Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Pack Your Bags (eh!)

Just read that Lena Dunham, the "star" of the cable show "Girls" has joined the celebrity short bus that doubles as a political bandwagon by threatening to leave the US if Donald Trump is elected.

Quoting the very modestly talented, but very foul-mouthed actress:
I know a lot of people have been threatening to do this, but I really will, I know a lovely place in Vancouver and I can get my work done from there.

I've written about Dunham before, but suffice it to say, I've seen her show; I've seen her forays into pop politics before.  

It's hard to say which underwhelms me more.

But when I read this latest eructation, I was genuinely conflicted.

On the one hand, as a native-born Canadian, I would not wish Lena Dunham on the land of my birth.  Additionally, I have relatives in Vancouver, and they do not deserve this sort of punishment.  

On the other hand, as a current American, I see the up-side here.  

  1. Hillary Clinton not in power
  2. One less middling, big-mouthed, self-indulgent millenial taking up space here in California
  3. Four years of President Oompa Loompa
  4. We owe them for Justin Beiber.

That looks like a win-win-win-win to me.  That's a DOUBLE win-win.

So with apologies to my former mates, the Canadian half of my family, and my uncle Bob specifically, I am all in to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Red, White, and Blue Monday

News feed today listing events of this day (25th April) in history headlined the 40th anniversary of the famous "American Flag" incident.  It was 40 years ago to the day that Chicago Cubs' CF Rick Monday intervened when two individuals jumped the outfield fence at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and tried to set the American flag on fire.

Monday, who had spent time in the US Marine Corps Reserves, saw a man and his (believe it or not, 11-year old) son trying to burn the flag for reasons that have never been made clear, raced in and saved the day.  The miscreants received a $60 trespassing fine and probation.  Monday kept (and still, apparently has) the flag following the legal proceedings.

Rick Monday is the answer to the trivia question "Who was the first player ever chosen in the baseball amateur draft (1965)."  Though not a great player, he had a decent career, highlighted by the "Blue Monday" home run off Montreal ace Steve Rodgers in 1981, ending the Expos' sole post-season appearance and propelling the Dodgers, ultimately to the World Series' title.

But the former Athletic, Cub, and Dodger outfielder is probably best remembered for the play he made in shallow left field in April 40 years ago.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The Left Glove Finally Comes Off

The US presidential election is coming into the home-stretch.  Much of the fun and games has been on the Republican side, as New York real estate mogul and pitchman Donald Trump has sucked up much of the oxygen with his quixotic bid for the nomination.  

On the Democratic side, it's been until recently a fairly staid affair - former New York senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the heavy favourite and presumptive nominee.  She had some token opposition from ex-Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, former senator Jim Webb, and current space cadet Lincoln Chaffee (hint: running on a platform that promises to bring the metric system to the US is generally not a good jumping-off point.)

O'Malley got burnt quickly, in part because of all of the violence ginned up by the so-called "Black Lives Matter" movement, who pointed to his time as the leader of Baltimore.  Webb flamed out because, well, frankly a somewhat conservative southerner belongs in the Democratic Party when a blended bass fish belong in a chocolate milkshake.  

It looked more a coronation than a contest, and the only speed bump for Herself was current Vermont senator Bernard Sanders.  And Sanders seemed too timid to actually hit Mrs Clinton on any of the various weak spots she presents.

Her fast and loose (and if we are being honest, stupid) use of an email server essentially located in her suburban NY closet to send high clearance documents was off the table.  Her mistakes in handling the emerging crisis in the middle east were not mentioned.  And even her possibly most vulnerable exposure - her cozy relationship with the big Wall Street banks was only talked about by Sanders in the hushest of tones.

I suspect that Sanders had no real fantasies about actually getting the nomination, and thus his real purpose to be in the primaries was to (a) try to make the Democrats actually talk about issues that the Democratic Party pretends to care about and (b) to provide a sparring partner for Hillary Clinton.

Well, fast forward to April 2016.  

Things are seldom what they seem.

There is an old aphorism about just what a dog would do if it actually caught the cars it chased.  Mr Sanders seems to be intent on forcing the issue.

Tuesday, the voters in New York go to the polls, and the race is far, far too close for comfort for the imperious senator for Goldman-Sachs.  She still leads Sanders by a comfortable margin in the delegate count, which is not to add the so-called "super delegates" - party apparatchiks who are not bound by such inconveniences as the voters - who are overwhelmingly siding with Hillary.

So recently, the gloves have, as they say, come off. At least the left glove.

And Mrs Clinton and, more to the point, her supporters, are crying foul.

As Senator Sanders has drawn closer, he and his backers are beginning to point out what has been obvious to most of us all along - that Hillary Clinton's putative fight "for the rest of us" against malign, powerful interests has more than a whiff of insincerity.

This past week, the Clinton Campaign held two fundraisers here in California - hosted by A-List actor George Clooney - in which donors, er, supporters, ponied up tens of thousands of dollars a plate to break bread with him and, of course, Hillary.  I suspect not one of those sitting down to nosh was a 'little guy.' 

Sanders backers gathered at the street and tossed dollar bills at Hillary's motorcade as it passed, ostensibly calling attention to just how coin-operated she is.  And that's being kind, since the money being thrown folded.

MSNBC to the rescue; a meme is making rounds on the web that this is some sort of misogynist act, and that those tossing dollars at her motorcade are insinuating that Hillary is in fact, some sort of pole dancer.

I had not thought of that, and I suspect, neither had the protesters, a fair number of whom were women.

And there is an equally shrill objection to calling Mrs Clinton a corporate "whore."

Now, the term "whore" is impolitic to be sure.  But calling a politician who takes big money donations a corporate whore is hardly novel.  Mitt Romney was accused famously of "whoring out Big Bird" in 2012.  

If calling someone a "whore" is beyond the pale (and if we are being honest, it's at the least nasty and unbecoming), that Hillary Clinton is a women should not innoculate her against an attack that probably could be traced to Pericles and his whoring Athens out to toga merchants.

I am surely not a liberal, and I am far, far from a Democrat, and thus I don't have a particular dog in this fight (note: a metaphor, not an attack on Mrs Clinton's appearance, so no need to comment.)  But I do take a certain schadenfrueude watching Mrs Clinton's flying monkeys squawk about how unfair it is for Sanders to talk about her cozy Wall Street relationship, or how hypocritical it is for Bernie Sanders to fly to the Vatican (with a massive carbon footprint) to talk about climate change.

I'll Get You, My Pretties!  And Your Little Dog, TOO!
All of the things that Hillary is complaining about are the sort of attacks she has dismissed as coming from a "vast right wing conspiracy" when used by Republicans.

I suspect that Hillary Clinton is still going to win the Democratic Party nomination.  I suspect that she is going to go on and defeat Donald Trump (or whomever Republicans, Inc. put in his place).

But these lame, whiny, entitled defences she offers are a bad omen.  

We've spent nearly eight years where virtually any complaint about President Obama is painted as a racist attack, no matter how valid.  Four (or God forbid, eight) years where it is impossible to criticise the president lest one be called a misogynist ain't good for the country. For a free society to function, it is necessary that the leadership be open to opposition and not react like an 8 year old screeching about "fairness."

Put simply, Mrs Clinton - if you want to be in the big chair, put on your big girl pantsuit.

Criticism goes with the job, I am afraid.  Even for a ruler with an army of flying monkeys.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Oh, (no) Canada!

The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs kicked off last night, which to a Toronto Maple Leafs' fan can only one thing.

It's time to start watching the Blue Jays next season of mediocrity.

The Leafs have not won the Cup since 1967 - the year my mother and father were married, and three years before I came to the world only a few blocks away Toronto General Hospital.  Even better, the team has not even made the finals in that span.

I live in San Jose, California these days, and cheer for the Sharks these days. Of course, the Sharks differ from the Leafs in that they get to round two of the playoffs before choking, rather than skipping the playoffs altogether.

This year, it's not just Maple Leaf fans who are shut out.

For the first time since 1970, no team from Canada has qualified for the playoffs.  Not once will a playoff puck be dropped in a Canadian city this year. 

Granted, more than two thirds of the teams now play in the US, and the population of Canada is roughly 10 per cent of its huge neighbour to the south. Canadian players still comprise the bulk of the guys who lace up each game, however. 

But even that is changing - the 2015-2016 season is the first time in the 98 years of the NHL, less than half of the players are Canadian.  According to TSN, 50.2% of the roster spots are made up of non-Canadian-born players.

Americans are the next-largest group (about 25%), but even their numbers have eroded slightly, with Swedes and Russians picking up the slack.

Oh well; here is a flashback to 1992, when the Blue Jays took the World Series.

"For we got your World Series trophy. And we might not be giving it back...."