With the arrest of yet another California elected Senator Leland Yee, the California political elite seem to be the new stars of an episode of The Sopranos. First we have Senator Rod Wright convicted of 8 counts of voter fraud and perjury who by the way is still drawing his salary off the CA taxpayer and next we have Senator Ron Calderon who has been indicted federally on charges ranging from mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services fraud, bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering to aiding in the filing of false tax returns. He too is on “paid leave of absence’ from his day job as a California Senator. If anyone thought of Senator Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg as a leader they can put that thought away now; all roads lead back to his leadership style which is kind of like that of Don Corleone.
Holding up the rear in California Senate Democrats who have fallen from grace is now Senator Kevin de Leon who is being investigated along with Calderon by the FBI on what the FBI called a “large scale healthcare fraud” case involving a person in Long Beach who was running a spinal surgery hospital named Michael Drobot. Coincidently again, Don Steinberg used to work for the firm that is representing Drobot in the corruption case against him upon which Eric Weirich deputy commissioner of the California Department of Insurance called, “”the largest insurance fraud” in California history.
You can read the affidavit used on the Calderon case as it reads like a who’s who of the California Senate elite. It all gets really messy implicating Calderon’s brother who used to serve in the California Senate also ,as it alleges that the Calderon brothers had setup a phony 501c4 called Californians for Diversity, (where was the IRS on this one), to have a fund for retirement. Their bribes were being transferred into the 501c4 account.
Each of these guys “serves” a very specific part of Californian as Yee “serves” San Francisco, Calderon and de Leon “serve” parts of Los Angeles. Rod Wright “serves” Long Beach and the Port of Long Beach. And coincidently Steinberg “serves” the very spot of all corruption itself, Sacramento. It figures right? And what role does Steinberg play in all of this? Are his hands clean? I am not sure as he crops up numerous times in the affidavit against Calderon. He is either the dumbest person on the planet, not knowing what was happening, although that seems unlikely, or he had some role in all of this. I have to believe that whether covertly or overtly Steinberg is being looked at very hard these days as he has proven to be delinquent in providing leadership for the California Senate.
I am always amazed at how different the political world is from real life. If Steinberg worked in the real world he would have lost his job and pension by now for at the least turning a blind eye to the corruption happening on his watch with his subordinates. Remember in the movie The Godfather when Michael is talking to Kay about his father he says, “My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.” Too true.
By now if you follow me you know I adore the Olympics, both winter and summer. The Olympics used to be one of the few places we had absolute amateur athletes competing on their merits of their abilities in sport. The 2014 Olympics in Sochi has brought a ton of attention to the competition not just for the sake of sports but politics and even gender discrimination. Personally I think all of these things take away from the pure love of sport that should be heralded in this competition. From the President outing Brian Boitano on Twitter to the “Auntie Mame” dressing Johnny Weir ,the Sochi Olympics have been plagued by talk that surrounds political policies not sport, which seems to get more media attention than the actual scores or medal count.
NBC for all its attempts at showing a huge event stream like the Olympics is doing a fairly bad job of it. If you are watching it during prime time you never see the Olympic medaling ceremonies just the sporting events that were deemed interesting enough to show in prime time, that is a huge loss to the television watching crowd. The only good thing that NBC has done is getting rid of the eye oozing Bob Costas that lost a lot of credibility and fans over his need to speak out publicly if not stupidly about the gun debate. Matt Lauer is actually doing a pretty good job for guy who must not sleep now between his day job at the Today Show to his nightly stint for NBC on the Sochi Olympics.
What occurred to me last night while watching the women’s snowboarding event was how many “veteran” Olympians we have in these games. We used to see a few veteran athletes who made “come backs” at the Olympics games to finally win that medal that got away from them and they were always looked at with such great favor no matter the country they represented. Remember people love a great comeback story, but 2014 is looking like the Veteran Olympics or the Baby Boomer Olympics as we have people in almost every discipline who have been to two or three, sometimes four Olympic Games before Sochi. As I was watching the women shredding the half pipe the announcer was talking about how favorite Kelly Clark age 30, had won her first medal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City USA. That was in 2002, so for over 12- 14 years this women has been competing in snowboarding. How many of us can say we have done any job for that long?
Shani Davis age 31,the favorite for USA in the speed skating 1000m competes at these Olympic Games only to walk away without any medal, after being a medal winner in two previous Games. Bode Miller age 36, another major favorite from the USA competing in several skiing events saw his first Olympics in 1998! He has yet to medal but still has Friday’s competition to win an event. These are just a few of the “veterans’ of the Games that have been able to continue their competitive streaks and fold them into a career rather than a moment in their personal and country’s history. There are new faces but I wonder if each of the country’s represented are still putting money into their Olympic athlete programs. The United States is one of the only countries that don’t support its Olympic athlete program with taxpayer dollars but with corporate and private donations . And make no mistake being a professional athlete in the amateur sport scene costs money, huge money. You need to have financial support to give your life over to training so it really is a huge sacrifice to these folks, especially those that are older athletes with families.
I have always been critical of the “professional” athletes that come into Olympics Games as ringers for their country such as the Dream Team in basketball or the professional players for hockey who compete, but most of these athletes at the Olympic Games spend their years training and competing on national or international levels in their sport. As much as we love a veteran and fan favorite such as Russia’s Yevgeny Plushenko’s even he has seen the effects of being a veteran on his performance. He has withdrawn from the Games in Sochi due to injury and he is no spring chicken in Olympic terms. At 31 years old Plushenko has seen many injuries plague him throughout the years including a severe back injury, which may be the cause of this withdrawal. While new faces will come up through the sports ranks these “old “ favorites give my generation a huge rush to know that you are never too old to follow your dreams!