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.

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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.

Time Loves a Hero


Every now and then, we have to lift our eyes from the path we’ve trod, and reassess. You can’t have perspective on where you’re going if you never looked at where you’ve been.  Taking a good, long, eyes-wide-open look at not just what you’ve done, but why,   can be terrifically painful, but so is living an unexamined and millennial-tkounfulfilled life.

It’s a truism that life seems to speed up as we age. It does, but my grandson will tell you that he feels like his life has been flashing before his eyes since he started high school. Yep, even the millennials are feeling the time crunch. And that ain’t good.

It has a lot to do with the constant bombardment of information we receive – even when we leave our homes, we’re still shackled to our cell phones. We are always accessible, always as ‘on call’ as a brain surgeon, even if we’re just fast food wranglers at the local MickeyD’s. We can only squeeze a little solitude out of the tube by becoming signal free, literally out of range.

We feel under ‘time pressure’ when there’s too much to do or be done, and not enough time or ability to juggle it all. That’s consistent right across the civilized world, and in all age groups, but I suspect a little less wearying to those with the financial ability to spread some of the stress around.

There’s always a price to be paid for deferring – on purpose or with genuine remorse – the things we want to do, and the people we want to see, because time gets away from us. When you are young, missing a party or failing to meet up with a visiting friend has little impact. As you age, the special moments missed can quickly become sources of deep regret.

(There’s a reason why this song has more than 16 million hits, 43 years after its debut.)

This constant ‘running to keep in place’ can also conceal something far more sinister … all that ‘busyness’ often conceals truths we can’t bear to face. That job you hate, but keep reporting to every miserable day,  dreaming of, but never getting more education or training that might free you, until one day you wake up and realize it’s time to retire. That face you make as you try on clothes and vow once again to exercise regularly and rein in the calories; the disgust you feel as you light up another ciggy and watch your money and health smoulder into ashes; those brilliant ideas, that plan to try a different lifestyle, or to revive or leave a stale relationship  … all back-burnered with what seems to be logical reasons on the surface, but are really a mental resistance to facing what our minds know is the reality of our lives, and changing those circumstances.

alarm clock_.GIFThe snooze button on your alarm clock is a perfect metaphor for the putting off of what we desire. With all good intentions, you set the alarm for half an hour earlier; today you’ll start that exercise program/clean your room/start that novel you’ve been mentally outlining.

The next morning, you hear the bzz bzz bzz, but reach out a sleepy arm and hit ‘pause’ on what you’d planned to do.  Just a few minutes more, you mumble, and then, when the alarm goes off again, you grumble a bit as you stop the annoying sound that’s harshing the mellow of your dreams. By the third sound of the alarm, you’re angry and resentful, and you SLAM that snooze button down; how dare this world demand so much of me? Can’t I get just a little bit of peace, a few moments more of this hypnotic dreamland in which I’ve already conquered all my demons and can just live happily ever after?

And that’s how your day starts. Rather than being filled with determination, energy and positivity, you now have a culprit on which to blame your cranky mood, and inability to actually begin to change what you dislike about your situation. Your bedhead, all the wrongs of the world, all the things left undone … all the fault of that bloody alarm clock!

And in a sense, that’s true. Because in smacking down the snooze button, you’ve surrendered your power to an inanimate object, your every bright hope defeated by an innocuous plastic square.

When we’re unsure if we have it in us to do something new or different, no matter how humble the goal, we surrender to the fear of being rejected, or mocked or humiliated. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” turns to “better safe than sorry.”

We’ll defend our paralysis to the death, citing a myriad of reasons why we can’t possibly be expected to break out of our self-imposed prisons. Being clever is no hindrance; the smarter we are, the more convoluted and seemingly reasonable our exFrustrationcuses will be. The mere thought of change is so frightening that we freeze in place, scrambling to justify our stasis to ourselves and others.  It’s a trap we set and spring, usually off our own bat, but sometimes with the collusion of others who might be affected by change – our families, our bosses, and our friends can not only impede change, but bolster our own insecurities by adding their own needs and fears to the mix.

Why is that a problem, you ask? If we’re doing it to ourselves, who’s the victim? Well, society for one. Each of us impacts many others in our lifetime. The frustration and inner rage felt by those who can’t achieve their goals touches us all in both violent and non-violent ways.

Eventually our inertia leads to learned helplessness …. “in psychology, a mental state in which an organism forced to bear aversive stimuli, or stimuli that are painful or otherwise unpleasant, becomes unable or unwilling to avoid subsequent encounters with those stimuli, even if they are “escapable,” presumably because it has learned that it cannot control the situation….

learned-helplessnessThis may explain why individuals may accept and remain passive in negative situations despite their clear ability to change them. In his book Helplessness (1975), Martin E.P. Seligman argued that, as a result of these negative expectations, other consequences may accompany the inability or unwillingness to act, including low self-esteem, chronic failure, sadness, and physical illness. The theory of learned helplessness also has been applied to many conditions and behaviours, including clinical depression, aging, domestic violence, poverty, discrimination, parenting, academic achievement, drug abuse, and alcoholism.” (Wikipedia)

rat raceBut in the end, the true enemy is time. There’s only so much of it, and none of us know when our clock will run out, or even when the gears will wear so badly that physical limitations will make decisions for us. We’re fragile creatures, we humans, both physically and mentally. We spend our time searching for happiness and fulfillment, believing it is our right, believing that life is fair, and that our own good intentions are a moral authority that will make us winners – or at least, respectable ‘also-rans.’

In reality – life isn’t fair, and spending all of our short time on the planet hitting the snooze button, and indulging in wishful thinking without actually working towards our betterment is a terrible waste. Better to have tried and failed, scraped knees and bruised feelings be damned, than to get to the end of our brief  lives unscathed, unchallenged, and unchanged from the raw material we were handed at birth.