To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Monday, May 27, 2024

Observercast

PGA Greed Follows U.S. Policy

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Advocates of considering human rights as we form international relations are scoffed at for their naiveté. Alleged realists promote a “realpolitik” that claims to base actions upon a practical world view instead of ethical standards.

Our Constitution does not enshrine capitalism among its basic tenets. And yet, it now determines both domestic and foreign policies. The Great God Greed foils the democratic ideals which founded this country’s republic.

Thus, for most of the country’s existence, especially since its arrival as world power, realpolitik has meant grab the money and cuddle up to those holding the money bag.

This tacit national policy trickles both up and down from corporate America. Nothing matters but the money.

There were cries of despair and outrage recently when the PGA Tour announced its decision to merge with LIV Golf, a rival golf tour founded last year and funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

When LIV burst onto the scene, PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan was quick to label the new tour a blatant attempt to sportswash Saudi Arabia’s horrendous record of oppression at home and financing terror abroad. Buying good publicity can prove costly.

So, the Saudis came with checkbooks in hand. With aging big name golfer Phil Mickelson getting $200 million to switch tours, LIV reportedly paid a total of about $800 million to lure players away from the PGA.

Turns out the PGA’s high moral ground was only a slippery slope when faced with potential attorney fees to cover the many lawsuits involving the old tour and the new.

Monahan’s surprise June 6 announcement of the merger left many PGA pros claiming betrayal and at least one calling him a “hypocrite” to his face.

As Jason Owens of Yahoo Sports reported June 6, “Now, those same players are aligned with the league that they detest because of a decision they say was made without their input. Some of those players reportedly turned down nine-figure offers to remain on the PGA Tour and avoid being associated with LIV Golf. Now they’re all under the same umbrella with the nine-figure paydays off the table.”

That was the opinion voiced the next day by NBC Sportscaster Mike Tirico from Paris, where he was hawking the 2024 Summer Olympics, which his network will carry.

With the moral acuity of a paramecium, Tirico said the winners from the mergers would be the golf fans who will get to see the best players in the world compete. The only losers, he said, were the PGA loyalists who did not get bought off by Saudi blood money.

Really, Mike? No loss of face. No loss of integrity. The losers were the players with scruples who refused to be bribed? Nothing matters but the money. Realeconomiks!

Rory McElroy, one of the PGA’s most vocal critics of LIV, expressed frustration after hearing of the merger, adding that he feels “like a sacrificial lamb” after Monahan’s about-face.

Along with PGA pros, Monahan can also ignore others that his merger betrays. For instance, 9/11 Families United, survivors of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and Flight 93.

[Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. The attack was financed by Osama Bin Laden, another Saudi, who also happened to be the financial force behind al Qaeda.]

The official release from that group says it was “shocked and deeply offended by the newly announced merger between the PGA Tour and the LIV Golf league that is bankrolled by billions of sportswashing money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi operatives played a role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and now it is bankrolling all of professional golf.”

Terry Strada, chair of 9/11 Families United, detailed Monahan’s double-dealing, claiming that he “co-opted the 9/11 community last year in the PGA’s unequivocal agreement that the Saudi LIV project was nothing more than sportswashing of Saudi Arabia’s reputation. But now the PGA and Monahan appear to have become just more paid Saudi shills, taking billions of dollars to cleanse the Saudi reputation so that Americans and the world will forget how the Kingdom spent their billions of dollars before 9/11 to fund terrorism, spread their vitriolic hatred of Americans and finance al Qaeda and the murder of our loved ones.”

Monahan was not the only one flip-flopping in early June.

At the previous week’s Memorial, Jack Nicklaus opined, “I don’t really consider those guys [LIV players] part of the game anymore.”

But once the merger was announced, the winner of the most Majors in golf told the Palm Beach Post that, after talking to Monahan, “I agree that this is good for the game of golf.”

It’s all about the game. So, realpolitik becomes realeconomik becomes realsportik. Human rights and decency hold no sway.

Agreeing with Nicklaus, though more honestly than he likely wanted to sound, LIV campaigner Bryson DeChambeau basically said that Saudi perfidy pales in comparison to Saudi paychecks:

“I think this is the best thing that could ever happen to the game of golf,” DeChambeau said. “The fans are going to get what they want, the players are going to experience something a little different, a little new, but I truly believe the game of golf wins.”

CNN’s Caitlyn Collins tried to educate DeChambeau: “They’re accused of financing terrorism. They’re also accused of killing Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi. How do you feel knowing that is where the money is backed by?”

He pleaded ignorance by occupation: “I mean, look, it’s unfortunate what has happened but that is not something I can necessarily speak on because I’m a golfer.”

Unfortunate? An American citizen gets murdered and dismembered at the behest of the leader of the outfit signing your paychecks?

DeChambeau revealed his own naiveté [and greed] by claiming, “they’re trying to do good for the world and showcase themselves in a light that hasn’t been seen in a while. Nobody is perfect but we’re all trying to improve in life.”

That new “light” would be welcomed in their dungeons by Saudis who are tortured, tried secretly and imprisoned for daring to criticize their country’s autocratic government.

Self-improvement is one thing – and darn hard. Improving one’s image can be accomplished with massive spending campaigns and PR firms.

But, remember, as repulsive as the PGA’s capitulation to Saudi money is, it is only following our national policy.

There were no repercussions for Saudi Arabia after 9/11. We invaded Iraq, which had nothing to do with the attacks.

After Khashoggi’s murder, President Donald Trump defended Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom both a CIA investigation and a United Nations report identified as the person who ordered the journalist’s murder and dismemberment.

We continue to ignore Saudi misogyny, where women have few rights.

Three of the LIV golf tournaments were earmarked for Trump golf courses. But his payoff is peanuts compared to the Saudi reward for Trump’s son-in-law and former Mideast “specialist” Jared Kushner.

In January 2021, after Trump left office, Kushner opened an investment firm. Six months later, the same Saudi Public Investment Fund [controlled by the same Saudi crown prince] that backs LIV made a $2 billion investment in the firm.

When announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination June 6, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pondered that development:

“You think it’s because he’s some kind of investing genius? Or do you think it’s because he was sitting next to the president of the United States for four years doing favors for the Saudis?”

Christie reached the obvious conclusion: “The grift from this family is breathtaking. It’s breathtaking. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner walk out of the White House, and months later get $2 billion from the Saudis.”

That’s a lot better haul than the $2 million the Japanese paid Ronald Reagan in 1989 for tanking American industry. That’s about $4.6 million in today’s money, but still chump change compared to the Trump/Kushner rewards.

Furthermore we have been selling arms to the Saudis for years [the largest purchaser of American armaments] and training Saudi pilots responsible for about 15,000 civilian casualties during the Saudi involvement in the civil war in Yemen.

Ostensibly, this gives us influence with the Saudis.

Last year, the conservative Cato Institute begged to differ, saying “the evidence suggests that the United States is empowering Saudi Arabia’s inhumane policies in Yemen … It is inconceivable that Saudi Arabia could commit human rights violations to the same level in Yemen without U.S. military support.”

And on the subject of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, the conservative think tank noted, “From a domestic angle, things are not much better … By constantly referring to him as a reformer, the United States has covered up for Saudi Arabia’s inhumane crackdown on women’s rights activists and Shiite protestors.”

Our government, with either party in party, acting in our name, has provided billions of dollars in profits to our Masters of War while ignoring the same conditions that the PGA is being justly criticized for sweeping into the high grass.

About 60 years ago, Bob Dylan resurrected the old phrase, “Money doesn’t talk. It screams.” Tracking those screams to make sure we get our share has become part of the American Way.

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Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democrats. He lives in Duncan, following a sporadic career as a small-town journalist, mostly in Texas, and as an editor of educational audio-visual materials. Some days he's a philosopher/poet, others a poet/philosopher.
Mark Krawczyk
Mark Krawczyk
March 9, 2023
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Brette Pruitt
Brette Pruitt
September 5, 2022
The Observer carries on the "give 'em hell" tradition of its founder, the late Frosty Troy. I read it from cover to cover. A progressive wouldn't be able to live in a red state without it.