Sunday, October 19, 2008

Of Melting Pots

The enigmatic issue of what makes someone American has been raging on in that crazy old place I like to call to a head. The stem of such confusions comes from America's greatest asset, its diversity: racial diversity that is probably unsurpassed and economic diversity that follows that same trend. Most important of all is the huge differences between the stereotypes of the states. In very few other countries could there be such a scattering of mindsets and affiliations. The open-arms attitude of, say, San Francisco to the blatant intolerance that my arch-nemesis Jeremy Clarkson revealed in Alabama.
Whilst such demographics will likely be at odds with one another, that is part of what makes America so unique, so remarkable. That such different people can all fit under the same umbrella is simply amazing. To think that a little over 100 years ago, the survival of the union was in jeopardy just adds to the achievement of the country. Largely, this a consequence of a government that has checks and balances stuffed into every perceivable corner. Most people are kept satisfied because their view is accounted for. Those that aren't have suitable avenues to pursue their grievances but most of all, the government has legitimacy. It has never been fallen victim of a coup. It subsists thanks to a constitution designed for the people, by the people. Most importantly though, American civilization has survived thanks largely to internal pacifism. True, the Native Americans and Mexicans suffered at the hand of overzealous American expansion but in the case of the Native Americans, this was largely due to their inability to bond together and fight back. On the other hand, the settlers united in a common cause, so called Manifest Destiny and unquestionably achieved their aims.
Therefore, it is more than a little perturbing that the Bush Administration and thus 150 million people didn't mind tearing apart two countries, if not the world over the need to institute a democratic political system. Surely by now the government might actually understand that stability must always take a front seat to political change. It simply does not work to set up a democratic government by means of force. The notion that such a theory might work is in itself a paradox. Democracy, rule by the people just can't be put into place without a democratic process. It has to be an evolution, or if not that then popularly welcomed revolution. That a naive teenager can recognize this whilst the cabinet of the world's mos powerful nation cannot beautifully illustrates how America has got itself and thus the world into such a hole.
This brings me onto my next point. Brains are obviously required to govern any country, few more so than the USA. Once again, I am baffled that about 140 million of my compatriots see fit to elect John McCain and Sarah Palin to the White House. How the presence of a notorious womanizer and a local, corrupt former beauty queen in the Oval Office would benefit our ailing reputation is beyond me. Let common sense prevail. See that Barack Obama and Joe Biden take the reigns.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Odds-Defying Continues

The Vancouver Canucks lead the way Western Conference in goal scoring, something that hasn't been meant to happen since the ugly demise of the West Coast Express. That's right, the Canucks have spread around 11 goals in just two games since that wonderful night last Thursday when the Flames were hit for six. Just two days later and once more the Canucks emerged the victors, coming back from 3-1 down for Pavol Demitra to scoop in Alex Burrows's rebound. More to the point, Demitra showed more emotion after that one goal that Naslund did through most of his career. That emotion was present throughout the team and that made it very difficult for the Flames to keep up. Outhustled, outskated - outplayed, the Flames are the wrong end of a 12 goal differential after one preseason game and two regular season contests against Vancouver.
Whether the boys will manage to sustain the offensive onslaught remains to be seen but the early signs are good: already, the Canucks have five multi-point players with more set to join the list after Monday's showdown with Alex Ovechkin's Capitals. Of course, all depends on the play of perennial All-Star Roberto Luongo but when the team is averaged 5.5 goals per game, thinks are a lot easier. Indeed, many commentators stated that last year's stagnant forward group would have made the playoffs had it not been for the bullet-ridden rearguard. Once more though, the injury bug is always lurking around the corner. Kevin Bieksa, returning from a badly lacerated calf, went down awkardly in the second half of the long weekends home-and-home and flew back to Vancouver to have an MRI on his knee. The team will be fine for the time being - so deep is the defense that Nolan Baumgartner, who had 34 points in the bigs just 2 years ago is currently off by the wayside with the Manitoba Moose. That said, if injuries once more become habitual, it will be a long season marked only by the potential arrival of John Tavares or Victor Hedman.
All the while, the Canucks must continue to play fundamentally sound hockey. Goal scoring is all good and fine but grit and defense must be equal components of the team's mindset if success is going to continue throughout the season.
NB: It appears my advice went unheard: The Canucks went down 5-1 to the Caps last night having only registered 10 shots. Gee, that's awful: more goals in their first two games then shots in their third.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Defying All Odds

The puck drops tomorrow at the Pengrowth Saddeldome in Calgary when the Vancouver Canucks open the season on the road to the hometown Flames. Even prior to the offseason, doubts surrounded the teams chances in 2008-9. No one was quite sure how the team would fare if impending free agents and stalwarts, Trevor Linden, Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund did not resign. When all three walked, the team entered the Victor Hedman/John Tavares sweepstakes in the eyes of many popular media outlets. ESPN, TSN and many others all claimed that Canucks would miss the playoffs by a mile. ESPN also figured No.8 defenseman Lawrence Nycholat to be good for 70 points and +37, so obviously this should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Nonetheless, hardly anyone outside the Canucks faithful gave the team a chance, chastising rookie GM Mike Gillis for being seduced by the ongoing availiability of Hall of Fame lock, Mats Sundin. Three months had passed and the 6ft 5 Swede hadn't signed in Vancouver. How on earth were the Canucks headed for the playoffs?
Then the exhibition season happened. The intricacies aren't important but basically the boys in blue and green set a searing 6-1 pace over teams such as San Jose, Calgary, Edmonton and Anaheim - all seen as playoff teams. Despite no superstar forward signing, the Canucks recorded 25 goals, almost 4 goals per game. That would put them comfortably in the upper third of the league, not bad for a team with "no scoring prowess." All this and they did it with a slapdash lineup against teams who largely used their opening night rosters.
How are they doing it?
Well, the new triplet, Steve Bernier is fitting in well with the Sedins, Mason Raymond and Pavol Demitra are made together. Jannick Hansen was seperated at birth from Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler. Oh yeah, and the presence of a fourth line that makes no bones about dropping the gloves offers a refreshing change.
The defensive core looks as solid as ever. No one player has stuck out - all have been exemplary. The same can be said for Roberto Luongo, who has recovered spectacularly after an awful playoff run last year when his mind was so clearly distant from the rink. Curtis Sanford also enjoyed an unbeaten preseason. However, the capping point is that, unlike last season when Brendan Morrison and Sami Salo - among others- started the season injured in the press box, only depth defenceman Lawrence Nycholat is suffering from any form of malady.
This year's Vancouver Canucks are yin to last year's yang and in the opinions of many, that is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


The Clinton Clan really should found their own political party. For the two-time President and his wife to refrain from putting their full support behind their party's nominee, Barack Obama, is absolutely disgusting. Putting family before country has no place in the United States, at least when the stability of the nation is concerned. For Hillary to then brazenly commend Sarah Palin for her efforts adds fuel to a fire that no one would want to stoke with barely 3 weeks remaining to the election.
Just what the Clintons' aims in this heinous tactic is remains to be seen. Obviously Hillary was feeling the flames when she, the presumptive nominee before the Primaries actually got going, succumbed to the intelligence and charisma of one Barack Obama, who now sits 5 points up on John McCain. Still, its not like Clinton's demise was Obama's fault. He had the moral fibre to refrain from liberal assaults on Hillary's questionable honesty. She just could not keep up with his slick, legitimate campaign for the Democratic nomination. With regards to fundraising, Obama may as well have written the record book, hauling in around $60 million a month. Hillary on the other hand struggled to avoid sinking into the red. For her to seek closure by throwing veiled support Palin's way is simply ridiculous. Whatever respect the family holds right now will be lost should this trend of jealous retribution continue.
Ironically, John McCain has borrowed Hillary's campaign problems. He too is struggling to keep up with the Obama machine and has thus turned the attack dogs out on the Illinois Senator. Once more, the public isn't responding well. Once more, the public will vote against you.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Gleaming Facade

Sarah Palin has not had much going for her this last fortnight. For that, we are all forever indebted to Katie Couric. Somehow, the Alaskan Angie emerged from last night's debate relatively unscathed. As usual, we are all baffled as to just how that is. She is the most corrupt, most neocon person, let alone woman to have a legitimate shot at the White House in a long time. Her policies make those of George W. Bush look sensible. Lost in a sea of radical creationism and economic wishwash is a compass that, inexplicably, gets the Alaska Governor out of more bonds than 007. Even Washington's most knowledgeable commentators have stumbled when trying to explain just how a woman who in many cases has no policy, no facts, commands so much respect from the American people.
Its easy to understand how the analysts missed the answer: it was staring them in the face. Simply put, Sarah Palin is at the level of the average Midwestern voter. Facts don't matter because she can relate to them. That is an unfortunate reflection on that huge chosm of our society. Resentment to the articulate politicos of Capitol Hill has festered to such a level that someone like Palin can come in and rack up ridiculous popularity basically for the simple reason that she is one of them. It doesn't matter that she doesn't know squat, that she's corrupt and backward. The only relevant issue is that she does not fit the traditional mold of the alleged Washington bureaucrats and among the down-at-hand, that is a good thing.
Such an image makes it hard to forget that what Palin proposes is essentially a more partisan form of Bush's reign of terrifying stupidity. Read: American popularity, economy to think further. Her response in the debate with Joe Biden to the economic difficulties was that "we must stop being pushed around by the banks," or words to that effect. Words that mean basically nothing in political terms.
Most of the world realises this. Now all we need is for American down-at-hand to give up the illusion. We need change and that is something that only Barack Obama can deliver.