Pande-Malaise


by Roxanne Tellier  

Got an email from a friend the other day, headed “Enough already!”  Like so many of us – especially we older folks – she’s sick and tired of being locked down, exasperated with the conflicting information we’ve received, really scared of leaving her home unless it’s absolutely necessary, and furious with the scoffers who put her health in danger with their refusal to wear a mask.  

Really doesn’t help that we’ve had a lot of very hot days in the last few weeks. Everything’s a little worse when the heat sets in, and you’ve spent far more time with the same person than you ever counted on doing, way back when you first hooked up, and you both had lives, and jobs to go to.

Combine that with any amount of time on social media, and it’s a recipe for disaster, divorce, or defenestration. Gonna have to go on a diet, cut way back on my media, social or terrestrial, before I blow a fuse.

I’m just not made for these times, but, here’s the thing, though … nobody in today’s citizenry is really mentally equipped to handle months and months of isolation, waiting in lines, sacrificing, or accommodating crazy conditions, or for rallying around a flag in support of their nation. Our parents were, but that was then, and not at all like now, when the rallying cry and demand that one’s personal rights be respected is drowning out the cries of those actually fearful of becoming sick or dying. And those cries jockey for place with the cries for social justice, equality, an end to police brutality, and the need for a haircut and somewhere to enjoy a cold beer.

In many places in the world, strong leadership and a compliant citizenry have beaten back the worst of this modern plague. The key is to stay vigilant, and to follow the public health guidelines. Little by little, we’re moving in the right direction.

Not so in the US, natch, where the Feckless Leader has politicized the infectious disease, and has been rewarded with the deaths of nearly 130,000 Americans. After months of downplaying the seriousness of this pandemic, and sloughing the jobs off onto his sycophantic state governors, the new talking point out of the White House is that Americans “need to live with it.”

Apparently, trump has now realized that this bug is not going away so easily, and might still be a problem in November, when he hopes to be re-elected. Top officials are therefore pushing the need for life to move forward, regardless of reality, all in an effort to try and force the economy back to pre-pandemic days.

The virus is with us, but we need to live with it.

Hmm.. I think I’d rather avoid getting a terrible disease by doing a few simple things, like washing my hands, wearing a mask, and social distancing But hey… you do you.

The cure shouldn’t be worse than the disease,” trump intoned, by which he meant that he needed you guys – the voters, the essential workers – to get out there and get the economy restarted so that he could brag about it, and get re-elected. He sure as heck wasn’t gonna go be a greeter at WalMart or load a truck. And he never, ever cared if going out there got you killed. Not his problem, he kept telling you.

Talking points. Grand scale bull pucky. Lies, fantasy, magical thinking, “And then one day, it will just go away, like a miracle.” Seems a tad naïve coming from a 74 year old.

But sadly – too many of his adoring fans buy what he’s selling. It’s all branding, his words get repeated like they’re gospel, and like good little monkeys, the cultists swallow the dis- and misinformation they’re fed.

We gotta stop this, folks. Time to STOP with the retweeting and share of his moronic pronouncements, the pictures of his giant butt with a suspicious stain on the crotch, the inane flag and daughter molesting … yeah, it’s funny to you because you don’t like the guy, or his supporters, but all you’re doing is reinforcing his importance in their eyes.

Remember that it was the billions of dollars worth of free publicity given to him by mainstream and social media that won him the office in 2016! Repeating his name, showing his photo, making a fashion idol of his wife and daughter… and noting his lack of ability to be a hundred per cent sure which is which… is not helping. People are stupid. They have a lot to do, a lot to see, they’re working, they’re dealing with their lives, and you repeating his name over and over like it’s gonna summon CandyMan just gives more credence to him, in their eyes.

“You have Donald Trump coming along and getting all this coverage without spending a dime,” said Paul Senatori, chief analytics officer at Portland-based mediaQuant.

The real estate magnate got $4.96 billion in free earned media in the year leading up to the presidential election. He received $5.6 billion throughout the entirety of his campaign, more than Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio combined.

Over the past 12 months, the president-elect received more than $800 million in free earned broadcast media, compared to $666 million for Clinton, and $2.6 billion in free earned online news attention, compared to $1.6 billion for his rival. He edged out her and other major political names in American and worldwide newspapers as well.  (The Street, Nov 2016)

He’s ugly, he’s stupid, his family sucks baboons. We know. And if anyone recognizes how tempting it is to post or share another unflattering photo of that gang, it’s me. But we have to stop handing him another term.

Meanwhile, we’ve got this whole summer to get through, and some of us are having a harder time with it than others. Geez, if you’re not getting a government cheque of some kind, or doing an ‘essential worker’ job that hopefully won’t get you sick, there’s hard times and troubles a coming. I don’t think most of us realized how interconnected we all were until we got to this place in time, and for many, it’s a disaster.

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On the other hand – refusing to face reality because it’s too negative, well, that’s a lot like pretending you’re Sandra Bullock in Bird Box. And we all know that blindfold is not gonna stop the monsters from coming.  Being willfully blind to reality is not gonna help.

Sure, it’s better to ‘think positively’ but trump’s playing cheerleader for the States hasn’t stopped 130 thousand deaths. How’s that working out for him? Or them?

There’s things we have to discuss, bloody big things, like the economy, racism and police brutality, equality, how our banking systems work, what we do with our ‘dirty’ money, how we feel about our own political systems, and what happens if things go even worse down South. All of that is not going to go away, no matter how willfully a blind eye we turn to it. In this case, thinking positively is pretty much down to having a good income regardless of the circumstances, and not caring about how others are doing. In other words… that’s privilege, bud. 

In truth, things could be worse. A lot worse. And look how much HASN’T gone wrong yet. Though I may be speaking too soon ….  

I wanna talk about how we can move forward to a new normal, because that old normal wasn’t great for very many people. Let’s shake it up, let’s talk about progress, moving forward, helping each other, building futures for our kids and grandkids, remembering that, because of COVID-19, we haven’t been really paying a lot of attention to climate change, but it never stopped while we looked away.

I’m still reeling from the realization that, while we’re just trying to get through this year, Premier Ford’s been putting into place some pretty nasty things that made ZERO sense, but that he’s claimed are important to the economy. I fail to see how allowing environmental degradation, and cutting off protections for our land and water, helps anyone but his cronies.

“On April 1, citing the pandemic, the government suspended a broad swath of environmental protection law, effectively allowing the province to push forward environmentally significant projects or policy changes — even those that don’t relate to COVID-19 — without consulting or notifying the public.”  (National Observer, May 2020)

Why? Because he could, and you were too busy just trying to survive to notice.

But on the other hand, consider this. We have a chance to change our world, to demand that it change, because ‘business as usual’ has taken a holiday. 

As my buddy Michael Scrivener and I dissected this COVIDy world over lunch the other day, (well, someone has to take it apart and put it back together PROPERLY!) we mused on the things that seemed unlikely to ever return.  Like ‘power suits,’ ties, even pants, which for some reason seems one of the first things a guy likes to divest himself of, given half a chance. Commuting – why? Who would want to suffer an hour or more on public transit, now braving far worse than the lack of a seat, or a fellow passenger’s bad breath, when one could simply plop oneself down in front of a home computer – pantless, if desired – and get started on the day with a coffee at hand that didn’t cost $5?

Even the most controlling middle manager would likely prefer to torment you by twitter or private message than to budge his middle class butt from his middle class bungalow in some much less expensive suburb far far away.

And then what about commercial real estate? Why rent an entire floor in a downtown office tower if your satellite workers are themselves paying for the roof over their heads?

Ah, you say, but what then of all those towers blocking our sight-lines?  Would they be empty vessels, swaying in the breeze?  

Well, how about the people reclaim that territory? Most of those buildings already have multiple elevator banks in place, that divvy up the floors. You could easily put the remaining office types in the higher floors, whisked up and away to their offices with expensive views, while leaving the lower floors for better usage.

Like rejigging all that lovely square footage into rent controlled apartments and rentable rooms for the homeless, the elderly, anyone who loves this city but can’t afford to live in it. Why not create floors of work and practice studios for artists, musicians, dancers? And while you’re at it…, put in some performance spaces, big and empty enough to allow social distancing.

It’s your world. The sky COULD be the limit. You wanna think positive? Start right here with what matters to you. Think about how YOU would fix this world. We need to use this ‘pause’ in the world turning to see that the old normal had quite a lot wrong with how it worked, but if we work cooperatively, and demand progressive change, we might be able to turn this Titanic disaster into a luxury cruise.

Eyes on the prize! Only you can prevent Kanye West from becoming president!

Mourning as Minnesota Burns


by Roxanne Tellier

I’m only half kidding when I say that I’m pretty sure we’ve been living in an alternate reality since 2008, created by firing up the Large Hadron Collider. What else could explain this bizarre branch of a timeline we’re currently experiencing?   

Just when you almost get a little less uncomfortable with this new normal of a global pandemic, you get word that marauding monkeys attacked a lab worker in India, before grabbing and fleeing with the blood samples of four COVID-19 patients. Now, if that is not the premise of some next level, ‘ripped from the headlines’, straight to video, Planet of the Apes sequel right there, I don’t know what is.

But apparently nothing is ever going to make sense again, at least according to the mass murderer currently occupying the White House. The guy that has spent the last four years looting America’s treasury is not fond of those who only loot as a side gig. This weekend, as protestors surrounded 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, trump’s bull roars  alternated between cries of “Get off my lawn!” with “Release the hounds!”

America, desperately in need of a true leader to guide them through a unique moment in time, is instead saddled with an incompetent and increasingly paranoid madman, who is utterly incapable of handling any of the problems he brought upon himself by dismantling the nation with the zeal of a toddler eviscerating a butterfly.

America needs someone that can listen and attempt to understand the anguish of the people of colour who, along with the rest of the world, this week watched a New York City woman willfully attempt to summon triggered police to come to her ‘rescue’ from an African American male who dared to tell her to leash her dog.   

The nation needs someone who can pour enough calming oil on the current conflagration to begin to defuse the righteous anger boiling over in the streets as yet another black man is brutally murdered in broad daylight and in high definition video. Trump offers only more gasoline for the flames.

The country needs someone to begin the process of reuniting what was once the United States of America, lest they find themselves instead reliving the horrors of the first Civil War, in a second one in which a core group of the combatants routinely carry some of the deadliest weapons on the planet for a visit to their local supermarket or restaurant.

Instead of a steady hand on the tiller of state, the US has the misfortune of having elected someone who made it his mission to frighten the nation with tales of the boogie men that ‘he alone’ could save them from. Terrified and vulnerable, Americans were putty in his snake oil salesman tiny hands, and rushed to buy the hats that assured them that trump was the one who could Make America Great Again.  Like all rubes, they then discovered the bait and switch of trump’s vision for their future, which he had led them to believe was like a Norman Rockwell painting on a Life magazine cover, but that instead more closely resembled New York City’s mean and dirty streets of the nineties. Trump’s shell game substituted Shangri La with something more resembling a scene from Escape from New York. Bullies, bad guys, corruption, porn, graft, and petty-minded spite are the Special of the Day, every day, under this fast food presidency. 

In the absence of an official Consoler in Chief, Joe Biden is leaping into the breech, and starting to make an argument that Trump is literally attempting to kill the very people that elected him to the position of POTUS. From the disastrous mishandling of everything to do with controlling the pandemic, to his irresponsible and possibly fatal medical advice, to his jeering at those wearing masks to protect themselves and others, trump daily makes the case that his primary mission is not to lead his people out of the wilderness, but instead into the Valley of Death, with each member of his cult toting a Solo Cup of Lysol bleach with a hydroxychloroquine chaser.

Trump tweets his eagerness to sic vicious dogs on protestors, while he shoots a wink and a nod to the white supremacists and vigilantes answering his calls for violence in the streets. He craves the clamour of his rallies, where the spittle infused and unmasked cultists scream out his name as if his mere presence brings them to orgasm. They are his PowerPill, his magical genies in bottles, who are there to allow him to bask in their reverence. That’s how he gains his strength, and if getting tens of thousands of his minions together in one place means widespread transmission of a deadly virus, causing the supporters or members of their family to become ill or die, why, this is the price you must be willing to pay for having your savior so very close. At least, they console themselves and each other, we’re not ‘sissies’ like those lefty liberal mask wearers.

These trumpCultists have always had the sheen of weekend warriors, like Furries or LARPers, people that like to pretend to be something other than what they really are, if just for an hour or a day. Most of them are as cowardly as their leader, but revel in feeling like naughty little ‘despicables’ while they caress their AR 15s. Dying for trump would be a ‘badge of honour’ as he called it, the stigmata of a true believer.

(Try as I might, I cannot fathom why the “Right” would want to encourage the spread of a fatal disease amongst their own supporters. Oh sure, we’re starting to get a few mayors, governors, and even Shawn Hannity, who are encouraging people to keep themselves safe, but I just can’t understand how so many city and state leaders are so spineless that they’ll fail to protect their citizens in order to keep trump from howling his displeasure. It’s like they’ll never have to worry about people voting them back into office. Hmmmmm …do they know something we don’t know?)

Last week, the Lincoln Project released an anti trump advertisement entitled “Mourning in America.“ This week they’ll have enough footage of looted and burned out businesses across America to recreate “Mississippi Burning.” 

I’m tired, dear reader, I’m so very, very tired of this president, who constantly needs more attention than a new born babe, and will just not leave us alone for even a quiet hour of reflection. Instead, we must continuously suffer the drip drip drip of his venomous tweets, until he’s called on the carpet for disregarding site regulations, and immediately vows that social media will PAY for not licking his toes correctly. He can’t legally shut down Twitter or Facebook or TikTok or any of the other social media sites yet … but you can bet your best booties that it is one of the first things he’ll get done should he get a second term.  

And if I can’t get away from his looming influence, and I’m way over here in Canada, imagine how draining it must be to live under his depressing regime in any of the states, but particularly in any of the Red States that are slavishly subservient to trump’s every whim. It must be terrifying, made all the more terrifying if you are also a person of colour, where cries for help are met with callous indifference, and quite often, a brutal slaying by those charged with serving and protecting the masses.

In trump’s America, white, heavily armed protestors have free reign to storm the state Capital in Michigan, disrupting the legislators working inside it’s walls, because the white protestors are ‘exercising their constitutional rights.”

But in Minnesota, in the minds of these same officials, black protestors are rioters and looters, fit only to be met with tear gas and rubber bullets,

For a person of colour in today’s America, even the most educated, renowned and respected can never be certain if they, or their children, will survive an encounter with their local police.

“Do you want to prevent the kind of rioting, looting and arson we saw in Minneapolis on Wednesday night? Then stop police officers and racist vigilantes from killing black men, like George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. Stop treating African Americans like human trash and start treating us like citizens.   

I condemn riots, destruction, property theft and all manner of senseless violence. But I understand the feeling that animates these spasms. When I watch the video of officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, choking the life out of him and ignoring his cries of distress, I want to throw something. When I see the video of Gregory and Travis McMichael accosting and shooting Arbery, I want to throw something else. I can’t help but think of my own two sons and how, for either of them, a routine encounter with police — or a run-in with self-appointed sheriffs — could be fatal. I want to scream.

I feel this way even though I have status in this society, an income that allows me to live comfortably, and a megaphone — in the form of this column and my television appearances — with which to make my complaints and opinions heard. I wonder how I’d feel if I lacked these things, if I were powerless and voiceless. I wonder where my frustration and rage would find their outlet.”   

………….. Yes, Gregory and Travis McMichael — along with William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., who recorded Arbery’s killing on cellphone video — have been arrested and charged with murder. And yes, Derek Chauvin and the three other police officers who watched him kill Floyd have been fired, and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has called for criminal charges to be filed against them.

But if the only result is another couple of trial-of-the-century media circuses that produce lots of drama and controversy but no justice, then nothing will change.” (Eugene Robinson, May 30,2020, Washington Post.)

Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, and a native of South Africa, has the luxury of not being from the United States, and is therefore known to have a little perspective on the treatment of people of colour in America.

I’ll leave you with his very compassionate musings on these days of conflict.

A Taste of Spring


by Roxanne Tellier

Oh, it’s gorgeous on the porch this morning! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and it’s not cold enough to kill you! It’s all good, says I and Lord Farlsworth. Bring on the Spring!

Of course, there’s that pesky little matter of having to deal with all the clocks. I’m on record as being very anti daylight savings, and it’s NOT just because I love clocks, and have several in every room. I checked; I’ve written about the madness of continuing this practice numerous times. Based on our records, many – hundreds! –  of you have read my ideas on changing this twice-yearly assault on our modern 24/7 economy, and STILL we continue to ‘spring forward, fall back.”

It’s as though all of my high-quality, painstakingly chosen, words are but farts in the wind! Is it possible my deeply considered, research-based opinions on politics are getting the same sort of non-response? Are my deep thoughts not being conveyed to Premier Ford, and past and present prime ministers, for their perusal?  Say it ain’t so!

I’m also shocked to tell you that there’s a women’s march going on downtown, even though I distinctly remember marching in several of these in the seventies, in both Montreal AND Toronto, AND attending a bunch of fundraisers AND buying International Women’s Day buttons, both to give away, and to wear myself! 

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that we still don’t have a female president or prime minister (besides the nearly five months of Kim Campbell’s rule.) Yeah, we probably just need to wade through the turns of all those old, rich, white guys … a few gay males, maybe a trans male …  and then I’m SURE we’ll get to a woman we’ll consider ‘electable.’ Right?

Next you’ll be telling me that all of those protests, marches, petitions, and eventual 1973 decision of the US Supreme Court on Roe v Wade that decriminalized abortion nationwide is in the process of being re-litigated, and that Chief Justice Roberts has laid the groundwork to reverse that precedent!

I told you not to tell me.

Yeah, I don’t want to bring you down, on this beautiful, sunny Sunday, but seriously, now … why did we bother? Why did so many people care so deeply, work so hard, and ultimately succeed in getting a decision and Supreme Court ruling that allowed women to decide on the fate of their own bodies, if all it takes is one trump in the White House to tear it all back down, and leave American women once again to the tender mercies of back alley, coat hanger, abortions? 

Apparently there are several other, equally impactful, decisions resting on this trumpified Supreme Court, and America – I’m afraid you’re not gonna like the new look. Since Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were installed, tipping the balance to five right wing judges vs four leftish wingers, the walls are tumbling down faster than 86 year old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and 65 year old Justice Sonia Sotomayor can prop them back up.

Your ‘swing vote’ is none other than Justice Clarence Thomas. And have you heard how his wife Gini has been spending her spare time lately? Seems she’s a huge trump fan, and so she’s opting to Big Brother her wifely role and become a key part of the conservative associates opting to send trump info so that he can weed out those not 100% loyal to His Majesty.

That just doesn’t bode well for Thomas listening to the dissents of Ginsberg and Sotomayor.

Earlier this year, the justices lifted a nationwide injunction against a sweeping policy that specifically targeted poor immigrants. The ‘public charge’ rule, put in place last August by the Department of Homeland Security, will allow officials to turn away anyone likely to become a ‘public charge’ by use of food stamps, housing vouchers, and Medicaid. This applies to immigrants wishing to enter the U.S., extend a visa, or apply for a green card.

It will also affect immigrants applying for temporary visas, even in the case of tourists, students, business travellers and skilled workers. 

Based on this rule, trump’s own mother and grandparents would not have been allowed entry. But it’s too late to close that barn door now – he’s here, and he’s not done yet.

Worse, denying entry to immigrants, and removing the right to a safe abortion, is just the New Trump Court warming up; after their summer vacation, they’re gonna rule on taking away whatever is left of the rotting corpse of Obama’s hard-won Affordable Health Care from about 20 million Americans.

And if trump gets another term, which at this point is looking like a good possibility, Americans will face very large cuts to their Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

I’ve got a question; if all we keep hearing about is what an amazing economy America has right now, of how it’s all looking up and everyone’s getting so much richer and happier under this president – none of which has been substantiated by actual fact or research – why can America no longer afford to be generous? I mean, okay, if you feel like America has been Daddy Money to the world for decades, and that it’s time others paid their ‘fair share,’ well, that’s one thing.

(“More than two hundred countries receive U.S. aid. (about $50 billion per year)  It disproportionately goes to a few, however, with the top five all receiving over $1 billion per year as of 2016: Iraq ($5.3 billion), Afghanistan ($5.1 billion), Israel ($3.1 billion), Egypt ($1.2 billion), and Jordan ($1.2 billion).” Cfr.ogr)

But how can a supposedly caring, nominally Christian, country simultaneously go from what they claim is a prosperous, booming economy, to a place where its dog eat dog for those not fortunate enough to be young and healthy, or conversely, old and rich?  Why are nearly a million Americans homeless?  If the country is so wealthy, why do so many Americans have to work multiple jobs, at minimum wage, in order to barely survive? Why are even government, civil service, workers kept at the lowest possible wage, while the number of American billionaires keeps rising?

(“In 2017, 80.4 million workers age 16 and older in the United States were paid at hourly rates, representing 58.3 percent of all wage and salary workers. Among those paid by the hour, 542,000 workers earned exactly the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.  BLS.gov)

There’s a strong streak of cruelty that’s always been part of the Republican mindset, even before trump. Despite repeated claims of fiscal responsibility, the GOP have always been more than eager to cut the taxes of the rich without cutting spending on already overly padded areas, like the military. But they just LOVE to cut anything that might help the poorest of their citizens.

Take the new rules on food stamps trump levied last year. Those cuts will hurt hundreds of thousands of children, veterans, and the disabled, while saving only tiny amounts that will be gobbled up just with the enforcement.

The GOP are so eager to be cruel that they will willfully damage their own, even when it won’t cost them a penny. Take Medicaid expansion, which, under the Affordable Care Act, was made optional, on a state by state basis. A no brainer, right? After all, it would get the federal government to pay 90 per cent… NINETY PER CENT  . of a state’s health costs, as well as producing indirect cost savings on previously uncompensated costs, and boosting a state’s economy, which raises tax revenues.

A no brainer – and yet one on which 14 Republican-controlled states, many of which claim the nation’s poorest citizens, took a hard pass. Why take care of your citizens, the ones that put you in office, when you have the option of making peoples’ lives so much worse?

It seems to me that Americans have found themselves in a very odd place in time. On the one hand, many, even previous trump voters, are determined to make him a one term, impeached memory. On the other, the fight for who will lead the Democratic party – really, the only other choice in what is essentially a two-party race – is becoming a death march to the finish for some of the oldest candidates ever to willingly seek elected office.

Two weeks ago, the will of the people seemed to be with Bernie, but just last week. it became all Biden, all the way

How do you counsel people to overcome their apathy and lack of interest in civics and politics when what they see with their own eyes confirms what they’ve sort of believed for most of their lives?

Spring – When the cats return to the trees, to sing their Spring songs!

It’s very hard to convince people that they matter, that their needs and values count, and that their vote makes a difference, when all it takes is one cretin winning the presidency to make all of their hard work seem to have been for nought.

Tough times, indeed. But today, there’s a promise of Spring in the air, and, for me, that always means it’s time for some Deanna Durbin. I can’t help singing!

Revenge of the Creature Redux


by Roxanne Tellier

America was never ‘perfect,’ despite the first settler’s early claims that ‘manifest destiny’ made anything Americans wanted to do, in the name of ‘a more perfect union,’ perfectly fine and utterly legit. 

But while they might have contended that the special virtues of the American people and their institutions made colonialism, slavery, and the unchecked and wholesale, uncontested, swallowing up of the country ‘god’s will’ for the benefit of the powerful, these presumably lofty ideals, and ‘an irresistible destiny to accomplish this essential duty’ never held much water to the people whose lands were seized in the name of ‘the divine.’ 

Manifest Destiny was the idea that white Americans were divinely ordained to settle the entire continent of North America. The ideology of Manifest Destiny inspired a variety of measures designed to remove or destroy the native population.

Fast forward to February 2020, when the Republican party, lead by an immoral, craven Senate leader, and under the sway of a blatantly avaricious, sadistic, narcissist POTUS, took the whole idea of manifest destiny one step further, and crowned their leader Lord and King of America. 

Although trump was charged with both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the Republican party, in a show of cowardice and cultism unparalleled in modern American history, chose to acquit, thereby finally allowing trump to claim what he always believed to be his due – to be completely above the law, and to ascend to the monarchy.

Analyzing exactly HOW this moment came about would drive a saint mad, but there’s no question that the combination of a virulent social media, combined with a mainstream media desperate for ratings, provided a lack of context and nuance that greased the wheels of weaponizing the words of not just the powerful, but the common man. Trump’s own abuse of Twitter, which he uses in lieu of press conferences or a state media, allows him to avoid actual interaction with those who might have, in better days, used their intelligence and knowledge of history to point out obvious fallacies and wrong thinking.

It boggles the mind, to think that anyone … ANYONE … thought that granting this limitless amount of power – to be above the law, incapable of committing a crime, entitled to scoff at Congressional oversight – should be given to the most corrupt, incapable, malevolent, sadistic, and possibly senile creature ever to soil the carpets of the White House. I am truly left speechless at that calumny.

I honestly can’t even think of any other president in America’s history who would either want or even ACCEPT that power; it is the power of kings, or of a god. 

And sure enough, the morning after the acquittal, while attending the annual National Prayer Breakfast, trump did, indeed, take the time to let speaker Arthur Brooks and the other attendees know that, no, trump did not subscribe to the words of the New Testament or Jesus Christ. In fact, he did not believe that Christians should forgive their enemies. Instead, he would demand unholy retribution.

And as to the very concept of prayer –

he targeted Speaker Pelosi, who has said she prays for Mr. Trump, saying, “Nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that’s not so.”

Explicitly rejecting the message of tolerance offered at the National Prayer Breakfast just moments before he took the lectern, Mr. Trump — without naming them — singled out Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was sitting just a few feet away at the head table, and Senator Mitt Romney, the Republican from Utah who voted to convict him, accusing them of hypocrisy for citing their faith while supporting his impeachment.

“As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people,” Mr. Trump said. (The New York Times, Feb 7, 2020)

Meanwhile, back at the ‘ranch’ – there’s no one left to speak up against whatever the all powerful POTUS chooses to say or do. Furthermore, since the acquittal, and his subsequent retribution upon those who spoke up against him, it’s unlikely that anyone ever will again.   

Based on our knowledge of who remains to give trump ideas and direction on how best to abuse this godlike power – McConnell, and Stephen Miller amongst the main proponents – AND the historic lack of original thought evidenced by the GOP in the past, I think we can count on what is to come in the next few months to resemble a medley of the greatest hits of Joseph McCarthy, Torquemada, Adolf Hitler, and the tenets of Putin’s beloved KGB, with nods to George Orwell’s 1984.

Trump Jr’s tweet on Friday sent a real chill down my spine. This stank of Big Brother, cruelty and an abuse of power by proxy.

The guardrails of U.S. democracy are definitely falling off.

Trump has begun his reign of terror; Friday was the ‘night of the long knives 2020,’ as Lt Col Alex Vindman AND his twin brother (who had nothing to do with the Lt Col’s testimony) were both frogmarched out of the White House like common criminals. 

Within hours, Gordon Sondland, the loyalist whose ambassadorial position cost him a cool million-dollar donation, was also summarily dismissed.

Most of those who testified, called by subpoenas they did not ignore, have had to leave their posts, whether voluntarily or not.  What was first bullying and intimidation has now become outright vengeance and retribution.

Yes, these actions violate a federal law. It is indeed illegal to retaliate against a witness, victim or an informant. But since trump is now above all laws, he can feel free to act with impunity. I’m gonna guess he’s just getting started. 

We’ve seen how executive pique has punished the trump enemies – ask Puerto Rico what it’s like to try and survive natural disasters after incurring his wrath. Add the states of New York and California to the list – both are learning that there are a million ways to be hobbled when the Attorney General of the United States lives in the POTUS’ pocket.

While trump cannot fire elected officials, he can continue to make life hell for top Democrats, like Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and more, and in the process force them to spend hundreds of thousands on lawyers to clear their names.

On the Sunday political news shows, loyalist Lindsay Graham seemed to be calling for a ‘thorough’ investigation of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, which will, of course, be costly, exhausting, and ultimately cause just enough suspicion – even amongst the leftiest left leaners – to reconsider a vote for Biden.

Is it possible there have already been investigations started on the other candidates? Do Warren, Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Buttigieg, Yang, and Steyer need to worry? Because, this summer, once a candidate has been selected to run as the Democratic lead, you can bet your bottom dollar that Barr’s Department of (in)Justice will be on them like … you get the picture.

All blatantly political. All filled with malice, and an ego that can never be sated. All very third world, banana republic, where those who dissent are imprisoned. And all with the zeal of a convert who simply can’t stop flagellating those who might have different beliefs.

And, according to Alan Dershowitz, none of his actions will be illegal, now or forever, if he’s leading from his ‘heart,’ in believing that the use of government services and tax payer money to smear his opponents, is in the nation’s best interest. 

Neither the DOJ nor the corrupt Republicans of the Senate will expect or coerce trump to obey any of America’s laws. His illegal retaliation against those who testified of his illegal actions will be ignored. It remains to be seen if Defense Secretary Mark Esper, or the Department of Defense, who swore to Vindman that they would see that he did not suffer retaliation or reprisals, will keep those promises. Even the DOD may find itself powerless against a fascist dictator, unhinged, and unchained from any form of accountability.

What you see every day becomes normalized, no matter how awful, no matter how evil. With trump, the evil is baked into the cake, as it has been since his childhood. A certain type of American citizen has not only accepted trump’s version of reality, they have revelled in it, delighted in the racism, bullying, and xenophobia.

Can those who are disgusted and angry with politics in America find a savior to vote for, to lead them out of this wilderness, in November? I don’t know. I hope so. But meanwhile, as these white nationalists with the group “Patriot Front” marched through Washington DC yesterday, it’s hard not to be mindful of the quote from Orwell’s 1984

“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

Parsing What Comes Between the Thanks and the Giving


by Roxanne Tellier

Americans celebrated their Thanksgiving this past week. Many families endured long journeys, traveling across the country, to spend time with the people they love. The lucky ones gathered around tables that groaned with heaps of delicious, fresh, and sometimes even healthy, food.

Norman Rockwell; Freedom from Want

Following in the tradition of the giving of thanks, families and friends joined hands and expressed their gratitude for those they love, for all that they have, and for all they hoped to amass during the capitalistic human centipede orgy known as Black Friday shopping.

Amen.

For the fortunate, it was a warm, loving, pre-holiday feast. Some families went to bed feeling loved, with full bellies, and visions of the sugar plums they’d enjoy next month.

Other families – not so much. Beyond worrying about how to pay for that groaning board, they had to deal with the ‘difficult’ relative – the aunt, or uncle, or son or daughter or in-law who, instead of bringing a sweet potato and marshmallow pie, brought their anger, fear, and their disdain for the political party that the rest of the gathering espoused.

All In the Family; Archie, Edith, Michael and Gloria

And that could be to either party. While I have my own bias, I’m well aware that a family that has an altar to trump is gonna have trouble with the family member who is a ‘never trumper’ – and vice versa. Think Archie Bunker, wrangling with son in law Michael Stivic, while Edith and Gloria tried to calm the troubled waters. Oh yes, it was ever thus. As then, so today, but oh my living lights and liver! It’s so much worse now.

Tell me,  how’d we ever get this way.

Not everyone experiences these unpleasant interactions. Maybe you are blessed with a Hallmark card family that never disagrees. And many people use social media sparingly, as a place to connect with loved ones, and to enjoy funny gifs and Youtube videos. That’s a perfectly valid – probably the most sensible! – way to enjoy the internet. What I’m talking about here is those of us who compulsively follow the news, with a fetish for politics. That’s a whole other experience. For us ….

” These are the days of miracle and wonder. This is the long distance call. The way the camera follows us in slo-mo. The way we look to us all, oh yeah”

Paul Simon – The Boy in the Bubble

Maybe we can blame it on social media, on our ability to reach out and touch every other person on the planet who enthusiastically agrees with our theories and preferences, but the truth is, a huge segment of society has somehow devolved into something primal and tribal. It’s no longer a disagreement or a difference in opinion; it’s outright war against anyone who doesn’t toe exactly the same political lines we hold dear.

And no matter how ridiculous. 

The level of insanity exhibited by the Mad King installed in the White House is only matched by his sycophantic court, who gladly traipse along behind him, carrying his water, and informing the people that his most insane pronouncements are only misunderstood by his subjects because the hoi polloi can never dream of attaining the level of ‘genius’ trump was born with. Sigh.

You know – the way North Koreans are taught from birth that their holy family in the Kim Dynasty are beyond human understanding, and must be worshipped as gods. Like that. 

The sad truth is that the rules of modern civilized engagement have been fundamentally changed, and many people have decided that they prefer these new rules. Why tell the truth, when the president, all of his administration, and apparently almost all those of wealth and power, no longer feel the need to do so? What kind of sucker tells the truth and takes accountability for their misdeeds, when there’s dirty money to be made, and a seemingly infinite number of lawyers prepared to argue that your fake truth is just as valid as someone else’s declaration?

The people in charge are making it up as they go. Reality is now whatever the 1% say it is, and the rest of you better ‘get over it.’

75% of Americans don’t trust their government and politicians, while 64% don’t even trust each other. And the response from their governmental spokesperson?

“This is the way it works. Get over it.”

Nick Mulvaney, Acting White House Chief of Staff, October 17, 2019

And why bother being civil to each other, when accusations, personal sniping, and the flinging of links to sites that trumpet your truth, is the new way to communicate? The loudest voice seems to rule the day, as those with softer voices and gentle demeanours fall by the wayside.  Even many of those that we may think of as friends and colleagues seem unable to stop themselves from snapping at our heels, unmoored from a frontal cortex that might stop their lips from voicing what might, in better times, have never been uttered, like so many stroke victims who have lost their verbal filters. 

The atmosphere seems to favour the conceit that we are the most important and most knowledgeable person in the room, while simultaneously being the biggest, and most ignored victim, in history. Schrödinger’s Narcissist, demanding to be heard, no matter how inane and mundane our input may be. The shining lead in a reality show in which it truly is all about us, and the ‘little people’ are on their own.   

The trouble is, when everyone’s the boss, when everyone is too important to be of help, things get really dicey when you actually need help yourself. And we’re all so short of time. When we want something, we want it now, and the not getting of something we want the minute we want it leads to tantrums and tears over stuff that we might have brushed away as no big deal, just a few years ago.

Maybe our narcissism and self-focus is a by-product of the things we cannot control or change. Spending our time on self-soothing leaves little time for thinking about how the rest of the world lives. While we complain about how hard it is to get rid of stuff so that we can buy more stuff, there are millions of Canadians and Americans who are homeless. In truth, the average person is just two or three pay cheques away from being in the same boat. Maybe even just one.

” Millions of middle-class Americans are just one missed paycheck away from poverty, with 4 of 10 considered “liquid-asset poor,” or without enough money socked away to cope with even a sudden disruption in income. “

Despite the lowest unemployment rate in decades and solid economic growth, many Americans are on thin financial ice, Prosperity Now found. Minority households are particularly lagging on key measures such as income and wealth, the study found. Across the board, more than 1 in 10 American households fell behind in their bills in the last year, a signal that many are struggling with rising costs and stagnant incomes.  “ cbsnews.com

While blowhards rant about how ‘welfare queens’ pump out more mouths for taxpayers to feed, and claim with no evidence that the poor use their food stamps for steak and booze, the sad truth is that America can be a harsh and unforgiving place for those born to anything less than middle class. Many resent giving the poor and vulnerable ‘hand outs,’ but have no solutions as to how we should go about helping those less fortunate than themselves.  

This epidemic of poverty and homelessness is not new; society was ever thus. What is so startling about today’s wave of needy citizens is the glaring contrast between the haves and the have nots.

Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has 10 yachts, 12 private jets, 4 helicopters, a government job replete with perks and benefits, and pays no taxes.  She also has 24/7 security, at a cost to the taxpayers of $20 million to date, because she ‘fears for her life’ due to some teacher-led protests.

At 10:30 a.m., this Black Friday, I walked along Yonge Street near Bloor, picking my way through the hands held out for change, while avoiding the prone bodies in sleeping bags that hugged the curb. Across the street, the glittering shops of Yorkville were swamped with fur coated shoppers proffering their black AmEx credit cards to take advantage of sales.

Toronto‘s libraries don’t talk about it much, but they are often the only place able to provide a safe haven for those with no homes, and nowhere to go during the day. On any given day, it’s not unusual to see a bundle buggy heaped high with all of a person’s worldly possessions parked in a library foyer or washroom. And while it may be tempting to sniff that you are opposed to paying for this with your tax dollars, the question then must be what you are prepared to do to help with the situation instead. And that takes a great deal more money, courage and empathy, than kicking in a few pennies per year in your taxes.

Looking beyond our cities and nations, people all around the globe are dying by the millions, from war and neglect. In Yemen, 85,000 children under the age of five have died from starvation, along with countless adult civilians. In Syria, the Kurdish people, who just a month ago were American allies, are being slaughtered as the Turkish militia go door to door in search of ex-fighters. Russia illegally annexed Crimea, and is at war with the Ukraine.

Southwest Bangladesh

The nation of Bangladesh is frantically trying to bail out the waters that are threatening to sink this South Asian country, due to climate change. And it is not even an island nation. It’s population of over 163 million will soon need somewhere to live. Like the other countries facing imminent disaster, they will become climate refugees, searching for new homes, along with Comoros, Tonga, the Seychelles, Palau, Nauru, Kirbati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tuvalu, and the Maldives.

Last week, koalas became functionally extinct, joining the more than nearly 500 species that have gone extinct in the last century due to continued human degradation and destruction of natural habitats.. Your grandchildren may never see a koala, polar bear, rhinoceros, lion or tiger other than in a picture book.

And yet .. and yet .. and yet ….

The wealthiest people on earth increased their combined personal fortunes by about $1 trillion dollars last year. The poorest person on Forbes Richest People List, at number 20, is Jack Ma, who has a personal net worth of over $41 billion dollars. Mr Ma, alone, if he wished, could end world hunger. 

I know that it is difficult to cope mentally with all of these issues, of climate change, man’s inhumanity to man and animals, wars, populist politicians, societal division, a lack of civility and decency, inequality, and the disparity of income and the ill treatment of our most vulnerable that we see around us. How do you justify these things, when so many of these problems could potentially be ameliorated by the very people who compound the issues in their quest to amass and hoard more wealth than most of us can envision?

If you allowed yourself to really feel the despair of all of those who are afraid, hungry, cold, or in pain – how would you be able to get up every morning and go to school, or work? How do you keep the wheels of the world turning, if you are grieving for people you don’t know, and are unlikely to ever encounter?

I don’t see a lot of happy people these days, on the streets, in the stores, in their vehicles or on transit. I see a lot of angry people, a lot of frustrated faces, and people rushing to be somewhere that doesn’t seem like a place they want to be. I see beggars on the streets of a wealthy city.

“How can you tell me that you’re lonely? And say for you that the sun don’t shine.”

Ralph McTell, Streets of London

Maybe we need to re-examine how we engage with each other. These days I hear so many more raised voices, and so much less laughter. Maybe it’s time to encourage and reward civility and good humour, rather than making heroes and celebrities of those who delight in disrespecting and brutalizing their fellow human beings.

And with the holiday season nearly here, and the cold of winter encroaching, maybe we can all just take a minute to be truly grateful for what we have, and to help those in need. Not a single one of us can save the earth – but all of us together could make a start.