Rob Ford, the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto, has received a lot of publicity for, well, smoking crack. From the time he danced around whether he had smoked crack, Ford became more apparent outside Toronto and Canada. And of course, when the police discovered the video, suddenly Ford was a lot more open.
But the folks at CanadianCrossing.com have had their eyes on Ford for some time. We thought you should read about Rob Ford pre-crack as well as post-crack. So enjoy these columns courtesy of our friends at CanadianCrossing.com.
How Rob Ford spent (part of) my summer vacation (8/21/2012)
Rob Ford: Liability to Toronto Argonauts (11/15/2013)
Rob Ford looks better in the eyes of the U.S. media (11/20/2013)
I had resisted the temptation to write about the government shutdown. This obviously one-sided battle was being masqueraded as an “Obama shutdown” once it became unpopular (which happened pretty quickly). The olé style of U.S. cable news allowed for the question: “Whose shutdown was this?”. The scores should have been along the line of “Which direction does the sun rise in the morning?” Then again, these days, you might only get 65% of Americans to tell you the sun rises in the east.
I even resisted writing about the shutdown in terms of the food supply for our sister blog, BalanceofFood.com since the whole idea of shutting down the government over not winning on Obamacare (which can help cure those suffering from obesity, as an example) seemed so clueless.
But after the allegation that Homeland Security actually shut down a farmers market for fear of protesters (that never happened in reality), well, couldn’t stop my fingers from typing fast enough.
Even if some of the stories felt invisible, the government shutdown affected thousands of lives, from salmonella victims to those who have trouble accessing food stamps money to South Dakota cattle ranchers who suffered an early blizzard and couldn’t get federal help.
Keith Olbermann returned to television last week. Don’t be alarmed if you didn’t realize this. Olbermann is not on MSNBC or Current TV or Al-Jazeera or CNN. He is doing a show on some outlet called ESPN2.
That’s right: Olbermann is doing a sports show that is called “Olbermann,” but has the feel of “Countdown.” “Time Marches On” is the reel of odd videos from the Internet. And the Worst Persons are back, but they are sports-related, and Keith goes out of his way to ask the viewing audience to not take the list literally.
But this doesn’t feel right. Keith Olbermann should have been talking this week about whether to bomb Syria or the possible shutdown of the government. And he should be telling us who the worst people in the world really are.
I am of the generation that remembers the Big Show with tag-team partners and biscuits in baskets and players that are 206 years old. And the new show plays highlights of Olbermann from his earlier stint at ESPN and ESPN2. But I also remember the sports show he hosted on Fox Sports Net (yes, he worked for Rupert Murdoch) where he read these beautiful sports essays. And in those moments, many of which he has had on the air in the last couple of weeks, we find the amazing writing talent that is Keith Olbermann.
Admittedly, some of the potential sports fans were turned off by Olbermann’s politics and perhaps his anger. In politics, those that loved Olbermann for his politics liked that he got angry because they were angry. While sports draws more passion than politics, Olbermann isn’t as angry on this show … so far.
Olbermann gets enthused, passionate about what he is talking about (find the video where Olbermann talks about his father and Satchel Paige). The tone was similar to Olbermann talking about his father’s health care when he was in the hospital. But this Olbermann, so far, hasn’t been as angry. Sports matters, but politics is about real life. And so it’s good for Olbermann that he isn’t as angry as he was on Countdown, especially on Current TV.
When Keith got upset about concussions in the NFL and those players whose lives ended prematurely because of the impact of concussions, you saw some of the passion that was there on Countdown, especially the most recent MSNBC version. It’s great to have that passion and writing skill back on television. But you still feel, deep in the back of your heart, that he still belongs in talking about politics.
On occasion, sports is the topic, but the issues of the day are just underneath the surface. Olbermann spent Labor Day with a tribute to Marvin Miller, who won freedom from the reserve clause from MLB owners. Sure the talk was about players and money, but the labor market and freedom were there if your ears could pull in the proper frequency.
Olbermann was said not to have blown up bridges at ESPN, but to have napalmed them. True to that word, Olbermann does his show in Times Square in New York City, not in Bristol, CT. To be fair, when you can’t drive (Olbermann has a long-time eye injury that doesn’t allow him to drive), New York City makes more sense than Bristol. And ESPN hasn’t evaded Olbermann’s ire on sports topics, calling out his company when appropriate.
Olbermann started an episode obsessing about a New York newspaper sports columnist on some issue with the Jets quarterback situation that was picturesque Olbermann, except that outside New York City, no one cared about the topic. But the tone and controlled anger were sweet music, even if you didn’t care about the signal caller for the Jets.
Olbermann needs to be in a scenario where his anger is prevalent but controlled to an extent. Toward the end at MSNBC and throughout most of his time at Current TV, Olbermann was a little too angry. This made for beautiful TV, but his employers weren’t thrilled.
Tis better to have Keith Olbermann on television more than not having him on television, and sports is better off to have Keith critiquing that world. As a society, we were better off when Olbermann was going after the problems of the world. Keith seems to be very sincere in wanting to do a show about sports instead of politics.
In the first few minutes of his first episode, Olbermann made a joke at his own expense about Chris Christie’s reaction to a NFL-related story. Olbermann pointed out that Chris Christie was right … about the NFL. Perhaps that was a dig at those who love Keith but hate his politics. Or Olbermann’s way of saying “really, things are different.”
When Olbermann left MSNBC the first time, he went back to sports, so there is always a chance that he will go back somewhere someday. But the MSNBC landscape isn’t the same since he left, and Current TV is gone. That world still misses Keith Olbermann, even if he back on television. Sports, hope you appreciate what you have.
image credit: ESPN2
Thanks to the Dallas Morning News, Ted Cruz has “learned” that he has been a Canadian citizen for the last 43 years. And Cruz still doesn’t quite believe it.
And this from a sitting U.S. senator who has argued before the Supreme Court of the United States.
Cruz wants to run away from Canada by instantly renouncing his Canadian citizenship to seem “more American” in order to run for president in 2016, and he may not even be eligible for the highest office.
Fortunately, Cruz has to go through a process before renouncing the citizenship he has had since 1970. And that will give him time to learn more about Canada.
For example, does Cruz know that Canadians can visit Cuba freely and without government interference. So Cruz can use his Canadian passport to visit his father’s homeland (Cruz’s father fought for Fidel Castro, really). Cruz can also learn that the United States gets more oil from Canada than any other country (his parents were working in the oil industry in Canada when Cruz was born), and that the two countries are each other’s largest trading partner.
Ted Cruz is making his way through Iowa as if he can run for president in 2016. But Cruz has a major issue hanging over his head; he was born in Canada. And Cruz was born in Canada under the same exact circumstances where the teabaggers thought President Barack Obama was, so why would Cruz be more eligible than Obama? Teabagger logic knows no thought process.
When people joke about a president being from Canada, they usually refer back to the story of Chester A. Arthur, who allegedly was born in Quebec and not Vermont. That tale centered around a border dispute and may have been fodder from Arthur’s political enemies.
The assumption that people born in Canada can’t be president is being challenged, of sorts, by the talk of Ted Cruz running for president.
Cruz, who just got to the Senate in January replacing the retired Kay Bailey Hutchison in Texas, is being talked about as a possible presidential candidate by Tea Party people and TV pundits. Okay, not a whole lot to go on so far. But these groups don’t mention the (GOP) elephant in the room: Ted Cruz was born in Canada.
Cruz certainly thinks he has a shot at entering the 2016 presidential race. On Friday, Cruz made his first trip to Iowa, home of the first presidential caucus. Politicians who are running or thinking about the run make trips to Iowa 3 years before the caucus.
The U.S. senator from Texas placed sixth in Iowa in the Public Policy Polling survey released last week. Cruz was at 10%, 13% among men and 7% among women (among Republicans). The gender gap also is in effect, where men are more than twice to know who he is.
Unlike Arthur, Cruz clearly was born in Canada. He lived there for his first four years. By that standard, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm could be eligible to be elected president. Granholm has lived in the United States since she was 4.
Cruz theoretically has one more element in his column that was separate him from Granholm: Cruz’s mother is an American citizen.
The criteria in the Constitution is “natural born citizen.” Traditionally, that has meant being born to American parents on U.S. soil, though that standard hasn’t been challenged.
George Romney, born in Mexico to U.S. parents, ran for president in 1968. John McCain was born in the Panama Canal zone and ran for president in 2008.
Barack Obama, who is the president of the United States, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, but that didn’t stop some of the same people who support Cruz from claiming otherwise.
In fact, the Tea Party people pointed to Obama’s “illegitimacy” citing that being born to an American mother and a father who is a citizen of a foreign country outside the United States doesn’t make for a natural born citizen if that person is born outside the United States. Yet that same exact criteria applies to Ted Cruz.
Yes, Cruz’s mother is American, but his father was Cuban. And Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta and lived there for his first four years of his life.
Whether Cruz is eligible needs to be determined. If the Tea Party people are to argue that point, they need to explain why they didn’t support the same criteria for Barack Obama, if Obama’s life had existed in the Tea Party’s parallel universe.
The United States is more strict on citizenship issues than most similar countries. Being born to an American parent, even on foreign soil, does entitle you to U.S. citizenship. However, this is about being a natural born citizen, and until now, this action required a person to be born on U.S. soil to U.S. parents.
Also, to be president (and vice president) of the United States, you have to be a natural born citizen and at least 35 years of age. Contrast that with the Canadian requirements for prime minister.
Are you a citizen of Canada? Yes. Are you at least 18 years old? Yes. So if you can get elected to the House of Commons, you can be prime minister.
You certainly don’t have to be born in Canada to be prime minister. John Turner, who was born in England, served briefly as prime minister in 1984 after Pierre Trudeau’s reign before Brian Mulroney won election for the Progressive Conservatives.
Turner also didn’t hold a seat in Parliament while being prime minister, but ironically did win a seat in the election that tossed him out as prime minister.
The United States needs to decide what criteria is needed to determine who is eligible to be president. Canadians want to know if they have a shot.
Instead of being subtle about its hatred for food stamps, the GOP is being openly hostile by splitting food assistance away from the Farm Bill. But for too long, the combination of subsidies for rich farmers and food assistance has stifled the conversation about changing our food approach.
So to match the aggressiveness of the GOP, the Liberals and progressives and Democratic politicians should fight back to not only hang on to the current food assistance but also increase its effectiveness. Dems would also benefit with pointing out some of the side issues involved in food assistance, such as raising the minimum wage. When fast food workers can’t afford to eat, when people are working more than one job and are still having trouble, the food system is broken.
The following column ran June 25 on our sister site, BalanceofFood.com. Getting rid of soft drinks from purchase with SNAP assistance should be a snap. Thanks to corporate pressure, and the politicians bought with such clout, the tasks of big city mayors will be that much tougher.
If soft drinks didn’t contain high-fructose corn syrup, would you be able to buy them with food stamps? Of course, you can also buy diet drinks on food stamps, but the primary reason for why you can buy soft drinks on food stamps is corporate pressure.
18 big city mayors are fighting to limit those receiving SNAP assistance from buying soft drinks with SNAP funds.
The mayors should have the liberals and conservatives on their side in the fight. Liberals don’t like the idea of buying soft drinks on food stamps because they’re not healthy. Conservatives don’t like the idea of buying soft drinks on food stamps because they’re cheating the government.
Yes, conservatives wouldn’t like the government to tell people what they can buy and not buy on food stamps, but the government already does this.
“It is time to test and evaluate approaches limiting SNAP’s subsidization of products, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, that are contributing to obesity,” — from the letter from the mayors to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
In the battle for a better food system, not being able to buy soft drinks with SNAP assistance is a no-brainer. So why does the chances of this happening are highly slim?
Conservatives, especially those in the House of Representatives, don’t like food stamps at all. We’ve seen this in the votes on the Farm Bill.
Some of them wouldn’t like SNAP even if it worked better or more efficient. Even though we believe heartily in food stamps, we know they can work better.
By spending more money on actual healthy food, the food assistance can work smarter to improve the lives of those who have suffered a setback. More work should be done to help people spend SNAP assistance at farmers markets in a true win-win. Well, a true win-win except for large corporations and the politicians that love them more than their constituents.
Many of these politicians in the House believe heavily in food spending to go to large farms that don’t need the subsidies, including literally their own pockets.
Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) has been the most egregious of those who are willing to subsidize rich farmers instead of people struggling to eat, though Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is more famous of those who personally get large subsidies from the farm bill and vote against SNAP assistance.
Rep. Fincher, in responding to Biblical verses from Juan Vargas (D-CA) on taking care of the least of the brothers and feeding the hungry, responded with his own Bible quote from the Book of Thessalonians, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
Fincher is quoting from a letter from Paul, not from the Gospels. The reference in the Bible is to people who gave up their jobs to wait for Christ’s Second Coming, certainly not applicable here. On top of that, the verse he quoted was exalted by socialists, including Vladimir Lenin.
We should also point out to Rep. Fincher that 80% of those on SNAP assistance are working.
The Environmental Working Group notes that Fincher has received nearly $3.5 million in federal subsidies from 1999-2012, nearly $560,000 in one year alone. Fincher reportedly got about $70,000 last year as a farm subsidy.
Fincher also supported a proposal to expand crop insurance by $9 billion over the next 10 years, a bill where he would literally personally benefit.
A couple hundred people in the House — not all of them Republican, but most of them. Let’s say half of the Senate, another 50 people. The thousands of people directly affected by the potential sales of soft drinks, though the factory worker won’t get as much out of the deal as corporate executives. Let’s be generous and say that adds up to 300,000 people. That’s 300,000 out of 300 million people who are in favor of people on SNAP assistance buying soft drinks. But they have the power.
Big city mayors are the politicians who see the impact of soft drinks in poor neighborhoods. They know what is at stake. Those in Washington? Honestly, not so much.
Conservatives cry out that Washington can’t run things as well as states can, because the states are closer to what the people want. Well, city mayors are closer than states. And the reason why Washington isn’t up to speed on this isn’t because Washington can’t do so. Lift the corporate pressure on politicians and you’ll be amazed at what Washington can do.