Deep winter in Ontario 2020 : COVID-19 in global village, Democratic race in US, Bojo in UK, Indigenous blockades across Canada, etc, etc, etc ..

Feb 29th, 2020 | By | Category: In Brief
“Dreams and Memories” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, February 2020.

GANTSEKWYAGON, ON. 29 FEB 2020. [UPDATED MARCH 1, 4]. Serious snow fell two nights ago, as the TV promised. It is still on the ground, and my deep winter thoughts here are a follow-up to “Just watching TV in early January can fill you with foreboding about the year ahead” — posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2020.

I can of course report that the early January foreboding seems more than justified some seven and a half weeks later.

COVID-19 in global village

On Wednesday, February 26, 2020 in the world at large CBC News was telling us “WHO reluctant to declare COVID-19 pandemic as coronavirus spreads to more countries.”

Next day the Daily Beast carried on with :“Dow Plunges 700 Points Over Coronavirus Fears.”

Oh and btw : “The S&P 500 is at trading levels not seen since October and the Nasdaq also plunged at the opening bell … making this the worst week for Wall Street since the 2008 financial crisis.”

(And, from the same source, same day : “Gasps of horror greet Larry Kudlow’s placement on coronavirus team: ‘Might as well inject the virus into our veins’.”)

Democratic race in US

Hunter S, Thompson (l), author of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, talks with George McGovern (r), who lost to a second term for Richard Nixon in 1972.

Meanwhile, there’s good and bad news if you’re hoping Democrats in the USA today will choose a November 3, 2020 presidential candidate who can prevent a second term for “Trump’s Running US Like Bush Ran Iraq. What Could Go Wrong?

If Bernie Sanders were considerably younger and, say more like JFK (or still better Barack Obama) in dress and manners, I might warm more to the argument that “This Is Not McGovern’s America: Crazy Bernie Can Win It All.”

When President Trump is getting 49% Gallup Poll approval ratings the USA today is already so crazy that … hey why not? If Trump with his mindlessly ideological right-wing agenda can win by electoral college magic, why not Bernie with his mindlessly ideological left-wing etc. And then there would at least be some kind of US movement in progressive new directions.

“Liquid Time” by Michael Seward, February 2022.

It may just be that I am myself too old — unlike the somewhat younger Californians I know best who help explain why Bernie is popular enough right now to put him at the head of a still tight race. But while I agree today is Not McGovern’s America, I lived just next door in the early 1970s too.

Despite remarkable moves ahead in certain sectors over the past several decades (culminating with President Barack Obama, 2008–2016), America does not seem all that different today.

To me at my age, the Bernie Sanders who grew up in Brooklyn and wound up in Vermont does not finally look like a Democratic leader the USA — or the 55–58% of its adult citizens who have actually voted recently — will elect in November 2020.

Like others, I have lately been thinking that Joe Biden is not quite the right fit either. If he does win the South Carolina primary today (Saturday, February 29) by a very strong margin (helped by a warm endorsement from “Congressman Jim Clyburn, representing South Carolina’s Sixth Congressional District”), I might think again — one last time?

TV stars Hannah Simon (l) and Zooey Deschanel ( r) stress importance of voting in 2016 US election — a message that ought to ring even louder for Democracy in America in 2020!

I similarly had some enthusiasm for Elizabeth Warren earlier. But, as just one case in point, I now see her through my local Ontario eyes as too much like our former Premier Kathleen Wynne, who led her Liberal party to its worst defeat ever in the 2018 provincial election. (And, I should add, despite my personal enthusiasm and support for Premier Wynne’s quite progressive government, and her almost surprising earlier win in the 2014 Ontario election.)

In the end I was pleased to see that the late-entry billionaire populist “Mike Bloomberg” did better in a February 26, 2020 Town Hall than he has so far done in two debates with his fellow candidates. (“Bloomberg finds his footing in town hall format.”)

Like others on this site, I’m starting to think (so far at any rate) that everything considered, Mike Bloomberg (especially with an African American running mate) just might be the right guy in the right place at the right time. But a week is a long time in politics … and the US Democratic Convention is not until July 13–16, 2020, at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

UPDATE MARCH 1: Joe Biden has in fact taken the South Carolina Democratic primary quite decisively.

In round numbers : Biden 48%, Sanders 20%, Steyer 11%, Buttigieg 8%, Warren 7%, Others 5%.

Personally I still don’t know just what I think of this at the moment.

I’ll probably wait and see just how well Mike Bloomberg does in the big Super Tuesday Democratic primaries this coming March 3.

Meanwhile, both Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg have now withdrawn from the race.

Stay tuned. More to come on Tuesday … and far beyond. As at least the progressive and somewhat less crazy side of the USA today struggles to somehow grow beyond the current too crazy fake-news Wizard in the White House.

UPDATE MARCH 4, 2:30 AM ET : The Globe and Mail in Toronto has summarized the results of the March 3 Super Tuesday Democratic primaries in the USA quite succinctly : “Super Tuesday: Biden has big night, Sanders takes California as Democratic race narrows.”

For the New York Times report see “Super Tuesday 2020 Live Updates: Polls Close and Winners Are Called.” Broadly, as it looks right now, Biden has taken Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and probably Maine. Sanders has won in California, Colorado, Utah, and Vermont.

Bloomberg has taken only American Samoa! My own immediate conclusion is of course that he is clearly no longer the guy to watch, largely because Biden has suddenly come back to life. The race now is between “moderate” Joe Biden and “revolutionary” Bernie Sanders, with Biden once again the most likely Democratic candidate on November 3.

Who would have thought this could happen as recently as a week ago? I confess I have no idea whether it all may change again, though that seems unlikely. I’m waiting to hear more from both Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren — and from Bill Maher this coming Friday night!

Bojo in UK

Boris Johnson celebrates massive majority he won in House of Commons with less than 44% of the popular vote in December 12, 2019 UK election.

Meanwhile, it’s not just the United States in the midst of change and god knows what else — and that’s part of what makes so many parts of planet earth so fascinating if also intermittently discouraging right now.

My first of two further quick notes is from the United Kingdom that the current conservative-majority “colonial” Legislative Assembly of Ontario has recently bowed dutifully to, with its “step backwards” decision to start singing God Save The Queen again, after a long absence.

My recommended text here is “Après Brexit … Ferdinand Mount on the new orthodoxy” in the 20 February 2020 issue of the London Review of Books — which strikes me as well worth reading in detail (and with real literary pleasure), several times and so forth.

To start with, try the Wikipedia article on “Sir Ferdinand, as he is formally styled … regarded as being on the … ‘wet’ side of the Conservative Party,” who “succeeded his uncle, Sir William Mount, in the family title as 3rd baronet in 1993, but prefers to remain known as Ferdinand Mount.”

Ferdinand Mount’s “liberal Toryism” (his own words) — inherited from, whatever else, some genuinely brilliant British aristocrats who for a time in the 19th century ran “the greatest empire since Rome” with some success — is critical of Boris Johnson’s right-wing “simplifying of democracy,” which may be generating “a sort of low-tar fascism which you don’t actually have to inhale.”

Indigenous blockades across Canada, etc, etc, etc …

“Geological Quandry” by Michael Seward, February 2020.

Finally, living where I do I can’t leave this current moment without at least noting the recent wave of Canada-wide Indigenous protests, ostensibly over a natural gas pipeline in British Columbia through territory claimed by the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en first nation.

(And note that the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in Canada’s Pacific Northwest have been especially strongly backed by Indigenous activists from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory reserve on the Bay of Quinte in southeastern Ontario — who for a time blockaded considerable railroad traffic in central Canada.)

Like many others again, I believe there is more to all this than meets the eye. And I hope I live long enough to say more about it sometime, for myself at least. Meanwhile I just note that my views generally are similar to those of my colleague on this site, Randall White, in his recent contribution to the Ontario News Watch site, “Indigenous Peoples Were “Fundamental to the Growth of Canadian Institutions.”

I’d add to that Thomas Walkom’s “Blockades have exposed the contradictions of Justin Trudeau’s ambitious reconciliation agenda” in a recent Toronto Star. On a very last note see also the Vancouver-based Angus Reid Institute polling organization on “Half of Canadians call for patience; half support use of force to remove anti-CGL blockades.” And, of course, of course, stay tuned for further foreboding news about the year whose lion’s share still lies ahead.

UPDATE MARCH 1. See today’s ambiguous but still interesting report on the CBC News site : “Wet’suwet’en chiefs, ministers reach tentative arrangement over land title but debate over pipeline continues … Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader says they remain opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.”

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