Rounding It Up, Heading It Out


by Roxanne Tellier

Today’s column is a round up of ideas and issues that have zipped past us in the last few days.

Have you noticed that, the speeding up of events? In the last few years we have become accustomed to barely accommodating the horrors of a day before awakening to the new atrocities of the next. It’s exhausting, and it’s been taking a huge toll on the psyches of not only Americans, but of citizens in countries all around the world.

Apparently the Orange Warthog is officially on a two week holiday, but unfortunately, his fingers and tongue have not been disabled for the duration. And that means he’s busily doing —- well, pretty much exactly as he does every day that he’s NOT officially on holiday.

Even as he re-tweets conspiracy theories about the Clintons having murdered Jeffrey Epstein (because apparently the Clintons are magic who could somehow breach a high security prison under Attorney General Bill Barr’s protection) his head minion, Kelly Anne WrongWay is hitting the Sunday morning airwaves to confirm and abet Trump’s pell-mell race to full blown dementia.

It’s a full time job, defending the indefensible.  I hope it’s well paid, because eventually, even Kelly Anne will pay the price every other trump loyalists pays in the end; total degradation, a reputation in tatters, and a book deal.

On many days I find myself really disheartened with the thinking patterns of so many people – in America, yes, but also here in Canada, and around the world. There was a time when I wouldn’t have included Canada in that scenario, but the results of the last several provincial elections, and the prospect of what is to come after our next Federal election, has me utterly discouraged.

So many seem to be shielding themselves behind a combination of an innocent belief that the checks and balances of other decades will hold, coupled with a disbelief that what is playing out before their eyes is really happening. They are determined that “It Can’t Happen Here,” even as it actually happens here.

Exhibit A.  Was any kind of sense, common or otherwise, in play when this video pic was shot?  Witness these two lumps of flesh, who seem to believe they are Klansmen of 1819, instead of  police officers living in Texas in the year 2019, walking a handcuffed black man to the police station, as they sat astride their horses. Did no one think to check how many times these goons watched Django Unchained before assigning them horseback duty? 

It seems that what I strove to digest a day or two ago bumps right up against the poison we’re asked to swallow today. After the horror of not one, but two deadly mass murders last weekend, both seemingly instigated by Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric, there actually looked to be a glimmer of hope that these latest deaths might lead to some small attempt at gun reform in McConnell’s Senate. 

Exhibit B...Our prayers for no longer fearing death by Wal-Mart Back to School Shopping were dashed almost overnight, when we were told that the NRA’s head, Wayne LaPierre, had already left a message for Trump while POTUS was out pimping for the cameras in Dayton (or was it Toledo?), warning that Trump’s base, whipped up by LaPierre, would be angered by any kind of scenario involving America’s gun fetish. 

Exhibit C … Even as LaPierre was leaving his bile-filled message, ICE squads were putting together the largest raid against illegal immigrants in US history. They went after two poultry factories in Mississippi, where they arrested 680 workers, many of who were not only legal immigrants, but who had migrated there over the last few years from – oh! El Paso! which had just suffered the largest slaughter of Hispanics in US history.

Rather than alert the local schools and nurseries, who were welcoming the little children of these workers to their first day at school, the raid took no notice of the kids being left to find their way home alone, unknowing of when, if ever, they’d see their parents again.

Fisher Price – My First Prison Camp!

Exhibit DActing CPB Chief Mark Morgan, on being asked to defend the timing and manner of ICE’s cruel raids, brushed aside the video of a little girl crying for her dad, by saying that the girl’s father was ‘a criminal,’ which Morgan seemed to think made the family’s suffering irrelevant.  

Truth is, in the American Justice system, a person cannot be branded a criminal, without due process, just because they’ll work cheap, often at less than minimum wage, and do the jobs that even the poorest American born citizens would refuse. This is a stunning pronouncement from a government official, who has no legal right to call ‘criminal’ any human being in the United States, under their own laws.

Tellingly, the executives at these factories, who knowingly hired the illegal workers, and had been successfully sued for discrimination and poor working conditions, have not been charged for their part in the ‘crime.’  Well, they can’t be, really, can they? Because if they were, what would that mean for Trump’s many companies, that are known to also use illegal immigrants for their grunt work, in his hotels and golf resorts?   

As conditions worsen for people of colour in the United States, the Trump supporters claims that they don’t like the man, but they do like the economy are beginning to wear thin.

There is no moral distinction between those who are excited by Trump’s racism and those who plead indifference to it, and it’s consequences. All the money in the world can’t put a pretty face on the horrific cruelty behind the wealth they are reaping.

And here’s the real thing – while the hordes of Democratic representatives pursuing the presidency storm the boards in Ohio and other politically important states, Americans need to realize that they don’t just need to vote Trump out of power next November, they need to think about how they will vote this era of ‘trumpism’ out of power as well.

Since November of 2016, everything we thought we knew about politics in the US and the world has been changed forever. As populist leaders lie their way into positions of power, flush with dirty money and the support of the wealthiest people in human history, their selfishness, and desire to overturn democratic norms, have badly damaged the pillars of society we need to move civilization forward.

The irresponsibility of overturning everything previous regimes have put into place is, sadly, not coupled with an understanding or ability of how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. 

The next POTUS will have to have a spine of steel to face down the crippling changes put into place during these four years of Trump’s incompetence. The GOP are going to fight tooth and nail to try and keep the legal and financial gains they made by executive fiat, and there are bound to be not only legal impediments brought by 45’s appointed judges, and his stooges in the Supreme Court, but from all of the other departments, offices, and agencies that vowed loyalty to Trump.

And while fighting that good fight, the 46th president is also going to have to face 45s millions of supporters, who pledged themselves to him because they thought he’d fix their lives, share his largesse, heal their addicted family members of opiate addictions, kick out all the ‘bad’ people, and maybe even cure their cancer.

Even though he accomplished none of those things, and indeed, has left the country battered and bruised at the core, these supporters are still just as filled with anger, frustration, fear,  and anxiety as they were three years ago. But they’ll be even madder that the next president couldn’t have given Trump just a little more time.. say four .. or six .. or eight .. or twelve more years to finally get them what they believe they are due.  

The inequality that faced them in 2016, still faces them now, in fact, for many, it’s worse. For the farmers, they lost $10 billion in agricultural sales in 2018, and another $20 billion in 2019. Now that China has found other places to buy wheat and soybeans, those billions are never coming back. What do you tell the farmers?

Those 50,000 coal miners who were told that ‘coal’s coming back!‘ and who therefore decided not to accept retraining in a more current field, have had to roll with the punches, as the country’s third largest mine filed for bankruptcy protection in May.  What do you tell those miners?

While those who watch media other than Trump sanctioned FOX News have been following the collapse of these industries, and holding our collective breaths as the GOP administration threatens to remove America’s social safety net, his loyalists continue to believe that it’s just a matter of time until they are all living in a land of milk and honey.  

Which is all to say that defeating Trump at the ballot box in 2020 will be just the first step towards pulling America back to the centre, and away from the far right where it now uncomfortably dwells. That fight will involve angry Republicans tossed from fat cat, lifetime terms in office, as well as a fight against every day Americans who can’t give up the Kool-Aid.

That may seem a daunting task, but another four years under Trump would be far more horrific and devastating to the planet.

Canada is inching up to it’s own appointment in Samara this fall, and I no longer feel I can say with any confidence that Canadians will do the right thing when they saddle up to vote federally in October. I can only hope that saner heads prevail than those that voted lately in Ontario and Alberta.

And now, I’m off to enjoy what remains of summer. See you in September!

 

 

Are You Not Entertained?


by Roxanne Tellier

It was the worst terrorist attack against Hispanics in US history and the eighth-deadliest in modern US history.

Picture in your mind’s eye, a little 2-year-old, recovering from broken bones, who survived the mass shooting at an El Paso Wal-Mart after his 25-year-old mother used her body to shield him and save his life. His mother was fatally shot.

As that little boy lay in the hospital, in horrible pain, the Governor of Texas was leading off a press conference on the mass shooting in which twenty people were killed and 26 injured on Saturday. He called for people around the country who want to help – to pray.

USA shelters NRA as dead lie bleeding

“Lives were taken who should still be with us today,” said Gov. Greg Abbott. He then went on to blame a ‘mental health‘ issue for the tragedy. 

If it’s a ‘mental health issue’, then that shooter is right out of luck. Texas is the lead state currently trying to overturn the ACA, thus stripping any kind of health care away from Americans without other forms of insurance.

It’s time to stop belittling those with actual ‘mental health issues’ and call this madness what it really is…a hate crime, committed by a home grown terrorist, born of easy access to guns, and a ramping up of racism, as preached by POTUS Trump.

White supremacy is an ideology, not a mental illness. It’s a creed encouraged by the President and his acolytes, and those Republicans who fear him have no choice but to obey his commands.

Abbott’s words are more than a little hard to swallow, considering that it was just a few months ago that Texas’ legislators and governor not only turned down measures that would impose rational controls on gun owners, but loosened existing laws.

“When you get 10 pro-2nd Amendment bills to the governor and he signs them all, I would rank it up there with one of the most successful sessions we’ve had since I’ve been doing this,” the Texas NRA lobbyist, Tara Mica told the Dallas Morning News.

On June 29th, the NRA’s Texas lobbyist announced that every single bill backed by the NRA and passed by the Legislature received the signature of Gov. Greg Abbott.

Amongst the many with blood on their hands, Governor Abbott takes his place beside Trump, McConnell, and every other Republican who refuses to put into place proper gun reform laws.

trump spelled in guns

And I think we can now safely lay to bed the old trope that a good guy with a gun can always stop a bad guy with a gun; Texas is an open carry state, and many of the Wal-Mart shoppers were heavily armed.

Didn’t save a one of them, though. Guess most people just don’t go to Wal-Mart expecting to be invited to a gunfight.

When Texas loosens their gun laws, Texas residents are not the only ones affected; neighbouring states are also impacted. While in this case, the shooter was a Texan who drove over 650 miles to do his deadly duty, the semiautomatic rifle that murdered four people and injured 12 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival last week, was illegal to own in California – but was perfectly legal for the assailant to buy in Nevada, the next state over.

This is why America needs comprehensive, nation-wide, gun reform. 250 mass shootings in 216 days…

America – it is time to admit that you have a problem.

The Gilroy murders were just a week ago. Since then, there have been eleven more mass shootings. Lost in today’s new about Dayton, was a shooting at Douglas Park playground in Chicago, Illinois. Seven people were wounded.

On August 2, a man in Pomfret, Maryland shot and killed his in-laws, and wounded an 11-year-old boy sitting in a relative’s car before committing suicide. In Suffolk, Virginia, two men were killed and two women and a two year old were wounded in multiple crime scenes.

On July 31st, police responded to ‘shots fired’ at a senior living complex and found a wounded woman, along with two males and a woman murdered. In another Wal-Mart store, in Southhaven, Mississippi, a man killed two people and wounded a police officer ion July 30th.

On that same July 30th, four people were wounded during an attempted home invasion in Haskell, Oklahoma, while in Rosenberg, Texas a man shot and killed his ex-girlfriends parents, and wounded her, before committing suicide in a murder-suicide. And in Columbus, Ohio, five poeple were shot at a home they’d rented through Airbnb.

respecting other peoples rights

And if you haven’t already forgotten and moved on – as one does, when multiple slayings are an everyday occurrence, another five people were murdered in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin on July 28th, when a gunman shot six people, four fatally, before killing himself.

All of this killing isn’t about ‘mental health issues.’ It’s roots lie in incompetence and political greed, coupled with fear that the NRA, who grades politicians on their friendliness to the NRA, and punishes those that won’t tow the line, will primary those who refuse NRA’s blood money bribes, and who dare to speak to the thousands of Americans murdered every year, thanks to the laxity of America’s gun laws.

Last night, many people went to bed shaken with the viciousness of this home grown terrorism, whipped up by their president, who was actually named in the shooter’s manifesto as being the inspiration for the attack. As they tried to rest, and hoped to unsee the ugly deaths and injuries of their fellow citizens, they instead awoke this morning to the news of another deadly attack – this time in Dayton, Ohio, where a gunman killed 9 people and injured 26 outside a bar after a person was denied entry.

Today, the ‘good Christians’ of America will fill their churches to mourn the dead of Dayton and El Paso. They will beat their breasts, as they murmur how their thoughts and prayers are with the dead and injured…

and then hours later they will be on Facebook, showing off their selfies with their masses of weapons, or bullying people of colour on Twitter, or maybe they’ll even attend a white supremacist or Trump rally, (same thing, really) puffed full of white pride, chanting ‘build that wall!,” “send them back!” and invoking the same racist filth their president delights in using to incite his followers to violence.

trump feeding his racist base

Praise the Lord … and pass the ammunition. What kind of a God favours guns, bigotry, xenophobia, murder, and racist scum like Trump? Not one I recognize.

Some of the dead and injured from the El Paso attack in a Wal-Mart were probably there getting school supplies for their children. Maybe they were fingering a nearly $200 bulletproof backback for their little one when the shots rang out.

Five of the top ten deadliest shootings in U.S. history have happened since 2016, and that’s no coincidence. Trump’s open racism has inflamed his base of angry, hate-filled, white males ready to commit murder for their leader.

“An audience member at a Donald Trump rally in Florida yelled ‘shoot them’ in reference to migrants at the border. Trump had asked the crowd: ‘How do you stop these people?’ After laughing at the response, he added: ‘Only in the panhandle can you get away with that statement'” The Guardian, May 2019

Since Trump first blew his racist dog whistle in Charlottesville in the summer of 2017, there’s been a persistent increase in incidents of racial violence. His enthusiastic support has led white supremacists to believe that they have permission from their leader in the White House to instigate racial violence, and a directive, if not a licence, to kill, without repercussion, based on his rhetoric.

trump's murderers

The murders won’t end in El Paso; his minions took his ‘very fine people’ as a compliment. They are free to carry out his xenophobic mandate with his approval…

“Nineteen minutes before the first 911 call alerted the authorities to a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Tex., a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto appeared online.

It spoke of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” It detailed a plan to separate America into territories by race. It warned that white people were being replaced by foreigners.

The manifesto that may be linked to Mr. Crusius described an imminent attack and railed against immigrants, saying, “if we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can be more sustainable.” (The New York Times)

manson didn't kill anyone either

These are Trump’s words, Trump’s mandate, Trump’s orders to which they are marching.

According to Facebook’s ad archive, Trump has run around 2,200 FB ads since May 2018 mentioning the word “invasion.” Scrolling through, all of them seem to be about immigration.” Twitter user Holly Lee.

As families in El Paso gathered at a school to regroup and count their dead and/or injured, ICE agents rolled up to check citizenship papers.

trump el paso hate machine

In Trump’s America, the mandate is clear. Even as he tweets for god to bless the victims of El Paso and Dayton, he fires back at those who dare to blame him for egging these killers on, saying that those who blame him or other conservatives should be ashamed of themselves.

“Hate crimes increased 226% in places Trump held a campaign rally in 2016, a University of North Texas study claims.”

As another twitter user, Raging Canadian Granny, noted, ” Obama would go on TV and address the nation. He would hug the families and give eulogies. He tried to make gun changes but the grim reaper stopped him.”

american flag in blood and bullets

From Trump? Two sentences, squeezed out between golf rounds.

God bless the people of El Paso Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio.”

and then a whine about how unfair everyone is for noting that it was he himself that got these murderers to do his bidding.

Nothing but weak sauce, as ineffective as thoughts and prayers.

America deserves better. I hope she survives long enough to finally learn that truth

Montreal, Cemeteries, and Donovans


by Roxanne Tellier

My family has a tiny burial plot on Mount Royal, in the Cotes de Neiges cemetery, and that’s where the bones and ashes of my ancestors have been interred for over a hundred years.

It’s been two months since my aunt’s passing. The clan will gather this week to bring her ashes home.

Patricia Donovan, daughter of Freda (James) Donovan and Denis Patrick Donovan, the last of her generation, died March 29, 2019 in Ottawa. Born in Montreal, Patricia lived most of her life there. She enjoyed travel, and worked for a time in Washington, D.C. She moved to Toronto and cared for her mother until her mother’s passing. 

aunts and uncles 1970 001

Patricia was a writer, painter, and sculptor who pondered life’s big questions.
Auntie Pat had fifteen nieces and nephews and enjoyed a unique relationship with each of them. She is survived by the clan, and will be missed by them.”

My family has always had an easy relationship with death; when I was young, my mother would often take my sister and I to the mountain for a picnic in the graveyard. We’d loll on the well tended grass while we ate lunch, and then wander around the tombstones and mausoleums, looking for famous names.

Michael Donovan A shamrock_in_the_snowI believe that my cousin Michael Leo Donovan, a man who loves the city of Montreal with a fervour I’ve never seen excelled, wrote a book about one of the cemetery’s denizens, the statesman Thomas D’Arcy McGee, after repeatedly seeing his tomb on family visits.

darcy mcgeeIn 1867 he became a Father of Confederation. It was said that if Sir John A. MacDonald of Ontario and Sir George Etienne Cartier of Quebec were the architects of Canada. D’Arcy McGee was its prophet. He was murdered on April 6, 1868, in Ottawa, while returning home after a session of the House.” (A Shamrock in the Snow, 1996)

Other well known Canadians resting in peace at this, and the neighbouring cemetery, include the Reverend William Squire, the first person buried in Mount Royal Cemetery, who died of cholera in 1852, after performing a religious sick visit to a local merchant; Thomas Lee Hackett, a young Irishman shot during a fight between the Catholic and Protestant Irish on July 12, 1877, the day that the Orangeman had chosen to parade on the streets of Montreal; and Sir Arthur William Currie, Commander of Canadian Troops during World War I, and Principal of McGill University from 1920-1933, whose death in 1933 drew a funeral procession with a crowd estimated at 20,000 people, consisting of politicians, diplomats, military bands and hundreds of veterans. The Cross of Sacrifice, a military monument, marks his grave.

Here you will also find David Thompson, surveyor and explorer, who died very poor with no grave marker. The grave languished for seventy years, until, in 1926, the Canadian Historical Association erected a monument to him with the epitaph, “To the memory of the greatest of geographers who for 34 years explored and mapped the main travel routes between the St Lawrence and the Pacific.”

joe beef tavernMontreal’s revered Joe Beef has a place of honour. “His real Irish name was Charles McKieman. He owned the famous “Joe Beef’s Canteen,” located near the port. His 3-storey building held a tavern, a restaurant with free food for the homeless, a dorm of 100 beds and a basement full of strange menagerie. He died in 1889 aged 54. His six sons and his wife organized a very impressive funeral for him. Every office in the business district closed for the afternoon, and there were representatives of workers from all classes in the procession.”

Several more souls were added to the site in 1912, when six victims of the Titanic‘s sinking were buried there, including Charles Melville Hays, once the president of the Grand Trunk Railway. (A further five lie in the Notre Dame de Neiges Cemetery, and one in the Baron de Hirsch Cemetery. Montreal was, sadly, well represented in the tragedy.)

laurier palace fireThere is also a section dedicated to some of the 76 small children who died in the Laurier Palace Theatre fire in 1927, an event so horrific to Montrealers that a law was summarily passed forbidding the entry of children under 16 to any theatre or cinema screenings. That law remained in effect until 1961

Calixa Lavallée, the man who, in 1880 wrote our national anthem, “Oh Canada,” was born in Verchères, Quebec in 1842, but enlisted as a musician with the 4th Rhode Island Infantry at the outbreak of the American Civil War. He died a respected composer and conductor in 1891, from tubercular laryngitis, in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was buried until 1933, when his body was brought to Montreal for reburial.

More recent interments include Celine Dion‘s husband, René Angélil; journalist and politician, Nick Auf der Maur; Gratien Gelinas, actor; hockey players Doug Harvey and Maurice ‘The Rocket’ Richard; Pierre Laporte, politician, who was murdered by the FLQ in 1970; Robert Bourassa, 22nd premier of Quebec; and Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau, who truly made the city world class, by organizing Expo 67, along with playing host to the 1976 Olympic Games, and giving it an amazing Metro service.

Small wonder the place is considered one of the most haunted spots in Montreal. Often described as a “City of the Dead overlooking a City of the Living“, ghostly spirits are believed to roam the grounds after sundown.

Not to be forgotten, other mortal remains lie outside the cemetery boundaries. Most famously, the tomb of Simon McTavish is located in the dark forest above Peel Street. The angry Scottish fur baron died unexpectedly in 1804 while overseeing the construction of a magnificent castle on the slopes. Stories of his ghost tobogganing down Mount Royal in his own coffin terrified Montrealers during the 1800s. To make people forget, city officials demolished his abandoned castle and used the rubble to literally bury his mausoleum. Archaeological work a few years ago disturbed his tomb and now rumour has it he is haunting Mount Royal again.”

The silhouette of a warrior woman with storm clouds in the background.But the most common ghost spotted on the mountain where First Nation peoples were also known to bury their dead is that of an Algonquin warrior.

I’ll keep an eye open for that lonely fellow when I’m there.

I always look forward to visiting Montreal, the city of my youth. These are the grounds I stomped, my neighbourhoods, my restaurants, my mountain, my Canada Life Weather Beacon, first lit up in 1956, that let the city know what weather was on the way. It is and ever will be the city of my heart, no matter where I roam.

I miss my city, but it is inevitably, my family ties that pull me back when I have been too long gone. You can’t stay away from Donovans for very long.

Oh, ‘céad mile fáilte’ they’ll greet you down at Donovan’s
As cheery as the springtime, as Irish as the conovan
The wish of my heart is if ever I had anyone
That ev’ry luck that lightens life …. may light upon the Donovans”

the uncles 001Growing up, I think I always took my family a little for granted. Maybe I just assumed that all families were graced with so much talent, in so many fields. We grew up with my uncle Dennis , co-creator and writer of The Beachcombers; my uncle Leo, whose majestic land and seascapes graced our homes; my uncle John, who was possessed not only of great writing skill, but also of a deep, radio friendly baritone speaking and singing voice; my aunt Pat, a writer, painter, and woman of enormous intelligence; and my own mother, who was a superb dancer, writer, and editor.

cousins 001With that sort of heritage, it is almost a forgone conclusion that the 15 children they brought into the world also possessed many talents, not only in the arts, but in social and computing skills. We just never thought that we wouldn’t be able to do whatever we wanted to do with our lives.

daisy circusMany of us write. I mentioned Michael, above, but there’s also Kieran, the poet and singer-songwriter; and Rita, who has won multiple awards for her nine books, short stories and essays.

Michael also wrote and produced a fine video series on the origin of Montreal street names, now available on youtube. (And yes, those are his kids getting in on the act as Ms Kayleigh and Complete Stranger. )

 

 

dianne donovan beat divasWe all sing. Dianne toured with a Harry James tribute for years before settling down in Austin, Texas with her husband, where she also hosts Classical Austin on KMFA radio, produces a weekly vocal jazz show, “Voices in Jazz” for CKUA Radio in Edmonton, and has a new CD release, “A Musing,” featuring mostly original compositions. She also teaches a cooking class with her jazz trio, The Beat Divas. (dianne donovan beat divas.jpg)

aileen paintingSome of us draw, sculpt and paint. My cousin Aileen took her dad’s painting skill and crafted it into a long career as a well known animal portraitist during her years living in the North West Territories with the Inuit peoples. She now focuses mainly on past life regressions for both pets and people.

I could literally go on and on, listing the accomplishments of this talented group. I’m extremely proud of my family, with good reason.

cousins 003And I’ll get to see some, though not all of them, this week. While the occasion is solemn, visits to my city and my family are never terribly formal for more than a few minutes. We are a group that cannot be repressed for long – laughter, good humour, and our love for each other guarantees a boisterous reunion.

The passing of the last of our parent’s generation seems so final, and yet there’s a part of me that can’t believe that my cousins and I – even as we develop deeper ‘laugh lines’ and grey hair – will ever really age enough to become the ‘grumps’ of the family.

cousins 002I’ll bring that up with the clan at the wake next week, and see if anyone’s pencilled in a date for when we can get to the ‘growing up‘ part of life. With any luck, we can keep putting it off forever.

So far, so good.