Introduction by Roger Annis, Nov 14, 2016
Enclosed are three insightful commentaries by columnists in two of Canada’s largest-circulation, daily newspapers, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail.
Rosie DiManno is a conservative columnist who appears three times per week on page two of the Star. Thomas Walkom is a left-wing columnist who also appears thrice-weekly in the Star. Leah McClaren is a former columnist at the Globe who now writes guest columns.
The editors of the Star and the Globe support the civil war being waged in eastern Ukraine by the governing regime in Kyiv with backing from the countries of the NATO military alliance. The two newspapers are also leading media voices of the Western, anti-Russia crusade. (See my note below.)
Ill-prepared and ill-mannered, the vandal Donald Trump begins to grasp the reins
Rosie DiManno, Toronto Star, Nov 14, 2016
Thousands of jobs must be filled by a new administration, but Trump’s loyalists are crackpots, acolytes and scoundrels, writes Rosie DiManno.
I have this fantasy. That in his middle-of-the-night existential tremors, Donald Trump is seized with dread. It’s not a game any more or a quixotic pursuit: “I am President of the United States.” If he could give it back, would he?
Watching the convulsion of recent days across the nation, the anomie he’s unleashed, the unprecedented protests that have tilted into riot, might he think of himself as outmatched and singularly ill-equipped to quell a domestic insurgency on the boil, sensing within the marrow of his bones the artifice of the deal with America? “Donald, you’re fired.”
In the waning days of the campaign, Trump declared he didn’t believe the polls that turned out so epic a failure of data-crunching. Yet every indication from within the demoralized Trump camp was that he did. Losing would have been easier to assimilate, perhaps, than winning. A waste of money, he’d mused about a potential rejection outcome, upon arriving at a mid-Manhattan school to cast his own ballot. But what’s money to a multi-billionaire? Trump has played Three Card Monte with scrip his entire life.
President of America is the loneliest job in the world. Beyond his purported business acumen — trailed by a wake of bankruptcies and lawsuits — Trump has evinced no skills of persuasion, prudence or tact. Never held elected office, never served in the military (five deferments), never faced or overcome obstacles of class and income and opportunity. Illiterate in the wisdom of sages through the ages. Slumming in the alternate universe of crass reality TV. A phoney autobiographer, master not even of his ghostwritten words. A grubby entrepreneur and now an apprentice in the White House.
Civility demanded that President Barack Obama treat his successor graciously when they met in the Oval Office for the first time last week. Should have clocked him, this most crude of galoots who for years baited Obama with racist birther bunkum. Such naked hypocrisy exchanged between these two men, most of it kept behind closed doors because Trump wouldn’t allow a media pool to document the historical event until the participants stepped outside, photo-op faces on.
Obama had a purring Democratic Party apparatus and a cordial relationship with the outgoing Bush regime to help ease into occupation of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There was no shortage of accomplished governance savants to provide advice and counsel. Trump, the gauche arriviste, has alienated a whole echelon of Republicans, casting them into the inner circle of Washington swamp-hell, an indictment that obviously resonated with voters across all demographic spectrums.
There are thousands of jobs that must be filled by a new administration — a new West Wing, most crucially a cabinet that can wield authority — but precious few of the honourable and adept to draw upon from his loyalist list. In Sunday’s announcement of Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus as chief of staff, Trump went decidedly establishment. But most of his key devotees are crackpots, acolytes and scoundrels. It beggars the imagination, where a Trump in search of confederates to consolidate his White House will find competent adjutants. Not a one seems capable of curtailing his yips. After a few days of sounding atypically diplomatic and salubrious, the man who will be America’s 45th president was back bashing and bullying on his Twitter pulpit Sunday morning: “Wow, the @nytimes is losing thousands of subscribers because of their very poor and highly inaccurate coverage of ‘the Trump phenomena.’ ”
The only thing scarier than an America with Trump as president is an America with Trump as president, Newt Gingrich as secretary of state, Rudy Giuliani as attorney general and Ben Carson as education secretary.
Such is the speculation being bruited about, with nobody really having a clue what a President Trump cabinet would look like. He has few allies inside the Republican establishment and a very long memory about perceived enemies. Many of those best-qualified for elite positions tolerated him only from a wary distance; others are now creeping closer for morsels.
Thus all the ugly ducklings are coming home to roost, preening their feathers. Only Chris Christie, from the inner cabal circling the Beltway outsider, appears to have been gently jettisoned, demoted as chair of Trump’s transition team, replaced by VP-elect Mike Pence. Christie is caught up in the so-called “Bridgegate Scandal” with many calling for the New Jersey governor to be impeached for, of all things, alleged involvement in politically motivated lane closures of George Washington Bridge three years ago.
Gingrich: Serial adulterer, forced to resign as House speaker, target of 84 ethical violations and a $300,000 sanction for using a network of consulting firms, educational institutions and even an inner-city teen charity to promote Republican politicians.
Giuliani: Lauded as “America’s Mayor” for his sure-handed leadership in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks; totally lost his marbles during the presidential campaign, dismissing that “grab ‘em by the p—-” tape as locker-room exaggeration. “Gosh almighty, he who hasn’t sinned, throw the first stone here . . .” That was no stone; that was a slab.
Carson: The retired neurosurgeon described Obamacare as “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” declared President Barack Obama a “psychopath,” told an audience that God had helped him ace his chemistry final by providing exam questions in a dream and admitted that he’d just made up a bunch of stuff in his autobiography, Gifted Hands, such as being offered a full scholarship to West Point.
Not that mendacity, perfidy, malfeasance, misanthropy and sheer lunacy are qualities which preclude individuals from holding high public office or Trump wouldn’t be hurtling towards the White House six weeks hence, a populist supernova that turned the American establishment on its ear but apparently heard the keening of a disgruntled country quite clearly.
Gingrich, for one, has said pshaw, don’t believe all those kooky pronouncements Trump made whilst on the rhetorical stump. A whole whack of it was just shout-outs to the peanut gallery. Like that notorious wall on the Mexico border endlessly yammered about, which the Mexican government would pay for, Trump vowed.
“He’ll spend a lot of time controlling the border,” against illegal immigrants, Gingrich assured during a conference call with media last Thursday. “He may not spend very much time trying to get Mexico to pay for it, but it was a great campaign device.”
Oh, that was a wink-wink?
Trump was unequivocal during the primary wars about deporting all 11 million undocumented residents. The immediate scoop of illegal immigrants, as estimated during the presidential campaign, fluctuated from 1 million to 6 million. CBC released excerpts from Trump’s 60 Minutes interview, which aired Sunday evening. In those comments, Trump doubled down on his intention to initially deport up to 3 million illegal immigrants — “we’re getting them out of our country” — and repeated him pledge to build that bloody wall, though now he suggests it may be more of a “fencing” in places. “I’m very good at this. It’s called construction.”
No, it’s called destruction and desecration of a great country by an un-great barbarian inside the White House gates.
Canada could have its own Donald Trump
By Thomas Walkom, columnist, Toronto Star, Nov 14, 2016
If there was any doubt about the power of right-wing populism, Donald Trump’s victory has dispelled it. The populist right is on a roll in France, Italy, Scandinavia, Holland and Eastern Europe. During Britain’s bruising debate over membership in the European Union, the populist right best articulated the anxieties of those who felt excluded.
And now a right-wing populist is president-elect of the United States.
Still, the assumption reigns that Trumpism could never happen in Canada — that because of what International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland in another context has called our inherent niceness, Canadians are somehow immune. But a Trumpian figure could win here. We are not immune. There are Canadians being left out of the new economy. The same forces that combine to make work precarious in the U.S. and Western Europe are at play here. And there are similar fears about immigration, security and crime.
An Ipsos poll last week concluded that 70 per cent of Canadians disapproved of Trump’s victory. But the same poll found that 77 per cent of Canadians would consider voting for a candidate who ran on a Trumpian platform of stricter immigration controls, skepticism over free trade and tough-on-crime measures.
It is commonplace in the punditocracy to dismiss Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch’s demand that immigrants pass a so-called Canadian values test before being admitted into the country. But as the Star reported in September, a Forum Research poll found that 67 per cent of Canadians agree with her.
So what is it that has kept the darker elements of populism at bay here? Why did Canadians choose sunny Justin Trudeau as their leader while Americans opted for rude and crude Trump?
One reason is that for much of the last decade the oil boom kept incomes up in Canada. Inequality grew in the U.S. It narrowed here. The other is that Trudeau, like Trump, successfully presented himself as the change candidate. In both Canada and the U.S. many voters were dissatisfied with the status quo. In both countries, they voted for the person most likely to shake things up.
Now the oil economy is in a slump. How long can sunny ways prevail?
The Liberals seem to understand that something is going on out there. I’m not sure they get how serious it is. “We need to deal with middle-class anxiety,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said last week at a session with the Star editorial board and assorted hangers-on.
Yet the solution he articulated was standard Liberal boilerplate: First, let the market work its magic; then have government come in and clean up any inequities that remain.
He cited the Liberals’ new child benefit as an example. Indeed, the new program does have much to recommend it. But it doesn’t speak to the fundamental economic problems that have fuelled the new populism.
Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while no fan of populism, had a better understanding of its darker side. His strategy was to pander to the baser instincts of his supporters by giving them symbolic victories, such as the elimination of the long-form census, while remaining resolutely orthodox on the things that mattered — such as trade.
Exactly where the left is on the new populism is hard to gauge. Certainly, Jeremy Corbyn, the much-criticized leader of Britain’s Labour party, understands what’s going on. “Trump’s election is an unmistakable rejection of a political establishment and an economic system that simply isn’t working for most people,” he said after the billionaire developer won Tuesday’s vote.
In Canada, however, New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair responded to Trump’s victory by denouncing his campaign as both racist and sexist. In the past, Mulcair has labelled Trump a “fascist.” All of this, while arguably true, is not very helpful.
We know Trump can be objectionable. What we have to understand are the forces that allowed this alleged fascist to so handily win a democratic election.
How to talk to your children about Donald Trump
By Leah McLaren, special to The Globe and Mail, Nov 10, 2016
“How am I going to explain this to my kids?” This was the question echoing in the annals of middle class Western social media yesterday as politically-minded parents the world over awoke to the news of a Trump victory. Our house was no exception.
“We’d better tell him before he goes to school,” my husband, Rob, said as I came downstairs. We both looked at James, our four-year-old, who was on the sofa, naked and wrapped in a sheepskin, watching his 86th Team Umizoomi episode since waking up. “Listen, mate, we need to tell you something,” Rob began.
“Mmm hmm?” said James, not tearing his eyes away from the screen.
“A bad and crazy man has been elected the leader of the free world,” Rob continued.
James took this in then shrugged. “Okay Daddy, let’s kill him,” he said.
Rob replied that that wasn’t an option. I looked down at the baby in my arms, just eight weeks old, and felt sorry for him for being born in the same year Donald Trump came to power. Then I thought, “Well at least he’s a privileged white male.” Just what the world needs.
Later, we watched Trump’s victory speech live on the laptop as James ate his porridge. He looked confused by all the clapping and tooth-flashing and hair-flipping going on among team Trump.
“If he’s a bad man, why is he saying nice things?” he asked.
“Because he’s a very happy bad man,” I said.
Here’s the thing: When parents ask, “How do I explain this to my kids?” about Trump, what we are really saying is “How do I make my kids not understand this? How do I make them know that in a reasonable world, Donald Trump is not what an American president should look like? How do I stop them growing up with the notion that angry, dangerous, racist bullies end up on top?”
Because the real problem is that, in the mind of child, a leader such as Trump is not difficult to understand. In the mind of a child, President Trump makes perfect sense.
After school, by pick-up time, James had completely lost interest in the news. He was more concerned with the question of who would win in a fight: A giant tarantula or a poisonous scorpion? It wasn’t that he didn’t grasp the notion of a cartoonish half-mad super-baddy in a position of power. It’s that his brain is so full of such notions it just seemed sort of … normal.
Just as Fran Lebowitz observed that Trump is “a poor person’s idea of what a rich person should look like,” so, too, is Trump a child’s idea of what a grown-up Boss of The World should act like. If you told four-year-olds that a loud angry man who became famous for yelling “You’re FIRED!” on TV had just assumed the highest office in the land, they would not be surprised.
Children don’t automatically understand the underpinnings of democracy, the importance of diplomacy, statesman-like conduct, tolerance and ruling by consensus. These are values we, as adults, have to teach them.
Children, by contrast, tend to see the world in stark hierarchical terms: All battles are epic, all bosses are tyrannical, all rich, powerful people look like the Trumps – shiny, plastic, spray-tanned. Good parenting, in many ways, is the process of chipping away at these simplistic and dangerous convictions and replacing them with a morally nuanced grasp of reality.
This goes for both privileged white kids such as mine as well as those who have more to fear from a Trump presidency. Yesterday, I was walking home from my son’s school when I ran into another mother, my friend and neighbour Aida, who is Muslim and originally from Turkey.
As our laughing sons zoomed ahead on their scooters, she sighed in disbelief. “My mother said to me this morning, ‘What does it matter that he won? We don’t live in America!’” she said. “But I told her of course it matters. It matters that this man who hates us is now president. It matters because my son will one day understand that. It will affect his childhood and his future no matter what I do to protect him from it.”
I wish I could have said something comforting, but there was nothing to say. Aida and I stood for a while watching our boys play. Then we hugged goodbye and went inside our separate houses to watch the news all over again.
White working class found a messiah in Trump. Now what?, by Adam Radwanski, Globe and Mail, Nov 14, 2016
Note by Roger Annis:
The Globe and Mail‘s correspondent on all things Russia and eastern Europe is Mark MacKinnon. His raging Russophobia is on full display in a front-page article on November 14 reporting on November 13 presidential elections in Moldova and Bulgaria. In both countries, candidates opposing full integration into the corrupt, austerity-driven European Union won the vote. By sizable margins, to boot. This is very troubling news for pro-NATO ideologues.
Continuing MacKinnon’s and the Globe and Mail‘s lying claims that the Russian government favoured the election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton and “may have” [sic] actually manipulated the vote, MacKinnon writes in his Nov 14 dispatch: “Less than a week after Donald Trump’s stunning triumph in the United States – a victory the president-elect’s opponents claim was half-made in Moscow – two European countries looked set on Sunday to vote in their own pro-Kremlin presidents…”
He describes the vote in Moldova as the country “throwing its hands up”, ie surrendering, “after nearly a quarter century of conflict with its former masters in Moscow.”