Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The NHL failed to protect Sidney Crosby


Sidney Crosby is a mere 24 years old, but it seems as if he has played in the NHL for ages.  Sid the Kid was born August 7, 1987 (that's why he wears number 87 on his sweater) in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  and grew up in nearby Cole Harbour. 

Crosby has achieved much in the sport of hockey and as an athlete.  He already has a Stanley Cup ring and an Olympic gold medal.  Since he launched his NHL career at the age of 18 in 2005, The Kid has scored 215 goals in 412 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Sid was awarded the Art Ross Trophy, the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Trophy for 2006-07 and was named captain of the Penguins on May 31, 2007.  He became the youngest team captain in NHL history at 19 years, 9 months.  When he led the Penguins to a  Stanley Cup victory in 2009, Crosby earned the distinction of being the youngest captain ever to win the championship.  He was just 21 years old when he hoisted hockey's holy grail.

In comparison, Bobby Orr was 22 when he won a Stanley Cup ring with the Boston Bruins in 1970.  Wayne Gretzky was an old man of 23 when he won his first Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1984.  The Great One was captain of the Oilers when they won their first championship and his playing days lasted much longer than Orr's.

Bobby Orr was just 30 years old in 1978 when he was forced to relinquish his hockey career.  Due to repeated injuries to his left knee, Orr was unable to continue.  Bobby played six games of the 1978-79 season for the Chicago Black Hawks before informing them he was no longer fit to play.

Wayne Gretzky retired from the game in 1999.   He was 38 years old when he played his final NHL game in a New York Rangers uniform at Madison Square Garden.  Gretzky told sports journalist Scott Morrison that his last game in New York was "my greatest day in hockey."  He said, "Everything about the sport of hockey as a kid, driving to practice with mom (Phyllis) and dad (Walter), driving to the game with mom and dad, looking at the stands and seeing your mom and dad and your friends, that all came together in that last game in New York."

At the age of 24, Sidney Crosby is now at a crossroads in his life and in his career.  In February of 2010 he thrilled Canadians by scoring the winning goal in the gold medal game between Team Canada and Team USA at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  There was great celebration across the land as the pride of Cole Harbour led his country to Olympic gold.  On New Year's Day 2011, however, Sidney was hit by David Steckel of the Washington Capitals during the second period of the NHL Winter Classic outdoor game at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.  He left the ice in severe pain.

To watch a video of Steckel's blindside hit on Sidney Crosby, click on the link below.

Sidney participated in Pittsburgh's next game on January 5, 2011, but again left the ice after his head was pounded into the boards following a hit by the Tampa Bay Lightning's Victor Hedman.  He has not played a game since and has suffered from post-concussion syndrome. 

Perhaps Sidney Crosby has achieved too much too soon.  If he were never to play another NHL game, what would he miss out on?  He already has a Stanley Cup ring and an Olympic gold medal?  He's financially set for life.  Athletes, however, do not think that way.  They continually set new goals for themselves and they want to compete.  Their competitive nature is such that they will place their health in jeopardy.

Sidney Crosby has said that he wants to return to the ice.  His agent, Pat Brisson of CAA Sports, has adamantly denied speculation that Croby has suffered a setback in his recovery.  Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero has told reporters that Sidney "has progressed really well this summer" and that the centre is expected to return to Pittsburgh for evaluation prior to the opening of the team's training camp on September 17th.  It remains uncertain, however, whether Sid will be in the lineup when the Penguins open their regular season in Vancouver on Oct. 6th.

The harsh truth is that Sidney Crosby will probably never be the same again.  He will always fear getting hit and experiencing another concussion.  I am certain, though, that he will make every attempt to resume his career even though it will be impossible to dismiss what has happened.  It would be wiser for Sidney to retire now, but he won't do it.  His heart won't let him because his heart is in the game.  It is also true that the NHL has too much invested in the young man to just let him walk away from professional hockey too easily.  He is one of the league's premiere players, a bona fide star.  Yet, the NHL has not done enough to protect the Sidney Crosby's of the game. 

David Steckel did not receive a penalty or a suspension for his blindside hit on Sidney Crosby.  Why not?  As Crosby himself said, "I know it's a fast game and I think everybody understands it's a fast game - I've been hit a thousand times - but when you get hit like that there's nothing you can do.  Those are things that hopefully (the NHL) pays more attention to.  It's easy to say that being in this situation, but those two hits - looking back I can't say I should have done something different or had my head down.  I wouldn't change anything."

The NHL will only have itself to blame if Sidney Crosby's career is cut short or if he suffers another concussion.  It should have imposed very severe penalties on blindside hits a long time ago.  Perhaps if it had, Steckel would have thought twice before blindsiding Sidney Crosby.  For shame, NHL!

- Joanne

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Another natural disaster is no coincidence. It's climate change!


As I write this, Hurricane Irene is wreaking its havoc.  Here in Toronto, we are not in the path of this terrible storm.  We will escape Irene's wrath.  For that, I am eternally thankful.  Others, however, will not be as fortunate.  They will not escape the ire of Irene.  Sadly, many have already felt the impact this natural nightmare.  They have fallen victim to its voracious appetite for destruction.

Irene is yet another disaster in a record disaster year.  According to an article by Stephanie Pappas on the website, the hurricane is poised to be the 10th billion dollar disaster of 2011, breaking 2008's dubious distinction of having a record number of billion-dollar disasters in a year. 

In March of this year, Japan experienced the most powerful earthquake in its history.  Its recovery from that disaster will take years.  There is also a  humanitarian crisis in Eastern Africa of immense proportion.  Millions are in danger of starvation due to drought, particularly in Somalia. 

According to a report realeased by the National Climatic Data Center (August 2011, prior to Hurricane Irene), damage from national disasters in the United States surpassed $35 billion this year.  While it is certainly true that populations have increased and property damage has become more costly, it is also true that the disasters have become more severe and more frequent.

Here in Canada, my own province of Ontario was recently hit by a tornado.  On the afternoon of August 21, 2011, a devastating storm touched down on the beautiful town of Goderich on the eastern shore of Lake Huron.  A 61-year-old man was killed and 37 others were injured.  Power lines fell and roofs were torn off houses.  Century old trees were uprooted instantly. 

Along with summer floods and tornadoes, this year has been chalk full of natural disasters.  The impact on human lives and the economic costs are staggering.  The world has been reeling from one crisis to another.  The reason is climate change.  The evidence is mounting.  Climate change deniers refuse to believe it.  They don't want to believe it.  Perhaps, now that a hurricane has closed down New York City, the economic heart of America, maybe they'll think twice.  It's starting to hit close to home - right in their own wallets.  Unfortunately, it will take much more than the disastrous events of 2011 for those diehards  to see the light. 

- Joanne

Friday, August 26, 2011

Houdini's Amazing Stunt


No prison can hold me; no hand or leg irons or steel locks can shackle me.  No ropes or chains can keep me from my freedom.

- Harry Houdini

On this day, 104 years ago, the legendary escape artist Harry Houdini performed one of his most amazing stunts.  It happened on August 26, 1907 at San Francisco's Aquatic Park.  With his hands handcuffed behind his back and with over 75 pounds of ball and chain locked to his body, the great illusionist plunged into San Francisco Bay.  He escaped from his shackles in 57 seconds.

The following words about Houdini appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on August 26, 1907.  They were written by Ashton Stevens.

Everybody will tell you how he does the trick, but no two bodies will tell you the same way.  He is as mysterious as salad, and yet, apparently, as ingenious as a detective. 


* Harry Houdini died on Halloween.  He passed away on October 31, 1926 in Detroit, Michigan.  His appendix had burst and he died from peritonitis, an inflammations of the appendix.

*  Houdini claimed to have been born in Appleton, Wisconsin.  He was actually born in Budapest, Hungary and immigrated to the United States as a child.

*  Houdini was Jewish, the son of Rabbi Mayer Weisz. 

*  When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Houdini tried to enlist in the army but was rejected because he was 43 years old.

*  Harry and his wife, Bess, did not have any children.  They married in 1894 and Bess became his  stage assistant.  She died in California in 1943 at the age of 67.

Houdini and Bess

*  Houdini was diminutive.  Most biographers estimate his height to have been only 5 ft. 5 inches.



The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex. 

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

American women fought long and hard for the right to vote.  So did Canadian women.  Here in Canada, women were given the right to vote in federal elections when An Act to confer the Electoral Franchise upon Women was made law by the Canadian Parliament on May 24, 1918.  The law came into effect on January 1, 1919.

In the U.S., the House of Representatives passed the Nineteenth Amendment on May 21, 1919.  Two weeks later, the Senate followed suit.  Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1919, signifying the agreement of 3/4 of the states.  It became official when Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification on August 26, 1920 - exactly 91 years ago.

U.S. President Barack Obama declared August 26 "Women's Equality Day" in a proclamation issued by the White House yesterday.  In his declaration, Obama said, "I call upon the people of the United States to celebrate the achievements of women and recommit ourselves to the goal of gender equality in this country."  Obama said the Nineteenth Amendment "tore down the last formal barrier to women's enfranchisement in our Nation and empowered America's women to have their voices heard in the halls of power."

According to a statement by U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, women now represent one in four state legislators, 17 members of the 100-member U.S. Senate, three of the nine justices on the American Supreme Court, 74 generals in the armed forces and 7 cabinet positions in the Obama Administration.

- Joanne

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We will miss you, Jack Layton


I woke up to the sad news yesterday that Jack Layton had died at the age of 61.  His passing was a great loss to Canada.  Whether one agreed with his politics or not, the man was inspiring.  Even his fiercest political critics had a grudging respect for his sincerity and his dedication.

In the last election campaign, although stricken with prostate cancer and a broken hip, he displayed a feistiness and a determination that earned him much admiration.  Smiling Jack connected with the Canadian people and he seemed more energetic than his healthier adversaries. 

Elections campaigns are gruelling, even for the fittest of candidates.  Layton must have been in incredible pain.  Yet he soldiered on, waving his cane, and appeared to gain energy as the campaign progressed.

Jack's campaign style paid dividends.  An orange NDP wave swept through the province of Quebec and the party rode that tide to an unprecedented number of seats throughout the country.  When the votes were counted on May 2, 2011, Layton found himself the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.  He and his party were perfectly positioned to form a future government.

Not long after Jack's greatest political triumph, he was diagnosed with a new and virulent form of cancer.  Canadians were shocked by his gaunt and sickly appearance as he informed them of the devastating news.  The fighting spirit was still there, but the gravity of his illness was quite evident.

Now Jack Layton is gone and we'll never know what he could have accomplished as Opposition Leader.  He had his cake, but he never had the opportunity to eat it.  With Jack's absence, the Canadian political landscape is oddly bereft and littered with question marks.

In 2009, I saw Jack and his wife, Olivia Chow, at a fundraising gala for an organization called Toronto ALPHA (Association for Learning and Preserving the History of World War II in Asia).  Toronto ALPHA was founded by Dr. Joseph Wong and its goal is to promote peace and reconciliation through knowledge of historical truths.

At the gala, Jack and Olivia presided over an auction to raise money for ALPHA.  I was impressed by the duo's enthusiasm and their tenacity as they attempted to auction items to help the cause.  They were utterly determined to get the highest bids possible.  Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to speak to either one of them that night.

It's difficult to imagine Olivia without Jack.  They were such a team and they always seemed to be having fun.  They looked so genuinely happy together.

The last months of Jack Layton's life can only be described as a profile in courage. He set an example for all citizens, especially those battling cancer. In his final poignant letter to Canadians, he wrote: "To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don't be discouraged that my own journey has not gone as well as I had hoped.  Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease.  You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future."

Rest in Peace, Smiling Jack.


Palindrome: A word, phrase, number. verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward.

Here is the usual list of ten palindromes for a Tuesday.

1.  Anne, I vote more cars race Rome to Vienna.

2.  Some men interpret nine memos.

3.  Dee saw a seed.

4.  Del saw a sled.

5.  Feeble Tom's motel beef.

6.  Yawn a more Roman way!

7.  Rise to vote, sir.

8.  Otto made Ned a motto.

9.  Pets never even step.

10.  Ma is as selfless as I am.

- Joanne

Monday, August 22, 2011

Enchanting Prince Edward Island and Cavendish Beach

MONDAY,  AUGUST 22, 2011

I have just returned from a visit to the Maritimes.  In Prince Edward Island, my husband and I stayed at a cottage in Cavendish.  Although I've been to P.E.I. before, I never stop tiring of its natural beauty.  More and more, I realize why Lucy Maud Montgomery was so enamoured of her island home.

Cavendish Beach enchanted me with its red sandstone cliffs.  Here are some photos I took of the beach on a delightfully sunny day.  We were fortunate to enjoy such ideal weather during our visit.  We were told that it was the first week of really good weather they had had all summer.


Below are some other pictures taken in the Cavendish area.  They illustrate the lush greenness of the island.

We visited Prince Edward Island National Park where the Anne of Green Gables house is located.  Below are some photos of Lucy Maud Montgomery beloved Balsam Hollow Trail and Haunted Wood Trail.

Haunted Wood Trail

- Joanne 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Halifax Harbour on a Sunday afternoon


Sunday was bright and sunny in Nova Scotia's capital city.  It was the perfect time for two tourists from Toronto to take a leisurely stroll around Halifax Harbour.  There was plenty activity, including a busker's festival.  Unfortunately, my husband and I arrived just as the jugglers and others were finishing up for the day.

We passed the afternoon gazing at the sailboats, snapping photographs and sipping lemonade.  We also had a lengthy discussion with a native Newfoundlander.  The man was sitting alone and we struck up a conversation with him.  It seems he now lives in Manitoba and is quite excited about the return of the Winnipeg Jets.  In fact, he was wearing a cap with the Jets' new logo.  Yet, during the course of the conversation, it became evident that Newfoundland is still in his soul.

Here are some photos of Halifax Harbour that I would like to share with you.  I hope you enjoy them.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this fiddler.

Jugglers packing up

We are now at a cottage in P.E.I., the gentle island.  We are staying in the Cavendish area, right in the heart of Anne of Green Gables country.  It is so peaceful and enchanting here in Canada's smallest province.  Prince Edward Island has a population of about 142,000 people whereas my home province of Ontario is home to over 13 million.  I will report to you again as soon as I have the opportunity.

- Joanne

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why this Torontonian loves Maritime Canada

SUNDAY, AUGUST  14, 2011

Consider this my paeon of praise to the Maritimes, a .love letter to Maritime Canadians m someone who has lived in Toronto her entire life.  I have only one direct link to the Maritimes.  My uncle married a wonderful woman from Cape Breton Islnad.

Thank you Nova Scotia for Sidney Crosby of Cole Harbour and Anne Muuay of Springhill.  Thank you for The Blue Nose and Peggy's Cove.  Thank you for the Cabot Trail, a taste of the Scottish Highlands in Canada. 

Thank you Prince Edward Island for Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables and P.E.I. potatoes.  Thank you for being the Cradle of Confederation where the idea of a country called Canada was conceived at the Charlottetown Conference of 1864.

Thank you New Brunswick foe your Acadian heritage and culture.  Thank for the famed Reversing Falls and Magnetic Hill.

Oh yes, thanks Maritimers, for your seafood, especially the clam chowder.

I am writing this from the beautiful city of Halifax, Nova Scotia where my husband and I are vacationing this week.  I will keep you posted in the days ahead and I will share pictures with you.  We are leaving for Prince Edward Island tomorrow.

- Joanne

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why the comics are good for you


As a lifelong comics aficionado, I can attest to the sheer joy of reading cartoons.  When I pick up the newspaper, I quickly turn to the comics page.  I need my comics fix before I tackle the hard news.  During the worst of times, the comics are guaranteed to boost my morale.  Pure fun and harmless escapism is what they offer.  At the very least, they provide a gentle release from the fast pace and the stress of life in the 21st century. 

Since the first successful comic strip, Mutt and Jeff, appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle over a century ago, comics have delighted newspaper readers and made their day a little bit brighter.  Back in November of 1907, Chronicle cartoonist, Bud Fisher, began drawing a daily comic strip titled "Mr. Mutt."  Mutt was tall and gangly and he enjoyed playing the horses.  It wasn't long before Fisher created another character whom he named Mr. Jeff.  Jeff was a diminutive man who wore a top hat and resembled a dishevelled Monopoly Man.

Bud Fisher turned Mutt and Jeff over to another cartoonist named Al Smith in 1932 and Smith drew the strip until two years before it ceased production in 1982.  Although it isn't popular expression anymore, "Mutt and Jeff" is a term used to describe a couple consisting of a tall and a short person: eg. "The Mutt and Jeff duo have been together for ten years."

Mutt and Jeff

Another expression inspired by a cartoon strip character is a Dagwood Sandwich.  The term originates from the popular long-running cartoon Blondie.  Blondie's husband, Dagwood Bumstead, has a penchant for making huge multi-layered sandwiches with a wide assortment of fillings.  By the way, Blondie was created by American cartoonist Chic Young and first appeared in newspapers on September 8, 1930.  Chic Young drew Blondie until his passing in 1973 after which his son, Dean Young, took over control of the strip.  Dean continues to write Blondie and has collaborated with a number of artists over the years in drawing the strip.

A Dagwood Sandwich

Comics cannot be simply dismissed as mindless entertainment for the masses or bubblegum for the soul. Bill Watterson, author of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, put it best when he said, "True, comics are popular art, and yes, I believe their primary obligation is to entertain, but comics go beyond that, and when they do, they move from silliness to significance."

Many immigrants have learned English by reading the funnies and comics have also served as an educational tool for generations of children.  Some cartoonists use their strips as a forum to promote an opinion.  For biting political and social commentary, look no further than Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury Doonesbury is so controversial that some newspapers have run it on their opinion pages and, over the years, it has provided a daily chronicle of American politics with its brand of satiric humour.

Some people enjoy comics because there is a certain comfort and a feeling of security about following the adventures and escapades of the same character for years.  Fans really care about their favourite characters and become engrossed in their follies and foibles.  With the notable exception of Canadian cartoonist Lynn Johnson's For Better or For Worse, most comic strip characters remain the same in age and appearance - although some character have undergone an update in hairstyle and clothing over the years. 

After almost 111 years in the same comic strip, Blondie's fair tresses have not turned grey.  Dagwood still sports the same unruly haircut and Mr. Dithers is still his boss.  Elmo the paperboy has never grown up.  Neither have the children in the comic strip Family Circus, although their mother's hair has been given a more modern style.

Lynn Johnson took a different approach to her comic strip.  She aged the characters For Better or For Worse in real time.  Johnston, a woman in a male-dominated field, has enjoyed unprecedented success  as female cartoonist.  For Better or For Worse began in 1979 and fans followed the adventures of the Patterson children - Michael, Elizabeth and April - as they grew into adulthood.  There were even deaths in that comic strip.  The family dog, Farley, died heroically after saving April from drowning and the childrens' maternal grandmother passed away. 

For Better or For Worse was supposed to end its run on August 31, 2008.  Lynn Johnston, however, announced that instead, she would take the story back almost 30 years to almost its beginning.  The strip would continue with a combination of repeats and new material.

Whatever your age, whatever your economic status, you can enjoy the comics. They are easily accessible to all, not just to an elite.  Devotees are passionate about their favourite cartoons.  They begin their morning by savouring the comics along with their breakfast.  Reading the comics is an integral part of their day and it brings them unconditional happiness. 

Comics are affordable and they're not detrimental to your health.  They put a genuine smile on your face and unlike junk food, they are non-fattening and cholesterol free.  For the price of a newspaper or a click on the Internet, they're all yours to enjoy.

I have to admit that I prefer my comics in the traditional newspaper format, although it is difficult to reach a younger generation that way.  In an effort to reach a wider audience, therefore, comic book distributors have made it possible to view comics on mobile devices, tablets and various electronic gizmos.  You can order screen savers and comic strips to view at your leisure, but no matter how and where you read them, comics remain one of life's non-guilty pleasures.  So here's to the funnies!  If you have children, encourage them to read the comics.  Just don't tell them it's good for them.


Why wasn't Jack hired to work in the delicatessen?


Because he couldn't cut the mustard



Congratulations to third baseman Brett Lawrie for blasting his first career grand slam last night here in Toronto.  Lawrie's grand salami let the Blue Jays to an 8-4 victory over the Oakland A's.  The 21-year-old Canadian has not been in the majors long, but has certainly wowed Blue Jays fans.  Boy, was the kid happy!  He was so elated that he could hardly contain himself.  It was great to see and if he remains healthy, he could have a stellar career ahead of him.

Horse Racing

My congratulations also to jockey Luis Contreras.  The 25-year-old native of Mexico is wowing fans at Woodbine Racetrack here in Toronto.  Last Sunday (August 10), he rode six horses to victory on a 10-race card.  One of those wins occurred in the third and final jewel of Canada's Triple Crown, the Breeders' Stakes.  Pender Harbour, with Contreras aboard, won the race by a nose.

With that victory, Luis Contreras made Canadian thoroughbred racing history.  He became the first jockey to win all three Canadian Triple Crown events with two horses.  Contreras guided Inglorious to victory in the Queen's Plate on June 26th.  Inglorious did not race in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie, which Pender Harbour won with Contreras in the saddle.

- Joanne

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, Barack Obama! I hope you're re-elected in 2012


U.S, President Barack Obama turns 50 years old today.  He was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii.  That's right, HONOLULU, HAWAII - not anywhere else.  I hope that ridiculous "birther" dispute has come to a merciful end, but I doubt that radical conservatives will ever let it rest.  They will never accept Hawaii as the President's birthplace. 

Thank goodness that Obama is President of the United States and not some Tea Party Republican.  If Dwight Eisenhower were alive today, he would weep for his party.  Ike would be appalled that the Grand Old Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln, has been hijacked by a movement of far-right, uncompromising, xenophobic neo-conservatives.  This Tea Party faction has eschewed Eisenhower's moderate approach and has replaced it with an attitude of utter intransigence, particularly on matters of taxation.

President Obama did not cause the recession and he did not cause the debt crisis.  Nevertheless, he is being blamed for the woeful state of America's economy and its large deficit.  Why?  Is Obama responsible for the damage caused by hedge funds and subprime mortgages?  How is the the large deficit his fault when he merely inherited it from his predecessor?  When George W. Bush came to office in 2001, he was left a surplus by Bill Clinton.  Bush went on to spend trillions on tax cuts and wars.  Isn't it funny how some conservatives preach fiscal restraint and then spend like drunken sailors.

Barack Obama has been in office for less than three years.  The Great Recession began in 2008 - before he was sworn in as President.  Less than three years haves passed since his inauguration.  Nobody expected Franklin Roosevelt to dig U.S. out of the Great Depression in less than three years.

I realize that many on the left are disappointed in the President.  They do not think he has been progressive enough even though the Republicans (especially those of the Tea Party persuasion) are breathing down his neck.  The United States has a system of checks and balances and the President cannot do as he pleases.  He has to answer to the Republicans because they control the House of Representatives.

Having said that, I am not an uncritical admirer of the President.  In many ways he has been disappointing.  He came into office with high hopes and high expectations.  He himself fueled that hope.  He based his presidential campaign on it even though no one could have lived up to those lofty expectations.  At times I wish he'd be more forceful, more firm about standing up for his beliefs.  I certainly believe in compromise, but I think that Obama at times can be compromising to a fault. 

Certainly he is under enormous pressure and he has one of the most stressful jobs in the world.  Sometimes he has no choice but to sacrifice some of  what he would like to achieve in order to accomplish anything at all.  I just wish he would deliver more.

The Republican right sees Obama as some kind of rabid socialist, the great American Castro.  That view of the President is so ludicrous that's it's laughable.  The President supports tax increases for the wealthiest Americans and the Tea Party regards him a flaming communist!  Just because the mildly liberal Obama doesn't regard government as a dirty word, doesn't make him  Chairman Mao or Stalin. 

Those furthest on the left feel that Obama has completely sold out to the interests of big business.  To them, he has utterly failed to meet their progressive agenda.  They are not happy with his health care legislation and believe that it has been too watered down.  More moderate liberals contend that the Presdident did well to even get a health insurance program in place.  The Republicans sneer and vow to dismantle what they call "Obamacare."

While the Amrerican economy continues to struggle, here in Canada, our economy has been doing well in comparison to other countries.  Our financial institutions are better regulated and our Conservative government has actually implemented a stimulus plan.  I have heard commentators on U.S. television say that the fragile American economy proves that Obama's stimulus program hasn't worked.  Did they ever stop to think that the U.S. economy would be worse off and unemployment even higher if there hadn't been a stimulus program?

When I look at the most prominent world leaders, I can't name one who is preferable to the dignified Barack Obama?  Who is better?  Nicolas Sarkozy of France?  Germay's Angela Merkel?  British Prime Minister David Cameron?  Italy's scandal-ridden Silvio Berlusconi?  Russia's macho-man, Vladimir Putin (he really runs the show there, not President Dmitry Medvedev?  Canada's own Stephen Harper?

This being a milestone birthday for him, Obama is undoubtedly reflecting on his life and his future.  I hope he can find a little time to spend with Michelle and the girls - ooops, sorry - I forgot that only conservatives have family values.

Happy 50th, President Obama.

- Joanne