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Don’t Count On Impeachments Before They’re Hatched.

The Interwebs are crackling with excitement over the possibility that finally, after an interminably frustrating 4 months in office (who thought he’d even last this long?) something might possibly stick to the, er, gold plated Teflon-coated skin of our embarrassment-in-chief. The word “impeachment,” along with “Russia,” and “Traitor” is trending, and Trump apologists are hunkered down and hiding, at least for the immediate future–Charlie Rose reports that no less than 20 Republican politicians have declined interview invitations. Twenty. This could be unprecedented, begging the question: have twenty politicians ever refused to talk on the same day before?

I remain unimpressed. I just watched a video on CNN of Paul Ryan, jabbering about how we know nothing yet, that he has to gather evidence, especially given the lengths that people have gone to in order to undermine The President. He wants to convey objectivity without breaking loyalty, and I suppose if I was a Trump supporter I’d appreciate his effort, but I’m well past the point where I give the President the benefit of a doubt. Trump has been managing his presidency like a performance art parody of a multi-cam comedy about a bungling President and his goofy staff. Think: dystopian photo-negative reimagining of that old Michael J. Fox television classic, Spin City. (Richard Kind character equated to Sean “Spicey” Spicer is perfection.) It would be hilarious, if only this was a real TV show, not the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the history of mankind.

Trump has lied on top of lies, generally refusing to recant on even the most obvious untruths. He lies for no great reason, with a conviction that suggests a pathological pattern of behavior, and he lies on grand stages about serious events. He lashes out at enemies, provokes allies, and slanders strangers, often as a calculated distraction from his own gaffes and outrages, but sometimes just for sport. Despite this behavior he is defended by those in his adopted party (most of his life, Trump voted Democrat, undoubtedly as a networking advantage in heavily Democratic New York City) not as dishonest and repugnant, but as a colorful maverick.

It is going to take a hell of a lot more than a little treason and a lot of bold lies to even consider articles of impeachment, must less dislodging this should-be Pariah from the White House. Fox News is pretty much calling fired FBI directed James Comey a liar, and the Teabaggers are circling the wagons, wrapped up in sticking it to “the man” in spite of the fact that few presidents have embodied the concept of “the man” more ably that pussy-grabbing, deal-breaking, bankruptcy-making Donald Trump.

The regressive core of the Republican party has refused to condemn Trump for childish and destructive conduct for plenty of reasons. Plenty of cowards fear him–not him exactly, although his impulsive vindictiveness certainly keeps some on edge. Rather, they fear the angry, desperate mob Trump whipped up with his phony promises and hollow nationalism, and which he still wields like a cudgel. Others are content to let him ride roughshod as long as he tears down and dismantles every component of government he can get his tiny little hands on. Some people just want to watch the world burn. Others sit back and watch Trump do it for them, like a wind-up monkey. They don’t care about international relations, or the welfare of the people, or anything outside of their ideological contempt for all things regulatory or administrative. And finally, you have the two types of opportunists. There is the Paul Ryan model, who believe in nothing beyond personal advancement. Remember how Ryan and his ilk loathed Trump until he won the primary, at which point they loved him? Beside them are the practical cowards, like Vice President Mike Pence, men and women who are smart and competent enough to see Trump for what he really is, but who are more than willing to ally with him if it means politically leveraging advantage for their own, narrow pet causes. For Pence, it is tearing down the boundary between Church and State, a particularly onerous trade shared by most evangelical theocratists, faith-healers, closeted hypocrites and snake-oil sellers of the Christian entertainment industry.,all of whom look blindly past Trumps gutter-crawl through marriage after marriage, his greed and idolatry, his coveting and his gluttony. I can’t say that Trump has murdered, but he seems to have the rest of the commandments and motal sins checked off like a movie serial killers “to do” list. And the christian activists couldn’t care less.

Of course, in order to actually impeach Trump, we would need to see enough Republicans willing to put the welfare of the nation and it’s people–including all the lazy poor and devious immigrants (or children of immigrants)–above whatever stake they have in the Trump administration, knowing that by convicting they will at the same time be admitting to their own culpability in enabling their President and his banana republic management of the nation. And even then, in the unlikely event that the house impeaches, and the senate does not acquit, we end up with Pence as President, with Ryan skulking in the shadows, at which point we’re forced to consider: what is preferable, an idiot child-king or a polished politician, when the overwhelming platform won’t change all that much. In many ways, Trump’s arrogant incompetence is a check and balance, revealing what might, under a more capable politician, have been hidden in shadows while at the same time stirring up a storm of angry resistance. I want Trump gone as much or more than the next guy, but I’m awfully wary of what comes next.

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Becky Hammon: A Big Deal

Becky-HammonI’m wagering that most of you reading this don’t know who Becky Hammon is, and that’s understandable.  Ms. Hammon has led a very big and accomplished life on a stage that, while not small by any stretch of the imagination, is often dimly lit, especially in the USA.  She’s a world-class caliber basketball player, with 16 years playing in the WNBA and Europe, a former college standout,  and Olympic medal winner.

And as of this week, Ms. Hammon is also a paid, full-time, assistant coach for the NBA’s current world champion San Antonio Spurs men’s basketball team.  That’s right, I said NBA.  This hasn’t happened before, and given the inequities of sport in the USA it might not have happened now were it not for a unique combination of events.  Namely, Ms. Hammon recently wrapped up a stellar WNBA career playing point becky-hammon.103511275guard for the Spurs’ counterpart team, the San Antonio Stars.  A few years ago, after experiencing a season-ending ligament injury, she approached Spurs future hall of fame coach Gregg Popovich: she wanted to coach after her playing career ended.  While rehabilitating her knee, Hammon shadowed the Spurs coaching staff as a sort of intern.  And she shined. When she retired, Popovich wasted little time in hiring Hammon.  He would have been a fool not to.

I won’t weigh down this post with a lot of statistics–you can get more background here and here–but suffice it to say that Becky Hammon has succeeded at every level as a point guard who can score big and still distribute the ball. In high school she was  South Dakota Miss Basketball as a junior and as a senior she was voted the South Dakota Player of the Year after averaging 26 points, 4 rebounds and 5 steals per game. Her teams at Colorado State reached the Sweet Sixteen, but she was not initially drafted into the WNBA.

Instead, she found her way the the New York Liberty via stints with regional teams in small National Women’s Basketball League, where she quickly became league high-scorer.  Once she earned a roster spot as a third string point guard on the Liberty behind WNBA and women’s basketball legend Teresa Witherspoon.  Within a year, Hammon displaced the aging Witherspoon as starter, became a fan favorite, and was voted a team captain.

Becky+Hammon+Olympics+Day+1+Basketball+ugyDEvF5f4elDuring her off-seasons, Hammon supplemented her career by playing in Europe, where women’s basketball is taken more seriously and more opportunities exist for female players. Her career would take her to Spain, and then to Russia, all while still maintaining her WNBA career back in the states.  Along the way, she became a six-time WNBA All-Star, was a multiple-year selection for the Euroleague All-Star team, and won the All-Russia cup.  Early in her career, Ms. Hammon was part of Team USA, but she was denied a tryout for the 2008 Olympic team, despite her stellar performances.  Determined to play on the world’s grandest basketball stage, she took the unconventional step of applying for Russian citizenship.  She was accepted, and quickly made the Team Russia roster.  She would become a major contributor in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games–despite a small degree of controversy over her vagabond credentials, and the fact that, while uncommon in basketball, changing citizenship is a fact of life in many Olympic sports.

greg-popovich-explains-why-becky-hammon-has-what-it-takes-to-be-an-nba-coach.jpgFast forward to 2014, and here is Ms. Hammon, breaking another convention while breaking through a glass ceiling that extends far beyond basketball to all sports.  There is no reason why a woman can’t coach men–after all, men coach women–and it’s going to be exciting to watch her prove the point.  I’m thrilled for her, for my daughters, and for all the young women who will once again see that there is nothing beyond their reach.

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Olympics Volume 2–Meryl Takes Down Downton

It was Sunday night, the sofa was soft, the down comforter warm, and the sun was shining on Downton Abbey–it’s always shining on the glacially slow BBC soap opera, you might have noticed, despite what I’ve heard about England, yet it was brighter still inside the ice arena in Sochi, Russia where the world’s finest ice dancers were doing their thing in the short program–see how I’m talking in cool skater jargon?–and lighting things up.  We tuned out of England and headed for the East.

I don’t know what the hell I’m looking at, of course–I know basketball and football (American Football, the best kind 😉 )–but all I know about skating is that skaters have to fit “swizzles” into their programs.  Otherwise, I’m judging what looks good, what looks fluid and graceful and, well, (sorry, gentlemen) what looks pretty.  Last night, they all looked pretty, and it doesn’t help that I’m a guy who, despite feminist leanings, can’t help noticing how beautiful some of these women are–muscles, smiles, short skirts–it’s better than art on a wall.  I’m generally too beguiled by the beauty and the unfamiliar sport to be any kind of judge, unless one of them teeters visibly or falls down.

moir, virtueThe top couples last night all stayed upright.  We caught Canadians Scott Moir and  Tessa Virtue early on and decided they were unbeatable, even if the young lady didn’t have the most perfect figure skater name ever.  Tessa Virtue.  A name like that doesn’t even need a publicist–at least not in theory.

Elena Ilinykh, Nikita KatsalapovA short while later, we enjoyed watching a young Russian pair, Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, and you know what? Yep, they looked unbeatable, though I thought–or, more appropriately, felt something that made me wonder if the Canadians were not just a little bit better.  At it turned out, it was close, but I was right.

Fabian Bourzat Nathalie PechalatThe next skaters were noticed were a French pair, Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, who I think I liked best of all, up to that point, and guess what: I thought they looked unbeatable. It doesn’t hurt that Ms. Pechalat wore the most beautiful, most exuberant smile on her already beautiful face throughout their program–I wanted them to do well on spirit alone, and they did, landing briefly in third place behind Ilinykh/Katsalapov and Virtue/Moir.

Kaitlyn Weaver, Andrew PojeThey had to know it would be short-lived.  Even though another young Canadian pair–Kaitlyn Weaver, Andrew Poje--came out and gave a great showing–not quite unbeatable, but fluid and spirited, and Ms. Weaver’s brilliant blue dress was the hands-down scene stealer of the evening, the night belonged to the last couple to skate.

It seemed like NBC packed an especically dense set of commercials into the space before Meryl Davis and Charlie White took the ice, and why shouldn’t they?  This all-American couple of student-athletes has been anointed as the face of the American Olympic team this year, and for all intents and purposes they were a very good choice: smart, upbeat, and wholesome–some of my favorite images of this Olympics have been of White and Davis off the ice, cheering for their team-mates and consoling them when things haven’t turned for the best.  You have to like that.

c55885bce17cdc211e64e00fb26901b6dc406cd5Of course, they’re also the best skaters in the world right now, and while I can’t quantify why, it was clear the moment they hit the ice–even to a neophyte like myself.  I could not see, so much as I felt the difference–the skill and the surety of their performance, the confidence in every movement.  It is their moment, they knew it, and their world record finish pretty much cemented the fact–while simultaneously burying all but the most emphatic–and nationalistic–rumors of score fixing that had been swirling around. Meanwhile, back and Downton Abbey, absolutely nothing had happened.

More Olympics:

https://oldroadapples.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/the-olympics-volume-1/

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Totally Digging Figure Skating–Well, I’ll Be Damned

Some things–like the bus that runs you down–you never see coming.  When I was a kid, my mom used to torture me by taking me to the Ice Capades every year, year after year–until I was, I think, 13 and convinced her to let me bring my friend Kazoo.  Instead of me sitting there sulky and miserable, I had a co-conspirator to cackle and sneer and chortle and guffaw.  I remember they had some guy in a bumblebee outfit–a former Japanese Olympian, if memory serves–doing a routine, probably just to humiliate him, as if Nagasaki wasn’t enough.

We howled, “bzzz, bzzz, bzzz!” and garnered endless angry stares and silent rebukes from The Greatest Generation, all gathered so sternly about us.  So ended an era, she must have thought. For me, it was like Moses parted the Red Sea.  I was free.

baiul93I can’t say I’ve been indifferent to the sport ever since.  The infamous Tanya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan thing couldn’t be ignored, especially when my job at the time allowed me to briefly (like, 90 seconds) meet Kerrigan, who was actually really nice, and Oksana Baiul, who was not nice, drank like a sailor on leave, and chain-smoked Marlboro Lights–in fairness all qualities I happened to admire, at the time; she seemed to weigh about 73 pounds, tops, though, but had a really cool white fur coat.  White fox?  Ermine?  As usual, I digress.

Sochi Olympics Figure SkatingI ate a bowl of spaghetti in front of the TV last night, since the kids were out and my wife was 10 pages from the end of a book, and got hooked on the free skate portion of the couples figure skating, and I’m man enough to admit it.  Specifically, a pair of Russians called Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov blazed through a perfect routine–or what looked like a perfect routine to this old redneck–and just totally, completely, indubitably rocked it. When they finished, 2014-02-12T183332Z_520057297_LR2EA2C1FJLA8_RTRMADP_3_OLYMPICS-FIGURESKATINGgrim determination melted into exuberance, and the absolute cutest fist pump I’ve seen in ages.  Yep, I was hooked.  The unbridled enthusiasm charmed me utterly, especially in a sport in which the competitors are often firmly taciturn.  A few minutes of 934-1q5utA.AuSt.55.jpegcommercials later, another Russian pair–favorites Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar–hit the ice.  I’d seen them tearing things up in the shorter routine (oh, the horror–what have I become?) the night before, and expected them to have that same sort of grim professionalism, but this time–with the pride of their nation seemingly in the balance–they couldn’t keep their emotion and energy contained.

They didn’t look as technically, icily perfect as the night before.  Indeed, Maxim Trankovthey seemed possessed by some otherworldly force. I was certain that there was no way they could fall, nor stumble, nor fail.  It had been ordained by a great power (God?  Putin?).  These folks owned the ice–or at least leased it, long-term, from Mad Vlad, and would not be denied.  I must admit I was a bit jealous that I wasn’t Russian–if that makes sense at all.  It would really have been something to cheer for these four athletes with the passion and conviction of nation with me.

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The Olympics–Volume 1

We got home and rushed to the television last night as quickly as we could after my daughters’ swimming meet–which they crushed, again, thank you very much–kicking the dog out of the way and stepping on both cats in a fervor to get the old set warmed up for…Team Ice Dancing. Hell, yeah.

That fervor was tempered somewhat as the first athlete we saw, an bildeAmerican from Michigan–I won’t increase his shame by actaully naming him, spent an inordinate proportion of his performance skittering sideways across the ice on his ass.  Now, I’m only an ice skating fan for three weeks out of every four years, and I know this Team Ice Dancing thing is new, but I’m pretty confident that ass-skating is not an official, sanctioned event.  Sigh. It’s hard to be an ugly, jaded American.

That’s the kind of jerk I am.  To be honest, I started out being snarky, but it takes a cold soul indeed to watch these kids–and the things they can do with a couple of butter knives duct-taped to their boots–on the ice:  Sow Cows (surprisingly, not a Pig-Cattle hybrid, but just think of the possibilties!  Monsanto?) and Sopwith Camels–normal sized guys throwing muscular tiny women  around like they’re rag dolls–and catching them. Most of the time. I immediately began cheering for the Americans and hoping the other teams would fall and sprain something, a horrific realization undoubtably rooted in my Cold War Youth–you damned kids with your damned walkmans and Ugg boots can’t imagine what it was like, waking up every morning and wondering if today was the day the Russians were going to nuke us into oblivion, our only hope for salvation resting in the hands of Patrick Swayze, Lea Thompson, and a bunch of cheese-eating high school kids from Colorado.

At that point, skating is the WORST thing in the world–except out comes Yuzuru Hanyusome 70 pound Japanese boy–literally, 70 pounds, this kid absolutely has worms–and pulls off an amazing performance like something from X-Men.  The dude can fly.  As my dad used to say: I shit you not.  Flying.  Without a jet pack. .  Yuzuru Hanyu is his name; breaking the surly bonds of Earth is apparently his game, and 97.98 was his score. I don’t know what the hell that means, but it was a lot. And oh, yes, he’s about 12 years old. Amazing.

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Meryl Davis eyes up the crowd and thinks: Humans, good for pets OR food.
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http://cheezburger.com/3239265792

The couples came on a little later–we didn’t see the Americans skate, which is too bad because I’m absolutely certain that the top American skater is an Alien.  She may be wearing American skin, but underneath is some sort of Avian Space Creature sent here either to protect us or prepare us for our future as a food crop for invaders from the planet Aeriexopeia. She seems really nice–one of the networks ran a TV special Wednesday night on how awesome Olympic athletes are because their parents are so incredibly awesome–and her mom seems nice too, so I’m guessing she’ll lead the fight to save us from the evil, aquatic Humidorians.   I’m not the only one who thinks this.  I’m a little disappointed by that, but…I didn’t say she looks bad, just different and, frankly, the longer I look the cuter she looks.  I hear she doesn’t so much jump but levitate, lingering in the air for seconds at a time because her birth planet has a gravity that is 1.2 of Earth’s–but when she touches down, she skates like an angel.

More Olympics:

https://oldroadapples.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/olympics-volume-2-meryl-takes-out-downton-abbey/