No Ben, just no

I try to avoid commenting on American politics on general principle because I have plenty of targets here in Ontario, but every once in a while comes a WTF moment that can’t be ignored. Such was the case earlier this month with the comments of Ben Carson. Something about immigrants coming to America in the holds of slave ships, working hard for less and dreaming of starting a new life for themselves. No Ben, just no. This is the sort of thing Kellyanne Conway would no doubt call “alternative history”.

Ben, these people were in the holds of slave ships because guess what? They were slaves! They were treated as cargo, not passengers. Once they arrived in America, they were property, not immigrants; not people who chose to come to America in hopes of a better life. They were ripped from their comfortable lives in various African countries and forcibly shipped to your fair shores. As property, they could be bought and sold, just as the plantation owner could buy and sell horses or cattle. And in many cases, the livestock was better treated than the slaves.

If they were dreaming of anything Ben, it wasn’t of making a better life for themselves in America. I’m just guessing here, but if they dreamt of anything, it was escaping, making contact with the Underground Railway and finding their way to Canada, where they could truly live as free people and make a better life.

Ben, I understand revisionist history is common in the administration of which you are part, where your president denies saying things he has been recorded as saying and other members deny speaking with the Russians despite proof to the contrary, but really, calling slaves “immigrants” is too much of a stretch. Immigrants indicates to me, at least, they came willingly, whereas slave ships did not carry willing, paying passengers. History texts are not printed in a looseleaf format for a reason: the past can’t be changed and is not subject to being altered at will by you or anyone else. . And “alternative history” is properly called “fiction”.

So, no Ben, just no.

Cat.

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Everyone needs a hero

Everyone needs a hero. Whether it be a fictional character such as Superman; an historical figure, or someone from our own lives, there is usually someone who inspires us enough they deserve the label “hero”. For me, there are five people I esteem enough to call heroes, whose actions and attitudes lift them beyond the everyday.

For me, the first of these is my best friend, someone who loves me without reservation. I won’t go into detail to preserve her privacy, but in her short forty-something years, she has survived much that would break lesser humans. And no – being my friend is not one of those things.

Another person is also a personal friend named Angelena Bonet. She has suffered so much in her life – devastating heartbreak; sexual assault as well as being beaten and left for dead. This amazing, strong woman has turned her misfortune to good. In her Facebook profile, she describes herself this way: Documentary Filmmaker, Singer/Songwriter, TV Host / Producer & Humanitarian.

Being trans, obviously I consider Caroline Cossey a hero. This lady has, over the years, broken so much new ground for the trans community it would be criminal to leave her off my list.

And there are a couple of Canadians I include on my list. The first of these is retired General Romeo LeBlanc. General Leblanc was in charge of the UN force in Rwanda. He did his best to stop the massacre but was handcuffed by unreasonable orders from the UN that prevented him from taking effective action. Still, he did what he was able.

Finally, just to show that as I’ve aged I haven’t lost my rebellious streak, I include Louis Riel. For those unfamiliar with the name, or are not versed in Canadian history, Louis Riel led the Northwest Rebellion in the late 1800’s that eventually led to Manitoba becoming a province of Canada. He was later elected to Parliament, but fled to the US to avoid prosecution. He eventually returned to take his seat in the House of Commons. Unfortunately he was arrested, tried and found guilty. He has the distinction of being the only sitting member of Parliament hung for treason for his role in the Rebellion. (And yes, I’m sure we can all think of a few politicians we’d like to see swinging from a gallows.)

As I said, everyone needs a hero. Why not share yours in the comments, along with the reasons you feel they are heroic. Be certain to get their permission before you use their names, please.

Cat.

Kellyanne Conway explained

INTENDED AS HUMOUR OR SARCASM AND NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY

As a Canadian and not directly involved in the recent American election, I’ve refrained from commenting on the fallout from the results of that election except for the occasional snarky comment of other people’s Facebook posts. To be honest, Donald Trump scares the living hell out of me.  But Kellyanne Conway and some of her bizarre comments are just too tempting to resist.

If you read or watch science fiction, you are no doubt aware of the concept of alternate universes.  This concept goes a long way to explaining her comments, specifically the “Bowling Green Massacre.”    It should be obvious to even the most casual follower of news and/or politics that she is not from this planet.

An alternate universe would easily explain her comments.  In our universe (the “real” universe) Bowling Green is known as the location of GM’s Corvette assembly line.  But, in the universe usually inhabited by Ms Conway, it was the scene of a terrible massacre by terrorists.

The problem isn’t that she’s using alternative facts, it’s that with her ability to engage in interdimensional travel, she sometimes forgets which universe she’s occupying.  There, problem solved and her weird statements explained.  Think about it – what else makes sense.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too, no matter what universe we inhabit.

Cat.

We must support our US friends in their fight for equality

In a posting on her site dated December 31, 2016 editor Jillian Page mentioned that she had considered shutting down LGBT Perspectives. In that posting she mentioned something that I’ll admit I take for granted and that is the incredible advances the Canadian LGBT communities have made in the decade since same-sex marriage became law of the land.

At both the federal and provincial levels laws have been enacted that give us the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as every other citizen of whichever province in which we live. As well, at the federal level, and not widely publicized, in February 2016, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration quietly announced that Canadian citizens would be allowed to self-identify when it came to changing gender on federal documents, except the passport. You still have paperwork to fill out for that one. Otherwise, all you need is provincial documentation showing the changes to change any other federal ID.

While we revel in our new-found recognition, we must remember that our sisters and brothers south of the Canada/US border aren’t so fortunate. The different system of government in the US gives each state power to make its own laws. Consequently, members of the LGBT communities, especially the trans community, face a patchwork of laws with which to conform and hoops of varying sizes at different heights to negotiate to accomplish anything. This is true even with the Obama administration and from what I’ve seen, the difficulties will only increase under Trump.

I have seen estimates that put the number of trans Americans at 10% of the population, which translates to about 30,000,000 people. To put that in perspective for Canadian readers, that’s only slightly less than the population of Canada. Thirty million souls. Think about that number for a moment. According to pronouncements, both now and in the past, a Trump federal government and states governed by members of Trump’s party are declaring war on these people, either reducing or removing whatever protections previous administrations put in place. Perhaps one of the ,most egregious of these laws was North Carolina’s infamous HB 2, the so-called “bathroom bill”. From other reading I’ve done – and no, I don’t just rely on a single source for information – this is typical of what our sisters and brothers can expect to face over the next four years.

While we sit here north of the 49th parallel or Great Lakes, perhaps smugly because we haven’t had some of these struggles, we must not forget those who went before us that are the reason we have what we do. We must support our counterparts in the US in any way we can, even if it’s only to offer moral support so that even if they fail, those who follow will enjoy our freedoms.

Cat.

Some random thoughts

Riding the bus today, my mind wandered and touched on various items.

1 – The Region of Durham is doing some serious road work at a major intersection. This of course is causing massive traffic backups and pretty much throws bus schedules out the window. The irony in that is the construction is they are installing “bus only” lanes to speed up public transit.

2 – If you were to ask Canadians the origin of Canadian English, no doubt most, if not all, would say “England”. According to a documentary I watched, they would be indirectly correct. The documentary stated that the major influence on “Canadian English” actually came from the United States, which was settled in large part by the British. Pronunciation, definitions and some nuances are all courtesy of our friends south of the 49th parallel. Spelling is a different matter. In the 1870’s, Sir John A. Macdonald, the Prime Minister at the time was the head of the government that passed a bill that made the use of “u” in words such as colour the only official spelling. So when I use that spelling for neighbour and honour for example, I’m only following Canadian law.

3 – Watching some programmes on Germany before and during WWII. Am I the only one who sees irony in the fact that the Nazis ideal was a tall, blond, blue-eyed physical specimen while neither Hitler nor his inner circle were anywhere near that ideal?

4- This isn’t exactly a random thought, but was a private Facebook message regarding a string I was involved with, and thought about during my bus ride. I think it bears repeating here:

I am horrified by some of the postings I read from my American friends regarding their troubles with housing, medical care and employment. Granted I lost a job when I came out, but someone through church told me that if I could get my Pickering taxi licence, he’d hire me. I did and he did and I drove for seven years until I was injured. Perhaps it’s the Canadian psyche, but except for the young drunk men on Friday and Saturday nights in the cab, I’ve never had a problem. As an example of what appears to be the general view (and yes I know generalities can turn and bite me in the butt), during the last provincial election campaign, not one candidate; not one reporter from any media, nor any member of the public brought up the fact that Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, is lesbian. Everyone stuck to the issues. I think that had this been an American election campaign, her sexuality would have overshadowed the actual issues. By the way, she won and now heads a majority government. Based on my experiences over the past twenty years, I sometimes think that my brothers and sisters in the United States would consider Canada, specifically Ontario, a trans Utopia.

Not quite, but we’re working on it.

Since it’s Friday, enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist, we need love too.

Cat.

Walls to the south of us, walls to the north

We’ve all heard Donald Trump talk about a wall between Mexico and the US. But how many of us remember long gone Republican candidate Scott Walker suggested a wall between the US and Canada.

Having spent perhaps three minutes considering his idea, it is very obvious this man is intellectually unable to fulfil his current elected position. Think about the physical problems such a wall would entail and tell me you don’t agree with my assessment. Let’s start with the simple fact such a wall would be at least 5,000 miles long – more if he wants to wall off Alaska from those pesky Canadians. And don’t expect Canada to pay for it.

Did Walker consider that the only road access to Alaska runs through – guess where – Canada! Another little problem there with the wall and land access is Port Robert Washington. It’s stuck on a peninsula on the south coast of British Columbia and once again, the only land access is through B C. If you’re driving, you need to clear Canada Customs at one of the ports of entry south of Vancouver, then go through US customs when you get to Port Robert. Unless there’s a wall in the way, in which case someone will have to institute a ferry service from mainland Washington and avoid customs all together.

Across the prairies there doesn’t seem to be any unusual pitfalls. At least not until you get to the Great Lakes. This vast inland freshwater sea is where his plan really starts to fall apart. Look at a map and you’ll see the border runs approximately down the middle of the lakes and connecting waterways. There are three possibilities – the Canadian shore, the American shore, or follow the border exactly. And there are problems with all three. I can’t see either Canada or the US being willing to cede even one foot of territory for this wall. The third choice – following the border – has the additional pitfall that Lake Superior is 900 feet deep in places. That’s a lot of bricks. The border also runs down the centre, more or less, of the St Lawrence River. Again, same problem.

Now that we’re in the eastern part of the continent, he’d start running into other problems. Straddling the Canadian/US border, as well as the Ontario/Quebec border is the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve. Can’t see the Mohawks agreeing to a wall down the middle of the St Lawrence because it would interfere with their “extra-legal imports”. When the border cuts inland on the south shore, things really reach migraine status for our unthinking politician. Many small towns and villages in Quebec and bordering states actually straddle the border, In some cases, where the house was built before the border was set, it isn’t unusual for the kitchen to be in one country and the living room to be in the other. Derby Line Vermont comes to mind as a place where this happens.

I can’t think of any major problems, other than rivers, between New Brunswick and Maine, to cause our politician grief, other than the mutual co-operation that exists between Calais Maine and the corresponding Canadian city (the name of which escapes me, but I think it might be St, Stephen NB).

So, if three minutes thought gives me this many flaws in his suggestion, do you really want to vote for him again?

Cat.

Be afraid – your future is at stake

I wasn’t sure I wanted to post this, but what the hell.  As a blogger and writer, if I’m not upsetting people and/or making them think, I’m not doing it right. And I’ve taken  flak before.  After one posting I had my intelligence compared unfairly to that of a turnip, but I know that on a good day I can outsmart that turnip two times out of three.  First off, I’m Canadian, so the results of the upcoming presidential election shouldn’t have any direct effect on me.  But, as a thinking human being, I am also aware that what happens south of the 49th parallel will affect my country as well.  As a result, I’ve paid some attention to what is happening in the primaries, especially the Republican campaign.  I’ve stayed away from commenting on the campaigns so, far, but I think it’s time I voiced my opinion.

I’ll admit Donald Trump scares me.  From what I’ve seen and heard, he is preaching a gospel of hate.  Talk of building a wall along the US/Mexican border; banning all Muslim immigrants from the country and now, in the wake of Brussels, increasing police presence in Muslim areas and around mosques doesn’t exactly sound presidential.  Throw in his attitudes towards torture and this is one scary man.  If you notice, he keeps talking about “making America great again” and “getting Isis”, yet I’ve never heard him offer one single detail of how he will accomplish this other than “nuke ‘em”.   Talking with friends, most agree that if elected, Trump would drag the world into another war.  Most put the time frame for that at somewhere between six and fifteen months.  And unlike previous wars, this time America would be in the crosshairs which means Canada would also be hit.

As much as Trump scares me, Ted Cruz absolutely terrifies me. He too favours using nuclear weapons in the middle east (“I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’ll find out”). This man is an evangelical Christian from all reports, which is a dangerous character flaw for a politician because they tend to follow their teachings rather than common sense when dealing with matters of state.  One report stated that if elected, he would establish a national church, which I understand is in direct conflict with the Constitution.  Yesterday, during an interview, one of his aides stated that Senator Joe McCarthy had the right idea with the House Un-American Activities Committee – the “Red Scare” of the 1950’s – and it should be re-instated.

Picture this: If Cruz were to win and establish this national religion; and the aide wasn’t speaking his personal opinion on HUAC, we could be looking at America becoming a theocracy.  And no doubt the reborn HUAC would be used to root out heretics (“are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Episcopalian Church?”).

Cruz also favours increased security in Muslim areas and other xenophobic measures.

Both men seem to favour isolationist policies (other than bombing the middle east) based on their comments about building walls and banning  immigrants.  My view is that  the world would take care of that for them because if either were to actually follow through on their exclusionary rhetoric, most of the world would boycott America.

Those who follow American politics and have a better understanding of how the system works have told me that in the unlikely event either man does become the next President, the system would prevent them from instituting their more radical ideas.  I certainly hope so.

But, in the event they are wrong, Ontario is a nice place to live and winters aren’t really that bad.

Cat.