 29, 2011
Sports stories
Heroes that can elevate our… news

Minds that wondered farther than most told us some wisdom: Two things we can count on in this life are death and taxes. With one comes the sweet release from the other, and no, paying taxes does not prolong life.

Those aside, two more of life’s certainties would probably be sports and politics. Certainly, both could be played clean but are often full of fouls. And both were created in hopes of preventing war. But most certain of all, they’re both all about the almighty dollar. To get an idea of how important the two worlds are, just look at the news. See how much sports and politics dominate the news.

Looking back at history, there’s never been a time when one couldn’t make the future look fatal simply by putting the right spin on current events. The story of the terminator and his struggles illustrates this point better than any social scientist can. It’s been this way since the beginning of time; from when God said to Adam and Eve, “Told you not to do that, so now you’re gonna die.”

Studying images of the past, the only time things looked up for sure, was probably the 1950s when people were drinking Coke. Man, they all looked insanely happy – even foolishly happy. They looked downright ludicrous on that stuff.

As tantalizing as Coke is, it’s powerless to lift our spirits in the same way today as it did then. No, today we have sports to take us away from where politics and other news take us – that deep, lonely, dark place.

We have sports, that is, whenever the players and owners can work together and agree to predetermined terms of how to share the revenue. Apparently they, above all else, understand that there is only so much profit to go around. If they fail to take home their rightful share, they just aren’t respected among the other union members.

It’s no wonder that it’s easy to lose yourself in this industry of sport so many submerge their attention in, with such titillating players and stories, heroes and villains.

Enter: Tim Tebow, the young starting quarter back playing for Denver, by way of Florida. At 24 years old, 6’3” and 235 pounds, he’s a real underdog in the league. Scene: [Smiles from the crowd] “We like underdogs,” says the crowd. “That’s why we root for them. Or at least we used to.” What changed is beyond comprehension.

Nationwide, critics were quick to step in when they saw Tebow take the lead of the Broncos and not only write him off as unfit for the NFL, but relentlessly lambaste his style and his methods until it sounded personal. Sure, they’d say, he’s a helluva nice guy, as if that made them sound objective. As if it was strictly business for them to not only put down Tebow, but the coaches for playing him, the management for hiring him, and the fans for loving him.

Coaches handed the ball to Tebow, figuring he could do no worse than the team was already doing, and an amazing change happened. The team started winning. The addition of Tebow to the starting lineup brought the Broncos from last place to first place in the AFC West. Their streak included beating all the other teams in their division among others.

Tebow’s contribution failed to impress the media, but the public sure took notice and started to root for him. Then politicians and their sly campaign PR specialists took notice. Presidential candidate, Rick Perry even compared himself to Tebow. With the superhero type aura that surrounds Tebow, it’s surprising every republican candidate didn’t jump at the opportunity to identify with the poster figure of the conventional right.

This of course, is all happening in a time when America is asked to become more tolerant of increasingly offensive material and behavior. The quiet Tebow silently kneels and prays during game time and insists nothing of anyone else. He doesn’t push his faith on the media; they question it of him. Interestingly enough, the media does not stop their relentless bashing of Tebow even after he’s won over the masses and gave them someone to root for. He’s proven he can win professional football games in the NFL as a starting quarterback and it’s not enough. For the first time in history, winning games is not enough for critics in sports media. Their platform from which they preach is simply, that he doesn’t win correctly. His mechanics are wrong and his style is not sustainable. No argument right now, as only time will determine that outcome.

Hopefully, NFL fans won’t face a lockout again for a significant time due to the 10-year labor agreement that players and owners agreed to. NBA fans weren’t so lucky this year when they lost a significant amount of their regular season due to their lockout.

NBA fans, instead of looking to the sports world for happiness and champions, followed the real-world news, which proves to be dreary still. This in a time when sports figures self-described as identifying more with “gangsters” than embracing the role of sportsman leaders they’re expected to take on.

Major media outlets follow closely the stories of owners and players who refuse to go to work until they’re paid millionaire wages, caring none about the fans and the minimum wage employees who are put out while their franchise bickers away the dollars. Then, the surface of stories is barley scratched of men like Tebow who gave fans a reason to cheer.

It seems, again, only time will bring back full-swing the seasons of pro sports to contrast the rest of the news. Then, consuming fans, the reasons for wages that support vacation homes and cars most only ever heard of, will have their stories of hope again.

Sunday, November 20, 2011
The root of all our problems and why nobody cares about the poor

What frightens people most about this time of political unrest has to be the parties emerging to fight and fickle and fumble their way into the public light to share their message.

And in sharing their message, they’re always asking the people: what do you think?

Of course, I’m kidding. Nobody asks what the public thinks. Right now the parties making the noise are those who aren’t afraid to stand up and scream. They’re speaking for you and me and that’s scary. If you’re not feeling scared – take my word for it.

Let’s hope politicians continue to do what they do best. Because only then will these voices go unheard and will hopefully grow hoarse and wither away.

The current state of the economy is what caused the formation of these protests, rallies, groups, gangs, and gaggles.

The public demonstrated that they’ll tolerate corruption, crime, and crookedness in our elected officials as long as it’s business as usual for the rest of us. But, man, as soon as we take a hit in the bank account, we’ll take to the streets and holler that we want it back. Want what back? Something, I’m sure, has gone missing and we want it back.

We have one party asking for our country back. Politicians took a liking to that party and some even stamped their approval hoping to advance their political career. And we have a party looking to occupy the streets until someone gives them a handout.

Man, as soon as we find someone to blame for the imperfect world we live in we form a posse and cry out to get the bum(s). Immigrants are enjoying this I bet. They’re probably saying to each other in their mysterious languages, “Remember when they focused their attention and hate on us? Now they target their rich with their hate and fear.” But we’ll never know what they’re saying for sure.

Should we be afraid? Sure – we read, hear, see, and smell reports of the disappearing middle class. The gap between the rich and poor keeps growing – better choose a side. And most of us choose wrong and go to the side with most of our friends. Well not me. Sorry, but I look at the upper class and say I want that guy in the nice suit to be my friend, or that lady with the nice car and the job.

We’re inundated with reports that it’s getting harder to move financially ahead in America. I blame job creation. Yes, who decided to create all these jobs for robots? Computers are snatching our skilled jobs while immigrants snatch up all the fun outdoorsy jobs. Good thing I can’t be replaced. You show me an app that will let just anybody type and I’ll probably jump off a bridge. Though, not a high bridge because I don’t want myself to get hurt.

Naturally we start searching for signs of hope. Some messages out there tell us to keep working. Don’t give up and your hard work and perseverance will pay off. Try harder, harder again.

But I’m here to tell you that hard work doesn’t always pay off. This is coming from someone who didn’t believe in the recession at first. I thought it was a scare tactic corporations used to get me to spend money. Probably the same powers who skew the facts to make global warming look like a bad thing. Now nobody’s spending their money. So I guess that tactic backfired. If I had money I would probably not be spending it either.

Personally, I keep holding strong. I told myself I wouldn’t get caught in this mess everyone is creating for everyone. Working a job that was figuratively killing me and not paying, I found more work. Toiling away hour after hour and night after night, I kept trying to trick people into giving me money. Now I work jobs that, at the end of the day, leave me tired. Tired but not beat. This is still the best country that provides the opportunity to get ahead. We enjoy a freedom that, by comparison, leaves a lot of countries in a relative dark age.

Of course it’s hard to get ahead. Was it was easy crossing the ocean in all those immigration boats? Was it was easy digging precious metals from our earth? Think about John Oil who discovered oil. All his friends thought he was nuts drilling holes everywhere until one day when he discovered oil. Now we enjoy the luxury of cars instead of the trouble of running everywhere like our ancestors did.

Much of the population lives in poverty. But for me, sporadic and random at best spurts of work are enough to live month to month and I am able to cover all the bills. Sure I don’t have money to spend, but the money keeps bill collectors away and covers food and a warm house. My margin of spending cash is about as thin as my wallet but I don’t live in poverty. Sometimes the notion of looking forward to a better tomorrow is enough to keep people happy and working toward their goals.

But the numbers suggest that a better tomorrow will not happen for most of us. So what are we supposed to do? Join the party of the moment – the pity party – and demand that someone take a look and help us out? Good luck with that. It doesn’t matter if it’s a political power or a wealthy CEO; they have the same goal. They will continue to serve their best interests. I wouldn’t count on, or even try to convince, anyone with “money to spare” to lend a hand.

As was suggested, I was getting some food for a family in the community affected by an untimely death. Food that wouldn’t need prepared, just there for when they need to eat. The departed never saw life after high school and his death spread distress far in the community.

No matter how hard we work at it, life is going to bring troubles and trials. Some obstacles have no solution and we have no choice but to live with certain things. The gap between the rich and the poor may be widening and establishing clearer boundaries but there will always be others who we would not trade places with. We are faced with problems that maybe nobody can help, so why depend on any help?

Things continue to look grim as long as they keep taking to the streets in “party” fashion instead of doing the unthinkable and getting a job. At least we have a gradually warming climate to look forward to.

[Sports & Entertainment]
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Plays of our Lives
Classical Viking opera unfolded on daytime TV
Understanding where Vikings came from and analyzing where they are going

First a bit of background:

Remember last year when we eagerly looked forward to the season and the many victories to come? Our Vikings strode gallantly onto the battlefield like ancient royal kings, strong in their resolve and matched by no one in their ability.

A glance at the roster and it seemed the franchise had the skills to gallop forward and trample any on their path to the post season. Their hope laid in the return of their leader Brett Favre, who despite the eventual playoff failure had an amazing 2009 season. Who could have predicted the coming epic defeat of the seasoned warrior? Not you and me.

The loyal Minnesotan fans, in the homeland and abroad, received more hope amidst their struggling season with the welcome return of wide receiver, Randy Moss. But before his magical hands started their work dreams dissolved when back room bickering got him released. From there he waited out his last season quietly in the southland before floating away to an untimely end as a player, insisting he won’t come back.

Moss’ story was merely an anecdote amidst Minnesota’s impressive run of drama last season as it continued to hit the fans week after week.

Several players took the center of the opera’s intrigue at times but one player remained a constant for the season: quarterback, Favre. And a key piece to any dramatic opera is the soprano interest. She is to breathe life into the operatic tale. She could make any man sit up and take notice that there was more than football afoot.

During women’s fight to retain equal access to professional sports figures in locker rooms after games, New York Jets former game day hostess, Jenn Sterger was allegedly shown support by Favre. He supported her, again and again.

Normally a media member must be present in the locker room to get intimate details from players as they disrobe their thoughts, feelings, and uniforms. But Sterger reported that during Favre’s duration with the Jets he left her racy voice mails and suggestive text messages that the public since became familiar with.

The sports side of journalism differs none from the rest of the media industry in that the percentage of reporters represented by women continues to grow. And to get the inside story, reporters need all access to assess the post game thoughts of the game’s leaders.

Just ask Ines Sainz, reporter for TV Azteca. Last year, after the Sept. 13 Monday night game between the Jets and Ravens she was the target of lewd comments by the Jets players in the locker room.

She said she felt uncomfortable and will from now on conduct interviews outside the locker room. The consistency in the unconventional ways of players opening up to female media representatives seems to be on the east coast. More specifically, the Jets’ homeland, where their progressive way of communicating with women continued to stir the pot.

All this in a time when, in the spirit of being treated fairly in the work place, female reporters demand measuring equally to their male counterpart in the locker room.

Brave men such as Favre demonstrate that if women don’t get the same access to uncover the story in the locker room, the goods will be leaked through other means including but not limited to text messaging.

Why? You may ask, would Favre leak his goods to the Playboy model game day hostess instead of a respected member of the media? One would likely draw one of two obvious conclusions. Either he couldn’t think of a respected member of the media to cover the girth of his insights. Or he simply got confused sending it to the wrong number. Judging by the content of the message(s), maybe he was simply trying to communicate with his wife, or his doctor, or the Packers.

Speculation as to the ‘why’ set aside, the issue brought by women’s apparent shock and discomfort of getting the full expose’ is: should the NFL implement the controversial “Don’t show, don’t tell” policy?

Sterger, then, with the pictures in hand obviously wanted to cash in on the leaked goods. But how? And why then, so long after the incidents? Two years after the events and no mention of money or gold or pillaging in the media’s coverage of the scandal. Only mention of her upcoming movies “Don’t Fade Away” and “The Tenant.”

Well, with publicity like that it’s as if the prize fell right out of Favre’s lap and into hers.

Of course without speculating as to whether the photos were real or imagined, the faithful homeland, stood behind Favre in his difficult time both with the controversy and with his team’s record.

We are glad to lay that disastrous year to rest. If the Metro Dome roof caving in could have been any sort of metaphor for the season, I think I would have just hibernated all winter. But it wasn’t a metaphor; it really happened.
If the Vikings’ drama isn’t keeping us uncomfortably on the edge of our seat, they’re causing us angst and anger with their reality show type performances. And now, the real news:

If you’re thinking what most of America is thinking, it’s what mythical warrior or beast can we pit the Vikings against in which they’ll drop the axe on a forehead and pick up a W?

Just like “Deadliest Warrior,” in which two warrior codes worthy of each other’s rivalry are matched against one another to see who would beat who, we get to see the Vikings fall to adversary after adversary. Every week the story teases us in letting us believe the Vikings will win. Maybe they do have the upper hand and maybe they are better. But one thing is for certain: somehow the other team gets a lucky shot in and wins it all.

The Vikings came out with strong leads against the Chargers, Buccaneers, and the Lions. Take the first half scores for the first three games: At a combined 54-7, the Vikings are slaughtering their opponents. And the combined scores for just the second half of those same games: Their guard drops and a disappointing 67-6 paddles them off the field. During the second half, it’s as if they drop their weapons, remove their armor, and expose their jugular. A tactic experts are not sure will work in the long run.

One popular theory suggests maybe a spy leaked the secret weapon to use against the Vikings. At half time the opposing team casts a temporary madness spell to confuse both the offense and defense. The team remains motivated and continues to pour their heart and soul into their fight. But their effort is thwarted by the opponent’s use of what the NFL should consider illegal use of spells.

Sunday’s match between the Chiefs and Vikings was less one-sided. The two sides enjoyed a consistent back-and-forth until the Chiefs finished counting coup and left the Vikings bleeding out with nothing but their fourth straight loss to go home with.

If something doesn’t change, the Minnesota team, like the Vikings of the olden days will float away on their mystical ships and into oblivion. Only back then they at least went out with some class. After their final battle I bet they shook hands and reminisced on their war stories about beating up opponents. Today they’d have to shrug as they leave the field and wonder, what happened out there? For it is obvious that the season did not start as planned, but instead, they’re receiving the raping and pillaging. Nothing worse for a Viking to have to face.