Category Archives: politics

The Only one who Matters


I think there is a lot we can learn about Donald Trump from those who worked most closely with him. They got to see the real Trump.  What was that like?

His Attorney General Bill Barr who served to very near the end of the first Presidency  got to know Trump very well. Bill Barr summed up his views of the president he served so faithfully for so long this way: “He will always put his own interests, and gratifying his own ego, ahead of everything else, including the country’s interest.” In itself this is astonishing. But even more astonishing is the fact that millions of Americans continue to believe in this man’s ability to lead the country. Because really that was obvious to all of us.  How is that possible?

As Mark Epson one of his Secretaries of Defense, said, “He puts himself before country. His actions are all about him and not about the country.” Again this not surprise.

Mike Pence his ultra loyal Vice-President who also served him faithfully until Trump demanded that Pence ignore the constitution and the will of the electorate put it this way: “Anyone who puts himself over the constitution should never be president of the United States…President Trump demanded that I choose between him and the constitution.I chose the constitution.”

When it comes to Trump, everyone knows him. He does not often hide his true self. He has been in the news more than any other many alive. He has bared his soul and his true character over and over again. There is nothing more anyone needs to know. Trump cares only about one person—himself. No one should ever expect anything different. This is part of his DNA.

They described a narcissist who cared about no one other than himself. Even the members of his family were of little concern. He did not care about his party. The country was of no concern.

Should such a man be elected president of the United States?

What do Trump’s People think about Trump?



It is beginning to look more and more likely that the American people with their arcane election system are about to re-elect Donald Trump as their next president. To many of us that seems insane, but nonetheless it almost seems inevitable. (I hope I am wrong about this).

 We know that Trump supporters support him with religious devotion. Therefore, they dismiss out of hand insults from “libs” “woke’ or the “enemy.” Such critics are easy to dismiss. But what about people—good Republicans all—who worked with Trump. What do they say about Trump?  When you look it is amazing.  No president has left such a train of naysayers behind him.

Bob Woodward wrote a book called “Fear: Trump in the White House,” in which he detailed the astonishing chaos in the president’s immediate orbit. But even that is a drop in a bucket of slime flung at Trump by those who gave up on Trump after working with him.  These are people who really know Trump. The numbers of former Trump workers who have nothing good to say about him is literally staggering.

As Josh Dawsey in the Washington Post,

“No president has ever attracted more public detractors who were formerly in his inner circle…. Additionally, more than a dozen people once in his employ could end up taking the stand and providing testimony as part of multiple criminal trials, according to people with knowledge of the cases and court documents.

At the same time, even some who have publicly declared Trump unfit for office have said they would still support him over Biden in 2024.

So far, Trump has surged toward the GOP nomination even as former aides critical of him have blanketed the airwaves, giving scathing speeches, testifying on camera in front of congressional committees and penning books — shaking off the kinds of condemnations that could mortally wound another politician.”


That of course is the amazing thing about Trump—his loyal followers continue to follow him no matter what. I have characterized this as religious devotion and I think that is correct. Correct and scary. I shudder whenever political leaders, no matter who they are, attract theological reverence. I consider that deeply dangerous. But for now I want to consider the words of those who worked with him, knew him, and gave up on him. Later we must look at the devoted.


The Weak President versus the Lying President


Edward Luce of the  Wall Street Journal and David Frum of The Atlantic were interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on his show the Global Public Square.  After the recent debate between Trump and Biden, only about 25% of Americans, including about half the Democrats believe Joseph Biden is competent to be president compared to about 44 % who believe Trump is competent. Both bad numbers, but Biden is now in a much worse position. Trump is 19 points ahead on this important issue.


Many believe Biden performed very badly in the debate. From what little I saw I agree he performed badly. But in my view Trump performed even worse, but in a different way.  Trump released an avalanche of lies and absurd hyperbolic remarks which clearly demonstrate that Trump is entirely separated from the truth. He has been called unhinged for good reason.


Who is less worthy of being president of the United States?  The liar or the incompetent?  According to David Frum,


“What we have here is a debate between the fire brigade and the arsonists. We are in this jam because the Republican Party is rallying around somebody who tried to overthrow an election thus the constitution…Who is a proven fraudster. Who has half a billion dollars of claims against him for civil frauds and who is a convicted criminal in New York with many more trials to come.


Zakaria pointed out that “even by Donald Trump’s standards it was really extraordinary how much he lied. He was totally unconstrained by even pretending to doff his cap to the truth. In the good old days, there had to be at least a kernel in there somewhere of the truth. ” CNN counted 30 major lies he made during the debate. Trump even claimed to negotiate insulin prices down for seniors when that was something Biden did, not him.


Luce agreed entirely. He said, “There was an unhinged unending Orwellian stream of lies from Trump, even by his standards…We have watched Mitch McConnell call Trump ‘a despicable human being there on stage.”


Luce said you could basically pick any one of his statements to look at if you wanted to challenge the truth. He lied from start to finish.


What really surprises me is how Republican supporters at least fail to take this into consideration. They know he lies, but they don’t care.


When 2 political candidates are considered, we must always remember such comparisons are not made in a vacuum. We must compare who is worse or who is better. This is because, as one political pundit said, “Mother Theresa is never on the ballot.”


No matter how competent he is, I would rather have Biden as the American president than Donald Trump.





I admit it. I am shocked. Earlier today, I predicted to friends that I believed Donald Trump would be acquitted of all 34 charges against him. The verdict is in. Donald Trump, the president of the United States,  is a convicted felon. I was dead wrong!  I freely admit it. The jury found him guilty on all charges.  I admit I could not be happier and believed he richly deserved this defeat. The American jury system stepped up and did its job. I underestimated it.


We must remember that this is Trump’s second jury trial. The first jury ruled that he was responsible for sexually abusing a woman, even though he had vigorously denied it outside of court. Though of course, he chose not to testify under oath and subject to cross examination even after promising he would testify. Effectively the jury in a civil case said he was guilty of sexual abuse! That is a very serious conclusion. That jury reached that verdict by a majority decision of jurors after hearing all of the evidence, listening and considering the cross examination of the witnesses by expert expensive lawyers, and listening to arguments from lawyers for both sides.

This second trial was different. It was a criminal trial. The first trial was decided on the basis of a preponderance of the evidence. The second trial had to be decided by a unanimous jury on each of the 34 charges. And the second jury had to believe Trump was guilty on a higher standard of proof, namely, proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  Basically, they had to decide he was undoubtedly guilty based on the evidence.  Again, the jury had to carefully listen to all of the evidence, not just statements from Trump or statements from the prosecutors or liberal commentators. The jurors listened to all the evidence and all of which was subject to cross examination by the best lawyers money can buy. That of course is the money of the Trumpsters that was donated to Trump. Reputedly that was in the millions of dollars paid by campaign contributions. Again, the jury had to listen to arguments from both lawyers for the prosecution and defence. The jury listened to instructions about the law from a judge who is trained and experienced to be impartial and fair.

This is not fake news. This is fact.  Donald J. Trump the ex-president of the United States is a convicted felon. The second jury decided that Donald Trump knowingly paid hush money to a porn star to silence her in order to keep that information from the American electors and then falsified the business records to accomplish this goal. They had to believe he intended to cover up a crime for each of the charges.

Once again Trump decided not to testify under oath subject to cross examination, contrary to his promises. Each day (or many days) at the end of the day during the trial, he chose instead to speak not under oath and not subject to rules of law about what could be said, and not subject to cross examination, but outside the courtroom to reporters. He did not present any evidence to support his claims that the trial was rigged and the judge was corrupt. None. He just made the statements. The witnesses for the prosecution on the other hand, were each cross examined, in some cases brutally and at great length, by experienced lawyers.

Again, none of this is fake news.  CNN did not make this up. It is real.

America is a badly divided country. Millions of people believed Trump’s lies and as a result the country is deeply polarized about this man, but it is time for the division to stop. It is time for Trumpsters who have supported him through thick and thin to concede defeat and admit they were wrong. We all make mistakes.  I just admitted to making a big one in this post. They should give up and support President Biden even if they sincerely believed Trump was the better option. We all make mistakes. His supporters all made a big one. They supported Trump. It is time for his supporters to end the division in America for the good of the country and admit they were mistaken and that everyone should now support Biden.


Words Matter


When I was a lad in High School we had a course called “Words are important.” A lot of heat has been generated without a lot of light, by people on both sides of the dispute about vaccines. I have been as guilty of using improper language as anyone else. It is time for me to do better. It is important to choose the right words if we want to communicate effectively with others.

First of all, I must learn not to refer to people by one of their characteristics. People are complex. None of us are defined by one issue and none of us like to be defined by one issue. For example, we should not refer to a person as “a diabetic.”  Rather such a person should be referred to as “a person who has diabetes.”  That might seem like a minor change. It is not minor. It is significant. There have been recent studies that show by using the proper expression, which recognizes the other as a person who happens to have an illness like diabetes, that will be appreciated by the person being referred to. Such communication is much more effective because it is more respectful. In fact, according to Dr. Garfinkel, a frequent CBC radio commentator on the pandemic,  the difference can be striking. The data suggests that reducing a person to one issue can have a powerful impact on that person. It can reinforce bias or stereotypes that ought to be avoided because it amplifies resistance. If we want to help, we should do it right. No one likes to be reduced.  We should be smart if we want to make a difference.

Similarly, one should not refer to someone as a schizophrenic, or criminal, or anti-vaxxer.  A person should be referred to as a person who has schizophrenia, or a person who has committed a crime, or a person who is reluctant to take a vaccine.

Calling a person an anti-vaxxer or schizophrenic or criminal reduces a person to that one issue. It does not respect that the person is complex and cannot be reduced to one issue. If you want to communicate successfully with such a person you respect them first and foremost as a person. Labels can be damaging and are rarely helpful.

My bad. I have been guilty of this mistake. Words are important because respect is important. Words matter. I will try to do better Starting now.


Billionaires do Great; Poor people suffer


While billionaires like Jeff Bezos have seen their wealth explode (again) during the Covid—19 pandemic, poor people have suffered the most (again). Poor people are feeling the brunt of the ill effects of the pandemic. Funny how that happens.

I recently  heard a very interesting interview with Mariana Mazzucato Professor of Economics at University College in London. She  wrote a book called The Value of Everything. I assume the title is a reference to a famous  quote by Oscar Wilde, that “a cynic knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.” I actually have used that line to describe some conservatives I know. With some justification I might add.


At the time she was speaking on the television show she said that just as 8 million case of Covid-19 have been experienced in the US, 8 million people have dropped down below the poverty line. At about the same the average wealth of billionaires had gone up by 25%. More than a million people had died and 38 million people infected (at the time of the interview). Many more since then, of course.  According to the Gates Foundation at the time 37 million people around the world had been pushed from poverty into extreme poverty! That means they earned less than $1.90 per day. Meanwhile the rich are getting much richer. Meanwhile conservative politicians think everything is fine and no changes are needed. That is what my own member of Parliament, Ted Falk believes.  with enthusiasm he believes that. In fact any suggested changes must mean the crypto-communists are trying to turn our country into a communist hell.  

Why does it have to work that way? The short answer is that it doesn’t have to work that way, it works that way only because we allow it to work that way.  We keep electing politicians like Ted Falk. That is the system the well to do, together with their political minions, want to conserve. That is the essence of modern conservatism. Everything is fine for us, so everything is fine.

Politics and Religion: A Strange Brew


When I watched live the insurrection at the Capitol in Washington D.C. on the afternoon of January 6, 2021 I was astonished. I witnessed rioting that I had contemplated, but actually never thought I would see. It was a shocking day.

One of the things that struck me that day was the proliferation of signs carried by rioters that made it clear that to many of them the insurrection was a religious act. They felt they were defending the faith.  The insurrection was a religious event. I now realize that is exactly what they were doing. They were defending the faith of Trumpism. That was their religion. These people believed in Trump without reservation.


As New York Times opinion columnist Thomas B. Edsall said, “It’s impossible to understand the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol without addressing the movement that has come to be known as Christian nationalism.”

Trump had said that during the first election campaign that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue in broad daylight and he would not lose any supporters. Now I know that for once he was telling the truth. That was literally true. That is what it means to have religious devotion to a leader. Trump started a riot. & people died as a result.  Yet Trumpers still support him. Trump was right.  I think that is pretty clear by now. He summoned his followers to Washington on January 6, 2021 and thousands showed up. Then he filled them with rage and asked them to march to the Capitol. He even said he would walk with them. He exactly said  that.  It was a lie but there is nothing unusual about that. Then he filled them with hatred for his Vice-President who had been his faithful disciple for 4 years and they marched on the Pentagon shouting “Take the Capitol,” “Hang Mike Pence,” and other insurrectionary statements.  His followers rampaged the Congress looking for politicians like Pelosi and Pence and looked like they wanted to kill them. They built a gallows with a noose hanging from it.

Many of them carried signs like “Jesus and Trump. 2020.” They actually prayed in the House Chambers that they were occupying.

This was a religious event. Is this not what religious devotion is all about?



Christian Nationalism


What is Christian nationalism? According to 2 professors of sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the University of Oklahoma, Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry,  in their book Taking America Back for God Christian nationalism:

“includes assumptions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy and heteronormativity, along with divine sanction for authoritarian control and militarism. It is as ethnic and political as it is religious. Understood in this light, Christian nationalism contends that America has been and should always be distinctively ‘Christian’ from top to bottom — in its self-identity, interpretations of its own history, sacred symbols, cherished values and public policies — and it aims to keep it this way.”

It is important to remember that not all Christians are Christian nationalists, but a lot of the noisy ones are.

Katherine Stewart, in her book, The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism, goes even farther:

“It is a political movement, and its ultimate goal is power. It does not seek to add another voice to America’s pluralistic democracy, but to replace our foundational democratic principles and institutions with a state grounded on a particular version of Christianity, answering to what some adherents call a ‘biblical worldview’ that also happens to serve the interests of its plutocratic funders and allied political leaders.”


Christian Nationalism in the United States does not acknowledge the legitimacy of the separation of church and state provided for the in the establishment clause of the American Constitution. Canada does not have a similar provision in its Charter of Rights and Freedoms, though it does provide for freedom of religion and freedom from religion. Christian Nationalism therefore is really an anathema to both the American Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Both have been interpreted by the Supreme Court of each country to require that no religion can be imposed on citizens. Both are foundations of religious freedom.

Christian Nationalism is really not in favour of religious freedom for anyone other than Christianity and its observers and then only a particular version of Christianity–their version. It wants its principles and dictates to be law. Stewart also said, “This is not a ‘culture war.’ It is a political war over the future of democracy.” Stewart believes as do I, that Christian Nationalists do not want freedom of religion, they want the freedom to impose their religion and their interpretation of their religion on others. They want to make their version of their religion dominant in the United States and Canada.


Government with Big Holes


The pandemic is playing out in the United States at a time when the country was stripped of vast amounts of administrative leadership as a result of Donald Trump’s failure to appoint people to fill an astonishing array of important governmental posts. He blames it on the Democrats—of course—but the real failure is caused by his lack of appreciation for government. Trump thinks government is all part of a nasty Deep State that should be shredded. So why fill holes?


Trump has been soaked in the right wing ideology of extolling the virtues of small government. To give one example, where many could be given, as soon as he got elected he announced a new policy for regulations. For every new regulation proposed his bureaucrats would have to suggest 2 that could be dropped. That sounds good no doubt to his base, but such arbitrary rules can and did hamstring government. Trump does not realize that there is such a thing as good government and does not appreciate that we need it. At few times do we need it more than during a pandemic. As a result many critical posts have been filled with temporary replacements or none at all.

Garret Graff reported on this issue in depth in Politico. He pointed out that just when we desperately need good, efficient, and compassionate bureaucracy that bureaucracy is in a shambles of Trump’s making. In fact much of it was done deliberately because Trump wanted flexibility. I suspect he likes this so he can fire personnel without going through the embarrassing process of Senate approval for a replacement, even though the Senate is controlled by Republicans.

Graff started with a reference to a concerning statement by the Surgeon General in April of 2020:

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams promised that we’re entering the darkest days of the Covid-19 epidemic: “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment. Only, it’s not going to be localized, it’s going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that,” Adams told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

Adams’ metaphor, evoking the two deadliest—and most shocking—moments of modern American history, came on the fourth consecutive day that U.S. deaths from Covid-19 crossed the 1,000 mark. Across Saturday, Sunday and Monday, more Americans were killed by the novel coronavirus than in either Pearl Harbor, the 9/11 attacks or the Civil War battle of Antietam. The days ahead surely will include an even grimmer toll.


Yet Adams’ metaphor of this as our new “9/11 moment” is more apt than he likely intended: Comparing the events is about more than just a story of casualties—it is also a story about government’s failure. Both Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks occurred, in part, because the U.S. government and intelligence failed to see the attacks looming. We were caught unprepared, and Americans paid for that mistake with their lives.


After 9/11, we swore to never let that happen again. “Never again” was the mantra handed down to the nation’s leaders by George W. Bush in the White House on September 12. We devoted billions—trillions, even—of dollars after 2001 to fixing the intelligence and information-gathering problems identified by the 9/11 Commission, and Congress and George W. Bush worked through the biggest reorganization of the government since 1947 to create two entirely new entities to help prevent “the next 9/11”: The Department of Homeland Security, an attempt to bring together all the agencies tasked with protecting the country at home, and the Office of Director of National Intelligence, a coordinator for the nation’s 17 disparate intelligence agencies to ensure that the country better understood both the big picture and the small picture of what was happening around the world.


Unfortunately, President Donald Trump’s routine, day-to-day mismanagement of the government has left both organizations—the very entities we tasked as a nation to prevent the next 9/11—riddled with vacancies and temporary officials as the novel coronavirus rapidly spread from a small blip in China to a global health and economic catastrophe. In fact, the four top jobs at DHS and ODNI have all been filled with temporary acting officials for literally every day that Covid-19 has been on the world stage.


Those positions were created by George W. Bush—not Obama. As a result Trump’s disdain is less understandable. Nothing Obama did could be good. And they are very important positions and they are not just military or counter terrorist positions either. Intelligence, which Trump has often mocked in favor of getting intelligence from his buddy Putin, is vitally important in many respects, including preparedness for pandemics! Intelligence is broad. And in both senses of the word “intelligence” Trump lacks respect for it, and America, and in fact the world, are paying a heavy price for that disdain. As Graff reported:

While we often think of those jobs as focused on protecting against terrorism, both agencies have critical public health roles, too; U.S. intelligence spent the winter racing to understand how serious a threat Covid-19 truly was and deciphering the extent of China’s cover-up of its epidemic. Just last week, news broke about a special report prepared by U.S. intelligence documenting China’s deception about the disease’s spread—information that, had it been more accurately captured and understood, might have caused a faster, harder response and lessened the economic and personal toll of the epidemic at home.


Yet Trump has churned through officials overseeing the very intelligence that might have helped understand the looming crisis. At Liberty Crossing, the headquarters of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the government will have been without a Senate-confirmed director for eight months as of next week; last summer, Trump accepted the resignation of Dan Coats and forced out the career principal deputy of national intelligence, Sue Gordon. Coats’ temporary stand-in, career intelligence official Joseph Maguire, then served so long that he was coming close to timing out of his role—federal law usually lets officials serve only 210 days before relinquishing the acting post—when Trump ousted him too, as well as the acting career principal deputy. In their place, at the end of February—weeks after the U.S. already recorded its first Covid-19 case—Trump installed U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as his latest acting director, the role that by law is meant to be the president’s top intelligence adviser. Grenell has the least intelligence experience of any official ever to occupy director’s suite.

Graff reached the following conclusion in his investigation into this crucial issue: “The government agencies designed to protect us are riddled with vacancies and temporary officials. No wonder we’re facing a catastrophe.”

And we know what that is the case.

Sometimes I have to applaud politicians, even one’s I don’t like

Sometimes I have to applaud politicians, even one’s I don’t like that much.

On March 25, 2020, the Canadian House of Commons, after resuming discussion at 3:14 in the morning, passed a massive spending bill which then passed all phases of the House before sunrise. It was the biggest spending bill in the history of the Canadian Parliament. Some politicians, like Canada’s staunchly conservative Member of Parliament from Manitoba , Candace Bergen, not my favorite politician even though

she is a member of my tribe, had a very hard time swallowing it.

As the Winnipeg Free reported,

 “This is a very heavy load to bear,” Bergen told her colleagues, her voice echoing through the nearly empty chamber.

The Manitoba MP is among the most partisan on the Hill, but wasn’t on this day.

“I am glad we can be here together — not always agreeing, but agreeing on one thing, that we are putting the needs of our fellow Canadians first and foremost,” she said.”

Then the Senate passed the huge bill in less than 4 hours.  Without the traditional ceremony Governor General Julie Payette gave her royal assent while sitting at a table in a massive lobby at Rideau Hall.

Sometimes politics works!

Even in the U.S. that massively divided country, where politicians seldom agree on what day it is, the next day managed to get things done as well. The American Senate, after vigorous debate and good old fashioned comprises on all sides, did itself proud and passed a $2 trillion economic relief package to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. It also was the largest package in the history of that country. You may not like the details, just as you might not like the details of farmer sausage, but at least they put aside their astronomical difference and reached a historic agreement. It was historic because a Senate that divided almost exactly along party lines on the impeachment of Donald Trump agreed on this package unanimously. That’s impossible isn’t it?

I wish the politicians could managed to agree on other issues besides financial crises or wars, but I have to give them credit by working together to compromise.

Maybe next time they can do that on climate change, or poverty.