Stuff Still Happens, week 5: The trial of Jian Who, and Trump is trumped

The Iowa caucuses were held on Monday, and the picture for both parties is now crystal clear — I can say without fear of contradiction that Martin O’Malley will NOT win the Democratic nomination.

O’Malley was running for the Democratic nomination, apparently. When the votes were tallied, the former governor of some state — no one is quite sure which — tallied just 1 per cent of the vote. And in a three person race, there is a statistical chance that the only votes he got were by accident. He wisely decided to quit the race, which is too bad. I mean, the guy looks like the kind of actor movies always like to employ to play the president.

In the real race, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders split the other votes nearly 50/50, indicating the Democratic battle might go on for a while until Clinton finally overwhelms Sanders with her millions in big business contributions. On the Republican side, the hugely entertaining psychopath Donald Trump finished second, barely ahead of vacuous pretty boy Marco Rubio. The winner was the profoundly evil Ted Cruz, who is so right wing that he is close to falling off the edge of the earth (which he probably believes is about 5,000 years old). Does this mean Cruz is cruising (sorry) to the nomination? Far from it. Exit polls showed that Cruz won 40 per cent of the vote from people who call themselves “very conservative”, and one out of three “evangelical” voters. Iowa has a lot more very conservative evangelical voters than, say, New Hampshire, or any other place outside of the South. The guy to watch, it appears, is Rubio. Cruz is widely hated, Trump is insane, and all of the other contenders aren’t getting anywhere (Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee both dropped out after Iowa). If the Anybody But Cruz/Trump vote coalesces around someone, Rubio is well placed to be that someone. (My son Scott, who wrote an entertaining blog about his trip to the Excited States of America recently, alerted me to this hilarious exchange from the Republican debate last week. When Fox’s Megyn Kelly stated “you’ve been described as the saviour of the Republican Party…” Rubio interjected with, “Megyn, let me stop you there. There’s only one saviour, and his name is Jesus Christ.” Can you imagine a Canadian politician saying something like this?) The next big event is the first primary in New Hampshire on Tuesday. Only nine months to election day!

By the way, all candidates spent about $70 million in Iowa; by comparison, the Liberal Party of Canada spent $40 million for the entire 2015 election. About 350,000 Iowans attended the caucuses, which means the parties spent about $200 per vote. Money well spent, I guess.

The sex assault trial of former CBC Radio star Jian Ghomeshi sent the Toronto-centric media into a frenzy this week. Every day of his trial so far, they gathered around in a huge knot of photographers to take pictures of a morose Ghomeshi walking into the courthouse. Same picture, day after day, but this is what big time media types do, I guess. Canada has very few home-grown stars, and trial gives the Toronto media a chance to gloat at the fall of a ‘star’ who became a little too full of himself. That’s not the Canadian way, after all.

I honestly don’t know if Canadians are following this trial as rabidly as the media seems to believe. Realistically, the audience for his old show was pretty small. It was on the CBC, and on the radio. You’d be hard pressed to find many Canadians who know who this guy with the funny name really is; it’s not like we’re talking Ron Maclean here. Frankly, I think the whole thing is kind of tragic. The show that Ghomeshi hosted, the morning pop-culture smorgasbord called Q, was quite often very good when he was in charge. Now, with some drab hipster-type who goes by one name (Shad, which is also a type of fish) as the host, it sucks. It’s a bit like The Daily Show. With Jon Stewart, it was great; with Trevor Noah, not worth watching.

You may have heard of a small scale sporting event happening Sunday, something about an extra special dish …. you might even call it a ‘super’ bowl.

The Big Game (as companies who don’t have the right to use the words ‘super’ and ‘bowl’ together call it) pits the Broncos of Denver against the Panthers of Carolina. I’m indifferent about the outcome, but if I look really hard I can find some reasons to pull for either team. The Broncos, for example, are owned by Pat Bowlen, a former Edmontonian. The Panthers are based in Charlotte, North Carolina, which was my mom’s hometown, so I assume I might have some distant relatives there (hello, people named Hankins in Charlotte). But otherwise … m’eh.

The annual story here in Canada is that we don’t get to watch the game with the American commercials, which is at least half the reason most people watch the Super Bowl (or, as I call it, the American Grey Cup). While Americans get to watch the most creative, wildly inventive commercials today, we get to see local commercials for Carpet Warehouse. That ends next year, by order of the CRTC, but it hardly matters anymore. In the pre-Internet days, this was a big deal. But now, the commercials appear on the web days before the game. You can see them here.

On the business front, Quebec-based home renovation retailer Rona agreed to be purchased by American behemoth Lowe’s for $3.2 billion. This, to me, is terrible news, and not just because another Canadian retailer is being gobbled up by an American giant. When I’ve visited Rona stores, I always found them well-staffed — and some of them even give you free popcorn! I’ve been to Lowe’s two or three times, and left every time without getting anybody to help me find anything. If this is the future of Rona, I guess it’s Home Depot for me.

RIP: Bob Elliott, 92, one half of the great, low key, witty and absurd comedy team Bob and Ray. I urge you to go to YouTube and listen to some of their bits. A great example is The Great Lakes Paperclip Company, which I think is hilarious. Also, The Komodo Dragon bit breaks me up. Bob was the father of comic actor Chris Elliott, a regular on the Letterman show. This gives me the opportunity to share one of the funniest comedy bits ever, Chris Elliott’s porn parody, Poolside Ecstasy. Makes me laugh every time … Maurice White, 74, founder of the funky, horn-based band Earth, Wind and Fire (September, Shining Star, Boogie Wonderland).


By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.

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