And Then I Wrote


by Roxanne Tellier

From time to time, people have accused me of ‘hating’ Donald Trump irrationally. But really, there’s nothing irrational about me hating the guy. I admit it, I despise him, and everything he is, has been, and currently represents. So should any free-thinking lover of progress, freedom, individual and civil rights, and most of all – democracy.

I might even argue that it’s irrational to LIKE the guy, since, no matter how hard you search, you are unlikely to find even one moment of his life, or one action that he has taken, that has been in service to anything other than himself and his ego.

What’s to like? Go ahead, throw a dozen things you like about him at me, and I’ll knock them back to you with a rebuttal quicker than the most expensive ball player could do in his entire career.  You may not agree, you may not believe me, you may call it ‘fake news, ’ but at some point, and in the fullness of time, even his most devoted and loving acolyte will be soundly and permanently disabused of the idea that trump’s got anything but contempt and disdain for anyone but himself.

You don’t even have to take my word for it. At last count, pretty much all of the current best sellers listed in the nonfiction section were written by people who were, at one time, not only colleagues of the man, but counted themselves as faithful and loyal friends, even family. Right up until the day they were booted out the door, and trump told the press that he never met them, might have seen them in passing in the hall, but that he’d always considered them weak, stupid losers that he – as a form of noblesse oblige – had deigned to allow to sit in his regal presence for a short time.

The walrus-moustachioed John Bolton, formerly the late, unlamentedNational Security Advisor of the United States,  is the latest ex to literately spill the tea on his OrangeNess, ripping off the title The Room Where It Happened from the hit musical Hamilton, perhaps hoping that a little bit of the musical’s hipness would rub off on his tome.

The funny thing about Bolton is not that extravagant and clearly well-loved moustache, it’s that he’s disliked equally on both sides of the political scene. And while we’re all happy to snicker over the revelations the books has produced, despite it’s not even being available (supposedly – I’ve already got a pdf of it) until Tuesday, most people are planning to avoid actually BUYING a copy. The libraries will serve as the greatest resource for his wordy work, I have heard. 

People resent that Bolton dragged his feet when asked to contribute to the pre-impeachment discovery sessions, waiting until offered a cool $2 million to tell the world what he really should have said then – that the president had not only committed the crimes with which he’d been charged, but several other impeachable offenses that the Democrats had not added to their suit. In fact, he was pretty snippy about the Dems not having done so, despite the fact that he had not actually given them any of the requested information.

Some would say that Bolton screwed Americans over twice – once as a trump appointee who failed to ‘tell all’ when his country needed him … and now as a very well-paid author of a ‘tell all.’

He’s joined the rogues gallery of cowards who laboured under trump, took his money, and then spilled their guts when their hearts were broken. Eventually pretty much every one of his handpicked, adoring cadre will have their own moment in the author spotlight. And these aren’t the ‘never trumpers’ .. they’re the die hard fans for whom he could do no harm.

History offers a plethora of examples of presidents who’ve clashed with their staff, but this is an extraordinary deluge of those who once grovelled at his feet and kissed the ground upon which he walked, who are now expecting us to believe that they’ve had an epiphany since being bounced from the White House. NOW they realize that he’s incompetent, incapable, and, yes, as bad as his critics said he was. NOW they want us to believe that they thought he was just fooling when he told them straight out that he was a snake.

Having bought back the souls they sold to trump to secure employment, they are now happy to resell their souls for a chance at political redemption, along with the fat advances they’re receiving from publishers. And the public eats it up.  

In 2020 alone, we’ve had Bolton’s book, along with a tome from Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig titled A Very Stable Genius, and a book written by trump’s niece, Mary L. Trump, whose axe to grind is titled Too Much and Never Enough; How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.  

Last year saw six books, from everyone from Jim Acosta to Anonymous, Victor Davis Hanson, James Poniewozik, Rick Reilly, and Michael Wolff, which joined the thirteen books published in 2018, and the eighteen penned in 2017.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who stood by while trump cut taxes on the rich, demanded an expensive and nonsensical border wall, and who turned a blind eye to cruel practices designed to hurt Muslims, immigrants and Dreamers, yet nevertheless managed to release his “The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea, “ in which he revealed that trump knew nothing about governing and operated on ‘knee-jerk reactions.”  

Omarosa Maningault Newman, Trump’s former communications director for the Office of Public Liaison, and his token African American female, left us with “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” in which she revealed trump as a racist with no aversion to repeatedly using the “N-word” as he slimed people of colour behind their backs. 

The list goes on and on …. Anthony Scaramucci, Sean Spicer, James Comey, Hope Hicks, H.R. McMaster, even convicted presidential campaign adviser Roger Stone – all have profited from their association with trump.

Tell all’s about trump are nothing new. In 1993, Harry Hurt III published “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump,” an unauthorized biography that used parts of trump’s first wife, Ivana’s, divorce deposition to describe his cruelty. 

“The part of the book that caused the most controversy concerns Trump’s divorce from his first wife, Ivana. Hurt obtained a copy of her sworn divorce deposition, from 1990, in which she stated that, the previous year, her husband had raped her in a fit of rage. In Hurt’s account, Trump was furious that a “scalp reduction” operation he’d undergone to eliminate a bald spot had been unexpectedly painful. Ivana had recommended the plastic surgeon. In retaliation, Hurt wrote, Trump yanked out a handful of his wife’s hair, and then forced himself on her sexually. Afterward, according to the book, she spent the night locked in a bedroom, crying; in the morning, Trump asked her, “with menacing casualness, ‘Does it hurt?’ ” Trump has denied both the rape allegation and the suggestion that he had a scalp-reduction procedure. Hurt said that the incident, which is detailed in Ivana’s deposition, was confirmed by two of her friends.”

At some point, even the most fervent supporter has got to see that there is indeed something about trump, and it’s disgusting. Just ask anyone who has been in his presence for more than – how long did Scaramucci last, eleven days?

So it’s not just me, is what I’m saying. And I’m gonna keep on hating trump – rationally or irrationally – for as long as he is resident on this planet, whether that be as president or, hopefully, in good time, as a long-term political prisoner.

……………………………………………….

I caught this 2019 ideaCity talk on YouTube last week, and was just blown away. I hope those who cherish democracy, and who have been wondering if there’s any hope for the planet, will take some comfort from Marie Henein’s calm, yet passionate, defence of democracy, and the free speech that enables democratic nations. This one’s a keeper.

“Here’s the three things that I noticed happen. The democratic dialogue has been replaced with a digital screaming match. Our ideas of democracy began to unmoor from liberalism, and the concept of democracy was suddenly equated with populism. Or as some authors have called it, we see the rise of Illiberal democracy.  And thirdly, caught in the eye of the storm were many of the values and freedoms so essential to reconcile the success of the democracy with the protection of minorities, of the marginalized, of those who did not have the majority vote. “

Democracy and Freedom of Speech – Marie Henein

Boom Times in the Big Smoke


It’s Boom Town for realtors in Toronto these days. 243,400 houses were sold last year, and as of April of this year, the average residence in the city had a starting price tag of a cool $921,000.

378 East Sept 2016My old house in Scarborough, which we sold last July, was re-sold twice more by speculators before the year ended, each time jumping another $100K or so in price. It’s now been demolished and rebuilt as a monster home. I wouldn’t recognize the place, they tell me.

Fine by me. We sold, we moved, and I can barely remember the person I was when I lived in my big, old bungalow. Turns out it’s great not to have the onus of house maintenance, and the constant waiting for the next expense to drop. Renting, after 30 years of owning, may not lend the same sense of autonomy, but it also comes with a lot less responsibility and chores.

Taxes can be a burden on the home owner as well, since your residential tax is based on current value, not what you paid for the place at the time of purchase. If you lucked out in the eighties and bought your dream home for around $100,000, you might be considering a second job just to keep the taxes paid and the utilities flowing.

hawkstone-manorGood ol’ Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins has his big estate, Hawkstone Manor, up for sale. Again. He tried to sell it for $14.9 million back in 2013, and failed. But it’s up again, this time listed at $4.3 million. If it goes to a bidding war, which is not out of the question, he could still get closer to the $10 million mark.

From the Toronto Star, April 2013:
“It’s a $100 house on a million-dollar property.”

The nine-bedroom, five-bathroom home is really only notable for the lifetime of memories that line its orange living room walls. A buyer would likely bring in a bulldozer.

But the house sits atop a rare piece of prime Kawarthas real estate — 165 acres gently sloping down to almost 4,000 feet of waterfront that, on these sought-after shores of the Trent-Severn Waterway, can go for $5,000 a foot.”

The Order of Canada recipient is 82, and not in the best of health. Whatever the final price, he and his wife will be able to cash out big and find somewhere a lot cosier to shelter them in their golden years.

sold over asking. jpgAnd that’s the ideal situation to be in, in the market right now. If you’re selling and have to purchase another place in the city – good luck to you. They want ridiculous money for so much as a garage, without a house attached. It’s madness. Tiny bungalows, like the one I’m renting, list for $800K and sell for over a million.

And when the interest rates rise in a bit, it’s gonna be even crazier. How can the average person buy so much as an entry home in the city, without a family income somewhere in the $300K a year range? It’s nuts. Rock, meet hard place. Rock musicians … move to Hamilton.

Funny thing, though, about this real estate madness – with hundreds of thousands of properties changing hands in the last two years, there have never been more paper millionaires minted in the city than it’s likely seen in it’s history. scrooge_mcduck

Not just millionaires – multi-millionaires. If you’re one of those lucky enough to have pretty much retired the mortgage, and are ready for retirement yourself, you could be walking away with more money than you ever dreamed you’d have. (Not me, I hasten to add – we did alright but didn’t hit Scrooge McDuck status. We’re barely McDucklings. We’re Ova McDuck, if anything.)

Barring a lotto win, which is unlikely, since I keep forgetting to buy a ticket, I’ll probably spend the rest of my days in rental properties, of decreasing proportions. Part of me would love to be a home owner again, but the rational, sensible part of my brain is quite comfortable with letting someone else worry about the roof, the septic tank, and the tyranny of ‘keeping up with the Jones.

I’m liking this downsizing, says the unrepentant hoarder. I’m liking trying to fit everything that once overflowed a 4000 square foot sprawler into this teensy tiny, less than 1000 square foot bungalow. It’s given me the chance to actually sift through all of these souvenirs and memories, and sort the metaphorical wheat from the chaff. I’m culling the hoard. It’s great to tear willy nilly through the detritus, and toss out the junk. It’s fun to put boxes of odds and ends on the lawn, under a big sign that says ‘Free!’ and watch cars screech to a halt, their drivers eager to find some little treasure to haul home.

1 800 got junkIt’s really heartening to go through all of the boxes of clothing, shoes, books, craft items, and linens, choose what can be redistributed within our family and friends, and then pass on the overflow to people who will appreciate what we’ve donated. There are so many who have so little, while others have three of everything. Distributing some of my bounty to those who can use it liberates my home AND my heart.

I didn’t need three apple corers. In fact, I have never even used one of them, not even once. Ditto the cherry pitter.

For the first time in my life, I’m no longer buying stuff ‘just in case,’ or with a view to some future purpose, because my future is now, and I want to be present.

I’m happy for those who are selling their properties for a tidy profit. I’m happy for those who are finding their dream homes. I worry about Torontonians who missed the real estate roundabout, and are now trying to find something affordable to rent. But this is all going on around me, and like you, I have very little say in what the Toronto of tomorrow will resemble.

Owning a home is not for everyone. It’s a very nice thing, and can certainly be wise and profitable in midlife. But when it comes time for retirement, home ownership is more like an anchor around your neck, keeping your proverbial boat stuck in one place. To enter new waters, you’ve got to haul up that anchor, and unfurl the sails, letting the fresh breeze take you somewhere new and exciting.

Avast, me hearties … I’m bound for uncharted shores!