New mood over US election makes you wonder : is this a good thing?

Posted: October 24th, 2016 | No Comments »

Singer Katy Perry speaks at a rally in support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher).

[UPDATED OCTOBER 25]. The big worry about the 2016 US election now is that (once again?) the forces of progress are growing too complacent and/or triumphalistic.

Two of the last five national polls on both the Real Clear Politics and  Five Thirty Eight sites have Trump tied or slightly ahead. Even the more impressionistic TV reporting seems clear that he has a hard core of popular support which remains loyal regardless of his sins.

An October 23 Associated Press report nonetheless says that Hillary Clinton “doesn’t ‘even think about responding’ to Donald Trump anymore.” She will “instead spend the final weeks on the road ‘emphasizing the importance of electing Democrats down the ballot.’”

As the AP report wisely goes on : “After a merciless two-year campaign, the next president will face the daunting task of governing a bitterly divided nation. If Clinton wins, her prospects for achieving her goals will be greatly diminished unless her victory is accompanied by major Democratic gains in Congress.”

Bill and Hillary Clinton celebrate Democratic runoff victory, on his way to becoming governor of Arkansas in 1982. Photo: AP.

The impression you get generally from the media — sustained by the current polling averages (RCP : Clinton 47.9%, Trump 42.0% ; 538 : Clinton 49.6%, Trump 43.2% ) — is of course that Hillary is quite solidly ahead, with not much more than two weeks to go.

But she still isn’t so much ahead as to avoid “the daunting task of governing a bitterly divided nation.” And it is still far from clear that the Republican party is going to fall apart on November 8, to anything like the extent now intermittently contemplated on MSNBC and even CNN (or the Clinton News Network, as some eminent Republican has claimed  : I forget just who).

At this last stage of the campaign, I also think Ms Clinton has done considerably better than I used to worry she might do. And I am still praying that at least some slight “new mood of democratic bipartisan co-operation” will “rise from the ashes of Donald Trump?”

Yet an honest political scientist would still not want to jump to any conclusions.

Donald Trump with porn star Jessica Drake in 2006. Photograph: Handout/Gloria Allred.

I have friends who say the 2016 US election has almost become boring, because it has finally become clear that Donald Trump will not win. Happily for world history, America at large is still not quite that crazy, and so forth.

To me, the smart money is still saying maybe, maybe not. And even if Hillary does win, will she win by a big enough margin (and far enough down the ticket) to get anything seriously done in 2017, 2018, and beyond? Finding the real answers to these kinds of questions at last is still what will be making the night of November 8, 2016 a scary fascination on TV — and an excuse to eat too much unhealthy food, and drink too much tap water on the rocks. (UPDATE OCTOBER 25 : Meanwhile, if you are really worried about the progressive cause, try Éric Grenier’s latest survey for CBC News : “Polls favourable to Donald Trump may be overestimating his support, state polls suggest.”)

17 propositions also on California ballot November 8 : a more optimistic cut at democracy in America today?

Posted: October 20th, 2016 | No Comments »

Ms Carter Cruise, staunch opponent of California Proposition 60 in 2016.

Letting the sovereign voters decide complex public policy questions has been given something of a bad name lately by the still quite puzzling Brexit experience in the United Kingdom.

And in a Canadian city like Toronto (Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, etc) you are still slightly closer to news from the UK (and/or France) than you are in the United States.

In Canada as well our still more European political culture a little too smugly tends to see democracy in America as somewhat too obsessed with elections and voting.

Or, as a Canadian history source book from the late 1950s explained: “Canadians have continued to believe that the essence of democracy lies not so much in self-government as in the right to choose the government.”

This coming November 8 interested American citizens will be voting for president (and vice president), all 435 members of the House of Representatives, and 34 Senators. There will also be gubernatorial elections in 12 states and two territories, and legislative elections in 44 states. And then there will be local mayoral elections in such places as Baltimore, Honolulu, Milwaukee, Richmond (Virginia), Sacramento, and San Diego, etc, etc.

As if this weren’t enough, US citizens will vote on a grand total of 155 so-called ballot measures on November 8 as well — 14 in Alabama, 2 in Alaska, 2 in Arizona, 5 in Arkansas, 17 in California, 9 in Colorado, 4 in Florida, 4 in Georgia, 2 in Hawaii, 1 in Idaho, 1 in Illinois, 1 in Indiana, 1 in Kansas, 6 in Louisiana, 6 in Maine, 1 in Maryland, 4 in Massachusetts, 1 in Minnesota, 6 in Missouri, 4 in Montana, 1 in Nebraska, 4 in Nevada, 2 in New Jersey, 5 in New Mexico, 5 in North Dakota, 7 in Oklahoma, 7 in Oregon, 1 in Pennsylvania, 7 in Rhode Island, 10 in South Dakota, 3 in Utah, 2 in Virginia, and 10 in Washington state.

Bird n Diz at Birdland in New York, 1951 — noted marijuana (and worse) consumer Charlie Parker (alto sax), left, and Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), right, alleged founding partners of bebop jazz — still the hardest jazz to play, according to Parker’s old colleague, Red Rodney.

A US ballot measure, according to Wikipedia, “is a piece of proposed legislation to be approved or rejected by eligible voters. Ballot measures are also known as ‘propositions’ or simply ‘questions’.” The excellent website known as Ballotpedia : The Encyclopedia of American Politics has suggested four “notable topics” for ballot measures in 2016 : Marijuana, Minimum wage, Healthcare, and Gun laws.

Interested adult citizens in all of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota will be voting on one or another degree of “Marijuana Legalization.”  Five states will be voting on Minimum wage measures. Four states will be voting on Gun control measures. And four states will be voting on Healthcare measures — including “Colorado Amendment 69, which would create the nation’s first single-payer healthcare system” (or broadly what we already have in Canada — which started in Saskatchewan, on July 1, 1962 ).

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Northern lights on US election III : According to Nate Silver almost 43% of American voters … etc, etc, etc

Posted: October 16th, 2016 | No Comments »

Nate Silver at work.

I hope Dr. White is right about some new mood of bipartisan co-operation rising from the ashes, “even just vaguely,” in some reborn saga of democracy in America.

And I pray David Brooks will finally prove right when he wrote last Tuesday that the day after Trump loses, “there won’t be solidarity and howls of outrage. Everyone will just walk away.”

A certain undeniable sinking feeling nonetheless also sets in when you start to ponder Nate Silver’s latest FiveThirtyEight 2016 Election Forecast at any length.

Here, eg, are his popular vote projections as of 11:00 AM on Sunday, October 16 : Hillary Clinton 49.5% ; Donald Trump 42.9% ; Gary Johnson 6.1% ; Other 1.5%.

(And note btw that “Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight … correctly predicted the winner in all 50 states during the 2012 presidential election and 49 out of 50 states in 2008” — though he has more recently had to confess that “Blowing Trump’s primary win made me humbler, smarter.” )

On these numbers Hillary easily enough wins the November 8 election, with 339 of the “538 Electoral College votes.”

(Where 270 votes qualifies as a bare majority. And note too : on Silver’s current projections there is a 65.2% chance that Democrats will win control of the Senate, if not the still highly Republican-gerrymandered House of Representatives.)

But it remains true as well that even after the almost palpable Trump meltdown of the past week and more — and all the appalling lies he incessantly spreads across our TV screens (how can his supporters complain about the mainstream media which gives him so much attention, etc, etc!) — more than four out of 10 interested Americans still support the mercurial man who still rules something from the top of Trump Tower !!!!

“Former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos says Donald Trump sexually harassed her.” And she does seem hot enough to qualify on his own testimony about his tastes.

And, really, how can this help but give a rocky start, at best, to any new Clinton II administration in January?

The passing of the torch from an older to a newer America has without doubt begun under President Obama.  It will surely carry on even if something quite strange suddenly happens over the next few weeks, and Donald Trump actually wins in some big surprise on November 8.

Yet even if Hillary does comfortably enough take well over 300 Electoral College votes, as FiveThirtyEight currently predicts, it still seems undeniable that there will remain a lot of metaphorical blood to be shed in the further US domestic struggles that lie ahead.

It may take someone younger and with much less old establishment baggage to finally lead the way into the sunshine of the new democratic promised land, a little further down the road. (Meanwhile, as matters stand, more Americans (%) still support Donald Trump than Canadians (%) voted for Stephen Harper in 2011 —  or Justin Trudeau in 2015! )

Could some new mood of democratic bipartisan co-operation rise from the ashes of Donald Trump?

Posted: October 11th, 2016 | No Comments »

“There is a lot more to people than what they do ... Better questions to ask when you meet someone for the first time might be something like, ‘What do you love to do in your free time?’ ... ” This is also quite crazy, no doubt, but our thanks to the San Francisco Examiner website anyway — and to Melissa Eisenberg, who sounds like a very interesting person to meet for the first time, and yet another piece of evidence that democracy in America is not dead yet.

Just a  footnote to my underground report of last week — “This isn’t the first time Donald Trump has pretended to run for President etc.

The footnote is inspired by two examples of higher political journalism in the  USA today — David Brooks’s October 11, 2016 article in the New York Times, “Donald Trump’s Sad, Lonely Life” ;  and Max Boot’s October 10 contribution to Foreign Policy, “Donald Trump Isn’t Campaigning to Run a Democracy.”

I at least consider myself progressive and/or liberal or even mildly radical politically. Both David Brooks and Max Boot are self-declared conservatives. But I almost altogether agree with them in these two articles. And the main channel of this agreement is a shared  faith in democracy.

David Brooks in flight.

In the same spirit, the democratic political system works best when right and left share this faith, and work together when the common good demands it. Freedom does not mean that the ends of the political spectrum are always at war. As Max Boot succinctly explains, in the limiting case : “The essence of democracy is not to criminalize political differences.”

In the same spirit again, the ultimate problem with Donald Trump is that he is working to finally shatter the American shared faith in democracy on right and left. (Though he is also no doubt just taking an anti-democratic trend already active for several decades to some further dark conclusion.)

Or, as David Brooks explains about the second US presidential debate this past Sunday evening, if you are Donald Trump your “only rest comes when … you are threatening to throw your opponent in jail … looming over her menacingly like a mafioso thug on the precipice of a hit … ”

Max Boot, with his 2013 book, Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present.

In my report a week ago I suggested that a historical Donald Trump who started pretending to run for president in the late 1980s “seemed an at least somewhat more sympathetic character than the present-day Republican presidential candidate who haunts my television screen.”

The man who haunted my TV screen this past Sunday, October 9 (in between visits to the dramatic final Blue Jays/Rangers game) was just the quasi-pathological, anti-democratic bully described by David Brooks and Max Boot in their articles of October 11 and 10.

The pressures of two very crazy campaigns for Mr. Trump (and the rest of us) — the Republican primary and now the general election on November 8 —  have altogether obliterated the somewhat more sympathetic character from the historical past.

As the second TV debate made all too clear, the free world has forever lost the guy who once talked about “liberal” health care, a cabinet that included Oprah Winfrey, Colin Powell, and Charlie Rangel, and a massive tax on the richest Americans to get rid of the national debt. (Though this historical Donald Trump no doubt wasn’t really a democrat either, even then.)

Five US presidents, Republican and Democrat, at the Obama White House — l to r : George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter.

Rachel Maddow’s report last night (“The Republican Party is Donald Trump’s party”) was wise counsel for liberals and progressives who have too hasty thoughts about the real prospects for democratic right-left co-operation … after, as David Brooks puts it, “Nov. 9, the day after Trump loses,” when “there won’t be solidarity and howls of outrage. Everyone will just walk away.”

But the thought that something even just vaguely of this sort might be possible, in the wake of a failed Donald Trump presidential campaign, has brightened my day and cheered my night. I don’t know if I’m really going to like a Hillary Clinton foreign policy blessed by Max Boot. But this is certainly one American election I hope David Brooks has got right.

Is PQ turning into just another Saskatchewan Party .. clearly not .. Quebec not like others .. but .. ??

Posted: October 9th, 2016 | No Comments »

Jean-François Lisée has become ninth leader of the Parti Québécois, replacing Pierre Karl Péladeau, who quit politics this past May. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press.)

What a relief to escape, even for just one moment, from the latest crazy Trumpet playing of the “Yankee to the south of us” who “must south of us remain” — and into something allegedly more sensible, like the future of the Parti Québécois in Canada.

The occasion is the election of Jean-François Lisée as new PQ leader, by about 55,000 participating party members — voting “online and by phone using a preferential ballot” from this past Wednesday, October 5 to Friday, October 7.

M. Lisée received the required majority of the vote in a second round of balloting (50.63% to be exact), with results coming in “just after 9:40 p.m” Friday night.

The media have pointed to two main ingredients in Lisée’s victory. The first recalls unsettling answers also blowing in the wind in the USA, UK, the EU the UK is apparently leaving, and still other places no doubt (Japan, even in some ways Hindu India, and perhaps China too?).

Philippe Couillard, current Premier of Quebec and leader of the Quebec Liberal Party.

As explained in a CBC News report on the PQ leadership vote by Kalina Laframboise : “Recent polls suggested that Lisée gained support among the party’s rank and file after he focused on identity politics, including a proposal to welcome fewer immigrants to Quebec and a vow to ban the burka in public spaces.”

(And Quebec’s governing Liberal first minister lost no time playing this angle — as in : “The nationalism advocated by Jean-François Lisée is fuelled by fear and similar to the populist parties of Europe, said Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard …”)

The Canadian Press report published by the Toronto Star pointed to a second main ingredient in Lisée’s victory : “His strategy of not supporting a [Quebec sovereignty] referendum in a first PQ mandate paid off at a time when polls consistently suggest Quebecers do not want another plebiscite on the province’s political future.”

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This isn’t the first time Donald Trump has pretended to run for President etc

Posted: October 4th, 2016 | No Comments »

Donald Trump shakes hands with Hillary Clinton at conclusion of their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, September 26, 2016. REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR.

I bumped into L. Frank Bunting at The Rex this past weekend. And he agreed that with Donald Trump’s possibly “Worst Week in Presidential Campaign History” now behind us, the US election campaign is looking a little less like “democracy as depicted by Hieronymus Bosch.”

(See his September 22 meditation on “Hieronymus Bosch back in land of free .. Commonwealth down .. Canada as US backdoor to Europe.”)

Yet Bunting went on, over a glass of red wine : “But has the spectre haunting Europe and the rest of the world really vanished? Trump’s support still seems quite robust. He still might win. Or he might come so close as to dramatically weaken the chances that a victorious Hillary Clinton could get much done anyway.”

(And for evidence here Bunting phoned the office yesterday, to point out Éric Grenier’s latest polling averages for CBC News. As Grenier puts it : “After a rough few days for Donald Trump, the polls appear to be drifting back towards Hillary Clinton … But the evidence that the race has shifted dramatically remains relatively thin …”)

I have just stumbled across two items from the net that go some distance towards an answer to the comparative resilience of Trump’s support, despite his latest deadly stumbles, starting with the debate Hillary won more than a week ago now.

The first item is an August 31, 2016 PBS Newshour interview with Robert Jones, author of The End of White Christian America. (See, eg : “JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re explaining part of what’s going on in the support for Donald Trump.”) The second is a September 26, 2016 report from the Gallup polling organization, headlined “Voters Prefer Trump on Economy, Clinton on Most Other Issues.”

Donald Trump and his father Fred Trump in NewYork City, 1987.

The current atmosphere has also prompted me to look a little further into the deep history of Donald Trump’s interest in American political leadership. I was inspired by a report on TV that casually alluded to Trump’s half-bid to become the presidential nominee of Ross Perot’s Reform Party in 1999–2000, on Bill Clinton’s bridge to the 21st century.

I started exploring Donald Trump’s earlier political dabblings more generally, using the remarkable resources on the net. The historical Donald Trump I found there seemed an at least somewhat more sympathetic character than the present-day Republican presidential candidate who haunts my television screen. And I wondered whether something of all this still survives for some US citizens — and still attracts supporters today????

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Australia asylum seekers face a refugee policy to condemn, not replicate, despite what PM says

Posted: September 24th, 2016 | No Comments »

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA. REPORT FROM GREG BARNS AND ANNA TALBOT. This past Tuesday Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, stood in front of world leaders and claimed his government’s refugee policy was the best in the world. But many people in Australia will tell you that Mr Turnbull’s boasting was misplaced.

Australian Government poster, displayed at migrant reception centres 1949–1951. (Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia.)

Australia’s policy is based on deterrence, building on 15 straight years of fear mongering and demonization of the world’s most vulnerable by Australia’s political elite. In 2001, the ‘children overboard’ affair ushered in a new era of lies, which would come to characterise policy around asylum seekers and refugees. The then-Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, accused asylum seekers of throwing their children off the boat they were on in an effort to manipulate Australian authorities into offering assistance. The asylum seekers were trying to ensure that their children were safe. The boat was sinking beneath them.  A few months prior to this disgraceful episode Mr Howard had refused entry into Australian waters of a cargo vessel, the Tampa, which had rescued asylum seekers whose boat was sinking.

We have spent $A9.6 billion over the past three years on our refugee policy. It consists of an immigration detention system that includes two offshore detention centres on the impoverished Pacific Island nation of Nauru and on Manus Island, off the coast of Papua New Guinea, mandatory onshore immigration detention, and turning back asylum seeker boats (usually to countries where the occupants face persecution, torture and even death). UNICEF estimates that Australia spends at least $A400,000 detaining each individual asylum seeker in offshore detention each year. It costs less than half that to detain a single prisoner. Then there is the disastrous deal with Cambodia, where the Australian government handed over $A40 million in aid to that nation in exchange for four, yes four, asylum seekers being resettled there.

Refugee Action protest in Melbourne, 2014.

What do Australians get for their money?  A cache of more than 2000 incident reports known as the Nauru Files was recently released by the Guardian newspaper. It details terrifying levels of despair. Threats of self-harm are reported on a near weekly basis. Actual self-harm, including suicide attempts, are reported nearly as regularly. Sexual assault of children is rife, with numerous reports of guards and others touching young girls. One child described how someone had ‘cut me from under’, pointing to the vagina area of a cut out doll to further clarify what had happened to her. Another child reported being handed a sexually-explicit note by a local guard. The note is reproduced in the incident report. In child-like lettering, it invites the recipient to ‘come and kiss my pins’; ‘come and gigey xxx’; ‘come and kiss my botm’.

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Hieronymus Bosch back in land of free .. Commonwealth down .. Canada as US backdoor to Europe

Posted: September 22nd, 2016 | No Comments »

Back in the middle of this past March 2016 my esteemed colleague Citizen X was telling us :

“The wisest thing I’ve come across on the American presidential primaries lately urges that 2016 so far is ‘democracy as depicted by Hieronymus Bosch’” (from the Huffington Post’s “Top 12 Reasons This Is The Most Depressing Election Ever,” March 14, 6:53 AM ET).

To me it is no accident that this theme has much more recently (and discreetly) been revived, by “A Thousand Erotic Games … Raoul Vaneigem writes about Hieronymus Bosch,” in the 8 September 2016 issue of the London Review of Books.

In any case as we officially enter the autumn wonderland in this fateful US election year, I think I have returned to “democracy as depicted by Hieronymus Bosch” as the key to what is making  America crazy again in 2016.

First World War recruiting poster. India was one of the young lions even then. Now it has about half the people in the modern Commonwealth of Nations.

The Democrats have been showing some big shivers lately at the increasingly possible prospect that Donald Trump will be elected president of Making America Great Again on November 8. They are starting to hit back harder and throw more dirt.

This hurts Mr. Trump’s  feelings. And he almost seems to be trying to behave even more badly so he won’t win. But will the current not-so-good-for-Hillary polls change?  Who knows?

It is at this point, however, that my mind starts to wander in a big way …

And I start reading such more exotic postings as Sadakat Kadri’s ironically headlined “Up the Commonwealth” on the LRB Blog. And from here I’m pointed to “CANZUK: after Brexit, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain can unite as a pillar of Western civilisation,” by Andrew Roberts (“a credulous cheerleader for powerful people for years” in Mr. Kadri’s view).

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Is the old British dominion in Canada still half-alive (sort of) .. as well as historically interesting?

Posted: September 15th, 2016 | No Comments »

For those who may be interested, Prince William and Kate and their children from the UK will begin a visit to British Columbia and the Yukon a week this Saturday.

As if in anticipation, the National Post — Conrad Black’s old last gasp of the colonized mind in Canada — has published some remarks by the self-confessed “romantic constitutional monarchist” John Fraser. In a nutshell Mr. Fraser urges that the British monarchy is a key to resolving the place of First Nations in the 21st century Canadian future.

This is an argument advanced by many romantic monarchists in Canada nowadays. And, like Mr. Fraser, they typically claim that the bewilderment it frequently raises elsewhere is just “evidence of many Canadians’ ignorance of their own history.”

. MP s celebrate approval of new independent Canadian flag by a 163 to 78 vote in the Canadian House of Commons, December 15, 1964.

Yet Canadian history in this sense remains a kind of abstract Tory invention, remote from the plain facts of the past. To take just one of so many cases in point, it forgets what the Grit Richard Cartwright told the Canadian House of Commons as long ago as 1889 : “Men [and today we  explicitly add women] are beginning to ask themselves on all hands whether this Confederation is to be a political cul de sac, or … a stepping stone to a higher form of political existence.”

On First Nations the romantic monarchist view of the Canadian past most awkwardly forgets the compelling sentence in the conclusion to Harold Innis’s 1930 classic on The Fur Trade in Canada : An Introduction to Canadian Economic History : “We have not yet realized that the Indian and his culture were fundamental to the growth of Canadian institutions.”

“Canada” itself is an aboriginal or indigenous word. And it is when what John Fraser calls “the non-aboriginal Canadian people” finally start to appreciate how the indigenous experience is a crucial part of being Canadian today, for everyone, that Fraser’s “healing” of  “First Nation and Inuit communities,” now “broken in body and soul,” will begin in earnest at last.

Canot de maître shooting the Rapids, Frances Anne Hopkins,1879. It was the multiracial and multicultural fur trade, not the British monarchy, that first took Canada from coast to coast to coast.

This is a challenging assignment, no doubt. But we the Canadian people of 2016 — aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike — must face up to it openly, if First Nations are ever going to secure their just and proper place in the real-world Canadian future.

To suggest we can continue to evade the all-too-human difficulties by simply asserting the British monarchy is “the only actual instrument of governance in Canada” that can unite aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians is a romantic cruel illusion at best.

Just to start with, the British monarchy is no longer an “actual instrument of governance in Canada” today — as anyone who has read George VI’s 1947 Letters Patent for the Governor General of Canada will appreciate. (The digital version of the Canadian Encyclopedia has minor quibbles here, but nothing that changes the essential modern facts of life. As the Encyclopedia also notes, two recent governor generals have even understood that “the Letters Patent, 1947 devolved the position of Head of State from the sovereign to the governor general” — although the Harper government rejected this interpretation in 2009.)

Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, 1999–2005.

In any case, what Mr. Fraser’s argument finally reminds us is that it is high time for another installment  of Randall White’s work-in-progress, tentatively entitled Children of the Global Village — Canada in the 21st Century : Tales about the history that matters.

If you go to our Long Journey to a Canadian Republic page, on the bar above (or just CLICK HERE), you will find a short introduction to the project, along with the “Prologue : too much geography.” This is followed by links to the currently completed six chapters in Part I, and four  chapters in Part II. To begin Part III on the old Dominion of Canada, you will now find as well a link to Part III, Chapter 1 : “First self-governing dominion of the British empire : Further founding moments, 1867–1873.”

Once again, we caught up with Dr. White and his irresistible business manager at the Tim Horton’s across from Kew Gardens in Toronto (another aboriginal or indigenous word). And he explained :

“Some say the old British dominion of Canada ended during Pierre Trudeau’s government in 1971, when the Dominion Bureau of Statistics was renamed Statistics Canada. I believe the end began with Lester Pearson’s government in 1963. But writing about the growth of Canadian democracy from the 1867 confederation to the early 1960s has proved somewhat different than I first conceived.”

Louis Riel (centre) and his spring and summer 1870 provisional government of the future Canadian province of Manitoba.

He went on : “I  thought I would do it in four chapters, but now I see it will take six : 1867–1873, 1873–1896, 1896–1911, 1911–1921, 1921–1948, and 1948–1963. In the first of these chapters I was also more drawn into the story of the Métis leader Louis Riel as founder of Manitoba than first planned. I hope the chapter is not too long as a result — or is at least a little more interesting to readers, to compensate for the extra length.”

(And then Dr. White and his business manager wandered off to buy more fresh corn  — traditional crop of the ancient Wendat/Huron nation due north —  on the last unseasonably warm day of summer 2016.)

Northern lights on US election II : What if Conrad Black is right and Donald Trump actually wins ????

Posted: September 7th, 2016 | No Comments »

Freddy Gray in The Spectator from the UK reports that “Donald Trump is Making America Crazy Again,” Jul 23, 2016.

CTV News anchor Marcia MacMillan, in an especially compelling dress yesterday morning, brought us the vaguely alarming news that “New poll shows Trump taking slight lead over Hillary Clinton.”  (This is now well hidden in the CTV September 6 archive.  Try “Poll: Nine weeks out, a near even race” for key numbers.)

Among the experts the lovely Ms. MacMillan subsequently consulted was the redoubtable Don Martin. He indicated that to discuss the current prospects of Mr. Trump further he would be talking on his TV show later that day with the former UK media baron, US convicted felon, and unabashed Canadian friend of Donald Trump, Conrad Black (aka — I think it’s still correct — “Lord Black of Crossharbour”).

I haven’t subsequently had time to watch Don Martin’s talk with Conrad Black. But I have discovered that his lordship (as he says himself “why not … [t]here is not a prohibition on a convicted criminal sitting in that House”) has been saying good things about Donald Trump for some time now.

Marcia MacMillan covers it all with Taylor Swift, Sep 26, 2014.

(See the Appendix below with eight examples, from 19 Dec 2015 to 2 Aug 2016. And Mr. Black has freely confessed : “I will say this, that in the problems I had, he was absolutely loyal, he volunteered to come and give evidence for me, he sent me encouraging letters at every stage … We all go through difficult times and we remember the people who were helpful.”)

Generally I feel the less I hear about or from either Donald Trump or Conrad Black, the better. But flipping through the Appendix below, I have been struck by some words from Mr. Black during an earlier appearance on Don Martin’s CTV show “Power Play” — very early this past March, when the Republican and Democratic primaries were still undecided.

At that time Mr. Black advised Mr. Martin that :”You can’t stop him in the Republican Party, and he will mop the floor with” Hillary Clinton (whom Black wisely enough predicted would be the eventual Democratic nominee). The trouble with Hillary is that “she’s got too much hanging … They are going to kill her … She’s never run a serious election.” (See “Conrad Black predicts Trump presidency: ‘You can’t stop him’.”)

Back in the day: Black was once such a revered figure in British Tory circles that Margaret Thatcher, right, introduced him to the Upper House. Note wife Barbara Amiel apparently listening to Mrs Thatcher.

At this moment six months later in early September, with various polls tightening, this advice can almost seem all too prescient. I know that I am starting to wonder about just how Hillary will do in the debates that start this coming Monday, September 26 — now less than three weeks away. (Even if, as another expert was advising Marcia MacMillan this morning, debates are never as important for the final result as many seem to think at the time.)

Put another way, Hillary’s strategy up to this point has largely seemed to be to let Donald Trump self-destruct, and then walk in and pick up the pieces. The latest tightening in more than one poll suggests this really may not be at all enough to make her the first female president of the USA, USA. And there are signs that the Clinton campaign is starting to move in at least a few fresh directions — helped along by her old rival Bernie Sanders, and others.

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