Wednesday, September 20, 2017

et ceteras

Trump at Turtle Bay
Whether you love our 45th president or hate him, he hit a home run Tuesday at the United Nations.

From his unambiguous declaration that North Korea's nuclear shenanigans will not stand ("No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles. The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.") to his equally unambiguous and perfectly segued call to action against Iran ("We face this decision not only in North Korea. It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime -- one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.") Donald Trump hit the precise notes that the world needs to hear from the leader of the free world.

From an international vision of enlightened, self-determining, and symbiotically cooperating nations ("The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free...Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.") to a clear-eyed disavowal of centralized power ("The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing...The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.") he articulated a clear-eyed understanding of the world as it exists, and of how the world can and should improve.

As with all speeches, the ultimate proof will be in the pudding that comes. Will the actions Trump takes (and does not take) through the remainder of his time in office be consistent with what he said Tuesday? Will he actually confront evil and will he inspire persuade other nations to do so as well, to advance our mutual interests and shared values? Only the coming months and years will tell, but as far as speeches go in real time, Tuesday's was one of the best a sitting president has given in ages.

Don't get me wrong. It's always better having football than not having it. But is it just me, or does the start of this football season seem awfully flat at both the college and pro levels? There have been some good games, of course, and some good story lines, but nothing has really grabbed my attention and made by pulse go up.

I'm sure Florida beating Tennessee on that Hail Mary was exciting if you're a Florida fan, but when I saw it all I could think was that it proved there are Pop Warner Youth League coaches who know more about football than Tennessee's head coahc Butch Jones and defesnive coordinator Bob Shoop. How is it that with five seconds left and giving up a 60+-yard pass being the only way the game wouldn't go to overtime, they failed to call an alignment with a bunch of defensive backs deployed in the deep secondary to guard against what was sure to come? How is it that they had only two guys back there covering all that real estate? Come on.

Jaromir Jagr is the second leading scorer in NHL history, and while he may be 45 years old he is also coming off a season in which he banged out 46 points and was, despite playing significant minutes, the only player on his team to not miss a game all season. It was a surprise that the Panthers did not offer him a new contract when his expired in July, especially since he was only asking for a one-year deal which meant they wouldn't have been taking a gamble on term -- but it is an even bigger surprise that nobody else has signed him either, with him being open about his desire to play and about not wanting to break a team's bank and with him being a much, much better player than many of the other wingers who are sure to be on NHL rosters when the season starts in two weeks. If Jagr's career ends because no one will sign him when he has so much gas left in his tank, it will be a stain on the league.

It was not good to learn that Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Though not a superstar, he is one of my favorite players to ever don the Tampa Bay Lightning sweater. A hockey player's hockey player, Boyle is one of those blue collar guys who does the supposedly small things supremely well to help his team prevail -- win faceoffs, forecheck to establish zone time, poke pucks away from opponents' sticks. The good news it sounds like the diagnosis was made very early and the prognosis is very good, and there is no doubt he has the right mindset, so I am confident he'll beat this. Best of luck, Brian.

...that's all I have for tonight. Take care

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