The View from a (Canadian) Broad


Every morning, around four a.m., there’s something that wakes me up. I don’t know if it’s a noise from the street, a neighbour heading to work, or a very punctual raccoon with OCD, but nearly every day, there’s a sound that rouses me from my dreams and leaves me washed up on the shore of my thoughts.

The reveries that preoccupy me in the hours between four a.m. and an almost normal six o’clock rise are the ones that might flit through your mind during the day, but that are not chewed over like they might be at say .. quarter to five in the morning.

Thoughts like, could Melania actually be Trump’s Russian handler? Is this weird red mole-y thing cancerous? And, why is it that so many males, from boy to man, love running around pantless?

The wee hours are also the time of déjà rêvé.Déjà vu is French for “already seen” and déjà rêvé is French for “already dreamed”. Depending on whom you ask, it could mean that weird feeling you have when you’re in a dream and you suddenly think and believe you have dreamed this exact dream once before …or that your dream is a prophesy of something that has yet to happen.

I get that a lot, and for me, it’s like being partway into a movie and thinking, “damn! I’ve had this dream before and I know how it ends! The alligator eats the drummer!

A bit of a lunch bag letdown, if you will.

no more gun violenceThis morning I was thinking about how refreshing it was yesterday, to have a day when the antics of the madman to the south were not front and centre, or even lurking around a corner.

It was all about the kids, about common and uncommon sense, and what the future could look like, if all of the cynical, corrupt shysters who’ve warped our perceptions of the world to shape their own fever dream were forced to stop. No no no no say the kids … you’re not gonna get to use us to line your pockets with the NRAs dirty bribe money. We’re not gonna let you use us as human targets for those who snap under the pressure of hormones or fear or paranoia, so often engendered by adults who labour under their own heavy weight of paranoia and discontent.

Never again! they shouted, those children who, 37 days ago, spent the scariest six minutes and about twenty seconds of their lives, wondering if those were the last minutes of their lives.

Emma Gonzalez‘s speech was the loudest silence in the history of U.S. social protest, said Mother Jones magazine. As I watched those attending struggle with the silence, I thought how uncomfortable people are when they have to contemplate the absence of sound. People were visibly distraught as tears poured down Emma’s face, and the silence stretched on interminably.

” “Never again,” many in the crowd of 500,000 chanted in response. After her timer went off, Gonzalez said, “since the time when I came out here, it has been six minutes and twenty seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest,” she said. “Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.” And then she left the stage.”

” At least 73 teens have been shot to death in the 37 days since that massacre, according to HuffPost’s review of a database compiled by Gun Violence Archive, a not-for-profit organization that tracks shootings across the country. (Because Gun Violence Archive culls its data from media reports, there may be cases that haven’t been included.)

That’s a rate of nearly two teens each day. Among them were Kaiden Vague, a California student who died on his 16th birthday after accidentally killing himself at a shooting range, and 15-year-old Jay Diaz in El Paso, Texas, who survived a childhood fight with cancer only to be killed when a family member fired his shotgun while cleaning it.” (Huffington Post, 03/23/2018)

jim carrey never againKids are being shot and killed, all over America, by people who put their ‘right’ to own guns over the lives of their own children. And it is increasingly clear that those same Americans, who so loudly and proudly proclaim that owning guns is their god-given right, are incredibly lax in how they handle those guns.

There is no respect for either guns or the law in the heart of the woman shot in the back by her toddler with “a firearm that slid out from under the driver’s seat.”

The “responsible gun owner” is largely a mythical creature.

Every day there’s another case of people just leaving their guns around for kids
to play with. On March 12th, a one year old boy was accidentally shot and killed inside his home in Mobile, Alabama by his 2 year old brother. In the time it took for the mother to tell the grandmother that she was heading for work .. boom!

And how much care and gun sense was in place when a four year old child in Temple, Texas shot his seven month old sibling two days ago, with a gun that was also apparently just lying around?

Sicker still, a neighbour being interviewed by the press volunteered that he did not blame the family, since “in my family, it happened once with my cousin. My cousin killed accidentally my other cousin. It happens. Accidents happen.”

Newsflash, bozo – accidental gun deaths don’t happen when you treat guns as the killing machines that they are, rather than something that you casually leave around the house, like your sunglasses or your copy of the National Enquirer.

guns_in_homeGuns are not ‘magic.’ Guns are killing machines. When you buy one, when you pick one up, you and you alone are responsible for happens next. No excuses. No exceptions.

 

Every one of the kids and speakers at the “March for Our Lives” spoke to power, and they did it with the verve and energy of the righteous.

“David Hogg went on to call out local lawmakers and the NRA for not taking the lead.

“It just makes me think what sick f–kers out there want to continue to sell more guns, murder more children, and honestly just get reelected,” he said. “What type of sh–ty person does that? They could have blood from children splattered all over their faces and they wouldn’t take action, because they all still see these dollar signs.”

Yes, kids .. it’s time. It is YOUR time. And we all thank you.

trump vs teen gun heroesI’ll bet Trump’s handlers weren’t thanking you, though. Can you imagine what it must have been like, down in Florida, as his ‘people’ tried to keep him from exploding over someone else getting all the attention? All of those hours when his name and face weren’t glaring at people from every form of media? Oh, it was lovely, all of those hours with nary a tweet nor an opinion from or on Mad King Trump.

All of those hours without the human equivalent of the lactic acid which makes milk taste sour.

It was like spring finally sprang.

it was like the birds came out and sang like they haven’t since November 9, 2016.

snow whiteIt was like an old timey Disney movie when all of the animals dance around Snow White!

But, inevitably, it had to end, and we were back to the gloomy, pessimistic, and frequently salacious non-stop drip of Trump’s bareback rape of America.

I cannot stand anything about the man; he triggers in me an awe-inspiring level of hate and violence – and I’m pretty sure that is how many people feel, both in Canada and the United States.

how cdns see the US in 2018What motivates this madman? What makes him, time and time again, choose to burn down the village rather than built it up? What makes him so focused on proving others wrong just so that he can call even a mild rebuke fake news? What drives him to behave like an abusive parent or husband, giving free rein to his worst impulses, while screaming LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO! LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!

What had most struck me during my two days with Trump was his sad struggle to extract even an ounce of respect from a political establishment that plainly viewed him as a sideshow. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that he’d felt this way for virtually his entire life — face pressed up against the window, longing for an invitation, burning with resentment, plotting his revenge.” McKay Coppins

Well, whatever the reason, America is headed to a precipice .. a crisis in which it will be determined if rule of law and democracy holds or if they have quietly surrendered to authoritarianism and a wannabe ‘president for life.’ Trump the bully, that bundle of ‘malevolence tempered by incompetence‘ will fire Special Counsel Mueller, sooner rather than later, and when he sneers, “what are you gonna do about it?” the course of America’s future will be set.

A democracy or a fascist dictatorship. “What are you gonna do about it?

john bolton war cabinetI think that moment is swiftly approaching. The countdown began when General McMaster was forced to resign and John Bolton, the warmonger who wants to ‘clean house’ and bring in his own staff of warmongers, was installed. As Trump toys with the idea of running America all by himself, taking on the roles of Chief of Staff, Secretary of State, Spokesperson, and, probably, his own living statue for the tourists to admire, he’s just waiting to hear the last senator’s tires leaving Washington for their spring break.

Oh yes, we’ve heard from ‘the boys’ in The House, as they swear that Trump’s told them he will not, absolutely WILL NOT fire Mueller while they’re on hiatus, and he also promises that he won’t drink all the booze in the liquor cabinet, smoke pot, or play with guns or firecrackers. But …

When the adults have all gone off in all directions, leaving Trump home alone until they return on April 9th to get back to governing ….

.. you know it’s gonna be the Trump equivalent of Risky Business

The House and Senate insisting that there would be no need to protect Mueller from being fired, (wink wink nudge nudge,) based on Trump’s assurances that he hasn’t the faintest inclination to do so, are the weak sauce of a government branch that sorta kinda maybe wants to know what really DOES happen when you let a three year old play with a nuclear bomb.

They know damn well that he’s going to fire Mueller … just as soon as he hears how Fox and Friends want him to proceed.

How bad does he want to fire Mueller?

That’s how bad.

 

Thoughts on a Wintry Day


It’s Sunday. Column day. And I’ve got …nothing. i hate writing

 

It’s not that I’m ‘blocked.’ No, I can think of a million things to say, and even good ways to say them.

No, the problem is that there’s just too much to think about, in a world gone mad, in a world that’s mutating at warp speed, that requires not only the time and sense to read a good portion of the information and opinions and news and interesting tidbits, but to put it together in some sort of reasonable and understandable form.

There’s just so much going on, so much coming at us from all directions, too many unthinkable actions and angry words, too many people we once looked up to, dying, or worse still, living, but being found to have acted in ways that taint our respect for their life’s work.

We’re living in a time when we not only have to deal with the sins of bad actions and reprehensible people, we also have to juggle the idea of impending death by climate or nuclear war. And we are powerless. We cannot stop this runaway train.

dear diaryLuckily, it is not up to me or to you to figure out the answer to every trouble that lies before us. But I firmly contend that there are solutions for every problem. If we cannot find the answer, it’s not that there is no answer, it’s that the right person has not happened along with the missing piece of the puzzle. I believe that, because I have seen far too many people give up on a struggle without understanding that they are not always the owner of the solution. In fact, that sort of stance inevitably leads to bruised egos, and nothing of any substance being done about the dilemma.

It’s like we used to say when I worked in offices, “when you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to remember your original intent was to drain the swamp.” (Damn! and I wasn’t gonna talk about politics this week!)

lizard brainToo much news, too many words, too many ideas. And too many people willing to tell us how we should interpret each of them. And when your brain hurts from trying to process everything going on around you, too easy to make decisions and take actions that stem from that part of our brain that never evolved past the lizard stage.

There are a couple of reasons why I, and so many others, are sometimes troubled by all of the concepts we’re asked to parse on any given day. One is our confirmation bias;  that’s “the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses.” (thanks, wiki)

That’s one of the reasons we so often pass on memes that are untrue, but that tickle our funnybone, or inflame our angry elbow, or some such nonsense. In fact, if you see a meme that resonates so strongly that your immediate impulse is to ‘share’ it with everyone you know … it’s more than likely ‘fake news,’ and the work of paid trolls.

fake news

These memes, often rife with misspellings and grammatical errors, reach into our psyches and pull out the gnarled racist, misogynistic, and biased bits that people normally tend to hide from others.

But as soon as you share that meme … we know what and who you are.

 

The other reason why we can sometimes shy away from news that bothers us is our tendency to have a blind loyalty to those we admire. Whether those people are famous, or powerful, or our relatives, we find it hard to believe that news of their committing crimes could possibly be true, not just because we feel a bond with them, but because .. what does that say about us?

With the #MeToo campaign in full swing, and the accusations of horrible sexual harassment and assaults buzzing around, not just Hollywood and Washington, but every work place imaginable, half of the planet has to look at the other half of the planet and ask:

“How did this go on for so long? Why do so many people with even the most miniscule amounts of power think it’s okay to take what they want, sexually and emotionally, from those who cannot protect themselves, physically, mentally, or financially? And why do I still love/worship/respect the perpetrator of acts that morally sicken me?”

Is this mindshift something we can work forward from, or a distraction from the ‘business as usual’ mode that has pervaded all workplaces for eons? Do we speak the truth and shame the devil(s), or will we have a spate of accusations and reprisals, and then ignore the next wave of voices that ask for retribution?

rapepreventionI don’t know. I would like to think that society has evolved  enough to realize that there is nothing equitable about having half of the planet essentially living in a chronic state of fear that their bodies will be used by anyone who wants to take it. But then again, I’d think that Americans would be smart enough to realize that gun control would protect them from being killed by mentally ill mass murderers.

But what do I know, eh?

I’d also like to believe that it is possible for men to believe women when they speak, not because they have an army of people willing to confirm that they’re speaking the truth, but because they easily swallow the most moronic bullshit that flows out of the mouths of male politicians, preachers, and right wing newscasters.

Seems like the only way a woman is believed, no matter how impeccable her character and credentials may be, is if a male corroborates her statements. And that’s just heartbreaking.

So yeah, it’s column day, and I’ve got nothing. Nothing but a stew of thoughts and sadness at the state of our world, where there’s always a war going on somewhere, but our response is to lay wreaths at the cenotaphs honouring those who died in them, while we hold our breaths as a senile old man taunts a demented young man with a twitchy bombing finger on Twitter, and at least 2300 Canadian veterans are homeless and living on the street. This world, where babies in Yemen starve to death so that trillionaires in Saudi Arabia can amass more wealth and power, and where an  accused pedophile can take a seat in the U.S. Senate. A world where some of the wealthiest people in North America are about to enact new taxation to enrich themselves and their buddies to even more obscene levels, while they cut funds to women, children, the helpless and vulnerable, and veterans.

north-korea-bomb

I got nothing.

 

 

 

Martin Luther King Day


what are you doing for othersInjustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea.”   (Martin Luther King Jr. ) 

Today, Americans observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s a federal holiday, so many people will enjoy a long weekend, with schools, banks, courts and all federal offices closed.

King was the inspiration of millions, being integral to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s. During the 1963 March on Washington, he gave hope to all who felt less than free in America with his uplifting “I Have a Dream,” speech which earned him a reputation as one of the greatest orators in American history.

rosa parks quoteIn 1964, then President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. That same year, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence.

King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated by James Earl Ray, in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” (MLKjr)

After his death, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Soon after, labour unions in contract negotiations began to campaign for a holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day , in his honour. In 1971, the day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states

reagan signs MLK dayPresident Ronald Reagan signed a bill designating the third Monday in January to honour King in 1983, but it was not observed until three years later. It is a floating holiday, in that it is celebrated around the time of King’s birthday, January 15. In 1986, the day became a U.S. federal holiday.

Interestingly, Reagan originally opposed the holiday, citing cost concerns.

jesse_helmsSenators Jesse Helms and John Porter East (both North Carolina Republicans) led opposition to the bill and questioned whether King was important enough to receive such an honor. Helms criticized King’s opposition to the Vietnam War and accused him of espousing “action-oriented Marxism” Helms led a filibuster against the bill and on October 3, 1983, submitted a 300-page document to the Senate alleging that King had associations with communists. New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan declared the document a “packet of filth”, threw it on the Senate floor and stomped on it “ Wikipedia.com)

In 1994, Congress designated the King Holiday as a national day of service. But some states resisted observing the holiday, an action that would seem directly opposed to King’s ‘dream.” It was not until 2000 that the day was officially observed in all 50 states.

Many politicians still active in government today voted against the holiday. In October 1983, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah, former GOP presidential nominee John McCain of Arizona, and Richard Shelby of Alabama, were amongst the 22 opposing votes against 78 Senators in favour, along with the current House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky, and current top Republican advocate in defense of the Voting Rights Act, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.

steve scaliseMajority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, voted twice against a state version of the holiday. Which is not surprising, considering that it has recently become known that Scalise delivered a previously unreported speech at a 2002 conference sponsored by a white-supremacist group. He was one of three Louisiana statehouse members who voted against the proposal in 1999, and then one of three nay-sayers in 2004.

supreme court“The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June 2013 that a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act designed to prevent racial discrimination in certain voting laws was no longer necessary. The majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, stated that “things have changed dramatically” in the South and that the “country has changed” since the Voting Rights Act was passed. The court argued the law had successfully defended against discrimination, but was no longer needed. Racism, the court majority appeared to suggest, was over, and laws created during a time when such hatred was in its heyday served now to place unjust “burdens” on certain states and jurisdictions that wished to pass new voting laws — laws, of course, that had nothing to do with trying to suppress minority votes. “ (Huffington Post)

“An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law.” (MLKjr)

And so today, Americans celebrate a holiday honouring a man instrumental in the creation of the Civil Rights Act that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, while SCOTUS – which consists of a non-elected Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate for life tenure “unless they resign, retire, take senior status, or are removed after impeachment (though no justice has ever been removed)” (Wikipedia.org) – dismantle that act to protect the very states that impelled it’s necessity.

“How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” (MLKjr)

martin-luther-king-jr-quotes-silenceKing’s words ring as true today as they did in this 1967 speech he gave at Stanford University. The “Other America” still exists, and will continue to do so until more people, universally, demand social equality and human rights for all.