Monday, July 24, 2023

The Demise of the News-Press and a Walk Down Memory Lane

Thanks to Josh Molina of Noozhawk, for seeking me out for an interview after he broke the story about the Santa Barbara News-Press ceasing publication and declaring bankruptcy.

Monday, June 06, 2016

He Wasn't Always "The Greatest"

Whenever a prominent figure passes away it sends me on a Uber ride down memory lane. Such was the case with the death of Muhammad Ali this past Friday. I'm hard pressed to think of anyone who was more admired or respected than Ali. He was undisputedly the most famous person on earth. However, it is easy to forget that things weren't always that way.

My earliest memories of Ali go back to when he was known as Cassius Clay. Loud, boisterous and brash, he alienated a lot of people with his in-your-face style. He seemed to be the number one worshiper in his own shrine. His first match with the reigning heavyweight champ Sonny Liston was much anticipated and, as I remember it, just about everybody was rooting for Liston to defeat Clay. Clay stunned the cognoscenti by defeating Liston when the latter failed to come out of his corner as the bell rang to start the seventh round. I was in junior high school then. I remember the day after the fight that my wood shop teacher swore the fight had been fixed. No one wanted to believe a young loudmouth like Clay could beat the champ Liston.

The rematch between Clay and Liston took place in 1965, a fight my father and mother went to see, although they never actually got to see it. Let me explain. This was long before HBO or Showtime so the only way to see a heavyweight championship fight back then, if you didn't go to see it in person, was to go to a closed circuit broadcast at a local movie theater. My dad rarely liked to go out but he wanted to see the rematch so badly he shelled out the $200 to take my mom to see the fight. They arrived at the theater a tad late and just as the first round was starting. As soon as they sat down the fight suddenly was over. (It had lasted all of 2 minutes.) Clay had knocked out Liston. As my mother described it, the whole theater was in shock with most people in the audience, including my father, refusing to believe that Liston and the fight were history. When reality finally settled in my mom was able to convince my dad to take her out to a nice dinner since they were all dressed up with nowhere to go. She might very well have been the only person in the theater that night who was glad the fight ended precipitously early.

It was shortly after the Liston fight that Clay announced (or more accurately, confirmed) he was a Muslim, had joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. And of course not long after that he refused to be inducted into the Army. The convergence of those two events put Ali at the nadir of his popularity. Although the U.S. Supreme Court eventually upheld the validity of his claim of conscientious objector status, most people felt that he should have served. The great Joe Louis had gone into the Army, the argument went. Why shouldn't Ali?

As we all know, after being banned from boxing for his prime years, Ali literally fought his way back to the top of the fight game, regained the heavyweight championship and rose to become the most recognizable and one of the most beloved individuals in the world. He grew as an individual and matured as a citizen. The guy who never attended a day of college became the wisest man in the world and rightly so.

I often tell my kids (and anyone else who will listen) to "be nice to everyone you pass as you climb the ladder of success. You will see them again on your way back down" After finally making it to the top, Ali was one guy who never came back down the ladder.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Fareed: Show Me the (L.A.) Money!

How is 28-year-old Justin Fareed able to afford so many TV commercials? The LA Times reports that 80% of the $1 million that Fareed has raised in his bid for the Congressional seat that Lois Capps is vacating, has come from people living outside of his Santa Barbara district.

Around 56% of Fareed contributors this year live outside the district, and they contributed $875,000 of his $1.08 million in donations. . .

At least 90 of Fareed’s 490 donors live in West Los Angeles, in the Hancock Park, Fairfax and Mid-Wilshire neighborhoods. Supporters in the 90036 ZIP Code contributed a combined $235,000 to the candidate — nearly 25% of the money Fareed brought in since the campaign began.

Makes me wonder whether that horse Fareed rides in his TV ads came from Santa Ynez or Santa Anita?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Never on Monday

If you subscribe to the Santa Maria Times you won't find the paper in your driveway this morning. Effective today, the paper will no longer publish a Monday edition.

According to the paper's managing editor:

Business models across the country are changing with more emphasis on digital. As the model changes we're investing our resources in the markets that are most profitable to us.

Old newspapers never die; they just fade away. (My apologies to the late General Douglas MacArthur.)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Revolt at Chamber of Commerce Over Proposed Endorsement of Das

Nick Welsh in the Independent reports that the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce was all set to endorse Das Williams for First District County Supervisor, but pulled back the endorsement when a large number of outraged Chamber members protested. Why would the Chamber endorse Williams over Jennifer Christensen, when Williams has been long perceived as being unfriendly to small business? As reported by Welsh:

Some chamber members argued because Williams enjoys an overwhelming advantage over Christensen in name recognition, political experience, political donations, and get-out-the-vote know-how in an overwhelmingly Democratic district, his election was all but preordained. Why spit in the wind, they questioned, and back a candidate with little chance of winning . . .?

Why spit in the wind they asked? How about bucking up and showing that you stand for something? That you have core values that you believe in and will adhere to? That you are not just another group that jumps on every bandwagon you see driving down State Street?

As most of you probably already know, I'm endorsing Jennifer Christensen in this race.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Why Hillary's Likability Ratings Are In The Tank

David Brooks offers the best explanation I've ever seen as to why Hillary Clinton's favorability ratings are so low.

I would begin my explanation with this question: Can you tell me what Hillary Clinton does for fun? We know what Obama does for fun — golf, basketball, etc. We know, unfortunately, what Trump does for fun.

But when people talk about Clinton, they tend to talk of her exclusively in professional terms. For example, on Nov. 16, 2015, Peter D. Hart conducted a focus group on Clinton. Nearly every assessment had to do with on-the-job performance. She was “multitask-oriented” or “organized” or “deceptive.”

Clinton’s career appears, from the outside, to be all consuming. Her husband is her co-politician. Her daughter works at the Clinton Foundation. Her friendships appear to have been formed at networking gatherings reserved for the extremely successful.

People who work closely with her adore her and say she is warm and caring. But it’s hard from the outside to think of any non-career or pre-career aspect to her life. Except for a few grandma references, she presents herself as a résumé and policy brief.

In a "sharing" society where we share our cars on Uber, our homes on Airbnb and we overshare on Facebook, Hillary should open up and share a little more about her family life and her personal interests and hobbies. After all, it's not 2008 and being "likable enough" didn't cut it then and won't cut it now.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Why I'm Supporting Jennifer Christensen

One of the offices on the ballot June 7 is that of First District Santa Barbara County supervisor. The First District includes Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito and (roughly) the eastern part of the City of Santa Barbara.

There are two candidates for this open seat (the incumbent is giving it up to run for Congress). One of the candidates has high name recognition due, in no small part, to the fact that he has run for a number of positions over the years.

The other candidate is Jennifer Christensen, an independent, who is running for office for the first time. In this particular race the candidate with the lesser name recognition is the more highly qualified one.

Jennifer Christensen is a person of integrity, intelligence and accomplishment. She has an MBA and she currently serves as the county’s investment officer.

That “largest rainy day fund in county history,” that the current First District supervisor boasts about in his TV ads for Congress? Jen Christensen actually authored the policy that resulted in that landmark rainy day fund. This is important because the county will be facing many challenges in the coming years, including improving the delivery of mental health services, maintaining an aging infrastructure of county roads, and making sure that sheriff and fire protection services are adequately funded to keep our communities safe.

Jennifer Christensen is also committed to protecting the environment. She is familiar with the planning and land-use issues that face county government and will insist that environmental impact reports will be required and carefully scrutinized when the Board of Supervisors considers proposals for new developments and projects that impact our coast and open space.

I am a lifelong Democrat who usually (all things being equal) votes for the Democratic candidate in any given race. This time, though, I’m not voting for the Democratic candidate with the higher name recognition.

In the First District supervisor’s race, Jennifer Christensen is the better choice and is getting my vote.