Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Odds and Sods - Don't you let that Deal go down edition

Back from Georgia, where the interesting ex-Democrat, now Republican Nathan Deal was elected governor in 2010, by less than 2500 votes. At least, that's the story, and they are sticking to it.

As you know, a Deadhead could never resist the lyrical reference. (song is below!)


And here is the recent scoop/scandal on Deal, all over the Atlanta Journal Constitution the day of our arrival.


Nathan Deal and his wife, Sandra, owned 90 percent of a failed sporting goods store started by his daughter and son-in-law by the time it closed, according to documents released by the state ethics commission through an open records request.

The state Ethics Commission's investigative file for the Nathan Deal cases is hundreds of pages long and contains complaints that resulted in him agreeing to pay $3,350 in fees but saw major complaints against him dismissed.

The ownership by the Deals in the Habersham County venture is greater than they had previously acknowledged. The financial woes of the business became an issue during Deal's 2010 campaign for governor.

During the race, Deal downplayed his involvement in Wilder Outdoors, which went out of business in March 2009. Deal — who with his wife co-signed for $2.3 million in loans that launched the store — said at the time that he was simply a father helping a child. The Deals also invested another $2 million in Wilder.

But Deal's actual ownership stake in the store had been in question. His 2007 personal financial disclosure, when he was a member of Congress, declared him a 50 percent partner in the venture. But a 2009 bankruptcy filing by Deal's son-in-law, Clint Wilder, and daughter, Carrie Deal Wilder, said the Wilders were 100 percent shareholders. Nathan Deal's name appeared nowhere on the bankruptcy documents which were filed in the midst of the gubernatorial race.
It just goes to show, don't trust opportunistic politicians who switch parties just to suck up and get a cushy government job, regardless of which party they start out in.

It never works out well.


Last year, I tried to get a job at JC Penneys, and didn't make the cut. Therefore, I experienced some rather unsavory Schadenfreude in reading about their recent financial woes.

Ha ha! 23% loss in the last quarter! They had their chance to hire me and make it right... unfortunately, the Dreaded Yippie Curse is now on their heads. Too late for you, JC Penneys!
Penney’s January pricing-shift confused customers who already had everyday low prices from Wal-Mart, monthly specials from competitors like Kohl’s, and clearance prices like, well, every other single retailer on the planet! So Penney’s made other pricing changes. And then cancelled advertising while they rethought strategy. Now, they’re making permanent cuts throughout the store and is jettisoning the month-long bursts of sales in what Mr. Johnson has characterized as simplifying pricing, which kind of makes you wonder what the ‘fair-and-square’ stuff was all about to begin with, beyond funny commercials

Anyway, [CEO Ron] Johnson had a call with analysts, where he was quoted as saying, ”early response to these efforts have been very encouraging.” But one can only suppose that’s true if you define “encouraging” as same-store sales not being down 30%!
Cheapie price-hunters, saddle up! You know what THIS means!

The prices should be bargain-basement level by the end of the month, especially for overstock from the summer. Bathing suits, shorts, all of that. Prepare to descend on the place. The 3rd Quarter will end in September, and the last week of September will therefore be the prime shopping time for markdowns, says Daisy the Retail Fairy.

GO GALS GO! Take all that inventory off their hands, and get some stuff at 75% off while you're there. Win-win all round.

Meanwhile, almost-employee Daisy has high hopes that JC Penneys goes under. (I know, that isn't nice, but I've never taken rejection well.)


I am sick over the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate. Mostly because this means we will have to listen to his worthless, Randian-groupie ass NON-STOP during the rest of the campaign. (screams)

Some interesting links: Ten reasons why Ryan is right for Romney (Salon)

The Washington Post Spews Paul Ryan Fan Faction (AlterNet)

Vice president nominee Paul Ryan’s love-hate with Ayn Rand (Politico)

Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand, and the Political Contradiction of Christianity (Daily Kos)


The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization of Catholic nuns, is under attack from the Vatican for their feminist positions.

As I have heard approximately five thousand times: THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS NOT A DEMOCRACY. (And they say that with considerable pride, not shame.)

Uh-huh, we know. From last week's Washington Post:
Many, many Catholic eyes are on St. Louis as the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, by far the largest representative body of U.S. nuns, has their annual meeting. On the agenda for the Silver Spring, Md.-based organization: Whether the group should remain an official arm of Rome, or become independent.

This is their first meeting since April, when the Vatican’s doctrine-guarding arm issued a report saying the Conference isn’t focusing enough on abortion and traditional marriage and is dabbling dangerously in “radical feminist” ideas such as whether women could be priests. The report said the group needs to be “reformed” and is calling for essentially a takeover and monitoring of the Conference, whose members represent about 80 percent of the country’s sisters.
You may be forgiven for scratching your head at this theological juncture. Baptists and Pentecostals, not exactly known for radical feminism, have women ministers and pastors, but women priests? Dangerously dabbling in "radical feminism"!

The conference ended with the nuns staying under the authority of the Holy See. (Daisy pouts) But I do understand why.

As Willie Sutton famously said, that's where the money is.
American nuns on Friday backed away from a direct confrontation with the Vatican, saying they want a respectful “open dialogue” with Rome about disputes over gender, human sexuality and authority.

The decision by the Silver Spring-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 80 percent of American nuns, came at the end of an intense annual conference in St. Louis this week, where about 900 women met to decide how to respond to an April report by the Vatican saying the group had strayed dangerously far from orthodoxy and the pope and needs to be “reformed.”

The women considered generally accepting the report, rejecting it and becoming an independent Catholic organization (rather than an actual office of Rome), or finding some middle ground.

In a statement Friday, the women said that members want to pursue dialogue with the three-bishop team appointed by the Vatican to approve their conference speakers, literature and training programs.
Can this marriage be saved?


Every time I pass this sign, I think about how Jimmy Carter's one-term presidency was judged to be a complete disaster.

We had NO IDEA what awaited us, did we?


As all dedicated news-hounds and political junkies have undoubtedly heard by now, Fareed Zakaria is in hot water for plagiarism, and his popular Sunday-morning CNN show, "GPS", has been suspended. The question now is whether the suspension will be temporary or permanent:
Zakaria was suspended from both CNN and Time magazine after using several paragraphs written by another author in his Time column and a blog post on CNN’s website, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Zakaria issued an apology on Friday, saying in a statement that the incident was his fault and that it was “a terrible mistake,” The Journal reported.

Zakaria was suspended for a month at Time, pending a review. CNN pulled the blog post from its website and suspended his Sunday talk show, filling the time slot with other CNN programming. CNN is also conducting a review of the incident.

“Fareed Zakaria is a smart journalist who did a dumb thing, by his own admission,” said Howard Kurtz, a veteran media reporter, on his CNN show, Reliable Sources, on Sunday.

“I've seen a number of plagiarizing cases far more extensive than this one, but that misses the point,” he said. “Borrowing someone's words without credit is a journalistic sin, which is why Fareed did the right thing, which is quickly owning up to his mistake.”
Well, that's nice. But seriously, someone of this stature and importance?

And this isn't the first time, according to the Huffington Post:
This is not the first time Zakaria has come under ethical fire. Columnist Jeffrey Goldberg accused him of lifting quotes without attribution in 2009. He also caused controversy for his series of off-the-record conversations with President Obama, though he said they were no different than those the president held with any other journalist.
A peon like your humble narrator (or, say, a reporter at a relatively low-level outfit such as the Greenville News) certainly couldn't get by with this, offering a simple ooops! It would destroy their journalistic reputation and career. But Fareed? He will recover nicely and go on to rake in more speaking fees at a staggering $75,000-a-pop.

As Eric Zuesse, another HuffPo commentator, carefully reminds us:
When Fareed Zakaria was suspended on Friday from Time and CNN, for plagiarism, this wasn't merely justice, it was poetic justice: it rhymed.

What it rhymed with was his own lifelong devotion to the global economic star system that he, as a born aristocrat in India, who has always been loyal to the aristocracy, inherited and has always helped to advance, at the expense of the public in every nation.

He was suspended because, as a born aristocrat, who is a long-time member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, and many other of the global aristocracy's primary organizations, he is so well-connected that his writing-commissions are more than any one person can possibly handle, and he consequently cannot possibly actually write all that is attributed to him. He certainly cannot research it all.

Like many "writing" stars, he has a staff perform much of the research and maybe even actual writing for him, and many in his situation are actually more editors than they are writers; but, regardless, he cannot let the public know that this is the way things are, because this is simply the way that the star system works in the "writing" fields, and because the public is supposed to think that these stars in the writing fields are writers, more than editors.

And, it's a very profitable system for such stars. As Paul Starobin said, headlining "Money Talks," in the March 2012 Columbia Journalism Review, Zakaria's speaking fee is $75,000, and "he has been retained for speeches by numerous financial firms, including Baker Capital, Catterton Partners, Dreihaus Capital Management, ING, Merrill Lynch, Oak Investment Partners, Charles Schwab, and T. Rowe Price."

So, he's clearly a very busy man, with a considerable staff; he can't possibly do everything himself.

But he needs to appear as if he does. He needs to present everything "he" does, as "his."

Most of the top-paid people in the media are "writers" whom the public are deceived to believe do all the researching and writing of "their" material. The actual writers (usually called "research assistants," or sometimes just "interns"), unlike these bosses, lack the connections to be able to succeed "on their own," and are therefore obscure workers for these aristocrats -- the writing-stars who make the big incomes. If one of these workers bows down sufficiently to his boss so as to be plucked by him to become a star "on his own," then that lucky acolyte will almost certainly share the existing hierarchical values of his boss, and so may become a new aristocrat in the full sense, and go on to produce his own reputation, and perhaps even dynasty. But the others will never win the connections and thus the money.

This is the world Fareed Zakaria has actually lived in all of his adult life, and even before that -- it was the world he saw around him when his father was a politician with the Indian National Congress, and his mother was the editor of the Sunday Times of India. He knew how corruption works, because he was surrounded by it, all the time.

Fareed Zakaria knows the way it works. So, he cannot afford to admit when he is being credited with the work of his employees. Far less damaging to him is to admit that he has done plagiarism himself, as he has admitted in this particular case -- regardless whether it's true.

If Zakaria didn't actually do this plagiarism, could he very well announce to the world "I didn't do it; I didn't even research or write the article"? No. Romney and the Republicans say that the "job creators" at the top are the engine of the economy, and the aristocracy need to maintain this myth. It's very important to them -- that they are the stars, and that the people who might be the actual creators who work for them are not.

Zakaria wouldn't want to burst the bubble atop which he is floating. To people in his situation, it's a bubble of money, and it's theirs. They don't want to share it any more than they absolutely have to. (They despise labor unions for that very reason.) And their employees are very dependent upon them, so no one will talk about it -- not the stars, not their workers.
Although I enjoyed his show, I have no illusions that we couldn't get the same thing from someone else. Maybe better.

I heartily recommend my old friend, classmate, and former co-star in two class plays (we were fantastic!), Joe Johns, now seriously under-utilized at CNN.

Long before anyone ever heard of "nontraditional casting," African-American Joe played my father in a Junior High school play... totally shocking the 1972 Midwestern audience. Our radical drama teacher thought we had the best auditions, by God, and we were going to be the leads, race be damned. She would not be deterred.

It was supposed to be a comedy, God help us, but our first few jokes met utter silence. I still remember how we bugged our eyes out at each other.... our expressions conveying some version of: OH MY GOD, WHAT HAVE WE DONE?!

We soldiered on through the mostly-silent First Act. Finally, during the Second Act, there was a titter, then a few giggles, and then ... (like a comforting wave) a roar of laughter at the best jokes, which were delivered by Joe--crossing his arms and sternly addressing me as "young lady!"--like a stereotypical TV dad. We had crossed over into borderline-camp, but it worked.

We ended with thunderous applause. It was nice.

I still remember the triumphant smile we shared, tempered with relief: whewwww.

Chant with me: WE WANT JOE! WE WANT JOE!


As promised, the source of our blog post title for today... it stops at around five minutes, since it probably went on for a good half hour! ;)

Deal - Grateful Dead

I been gambling hereabouts
for ten good solid years
If I told you all that went down
it would burn off both your ears

It goes to show
you don't ever know
Watch each card you play
and play it slow
Wait until your deal come round
Don't you let that deal go down


bryce said...

ida loved 2C the play !

D. said...

Solid stuff. I'm sure I've run across Mr. Zakaria's name somewhere.

I am marginally sorry about JC Penney, not because I've tried to work there, but because the store gives my mom a lot of shopping pleasure, and because I hear they tried rational pricing and were defeated by the peculiar shopping habits of their clientele.

Meanwhile, you might be interested in a short rant on voter suppression.

I am not a robot, but that's hard to read...

Conseglieri said...

Great piece. I think it's important to constantly say that the system is stacked in favor of those already at the top or closer to it. Just as Zakaria's family is one of wealth and position, Anderson Cooper's mom was Gloria Vanderbilt, one of America's richest women. Any field you can think of, rich people help one another get to the top and stay there. I also agree that hiding the reality of how income and wealth are created and allocated is a primary goal of the aristocracy. Indeed, do not look at the man behind the curtain.

Conseglieri said...

And, Joe looks like a great guy! I can't understand why I haven't seen him more.

It's amazing to realize that I simply flew by the thing about the nuns without a comment. Not being Roman Catholic nor female, but I have been hearing about this...not on US news, but on the BBC. Democracy Now! also did a two piece review of the situation. I totally don't get the "benefits" of a patriarchal system.

Jim said...

"I am sick over the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate. Mostly because this means we will have to listen to his worthless, Randian-groupie ass NON-STOP during the rest of the campaign. (screams)'

But if it helps him lose the election, it's worth all the pain.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Paging ZADIG!-- if you are still reading my blog, drop me a line w/your email address. Mine is in my Blogger profile in the right margin.

You'll be glad you did! :D