Women’s Rights On Trial

Alabama is back on my radar again … if I had to choose one state in this union to give away, it would be Alabama.  My friend Herb takes me to task for this, reminds me that there are 6 people in Alabama who are kind, compassionate and intelligent, and that I shouldn’t lump all Alabamans together.  So, my apologies to those six … you guys can move up north before I sell Alabama to Mexico.

I have concluded that lawmakers and judges in the State of Alabama do not respect women.  Not. One. Bit.  First, there was the passage of the most restrictive law on abortion, completely illegal and going against Roe v Wade, the law of the land.  The Alabama law sets women’s rights back at least 46 years, more likely hundreds of years.  But on to the latest outrage …

Meet Marshae Jones.Jones-Marshae.jpgLast year on December 4th, Ms. Jones was five months pregnant when she was shot in the stomach.  She survived, but her baby did not.  The shooting transpired during an altercation with another woman, the woman who pulled the trigger, one Ebony Jemison.  The argument was over the father of Ms. Jones’ child.  Initially, police charged Ms. Jemison, the shooter, with manslaughter in the death of the fetus.  The grand jury, however, failed to indict Jemison because police concluded that it was Ms. Jones who started the argument, so prosecutors turned their sights toward the victim of the shooting, Ms. Jones.

On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted Ms. Jones, she was arrested, and tossed into Jefferson County jail pending a $50,000 bond.  Why, you ask?  Because, according to Pleasant Grove police Lieutenant Danny Reid, she shouldn’t have started the fight, she was pregnant and should have been home behaving herself.

“When a five-month pregnant woman initiates a fight and attacks another person, I believe some responsibility lies with her as to any injury to her unborn child. That child is dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm, and she shouldn’t seek out unnecessary physical altercations.”

Let that one sink in for just a minute. But the real reason is … well, look at her picture.  She has two strikes against her – female and black.  You don’t get a fair shake if you are either of those, in Alabama. Or, to be fair, Louisiana, Mississippi, or any number of other states, particularly south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Seems to me the town of ‘Pleasant’ Grove better re-name itself.  Perhaps “Misogyny Meadows” would be more apt, for when a woman can be charged for the death of her own child simply because she was a participant in an argument, there is nothing ‘pleasant’ at all about that town.

Fortunately for Ms. Jones, advocacy groups have taken up the gauntlet.  Yellowhammer Fund, part of a nationwide umbrella advocacy group, is one such.  Executive Director Amanda Reyes said …

“The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act. Tomorrow, it will be another black woman, maybe for having a drink while pregnant. And after that, another, for not obtaining adequate prenatal care.”

She’s right … this opens a whole can of worms that we didn’t need opened.  If Ms. Jones is found guilty and convicted, it will be a blow to equality, to women’s rights, to civil rights.  This cannot be tolerated, it simply cannot, for if it is allowed, the poison will spread, and before long, women will be paid less than their male compadres (in many industries and areas, they still are), will have lost their rights to make their own decisions, and what next?  Somewhere along the line, the male-dominated legislatures decide that she should not own property, or vote?  Far-fetched?  Sure it is … today.  But yesterday, a woman being put on trial for being shot while pregnant was far-fetched and unthinkable.  That was yesterday.  This is today.  What does tomorrow hold?women

WTF is “Natural Law”???

Mike Pompeo is the nation’s Secretary of State.

Mike-PompeoCreated in 1789 by the Congress as the successor to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of State is the senior executive Department of the U.S. Government. The Secretary of State’s duties relating to foreign affairs have not changed significantly since then, but they have become far more complex as international commitments multiplied. These duties – the activities and responsibilities of the State Department – include the following:

  • Serves as the President’s principal adviser on U.S. foreign policy;
  • Conducts negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs;
  • Grants and issues passports to American citizens and exequaturs to foreign consuls in the United States;
  • Advises the President on the appointment of U.S. ambassadors, ministers, consuls, and other diplomatic representatives;
  • Advises the President regarding the acceptance, recall, and dismissal of the representatives of foreign governments;
  • Personally participates in or directs U.S. representatives to international conferences, organizations, and agencies;
  • Negotiates, interprets, and terminates treaties and agreements;
  • Ensures the protection of the U.S. Government to American citizens, property, and interests in foreign countries;
  • Supervises the administration of U.S. immigration laws abroad;
  • Provides information to American citizens regarding the political, economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian conditions in foreign countries;
  • Informs the Congress and American citizens on the conduct of U.S. foreign relations;
  • Promotes beneficial economic intercourse between the United States and other countries;
  • Administers the Department of State;
  • Supervises the Foreign Service of the United States.

In addition, the Secretary of State retains domestic responsibilities that Congress entrusted to the State Department in 1789. These include the custody of the Great Seal of the United States, the preparation of certain presidential proclamations, the publication of treaties and international acts as well as the official record of the foreign relations of the United States, and the custody of certain original treaties and international agreements. The Secretary also serves as the channel of communication between the Federal Government and the States on the extradition of fugitives to or from foreign countries.

That is the official job description for the position of Secretary of State, taken from the U.S. Government’s own website.  Please note that NOWHERE in all that verbiage does it say that the Secretary of State is in charge of setting the moral guidelines for the citizens of the United States!

Without the usual pomp and circumstance that usually accompanies announcements by the Trump regime, yesterday the State Department quietly announced the formation of a new committee to be called the Commission on Unalienable Rights, to be headed by Mike Pompeo.  According to the notice, the “nature and purpose” of the commission is …

“The Commission will provide the Secretary of State advice and recommendations concerning international human rights matters. The Commission will provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.”

Ponder on this one for a moment, if you will.  “… departed from … founding principles of natural law”???  What is “natural law”?  One definition is …

“Natural law is a philosophy asserting that certain rights are inherent by virtue of human nature, endowed by nature—traditionally by God or a transcendent source—and that these can be understood universally through human reason.”

Mike Pompeo is one of those evangelicals who are anti-everything … anti-abortion, anti-women’s rights, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim … and the list goes on.  On April 3rd, Brunei legalized the stoning to death of LGBT people.  Most of the western world was appropriately outraged.  Actor George Clooney called for a boycott of hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei.  The governments of the EU and UK publicly called on Brunei to abandon the law.  Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo were silent. When pressured by the media to comment, Pompeo finally said he was “concerned”, but neither he nor Trump condemned the brutality.

And now, Mike Pompeo, the evangelical, the man who is only ‘concerned’ about the brutal murder of people in the LGBTQ community, is in charge of a commission on ‘natural law’.  Be afraid, people … be very afraid.

In recent weeks, we have seen numerous states infringing on women’s human rights by passing draconian laws banning a woman’s right to an abortion, even if to save her life.  We have seen laws repealed that prohibited the discrimination of LGBTQ people in almost every area, including health care.  In short, we have seen that this regime does not respect the rights of either women or the LGBTQ community.

The State Department already has an entire bureau devoted to the issues of human rights.  Human rights advocates and activists are worried that the true purpose of this commission is to strip both women and LGBTQ people of protections against discrimination.

The most worrying part, to me, is that term “natural law”, which is typically associated with religion.  The United States is a secular nation.  Some will claim it is a ‘Christian nation’, but that is not the way the Constitution, the framework for our government, is designed.  We welcome people of all or no religions to practice whatever religion … or none … they choose, but … BUT we do not design our laws in accordance with Christianity or any other religion.

For Mike Pompeo, who holds strong and narrow-minded religious views, and a group of his choosing to have input into the legal processes of this nation is a dangerous proposition … it poses, in this writer’s view, a distinct threat to the concept of separation of church and state, and it poses a threat to women and the LGBTQ community at the very least.

Few facts are available about what the commissions goals and processes are to be, and the State department refused to provide further details to the media, but this is something to keep an eye on, folks.  This may well go the way of Trump’s “Voter Fraud Commission” in 2017 and simply fade into oblivion, but what if it doesn’t?  Think about it.

The Myth About Congress …

The United States Congress.  A diverse body of people from every state in the nation who take an oath to uphold the Constitution, to represent the people in their state/district, right?  Maybe on paper, but the reality is that these days I think most of us have the feeling that we are misunderstood and misrepresented not only in the executive, but also the legislative branches of our government. CongressI speak from my own experience with the ‘representative’ for my district, Warren Davidson.  His values and priorities are so far away from my own that I wonder how he ever got elected.  He annoys me on a daily basis, and I let him have it back, tit-for-tat … not that he likely ever reads my tweets or emails, but I try.  Now, I do realize that within any district, not everyone will have the same views, however an elected official is supposed to represent ALL the people, and in truth, far too many represent only the people who have a lot more money in the bank than anybody reading this blog.

Our friend Scottie posted something interesting yesterday and threw out a bit of a challenge for me to follow up on it, take it a step further.  Never one to turn down a challenge, I took the bait.  The question:  How demographically representative is Congress of the nation as a whole?  Turns out, not very.  This is the chart Scottie posted that piqued my interest:Scottie-chart

The 116th U.S. Congress took office in January, with Democrats taking control of the House while Republicans maintain an edge in the Senate.  The current Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse ever.  The number of women in Congress is at an all-time high.  The share of immigrants in Congress has ticked up but remains well below historical highs.  Seems a step in the right direction, but …

Before I get into the demographics comparison, I found this cool interactive that will take you only about 20 seconds to see how well, based on five simple criteria, you are represented in Congress today.  Check it out and see where you stand.  My own result was that there are 0 people in Congress like me.  Hey, I’m unique!!! I’m also unrepresented in Congress. So, how did you fare?

Let’s start with women.  There are currently 131 women in Congress, an all-time high.  131 out of a total of 535 is 24.5%.  So, 24.5% of Congress are women, but 50.8% of the population are women.  See the problem here?  Granted, one does not have to be a woman to understand women’s issues, but it helps, especially today when more and more male-dominated state legislatures are passing laws stripping women of the right to make their own reproductive health decisions. Men-women-dem-rep Interestingly, among democrats in Congress, there is a significantly higher number of women, but among republicans, only 10% are women.  Think about that one. women-blacks

Next let’s look at African-Americans.  There are 58 African-Americans in Congress, comprising 10.8% of the total.  Comparatively, African-Americans make up 13.4% of the population.  The disparity here is, perhaps, not as wide as the gender gap, and is much less than it once was, but is still there.  Again, note the difference between democrat and republican.women-blacks

What about age?  The average age at the beginning of the 116th Congress was 57.6 years for Representatives and 62.9 years for Senators.  How does that compare to the population as a whole?  13% of the population are between 55-64, and 16% are over 65.  Seems rather like younger people are under-represented, wouldn’t you say?  On the upside, however, the average age of incoming members of Congress this year was 47, so we are seeing some younger blood … perhaps it’s time for some of those crotchety old men (Mitchell McConnell) to retire?

One of the big dividers is religion.  While there is a disparately higher number of most every religious group, it is interesting to note that not one single member of Congress is ‘unaffiliated’, while nearly a quarter of the nation’s population are unaffiliated with any organized religion.  I fall into that category, as do many readers of this blog … we are not even a blip on the radar of Congress.  To me, this is a problem, for in the past two years, many of the barriers between church and state have been breached and we seem to be on our way toward a theocracy of sorts, which would leave nearly a fourth of the population out in the cold.  More than 99% of republicans identify as Christian, compared to 78% of democrats.religion

While there are many more categories we could look at, I will wrap it up with one very important one, a group of people who are frequently misunderstood and subjected to discrimination, even state-sanctioned discrimination, the LGBTQ community.  This category is the most misunderstood of any, and they are the most likely to face discrimination.  Of late, even our own government, thanks to Mike Pence and the evangelicals who have a hold over Don Trump, are passing laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people.  There are a total of 10 LGBTQ people in Congress today, as compared to an estimated 4.5% of the total population.  A disclaimer is in order, however, for the number of LGBTQ people is likely underestimated, since many choose not to make public their gender orientation.  The fact that there are more men than women in Congress is disturbing, as is the fact that minorities are under-represented.  But LGBTQ is one group whose problems and issues are unique, and frankly if you aren’t a member of that group, you don’t understand.  Period.  You may empathize, but you cannot possibly understand.   And if you and I cannot understand, what makes anybody think our illustrious members of Congress understand?  They don’t.LGBTQ

One other area in which Congress has little, if any, connection to the real world of the U.S. is wealth, as you saw in Scottie’s chart.  It is a pertinent topic, but one that I must save for another day, as I have already spent some six hours doing research, double-checking facts, creating charts, and writing this post.  Suffice it to say that the members of Congress are far ‘above the madding crowd’ when it comes to wealth, and I think this may be one of the most relevant reasons that they cannot possibly relate to “We the People” in any meaningful way.  I hope to do a separate post within the next week assessing the wealth of various members of Congress, how they came to be millionaires, and how that may be influencing their decisions.

I note, overall, a disturbing trend regarding democrat vs republican.  Democrats have nearly 5 times as many women in Congress as republicans.  Republicans have a measly 2 … count ’em … two African-Americans, compared to more than 50 of the Democratic Party.  Republicans have zero diversity in religion, and there is not a single LGBTQ republican in Congress.  People tell me that I shouldn’t judge all republicans on the basis of what some do, but … as far as Congress goes, they seem to be a fairly narrow-minded group of old, white, Christian, straight males.  Think about it.

I end where I started … thank you, Scottie, for throwing me this challenge.  I think it is a worthwhile topic, and I learned quite a bit tonight, including why I sometimes feel that I am left behind by those men & women we think are looking out for our best interests.

Tuesday’s ‘Toons …

I decided to hop around and see how the cartoonists are handling things this week.  Y’know, it’s odd that we can still manage to find humour in the atrocities our government is inflicting on us every day, but … I guess in order to maintain some degree of sanity, we must find something to laugh about, yes?

This week the three biggest topics were Trump’s & Bolton’s taunting of Iran and the likely fallout, the draconian anti-abortion laws being passed in many states, and Trump’s trade wars.  But first … the world lost two fabulous entertainers last week, Doris Day and Tim Conway … so let’s start there.


Doris-DayBruce Plante Cartoon: RIP Tim Conway


Alabama, Georgia, Utah, Ohio, Missouri, Mississippi and other states have recently passed highly restrictive laws banning abortion, in some cases calling for long periods of incarceration for both mother and doctor.  The ultimate goal of the far right evangelicals and Trump, of course, being to get these cases to the Supreme Court and overturn the federal law established by Roe v Wade, thus completely subjugating women to the whims of a few.  They call it “pro-life”, but it is, in fact, anti-women’s rights, nothing more.

abortion-1abortion-2Power grababortion-3abortion-4abortion-5abortion-6


Trump and his National Security advisor John Bolton have been seemingly trying to poke the beast (Iran) and start a new war in the Middle East.  Just what the world needs, eh?

Iran-1Iran-2Iran-3Iran-4


Trump’s trade war … some time ago he said, “Trade wars are easy to win”.  Well, we know … we knew then … that he is clueless, that he doesn’t understand international trade any better than a banana does, and now he’s proven it.  He has gone tariff-crazy and it is hurting US, especially the farmers, but he’s oblivious and doesn’t care anyway.  

trade-war-1trade-war-2trade-war-3trade-war-4trade-war-5trade-war-6trade-war-7trade-war-8trade-war-9


And I close with just a few miscellaneous ‘toons …

democracyguns-1Lindsey-Grahamrepublican

Kirsten Gillibrand: The 7 Issues Guide

Today I bring you the 7th installment of TokyoSand’s excellent series, The 7 Issues Guide, helping us get to know a bit about the platforms of the democratic candidates running for the office of president next year. Kirsten Gillibrand is on deck today, and she is one that I know very little about. Thank you, TokyoSand, and your diligent volunteers, for helping us get to know Ms. Gillibrand!

Political⚡Charge

gillibrand

The Democrats have a big field of candidates running for President in 2020. To briefly use a sports analogy, I see our candidates as the starting players on the Blue team, each bringing their own unique strengths to the table in a bid to take our country in a very different direction than the one we’re on today.

But as we well know from 2016, the media (and especially social media) gets fixated on non-substantial issues that take up all the oxygen. Plus, they don’t give the candidates the same treatment or the same amount of airtime.

In order to help voters get to know the Democratic candidates, I’ve enlisted the help of a team of terrific volunteers who have helped gather quotes and information about what the candidates have said or done in regards to the 7 issues that midterm voters identified as the most important. I hope…

View original post 1,859 more words

GA. Democratic Lawmaker Drafts Her Own Testicular Bill In Response To GOP Anti-Abortion Law

I actually had another post on the schedule for this afternoon, but I saw this one by Gronda late last night (early this morning) and couldn’t resist sharing it with you! Thanks, Gronda, for the much-needed smile! 😊

Gronda Morin

I couldn’t resist sharing the following piece in full as it just hit home for me. A Democratic Georgian female legislator has obviously reached her limit in having to fight off GOP’s attempts to to control the lives of women’s bodies. She has decided to return the favor to her male colleagues who seem to be overly obsessed with women’s private parts as they attempt to draft new more restrictive anti- abortion laws, with her own legislation that she has introduced to restrict men’s testicular activities.

Image result for Read the ‘testicular bill of rights,’ one lawmakers answer to anti abortion legislation GEORGIA’S STATE HOUSE

Here’s the rest of the story…

On March 12, 2019, Laura Clawson of the Daily Kos penned the following report, ‘Georgia Democrat responds to anti-abortion bill with ‘Testicular Bill of Rights’

“Georgia Republicans are at it again, trying to control women’s bodies through the law—but this time, state Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick is replying in kind with her “Testicular Bill of Rights” showing…

View original post 677 more words

Warren Davidson’s Newsletter

Yesterday, I received a routine newsletter from my representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, Warren Davidson.  I have little or no respect for this man or his policies, did not vote for him and would not vote for him if he were the only candidate on the ballot.  However, I receive his newsletter because a) one needs to keep tabs on what one’s elected officials are doing, not that you can believe a word they say, and b) I like to annoy the heck out of him by responding to each one.  Below is his latest newsletter …

Warren DavidsonDear Friends,

Congressman Davidson voted against H.R. 1, the For the People Act, as this deceptively labeled legislation would put our free and fair elections system under federal control, infringing on several Constitutional rights. H.R. 1 is the top item on Speaker Pelosi and House Democrat’s policy agenda for the 116th Congress. Congressman Davidson introduced several amendments to H.R. 1 that would protect free speech, uphold states’ rights, and defend nonprofits from political targeting by the IRS. He led a debate on these amendments this past Thursday on the floor of the House.

Addressing anti-Semitic Comments

On Fox News Radio Congressman Davidson also reacted to anti-Semitic remarks recently made by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar this week. He told host Todd Starnes that America is not an anti-Semitic country, yet Congresswoman Omar has continued to make anti-Semitic remarks. Congressman Davidson said that if there is any place where these comments would be out-of-line, it would most certainly be the Foreign Affairs Committee, of which Congresswoman Omar is a member.

New Executive Order Aimed at Lowering Veterans’ Suicide

President Trump recently signed an executive order aimed at decreasing the number of veteran suicides and creating a task force of state and local groups to raise awareness of the crisis. The new task force created by the executive order will create a grant system like the Housing and Urban Development VA Supportive Housing program, which provides funding for state and local programs that help homeless veterans and their families find permanent housing.

Davidson Receives Defender of Economic Freedom Award

The Club for Growth recognized Congressman Davidson this week for his consistent defense of economic freedom and pro-growth policies in Washington. This year, only 25 Members of Congress (20 House members and 5 Senators) will receive the Award.

Second Amendment Visit

Congressman Davidson met with a group of gun owners in West Chester this past week where he discussed two gun control bills, which he opposed in the House. He spoke with the group about how these bills would have made it harder for law-abiding citizens to purchase, own, carry and use a firearm.

Thank you for taking the time to keep up with the work I am doing on your behalf in Washington and at home in Ohio. I encourage you to stay connected with our office through my website , Facebook , Instagram , and Twitter pages. It is an honor to represent you.

Sincerely,

Warren Davidson

Member of Congress

Don’t you hate it when someone refers to themself in the third person? So much more I could have said, would have liked to say, but short, sweet and to the point is always best … these guys have short attention spans.

Davidson won in a special election in June 2016 to replace John Boehner after Boehner resigned. He then won again in 2018 by a 68.76% margin … obviously my neighbors have no sense.  He is a member of the ignoble House Freedom Caucus, that most radical of all conservative elements in Congress.  They aren’t even well-liked or respected by their own fellow republicans.

Predictably, Davidson is anti-women’s rights, anti-LGBT rights, opposes the use of renewable energy, has an “A” rating from the NRA, wishes to repeal ACA (Obamacare), supports maintaining a “numerically superior” nuclear arsenal, supports Trump’s border wall and a ban on Syrian refugees, supports a “Judeo-Christian” national code of morality, and more.  In other words, he is against We the People and for a Christian/military complex.  To put it kindly, he is a fool of the most dangerous sort.

I responded briefly, touching only on two of the issues raised in his newsletter …

Mr. Davidson,

I just read your latest newsletter and I have a few questions.  Are we, the people you are elected and paid to represent, supposed to applaud you for voting against legislation that would serve a number of purposes, including taking some of the corruption out of the election process?  And are we to applaud you for opposing sensible gun legislation that might … just might save some lives?  Thus far, you are the antithesis of what this nation needs and what the majority of We the People want.  You’ve licked the boots of Trump and of the NRA for long enough, Mr. Davidson.  Unless you show some accountability and responsibility, I will work as hard as I can to see that you are voted OUT of Congress next year.

Jill Dennison, tax payer, citizen, VOTER

Do you get periodic newsletters via email from your senators and representatives?  If not, you should sign up for them, if for no other reason than to let them know you are watching, you are aware, and you will not tolerate any b.s.

Amy Klobuchar: The 7 Issues Guide

Today I present the second of TokyoSand’s excellent posts introducing us to the democratic candidates for the office of president in 2020. Last time we met Senator Kamala Harris who is one of 4 or 5 on my own shortlist, and this week we are introduced to Senator Amy Klobuchar, another on my short list. This is an excellent series providing valuable information about the candidates all in one place, so I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it. Thank you again, TokyoSand, for this post and permission to share it!

Political⚡Charge

Election 2018 Senate Klobuchar Amy Klobuchar (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

The Democrats have a big field of candidates running for President in 2020. To briefly use a sports analogy, I see our candidates as the starting players on the Blue team, each bringing their own unique strengths to the table in a bid to take our country in a very different direction than the one we’re on today.

But as we well know from 2016, the media (and especially social media) gets fixated on non-substantial issues that take up all the oxygen. Plus, they don’t give the candidates the same treatment or the same amount of airtime.

In order to help voters get to know the Democratic candidates, I’ve enlisted the help of a team of terrific volunteers who have helped gather quotes and information about what the candidates have said or done in regards to the 7 issues that midterm voters identified as the…

View original post 2,123 more words

A New World Leader …

Today, I would like to pay tribute to our neighbors to the north by sharing the work of one of my favourite New York Times columnists, Nicholas Kristof.  His words need no further introduction from me.

Thank God for Canada!

Our boring neighbor is a moral leader of the free world.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

February 6, 2019

After the Canadian foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, tweeted concern about Saudi Arabia’s imprisoning of a women’s rights activist, the crown prince there seemed to go nuts.

Saudi Arabia announced that it was expelling Canada’s ambassador, halting flights to Canada, ending purchases of Canadian wheat, recalling students from Canada and selling off Canadian assets. Did the United States or other Western countries stand up for an old friend and ally, Canada?

Not a bit.

“The United States doesn’t have to get involved,” Heather Nauert, then the State Department spokeswoman, told reporters.

Yet Canada stuck to its principles. When a young Saudi woman, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, fled to Bangkok last month and warned that she would be murdered by her family if she was forced home, it was Canada that again braved Saudi fury by accepting her.

Freeland was at the airport to welcome Alqunun as a “very brave new Canadian.” And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t mince words, saying, “We’ll stand up for human rights and women’s rights around the world.”

Canada may be one of the world’s more boring countries, as yawn-inspiring as sensible shoes — wake up, reader, I know you’re snoozing!— but it’s also emerging as a moral leader of the free world.

There’s no one else. The United States under President Trump is on a nationalist tear. Britain’s leaders seem determined to drag their people over a Brexit precipice. France is distracted by protests. Germany is preparing for succession.

So Canada is stepping up.

Canadians.jpg

Jessie Thomson, left, and Amany Alhadka, right, were among the countless Canadians who helped Syrian refugees acclimate to their new country.CreditCreditJustin Tang for The New York Times

During the worst of the Syrian refugee crisis, President Barack Obama admitted just 12,000 Syrians and provoked a furious backlash, including Trump’s Muslim ban. Canada accepted 40,000 Syrians, with Trudeau appearing at the airport to hand out winter coats to these new Canadians.

All around the world, doors to refugees were clanging shut. But Canadians were so eager to sponsor Syrians that organizations were clamoring for more of them. Canadian politicians are mostly rewarded for showing compassion.

Trump gets headlines with his periodic threats to invade Venezuela to topple President Nicolás Maduro, but Canada has been quietly working since 2017 to help organize the Lima Group of 14 nations pushing for democracy in Venezuela. When Canada recognized the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president, he won credibility because nobody sees Ottawa as an imperialist conspirator.

Canada has spoken up about the mass detention of about one million Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China even as Muslim countries have mostly kept mum, and it detained a Chinese executive at the request of the American government. China retaliated by arresting Canadians and sentencing one to death, but Canada is sticking to its guns — even as Trump undercut Canada by suggesting that the case against the executive might be dropped for political reasons.

For aid programs in the developing world, countries usually try to finance big, glamorous projects that will get lots of attention. Instead, Canada champions programs that are extremely cost-effective but so deathly boring that they will never be discussed on TV — initiatives like iodizing salt to prevent mental impairment.

Reader! Wake up!

Still, Canadians can be devious. A couple of years ago I sought an interview with Trudeau for a piece about Canada’s successes — and he kept stalling. Aides explained that praise from an American might damage his relations with Trump. That may have been the first time I’ve had a leader resist laudatory coverage.

Whenever I say something nice about Canada, I get indignant emails from Canadian friends pointing out the country’s shortcomings (which are real). Fortunately, Canadians don’t seem capable of mean emails. Not even of mean tweets. One study found that Americans’ tweets are loaded with curses and words like “hate”: Canadians’ tweets are larded with “awesome,” “amazing” and “great.”

(Note: Ignore all the bits about Canadians being nice when playing hockey with them. In the rink, they’re brutes.)

Off the ice, Canadians pursue policies that are preternaturally sensible. Canadians regulate guns, oversee the banking sector so as to avoid financial crashes, and nurture entrepreneurship and economic growth without enormous inequality.

Typically, more Canadians use mass transit, and the country has better traffic safety laws, so that the vehicle fatality rate there is half that of the United States’. If the United States had Canada’s traffic death rate, we would save more than 20,000 American lives a year.

Today there’s a vacuum of constructive global leadership. Canada may be incapable of a mean tweet, but it’s tough when necessary — and it may be the leader the world needs.

I want to move to Canada!!!

Sickening …

I did not realize I was feeling ill until the following “breaking news” came popping up on my phone last evening …

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows is no longer under consideration to be Donald Trump’s chief of staff.

“Congressman Mark Meadows is a great friend to President Trump and is doing an incredible job in Congress. The President told him we need him in Congress so he can continue the great work he is doing there,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Meadows, a staunch Trump ally, had been a top contender for the position, and he had signaled his interest in recent days. But ultimately, aides said the president thought it best for him to remain in Congress, where he can continue to be a strong defender of the administration.

Now, first off, I am glad that Meadows, who is a grade-A, bigoted, radical right-wing jerk, is not going to be the new chief of staff.  But when I read that he is doing “an incredible job”, my stomach churns, and when I read that he is to stay in Congress “so he can continue the great work …” I am full on sick to my stomach.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Mr. Meadows, let me summarize …

  • Meadows voted against relief for Hurricane Sandy in 2013
  • He is anti-abortion and anti-birth control
  • Oddly, he claims to support a balanced budget, though he has largely contributed to the highest deficit we have seen in six years
  • He demanded that Trump get rid of all federal funding to study climate change
  • He also requested Trump repeal environmental regulations including the Renewable Fuel Standard, stop the prohibition of drilling oil on federal lands, and pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement
  • Meadows voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act
  • He has proposed that the United States should tap into oil and gas reserves to keep energy prices low, and to develop energy independence. He supports tapping into off-shore oil and gas supplies
  • Meadows opposes same-sex marriage
  • Meadows opposes any restrictions on gun purchases and opposes a national gun registry that would list detailed information about firearm ownership
  • He has voted numerous times to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • He supports tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations, and is against net neutrality

House Freedom CaucusWell, you get the picture.  Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, and member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina is the worst of the worst of the republican party.  In essence, if it is good for the wealthy and bad for the rest of us, he is for it.  If it helps the average Joe, he will fight against it.  And he is considered one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress.  That tell you something?  This is a man whose conscience is measured in dollar signs.

And so now you might understand why, when I hear Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Don Trump refer to him as “doing an incredible job”, I feel ill.  An incredible job at what???  Destroying the nation and the global environment?  Sending women’s rights back two centuries? Mark Meadows-1You might ask just what the good people of North Carolina were thinking when they elected him for a fourth term last month, but the reality is that his district is so heavily gerrymandered that almost all minorities have been excluded.  He campaigned for the 2018 elections by touting his support of the madman Trump, while claiming that any republicans who didn’t support Trump should be removed from office.

Mark Meadows is, contrary to Ms. Sanders and Mr. Trump’s opinion, not doing a great job at anything.  He is the poster boy for why we need to have all district maps re-drawn to appropriately represent the voters.

So, we are left with the question … who will be the next chief of staff?  Nick Ayers and Rick Santorum have thus far turned down the job, Mark Meadows is out of the running … who’s left?  The three leading contenders appear to be acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, a former campaign manager David Bossie, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  But then, who knows … by tomorrow it could be Daffy Duck!  Whoever it is, I’m sure he or she will make a lovely addition to this circus of clowns.circus-1