Sarah Palin as US Ambassador To Canada

            Rumours surfaced on both sides of the border this week that Sarah Palin was being considered as a possible choice for US ambassador to Canada, which caused me to once again wonder what damning inside information this woman must have on the Republican Party; but even with the help of my muse I can’t imagine what it can be.

             The Republicans’ slide into their current quagmire began in 2008 when they chose Palin as Senator John McCain’s running mate, a move that effectively torpedoed any chance he had of becoming president of the United States. This was doubly unfortunate because if anyone has earned the right to occupy that exalted office it’s John McCain, and he probably would have been a fine president

             Having a blank cartridge like Sarah Palin in an important diplomatic role couldn’t, on any level except one, be good for either country. What’s the exception? Why, entertainment value of course.

 More of Our Money Going to Bombardier

            The Trudeau government has agreed to a “loan” of 372.5 million dollars of taxpayer money to Canada’s biggest corporate welfare bum, Bombardier Inc. I put “loan” in quotation marks for two reasons: first, a genuine commercial loan carries interest, but this one doesn’t; and, secondly, another characteristic of a real commercial loan is a definite repayment plan, which this one also doesn’t seem to have. It seems to provide only for royalties to be paid on certain aircraft sales, and this from a company whose delivery competence is on a par with Sarah Palin’s ambassadorial qualifications.

             I’d like the Trudeau government to answer the following five questions.

             How can it possibly justify using borrowed money, which itself will bear interest for which taxpayers will be on the hook, to give a multi-billion-dollar corporation an interest-free loan? Their presumptive answer is that this “loan” will secure or create 4,000 or so jobs. But that just leads to my next question.

             How many jobs would be created if the 372.5 million dollars were spread out as grants (which is what this “loan” will likely turn out to be) over hundreds of small businesses across all of Canada?

             What’s Bombardier’s repayment record on the many earlier “loans” from provincial and federal governments? “Abysmal” would be an honest answer.

             How much of this money will end up in the coffers of the Beaudoin family by way of salaries, dividends, and enhancement of share value? (The Beaudoin family controls the company via a highly advantageous and controversial share structure.)

             Given that interest-free loans are common only among close friends and families, how close are the Beaudoins and the Trudeaus?

 Shortening Baseball Games

            Two moves also surfaced this week that Major League Baseball is considering in an effort to shorten baseball games.

             The first is measuring the strike zone from the top of the knee rather than the bottom of it, which is bound to result in more walks, more at bats, and more throws over to first base. How this would shorten games is beyond me. I’m actually in favour of the change, but not, as noted, because it would shorten games, but because it would increase the number of runners. Baseball is always more interesting when there are runners on base.

             The second move involves an experiment that apparently is going to be tested in one of the rookie leagues to see how it impacts the game. Any extra inning would start with the offensive team placing a runner on second base. I like this. As I said above, runners make the game more interesting and I think this rule would shorten extra-inning games. But if it ever gets adopted in the major leagues I wonder if some team will resort to the reintroduction of Charlie Finley’s “designated runner.”

             In 1974, Charlie Finley, the maniacal owner of the Oakland A’s, signed a world-class NCAA sprinter by the name of Herb Washington to a major league baseball contract and used him exclusively as a pinch runner. The idea never caught on, likely because while Washington did steal 31 bases that year he was also thrown out 17 times, a result that when combined with the fact he had no plate appearances and never played any defensive position clearly didn’t justify using up a roster spot.

             Three simple changes that would really speed up the game are: give managers ten seconds in which to decide challenges; enforce limits on batters stepping out of the box; and, make catchers’ visits to the mound count as official trips.