Skip the NFL, Turn on the Grey Cup

Posted November 24, 2013 on 3:49 pm | In the category Sports, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

Here is a tip for the many Yankee readers of this column, and it is of interest  only to real football fans.

Do yourself a favour  in 3 hours.  Turn off whatever boring slugging match you are watching on the NFL Channel , and pull in that signal coming from Regina, Saskatchewan, and watch the only real old-time football game scheduled in snowy minus 30 C (who knows what that is in  Fahrenheit)  conditions  as the oldest trophy in sports, the 101st Grey Cup, goes to the winner of the Hamilton Tiger Cat /Saskatchewan Rough Rider game.   Don’t miss it, it will be the way the NFL games used to be played.

In any case, the only skilled NFL game on today (New England/Denver) has been cleverly scheduled to follow up on the Grey Cup game and pick up the few exhausted  football fanatics, who want more.

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Bob and Doug and Uncle Rob and Doug and what it means to be a real hoser

Posted November 22, 2013 on 2:40 am | In the category Canada, Press | by Mackenzie Brothers

Ace foreign correspondent of  the Mackenzie Brothers Network Wally Balloo, or possibly Artie Schermarhorn – it was impossible to determine precisely who was reporting, as both had called in simultaneously though they were both inexcusably behind schedule – reports from Toronto, Canada, that Bob and Doug McKenzie’s uncles Rob and Doug, bigger than life mayor and largest city councilor of Canada’s  largest city, have been dramatically displaying why  its previous name, Hogtown, was indeed well-considered.

My brother and I find outrageous Big Uncle Rob’s defence of smoking crack, drinking to oblivion and then driving home, knocking over a fellow female councilor while exiting the chambers in a huff and, worst of all, using a word on live tv  – for God’s sake  he spake that on the CBC  from the chambers of office – which shocked and stunned all those daytime voyeurs who would otherwise be watching Coronation Street  – that dare not be spoken – think of a little kitty cat – unless it is the name of a trio of Russian girls desecrating a church in Moscow, in which  case it is excellent , or one of those cutesy Bond girls with lots of hair, in which  case it’s funny and fabulous, and shows how nasty the Russkies are.  In some quarters he has even allowed himself to be called the biggest hoser of them all, a title that my brother and I have shared without interruption since those legendary  good old days of yore when we sat in front of cases of  Molson Canadian and waxed on about the state of Canuck culture.

Meanwhile our Central European correspondent Word Carr, winner of 16 diction prizes  just reported that Uncle Rob and his pals, after creating such mayhem that Toronto suddenly found itself in the centre of international interest, finally proved to be died-in-the-wool Canadians by ordering takeaay poutine (not Putin as most Amurcan listeners thought they had heard) for a final meal My brother and I have decided that such  unverified rumour-mongering reportage is unworthy of a veteran  reporter and Mr. Carr has been assigned to our Guam bureau.

 

 

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Hucksters and Suckers: The Politics of Healthcare in America

Posted November 20, 2013 on 10:13 am | In the category Healthcare, Obama, Politics, Press, Republican Party, Tea Party | by Jeff

For over four years we have been barraged with misinformation, disinformation, lies, and misrepresentations by the Republican party, its politicians and media hacks that has apparently convinced many Americans that a national attempt to bring down costs of health care AND to make it available to all is a bad thing.

America has the most expensive health care system in the Western world, with per capita costs 25 to 300% higher than other Western democracies’ plans. While one might assume that we get better results, one would be mistaken. Bloomberg News did a ranking of national Healthcare systems using data from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Health organization and the Hong Kong Dept, of Health (for Asian data). For any American who has bothered to look at facts beyond the political game shows played on their local TVs, the results are not surprising. The U.S. spends over $8500 per capita on health care; this is almost 4 times what Israel spends; almost 8 times what Hong Kong spends, almost three times what Italy spends, etc. See the chart at Bloomberg News.

There is no country that spends more but there is a boatload of countries that while spending less, get equal or even better results. The statistics for all of this are readily available to both American voters AND their congressional representatives and Senators. Bloomberg News’ study ranked the U.S. at 46th among nations for the effectiveness of their healthcare system. Among the countries ahead of them in the rankings were all the Western European countries, most of the advanced Asian countries, and some surprises that included Libya(!), Israel, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Canada, Turkey, the Czech Republic and the list goes on. Every part of the world except most of Africa (beyond Libya) is represented. It is – and continues to be – for the U.S., a national disgrace.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) – dubbed “Obamacare” by Republican and Tea Party hacks, is an approach to a problem that was clearly out of control. Costs were becoming prohibitive, significant parts of the population were unable to obtain affordable insurance, people with chronic, serious diseases were unable to get insurance, people that got sick soon found themselves dropped by their insurance companies and medical expenses became the most frequent driver of personal bankruptcies.

In this context the Republican party has spent the past four years lying about the ACA, promoting scare stories about its content, insulting in almost racist terms the President who initiated the plan, – in short doing everything possible to make the plan fail while presenting NO alternative plan. It has been a criminal – even traitorous – approach abetted by all Republicans, even those so-called guardians of moderation like Susan Collins of Maine. The lies have been obvious, easy to disprove by simple fact-checking, but abetted by a supine press willing to pass on the nonsense and lies without vetting or comment. The press should be ashamed for treating an issue of such fundamental importance to the public good as a crass political game.

This could not happen without a population too lazy and/or too stupid to seek and care about the truth, and a political party that has no interest in governing the country for the good of the country.. We are a country of hucksters and suckers.

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America’s Road to Oligarchy

Posted November 12, 2013 on 12:11 pm | In the category Chris Christie, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clintom, Politics, Press, Supreme Court, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

Chris Christie was all over the Sunday talk shows and the national press/media after his re-election as Governor of New Jersey, supposedly all but ensuring his nomination – or anointment – as Republican nominee for President in 2016. Time Magazine went so far as to put him on the cover under the oh-so-clever title: “The Elephant in the Room”. Then a piece in the New Republic comes along pursuing the possibility of Elizabeth Warren capsizing the USS Hillary in the race for the Democratic nomination. But, it seems to me to be waaay premature to be worrying about the candidates for 2016; too much can happen between now and then and in some ways the 2014 congressional elections may be more important, especially for domestic policies.

While Christie will have his detractors – both within and outside the Republican party – Clinton and Warren would likely be presented as polarizing figures. But it seems that any candidate for the Democratic party inevitably becomes a polarizing figure because the system  is broken.

We are a country moving in an almost inexorable way toward oligarchy with the help of the current Supreme Court, people like the Koch brothers, major financial institutions and international corporations.  While Bill Clinton was able to raise a lot of money from Wall Street his presidency was under the most vicious kind of attack from day one of his presidency, with the complicity of a mediocre press and a well-financed right-wing hate machine. The same has happened to Obama and would most certainly also happen to Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren.

The combination of an electorate unable to identify their own interests let alone vote for them, a courtier press unable to extricate itself from the ordinary thinking that dominates political discussion in America, the corrupting influence of money and the breakdown of Americans’ commitment to the common good has led to a broken country. Warren understands this and her candidacy would be welcome simply to get some very basic political issues on the table. But first, let’s see if the Democratic Party can figure out how to win back the House of Representatives in 2014. Not that I am especially hopeful.

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