Whiskey and Cream: Episode XIII

Whiskey & Cream for March 20th, 2021.

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:45-16:12: “Lincoln would be proud”

By now you’ve probably heard about that scrappily intrepid American political action committee known as The Lincoln Project. Formed in late 2019 as a bulwark against Trumpism while ultimately endorsing future President Joe Biden, this band of political brothers named after the illustrious Abraham Lincoln is essentially bent on preserving democracy by respecting the country’s constitution during a post-modern authoritarian wave that’s swept across the globe much like the virulent nature of the pandemic.

Fred Wellman (@FPWellman) is the executive director and co-founder of The Lincoln Project. As a veteran of both conventional and political warfare, he remains a crusader of free and truthful speech – something that’s in short supply across his country and over social media. That’s why his heart and soul is about being more than just an anti-Trump Republican but in representing a strong and heavily patriotic number of traditional economic conservatives who deserve a party that’s less about demagoguery and racism, and more about progressive agenda-building and the pursuit of real social justice.

16:13-23:51: “A species bent on psychological annihilation”

On some micro-level, it pays to be a human being. Our individualized, self-actualized thoughts offer a myriad of mental and physical realities that rely us to endorse a balanced measure of rational thought and primal instinct when it comes to dealing with everything from the coronavirus to which breakfast sandwich is worth your attention in the morning. But in the final analysis, an abdication of this characteristic of free will can also lead to a herd mentality resembling scared and desperate lemmings going over a cliff. And when the priority of the day is about educating yourself about health dangers and mitigating poor decisions with wise practices, you can imagine how frustrating it can be for the men and women of science.

Dr. Allen Frances (@AllenFrancesMD) is a writer, professor and America’s most prominent psychiatrist. Aside from writing a number of books and medical journals on the importance of how mental health and wellness is diagnosed and treated, he’s also become politically active in the fight against voter suppression and gerrymandering across the United States. In his view, our species doesn’t stand a chance for survival if we keep ignoring the most basic and elementary ways of treating everything from pandemics to climate change to the rise of stone cold authoritarianism.

23:51-39:45: “A basketball culture second to none”

It may seem like the Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship eons ago even if it’s been only a year and a half. I suppose throwing in the arrival of a dystopian plague mixed with revealing traces of institutionalized racism will do that to even the most hardy of basketball crusaders, and this team is no exception. Even as they continue their 2021 campaign in Tampa during these unusual times, it’s refreshing to know that the character and class of an organization that was built by Masai Ujiri and driven by Nick Nurse has continued to shine as a true example of human dignity during largely indignant times.

Eric Smith (@Eric__Smith) is the voice and host of the Toronto Raptors basketball team on Fan 590 and Sportsnet TV. In covering the team for over 20 years, he’s not only perfectly positioned to offer his perspective on the leadership and personnel nuances of the 2019 NBA champs, but to further elaborate on what’s been a positive cultural impact across an entire country that’s not only stood up to the pandemic but also challenged the conventional ways in which we look at athletes and their intangible contributions to society.

39:45-48:49: “Cosmic storms and our global reckoning”

There’s an electricity in the Ontario air that I haven’t felt since I was a very young boy. After years of assigning myself to an urbanized existence based around the notion that the city can protect us from the weather, I’ve come to appreciate why living in the country opens a small portal to the mind when it comes to understanding nature and why the symptoms of our organic existence are always on display around us – if we take the time to notice and analyze the sad and grim reality that is climate change.

Tom Eves (@EvesTom) lives in Barrie and is Canada’s Storm Chaser. His penchant for investigating volatile weather patterns and earth-shattering climate events has made him a popular authority over social medias and on this side of the pond. In devoting a life to understanding the elements, he’s endeared himself to tends of thousands over Facebook and beyond who seek a better awareness of the unpredictable reality that constitutes our cosmic storms and their global reckoning.

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

Whiskey and Cream: Episode VII

Whiskey & Cream for January 19th, 2021

Host: Ari Shapiro

0:36-13:20: “On the outside and feeling betrayed”

The inauguration is almost upon us and most Americans are waiting with bated breath to usher in what should be a new era in US politics. But as the steam goes out on the Donald Trump presidency and the reality of losing a fair and democratic election sinks in, it isn’t a coincidence that anti-state and anti-law enforcement ideas are flourishing across all states of the union. The movement has taken on a decidedly militant turn across the board specifically because the outgoing administration crafted a brutal and convenient revisionist narrative that Trump supporters are stuck on the outside looking in on an election that was stolen and requires them to defend themselves and their honour. As a result, multiple forms of virulent militant activity ranging from The Oathkeepers to The Proud Boys are finding themselves with the kind of raison d’être that could end up creating a measure of public unrest not seen since the civil rights movement.

Brendan O’Connor (@_grendan) is freelance journalist and the author of Blood Red Lines: How Nativism Fuels The Right. He’s covered right-wing extremism since the end of the Obama administration and believes that overstating the danger of what may come can lead to poor analysis and even worse conclusions. But what he does believe is that what happens next will be a period of turmoil, and that The Biden administration will likely not be defined by healing and reconciliation. In his eyes, there will be a greater and far more spectacular reckoning of political violence in the US for the foreseeable future.

13:21-19:31: “When lightning strikes twice”

Most Canadians don’t realize how special and unique the Tampa Bay Lightning are as a professional NHL franchise, and with the return of hockey for a second season in a pandemic reality, there’s a great deal to be said for an organization which values their fans as much as their profit levels and industry achievements. In a market devoid of hypercritical fans and a vicious media backbite, the Lightning aren’t just winners on the ice – they are bona fide winners off it as well.

Dave Randorf (@DaveRandorf) is the play-by-play commentator for the Tampa Bay Lightning and a celebrated Canadian sports broadcaster. He’s never taken his success for granted and believes that in aligning his future with the Florida-based Stanley Cup champions, he can help fans of hockey feel better about their own personal struggles by enjoying a first class organization which has succeeded in winning the championship twice since the turn of the century. Which, for the record, is twice more than the Toronto Maple Leafs have accomplished since 1967.

19:32-26:21: “Coming back to normal, a little dark and colder”

It’s hard to keep your mind fresh and spirits high when the numbing reality of covid statistics exist to remind you that all is not normal. It makes one really wonder: how much of this can we take without going back to the normal things – you know, the simple things. Like enjoying a breakaway in overtime, an extra innings nailbiter or the last few remaining seconds of an alley-oop, centre court play to win the game in regulation. Having sports back, even under such abnormal conditions, is essentially a return to normalcy that gives us the kind of distraction needed to help absorb the hypocrisy of our times – the fact that politicians and corporate profiteers are treating this time as business as usual.

Tony Ambrogio (@Tony_Ambrogio) is a freelancer with TSN and teaches at the College of Sports Media in Toronto. He’s a highly respected sports journalist who finds himself becoming a colder, darker person when confronted with an endless barrage of pandemic statistics and political hypocrisies which make him pine for the simplicity of hockey, basketball or baseball. Amidst all the vitriol and hate associated with masks and vaccinations, he remains grateful that society can still rely on professional sports to bring us back to a time when arguing at the dinner table and mulling over the latest feats of athleticism were once the norm.

26:23-34:01: “The psychology of pandemic sports betting”

We’ve come a long way from the days when sports betting was frowned upon as a reckless or taboo indulgence. With 19 American states now legalizing the activity, it’s clear the appetite for gambling has reached a whole new level with the pandemic raging throughout the winter. In the first couple of months alone, Table Tennis became the seventh most wagered on sport as people sought to find ways to wager money on competitive spectacles that reminded them of something other than negative media news and gradual societal decay.

Ben Fawkes (@BFawkes22) is the VP of Digital Content at VISN The Sports Betting Network and has done work with ESPN. For him, the concept of sports betting is all about psychology and economics and shouldn’t be for the faint of heart. In a changing world of easy to use technology and unlimited access, his mantra of making informed decisions and playing within your boundaries is an absolute prerequisite for anyone who is serious turning this pursuit into a money-maker, and that having consistent success relies more on studying and learning the craft well before embarking on it.

“Whiskey & Cream Theme” written and performed by Chris Henderson.

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