People are funny; they want their lives to be interesting and noteworthy, but most of us are good for about 24 hours of novelty before we’re pining for ‘the good old days.’
What’s ‘normal’ anyway? Normal is whatever you believe it is, in your mind, in your life, and in your world. Normal is ‘the usual,” “my regular,” the commonplace, the typical thing that you like to do or say or eat or whatever it is you do in your spare time; I’m not judging.
What it isn’t, is exciting. It’s waking up at the usual time, having my regular breakfast, and then going to work or play in the way I do on a typical day. It’s going to the same places over and over, because you like what they serve, and it’s where “everybody knows your name.”
Before we moved in January, normal for me would have been reaching out to touch the odds and ends that used to live in and on my missing bedside table. Where it’s gone, nobody knows.
But in the bigger picture, on a scale of one to earthquake, my life, and the life of many others, has been less than normal for some time.
We have just celebrated the second anniversary of the onset of COVID-19 regulations, worldwide. Though I’m not sure that ‘celebrating’ is how most of us felt when we thought about two years of fear, discomfort, and hand sanitizer.
Brides Magazine says that “The traditional second-anniversary gift is cotton, making this the prime time to splurge on upgraded bedding or a cozy throw you can use when snuggled up together on the couch.”
Sounds about right. That was pretty much all that anyone did for at least the first twelve months of the plague: overeat and binge watch Netflix. Remember those heady first days, when we all masked up, avoided each other, sterilized anything that didn’t wiggle away from the Lysol spray, and prayed for a vaccine?
In those first few months, that was normal. It was also normal for us to bang pots and pans every night around dinner time, to encourage those health care workers that were (and still are) literally sacrificing their own health to take care of us.
In January 2022, a load of frustrated truckers formed a convoy and honked their horns 24/7 to protest for what they believed to be their rights – which included their right to NOT receive a vaccine – and THAT became normal, for the poor souls in Ottawa who had to deal with what the Convoy wrought, bouncy castles and all.
Over the last half decade, we’ve normalized things which we could never have dreamed of having to deal with. In this I include the disastrous tenure of Trump; a poor beginning to the handling of a once in a century pandemic, and the subsequent whining once a life-saving vaccine became available; an attempted overthrow of the American government in January 2021, followed by something quite similar, if veiled under a web of candy flossed hot tubs, masquerading as ‘freedom’ while demanding a parallel overthrow of the Canadian government in January 2022; and then topped with a drizzle of a Russian attack on Ukraine, completely with threats of nuclear war, that sent many Boomers scurrying to find a school desk to cower under.
So what’s normal, exactly?
Many of life’s aspects, that we would have considered normal pre-COVID, have shown themselves to work for some, but not for others. For a while, it seemed like people realized the importance of community and mutual aid. When we were all pulling together, it did seem like we might be working towards a better normal.
But then, one day, that spirit of working for the common good began to splinter; some leaned into science, embracing vaccines, eager to see a world where everyone could be protected from a virus, while others opted to refuse the serum approved for use by every governmental and health agency in favour of quack cures and unproven placebos.
That was a normal that I really didn’t see coming.
For the majority of North Americans, normal is a world in which we’ve normalized one set of laws for the rich and powerful, and another set of far more extreme laws and punishments for those who are not white, cis, males.
All over the planet, normal is women knowing that they have to dress and behave in approved manners, if they want to avoid being attacked for the crime of being female. And normal is knowing that, if they are beaten, or raped, they cannot be assured that their story will be believed, or that their attacker will face any consequences. Normal is police stations filled with rape kit tests that pile up in storerooms, but are never prioritized for analysis.
Normal is people of colour knowing that there is nowhere that they are completely safe from assault, even in their own beds, in their own homes. Even if they are fleeing from a war, normal is knowing that white citizens will be prioritized in the rush to safety.
Normal is a complete lack of action or attention to the future of a planet where the Arctic temperatures are now routinely higher than the temperature in downtown Toronto.
Normal is watching the world’s richest individuals get richer during the pandemic, while the world’s poorest individuals fell further behind.
What we call ‘normal’ today is what we have decided to call normal. It wouldn’t be normal in any other space or time, but it’s what we’ve become used to living in and with, in order to be part of our society.
The unemployment rate in the United States, at 3.8%, is the lowest it’s been in history. Canada’s rate is 4.2%, and has traditionally been higher than in the U.S. or Europe, mainly because we have a higher proportion of seasonal industries, as well as a higher proportion of population in smaller, more isolated communities.
No matter where we live, there are many who are very nervous about returning to life, as it was defined, pre-COVID. The pandemic and our isolation revealed that our routines of commutes, office work, water cooler small talk, and the like weren’t necessarily conducive to a better quality of life. We discovered that many of us – mostly white collar workers – could work from home, in less rigid conditions that allowed those with physical or mental issues the space to thrive.
This year, 47 million people, mostly millennials, have joined the “Great Resignation” in search of better careers, with higher wages, remote options, and greater flexibility. It must be noted that they are privileged to be in higher end careers; these options are not available for the bulk of those who labour in minimum wage positions.
But for those that have this option, they’ve discovered that time is too precious to spend commuting, and that they want to work for a company that is as committed to finding a work-life balance as they are.
We have collectively learned that the ‘normal’ we are returning to, may not be so normal after all. Some things we can change, but many broad social problems are simply beyond our grasp at this time. For social change to happen, we will have to find a communal force of will in which we all refuse to return to the harmful systems that were highlighted by the pandemic.
To do that, we will need to re-learn the art of working together for a common good.
If we don’t or won’t demand change, we will have wasted what might be our last great opportunity for a societal re-set.
Last week I wrote about local bullies, and those that terrorize the citizens that elected them locally and nationally. More often than we might have thought, those elected bullies, unsated by the billions they suck from their people’s coffers, opt to extend their reign indefinitely. When they do so, they morph from being barely restrained autocratic bullies, into full-fledged, unrestrained, dictators.
Let’s look at a shocking reality: based on the definition of a dictator being a ruler of a land rated “Not Free” by the Freedom House, there are currently 50 dictatorships in the world. There are 19 in Sub-Saharan Africa, 12 in the Middle East and North Africa, 8 in Asia-Pacific, 7 in Eurasia, 3 in the Americas, and 1 in Europe.
From Afghanistan to Yemen, and 48 places in between, these monsters hold the power of life and death over millions of human souls. Dictators not only do not love the people that put them in power, they don’t even see their people as human. Men, women and children are just numbers to be juggled, creatures to serve them and to be subjugated.
We can reel off the names of some of these men (and they’re all men;) Putin, Xi, Ortega, Maduro, Kim Jong-Un, el Assad, Erdogan … what they all have in common is the need to not just dominate others, but to crush them, to own their very souls. They are cruel, world class bullies, who have perfected what they likely began in the school yard … insulting, hurting, threatening others who are weaker, smaller, less powerful and more vulnerable. They seek to destroy any vestige of freedom or pride in anyone who dares try to stop them.
North America’s 24/7 ‘breaking news’ media has kept us soaking in the bullying actions of Putin as he wreaks hell on Ukraine. But even as we gaze upon the horrors of Mariupol being pummelled into dust, dictators around the world have not stopped their assault on their own people.
As The Atlantic said recently, in an article entitled, “Dictators aren’t Pretending Anymore,” autocrats now openly steal elections, stage coups, and invade other countries.
In the February 2022 Freedom House report on the state of democracy in the world, they stated that the world has entered the 16th consecutive year of what the political scientist Larry Diamond has termed a ‘democratic recession.’
“Democratic institutions and civil rights deteriorated in 60 countries, with Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Tunisia, and Sudan experiencing especially precipitous declines. At the beginning of the democratic recession, about half of the world’s population lived in a country classified as “free.” Now only two out of every 10 people do, while four in 10 live in “partly free” nations like India, and another four in 10 live in “unfree” nations like Saudi Arabia.”
In most of the last century, the enemies of democracy embraced the use of political violence, seizing power at the point of a gun. However, in the last few decades, dictators have generally first come to power democratically, winning seemingly free and fair elections, which they used as a jumping off point to concentrate power into their own hands, and eventually manoeuvred into a situation in which they could no longer be removed from office by democratic means.
In the last few years, however, there has been a return to violence, with the number of military coups worldwide jumping to seven. Over the past year, Myanmar, Sudan and Mali, military officers have used force to install their leaders into dictatorship positions.
The slow weakening of democratic norms, the slide into ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative reality’ has allowed those in high positions to kick away the illusion of a democratic legitimacy, and behave as ruthlessly as they wish. Laws meant to stop powerful people from abusing their power and authority have been so attacked and bowdlerized that it is increasingly unlikely that, even in a democracy, any elected official need fear an overlong prison sentence, if a sentence is given at all.
As we witnessed on January 6, 2021, social media worked alongside former president Trump and his enablers to ramp up allies when they attempted to overthrow the results of the free and fair 2020 election. More than a year later, Trump is preparing to run again, in 2024, despite laws that forbid anyone who was involved in an insurrection from seeking public office. And if he’s elected again, the path will be clear for him to ascend to dictatorship in the United States.
(*Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits anyone who has violated their oath of office, by engaging in insurrection or aiding in a rebellion, from running for federal office.)
Canadians had a near miss this January with another sort of coup, an epidemic of full-scale bullying, when the Trucker Convoy blasted and blared their way into the news, and the downtown heart of Ottawa, with a headline concern of “Freedom” and a much longer manifesto that demanded, in small print that their supporters would never read, that all of the current federal government step down and be replaced with a governance of their convoy leaders’ choice.
These attacks on democracy are far too close for comfort. The enemy is not just on your wide screen, the enemy is at our gates.
Putin has attempted to keep NATO and other countries friendly to Ukraine at bay by holding the threat of nuclear war over our collective heads. Many fear that appeasing his appetites at this time will merely sacrifice Ukraine, while enabling him to then continue gobbling up the rest of Europe. Certainly, it would appear that he is determined to win at any cost.
“In June 2020, Putin signed a decree—the Basic Principles of the Russian Federation’s State Policy in the Domain of Nuclear Deterrence—that specifies two conditions under which Russia would use nuclear weapons. The first is unsurprising: “The Russian Federation retains the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies…” But that sentence ends with an unusual statement: “… and also in the case of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons, when the very existence of the state is put under threat” [emphasis added].
In his February 24 speech, Putin echoed that unusual language to describe his Ukraine invasion. The United States, he claimed, was creating a hostile “anti-Russia” next to Russia and in Russia’s historic land. “For the United States and its allies, it is a policy of containing Russia, with obvious geopolitical dividends,” he said. “For our country, it is a matter of life and death, a matter of our historical future as a nation. This is not an exaggeration; this is a fact. It is not only a very real threat to our interests but to the very existence of our state and to its sovereignty” [emphasis added]. Putin has defined the current situation as one in which, in line with the principles of its deterrence policy, Russia retains the right to use nuclear weapons.” 
That’s some world class bullying, right there.
But does all of this sabre-rattling lead to the conclusion that the only way to stop a bully is with a bigger bully? That would depend on how we define our systems of justice.
Post World War II there were consequences for Hitler and his party. But the process of the Allies seeking justice in response to the atrocities of Nazi Germany were intended to establish a precedent that they hoped would prevent war crimes from ever occurring again. We’ve seen, in Putin’s criminal actions in the Ukraine, that the rules and laws will not stop a determined warmonger.
Nonetheless, democratic systems of justice, and criminal sanctions are not bullying; they are the way societies are governed, in order to protect all members of nations.
Without a crystal ball, I cannot say what will happen next in the Ukraine/Russian war. I do feel though, that whether we are ready to admit to it or not, we are already part of the launch of World War III.
“As Russian troops advance toward Kyiv, democracy is no longer the only game on the global stage. And so the coming decades won’t just pit democracies against autocracies in key territorial battlegrounds like Ukraine. They will also pit the defenders of democracy against those who blatantly reject the supposed decadence of popular self-determination in the sphere of ideas.” (The Atlantic, Feb 2022)
This has been a hellish week. We are watching the unthinkable perpetrated upon the peaceful people of Ukraine by a Russian despot who has become a madman.
During two years of solitude and paranoia, Putin seethed and simmered as he isolated in his dacha on the Black Sea coast, attempting to avoid contracting COVID-19. Eventually, the germophobe ended up in an echo chamber of his own crazed thoughts. These he shared on the Kremlin’s website on July 12, 2021 when his work was first published in the Ukrainian and Russian languages..
His 7,000 word manifesto, described as ‘rambling’ and riddled with ‘many (historical) myths’, denied Ukraine’s statehood, and laid claim to much of modern-day Ukrainian lands by stating that ‘they are entirely the brainchild of the Soviet era, and was to a large extent created at the expense of historical Russian lands.”
Putin repeatedly demonstrated his contempt for Ukrainian statehood, saying that the current policies in Kyiv are “anti-Russia .. which we will never accept.”
The passages contained ominous threats towards Ukraine, vowing to destroy Ukraine’s independence, a conflict begun during the inter-state war eight years ago, when Russia invaded and seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
He also repeated what he said to then-US President George Bush Jr at a NATO summit in 2008, that “Ukraine is not a country.”
“I am convinced that true Ukrainian sovereignty is only possible in partnership with Russia,” Mr. Putin wrote. “After all, we are one people.”
This manifesto, Putin’s own ‘Mein Kampf’, outlined his plans for Ukraine. And on February 24, 2022, he put those plans into effect, launching what he called a ‘special military operation’ into the country. At the onset, Putin claimed that the Russian military only sought ‘demilitarization and denazification,’ but attacks far beyond that scope followed soon, from multiple fronts, and towards multiple cities.
The man who at first claimed to only want to reunite his stray Russian lambs, has instead perpetrated the worst physical attack on another European country since World War II. Like a demented, cast aside lover, he has determined that if he can’t have Ukraine … no one can.
The original plan may have been to reunite the countries as one, but it is a strange sort of family unity when the father is murdering the children wholesale – an estimated 14,000 Ukrainians alone, and an uncounted amount of young Russian soldiers – and is pulverizing the ancient and historical buildings and monuments raised to honour both Russians and Ukrainians.
About 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine to date, fleeing to Poland, Hungary, and other NATO countries, seeking shelter for their most vulnerable. We will soon be in the middle of the worst refugee crisis in modern history.
Meanwhile, it is said that Putin has gathered his family members and hidden them away in a luxury, high tech bunker in an underground city in Siberia. Designed for protection in the event of nuclear war, the bunker is meant to keep Putin’s family safe, while the people of Russia suffer whatever fate befalls them.
As I gather these facts to share in the column, I touch my face, and realize that I have no idea how long I have been silently crying. The tears never stop flowing when I think of the tragic and pointless murder, destruction, and terror being inflicted upon the people of Ukraine, by a man whose gross miscalculation of his power will eventually find him and all of his cabinet tried and sentenced at the Hague for war crimes.
Putin and his generals have entered the end phase of their careers and lives. Trapped inside the rapidly tightening jail cell that was once their Russian playground, they have been stripped of their wealth, had their economy shattered, and will never again be allowed to travel outside the confines of Russia. Unfortunately, this means that they will have little reason to think or behave rationally, militarily.
And that, of course, is the saddest and most frightening aspect of the first ‘TikTok War’. We all watch, powerless, as caught up in watching the horror as any lookyloo on a highway unable to look away from a car crash.
This war was brought home to me forcibly when I learned that an old friend, musician Paul Christopher Caldeira, is one of the many needless casualties. Paul had been living in Chernihiv, which is at a strategic crossroad of major roads leading from Russia and Belarus to Kyiv. Short on meds and food, he had a heart attack when the tanks began to near the city, and died. I’m still in shock.
His old friend Greg Critchley kindly proffered this link to his SoundCloud account, and the 1996 album he produced and co-wrote. The songs have stood the test of time, and have given me some comfort since I heard the tragic news of Paul’s death.
The war has brought attention to music, past and present, that focuses on Ukraine’s beauty, and her wonderful people. Here’s a selection of tunes that have been revisited, or in some cases, written or re-written, in support of Ukraine.
Renaissance – Kiev from the album “Prologue” (1972)
Corey Hart – Komrade Kiev (1985)
Lyrics: “Shoot Komrade Kiev And through the pride and prejudice, you blind the truth you couldn’t miss. For the target you have drawn won’t bite the hand that cuts the arm. And when the story’s finally told, that each man’s heart was bought and sold, there was no enemy you see. Only the doubt in you and me I know the sun will shine thru winter time I pray the rain may someday end the flame”
Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York performs Prayer for Ukraine – SNL Feb 26, 2022
Pink Floyd – Marooned (Official Music Video HD)
Major parts of this video were shot in Pripyat, a city in Ukraine. This is the area that was evacuated in view of the Chornobyl Nuclear Plant explosion that took place near it.
NCT – Boss
The majority of the shots in this video are filmed at the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine in Kyiv. The video includes several shots of this popular K Pop group, NCT, at some popular locations in Ukraine.
Calum Scott –You Are The Reason (Official Video)
This video includes glimpses of the National Opera of Ukraine, the architectural beauty of St. Sophia’s Cathedral, Khreschatyk Street, and other sites.
Akçay Karaazmak -We are made of Love – Stop the war – Song for the peace for Ukraine – Ukraine Russia War
Harpin Norm – You’re a Master of War –March 2022
Океан Ельзи & Один в каное – Місто весни (official video) – 2021
Slava Vakarchukof Okean Elzy, one of the most popular rock bands in Eastern Europe.
Sting – Russians
I’ve only rarely sung this song in the many years since it was written, because I never thought it would be relevant again. But, in the light of one man’s bloody and woefully misguided decision to invade a peaceful, unthreatening neighbor, the song is, once again, a plea for our common humanity. For the brave Ukrainians fighting against this brutal tyranny and also the many Russians who are protesting this outrage despite the threat of arrest and imprisonment – We, all of us, love our children. Stop the war. Supplies shipped to this warehouse in Poland are delivered in coordination with the Armed Forces of Ukraine and are guaranteed to go to people most in need
Wherehouse address: Pol-Cel Ramos Breska 63, 22-100 Chelm, Poland Every box should be labeled “HELP UKRAINE” and indicate the contents: “Medicines,” “Clothes,” “Food,” “Humanitarian Aid.” For more info, contact: UK +44 1353 885152 USA +1 855 725 1152 helpukraine.center
On the surface, what the Canadian truckers hoped to accomplish during their protracted occupation of the Nation’s capital was comprehensible. In the beginning, we, the audience, and they, the truckers and their camp followers, could take as the stated purpose of the convoy and protest a common ennui and a genuine wish to end the most onerous and rigorous of the precautions levied during the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But even before the trucks had neared the rally points, word began to trickle out that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) prepared by the civilian, not trucker, leaders of this posse had little to do with the effects of the pandemic, and everything to do with a covert, if barely legible, attempt to overthrow Canada’s freely elected democracy.
Most of the truckers and their civilian clingons bought into the broad strokes of the MOU, believing incorrectly that a demand that the Governor General and the Senate unite to dissolve parliament and remove PM Trudeau from power was as simple as having a magical number of people sign a petition.
Had these signees paid attention during a civics class, or even taken an interest in how Canadian government works, they’d have seen that the GG and the Senate are political appointees, not elected, and don’t have the democratic legitimacy to dissolve government. But if the creators of the petition had told the petition signers that simple truth, they would probably not have been able to ask for donations (to the tune of millions) to make this magic a potential outcome.
The premise and promise of forcing all levels of government to end any COVID-19 measures and eliminate vaccine passports, while simultaneously re-instating all workers laid off due to vaccine requirements, appealed to many hard core anti vaxxers. Drunk on the promise of having their delusions legally sanctified, they ignored the poison pills buried within the MOU, which called for the overthrow of the federal government.
The actual bulk of the statement set out a framework to effectively dissolve the government, and replace it with a “Citizens of Canada Committee,” composed of the non-elected Senate, Governor General, and a civilian group selected by the separatist organization, Canada Unity.
This committee would then dissolve and replace 155 years of continuous parliamentary rule, ending the federal system that ranks us as one of the world’s oldest democracies, and replace it with a committee of entirely unelected figures who would then “instruct all levels of the Federal, Provincial, Territorial, and Municipal governments to immediately cease and desist all unconstitutional human rights, discriminatory and segregated actions.”
This gang of noisy truckers had as their explicit intent the overthrowing of a democratically elected government. They maintained this position until the third week of the occupation, raising over $20 million dollars in donations on this premise, much of which came from other countries with a vested interest in seeing Canada’s democracy shattered, as this would then serve as red flags to any citizens of their own countries who might have illusions of seeking independence from autocrats and dictatorships.
In intent, if not in actual practice, this was meant to be a Canadian version of the January 6th American assault on the Capitol in 2021. The MOU was an attempted coup of our government, with the intent of replacing our elected officials with the unelected leaders of their choice, under the pretext of eliminating the constraints put upon the nation to keep us in the enviable position of being one of the safest places in the world during this once every 100-years plague. (The total death toll of the pandemic in the US stands at about 919,000, compared to 35,500 in Canada)
Oh yeah, and there was a lot of stuff in there about “God.” And freedom. And peace. And love. And of how their faith in their own immunity systems trumped all modern science. All they needed were some tonsured Hari Krishnas dancing through the snow drifts to complete the picture – the Right Wing, the Religious Right, and the Tin Foil Hat Brigade finally had their own private Woodstock!
The organizers of the convoy played skillfully upon the battered psyches of their followers. They pushed all the right buttons, empathizing with the loneliness, pain and frustration that so many had felt over the last two years, bathing their shattered illusions in hot tubs, soothing their tension in steamy saunas, and inviting children (and drunken adults) to re-live their childhoods in bouncy castles.
The true puppeteers of the movement, the ex-RCMP, ex-military, ex-police, and political operatives of the separatist party, literally kept the peons at arms length, who were free to freeze in their idling trucks as they peed into juice bottles, while the leaders relaxed in luxury in nearby hotels, descending into the ranks to whip up new fervor, and more donations, donations in the millions, all streaming in from people who had suffered real or imagined deprivations over the last two years.
And when the people seemed to rouse, just a little, from the spell they were under, these leaders would inject new concerns into the original mess of pottage, reminding their minions of all the other promises that had been made and not fulfilled over the last decade or so; why had nothing been done about the water on native reserves that still ran murky? Where was the investigation into the missing and murdered indigenous women? Why did groceries keep going up in price while wages stayed stagnant? Where was their ‘buck a beer’ they’d been promised?
The anger, that had originally focused on mask and vaccine mandates now began to spill out in every direction. Government overreach! Economic inequality! Wealth gaps! No free daycare! And the flags arrived, popping up like crocuses in the spring – Confederate, Nazi, Don’t Tread on Me, and Trump 2024, all waving merrily in the February breeze.
Suddenly it was like the festival of Woodstock had married Festivus, the festivus for the rest of us, with the airing of grievances skipping cheek by jowl with the half naked, drunken, rowdy boys taunting the police like the hippies that once tried to put flower stems into the barrels of guns.
Reminder: that did not end so well.
And neither did this. But, thanks to our being Canadians, at least it did not end in bloodshed. Yet strangely, considering that our protestors were Canadian, it also didn’t end with us apologizing to the citizens and the police for the mess we’d made, and picking up all the litter either.
Despite many feeling that PM Trudeau’s decision to unleash the Emergencies Act (EA) was overreach, the choice did indeed finally allow enough police power to subdue and roust the not so merry caravan that had terrorized the nation’s capital, and its citizens, for nearly a month.
And, once the emergency was under control, the EA was revoked, just nine days after it had been invoked, when it was decided that there was no longer an emergency that could not be controlled by normal means, as the police finally had all the tools they’d need to continue to deal with unlawful protestors.
The Prime Minister said that the sweeping powers of the Emergencies Act were meant to be proportional, time-limited, and only put in place to deal with an ‘acute’ emergency. He added that the small pockets of protestors that remain across the country would continue to be monitored.
“Let’s be very clear: The threat continues. We do see, whether it’s social media activity or people who continue to be focused on protesting, and perhaps illegally protesting, that we need to be monitoring,” he said.
PMTrudeau speaks Feb 23 2022
On February 20th, Bob Rae, the best Prime Minister Canada never had, and current Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted:
“A truck is not a speech. A horn is not a voice. An occupation is not a protest. A blockade is not freedom, it blocks the liberty of all. A demand to overthrow a government is not a dialogue. The expression of hatred is not a difference of opinion. A lie is not the truth.”
In September of 2021, voters had the option of voting for several parties, including the People’s Party of Canada, which, most notably, promised an immediate end to federal vaccine mandates, but said only that they would “oppose” such measures at the provincial level. The party scored just 4.94 per cent of the popular vote. Over 95% of Canadian voters backed the parties that supported some form of vaccine passport. The majority favours tightening the screws on the unvaccinated, not throwing open the doors to any new variant that crosses our borders, and fills our hospitals.
And yet … in this ‘woke’ moment in history, there are still some who remain on the fence about the fates of those that attempted a political coup, and held Ottawa and her citizens hostage for three weeks. Just the other day, I saw a comment on social media that asked if the situation could have been avoided, had PM Trudeau just ‘spoken to the truckers and explained that the vaccine mandates would be lifted by a certain time.”
And perhaps, in some ersatz, BizarroWorld, Woodstock of the Right, there might be a democratic nation of politicians that would bow to the bullying and intimidation of large, gas belching, horn blasting, machines, draped in posters that alternated between calling for the death of, or the f*cking of, their duly elected leader, driven by owners of the same attributes as their machines …
But I really doubt it. No one’s that woke.
The situation might have been avoided had the drivers and camp followers of the convoy taken the time to inform themselves on the real motives behind the demands of the ‘spokespeople,’ who conned them into showing up with ultimatums that were not only impossible to grant, but that opened said drivers and followers to severe financial and legal peril, post convoy.
No, the opening up of discussions with intimidators using strong-arm tactics, who wish to re-write our constitution to cover their idiocy, was simply never going to be an option. You don’t negotiate with terrorists. As the U.S. discovered during their four years of diplomatic hell under trump, you don’t even say their names, never mind visit them and exchange pleasantries, unless you wish to elevate the actions of bullies to the level of actual world leaders. These kinds of creatures must never be seen to be the equivalent of elected officials, because they are not; they are wannabe dictators and autocrats.
The rich countries where people want to live, like Canada, are places where people can believe in the rules of law, standards of behavior, institutions, and the social and cultural conventions that make us feel that we are safe and secure. Rich countries are rich because the people AND the money are seen to be safe and secure.
These standards must be seen to be honoured, and those that seek to overturn them, must be seen to be punished, as a deterrent to others that might consider similar actions.
And yet, good, kind Canadians that we are, there are many who watched the sacking of Ottawa, and who are now having a hard time seeing those who were responsible for the havoc, receiving the consequences of their actions.
It’s possible that some of us watched the revellers enjoying themselves, and thought about all of the events that they missed during the last two years – the weddings, the funerals, the birthday parties and the dances that they didn’t get to attend. There may well have been a twinge of envy for some, who felt that they’d suffered all of the deprivations, but who now were watching what seemed to be the hedonistic event of the decade, enjoyed by some but not all. It’s only human to feel that way.
And it’s not wrong to be sympathetic to the plights of those who are now being held accountable for their actions. It’s very hard to see people – Canadians, just like us, who’ve had a rough time over the last two years – being penalized for doing things that they may not have thought were criminal at the time.
But these people were told, repeatedly, that their actions were harmful, and probably illegal. Those people that used their children as human shields, to prevent the police from advancing, or from entering their vehicles, did so willingly, even though these are actions that are considered ‘war crimes’ in most countries.
Some of the protestors left their homes and their jobs behind, in order to join what they chose to believe was a righteous cause, although their own holy books clearly told them that was not the case.
Many of these people were duped into giving of their time, their money, and potentially, their actual legal freedom. But they were adults, who had a choice to make, and chose wrongly. Yes, they were lied to. Yes, they chose to believe unreliable sources. But ignorance of the law is no excuse, and ignorance of the impact of your actions on others does not remove your responsibility for the consequences faced when your actions are finally judged, and found to be criminal.
It’s hard to see people losing their jobs, their businesses, and in some cases, their freedom, when they are arrested and imprisoned for terrorizing so many people and animals during their three-week ‘rumspringa.’
But, if we’re honest, this is exactly what we wanted to see happen, during those hellish weeks in February, when we were all glued to our tv screens, watching our police forces stand back, unable to move on the occupiers, with apparent impotence, and sometimes, even seeming to be giving aid and succor to these barbarians. We wanted to see the revellers held accountable. We needed there to be serious consequences. We wanted those consequences to serve as a deterrent to any people or parties that might consider a similar onslaught in the future. We didn’t want this occupation to happen then, and we never want it to happen again.
Yet now that many of these people will lose their jobs, be charged, arrested, and in some cases, have their lives ruined for what they’ve done, there’s a kindness inside most Canadians that will still feel sympathy, and even hold out a hand to help those that need it.
That’s what being a Canadian is about. We are good, kind, decent citizens of a country that is struggling right now, in a fight to defeat a novel enemy. And for the most part, we have come together to do what is right for ALL of us, not just an entitled few.
We spent most of February glued to our screens, hoping for the best, fearing for the worst, spending our time and energy on one minority’s idea of “freedom,” only to end the month watching Ukraine’s people fleeing from an evil war criminal seeking to shatter their democracy and steal their real freedoms.
I hope that we, as a country, are wise enough to recognize the difference.
With apologies to Al Franken, I am utterly sick of Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them. Sick to death of the posturing, the gaslighting, the sneaky grins that escape their mouths when they think we can’t see them.
I am exhausted from having to watch the machinations of old men pretending to be young and strong, for an audience of increasingly ill-informed or misinformed citizens. And I am stunned that America, for all it’s claims of might and right, is apparently unable to find a man under the age of 70, of either party, with the integrity, honesty, and moral vision to run in the 2024 election to lead a nation of 332 million citizens.
I am disgusted that Donald Trump appears to be getting away with committing, if not treason, then most certainly sedition, while his reprehensible party pearl-clutch and fail to hold him accountable for any of his heinous misdeeds.
I’m sick to death of watching a straight-faced Mitch McConnell utter his bazillionth BS-ery as he makes up twisted tales meant to frustrate the actual ruling party and to ensure that his ugly minority trumps America’s actual majority, and of watching Chuck Grassley stammer thru his false teeth about some arcane decision of 1866, of which apparently he was party to, that would disallow any Democratic president of ever installing a liberal Supreme Court Justice.
I blaze with anger when I see the po-faced liars in the GOP who were privy to information about the January 6th insurrection, who may well have been instrumental in perpetrating the incursion, and who yet daily continue to mouth platitudes about the outcome of the 2020 election, who perpetrate the Big Lie, while they lie to themselves and their constituents that they are upholding their party, it’s former conservative mandate, and the Constitution.
And every single one of those liars is running again for another term. And may well win.
I cringe at the failure of nearly all social and terrestrial media, that regularly allows ‘both sides’ of any given event to be argued, rather than use their journalistic talents to investigate and make a proper pronouncement on the society they claim to be defining with their presence. They have failed to learn the most important aspect of journalism, which is that, if one party says it’s raining, and the other says it’s sunny, it’s not the reporter’s job to give both options equal time, but rather to get out the bloody door and see for themselves if it’s dry or wet outside.
I am still reeling at the twisted mis- and disinformation that has poured from nearly every nation as the deadly COVID pandemic pulsed out from wherever it originated, and insinuated itself into every square inch of our planet, twisting itself into permutations that have cruelly taken the lives of nearly six million humans. From its onset, those meant to be giving us the truth have been politically manipulated in an effort to make a virus do their bidding. Instead, the virus showed us that we are mere mortals, and it would do as it wished, regardless of our pleas.
And, that lying from the people on high allowed this current climate of distrust and anger to form, preventing nations from truly dealing with the crisis properly, and ensuring that, in the end, man may propose, but God (and virii) will dispose.
I cannot bear that we are constantly being manipulated, used, and lied to by every social media app that we dutifully use to the point of addiction, and that there is little to no recourse when the apps turn against us.
“Everyone bitches about Facebook. But where else are its users supposed to go? Ditto re Instagram. And TikTok. And YouTube. Of course, there’s some crossover between all these platforms, but in many ways they’re unique. Whereas the similarities between Amazon, Apple and Spotify far outweigh the differences. You can switch platforms and not lose that much. Hell, Apple is now pushing that you can hear Neil on its music service. You don’t see some social media company doing the same, competing with Facebook.
So this is a test case. This is where the war is being fought.
It should be fought at Facebook. But because of the lack of competition and the hubris of Mark Zuckerberg, along with the duplicity and misinformation of Sheryl Sandberg and the rest of the execs, the company evades accountability and ultimately doesn’t change. As for change…it’s all algorithms, a secret sauce no one who doesn’t work at the company is privy to. And after the whistleblower, Facebook has been siloed, you can work there and have no idea what is going on at the company other than in your own vertical.
But we’ve got to push back against technology. We have to recapture truth from the techies who have taken it from us, knowingly or unknowingly.“
Bob Lefsetz, lefsetz.com
I’m revolted at the sight of Putin pushing his bare chest into the faces of Ukraine, NATO, and the world, capering like an over aged, over the hill, wannabe satyr who denies he’s about to plunge his saber into the maiden, even as his troops gather along the skirts of her nether regions. His motives are completely self-serving, an attempt to cement his place in Russian history, when in truth, his legacy will be one of terror, murder, grand theft larceny, and a terrifying lack of self-knowledge. Indeed, his foolish attempt to reunite Mother Russia will most likely only succeed in destabilizing his country, and to make Russians poorer, angrier and, ultimately, more eager for the change that another leader – ANY other leader – will bring.
I’m angry. I want change, but I don’t want change. I want things to be like they used to be, but I also want those things to be better, and I don’t know how to achieve that.
We are all reeling from not just the last two years of COVID, but from decades of lies, that have increased and compounded and torn our nations apart, pushing us all to the edge of civil war.
But the answer is not an insurrection, or a Trucker Convoy that brings the disgruntled, violent, and divisive into our nations’ capitals, drunk on social media attention and the millions pouring into a GoFundMe enriched by the dollars of the bored, the riled up, and the Canadian far right, American militants, and Russian nihilists who would love to see our country fail.
The answer is within each of us. We have to stop allowing ourselves to believe convenient (and inconvenient) lies, and start respecting ourselves, our fellow citizens, and the people that we have elected to lead us in tough times.
No more desecrating of the statues of our heroes. No more dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or peeing on the Cenotaph. No more bullying and theft from homeless shelters, or aiding and abetting those who willingly create violence or commit crimes just because the group presence allows them to do so.
Start with yourself. Stop lying to yourself. Then let it spread outward.
I guarantee you, there will come a day when you’ll once again be proud to look at your own face in the mirror.
I know that because our real heroes have always been those who have at least tried to tell you the truth. And that’s why they are our heroes.
Oh America. So many wanted to believe in the ‘shining city on the hill,’ and your declaration that your people deserved ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. ‘ Millions of immigrants looked for salvation on your shores, and believed that the poem, etched on the base of that sacred icon, the Statue of Liberty, and a gift from a country that knew well what it meant to overthrow a tyrannical monarchy and bask in a newfound freedom, was a prayer and a promise written just for them.
But beneath the anthems, the ‘rockets red
glare’ and the hands pressed to hearts, too many have learned that there lies a
nation built on genocide, slavery and a slavish devotion to capitalism that has
devolved into an insatiable greed and selfishness.
Now we know the dirty little secret of the
United States of America; all of the
high flying words, the protestations of freedom, the claims that all were
created equal, the vaunted checks and balances meant to assure the republic
would remain a democratic country, were nothing but lip service.
Well, at least according to FOX News, and trump and his henchmen.
” On August 12, 2019, Ken Cuccinelli,, acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, revised a line from the poem to outline a new immigration policy that would evaluate potential visa/green card immigrants on the basis of income and education, stating: “Give me your tired, your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.” In a subsequent interview, Cuccinelli also interpreted the poem as referring to “people coming from Europe” (wikipedia)
The framers of the U.S. Constitution knew well that the people could one day be fooled by cunning con men and those seeking to enrich themselves by abusing power, so they created a system that co-equally divided the powers and responsibilities of three branches; the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judiciary branch.
They also put into place a system of checks and balances, that, combined
with the separation of powers, they hoped would guard against a tyranny imposed upon the people, in the event that
any one branch attempted to grab too much power.
But checks and balances only work when those charged with obeying them
are men of honour with a respect for the laws and institutions that are the
framework of a democratic nation.
As James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers, “In framing a government which is to be
administered by men over men, the great difficulty is this: You must first
enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it
to control itself.”
As prescient as the Founders were in their attempts to keep America from devolving to a monarchy or dictatorship, they couldn’t possibly have guessed that men like Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, never mind the self-loathing white nationalists lead by Stephen Miller, would one day come to power, with an agenda designed solely to enrich themselves, while keeping the American people complacent and subjected to their will through fear, force, and/or intimidation.
Those who fled countries under the thrall of
dictatorship, or under threat of physical
or intellectual assault, believed that America’s
shores would, like the Gates of Heaven, usher them into a life where all men
had the opportunity to be free, and to seek to enrich their lives through a
lifetime of hard work, and dedication.
Apparently they were wrong.
“Dad, my sitting here today,
in the US Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the
right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of
a better life for our family,” he said. “Do not worry. I will
be fine for telling the truth.”
Even as those brave witnesses came forward in
these last two weeks to testify to the crimes and corrupt behaviour exhibited
by, not just the POTUS, but a cabal of his henchmen, in the Ukraine scandal,
those witnesses were having their lifetimes of dedicated civil service smeared,
and have since described harrowing incidents of harassment, threats and attack
on their very lives, and the lives of their families.
So, no, Lt Col Vindman, you are not ‘fine.’
Your dad was right to worry. You won’t be fine for devoting 40 years of loyal
service to your adopted country. Instead, the military must find somewhere to
shelter you and your family from the wrath of America’s
elected representatives, it’s president, and his cultist followers.
Lt Col Vindman, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Jennifer Williams, former White House national security official Fiona Hill, and others from the former or current administration are being viciously attacked for daring to testify to the corruption and felonious actions of trump and his shadow government.
Whatever side of the political divide you may
be on, this case is ridiculously easy to understand. Trump attempted to force
new Ukraine president Zelensky to personally appear on the Sunday political
edition of CNN’s journalist Fareed Zakaria’s program
to inform the rest of the ‘free world’ that he (Zelensky) was about to open an
investigation into potential misdeeds perpetrated in the Ukraine by Hunter
Biden, the son of former vice president Joe Biden, who is currently a front
runner in the Democratic presidential nomination in the run up to the 2020
election. If Zelensky agreed to do so, trump would release over $400 million
set aside by Congress to aid in the Ukraine’s
defence against Russia.
By doing so, trump would then hold enormous power over Zelensky for as long as either of them were in power, since this would be an act of corruption perpetrated by a new president, swept in on a platform of anti-corruption.
It would also be a federal offence, as outlined in the Congressional Budget and Impoundment
Control Act of 1974, which was put into place after then
president Richard Nixon impounded tens of billions of dollars,
and refused to spend funds appropriated by Congress, particularly if the
impounding of those funds would cause programs he didn’t like to be gutted.
This precipitated a constitutional
crisis, as the Constitution, in it’s separation of powers,
granted Congress the power of the purse.
And so the 1974 Congressional Budget and
Impoundment Control Act was created, in order to limit the powers of an out of
Trump is a scofflaw, who believes himself above the law, and certainly that he is above such niceties as obeying federal laws, but that is precisely what he has broken. And he has compounded that felony with the impeachable act of attempted bribery, in order to solicit re-election aid from a foreign power.
In any other place or time, this would be
an open and shut case, and trump would be impeached, removed from power, and
However, trump’s America is a BizarroWorld of
GOP officials as corrupt as in any third world dictatorship, that is colluding
with a branch of Justice headed up by an Attorney General who is himself
implicated in the corruption, and aided and abetted by a cultlike following who
are prepared to commit any atrocity in the service and name of their GodKing.
So, this is not the America
that Lt Col Vindman thought it was. It’s not a country where those who devote
their lives in service to their country can feel secure that speaking the truth
will set them free. In trump’s BizarroWorld, only his truth is viable, and
anyone speaking against it must be thoroughly punished to the full extent of
his presidential powers.
Further, trump, in lockstep with the wishes of Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, wanted Zelensky to confess to a meddling in the 2016 elections by the previous government. This would then allow trump to ‘prove’ a debunked conspiracy theory, and to deny the conclusions of all of the American intelligence agency leaders, that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, by shuffling the blame upon the Ukraine government instead. By doing so, trump could then insist that American sanctions upon Russia must be lifted.
Trump demanded, as was made clear on his call to Zelensky, was that Ukraine lend credence to
the Crowdstrike conspiracy theory. Not only did Trump make that demand,
but Nunes and others have been attempting to support that claim during
the hearings. And that is why Dr. Hill made her statement about
Republicans not believing in Russian interference: They are actively
working, right now, in concert with Trump, to “prove” that there was no Russian
interference. They are no longer willing to admit even the things they admitted
in that report they’re still waving around.
Every single time someone
mentioned “investigating the 2016 election,” what they really meant was “exonerating Vladimir
Putin and shifting the blame to Hillary Clinton.” And while it’s
understandable that no one wanted to use their five minutes to unwind this
ridiculous “Hillary hacked herself and hid the server in Ukraine”
theory that Attorney General William Barr is chasing around the world,
not taking that time allowed Republicans to pretend that they’re not actively working to clear Russia as well as
Trump. When they are. They really, really are.“(Mark Sumner, Daily Kos)
Yes … the lord giveth, and
the lord taketh away. The last two weeks of witness testimony at the
impeachment inquiry hearings have gladdened the heart of many who want to see
trump’s iron grip on America’s institutions and justice system broken, and for
him to suffer the consequences of his impeachable and felonious actions.
On the other hand, the
American public are not united in their need to see an unbridled and omnipotent
POTUS overthrown. There remains a firm 23% of Americans who will follow their
president wherever he takes them, even if where they’re going is to hell in a
And the timing isn’t great
either, when the American thanksgiving is right around the corner, followed by America’s most beloved holiday, the Black Friday sales.
Christmas will follow, and then much of the nation will be dealing with
inclement weather for several months.
Political junkies will follow impeachment proceedings as they occur, but for many Americans, lulled now into numbness by three years of constant tweets, executive orders, and ‘chopper talk’ pronouncements vilifying anyone against the trump juggernaut as ‘human scum,’ it may well be that trump slides into a second term handily, as have so many past incumbent presidents, and despite his crimes.
And if that happens …..
the rest of the world can only wish America ‘good luck.’ Because trump and his cabal have spent
the last three years destroying any vestige of what was once the great white
hope of the rest of the world. They have murdered Captain America, and put a slavering,
rapacious Golem in his place.
In time, the America we once thought existed will be a legend as outdated as tales of Atlantis.
At the end of the Montgomery bus boycott, Martin Luther King Jr famously paraphrased the words of Theodore Parker, American transcendentalist and pastor, when he stated,
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
There are many days when only that aspiration keeps me going. Some days, I’ll find myself wondering if that’s a light up ahead, or just the headlights of an oncoming train …. but after this week, for a number of reasons, I’m liking the odds that it is truly a light.
Three things happened this week to make me think that there might be some hope, and that, maybe – just maybe! we ARE gonna be okay. Maybe that arc really is moving in the right direction.
The first event was long in coming, but something I’d been rooting for; the investigation into Trump’s misdeeds has morphed into an inquiry. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of a shockingly corrupt and criminal abuse of power by America’s POTUS.
The way an impeachment works is regulated at the federal level, under the American Constitution. First the Congress investigates, and then, based on their findings, the House of Representatives must pass, by a simple majority of those present and voting, articles of impeachment. Those articles will be the formal allegation or allegations of what are considered to be ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’
According to the Harvard Law Review“The majority
view is that a president can legally be impeached for ‘intentional, evil deeds’
that ‘drastically subvert the Constitution and involve an unforgivable abuse of
the presidency’ — even if those deeds didn’t violate any criminal laws.”
So we’re in phase two now, prior to, hopefully, phase three, wherein the Senate will be called upon to try the accused. Many have said that the Senate will likely fail to actually impeach Trump, but there is some hope that these investigations, and the live television transmittal of the honourable men and women testifying to Trump’s misdeeds/crimes, at home and abroad, will sway the American voters, and by extension, the Republican Senators who are in danger of losing re-election in 2020 if they continue to align with trump.
One big hope is that the Dems get their way, and voting is done by anonymous, secret ballot. If that were to happen, it’s guesstimated that at least 30 Republicans would vote with the Dems, thus ensuring impeachment.
Meanwhile, the POTUS is flailing as the truth emerges about his endeavour to tempt the new President of Ukraine,Volodymyr Zelensky, into corruption. He dangled Congressionally approved military aid for the Ukraine, that would shore up the embattled nation in their war with Russia .. if Zelensky would just grant trump ‘one favour’ …
“When Mr. Zelensky said Ukraine was almost ready to purchase American
Javelin anti-tank missiles so it could better repel armored assaults by
Russian-supported fighters, Mr. Trump pounced.
would like you to do us a favor though,” Mr. Trump responded, beginning a
series of pointed requests. The president pressed Mr. Zelensky to use the help
of Attorney General William P. Barr in opening an investigation of a company
involved in the beginnings of the F.B.I. inquiry of Russia’s 2016 election interference. He also
wanted a corruption investigation connected to former Vice President Joseph R.
Biden Jr., a Democratic rival.
Both held the potential to benefit Mr.
Trump politically. And in case Mr. Zelensky needed reminding, Mr. Trump was
quick to point out that “the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine.”
Mr. Trump’s suggestion that American
law enforcement be directly involved and in contact with Ukraine’s government
marks the first evidence that the president personally sought to harness the
power of the United States government to further a political
investigation.” (from the New York Times, Sept 25/2019)
Actually, trump wanted THREE favours …
from Vice’s coverage of the memo,
1. He asked Zelensky to “look into” Joe Biden
2. He asked Zelensky to speak to Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr , while insinuating that Giuliani had the real information on corruption in the Ukraine, and smearing the American Ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, saying, “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.”
3. He oddly asked Zelensky to investigate Crowdstrike
“I would like you to find
out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you
have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that
went on, the whole situation,” Trump continued.
In a nutshell, trump sought to impel Zelensky, a new president, swept in on an anti-corruption platform, to agree to commit corruption in order to receive monies that had already been pledged to Ukraine, by the American Congress. Trump had NO right to a say in the over $400 million due to Ukraine, yet he behaved as though it were his personal money, bribe money to be used to get what he wanted … a public, foreign investigation into the son of his main opponent in the 2020 election..
“Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump
is a businessman,” Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told House
investigators. “When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who
owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before
signing the check.”
Except that this was not a business transaction, it was a diplomatic, Congressionally approved, transaction, Zelensky owed trump nothing, and it wasn’t trump’s own money. But since trump couldn’t take a cut of the millions, he took the opportunity to attempt to blackmail Zelensky, a move that would seem to be straight out of the Putin Playbook for “how to use kompromat to tie another country’s president to you in perpetuity.” (with at least one chapter on how to best preserve sheets used for golden showers by wannabe presidents.)
There can be NO logical explanation or excuse that makes what trump asked of Zelensky anything other than an attempt at bribery, potential blackmail, an attempt to elevate a conspiracy theory that excuses Russia’s role in election meddling by placing Ukraine in that role, and a gross abuse of power, despite how many frantic and hysterical tweets he vomits up on Twitter.
Hopefully the Republicans will soon see that their desperate attempts to
smear those who have the courage to testify is backfiring upon them. Or maybe
they’re still too terrified of the ‘wrath of trump’ to realize that everyone
around trump eventually winds up under the bus, no matter how good they are at
The second event – la deuxième étoile ! – that heralded a sea change to our society happened, not when Don Cherry said,
“You people love, that come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,”
No, it happened when Rogers/Sportsnet
caved to the flood of callers who demanded that Cherry be summarily dismissed. That’s
the Free Market that so many extol; in this case, it worked against
those who have pedestaled their hero and that notion. The market/shareholders
spoke, and Don Cherry, still refusing to apologize, fell.
Don ‘Sour ‘Grapes’ Cherry is
85, worth $14 million, makes $800K a year, and is still a miserable cuss. He plays to the mob, and relishes any chance
to punch down at his targets.
Political correctness aside, Cherry was spewing hate and spreading misinformation on Hockey Night in Canada. That’s not free speech, it’s hate speech. As a public figure, and on a platform that reaches millions, his commentary targeted people already vulnerable, because Don Cherry and his fans feel free to look down upon people of colour, and of those who aren’t ‘pur laine’, Canadians.
And whether he liked it or not, he had a signed contract that prohibits
certain forms of speech.
This kind of xenophobia and bigotry is unCanadian, even when it comes
from a man who was once honoured by being ranked at number 7 in the 2004 CBC
miniseries, The Greatest Canadian.
Cherry should have cleared the ice before it all turned into a gongshow.
Event three – and one that, I’m gonna guess, huge portions of this column’s readers missed entirely, happened on Wednesday night, on a double episode of Survivor – Island of the Idols. Survivor got #MeToo-ed.
From the very first episode
of Survivor:Borneo, in the summer of 2000, the reality series has
spoken to a huge swath of Middle American viewers. In that first season, crusty
Rudy Boesch, a 72 year old retired Navy Seal, and still the
oldest contestant to ever play the game, kept a stiff upper lip as Richard
Hatch, openly gay, and flagrantly arrogant, spent many hours parading
around naked in an attempt to rattle the other players. Rudy and Richard became
good friends over the course of the game, and when Rudy died recently, Hatch
was one of the many mourners to pay him tribute. The Rudy/Richard friendship
influenced how many viewers felt about people who, on the surface, appeared
completely unlike themselves. The viewers learned that appearances and even
long held opinions, could be deceiving.
During these 39 seasons, viewers have learned a great deal about opinions, prejudices, and why it’s foolhardy to have preconceived ideas about any other person. Viewers have seen the game, with it’s motto of “Outwit. Outplay. Outlast,” change with the times, even as the definition of what constitutes normalcy, equality, and ‘fair play’ changes as American society itself changes.
In 2003, contestant Jon
Dalton told what host/producer Jeff Probst would call “the
greatest lie in Survivor history” when he concocted a scheme to
manipulate his fellow players by saying that his grandmother had died. She had
not. Although ‘Johnny FairPlay’ entered Survivor history, he didn’t win
the series, and his name became synonymous with UNfair play in the game.
In 2013, bread baking Mormon mama Dawn Meehan had not the slightest qualms about voting off her best buddy Brenda Lowe, despite Brenda having salvaged Dawn’s dignity by finding the missing false teeth Dawn had lost in a pond. It’s a game, and anything that gets you further in the game is by definition ‘within the rules.’ How you live with yourself afterwards is your problem.; if you win, you’ll have a lot of fans, and a million dollars to keep your warm.
In 2019, we are once again revisiting the idea of what exactly constitutes ‘fair play’ in the contest.
As the two tribes merged,
contestant Kellee Kim, a 29 year-old Harvard grad and MBA student,
realized that she’d once again have to deal with contestant Dan Spito, a
48 year-old LA talent manager who had a little ‘issue’ with his physicality
when female players were near. Kellee had briefly dealt with him at the
beginning of the game, and told him in no uncertain terms that she did not like
or want him to touch her. Dan seemed to accept that, and fate sent the two
players off in different directions for the first half of the season.
But since the two teams had
merged and converged in one small area of the island, Dan’s hands were at it
again, tiptoeing through the ladies. And Kellee was not at all happy with his
presumption that her body and hair, as
well as that of other female contestants, were fair game.
the merge feast last night…. I feel someone wiggling my toes, and I’m like, I
wonder who it could be? And it’s him.” said contestant Missy
“It’s inappropriate touching. I’m not an object.”
In one of the segments,
Kellee tearfully told team mate Janet that she found Dan’s attentions
upsetting. Janet hadn’t really noticed that Kellee and several of the other
young women were being targeted. But she
was ready to help, if she could.
But as Kellee told the camera, “It’s super upsetting, because you can’t do anything about it. There are always consequences for standing up. It happens in real life, in work settings, in school … and you can’t say anything because it will affect your upward trajectory, it’s gonna affect how people look at you.”
The show’s producer, in an
unprecedented move, broke the fourth wall, saying, “You know, if there are issues to the point where
things need to happen, come to me and I will make sure that stops. ‘Cause
that’s…I don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable.”
A title card then appeared on screen, which read,“The following morning the producers met with all the players, both as a group and individually. They were cautioned about personal boundaries and reminded that producers are available to them at all times. Based on the outcome of those discussions, the game continued. In addition, producers met privately with Dan, at which time he was issued a warning for his behavior. Producers continue to monitor the situation.”
If that had been the end of the situation, as usually happens in our society, it would have been just another day in misogyny. But what happened next was a REAL lesson for Middle America; two of the other female players, Elizabeth and Molly, decided to use this moment to hatch a plan that would smear Dan while saving themselves, by making Dan and Kellee targets for elimination. Worse still, they abused the trust and faith of Janet to do so, knowing that Janet would see it as her place, as an older, mother figure, to do whatever it might take to help the girls.
In truth, neither Elizabeth nor Molly actually felt unsafe or uncomfortable around Dan. If anything, they thought he and his wandering hands were a non-issue, easily ignored.
Inevitably, #MeToo came up squarely against game strategy, and it was Kellee who was voted ‘off the island’ while Janet was left to understand that the other girls had willfully played upon her better nature to further their own game, at Kellee (and Janet’s) expense.
At a later tribal council, the women tried to defend their actions by calling it ‘game play,’ while a male player, Aaron, refused to believe that it had happened, because, “if it had, I would have known.”
Jamal tried to explain why Aaron was wrong, saying,
“This whole idea that you would have known about it – that’s exactly
what happens in the real world, guys. When a woman brings up a charge, and
people want to negate whether or not it’s legitimate, they say, well if it was
such a big issue, then she would have brought it up last year, two years ago,
three years ago. We are not entitled to ‘know’ things just because we’re men,
or just because we’re in power. “
As Kellee had said, “There are always consequences for standing up. ” For his pains, and his insight, Jamal was the next to leave the game.
As Jeff Probst later said, “Survivor is a
microcosm for our real world. Situations just like this one are playing out in
offices and bars and colleges across the country and the world. “
And that is, of course, sadly true.
However, it was the enormous backlash against the two female players, for their
deceit, and their ugly manipulation of Janet’s protective nature, that raged
mightily across social media on Thursday
morning that really gave me hope. Is it possible – can it really be – that
sometimes the right people will actually be punished for making the lives of
others miserable, just because they can?
This is the week that #MeToo came to reality TV, big time, and Middle America got to see how it works, from all sides and angles. Anyone that watched the double episode play out is now in possession of all the information they need to make life better for 51% of society (that’s women, by the way.)
The question is, will they? Can they be bothered? Or is life a whole lot easier when we just toss off the island those people who are only asking to be treated like people instead of objects?
I will continue to hope that the light at the end of the tunnel really is dawn breaking somewhere.
” There is something
almost arbitrary about this scandal
instigating impeachment, given the barbarity of Trump and his administration.
On a scale that includes keeping immigrant children in cages, I’m not quite
sure where to rank the president’s pressuring the leader of a foreign country
to investigate a political rival’s son. But it also doesn’t really matter.
Impeachment is long overdue. If Trump’s call with Zelinsky is what gets us
there, so be it.”Alex Shephard, The New Republic
I’ll be the first to admit,
I’ve been banging the impeachment drum since almost the moment the inauguration balloons began to
When the Democrats took the
House in November 2018, public sentiment seemed to point to a belief that they
would move towards impeaching Trump, based on any number of issues. And when
the Mueller Report landed with all the grace of a mother dropping a baby
on it’s head, the impeachment issue was again raised. After all, Mueller’s
‘conclusion’ was that he’d done his job, and now it was up to the Democrats to move
Nancy Pelosi, however, disagreed on moving to impeach the president. Repeatedly, she told her party and her country that she’d rather beat him, resoundingly, in the 2020 election.
Many of us wondered if America could last that long.
Beyond the mental and
emotional exhaustion that has been engendered by Trump’s incessant need for
excitement and attention, there was a case to be made that failing to prosecute
the president for his misdeeds, based on a fear of electoral retribution, made
us wonder how long the Dems could shirk their constitutional responsibilities
to hold him accountable for his many crimes, whether real or perceived.
Of course, they – and we – knew that any accusation levelled at Trump or his administration would result in a solid phalanx of his highest level co-conspirators rising up through the swampy waters to defend his right to do whatever he wanted, up to and including a late night whim to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, just to see if it lost him any of his base. (It wouldn’t.)
We knew in advance that the
pearl clutching, eternal victims would level false accusations at those whom
they would accuse of simply being jealous rivals, and call any attempt at
bringing the executive branch into control as an undeserved ‘witch hunt.’ “Smoking gun? What smoking gun?
But Trump, like any addict,
simply couldn’t help himself. The very day after the Mueller Report toothlessly
mamby pambied through a sorta kinda accusation of Russia having meddled in the 2016 election (to help
Trump) he was on the phone to the newly
elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenksky, asking for ‘a favour’
…. that Zelensky take his focus off protecting his own country to
investigate the son of Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden.
Trump subscribed to a debunked conspiracy theory that accused then Vice President Biden of urging the Ukrainians to fire the Kyiv general prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in order to save his son, Hunter Biden, from being accused of corruption. In fact, this position on Shokin was supported by Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, European allies, and groups like the International Monetary Foundation. (IMF)
Trump’s phone call to the Ukraine was asking for ‘dirt’ on a political rival, from a
foreign country – exactly what he’d been accused and found guilty of doing in
2016. “Russia … if you’re listening… ‘
However, his own Department
of Justice so roiled the waters that the Democrats knew they’d have trouble
convincing the nation to agree that this was an impeachable offence.
Trump’s call also had a more sinister overtone; a week prior to the call, Trump had told his acting White House Chief of Staff, Nick Mulvaney, to slow walk the Congressionally approved $390 million dollars of military aid that Ukraine desperately needed to fight back against Russian advances.
Implicit in Trump’s request
for ‘a favour’ was that the aid might never actually reach the Ukraine at all, should Zelensky refuse to investigate the
On August 12th, a
whistleblower reported an ‘urgent concern’ to the Inspector General of the Department
of National Intelligence (DNI) Michael Atkinson. After review, the
inspector general deemed the complaint to be credible, and he kicked it
upstairs, to the attention of the acting director of the DNI, Joseph
For reasons that still don’t
make any sense, Maguire opted to ask for the recommendations of both the Oval
Office, and the Department of Justice, despite the complaint explicitly naming
both Trump and AG Barr as the focus of the complaint. And .. wonder of wonders!
both Trump and Barr thought it would be best to just let this complaint go,
On September 9th, the
inspector general reported the complaint to House Intelligence Chairman, Adam
Schiff, advising him that Maguire had dismissed the complaint. On September
19th, the House Committee met with Atkinson behind closed doors to discuss the
situation, although Atkinson did not disclose the nature of the complaint.
But the word was now out on
the street – something worthy of whistleblowing had happened in the Oval
Office. No one knew what that might be – at first.
It wasn’t long before Trump,
and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, began speculating to the press that it
might be about this phone call. They hadn’t done it, they assured the world,
but if they did, it would be okay because .. Trump is above the law. Or so it
With information that pointed to an abuse of power, a request for help in getting dirt on a political rival, AND the appearance of a cover up in hand, Pelosi announced on September 24th that the House would begin a formal impeachment enquiry into Trump.
defence was to produce a heavily redacted five page summary of the thirty
minute conversation that they believed would exonerate the president. In fact,
it only dug the hole deeper.
When the actual whistleblower’s complaint was declassified and released the following day, the nation discovered that the issues raised had to do with the president “using the power of his office” to solicit foreign election help, and included a description of efforts by senior White House officials hiding away and ‘locking down’ access to all records of the call.
Forget Roy Cohn – what Trump really needed was a Rose Mary Woods.
As more information has
appeared, it’s become apparent to about 70% of Americans that this president
needs to be investigated, and probably, impeached. The 30% that disagree are
his ‘deplorable’ base, and his highest ranking party members, who have circled
the wagons to protect his criminality…. again.
As Giuliani, Lindsey
Graham, and other GOP talking heads made the rounds of the Sunday morning
political talk shows, it became clear that they have decided to use the same
old defences of the last hundred scandals; start by denying, deflect by saying
someone else did the same thing, and then distract by having a temper tantrum,
complete with raised voice and red face.
Just as he and his party did
when Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual improprieties, they would blame and
shame the victim … and let the accused walk free to take his throne again.
Last night, Graham
was overheard having a full blown, loud conversation on his cell phone with
“Jared” – presumably Jared Kushner, on a Jet Blue flight. He
mentioned that he would be on Face the Nation, and coordinated his
talking points, saying, “Listen – this is what I’m going to lay out.
This is Kavanaugh on steroids! This is hearsay – and this person has
This morning, on Face the Nation, Mr Graham equated the whistleblower’s complaint to the sexual accusations against Kavanaugh, saying – without truth – that the transcript of the call, and the particulars of the complaint, were not matched. He became increasingly angry with the interviewer, who disagreed, and he then proceeded to demand to know, ” Who is this whistleblower? What bias do they have? .. I wanna know why the whistleblower was told about this phone call … Who told the whistleblower about the transcript? Who helped this person write this complaint? Who told the whistleblower about a phone call between the POTUS and a foreign leader? Who are these people and what are they up to?”
This is ‘whataboutism‘
to the nth degree; faced with what seems to be a credible accusation, that the
president and his personal lawyer have, even unwittingly, confirmed, Graham
reacts with indignation towards an unknown person who acted with more backbone
and courage than Graham could ever scrape up in all of his miserable 64 years
on the planet. Shoot the messenger! It’s a witch hunt!
Lindsey Graham wants to
speak to your manager!
(damn … I’d love to know what they have on Graham. It’s gotta be some very, very fine kompromat.)
These efforts to uncover the
whistleblower’s identity are not only dangerous to the wellbeing of the
whistleblower, but in the long run, may well serve to compromise, and perhaps
fatally damage, the very act of whistle blowing, which has been an important
weapon in finding and rooting out political corruption at the highest levels.
At this point, it would seem that the whistleblower’s words have been corroborated, in some cases, by the president himself.
We can probably already
guess exactly how Trump will defend himself through this trial …. he will
react as he always does, with denial, deflection, whataboutism, and then just
simply walking away to play another game of golf at the tax payer’s expense. That’s his pattern.
Trump is incapable of seeing
himself as a teammate in a party, just as good or as bad as previous American
presidents, because he demands to be considered better than all the presidents
who’ve gone before him. His allegiance to Russia is beyond troublesome, and
Russia’s request that any phone calls between Trump and Putin remain classified
also suggests that there’s been the same sort of extortion discussed in those
calls – though which side is pressuring which is yet to be determined.
We know he will denigrate
the media, and, with his usual projection, proclaim them “the laughing stock of the world.”
And we know he will dump manure on the heads of America’s intelligence officials, willy nilly, because any
kind of intelligence just scares the pants off of little Donny.
And in the end, Trump will
proclaim that the whole thing is ‘just a continuation of the witch hunt.’ But I don’t see any witches around here. What
I see is a president betraying his country, to achieve his own personal ends.
The other day, Trump told his cronies that he believed the whistleblower was a type of spy, and he lamented that spies were not treated as harshly as they’d been, back in the day. Well, there’s a very large segment of the population that wishes that traitors who committed treason were punished as they were, back in the day, as well.