Impeachy Keen – Full Speed Ahead


by Roxanne Tellier

Another week, another round of hysteria emanating from the beleaguered White House resident. With the impeachment inquiry picking up speed, despite the constant obstruction and spurning of Congressional subpoenas, the inquiry is still on track to finish as early as Christmas.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that Trump himself has brought them to this moment, stating that his actions are “a betrayal to his oath of office, betrayal of national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”

The first order of business is for all senators to agree on a set of rules that will be in place for a trial. While the Republicans have declared that the Democrats are behaving ‘unfairly,’ in fact the rules and procedures used are pretty much the same as those in place from former President Bill Clinton’s trial.     

The big question will be whether it is even possible to have a truly bipartisan process in the Senate, with so many of the GOP living in fear of possible Trump reprisals, should they display any disloyalty to him.

Hopefully, the use of electronic voting, rather than a roll call vote, will allay some of their fears. However Brian Babin, of Texas, has argued that Americans ‘deserve to hear from our own voices rather than from a spreadsheet on the Clerk’s website.”

He added that electronic record voting “shields Members from having to stand before their colleagues, their constituents, and the world.”  It could be argued that that is precisely why a large contingent of Republicans would prefer to vote anonymously.

Despite the talking point that Republicans have hammered incessantly, that the Democrats are attempting to overturn the 2016 election results, the real reason to move forward with this impeachment investigation and trial hinges on the Trump admin’s determination to topple democracy in America.

The Democrats (and a large portion of Americans) have weathered nearly three years of constant chaos and the overturning of norms, so the denial of election results is something that’s long disappeared in the rear view mirror. In fact, if anything, what is clear in the overt and covert actions of Trump’s cabal of AG Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Rudy Giuliani is a determined attempt to rewrite history, and overturn the established fact that Russia helped Trump to victory.

As far back as 2017, when Breitbart’s Steve Bannon was put in charge of national security, there was never any question that the Trump administration preferred to work outside of governmental norms. Bannon operated outside of, and with no input from, the National Security Council, like a shadow NSC, preferring an environment that allowed no dissenting opinions, and left no paper trail.

In the days and weeks since the whistleblower alerted the Select Committee on Intelligence of his ‘urgent concern’ about the president’s actions, it’s become very clear that the president has indeed authorized several of his colleagues and big donors to operate outside of institutional norms as yet more ‘shadow government agents.’  

Last month it was revealed that, since May,  AG Barr had been conducting an administrative review into the origins of the Mueller inquiry. At the end of October, the process had switched to a criminal probe, seeking to overturn the official conclusion that Russia had meddled in the 2016 election, with the intention of installing Trump as president. While the Mueller Report did not establish any criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump, it did not clear the president of obstructing justice.

Barr’s escalation of the ‘investigation of the investigators’  to a criminal probe has raised concerns of a Kremlin styled ‘justice department’ that can, at any moment, begin criminal proceedings against the political foes or dissenters of the Trump regime.

Meanwhile, as the GOP tells anyone who’ll listen that this is all Democratic sour grapes, and that the House needs to get back to work, the House has indeed passed over 400 bills that have been sent on to Mitch McConnell’s Republican controlled Senate. And there the bills languish, as Moscow Mitch crowns himself the ‘Grim Reaper’ of liberal legislation. 

Senator Tammy Duckworth recently had a taste of Mitch’s refusal to work, when she unveiled legislation to protect undocumented relatives of military members and veterans, allowing them to remain in the U.S. temporarily .

That bill will more than likely also die, on McConnell’s watch.

So I wonder – how can elected representatives who spend all of their time defending Trump’s criminal activities, indulging in illegal, harebrained schemes to slow down the pace of the impeachment inquiry, or actively engaging in the tearing down of the pillars of democracy, face their constituents when they return to home base? How can they expect to be re-elected, when there’s no proof that their time in office has actually moved the country forward, or helped their fellow Americans?

What do they know that allows them to continue pursuing a complete lack of accountability, while expecting to coast into a smooth re-election, that we don’t?

My fear, after three years of seeing the abnormal redefined as normality is that America is falling into a state of learned helplessness. The ‘Resistance,’ once vocal and widespread,  now seems more tepid than  red hot. A few boos at the president’s attendance of a sports game smells more like acceptance of a new reality than an organized front of opposition.

………………………………………………………………..

Fans and friends of musician Ernest Lee were saddened to hear of his passing in September. On Sunday, November 10, we had a Celebration of Life for him, at the Royal Canadian Legion – Woodbine Heights Br. 22,  1240 Woodbine Avenue. (Just north of Mortimer Ave.) 

Here’s a little time line of the events, from organizer Robert Winter:

Controlled Demolition which features Ernest Lee Band drummer Mark Hundevad on vibes and drums, Ernest band alumni Jim Heineman on sax and Sam Heineman on drums and keys.

” We kick off at 2:00, music starts at 3:00. Food provided. Cash bar. We are at the Legion but since it is not a Legion event hats are allowed. Music features a set by Controlled Demolition which features Ernest Lee Band drummer Mark Hundevad on vibes and drums, Ernest band alumni Jim Heineman on sax and Sam Heineman on drums and keys. Special solo guest appearance by long time Ernest friend Steve Fever on acoustic. The Ernest Lee Band will play a set, with regular band members Mark Hundevad on drums, Russell Noseworthy on bass, Robert Winter on guitar. Jim Bish will be on sax. Jim spent time playing with Ernest many years ago and rejoined the band in 2019. John Fletcher, long time Ernest band alumni on guitar and bass, will be joining us on guitar. “

The Three Divas; from left to right – Mari Nicholson, Roxanne Tellier, and Marion Drexler

Featured singers for this set of Ernest Lee original songs and songs by others that Ernest put his stamp on were Marion Drexler, Mari Nicholson and Roxanne Tellier. A draw for 5 of Ernest’s CD Rhythm & Rhyme was held after the music for those who donated to Dixon Hall who have an excellent music program for disadvantaged Toronto youth.

The Past is Prologue


by Roxanne Tellier

… while those of us who DO remember the past, are doomed to watch those who DO NOT, make the same mistakes, over and over again….

One of the few benefits of getting older is having not only a lot of past to remember, but for some, the time to do so in a leisurely fashion, and with a philosophical bent. If we are lucky, and if we look back with clear eyes, we may actually begin to see where we’ve been, and maybe even to see how our past has impacted upon our present.

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time wondering how and why so much of the civilized world, and North America in particular, has been working very hard to turn back time and progress.  

if you grew up in the fifties and sixties, you remember fighting for civil rights, equal rights for women, abortion rights, and so much more. My generation had an enormous impact on society.

So what went wrong? How is it that the despots of today are being allowed to turn back the clock to the ugly world of before?

I guess it could be argued that not every one was happy with the advances we made – that in fact, there were misogynists, xenophobes, bigots and racists that weren’t very happy at all with those advances.

Are those the people hell-bent on returning us to those days?

Children of the fifties and sixties were shaped by the dramatic events of our time. Since we’d never known any other kind of world, it felt relatively normal to us. But it was the most explosive, impactful, and eventful time in modern history.

Bear with me now – cast your mind back.

In the United States, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy was shepherding a form of terror by government into place from the late 1940s through the 1950s, as ordinary citizens were accused of subversion or treason without any regard for evidence.  

70 years on we have replaced McCarthy with Attorney General William Barr, who has been stealthily ‘investigating the investigators’ of the Mueller Report, despite no evidence of impropriety.

Just a month after the United States tested the first atomic bomb, in July 1945 at Alamogordo, New Mexico, it used that same technology to obliterate Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A lot of us boomers had parents who’d been in WWII, or in Korea, and many of those parents brought back photographic images of the horrors on view in the destruction of occupied Europe and Japan. By 1949, the USSR had exploded it’s own atomic bomb, raising those stakes even higher.  It was only by a series of high level discussions, and the implementation of the  Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine of military strategy and national security policy that we brought to an end a nuclear escalation that could have  caused the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender in a nuclear war.   

Today, many countries are moving towards nuclear armament, including North Korea, where a very miffed Kim Jong Un has been testing his arsenal of approximately 20 to 30 nuclear weapons, now deemed capable of reaching Washington, DC.

Back in the fifties and sixties, we were being flooded with a new wave of science fiction movies and magazines tasked with the job of distracting North Americans, and soon we were looking ahead to driverless, flying cars.

Remember Them! (giant irradiated ants, ) X The Unknown (radiation run amuck in Scotland,) and a host of other films in which radiation and/or atomic fallout caused the ordinary to radically change into mutant monsters?

“Some of these films envisioned a terrestrial holocaust destroying or threatening humanity as a result of nuclear testing or war [World Without End (1956), On the Beach (1959), The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), Crack in the World (1965)]. Nearly all of the atomic films centered on the strange powers of radiation.

This kind of radiation causes Douglas Fairbanks Jr’s duck to lay uranium eggs in Val Guests’s Mr. Drake’s Duck (1950), makes Mickey Rooney glow in The Atomic Kid, puts Peter Arne seven and a half seconds into the future in Timeslip, creates geniuses or zombies in John Gillings’s The Gamma People (1956), shrinks Grant Williams in Jack Arnold’s The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), grows Glenn Langan in Bert I. Gordon’s The Amazing Colossal Man, revives a murderous native as a walking tree in Dan Milner’s From Hell It Came (1957), makes Japanese gangsters sentient slime in Ishiro Honda’s Bijo to Ekatai Ningen, turns Ron Randell to steel in Allan Dwan’s The Most Dangerous Man Alive and makes Tor Johnson into Coleman Francis’s The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961).” 

(read more here https://www.tru.ca/canfilm/essays/gargantuan_bugs.htm)

While titillating, these films really sought to make the impossible and the unreal – radiation, invisible yet deadly, that could change nor only our very own bodies, but the DNA of our flora and fauna; aliens, and future technology – into something we could accept as normal and even possible. 

These films turned what were real dangers – like radiation and the destruction of war – into the mundane, and therefore something that the average human could, with a little forethought and planning, survive. These movies didn’t challenge what was wrong with the politics of the countries that blithely obliterated millions of living creatures and their habitats, they instead focused our native paranoia and fear of otherness, by dehumanizing people and creatures unlike ourselves.

Or, as Susan Sontag wrote in 1964,  “Ours is indeed an age of extremity. For we live under continual threat of two equally fearful, but seemingly opposed, destinies: unremitting banality and inconceivable terror. It is fantasy, served out in large rations by the popular arts, which allows most people to cope with these twin specters. For one job that fantasy can do is to lift us out of the unbearably humdrum and to distract us from terrors, real or anticipated-by an escape into exotic dangerous situations which have last-minute happy endings. But another one of the things that fantasy can do is to normalize what is psychologically unbearable, thereby inuring us to it. In the one case, fantasy beautifies the world. In the other, it neutralizes it.”  

Sound familiar? You’ve been soaking in entertainment that attempts to prepare you for your future in exactly the same way. The tsunami of zombie films are a representation of immigrants and refugees, displaced through war or climate change, who the fearful imagine as innumerable, insatiable, and unstoppable creatures that are coming for your land and your food.

All of the Sharknado films, Geostorm,  WaterWorld, The Day After Tomorrow ….those films present a world in which climate change is a survival issue. Luckily for you, Hollywood’s obsession with global warming has conscripted top movie stars to show you how these problems can be handled without messing your hair.  

And the Mad Max films, along with so many others that envision life after an apocalyptic event, are all meant to lull you into a false security about an uncertain future. All you’ll need is enough ammo to bully yourself into power, right?

But in truth, the sci fi films of my day, many of which focused on monsters actually CREATED by that fall out and radiation, did little to prepare us for October 1962, and the days of the Cuban Crisis. Even if you’d only seen posters of those films, or heard parents or older siblings talking about them, it was stretching credibility for those of us who were school aged at the time to believe that our little wooden desks would protect us from bombs and nuclear fall out.

And in all of the films – either of the past or today – that are subtly meant to prepare this generation for climate change, floods of displaced people, possible nuclear attacks by foreign entities, or a civil war in which families battle each other .. not a single one of those films points to what will actually be the salvation of those remaining, or the rebuilding of society.

It’s not sexy – real life rarely is – but the only sort of society that will allow mankind to crawl out of whatever viper pit they’ve managed to fall into in a dystopic apocalypse is going to rely on only a few things.

And weapons aren’t high on that list.  After all, if you’ve just lost a large portion of humanity, every soul will be as precious as those fetuses the religious radicals revere.  Only this will be for real, not for show.

What will save humanity will be empathy, respect and regard for every person. Whomever can work compassionately and equitably with others will be a leader.

That leader will need the sense to scavenge not just the physical things needed, but the information held by elders, and in libraries. You’ll need to redevelop agriculture, and, without those tools farmers use today, you’ll have little time to do much else than farm.

You’ll need to reconstruct the calendar, in order to prepare for the seasons and survival, and to be able to predict best times for sowing and harvesting. In time you will also need to figure out how to make soap, windmills, steam engines, and all the myriad necessities we take for granted today.

And then, dear reader, you will look back to today, and call these times the good ol’ days …

Nostalgia, Russian Assets, and Canada Votes


by Roxanne Tellier

If this column doesn’t actually get written, edited and/or published until February or March of 2020 …. don’t blame me.

NO ONE can resist the call of nineties arcade games! Remember Commander Keen,  Bio Menace, Mr Blobby, Duke Nukem and the rest of the Apogee Games? They’re back, baby! and as addictive as ever. I can’t believe this DOS dump of 2500 hot titles of the nineties .. the list is endless .. well, at least until you look for game 2501 ….

Here’s the link. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

***********************************************************************

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had to come to the conclusion that America’s POTUS is, in truth, a Russian asset. I know – now you’re laughing and want to throw me a tinfoil hat.

But bear with me for a bit. Take a look at everything that has been accomplished in Trump’s first 1000 days – does America look any better than it did before he was inaugurated? Are America’s lower and middle class wealthier, or indeed even happier, than they were before he arrived? Is the country more secure, better positioned, now that most of her allies have been driven away, and her strategic alliances have been irreparably damaged?

Is America’s farmland protected from the devastation of Trump’s trade war that has seen family farms go bankrupt, only to be snapped up by Russian and Chinese investment companies?

For that matter, with the flood of rollbacks of regulations and legislation that once protected America’s parks, wildlife and water … are you happy with the devastation that’s been allowed to happen throughout the nation?   

Or are most Americans sick to death of the constant flood of criminal nonsense flowing from this White House?

It begs credulity to not see the strong link between Russia and Trump; he’s repeatedly  insisted that all of the Intelligence Agencies, venerable pillars in American governance, are against him, and are wrong in their conclusion that Russia interfered with the 2016 election. He’s insisted over and over again that Russia needs to be back in the G7, since he believes that it was only Obama’s prejudice against Putin that resulted in the sanctions against Russia, that he’s tried repeatedly to remove.  And at this very moment, Trump has his puppet, Attorney General Bill Barr, traveling the world, in a totally bizarre attempt to prove those intelligence agencies wrong about Russia’s part in the election.  

Putin’s long term plan to bring down America as a world power has always been to destroy it from the inside, and that seems to have been what has happened. The nation is divided, there’s no progress being made although trillions of dollars are being spent on nonsense, this president may well be the first to be not just impeached, but imprisoned, and his supporters are threatening a civil war should anyone be mean to their fair haired, orange faced, tweetheart.

And then there’s this ….

Gee. That’s not suspicious AT ALL.

And is it just a coincidence that Trump gave Turkey the go ahead to besiege Syria, and to begin a genocide against the Kurdish fighters who’d saved America’s bacon against the rebels … on Putin’s birthday?

Here’s a portion of what the Kurds’ commander in chief says about America’s betrayal of Syrian Kurds.  

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters evacuate a wounded comrade

” We lost 11,000 soldiers, some of our best fighters and commanders, to rescue our people from this grave danger. I have also always instructed our forces that the Americans and other allied forces are our partners, and so we should always make sure that they are not harmed.

Amid the lawlessness of war, we always stuck with our ethics and discipline, unlike many other nonstate actors. We defeated al Qaeda, we eradicated the Islamic State, and, at the same time, we built a system of good governance based on small government, pluralism, and diversity. We provided services through local governing authorities for Arabs, Kurds, and Syriac Christians. We called on a pluralistic Syrian national identity that is inclusive for all. This is our vision for Syria’s political future: decentralized federalism, with religious freedom and respect for mutual differences.

The forces that I command are now dedicated to protecting one-third of Syria against an invasion by Turkey and its jihadi mercenaries. The area of Syria we defend has been a safe refuge for people who survived genocides and ethnic cleansings committed by Turkey against the Kurds, Syriacs, Assyrians, and Armenians during the last two centuries.

We guard more than 12,000 Islamic State terrorist prisoners and bear the burden of their radicalized wives and children. We also protect this part of Syria from Iranian militias.

When the whole world failed to support us, the United States extended its hands. We shook hands and appreciated its generous support.

At Washington’s request, we agreed to withdraw our heavy weapons from the border area with Turkey, destroy our defensive fortifications, and pull back our most seasoned fighters. Turkey would never attack us so long as the U.S. government was true to its word with us.

We are now standing with our chests bare to face the Turkish knives”  (ForeignPolicy.com)

By every measure, Trump’s treachery has resulted in the deaths of thousands more innocents, and his botched attempt at stopping the horrific wave of genocidal murders only gave Turkey’s leader everything he wanted .. and more .. since the validation of Turkey’s annexation of Kurdish land came with the stamp of approval of the American government.

 “The cease-fire agreement reached with Turkey by Vice President Mike Pence amounts to a near-total victory for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who gains territory, pays little in penalties and appears to have outmanoeuvred President Trump.” (The New York Times)

“This is essentially the US validating what Turkey did and allowing them to annex a portion of Syria and displace the Kurdish population,’ the senior US official said. ‘This is what Turkey wanted and what POTUS green lighted.’(CNN)

America’s president gave Russia quite the present for it’s leader’s birthday. It would seem that Putin’s work here is done.

Some Trump followers are lauding the withdrawal of American troops from Syria as honouring a campaign promise to ‘end endless wars.’ However, the troops that are currently abandoning the Kurds to a bloody fate are not going home – they are being deployed to Saudi Arabia to be a PAID military for the Saud’s own war. 

Trump has remade the United States military in his own image… now .. they’ll murder for pay. Once proud soldiers are now mercenaries. You have to wonder if that is what all of them signed up for.

************************************************************************

So .. is Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic presidential contender, also a Russian asset, as Hillary Clinton claimed? All things considered.. she’s certainly not much of a Democratic asset . I’m hearing so much back and forth on this today; on the one hand, people are scoffing at the very idea. On the other, well, Clinton has been right many times before. Can you really afford to just pooh pooh the idea?

The funny thing is – Hillary didn’t name Gabbard. Gabbard just immediately grabbed the quote and ran with it.

If we look at Gabbard’s voting record, it’s pretty easy to see a not so Democratic bent to many of her decisions.

From 2014 onward, Gabbard appeared regularly on Fox News to lambast the Obama administration for avoiding the phrase (“radical Islam.”) In one interview, she told the host that “the vast majority of terrorist attacks conducted around the world for over the last decade have been conducted by groups who are fueled by this radical Islamic ideology,” a statement that may be technically true due to the violence and instability plaguing Middle Eastern countries, but is wildly misleading considering that non-Muslims make up the vast, vast majority of terrorist perpetrators in both Europe and the United States.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January 2015, Gabbard complained on Fox News that by “not using this term ‘Islamic extremism’ and clearly identifying our enemies,” the administration couldn’t “come up with a very effective strategy to defeat that enemy.” She told Neil Cavuto that “this isn’t about one specific group,” but about “this radical Islamic ideology that is fueling this,” and that it needed to be defeated “militarily and ideologically.” She characterized Obama’s refusal to “recognize” the enemy as “mind-boggling” and “troubling.”

Gabbard flirted with joining the Trump administration, taking an interview, and she also refused to denounce the appointment of Steve Bannon in the Trump administration. Breitbart, Bannon, and others quickly praised her. ” (The Daily Kos)

While Gabbard is basically a non-issue this election, I’d keep an eye on her performance over the next few years. It would be a shame for America to find itself with yet another Russian asset, next time around.

***********************************************************************

Canada, you will have a chance to make a difference to your nation tomorrow.

On October 21 – VOTE to elect members of the House of Commons to the 43rd Canadian Parliament.  

And remember ……

Happy Thanksgiving! And It’s time to VOTE, Canada!


by Roxanne Tellier

I have only two things on my mind today …..

Freedom From Want – Norman Rockwell

First … Wherever you find yourself this Thanksgiving, on which ever day upon which you choose to celebrate the holiday, enjoy the moment.

I hope you are surrounded with people you love .. or like … or at least with people that you can tolerate, even if only in consideration of a nice, hot, three course meal at some point.

I hope that those that like turkey, get turkey and that those who like tofu, somehow enjoy that tofu. Probably with kale.

May your day of the giving of thanks begin with kisses and laughter, and end with more laughter, more kisses, maybe a little pumpkin pie, and definitely some Maalox.

Try to remember that it is a day for giving thanks – not a day to start a civil war. Kiss the cook. Kiss your mum. Hell, kiss everyone, and blame it on the after dinner drinks.

And most of all, remember to give thanks for your own gathering, and the people around the table. No one is guaranteed to be there next year, so love them now.

Happy Thanksgiving.

……………………………………….

Now .. get out there and VOTE!


Vote like your life depends upon it … because it does.

Lying Liars, Bullies & Cowards


by Roxanne Tellier

I’ve written before about the dangers of elected officials lying to the public. Twice, in fact. In modern politics, it seems that lying in public has replaced any pretence of integrity or any desire to have one’s tenure be remembered with respect.

Lying breaks our faith in others – once we know that someone will lie to us, we can never again truly trust that person. And it doesn’t matter why the lie was told, because the lie reveals something very important about the liar; the liar is a coward

There’s a reason that the book ‘Profiles in Courage’ is so slim .. it’s because most people are cowards. Oh, they talk a good game. Keyboard warriors slam those who disagree with their contentions. But put them in the same room with their opponent, face to face, and …. crickets. What are they going to do, pull out a gun? Not in Canada, thank heavens. A raised voice is generally our strongest weapon.

The media, bound by economics to depend on ratings and ‘hits,’ lies regularly, either to advance a cause, by omission, or to ensure that the fool sitting in front of the camera will be willing to return the next time they do something newsworthy enough to be asked back. They forget that truth is what is needed, and that you are allowed to talk over or contradict a liar. Profit has trumped truth.

Getting along with other people is integral to a workable society. Being friendly and helpful to others, while respecting their differences and opinions, is the glue that advances and enhances our society.

Humans have evolved to tell polite little ‘white lies’ in their daily lives, and most of us tell at least two a day. But there is a very clear distinction between ‘white lies’ that are meant to soothe the person being lied to, and ‘black lies’, which are antisocial, and meant to benefit the person doing the lying. 

Black liars are cowards, and cowards are afraid of being found unworthy. So they lie to cover their lack of abilities. They know that there will be consequences if people discover the truth about what they are, what they do, and why.

Those who stand behind liars and bullies for fear of the bully taking reprisals are cowards, who only have loyalty to themselves.

Right now, we’re watching a dismantling of nations. We have discovered, as people do when little can be hidden, that too many of the people in whom they are supposed to have unlimited trust, are liars and cowards.

In this time, when people have long been vaguely aware that governments are fallible, and that those same governments are often not working for the working classes, but rather for the enrichment of big businesses, a lack of leadership contenders has never been so blatantly obvious.

Whether in Canada or the United States of America, a huge swath of taxpayers feel that their concerns are being ignored, and that the world they will be leaving to their children has been hijacked by the wealthy,  in favour of the wealthy.  

People have little faith in the ‘checks and balances’ built into government, because they see those in power blow right past those defences. And then it’s check .. and mate. Goodbye clean air and water. Hello oligarchy.

With elections on the horizon in both halves of North America,  there is a rise in the use of dirty tricks, innuendo, and accusations that are near slander. There are trolls and bots in social media, sent to shake our faith in all of the political contenders. 

It seems that we are now being coerced to choose our country’s leaders and representatives NOT by assessing who is the most qualified, but rather, by whom we’ve defined as the least corrupt, the least politically incorrect, or the least likely to indulge themselves at the tax payers expense.

Instead of a spectacle of intellectual and/or heroic giants battling it out for the prize of leading us, we watch maggots trying to convince us that they are less maggot-y than the other contenders. 

Our words and deeds teach others how we expect to be treated. The lesson these politicians have learned is that we expect a circus of high wire acts and fireworks, rather than a clear and cogent statement of policy. Like children, we wait to be delighted by Seussian spectacles.

 ” They’ll bang on tong-tinglers, blow their foo-flounders, they’ll crash on jang-jinglers, and bounce on boing-bounders!”

Rather than creating platforms or visions of a strong and united nation, these professional politicians seek only to win an election, form a government, and put into place formats to ensure their own enrichment. The voters are just the cannon fodder; the voters are the rubes the con men seek to fool.

And that’s sad.

I’ve always known that there are many people that haven’t the time, or just don’t care about politics, because they’re doing the things that build a nation.. having a family, buying homes, starting businesses, and buying stuff. They only care when it affects them, their children, or their pocketbook.

And that’s sort of understandable. We need those nose to the grindstone types, to keep the country ticking along. But it is still really frightening to see the lack of understanding from the voters,  to watch them be played and swayed by the machinations of the parties’ publicity wonks.

In the United States, the president, terrified of the prospect of impeachment, is now seemingly unable to say anything but lies. His Secretary of State was caught in several blatant lies to the public, and pretty much all of his administration and Cabinet are complicit in impeachable, illegal offences.

In Canada, the leader of the Conservative Party has been caught lying on his resume about his work record, and his education. His loyalty to the nation was questioned this week, when he told the media that he’d never spoken publicly about being a dual Canadian-United States citizen, because “no one ever asked me.”

Scheer stayed silent on his citizenship, even as the Conservative party regularly attacked politicians for their citizenships, like Michael Ignatieff in 2011, insinuating that he was ‘just visiting Canada’  They made a huge issue of former NDP leader Tom Mulcair and former Liberal leader Stephane Dion having dual Canadian-French citizenship. And in 2005, Scheer himself questioned the integrity of former governor general Michaelle Jean’s dual citizenship, asking in a blog written to his constituents if they could trust her, saying ” “Does it bother you that she is a dual citizen (France and Canada)? Would it bother you if instead of French citizenship, she held U.S. citizenship?”

It’s a breathtaking example of two-faced hypocrisy.

Do political parties, particularly on the right, no longer even vet their members, and potential leaders? Is it just a question of  being the right colour, having money, and being willing to toe the party line? 

We are going to find out a lot of things about ourselves in the next few months, on both sides of the border. We’re going to find out who we really are, and how much effort we put forward to understand the policies and platforms of those parties viewing for our votes. We’re going to discover if we are sheep that manipulative entities can herd into their enclosures, or if we are willing to make the time and effort to choose the leaders that will decide our countries futures.

It’s up to us all to stop accepting lies and dirty tricks as the foundation of political campaigns, and to demand truth and accountability from those we’ve chosen to lead our nations.

“In 2016, candidate Donald Trump boasted, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” In the coming weeks, we will find out whether he’s right about who he thinks we are as Americans”  Rep Eric Swalwell

Finally!


by Roxanne Tellier

” There is something almost arbitrary about this scandal instigating impeachment, given the barbarity of Trump and his administration. On a scale that includes keeping immigrant children in cages, I’m not quite sure where to rank the president’s pressuring the leader of a foreign country to investigate a political rival’s son. But it also doesn’t really matter. Impeachment is long overdue. If Trump’s call with Zelinsky is what gets us there, so be it.”   Alex Shephard, The New Republic

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been banging the impeachment drum since almost  the moment the inauguration balloons began to sadly deflate.

When the Democrats took the House in November 2018, public sentiment seemed to point to a belief that they would move towards impeaching Trump, based on any number of issues. And when the Mueller Report landed with all the grace of a mother dropping a baby on it’s head, the impeachment issue was again raised. After all, Mueller’s ‘conclusion’ was that he’d done his job, and now it was up to the Democrats to move forward.  

Nancy Pelosi, however, disagreed on moving to impeach the president. Repeatedly, she told her party and her country that she’d rather beat him, resoundingly, in the 2020 election.

Many of us wondered if America could last that long.

Beyond the mental and emotional exhaustion that has been engendered by Trump’s incessant need for excitement and attention, there was a case to be made that failing to prosecute the president for his misdeeds, based on a fear of electoral retribution, made us wonder how long the Dems could shirk their constitutional responsibilities to hold him accountable for his many crimes, whether real or perceived.

Of course, they – and we – knew that any accusation levelled at Trump or his administration would result in a solid phalanx of his highest level co-conspirators rising up through the swampy waters to defend his right to do whatever he wanted, up to and including a late night whim to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, just to see if it lost him any of his base. (It wouldn’t.) 

We knew in advance that the pearl clutching, eternal victims would level false accusations at those whom they would accuse of simply being jealous rivals, and call any attempt at bringing the executive branch into control as an undeserved ‘witch hunt.’  “Smoking gun? What smoking gun? ”    

But Trump, like any addict, simply couldn’t help himself. The very day after the Mueller Report toothlessly mamby pambied through a sorta kinda accusation of Russia having meddled in the 2016 election (to help Trump)  he was on the phone to the newly elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenksky, asking for ‘a favour’ …. that Zelensky take his focus off protecting his own country to investigate the son of Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden.  

Trump subscribed to a debunked conspiracy theory that accused then Vice President Biden of urging the Ukrainians to fire the Kyiv general prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in order to save his son, Hunter Biden, from being accused of corruption. In fact, this position on Shokin was supported by Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, European allies, and groups like the International Monetary Foundation. (IMF)

Trump’s phone call to the Ukraine was asking for ‘dirt’ on a political rival, from a foreign country – exactly what he’d been accused and found guilty of doing in 2016. “Russia … if you’re listening… ‘

However, his own Department of Justice so roiled the waters that the Democrats knew they’d have trouble convincing the nation to agree that this was an impeachable offence.

Trump’s call also had a more sinister overtone; a week prior to the call, Trump had told his acting White House Chief of Staff, Nick Mulvaney, to slow walk the Congressionally approved $390 million dollars of military aid that Ukraine desperately needed to fight back against Russian advances.

Implicit in Trump’s request for ‘a favour’ was that the aid might never actually reach the Ukraine at all, should Zelensky refuse to investigate the Bidens.

On August 12th, a whistleblower reported an ‘urgent concern’ to the Inspector General of the Department of National Intelligence (DNI) Michael Atkinson. After review, the inspector general deemed the complaint to be credible, and he kicked it upstairs, to the attention of the acting director of the DNI, Joseph Maguire.

For reasons that still don’t make any sense, Maguire opted to ask for the recommendations of both the Oval Office, and the Department of Justice, despite the complaint explicitly naming both Trump and AG Barr as the focus of the complaint. And .. wonder of wonders! both Trump and Barr thought it would be best to just let this complaint go, unheard.

On September 9th, the inspector general reported the complaint to House Intelligence Chairman, Adam Schiff, advising him that Maguire had dismissed the complaint. On September 19th, the House Committee met with Atkinson behind closed doors to discuss the situation, although Atkinson did not disclose the nature of the complaint.

But the word was now out on the street – something worthy of whistleblowing had happened in the Oval Office. No one knew what that might be – at first.

It wasn’t long before Trump, and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, began speculating to the press that it might be about this phone call. They hadn’t done it, they assured the world, but if they did, it would be okay because .. Trump is above the law. Or so it was inferred.

With information that pointed to an abuse of power, a request for help in getting dirt on a political rival, AND the appearance of a cover up in hand, Pelosi announced on September 24th that the House would begin a formal impeachment enquiry into Trump.

Unsurprisingly Trump’s defence was to produce a heavily redacted five page summary of the thirty minute conversation that they believed would exonerate the president. In fact, it only dug the hole deeper.

When the actual whistleblower’s complaint was declassified and released the following day, the nation discovered that the issues raised had to do with the president “using the power of his office” to solicit foreign election help, and included a description of efforts by senior White House officials hiding away and ‘locking down’ access to all records of the call.

Forget Roy Cohn – what Trump really needed was a Rose Mary Woods.

As more information has appeared, it’s become apparent to about 70% of Americans that this president needs to be investigated, and probably, impeached. The 30% that disagree are his ‘deplorable’ base, and his highest ranking party members, who have circled the wagons to protect his criminality…. again.

As Giuliani, Lindsey Graham, and other GOP talking heads made the rounds of the Sunday morning political talk shows, it became clear that they have decided to use the same old defences of the last hundred scandals; start by denying, deflect by saying someone else did the same thing, and then distract by having a temper tantrum, complete with raised voice and red face.

Just as he and his party did when Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual improprieties, they would blame and shame the victim … and let the accused walk free to take his throne again.

Last night, Graham was overheard having a full blown, loud conversation on his cell phone with “Jared” – presumably Jared Kushner, on a Jet Blue flight. He mentioned that he would be on Face the Nation, and coordinated his talking points, saying, “Listen – this is what I’m going to lay out. This is Kavanaugh on steroids! This is hearsay – and this person has bias.”

This morning, on Face the Nation, Mr Graham equated the whistleblower’s complaint to the sexual accusations against Kavanaugh, saying – without truth – that the transcript of the call, and the particulars of the complaint, were not matched. He became increasingly angry with the interviewer, who disagreed, and he then proceeded to demand to know, ” Who is this whistleblower? What bias do they have? .. I wanna know why the whistleblower was told about this phone call … Who told the whistleblower about the transcript? Who helped this person write this complaint? Who told the whistleblower about a phone call between the POTUS and a foreign leader? Who are these people and what are they up to?”

This is ‘whataboutism‘ to the nth degree; faced with what seems to be a credible accusation, that the president and his personal lawyer have, even unwittingly, confirmed, Graham reacts with indignation towards an unknown person who acted with more backbone and courage than Graham could ever scrape up in all of his miserable 64 years on the planet. Shoot the messenger! It’s a witch hunt!

Lindsey Graham wants to speak to your manager!

(damn … I’d love to know what they have on Graham. It’s gotta be some very, very fine kompromat.)

These efforts to uncover the whistleblower’s identity are not only dangerous to the wellbeing of the whistleblower, but in the long run, may well serve to compromise, and perhaps fatally damage, the very act of whistle blowing, which has been an important weapon in finding and rooting out political corruption at the highest levels.

At this point, it would seem that the whistleblower’s words have been corroborated, in some cases, by the president himself.

We can probably already guess exactly how Trump will defend himself through this trial …. he will react as he always does, with denial, deflection, whataboutism, and then just simply walking away to play another game of golf at the tax payer’s expense.  That’s his pattern.

Trump is incapable of seeing himself as a teammate in a party, just as good or as bad as previous American presidents, because he demands to be considered better than all the presidents who’ve gone before him. His allegiance to Russia is beyond troublesome, and Russia’s request that any phone calls between Trump and Putin remain classified also suggests that there’s been the same sort of extortion discussed in those calls – though which side is pressuring which is yet to be determined.

We know he will denigrate the media, and, with his usual projection, proclaim them  “the laughing stock of the world.” And we know he will dump manure on the heads of America’s intelligence officials, willy nilly, because any kind of intelligence just scares the pants off of little Donny.

And in the end, Trump will proclaim that the whole thing is ‘just a continuation of the witch hunt.’  But I don’t see any witches around here. What I see is a president betraying his country, to achieve his own personal ends.

The other day, Trump told his cronies that he believed the whistleblower was a type of spy, and he lamented that spies were not treated as harshly as they’d been, back in the day. Well, there’s a very large segment of the population that wishes that traitors who committed treason were punished as they were, back in the day, as well.

Be careful what you wish for, Mr Trump.

How Much for Your Soul?


by Roxanne Tellier

On the day after 4 million students from all around the world marched to protest their respective governments’ lack of decisive action on climate change, Bob Lefsetz noted that the photos and the chatter had already been pushed off the pages of both terrestrial and online press sites. 

Just a few of those crazy 4 million kids who marched for climate change

Today I noticed several cynics on social media, who found the very idea of kids marching for climate change laughable. Rather than admire the strength and courage shown by Greta Thunberg and her supporters, they wallowed in the belief that there is no point in fighting those in power.

It’s like all the marches, the sit ins and bed ins and hunger strikes of the sixties never even happened. As though the broken heads and bodies of civil rights activists were a myth. As if the peaceful protests of leaders like Ghandi just didn’t matter. 

Listen. If protests didn’t work, governments wouldn’t be always trying to stop people from protesting.

When the people finally stand up and find their voices, the people can change the world. We boomers did; we stopped a war. Maybe these kids can save the planet. Maybe we can help them.

If we don’t then we’ve proved that this is how the world works now. We gear up towards an event, take our selfies, and then we’re on to the next crisis. Even if we really, really care about that event – a political debate, our children marching to try and save the planet – there’s always another spike, another shock, another jolt, coming at us before we’ve caught our breath from the last. Which means we never actually get anything done.

It’s exhausting. And it’s getting us nowhere.

All week long I’ve been trying to put my finger on the overwhelming atmosphere of our political environment. It’s exhausting. It’s depressing. It’s like we’ve had our adrenal glands hooked up to a milking machine. Our supply of fight or flight hormones are running so low now that many people would barely blink at a sharknado.   

While we can certainly point to the Mango Mussolini as the main culprit who has conditioned us to expect multiple adrenaline jolts per day, the media also bears a lot of responsibility for having married our emotions to this stressful world of social media and nonstop ‘breaking news!’

When I was growing up, the news occupied a sacred place in society. At fairly regular intervals, the citizenry would be asked to pause in what they were doing, and pay attention to the news of their country, and the world. Some read newspapers, some watched their televised updates at 6pm and before bed, but overall, most people had at least a vague sense of how governments ran. Sometimes we were told that things were good, and it was time to celebrate. Other times, we’d be informed of battles and wars that needed our attention, and sometimes, that required the service and sacrifice of our fittest young people. But overall … news was for grown ups, and it was important.

However, it was also something from which you could take a vacation, and return to, without missing much.

Those were the days when channels still ‘signed off’ for the night .. often with beautiful, patriotic, or regional slideshows. Remember CITY TVs paean to the city of Toronto?

That’s Toronto … People City ….

Good times.

But then, somewhere along the line, some edgy television exec decided that every broadcast moment had to turn a profit. Overnight, the sanctity of a news hour was discarded for the glitz and glamour of the tackiest of game show stages. Every decade, another of the venerable newscasters whom we’d come to trust and revere, was either rehabilitated into a botoxed, liposuctioned fashion plate, or unceremoniously shown the door for a younger, prettier, sexier, news reader.

On June 1, 1980, Ted Turner launched CNN, the first 24-hour cable news station. Headline News followed in 1982, .and MSNBC and FOX News were right behind them. News had effectively been monetized, and the world would never again be the same.  

I have to keep reminding myself that political junkies are only about 11% of the population. How are we supporting all of those stations?

It just seems like there must be even more of us. But that’s because social media – and a disturbingly populist wave –  has narrowed our visions. Everyone’s got an opinion on social media. But that doesn’t mean that everyone understands what they’re being force fed.

Right now, we in North America are awash in the hopes and dreams of political candidates, all of whom wish to steer their ships of state or nations.

But it seems that quite a lot of politicians – primarily those with a bend to the right – are more comfortable playing ‘gotcha!‘ with their opponents. Apparently that’s way easier than presenting a progressive, doable policy their party can follow, and their electorate can agree upon.

And many, many, many people are very easily lead. Once seeds of doubt and mistrust have been planted, social media is happy to keep watering those misdeeds with liberal tears.

A friend messaged me the other day, with this anecdote.

Who knew I never needed a head? or a brain?

“I was getting my hair cut, and they were all talking about Trudeau in blackface. I listened for about twenty minutes. None of them had seen the photo, but they were horrified. One had a friend that called her, crying.  When I explained that it was a picture of him at a party, dressed as Aladdin, and that he had darkened his face and hands, they all said, “ahhhh.. well that’s not so bad.” Then I quoted him as saying, “I am really pissed at myself.” They were all lovey dovey again until one of them started reading from her phone on why any colouring of the skin is racist and they were all up in arms again.”

It sure doesn’t seem like denigrating and mudslinging a political leader makes people very happy. In fact, it seems to only add to the miasma of uncertainty that so many have in recent elections.

Voters are already conflicted. Too many choose to vote against party leaders, rather than FOR a logical, progressive plan forward. Keep on tearing down those the voters want to look up to, and you’ll soon have an electorate that just can’t be bothered to vote at all.

That works out great for those parties that can’t win fairly. Those who choose to use dirty tricks, gossip and innuendo to attempt to sway swing voters towards their own party need to realize that these ruses serve to make voters even more distrustful and cynical of whomever is currently in charge of their country.  

Today’s smearing of Trudeau is tomorrow’s smearing of Scheer. And while both parties wallow in the mud, and try to defend themselves against attacks, neither party is actually working to make the voter’s life any better.

Most people are happiest when their country is chugging along, doing well economically, and not hurting those who are already hurting. Most people rarely think about hurting other people, just because they can.

But there are some people who will put financial gain above all else.

Today, the news is full of stories about American troops being sent to Saudi Arabia, to be used as paid mercenaries – soldiers of fortune against Iran. Trump says that America must put their own military on the line to die for ‘the kingdom’ because “Saudi Arabia pays cash.” 

The Saudis also paid cash to the murderers who perpetrated the attack on the United States on 9/11. And surely, their own dollars paid for the brutal murder and dismemberment of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Can you buy a nation’s soul with cash? Apparently you can, in the United States. The Saudis ‘pay cash’ … so they’ve bought trump .. and America’s might and military.

Canadians will soon be asked to either reinstate Justin Trudeau as prime minister, or to choose another leader to fill that position. That next leader will have to work with the United States, both economically, and politically.

The question we need to ask ourselves is .. will  our next leader also believe that everything we hold dear can be bought? Our planet, our bodies, our morals – are they all for sale? How much for our country ?

The question we need to ask ourselves is which leader we believe we can trust to behave morally and ethically when they are asked to make decisions about our relationship with America and the other countries of the world.

How much for your soul?