Good People Doing Good Things — Olawale and Temie

As promised yesterday, here it is, only a day late, this week’s ‘good people’ post!  Thanks so much to those of you who suggested that I should be the ‘good people’ of the week!  You brought a smile, and I so appreciate the encouragement, the vote of confidence.  But, in truth, I don’t see myself as a ‘good people’, especially as compared to the good people I write about who are out there doing things for others, while I sit home in my comfy chair, with a fresh cuppa coffee, and only write.  But again, thanks so much … I love you all!  But now …

I’d like you to meet Dr. Olawale Sulaiman, 49, professor of neurosurgery and spinal surgery at the Ochsner Neuroscience Institute in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sulaiman-1Born and raised on Lagos Island, Lagos, Nigeria, he says of his childhood …

“I am one of 10 children born into a polygamous family. My siblings and I shared one room where we often found ourselves sleeping on a mat on the floor.”

There was no way his parents could have afforded to put him through college, but at the age of 19, he received a scholarship to study medicine in Bulgaria through the Bureau for External Aid, a Nigerian government program targeted at improving the quality of life for Nigeria’s most vulnerable communities.

He received a combined MD/MSc degree at Medical University, Varna, Bulgaria, and a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. His neurosurgery training was completed at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. He completed post-residency fellowship training in complex nerve reconstruction at Louisiana State University and complex spine surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, USA.

A well-educated and energetic man, but that isn’t what qualifies him for a spot on the “good people” post.  That honour comes from his philanthropic works for the people of Nigeria.  Sulaiman said the scholarship opened many doors and, in turn, he feels responsible to give back through healthcare.

“Africans who have had the privilege of getting outstanding training and education abroad must mobilize their network of influence to transform our continent.”

Sulaiman-wifeIn 2010, Sulaiman established RNZ Global, a healthcare development company with his wife, Patricia, a nurse. The company provides medical services including neuro and spinal surgery and offers health courses like first aid CPR in Nigeria and the US.  Dr. Sulaiman also negotiated with his employer to take a 25% cut in pay in exchange for extended vacation time so that he could spend more time working in Nigeria.

“I would use my vacation times for the medical missions, which were also planned with education and training sessions. We donated a lot of medications, equipment and hands-on training on surgical techniques.”

RNZ Global has treated more than 500 patients and provided preventative medicine to up to 5,000 people in the US and Nigeria.  But, it doesn’t stop there.  RNZ Global also has a not-for-profit arm called RNZ foundation. The foundation focuses on providing free neurological health care to those in need but who cannot afford to pay. sulaiman-2.pngSulaiman and his team have performed miracles. In December, Sulaiman operated on a man whose back pain affected his ability to walk. The man was able to walk unaided a day after the surgery. Another of his patients is also able to move independently after the doctor did emergency surgery for a brain tumor that previously left her comatose.

“That’s why I continue to do it. Because I think you can really make a significant impact on people that would otherwise be hopeless.”


And, in a related story …

Allow me to introduce you to Temie Giwa-Tubosun, founder of LifeBank, a blood and oxygen delivery company in the West African country of Nigeria. Giwa-TobusunIn 2014, Giwa-Tubosun experienced complications from her pregnancy.  She was rushed to the nearest hospital where her and her son’s lives were saved by a C-section operation.

“I realized after I had my son that the highest cause of maternal mortality is postpartum hemorrhage, the most important thing you can do when a mum is hemorrhaging is replace the blood she has lost, even if you can’t stop the bleeding.”

Since she founded LifeBank in 2016, the company has raised thousands of dollars, launched across three states in Nigeria, serving in more than 300 hospitals and saved up to 4,000 lives.

Donated blood has about six weeks before it becomes too old for transfusion.  Quite often, the blood expires before it is used because doctors find it challenging to get the type of blood they need.  Giwa-Tubosun found that there was a communication lag as doctors struggled to get blood while blood banks were discarding it after the six-week expiration period.

“One of the insights I got was the existence of a surplus and a shortage of blood. We have people on the supply side discarding expired blood and on the demand side dying because the blood is not available. I thought the solution was to help both sides pass information to each other.”

With Lifebank, Giwa-Tubosun was able to connect blood banks with hospitals and their patients. Her team gathers inventory data from about 52 blood banks across Lagos and responds to requests from hospitals based on the data provided by the banks.

Between them, Dr. Sulaiman and Temie Giwa-Tubosun are saving lives in a nation where many cannot afford medical care at all.  I give two thumbs-up to both of these generous people!

thumbs

The Latest In Snarky Snippets

It took no time at all for Turkish President Erdoğan to begin implementation of his plan to attack the Kurdish troops in Syria.  Two days, I believe.  Today, Turkey launched airstrikes and fired artillery across its border into northeastern Syria.  This, Donald Trump, is what you have done …turkey_syriaturkey-syria-2Already, two civilians have been killed and others wounded.  There will be many more innocent people who will die or be injured, and the blood of those people is on the hands of Donald Trump.  These were people who were going about their lives, minding their own business, hurting nobody.  They were our allies, until Monday when Trump betrayed them.

It is a complex situation that Trump does not comprehend, that even those who are scholars in Middle-Eastern affairs often find confusing.  But, Trump sold out for some favour from Erdoğan and now the U.S. has sent a clear warning to all of our allies that we are not to be trusted, that we may turn on them any day, with no notice.


I really didn’t want to talk about or even mention the impeachment issue today, but to ignore it would be to ignore the elephant in the room, for it looms larger than life.  Yesterday, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen of the various committees conducting the investigations in the House of Representatives. An eight-page letter, as it were.  I have muddled through about half of it so far, and a more pompous letter I have never read.  What he had to say could have been said in a single paragraph.

In a nutshell, Cipollone, acting as Trump’s mouthpiece, says that the impeachment process is unconstitutional and that nobody in the Trump administration will cooperate in any way, shape, or form.  Duh … leave it to a lawyer to take up 8 pages to say that.  But, most of it was hateful, arrogant verbiage attempting to defend the indefensible and criticize all those who would wish to hold Trump accountable for his actions.

But wait … it gets even better.

Since there is precedent for impeaching a corrupt, lying, cheating president, the Department of Justice is now claiming that Nixon’s impeachment was unconstitutional and that the courts in 1974 were wrong to approve the release of Watergate documents to Congress during the impeachment inquiry.  This came when Beryl Howell, chief judge for the U.S. District Court, indicated that she may rule in favour of giving the House Democrats access to certain of the redacted parts of the Mueller report.  The judge asked the Justice Department to explain its “extraordinary position” of trying to block lawmakers from seeing the special counsel’s grand jury materials, which include testimony and evidence that has been kept private since the Mueller probe ended in March.

Elizabeth Shapiro, a deputy director in the DOJ civil division, argued that if the same Watergate road map arose today, there’d be a “different result” because the law has changed since 1974. She said the judge wouldn’t be able to do the same thing absent changes to the grand jury rules and statutes.  The judge was stunned, saying only “Wow. Okay.”  Hopefully she will find her voice soon.

Let’s put this in context here.  President Bill Clinton was impeached because he lied to Congress about a consensual affair with a staffer.  Period.  Nothing more.  But Donald Trump has twice … not once, but at least twice that we are aware of … sought favours from foreign governments to unfairly influence our elections.  And, whereas Clinton lied to Congress, Trump has done something much, much worse:  he has lied to We the People … all 330 million of us.


And, on that note I find that I really don’t feel like writing any more, and so I will leave you with Stephen Colbert’s latest take on it all.

🇬🇧 The Brexit Conundrum — Colette’s View

Yesterday, I shared Roger’s guest post, his views and thoughts on the current state of the United Kingdom in the age of Brexit.  As promised, today I am sharing our friend Colette’s thoughts and views.  Thank you, Colette, for helping us to understand just a little bit better what is happening in your country and how you came to be where you are.


How to describe the mess in UK politics?

One word – Brexit!

OK that is self-explanatory but doesn’t really address the issues. While the history of our troubled partnership in the EU goes back much further, today’s Brexit hinges on David Cameron’s term as the Conservative prime minister. In 2013, Cameron approached the EU with a series of issues he wanted resolved to ensure that Britain wasn’t being used as just a revolving door of finance and payouts and basically a drop-in zone for every migrant wanting to take advantage of Britain’s free health care, and family benefits. He promised the UK taxpayer, in his ‘Bloomberg Speech’ that he would succeed in getting certain concessions (a boast to intimidate EU leaders that he would later regret), or he would give the general public, a referendum on an ‘in’ or ‘out’ vote on EU membership. I have simplified what he asked for, and what he got here…

  1. “Limit the access of union workers newly entering its labour market to in-work benefits for a total period of up to four years from the commencement of employment” The EU allowed for a one year only period. Cameron felt that supposed migrant workers freely flowing into Britain, were quickly finding ways to go straight onto Britain’s social benefits programs, with payouts for unemployment, and accommodation and living expenses for each member of the family. It was becoming a huge taxpayer burden

  2. Cameron wanted UK left out of financial ‘bailouts’ for other EU countries in the Euro zone or beyond it. As the UK kept the British pound, it felt it had never signed up to the financial solidarity with other EU countries. Cameron won this point.

  3. Working time directives come straight from Brussels. The UK wanted autonomy on setting working times for doctors, etc. Cameron failed to get this. The EU insists on setting all work hours, etc.

  4. The 2015 Conservative manifesto said, “If an EU migrant’s child is living abroad, then they should receive no child benefit, no matter how long they have worked in the UK and no matter how much tax they have paid.” Cameron did not want to pay benefits to EU workers for their dependent children if they lived in another EU country. Britain’s benefit payments were much higher than in other Member States. While he fought for Britain not to have to pay for the (often) large dependent families abroad, he won only the concession to pay them the equivalent of their home country benefit plans, but on a four-year sliding scale that would eventually bring them up to the UK payment rates after four years anyway.

  5. There was an issue with sham marriages (for people to get in to the UK). I actually heard about a few of these bogus cases from a lawyer friend of mine who works for the Home Office. The cases were truly shocking … and these people are difficult to deport. They were not just from the EU, but from all sorts of countries. Cameron wanted EU legislation to stop it. He got a bit of rhetoric, but in essence, nothing has changed from the EU perspective.

  6. An agreement that if, proportionately speaking, 55 percent of national EU parliaments object to a piece of EU legislation “within 12 weeks” the Council Presidency will hold a “comprehensive discussion” on the objections raised and “discontinue the consideration of the draft legislative… unless the draft is amended to accommodate the concerns expressed in the reasoned opinions”. (p13 of draft agreement). Cameron sort of got a part concession on this but in reality, it doesn’t happen. Brussels is in firm control, and other Member States don’t have a lot of sway.

  7. “It is recognised that the United Kingdom, in the light of the specific situation it has under the treaties, is not committed to further political integration into the European Union.” It also promises to incorporate this in the EU treaties next time they are opened. Donald Tusk gave this concession to the UK on an ‘Ever Closer Union.’ The EU continues to squeeze its member States into full and uncompromised adherence of Brussels dictates. Britain does not want to be drawn in on ever increasing EU political dominance.

  8. “To seek increased powers to bolster UK defences to “stop terrorists and other serious foreign criminals who pose a threat to our society from using spurious human rights arguments to prevent deportation.” This was intended as a method to bring forward a defendant’s’ related past history in terrorism trials. The legislation remained unchanged by Brussels. Past history could not be used.

  9. Cameron wanted member States to be able to hold on to their own currencies and not be forced into using the ‘Euro,’ but won no concessions on this. (My take on this is that if Greece had been allowed to move away from the Euro, huge bailouts would not have been necessary. Basically, Germany does very well on its exports as the Euro creates a level playing field with much poorer nations. If it used the Deutschmark as currency its exports would fail as too expensive for anyone else. It wants all its member States to use the Euros currency).

David Cameron did not get what he wanted, so he decided, in the face of his critics that he would take it to the people with the promised Referendum.

He never, in a million years thought that the vote in his conciliatory referendum would be ‘to leave.’ It shocked all of Parliament, not to mention the media.

The press and a lot of politicians believe that people didn’t understand that they would be leaving without any deal. I don’t really think that is true. It was a simple yes or no vote.

Why did the majority vote to leave? A number of issues do bother Brits. Our fishing industry collapsed as a result mostly of Spanish trawlers, but French too, coming into our waters and depleting the fish stocks to decimated numbers. Just this last month a huge East European Super Trawler has been seen in British waters off the South Coast. This thing is huge and drags nets 600 x 200 metres in size, through our waters, taking everything. Our fishermen are beside themselves with fury over this. Many years of trying to get fish stocks to recover are shot to hell as the Super Trawler takes everything in one fell swoop and then moves on to other waters. We have no power to stop this.

EU rules dictate a lot of things to how UK farms are run. There are farmers on both sides of the ‘in’ or ‘out’ debate, dependent largely on where their export market lies. Certainly, British farmers spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to gear their operations to EU dictates. All vegetables and fruits must be of a standardised size which is quite ridiculous. Anything smaller or bigger, has to find a different export market, be fed to animals or simply go to waste. And, we cannot for instance, stop ‘Live Exports’ of animals (a particularly gruesome experience for animals in journeys of days in cramped lorries all over Europe and beyond) as the EU dictates animals must be able to ship over EU borders without hindrance. Britain has already said that it will stop all live export when it leaves the EU (and will address the issues of the super trawlers too). Some manufacturers who export mostly outside the EU, want to leave, while those who rely on export to EU countries don’t. There are a few people (mainly the unemployed) in Northern counties who saw a migrant workforce (many Polish) taking lower pay for agricultural jobs. The disenchanted amongst them see immigration as changing traditional English values and taking jobs. They are a small number who feel this way, but the press coverage certainly portrayed immigration as a major sticking point (mainly with the fires of the anti-immigration rhetoric fanned by Nigel Farage).

The UK has become strong in the Service sector which is also true of Eire and that is directly a result of EU membership. American companies, like Google and Amazon use the footholds of the UK and Eire to do business within the EU block. If we leave the EU, there will be a few companies who move elsewhere to gain a better advantage.

On the positive side of staying in the EU. There is free movement across all EU countries, there is no border control on goods and there are no additional import taxes. Goods can travel freely to any member state. Britain does export to member states but only imports a portion of its goods from member states. The vast majority of goods come from other places. Also, people from any EU country can cross country borders with full autonomy (and without passport controls once arrived on the European mainland and within EU borders). People can travel freely and participate in the education system and find jobs in the EU block without penalty.

Of course, Cameron was a coward and walked away, resigning after the referendum decision, sighting that he did not believe in separating from the EU so could not negotiate it.

Meanwhile, in the Labour opposition Party, things were not too rosy. Jeremy Corbyn had been elected as leader after the resignation of Ed Milliband when David Cameron won a second term as Prime Minister in 2015. Corbyn was an extreme hard leftist totally unlike Blair, Brown and Milliband predecessors who were centre left. The party almost had a meltdown as the cabinet was made up from backbenchers who reflected the hard left model. Some MP’s disappeared altogether, having lost their seats (like the former, rather likeable, Ed Balls, the former shadow chancellor). The party itself, even today is very split on issues, including Brexit. They are also beset with some rather contentious racist extremism which they are having a tough time stamping out with a leader who refuses to do anything much about it. Corbyn also initially supported Brexit but is now soft peddling his own game of resistance in the hopes that he will become Prime Minister in the next election. He is rattling the cage, but he does not have full support of his own party, nor of every traditional labourite voter. He sways all over the place on his decision making, leaving supporters frustrated.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have lost elected members of Parliament to other political parties or to become independent Members of Parliament with no affiliation. This further dilutes the vote and the next election is unlikely to elect a clear winner.

There are lots of issues about Brexit that are too numerous to go into (needs a book), but Teresa May took over from David Cameron and despite her position as a ‘remainer’ she tried to deliver Brexit with the best of both worlds. To give us back some autonomy over our laws while remaining in a free trade agreement in ‘The Single Market’ exchange of goods. This operates within the EU ‘Customs Union,’ a block of countries who agree on the political rules and trade rules and taxation, etc., but Britain is negotiating to leave the Customs Union while maintaining a relationship in the ‘Single Market,’ for free movement of our exports and imports. This is ‘the deal’ and meant to keep the movement of people and goods open.

The EU have played hard ball with us. They do not like making concessions that may set up precedents for other member States to try to get similar ‘special treatment.’ They have basically always said ‘rules is rules and we will not break them for one member-state.’ However, at the same time, they do not want to lose a large financial partner like Britain. Despite its tiny geographical size, Britain has a large GDP output making it one of the wealthiest states. The EU membership fees are commensurate with the financial state of each member. So small members like Eastern bloc countries, Greece, etc, pay a much smaller amount in fees, but receive equal portions of distributed benefits.

So, our exit deal (and God knows what it is as we have never really got a good look at it) has been turned down in an increasingly fractious, divided Parliament which is tearing itself asunder over lies, misinformation and some whipped up fever by the ever-speculative media.

The main sticking point is the Irish Backstop. This seems to have most Brits kerfuzzled, let alone anyone abroad. My sister (a staunch Labour supporter all her life) didn’t know what it meant (and is probably still confused).

Basically, Northern Ireland is part of the UK and operates under UK laws and jurisdictions. Southern Ireland, or Eire, is autonomous and independent as a country since the 1916 Easter uprising that saw the division of the North and South and separation from British Rule. We had a long period known as ‘The Troubles’ which resulted in a lot of bloodshed in Northern Ireland. The IRA (Irish Republican Army) also set some of its bombing targets on the UK mainland with consequent casualties in cities. I won’t go into all that (messy religion and politics) but essentially, in 1998, the Good Friday agreement for peace was signed, mostly putting a stop to the fractious behaviour between Irish Catholics and Irish/British Protestants. The border between the Irish countries, was open for free movement and British soldiers disappeared from the various border checks. And along with that, the bombing and killing stopped. Clicking on this link will take you to an interactive map with all the border points and the documented violence.

The Irish Backstop (the reintroduction of customs checks either on a hard, or soft border) in the Brexit agreement is a real threat to keeping the Peace Accord in place. The EU will not allow a ‘deal’ that does not put a customs border in place to stop the transfer of goods between Northern Ireland and Eire so they want border checks on goods (like live sheep that might move from Northern Ireland to Eire). No one but the EU wants this.

Boris Johnson has said Northern Ireland will come out of the Customs Union (along with the UK) but will retain the right to govern its own ‘single market’ agreement with the EU and can revisit it every 4 years. This does not get around the problem with the EU wanting border checks.

It isn’t a huge change, but it puts the control of the outcomes of any borders in the hands of a Northern Ireland. It has made the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, happy. It has not made the Prime Minister of Eire happy. Nor has it made Corbyn happy, so there will be more fighting in Parliament ahead. The EU have seen this as slightly positive moving forward on Brexit negotiations but are not really saying whether they approve of it in its entirety at this point in time. And time is running out.

There are plenty of backstories about the Characters of Johnson and Corbyn, but basically, both are pretty narcissistic and belligerent people. Other political characters are narcissistic and belligerent too, including Farage and his centre right Brexit Party. Richard Braine, leader of the failing far right Ukip party (previously led by Nigel Farage, but having become a racist party, he stepped away from it) is not a real contender.

Corbyn and Labour is now making noises that they would support a second ‘Brexit’ referendum.

The young Jo Swinson, leader of the centrist Liberal party, who is absolutely against Brexit on any level is also fighting with a minority, though growing number of Voters. She will keep Britain in the EU.

The hard-left Green Party, led by Siân Berry and Jonathan Bartley is gaining momentum but unlikely to make majority gains. It is usually quite low on voter choices. They generally are currently fighting on Environmental platform and will also call for a second referendum on Brexit.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) led by Nicola Stergeon, wants to stay in the EU, but is also fighting for Scotland to become Independent, breaking the 400-Yr union with England.

The Welsh Assembly have generally indicated that it will go with a deal to leave the EU, but it has concerns about a no-deal Brexit.

There are many who would prefer not to leave the EU for a variety of personal reasons, but even many former remainers are now committed to leaving as the road back looks quite fraught with problems. Not least of them is the fact that if (and it is an ‘if’) the EU takes us back as a member, we will lose much of our bargaining power, and we can never trigger an article 50 mandate to leave at any time in the future. We will have shot our one arrow and missed spectacularly. I don’t think the EU will ever give us enough rope again that we can hang ourselves with.

If we do exit the EU, and worst-case scenario, with no deal, the country will go to an election. That will not have a clear-cut outcome.

And there, you have it. Clear as mud!

Brits will survive without an EU partnership, but it won’t be easy. Companies who use the UK for services to connect them to the EU will go elsewhere, but despite some initial hardships, and needing to resource import supplies from other non-EU countries, the UK will rebound, its currency will not suffer for long, and it will remain as a place full of hard working people as it always has been. We just have to be self-sufficient, and that isn’t the end of the world.

Britain leaving the EU with a deal, will at least have some easier trading, but won’t have to follow EU politics, fiscal dictates, or tightening rules.

Britain remaining in the EU, will have to follow the tightening rules, pay even more into the ‘pot’ and I would not discount the idea that they would insist on us taking on the EU currency eventually.

Guilty As Charged!!!

The ultimate betrayal …

Donald Trump is now, in my book, if not officially, guilty of genocide.  He was already guilty of treason, having conspired with a foreign nation not one, but twice, in order to influence a U.S. election and to benefit himself, thereby putting our nation in grave danger.  And now he is guilty of the likely murders of potentially thousands of Kurds … Kurds who have long been our allies!  There are estimated to be between 1.4 million and 2.7 million Kurdish people — human beings — in Syria whose lives, thanks to Donald F. Trump, are now in jeopardy, as Turkey begins to implement its plan for a ground invasion of northern Syria.

What happened?  Trump had a phone call with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey.  We all know these days about Trump’s phone calls to foreign leaders, right?  Whether or not he asked Erdoğan to help dig up dirt on his political opponents is not known, but what is known is what he promised Erdoğan.  Very soon after the Monday morning phone call, the United States began withdrawing American troops from Syria’s border with Turkey.  Erdoğan has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to kill the Kurds, and the only thing standing in his way were U.S. troops in northern Syria.  Trump promised to step aside and let Erdoğan have at it.  The Kurds are … were … our allies, people!!!  Great friends we have proven to be, yes?  What next, Donnie?  You gonna bomb the UK?  Perhaps you’d like to send troops to overthrow the government of Germany?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Not only did he betray an ally in the most horrific of ways, but he proved to the world, as if they didn’t already know, just how utterly stupid he is.  Take, for example, this tweet …

“As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”

First … what sort of bloomin’ eejit claims to have “great and unmatched wisdom”???  I really, really had to hold onto my hands to keep from throwing something when I read that.  And second, he has never obliterated the “Economy of Turkey”, unless he’s talking of the kind that make their way to the dining table on Thanksgiving!

One journalist, Richard Engel of NBC News, commented …

“’I, in my great and unmatched wisdom …?’  Who talks or writes like this?  The closest I can come up with was Qaddafi. Not Mubarak. Or Ben Ali. Or Assad, let alone any European leader.  Really can’t remember a current or recent example.”

Qaddafi.  Trump.  Two peas in a pod?

Surprisingly, even his republican cronies were aghast at his decision to stab our allies in the back.  EVEN MITCH MCCONNELL split with Trump on this issue, saying …

“A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”

Republican Senator Patrick Toomey from Pennsylvania rang in with …

“This betrayal of the Kurds will also severely harm our credibility as an ally the world over. President Trump should rethink this decision immediately.”

The bottom line is that Trump has made a disastrous decision on an issue of which he has zero understanding.  He does not have great and unmatched wisdom – he has the wisdom of a five-year-old.  He does not understand the Middle East at all.  And worst of all, he is once again pandering to an autocrat, just as he has in the past to Putin, Kim, Bolsonaro and others.  His actions yesterday will have dire consequences, at the very least for our allies, the Kurds, and quite possibly for the entire globe.

And speaking of betrayal …

Now, transitioning to another story here, Lindsey Graham, that ignoble Senator from South Carolina, also spoke against Trump’s foolhardiness in pulling our troops out of Syria at this moment, saying …

“By abandoning the Kurds we have sent the most dangerous signal possible — America is an unreliable ally and it’s just a matter of time before China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea act out in dangerous ways. No matter what President Trump is saying about his decision. It is EXACTLY what President Obama did in Iraq with even more disastrous consequences for our national security.”

Strong words for a republican senator, eh?  Taking the right side for once in his life, yes?  But wait … Senator Graham had something else to say on another topic …

Lindsey-Graham-2“Here’s what’s going to happen: if the whistleblowers’ allegations are turned into an impeachment article it’s imperative that the whistleblower be interviewed in public, under oath, and cross-examined. If that doesn’t happen in the House, I’ll make sure it happens in the Senate.”

This … this essentially amounts to signing a death warrant for the whistleblowers and would ensure that nobody … nobody … would ever again come forward with the sort of information that our government officials may be attempting to bury to suit their own purposes.

There are laws that protect those people who come forward with information that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within a private or public organization.  Is Lindsey Graham planning to break those laws?  Does he see himself, as Trump sees himself, as being above the law?  And, is this a threat that he hopes will keep the House from following through with the impeachment proceedings?  Impeachment proceedings that, I might add, are long overdue.

It seems to me that there are a heck of a lot of people within the Republican Party who wish to break down the very foundations of our government, and they don’t care how they do it.  Now, admittedly there are some less-than-stellar people in the Democratic Party as well, but … today, the republicans win the honour of being the biggest jackasses in the nation.


Note to readers:  Stay tuned for the next installment of ‘The Brexit Conundrum’ where we will hear Colette’s views at 3:00 p.m. EDT, 8:00 p.m. BST.

🇬🇧 The Brexit Conundrum — Roger’s View

A week or so ago, I asked our UK and Canadian friends to give us their views on the situation in their own countries, for we here in the U.S. have been so wrapped up in our own troubles that we may not fully understand theirs.  Last week, John Fioravanti rung in with his take on the scandals surrounding Prime Minister Trudeau, and how they might affect the upcoming election.  Three of our UK friends volunteered to give us their thoughts and views on the current state of their nation with the Brexit deadline just about 3 weeks away.  Today, I am featuring Roger’s excellent analysis, tomorrow will be Colette’s, and on Wednesday, we will hear from Gary.  These posts are lengthy … about 3 times as long as my usual posts, but theirs is a complex situation and cannot be condensed into a nutshell.  I think you will find all three of these posts to be informative and quite interesting!  And so, without further ado, I give you the words of our good friend, Roger Jacob!


Roger JacobBrexit- No. Let’s Discuss Something Simple Like Quantum Field Theory. (This is why you have a 2,500+ word post)

Proviso

Before I commence the commentary let the record show:

(1) I voted to Remain in the EU

(2) I am so hard-left, Jeremy Corbyn and his folk are considered betrayers of the people for failing to control the narrative and throw out the Conservatives; thankfully for most people there is not the political party to suit me.

Preface

To make anything close to sense of Brexit it is essential to consider History, Social interactions, Folk-Memories, Human fallibilities and the force known as The Population. To try and take small slivers of events is to mire the reader and the writer in confusions. You cannot do Brexit in The Small. Buckle in for a long ride. For it did not start in 2016. That is only the bar-room brawl after a night of drinking and it’s not just the two who started it, it’s to do with the others who joined in or bawled and shouted their encouragement.

Brexit? Where does one begin?

In most histories it is common for some of the work to contain an account of events which precede the events being discussed. In the case of Brexit this is important when folk, be they natives or outside spectators wonder how the UK could have ended up in such a confused and humiliating mess which has taken on proportions of a Civic War (ie one is which mostly words of vitriol are used as weapons) with no indication of anything remotely such as order arising?

I will try and be brief in my own idea of a backdrop. Remember History has a long and pervasive reach.

In this we must consider the UK between 1914 and 1945 took part in two Global Wars which left the nation’s sense of pride intact but ruined the fiscal infrastructure and eventually relegated it to a second-tier power which lost its empire. In folk-memory terms this is a powerful matter to deal with, particularly when only 50-60 years ago you were top nation and won both wars. “Someone else must be to blame?” goes out the cry. Really? Oh yes. For certain. If you live in the USA ask any Confederate Waver.

The Events

On Thursday 5 June 1975 a referendum took place to decide whether UK should stay in the EU. With a national turnout of 64% across the United Kingdom, the target secure a majority for the winning side was 12,951,598 votes. The result was a decisive “Yes” to continued EC membership, which won by a huge majority of 8,908,508 votes (34.5%) over those who had voted “No” to reject continued membership.

Now bear in mind the Conservative Party officially supported joining, whereas the Welsh (Plaid Cymru) & Scottish (SNP) nationalist parties did not … Labour had no official opinion (they were in government) although it was split nearly 50/50 as a party.

Leave called ‘foul’ and continued to do so for the next 40 years.

Onto the second decade of 21st century and the wake of financial crashes caused by deregulations and a subsequent return to government of The Conservatives. By now this party was riven over the question of membership in Europe and Farage had become a bothersome but known political figure taking the previously margin comical UKIP and making it a force to scare the Conservative establishment. After a stunning General Election victory in 2015 the then Prime Minister David Cameron in an act which screamed for Hubris to come knocking, said there would be a referendum over EU membership in 2016. Even before the dates had been announced and campaigning formally started the battle lines were drawn and such words as ‘stupid’ and traitor’ were common currency.

Following a June 2016 referendum, in which 51.9% of participating voters voted to leave, the UK government formally announced the country’s withdrawal in March 2017. Stats:

Total electorate: 46,500,001

Turnout: 72.2%

Leave 17,410,742

Remain 16,141,241

Again, bear in mind …

Firstly, the question though: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”. The government of the day asked an opinion not a binding contract an important factor for the Remain wing.

Secondly 13,000,000 voters were conspicuous in their absence.

Anyway, it was fair democratic result. What a shame it wasn’t over something very usefully important but mundane like ‘Should there be a library in every population centre of 5,000 people’.  However.

Here I mix facts mixed with commentary. My own sense of History and Politics takes over and I have to cry out:

‘Ha! God Love you all. Did you think it was going to be so easy to leave a 40-year-old multi-layered relationship?’

(I pause and for clarification’s sake admit to being a person who leans to the authoritarian in matters of the state management, and until I read 1,000 intelligent and well-argued statements in social media such as FaceBook I will maintain this stance – so sue me)

Overview of the Referendum 

In short, it has to be said, whether anyone likes it or not this was a simplistic response to a very complex situation involving political, trade, economic, social, security and legal interactions built up over 40 years. If there was ever a time an electorate being unqualified to answer a question this was the time. Had there been a party with a political attention span greater than a fruit fly, perception deeper than allegorical skin-deep and an intelligent sense of how European History has worked over the past 1,200 years they would have run on a campaign for a slow, gradual and dignified withdrawal. But to be fair it was a difficult task when you represent or court the votes of ‘The Ordinary Person’.

So, let us consider the true Villains of the Peace in this matter. The ones who have been dodging the issue with self-righteous outrage and breath-taking unwillingness to reach across the divide.

The Voters:

Never blameless. It has to be said this time a howling mob shorn of rationale and perception. Slavering and spittle flecked.

Let us look at the Accused:

Where Were You:

Yes, there might be very good reasons why a small percentage of the 13,000,000 who did not vote were not able to. And Yes, there would be a goodly few who, so fuddled by the whole screaming match, could not make up their minds. But the ones who just ‘didn’t? In this case, when the very fate of a nation hangs in the balance…. ‘Social Irresponsibility’ is a phrase that springs to mind.

Leave:

These, like most groups, are an eclectic mix. There are folk who feel small is better and a nation should run itself. There are those who think if we just leave then Britannia will once more magically rule the waves and all the money we need to build merchant fleets, large navies and all an island needs will appear. There are nasty mean-spirited racists candidates for re-education in large camps. There are folk who believe any scare story they are told. There are hard-left wingers who think the EU is a corporate stitch up (Looking at you Mr C). A number (excluding the racists) mean well. Sadly, there are an excess of the strident, belligerent and essentially ignorant and naturally attracted the attention of the politicians.

Remain:

Another Eclectic group. Left-wingers who believe in Unity there is strength. Moderate Right-wingers who believe in stable markets, trade, whole trade and nothing but trade. Socially minded people who reckon whatever the opposition is saying has to be bad. Nationalists who, after the dalliance with neo-fascism in the 1970s, decided they can trust Brussels far more than London. The dogged ‘Why Rock The Boat’ folk allied to the ‘If It An’t Broke Don’t Fix It’ people. Remain also have a strident wing whose approach is to consider the Leave voters as essentially stupid (err…guilty on several counts –  let the record show I was provoked)

Thus, we have in round figures 33,000,000 people who are so passionately divided that relationships and families have broken up, areas of the UK where you do not mention you voted Remain and a spike in racially aggravated attacks. A challenge for any professional politician to unite such a grouping. Sadly.

Politicians:

The financial collapse at the end of the first decade of the 21st century witnessed the rise of the simplistic populist and the demise of the professional, straight out of college, brief spell in something nebulous, politician. Long ago had passed the reasoned and eloquent debates to stir the heart. Thanks to the erosion of the attention span in which The People were cheerfully complicit, politics relying upon snappy sentences, regarding vague announcements on the future and condemnations of the last administration, with a suitable scapegoat minority thrown in for good measure, and of course a Popular Press who are nothing like the noble or gritty reporters of fiction.

As the populist, colourful or dogmatist took centre stage urged on by the voter base thinking Sunshine and Lollipops would be over the hill the result was a dilution in the capacities to discern, ponder and listen to the uncomfortable possibilities. They worked on the basis all would be splendid if they promised everyone what they wanted to hear. A simple, uncomplicated answer to complex matters. ‘We need to go to the moon’ ‘Fine I will build you a big step ladder’ ‘Hoorah! They’ve got my vote’

Summing Up

Yes, there is no avoiding this, the driving force all along has been the passionate and ill-informed voter. The person who thinks Shakespeare, Marlow, or the latest over-heated fiction set long ago is history (and that’s before we get to TV series or films). Admit it, we’ve all fallen for it, imperfect creatures that we are. Never did any of us stop and think … A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand.

We The People screamed at the politicians to ‘Do Something’. We sent them hysterical e-mails, we wrote hate mail, we threatened them and their families, we chanted endlessly and waved flags, we marched, we organised petitions, we ranted, we vented spleen, our more actively inclined few said we would not have them as MPs and find someone more simplistic. Small wonder that when faced with this barrage of invective, howls of fury and mindless baying set against the mountain of complexity that is the EU and the understandable intransigence of impatient other states MPs became entangled in complex debates and curious votes which would have challenged the capacity of the best of philosophers to analyse.

People, the MPs were only reflecting you. Yes, You. You are at fault, this is Yours. Admit it.

Meanwhile Government By:

Look How Tough We Are. We Are Climbing Everest in T-shirts, Shorts and Trainers.

Those who came centre stage were the inept extremists, dogmatists and opportunists. The ones who just wanted to get ‘there’ and ‘they’ would make it all perfect and fine. In the UK the nightmare choice arose Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, two characters mired in the dogmas so deep they could not swim to the top and realise the landscapes they were in.

And having finally wrecked the last vestiges of a mature infrastructure of their governing party in strode the populist wing of the conservatives headed by opportunist Johnson and a fellow whose arrogance compares with any medieval bishop Rees-Mogg. These, so lacking in any sense of History (there’s that word folk) they thought they could drive their notions through a parliament with a history of 800 hundred years of being difficult. Edward III no pusher-over, Richard II a clever but nasty fellow, Charles I, the entire Hanoverian House, ask their ghosts about The Parliament. You simply do not say ‘This is my game. I will play in my way’. In the Late Middle Ages great and powerful folk were toppled for the old ‘We are rescuing the monarch from bad councillors’ with the approval of Parliament. These little creatures of this frenetic era have no sense of history. Of course, they try and play the People vs Parliament Card, which is double-speak of the highest order since they do not represent all of the people, just at the last count 17,000,000 +

Meanwhile The People Howl, The People March, The People urge the politicians to use words like ‘Traitor’ ‘Freedom’ and ‘Struggle’ as if we were in 1940… The People Blame … Someone else.

So to the Future

Dystopia Lite (We hope)

Who knows where this will end? I don’t mean this year’s frenetic can-can. I mean in the long years ahead.

The No-Deal, Flag-Waving, Let’s Do Churchill Impressions result.

What happens to the economy, to the infrastructure built on an EU basis. The government have plans, which a year ago those now in power would have labelled ‘Project Fear’ and dismissed as alarmist. Will those who voted Remain forgive and forget? No likely, at the first death from perceived lack of medicines there will be rage, there will … you know the rest.

Turn Around and Back From The Brink. We Remain.

Does not bear thinking about. Those 17,000,00 and the journals they ‘read’ will not go away. Lost Cause and Stab In The Back movements will proliferate (Think Southern White Supremacists or Denial in Germany Post WWI, and any other nationalist drummed up romance you care to mention). And naturally immigrants and Muslims will be blamed. Terminal Stupidity will be rife. While the wearing of Tin Foil Hats will become commonplace.

Half A Deal is Better Than None

In this case The Good Lord God saves us from ourselves and delivers unto us a Blessed Fudge. All in Parliament and their advisors claim the credit. The population stop waving flags, wearing silly hats and go home grumbling and mumbling. Everything is put on hold until the next election or referendum; when it all starts up again, though what the party stances of Conservative and Labour would be is anyone’s guess.

The nub of the issue is that whatever happens, the issue of the UK leaving the EU was raised, became public property and the British have been split along sectarian lines as if as a nation we had re-discovered religion. Scotland could drift away. Ulster will continue to mystify those outside of her borders, Wales might re-discover that London does not care and all that money was coming from The EU. The end of the UK? Possibly. Why not? Nothing new here folks, this is the latent and powerful force of History in action, driven as usual by Human Folly.

These isles might have another stroke of good fortune once the post WWII generation and their indoctrinated children have been shuffled off this mortal coil. Those born in the 21st century might have something left to build with and life can restart. The Isles might get lucky.  One thing will be certain, this was not ever by any argument our finest hour.

So I conclude. Jaundiced me?

Damn straight. After a life-time of reading histories, military and political, covering from 1066 to 2010, in particular the 20th century to see an entire population of a Nation squander the loss in life and other sacrifices on some out-dated concept in this vastly complex world. And do it all in an hysterical screaming match which would make a children’s set-to look like an exercise in Rhetorical Debate.

An interview with Putin in 2035

Apocalypse Now? Our friend Keith has stated what I’ve only had the nerve to whisper under my breath. Please read!

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Good morning. This is Natalia Smirnov with Fox/ RT News. I am here with Tsar Vladimir Putin in the first of a series of interviews looking back on his career. Good morning Comrade Tsar.

Q – Comrade Tsar, what do you see as your greatest achievement?
A – I believe the reconstitution of the New Soviet Republic. We are once again a country of great importance.

Q – What were the key events leading to this ascension?
A – Clearly, the fall of a united west was most critical, but that took a lot of planning. I also believe our alliance with China helped show the world that we are the future.

Q – You mention a lot of planning, what do you mean by that?
A – It took proactive and reactive planning to accomplish our goals without using military might. My training allowed us to take advantage of…

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Yes, Virginia … There Are Still More Snarky Snippets

The best fiction writer in the world couldn’t have made this one up … and by ‘this one’, I mean all the back-and-forth, all the ranting, the lies, the deflections and obfuscations that have become the ‘norm’ in our government of late, and especially the past two weeks.  Whew … I don’t know about you guys, but I’m both exhausted and depressed as hell.  Can’t somebody just lock Trump up in a room without his tweety-machine for just one day and give us a chance to catch our breath?  But, of course, it isn’t only Trump, but his minions as well.


Trump and Xi – you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours?

Already under intense scrutiny over his attempt to bully and blackmail Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy in order to enlist Zelenskyy’s assistance in digging up non-existent dirt on presidential hopeful, Joe Biden, Trump had the unmitigated gall to then call on China to also investigate Biden!  In front of the press, nonetheless!  Boy, he must really be afraid of Joe is all I can say. I’m curious … what’s he going to do when, as I believe will happen, Elizabeth Warren overtakes Biden in the polls?  Never mind … I don’t even want to think about it.

Anyway, there’s another angle to this story.  Now that it’s been discovered that a number of Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders had been moved to a server where few knew of them, things are beginning to come to the public eye.  One of those things is a phone call that Trump had in June with Xi Jinping, the president of the People’s Republic of China.  In that phone call, Trump promised Xi that he, and by extension the U.S., would remain silent about the Hong Kong protests, and he also just happened to mention not only Joe Biden, but also Elizabeth Warren.  I have not seen the transcript of the call, so I don’t know the context, but … why would he even mention them?  When questioned about it, so-called White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham responded …

“World leaders need to be able to speak freely in their conversations with the President–that is a key component to effective diplomacy. And that is why such conversations are kept confidential. We are not going to start discussing the contents of every conversation President Trump has with world leaders, other than to say his conversations are always appropriate.”

Oh, wait just a moment, Ms. Never-Speaks-To-The-Press Secretary … I think we will discuss whatever We the People deem is important to discuss.  Trump is already on the wrong side of the law … that law that he claims doesn’t apply to him because he’s “got that Article II”.  Oh yes, we will discuss why U.S. officials have been banned from supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.  And we will discuss why a so-called president is discussing his campaign with the leader of a communist country!  We will, ultimately, demand to see a transcript of that phone call and others.

For the record, the U.S. should be fully supporting the Hong Kong protestors who are fighting for their democracy, fighting, in fact, for their lives.


Moscow Mitchie – still an asshole

Mitch McConnell, still recovering from a fall that broke his shoulder, is back in the saddle.  But, that didn’t stop him from running a new campaign ad on Facebook.  A snippet from that ad …

“Nancy Pelosi is in the clutches of a left-wing mob. They’ve finally convinced her to impeach the President. All of you know your Constitution. The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority, with me as majority leader. Pelosi is obsessed with impeaching President Trump, and your conservative Senate Majority is the ONLY THING standing in her way. But I need your help. Please contribute before the deadline.”

A ‘left-wing mob’, eh?  So, according to Moscow Mitch, the man who has worked with Putin to undermine the democratic processes of our elections, the man who refuses to even consider election security measures, is calling We the People a ‘left-wing mob’.  Well, Mitchie … if you want, why don’t you just have every one of us arrested for being part of a mob?  Oh … because then we couldn’t work and thus couldn’t pay the taxes that pay yours and your wife’s salaries!

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


Crazy women!

Donald Trump uses and abuses women.  He treats them like chattel and obviously thinks that the only purpose women serve is for the pleasure of a man.  There is plenty of evidence to support that statement.  Part of his campaign promise was that he would appoint to the Courts, judges who would not uphold women’s rights, ie., overturning Roe v Wade.  His nasty remark about women that was released in 2016 on the Access Hollywood video.  The fact that he has had three wives and cheated on every single one of them, including the current wife.  He has had numerous affairs, and paid off two women to buy their silence during his campaign three years ago.  He is a male chauvinist pig, and yet …

“According to the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, fewer Republican women (7 percent) than Republican men (10 percent) support the impeachment inquiry. When asked whether Trump could, in theory, do something that would cause them to support impeachment, 44 percent of Republican men said yes. Only 33 percent of Republican women agreed.”

What a bunch of fools they are.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


What an impression that must have made …

On Wednesday, Trump hosted Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö in the Oval Office.  As is typical with Trump, he went off on a tear and made a fool of himself, venting about Adam Schiff and other topics near and dear to his … whatever.  A couple of pictures capturing the look on Niinistö’s face tell the story.

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What is this guy … a fruitcake?

Trump-Finnish-pres-2

Help?  Somebody?  I need to be rescued?  Oh why didn’t I stay home?

Trump-Finnish-pres-3

Get. Your. Hand. Off. My. Knee. Fatso.


The one good thing …

The one good thing to come of all this corruption and chaos is that the late-night talk show hosts are having a blast with it all.


Well, folks, I hope you’re enjoying your weekend and that my snarkiness and growling didn’t put a damper on it.  Have a great one.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Scandals — A Guest Post By John Fioravanti

Today is a good day to step away from the Trump circus here in the U.S. and see what’s happening in the rest of the world.  A few days ago, I asked if any of my friends in the UK or Canada would be interested in writing a guest post about the situation in their own country, perhaps help us all understand a bit better.  John jumped right in and provided his take on the issues that have injected a bit of chaos into Canada’s upcoming elections (21 October).  His post led me to ask some questions, which he happily answered, so there is a Q&A at the end of the post.   Thank you, John, for taking the time to do this for us! 


john fioravantiI will preface my remarks with the admission of bias. I have been a supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada my entire adult life. While I do not think that the party or its leaders have always been right in their decisions, I do believe that this party has done more to advance the interests of all Canadians than the other major party, the Conservatives. As well, I do not present myself as a legal expert.

The SNC Lavalin affair was an internal Liberal Party squabble that the Conservatives twisted into a full-blown scandal. Jody Wilson-Raybould was Trudeau’s Justice Minister and she was asked to intervene in a criminal case involving the Quebec engineering giant, SNC Lavalin. Trudeau and his office repeatedly asked her to use a new legal tool to reduce the impact of the criminal outcome of the case to protect 10,000 jobs in Canada. She refused to budge. When Trudeau made Cabinet changes, she lost her plum position and was moved to a less prestigious portfolio. As far as I’m concerned, this was a huge mistake on Trudeau’s part. She then, quit the Cabinet in a huff. Another senior Cabinet minister, Jane Philpott, supported Wilson-Raybould and resigned her portfolio as President of the Treasury Board.

Both women went to the press citing wrongdoing on the part of Trudeau and his office. The Conservatives jumped all over the squabble claiming it was a terrible scandal. Trudeau tried to keep things civil within the party, but both women kept criticizing him and his office in the press. Their behaviour was a total violation of party solidarity, so the Liberal Caucus (elected Liberals in the Commons) voted to expel both women from the party. In the upcoming election they are both running for re-election as Independents.

In August, the Ethics Commissioner filed a report claiming that Trudeau actions were a violation of ethics in government. Believing he did nothing wrong, Trudeau refused to submit his resignation.

A couple of weeks ago, someone (a Conservative muck raker no doubt) found pictures of Trudeau taken in 2001. He had attended a masquerade party and wore black face as part of his costume. For this he has been branded a racist. Good grief! It may have been a stupid thing to do, but racist? He’s not done anything like that since, and he has worked hard to advance the cause of refugees in this country (most are people of colour). The charges of racism are the opposition parties’ pathetic attempt to bring him down in this election.

I don’t buy any of it. And it looks like most people here in Canada don’t either. Recent polls are showing the Liberals and Conservatives in a virtual tie with the Conservatives ahead by 1%. It will be a very interesting evening on election night as we watch the results pour in from across the country on Monday, October 21st.


Q&A:

  1. In this country, politicians (including the president) are often bought and paid for by large corporations, notably the fossil fuel and firearms industries. Do you think that Trudeau’s motivation in asking Ms. Wilson-Raybould was at the behest of SNC Lavalin, or was it genuinely, as Trudeau said, in order to save jobs?
    • Yes, large corporations and interest groups donate to politicians and political parties up here too. The Conservatives always have the biggest war chest at election time because their policies align best with Big Business. In the SNC Lavalin affair, Trudeau asked then Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to offer the engineering giant a type of plea deal. Trudeau told the press that SNC Lavalin communicated that if they were successfully prosecuted, they would move up to 10,000 jobs out of Canada. The CEO of the company subsequently denied this on national TV. His denial was later repudiated by written proof provided to the news media of his letter to the Trudeau government. According to my research, SNC-Lavalin employees donated $110,000 to the Liberals between 2004 and 2009. The company later reimbursed these individual contributions – in violation of Canadian election laws. The company also donated to the Conservatives on a smaller scale.

  2. Your system, being somewhat different than our own, leaves me with another question: You say that both Philpot and Wilson-Raybould are running for re-election as independents this month.  Would that be re-election to the Cabinet positions they previously held, but left?  What do you think their chances are?
    • Our system is very different from yours, Jill. Your president selects cabinet members from a pool of experts belonging to his/her own party and then the Senate confirms most of those appointments. Our Prime Minister selects his/her cabinet from the elected members of his own party in the House of Commons. Often, the PM doesn’t have the expertise among these people, so each government department has an expert civil servant, the Deputy Minister, who will instruct and advise the actual cabinet minister – who makes the final decisions. Jody Wilson-Raybault and Jane Philpott are running for re-election to their seats in the House of Commons – as is Trudeau and the other party leaders. Cabinet ministers are not elected to Cabinet. If your party wins the most seats in the general election, that leader is appointed Prime Minister by the Governor General (represents the Queen) and the PM, in turn, will select the Cabinet from his own elected members. So our Executive Branch is not separated from our Legislative Branch. Cabinet Ministers are answerable to the entire House of Commons during the daily Question Period. Most often, Independent candidates are not elected. However, these are different circumstances, so the Media is watching their ridings closely. Will they get back into Cabinet? Not a chance! It is interesting to note that Conservative leader Andrew Scheer invited both women to join his party. They turned him down flat.

  3. I’m torn on the blackface issue.  Recently, similar pictures surfaced showing Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in blackface back in his college days.  For me, that was a deal-breaker, and I did see it as racism.  Still do.  But yet, I find that I would not wish Trudeau to be replaced, or voted out because of it.  Which, of course, leaves me questioning my own values.  I think the reason I am more tolerant in Trudeau’s case is because he has taken a very accepting and welcoming stance regarding Middle-Eastern immigrants that puts the U.S. to shame, so I really don’t see Trudeau as a racist.  How has he responded to this … has he explained or apologized?  Do you think there is any way he could negate the effects of this?
    • Trudeau has apologized many times for the blackface pictures. Although people may take offence, by itself, it does not constitute racism. If you combine that instance with racist, anti-immigration remarks since then perhaps the moniker fits. As you point out, Trudeau has done more to help Middle Eastern refugees get into Canada than the US has done. He also met the first planeload of refugees when it landed at Pearson Airport in Toronto and helped in the distribution of winter coats and other winter clothing. He shook their hands and welcomed them warmly. I saw that on TV. That’s a racist? I think not! He apologized saying that it was a big mistake on his part and there is no excuse. So he has not tried to justify it in any way. Sometimes, I think we have become hyper-sensitive about racism. It is ugly and it exists here in Canada – always has – but this man is not a racist.

  4. I don’t know much about Scheer, other than I do not like his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion. What’s your take on him?
    • Andrew Scheer is an acolyte of the previous Conservative leader, Stephen Harper. I despised Harper because he was an autocrat within his own party. No elected Conservative in the House of Commons was allowed to make ANY statements in public without approval from his office. That Conservative caucus was muzzled the entire time Harper was Prime Minister. As well, like Donald Trump, Harper would never appear at an open Town Hall Meeting to field questions from We the People. He appeared only at Conservative rallies that could be controlled. I have no doubt that Scheer will behave similarly. He talks about putting more money in the pockets of the middle class, but I don’t believe it. The Conservatives have ALWAYS cow-towed to the rich 1% and why would that change by this Harper acolyte? Yesterday, Scheer announced that he would reduce Canadian foreign aid by 25% in order to fund his promises to the middle class. That is not playing well in the Media. Canada has only 33 million people – 10% of your population and we have never been able to afford a large foreign aid package or a large military budget, but Canadians are sensitive to their reputation in the UN and the world. Scheer is slapping that sentiment in the face. Like Doug “the Thug” Ford elected Premier in Ontario a year ago, we have no idea exactly what Scheer would do if he was elected. I don’t trust him and he is not an impressive speaker.

Thanks again, John, for this enlightening post and conversation!  

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A Call To … Write? Opine? Enlighten?

I frequently like to feature guest posts from my readers on a given topic.  Here in the U.S., we have had so much chaos in our lives these last few months that it sucks all the energy out of the room, and leaves us with little energy to look past our own troubles.  But, the UK is facing a possible “no-deal” Brexit which could be devastating for them, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been throwing his weight and his rhetoric around, making things even worse.  And our neighbors to the north have also had their share of troubles in the form of a couple of scandals surrounding their Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that has cast a shadow on his chances for re-election next month.

I would love to have some of my UK and Canadian friends contribute a guest post helping us here in the U.S. better understand your situation, and also giving us your perspective, as opposed to just what we read in the news.  Any takers?  If you’re interested, shoot me an email, or leave a comment here.

Thanks guys!

‘Toons … Just ‘Toons

It’s Sunday … I think we’re all exhausted after a week of one ‘breaking news’ story after another … so I think we should sit back and let those talented cartoonists entertain us this afternoon, don’t you?  No doubt they’ve had plenty of material to work with this week.


This is one I can certainly relate to … can you?

fave-time-of-day


On Monday, young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg gave a show-stopping speech at the United Nations Climate Summit.  Trump chose to attend some other function instead, mostly in order to thumb his nose at the planet and the 7+ billion people living on it.  Overall, the summit did not produce the commitments from nations that we had hoped, and was rather a disappointment, but there have been increasing numbers of people turning out for the climate strikes, as Wolf Boy showed us yesterday.  Some people are taking climate change seriously, just not the world leaders who need to.

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In 2016, the Russians influenced the presidential election in favour of Donald Trump and clearly with his knowledge and approval.  Now, Trump apparently felt that his buddy Vlad (Putin) wasn’t doing enough to help him, so he attempted to blackmail and bully the newly-elected President Zelenskyy of the Ukraine to dig up dirt on one of his opponents for the upcoming 2020 election.   

rigging-1rigging-2rigging-3Foreign interferencerigging-5rigging-6


But, of course Trump still has a ‘healthy’ relationship with Russia … 

Trump-RussiaTrump-Russia-2


And … the topic I know you’ve been waiting for … impeachment!  The phone call between Trump and President Zelenskyy was the straw that broke Nancy Pelosi’s the camel’s back, and finally Speaker Pelosi was convinced that impeachment is necessary, despite her misgivings.  

Impeachment

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Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c190918.tifimpeach-1impeach-2impeach-5

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Many, including myself, have likened Trump to a mobster, and these two speak volumes …

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The gun crisis … and yes, it is a crisis … in this country is never out of the news for very long …

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And finally, a few random ‘toons …

nat-debt-1Trump-ObamaVaping ban


Enjoy your Sunday afternoon, friends!