On the edge of 2019 : will Trump jump? ; Fats Waller ; Trudeau’s Senate ; CANZUK still crazy after all these years

Dec 17th, 2018 | By | Category: In Brief

Strictly fake news of course.

On the third-last Monday of 2018, here are four short notes on the world as it looks up close in We the North of the North American Great Lakes :

1. Is Trump getting ready to jump (what would Machiavelli think?)

This past Saturday morning Maggie at “Hear Me Roar” — who specializes in “The best Trump memes! Humor and parody of GOP!” — posted a fake photo of Donald Trump high up on the ledge of some high building in New York, looking poised to jump to the pavement far below.

I copied the thing into my electronic notebook with the comment “if only it were true!” What we pick up from US TV (and Twitter) up here, however, is starting to suggest that the current American fake president is, whatever else, increasingly beleaguered psychologically.

I’ve been asking myself what the great inventor of modern political science in the western world, Niccolò Machiavelli, would make of it all? I still don’t have an answer (though I’m guessing he would counsel caution in assessing whether Trump actually will jump any time soon, of course).

Meanwhile, here is a recent related observation from John Dean, who did so much to prompt Richard Nixon’s ultimate resignation over Watergate on August 9, 1974 : “Trump’s bitching and whining and complaining is non-stop. The presidency reveals its occupant: Trump’s not only incompetent he’s actually a wuss. Like most bullies he’s a coward. As with most autocrats he’s a very frightened person. He’s a fake leader, who thinks nasty is strong.”

2. Honeysuckle Rose : commemorating Fats Waller (1904–1943)

Fats Waller at the piano, 1938.

Along with various fake Trump photos, this past Saturday, December 15 marked the 75th anniversary of the death of the legendary Harlem “stride” pianist and entertainer Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller, at the still too tender age of 39.

Here as elsewhere in the early 21st century world of music You Tube has compelling  resources for digging deeper. To start with (if you have time), try classic versions of what may be the two greatest Fats Waller hits : “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and the endlessly beguiling “Honeysuckle Rose.”

If you have still more time You Tube also offers an intriguing four-part documentary on Fats Waller featuring recollections from his son Maurice — Part I ; Part 2 ; Part 3 ; and Part 4.

Mr. Waller was born in New York City in 1904. He was 13 years older than Thelonious Monk and 16 years older than Charlie Parker. As his son Maurice explains, to survive in his world black entertainers still had to adopt habits that later jazz musicians like Monk and Parker disavowed. Fats Waller nonetheless died near Charlie Parker’s Kansas City hometown. Wikipedia explains : “Waller contracted pneumonia and died on December 15, 1943, while traveling aboard the famous cross-country train the Super Chief near Kansas City, Missouri.” He “was returning to New York City from Los Angeles, after the smash success of [the African American movie] Stormy Weather, and after a successful engagement at the Zanzibar Room, in Santa Monica … during which he had fallen ill.”

3. Justin Trudeau’s minimalist Senate reform in Canada

Justin greets Melania while Donald looks on at G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy, May 2017.

I am more than happy to go on record as a confirmed supporter of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. Like the rest of us, he is far from perfect. But to me at any rate he continues to stand head and shoulders above any of his competitors.

At the same time, I also strongly believe that one of M. Trudeau’s imperfections is his strategy for minimalist reform (really just a re-arrangement) of the still unreformed Senate of Canada.

So I remain unimpressed as well with his actions as reported by the excellent Joan Bryden at Canadian Press — “Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms.”

Who wants to listen to further details on this subject these days? (And read Ms. Bryden’s helpful piece if you are among the truly enlightened here!) Meanwhile, I will just argue that the big problem with the current unreformed Senate of Canada is not its political partisanship. It is that so long as senators are merely appointed in our day and age, they will lack the credibility to play any useful role in Ottawa — even as some mythical place of “sober second thought.”

4. Canadian Conservatives and CANZUK : an idea whose time passed a long time ago

Tks to the excellent people at Access Copyright, Happy holidays 2018.

As one sign of problems among Justin Trudeau’s competitors (with a view to the coming October 21, 2019 federal election, say), another piece of my news intake from this past Saturday was Jackie Dunham’s “Increased push for free movement between Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand” on the CTV News website.

Ms Dunham’s rather long but still helpful report on the movement aka “CANZUK” (ie Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom) notes that, according to James Skinner, founder and chief executive of CANZUK International, even though “the CANZUK movement is technically non partisan … conservative politicians in Canada and in the other three CANZUK countries have been the most enthusiastic about the proposal.”

Ms Dunham notes as well that CANZUK “advocates of an agreement calling for freer trade, movement, and greater co-operation between Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom” have lately been buoyed by “official support from the federal Conservatives in Canada and the promise of a Brexit deal next year.”

The current circumstances of Brexit in the UK are one warning flag here, no doubt.

To me the decisive objection is also covered in Jackie Dunham’s helpfully long report : “Finally, some critics have accused CANZUK organizers of trying to create a new ‘Anglosphere’ comprised only of English-speaking or majority ‘white’ countries.” Srdjan Vucetic at the University of Ottawa “has published several opinion pieces about CANZUK supporters’ interest in the Anglosphere and how it is founded on a ‘vulgar nostalgia for the colonial past,’ as he wrote in an iPolitics story last year.”

And on this note (and along with the late great Percy Faith who was descended from the Toronto Jewish community) I can only add : “Happy Holiday to you.”

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