COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Donald Trump, History, Humor, News, Opinion, Politics, United States, US Election 2020

Make Votes Count; Hire More Counters

The last polls in the United States have been closed for more than two days. Still no final result. I think I’m on a first name basis with all the CNN folks as they fill time during this neverendum referendum. With the COVID pandemic running amok, many people chose not to stand in line at voting places, opting to mail-in their ballots instead. The processing of this unusually large number of mail-ins is causing havoc and delay in determining an outcome.

Those of us who live in open democracies cherish the ability to exercise our franchise. So why does the USA seem to treat it with disdain?

Those of us who live in open democracies cherish the ability to exercise our franchise. Men and women, those we honour one week from now on Remembrance Day, have given their lives to ensure this freedom remains. It’s a lofty concept. So why does the USA seem to treat it with disdain?

One reason could be that the exercising of franchise, the process of voting, costs money. I don’t mean the billions of dollars spent by parties on partisan campaigning – buses, planes, in the good old days trains – I am talking about the actual casting of votes.

One reason could be that the exercising of franchise, the process of voting, costs money.

Here in Canada we have an entity called Elections Canada, defined thusly: The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer is the non-partisan agency responsible for administering Canadian federal elections and referendums. Elections Canada is an office of the Parliament of Canada, and reports directly to Parliament rather than to the Government of Canada. Yes indeed, one non-partisan set of voting rules applied right across the country to see to the smooth running of federal elections.

It is the responsibility of this non-partisan body to ensure that, based on local population, there are sufficient polling stations in any given area. Of course this entails making sure these stations are properly staffed. It is rare that extremely long lines form at voting places. Certainly there are busier times; lunch, immediately after work are two examples.

Once the voting is over, and all those who made it to the polling station before the deadline, even if they are waiting in line, have cast their ballots, the counting begins. I understand that in the US many items are on the ballot, and they often use voting machines. Regardless, if the counting of votes takes this long, there are not enough vote counters. Plain and simple.

If the democratic process is so dear to the hearts of Americans, wouldn’t you think it would warrant paying a sufficient number of people to count the votes cast?

If the democratic process is so dear to the hearts of Americans, wouldn’t you think it would warrant paying a sufficient number of people to count the votes cast? Whether ‘today’ ballots or ‘mail-in’, they all must be counted.

There will be challenges and requests for recounts, that’s all part of the procedure. But before ballots can be challenged or recounted, they have to be counted.

A little respect for the process would go a long way.

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COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Health, Humor, Montreal, News, Opinion

Interview With The Novel Coronavirus

I assure you this wasn’t easy to arrange, it required calling in some very big I.O.U.s, a great deal of legwork, even some begging and, not a little bit of luck, but finally, I was able to secure ten minutes of time with the Novel Coronavirus for a one-on-one interview. I was, of course, sworn to secrecy about where and when our meeting would take place, and the Virus demanded the last word on the final product. But I considered these to be small prices to pay for an interview with what is sure to be Time Magazine’s Newsmaker of the Year. 

Let me point out that there were numerous restrictions placed on me including absolutely no photography, not even a simple selfie (did anyone really think I would put my arm around the Virus for a selfie?), in fact, no electronics were allowed. I had to observe strict adherence to the ten-minute limit and, no interaction at all with his handlers before or after the interview would be tolerated. Oh yes, and under no circumstances was I to refer to the Virus as COVID-19, it’s a sensitive issue best left alone.

… absolutely no photography, not even a simple selfie (did anyone really think I would put my arm around the Virus for a selfie?)

Armed with several pages of questions and a handful of pens I arrived in plenty of time to be patted down by handlers in HazMat suits, looking for hand sanitizer I was told. I was bundled into my full HazMat outfit. Once securely sealed in my yellow cocoon, looking a little like the Michelin Man with jaundice, I was shown into a room where the interview would take place. 

I recall reading about a journalist who had been granted access to cover a Rolling Stones tour. She had never met them but would do so just prior to their show at Madison Square Garden. She wanted to make sure she recalled in detail her first impression upon seeing them in person. When she first clapped eyes on them backstage before the show her first thought was … they were so much smaller than she thought.

Once securely sealed in my yellow cocoon, looking a little like the Michelin Man with jaundice

We’ve all seen the Virus’s photo countless times in the media and on signs and posters around the world, yet I can assure you, like the Stones’ journalist, I was taken aback by just how little the Virus is. It perched on a chair and I had to squint to see it, eventually, a long microscope-like instrument was brought in that allowed me to see my interlocutor. But what the Virus lacks in stature it makes up for in vocal volume. 

Below is an excerpt from our meeting; I am hoping Time will buy the entire interview for their Newsmaker issue. Not surprisingly we did not exchange pleasantries but got right down to the interview. Time being of the essence.

DCMontreal: Let me begin by thanking you for granting me this opportunity to ask a few questions and try to help the world understand you.

Coronavirus: You’re welcome.

DCM: You have caused massive losses around the world since you came to visit us. Deaths, financial ruin, illness. I guess the first question I have is very simple – Why? 

CV: As the song goes, Fish Gotta Swim Birds Gotta Fly. I’m a virus, it’s what we do. And let me just point out I am a real virus, not one of those silly computer things. Mere inconveniences that they are.

DCM: Okay, so you’re just doing what a bug does …

CV: Whoa, whoa, whoa sunshine. Hold it right there. Let me make this as clear as crystal. I am a virus. Cockroaches, silverfish, centipedes, beetles (not The Beatles), and the like are bugs. Not me. If I was a mere bug, you could have exterminated me. Virus, not bug. Common influenza has no problem with being called a bug. That’s why it’s common.

DCM: Speaking of which, is it possible you could use your abilities to rid the world of annoyances such as cockroaches? Or even something as hideous as cancer.

CV: Nope. We viruses do not discriminate. 

DCM: You say you don’t discriminate, yet some segments of our population are harder hit by you than others. Lower-income people, older folks, people of colour have all been hit much harder than others.

We don’t discriminate; humans discriminate.

CV: Let me stress this, viruses do not discriminate. Those segments of your society have been harder hit because they tend to be less able to fight a virus due to the fact they are undernourished and have less access to proper affordable medical treatment. Why would that be I wonder? We don’t discriminate; humans discriminate.

DCM: So if we had taken better care of our seniors, and provided quality medical care to all, even those without financial means, and did much more to have a level playing field for people of colour, we might not have been hit so hard by you? 

CV: Bingo.

My favourites are anti-maskers and anti-vaxers. Thanks to them I’m still going strong

DCM: You arrived in my part of the world in late February or so. Can you give me some idea when you plan to leave?

CV: Oh, I’m not leaving. I really like it here. You’re just going to have to learn to live with me. You seem to be on the right track, you know what to do – masks and social distancing until a vaccine is available – but getting people to do those things will just keep me in my position of power. Until you guys figure me out and concoct an effective, affordable, and easily available vaccination, the morons among you will keep me going. My favourites are anti-maskers and anti-vaxers. Thanks to them I’m still going strong. And those who just won’t do what is asked or told because it allegedly takes away their rights – I just love them!

There is much more from our ten minutes, but I’ll leave it here for now. It struck me during our time together that I couldn’t help but think that part of what the Virus wants to do is illustrate – harshly no doubt – how we all depend on each other. Silver lining?

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Blogging, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Internet, Montreal, News, Opinion

Think I’ll Be An Influencer

Taking advantage of round two of COVID-19 isolation, I’ve been doing some thinking (not always a good idea, in all honesty). Not only have I been thinking, but I’ve decided to seriously consider making a career change. Yes indeed, at the ripe old age of sixty-one I have decided to become an Influencer.

It hit me like a meteor last evening. While waiting for the local news to come on I was watching one of those celebrity/entertainment shows. And there she was, her name was not known to me, and currently escapes my mind, but, according to the graphic under her image, she was an Influencer. I thought to myself, that sounds like something I can do.

Never one to fear putting the cart before the horse, having decided to become an Influencer I then undertook to find out just what Influencers are, and what they do

Never one to fear putting the cart before the horse, having decided to become an Influencer I then undertook to find out just what Influencers are, and what they do. According to Merriam-Webster, they are people “who exert influencea person who inspires or guides the actions of others”. Over at Urban Dictionary they define Influencer as “a word Instagram users use to describe themselves to make them feel famous and more important when no one really know (sic) who they are or care (sic)”. I have a feeling my muse on TV last night falls into the latter group. It would appear that the millennial generation has taken the old word – shill (as in one who makes a sales pitch or serves as a promoter), and adapted it to a less unsavoury sounding word – Influencer.

It would appear that the millennial generation has taken the old word – shill (as in one who makes a sales pitch or serves as a promoter), and adapted it to a less unsavoury sounding word – Influencer

Fine and dandy! Armed with an idea of what Influencers do, I came upon the first snag in my new career venture; what exactly was I going to Influence people to do? One often hears the phrase, go with your strength, so I sat down and came up with a list. I figured that I could make my fortune by influencing people to do any number of things, including take naps, drink beer, be an avid reader, stretch domestic cats (yep, it’s a skill I’ve mastered that involves getting the right grip on a cat and gently bending it back until they take over the deep stretch), write, make Irish Stew, the list goes on.

Some popular Influencers tout soon-to-be popular video games. Having retired from that field when they increased the speed of Pong, I think I can rule out that option. Then there are fashion/lifestyle Influencers. Perhaps I could grow my following by pushing the importance of witty T-shirts as a means of communication. No ‘I’m With Stupid’ here!

Putting that major decision on the backburner, another key aspect of being an Influencer arose; what medium to use. The folks that I am familiar with are video Influencers, but I realized that I’m really not comfortable having my mug plastered all over the Internet (guess I should have called it off with that discovery). Mind you, countless times in my life, usually while on the phone, I have been asked if I work in radio (I have, in fact, done some voice work). So, it will have to be a Podcast.

I hereby promise not to affect an Irish brogue when podcasting my Lamb Stew recipe!

I suspect that by now you have grasped that I am not seriously considering a DCMontreal podcast on the history and benefits of afternoon naps. I guess I just wanted to poke a little fun at the marketing geniuses who continue to reinvent the wheel, but then pull the wool of folks’ eyes by calling it a mass transport device.

I figure I’ll concentrate on amassing a huge following and then sign a ridiculously lucrative contract to shill for some large entity. Could be a beer company, or a mattress maker, maybe an online dictionary.

In closing I’d like to point out that I have focused only on the positive nature of Influencers. Evil Influencers do exist, as Flip Wilson’s character Geraldine Jones pointed out constantly by stating ‘The devil made me do it’! By the way, I hereby promise not to affect an Irish brogue when podcasting my Lamb Stew recipe!

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Canada, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Montreal, News, Opinion

COVID-19: Close Schools And Open Bars

Today is the day. At some point, probably this afternoon, the Government of Quebec will reveal what will be happening this Thursday. That will be October 29th; it will also mark the end of the 28-day increased confinement in the province’s Red Zones, including Montreal.

As the school year began, albeit under severe conditions, and a sense of almost normalcy descended upon the province, the number of daily cases of COVID-19 began to rise to levels not seen for several months. In an effort to staunch the significant uptick in new cases and hospitalizations, if not deaths, the powers that be in the Capital decided to take action – but did they do the right thing?

… evidently being the favourite whipping boys of the Quebec government, bars were closed and restaurants were not allowed to have indoor dining

When the restrictions were put in place four weeks ago, a number of things changed, including the closure of gyms, and churches and other houses of worship being put on a tight limit of 25 people at any given time. And of course, evidently being the favourite whipping boys of the Quebec government, bars were closed and restaurants were not allowed to have indoor dining, however they could provide take away meals and booze (much to the chagrin of bar owners who could not sell alcohol to go).

What was the effect on the infamous ‘second wave’ of the Novel Coronavirus? Well, not all that much really. As the graph above shows, the number of new cases, while not spiking since the re-restrictions were imposed, certainly has not gone down. Apparently, the reopening of schools has caused an increase in new cases of the virus. During the summer months the numbers were very low, but come September and, even with all the precautions taken in schools, the numbers shot up.

Could it be that bars and restaurants (and gyms etc.) have been falsely accused of being the culprits in the back-to-school rise in cases? It seems to me that if you close those businesses, and the numbers do not go down, it’s not their fault. The government is barking up the wrong tree. Close the schools, go back to online classes, and allow the bars and restaurants to reopen!

It seems to me that if you close those businesses, and the numbers do not go down, it’s not their fault

But I don’t think anyone is expecting the government to do that. More realistically, the extension of the restrictions will be announced. And here’s where two levels of government; provincial and municipal, need to get their act together. While the folks in Quebec City are imploring us to stay home, do a little good old confining to help quash the virus, the mayor of Montreal is encouraging us to shop in downtown stores, even offering some free parking spots, rather than online. While I admire the mayor’s possibly too-late attempt to save downtown, I can’t help but think of the damage she caused to the area pre-covid.

Interestingly, the biggest offender when it comes to workplace COVID-19 outbreaks are retail outlets. But no suggestion has been made to close or reduce access to stores or supermarkets. We all must wear masks and wash our hands when entering a retail store. We do our best to maintain social distancing in the store, but we also handle merchandise, whether textiles or food goods, have a good look then replace it. Every can of peas could potentially be a COVID-19 spreader!

Oh well, my liver can use the break!

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Bars, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Montreal, News, Opinion

Final Nail In Pub’s Coffin

Anyone who knows me or reads this blog will be familiar with my more than passing love of bars and pubs. From my late teens (okay, perhaps my mid-teens) I have felt at home in these once smoky establishments.

As a younger man my preference was night-time forays to Montreal’s many drinking places. But with years and, I hope wisdom, I have made the transition to day drinking. An older crowd listening to better music and no social competition suites me to a tee.

I found a place that was such a good fit, it was almost a convulsion. Montreal’s Irish Embassy was the place

Of course finding a place that is just right is like coming across the proverbial needle in a haystack. But after much dogged research, tramping from watering hole to watering hole – someone had to do it, a few years ago I found a place that was such a good fit, it was almost a convulsion. Montreal’s Irish Embassy was the place.

Situated on Bishop Street, The Embassy occupied the site of many previous bars, including the one-time successful Woody’s and the basement haunt Baker Street.

… the Phoenix that will rise from The Embassy’s ashes will be, alas, yet another combination hotel/condominium glass box situated behind a grey stone façade.

The Embassy had all the items on many folks’ lists: location, fair prices, great staff and, good food. Throw in countless interesting regulars and you’ve got a great daytime drinkery. Unfortunately the other thing The Irish Embassy had was very old wiring. Sadly, in the early hours of March 24, 2018 a large fire put finish to the Embassy as we knew it (fortunately there were no injuries or worse)…. the Phoenix that will rise from The Embassy’s ashes will be, alas, yet another combination hotel/condominium glass box situated behind a grey stone façade.

The gutted remains of The Embassy have sat untouched (except for securing the place) since that dreadful day. But now news comes of a new life for The Embassy. Yes indeed, come 2022 there will be life in the old dog once again. Lamentably, that new life won’t be taking the form of an Irish Pub. No, as is the case with essentially every square inch of available real estate in downtown Montreal, the Phoenix that will rise from The Embassy’s ashes will be, alas, yet another combination hotel/condominium glass box situated behind a grey stone façade.

Long ago, those of us who were regulars lost hope that the place would ever be restored to some version of it’s former self. And most of us understand the economic viability of the condo market currently in Montreal. But the website advertising the project just seems like the final nail in the charred coffin of one more Montreal landmark.

Yet I doubt they will ever understand … the disembodied voice of a man with a Welsh accent yelling whenever a coaster is not used

While I sincerely wish the project owners all the very best of success, a part of me hopes that the residents appreciate just where they live. Yet I doubt they will ever understand the inexplicable appearance of a shot glass filled with, oddly, soup appearing on a granite kitchen island, a mysterious man looking for his blue glasses at the bottom of the outside stairs, the disembodied voice of a man with a Welsh accent yelling whenever a coaster is not used, the eerie nasal cackle of a favourite travel agent, a mystical older man insisting that crime doesn’t pay, the unmistakable sound of a rat pissing on a cotton ball, and, of course, the weird on again off again of the air conditioning. And if one day they wake up to find the Prime Minister of Canada making himself at home, not to worry.

I’m beginning to believe those who say 2020 is a doomed year!

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Beer, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Montreal, News, Opinion

To All The Bars I’ve Loved Before

In Montreal they have forced bars, pubs, and restaurants to close as we deal with wave two of COVID-19. Please don’t pass judgement, but this has left me with significant free time on my hands (better than my liver, I guess).

So idle hands being what they are, and with sincere apologies to Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias, I present the following …

To all the bars I’ve loved before
That now are forced to close their door
The government was wrong
I dedicate this song
To all the bars I’ve loved before

To all the pubs where I’ve been a guest
And may I say, I’ve seen the best
For helping me to glow, I owe a lot, I know
To all the bars I’ve loved before

Through seas of covid we are rowing
And every time my round I’d say
The pressure to close kept growing
And they just wouldn’t let me stay

To all the bartenders who shared my life
And warned me of the arrival of my wife
I’m glad they’ve got the CERB
Much better than the curb
I dedicate this song
To all the bars I’ve loved before

To all the owners who cared for me
Who filled my days with ecstasy
Even if they won’t fix the Embassy
They live within my heart
They’ll always be a part
Of all the bars I’ve loved before

My longing for a cold one still is growing
And every time I tried to stay
That bloody virus the coughers were sowing
And they just made me turn and say
Use your elbow please don’t spray

To all the bars I’ve loved before
One day I hope they’ll reopen the door
I’m glad they came along
I expect a shot for this fine song
To all the bars I’ve loved before

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COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Donald Trump, Media, News, Opinion

COVID In The White House

 Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP

Like many, I awoke this morning to the shocking news that United States President Donald Trump, and his wife, had tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus. I’m in no way a big fan of the current president, his policies, his demeanour, what he has done to abase the highest office in the land, are all part of why I dislike him. But did the news of his illness make me happy? Certainly not. I sincerely hope that he and the first lady both make full recoveries.

That being said, one has to wonder at the timing of the announcement. Forty-eight hours earlier the president had not only been trounced by Joe Biden in a debate, but managed to make a fool of himself in the process. The constant media analysis and regurgitation of that debate couldn’t have pleased him. How to change the news cycle?

Would it be beneath the president of the United States of America to use a pandemic to try to bolster his numbers? Not this president.

Going into the debate last Tuesday many polls had Biden with a comfortable lead. Trump’s performance can only have caused that gap to grow. Yet I recall four years ago at this time when Hilary Clinton seemed to be cruising to victory. We all know how that turned out.

Would it be beneath the president of the United States of America to use a pandemic to try to bolster his numbers? Not this president. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who wished Trump a speedy recovery, was originally, like Trump, one who played down COVID-19. That was, of course, until he contracted the virus, was hospitalized and, thankfully, recovered. When Johnson left hospital and eventually returned to Parliament, he was a changed person. His view of the virus was changed – how could it not be?

Trump is a lover of the phrase ‘Fake News’. I don’t think it is beyond him to use fake news to his own end.

My hunch is that Trump hopes to make a full recovery (if, indeed, he really is ill) with enough time before the November election to tout his ability to beat the virus.

Mark Makela / Getty Images

Wouldn’t his base just love that? Even the alleged killer of over one million people worldwide couldn’t harm our man would be their approach. Trump will appear at rallies, the man who beat COVID-19 (even if he also denied its existence, but then again his base members have short memories). He’ll become the pandemic Golden Boy, surely Sleepy Joe Biden could never have shaken off the ‘Chinese Flu’.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope the First Couple have very mild cases and are back in no time. But I still have my doubts. Trump is a lover of the phrase ‘Fake News’. I don’t think it is beyond him to use fake news to his own end.

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Canada, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Montreal, News, Opinion, Politics

Code Red On Fun

Some weeks ago the Government of Quebec established a colour system to illustrate the various levels of the COVID-19 alert around the province. Never wanting to be left out, the city of Montreal has, as of yesterday, plunged headfirst into the highest – red – level.

Yep, it’s scientifically demonstrable that activities that may lead to enjoyment evidently pose the greatest threat

This Red Alert will be in effect for 28 days and comes with a whole passel of restrictions; too many to list here, but a few of them include bars and restaurant dining rooms being closed (restaurants may provide take-out and delivery). Gatherings of people in public or private are now verboten.

Dan Powers USA TODAY

If you take a look at the list of restrictions you can’t help but notice that there is a direct correlation between the chance of contracting the Novel Coronavirus and having fun. Yep, it’s scientifically demonstrable that activities that may lead to enjoyment evidently pose the greatest threat.

You can have teeth extracted, bunions removed, or a colonoscopy. But for Sweet Jaysus’ sake don’t sit six feet apart in a pub for a drink or two

If the congregation is limited to 25 people, you can attend religious services. Kids can go to school. You can have teeth extracted, bunions removed, or a colonoscopy. But for Sweet Jaysus’ sake don’t sit six feet apart in a pub for a drink or two. Have a bit of a flutter at the casino perhaps? No way.

We enter a new season, not autumn, but open season on fun. I heard on the radio today that the biggest spreader of the virus isn’t bars, restaurants, casinos, or even schools. It’s retail outlets. People handling goods in stores then putting them back, making payments, all the usual transactions involved in commerce have been called out as significant culprits in the spread of COVID-19.

Yet stores can remain open even under Code Red. Closing them again would allegedly cause many of them to go tits up. For some a little retail therapy will do them good. If I never set foot in another store I’d be just fine.

Much like Donkey in the Shrek movies and although we are only one full day in, I find myself often asking “Are we there yet?”.

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Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Donald Trump, History, Media, News, Opinion, Politics, Polls, United States, US Election 2020

Grass Roots And Grassroots

 Photograph: Harry Durrant/Getty Images

The Grass Roots was an American rock band in the late sixties and early seventies. Their biggest, but certainly not their only, hit was Midnight Confessions, a song that still gets played on many oldies stations.

On the other hand, the concept of Grassroots politics is significantly different, but no less an integral part of US culture. According to Wikipedia, “Grassroots movements and organizations use collective action from the local level to affect change at the local, regional, national, or international level”.

That’s the way politics used to work. Men and women – sometimes children – working locally to affect change. Community groups and lawn signs are all part of grassroots politics. Striving for improvements to society from the bottom up.

Today we see the natural progression (regression?) of negativity. Attack ads are much more prevalent than are those promoting positivity.

But that was then and this is now. The man/woman in the street’s opinion really doesn’t seem to matter, which may lead to many of them not bothering to vote. Perhaps I’m being naïve; perhaps it never did. Yet I have to believe that without this input the system is doomed to fail.

I sense that the beginning of the end was the advent of, and essentially total switch to, negative politicking. Grassroots politics focus on positive change; making things better. A new municipal swimming pool or a new president. Today we see the natural progression (regression?) of negativity. Attack ads are much more prevalent than are those promoting positivity. “Never mind what I will do, we must stop my opponent from doing whatever he or she will do” is the mantra.

In Canada, the 1993 election provided us with an example of how our two countries view negative political advertising. The Progressive Conservative (oxymoron?) Party of Canada ran an ad featuring very unflattering photos of Liberal candidate Jean Chrétien, who suffers from “partial paralysis” of his face, which he believes was a birth defect and which his mother thought was the result of a childhood disease or virus. The PCP went on to lose the election and many consider this ad to have been the turning point. Canadians are nice folks; the electors did not like the nastiness.

I fear that a candidate’s platform – remember those? – is less crucial today than criticizing the opponent’s promises – dare I say it – ad nauseam .

However, in the early days of negative campaigning, this mud-slinging was kept to actual pre-election periods and was done by backroom flunkies, for the most part, the candidates kept their hands clean except for ‘approving’ the ads, of course. But the current resident of the Oval Office practices it on a daily basis all year round. From his favourite “fake news” to his total disregard for scientific facts, he constantly demeans the Office he holds.

When United States Senators can say one thing four years ago, then completely flip-flop on that statement today shows incredible disrespect for those who elect them, to say nothing of the process.

Sowing lies and mistruths from the highest office in the land is something totally out of character for any inhabitant of the White House. Sadly this distortion of facts and warping of the electoral process has exposed the many people who are easily duped. The time has come for elected officials at all levels of government to consider what is best for their constituents, not what is best for their own political careers.

When United States Senators can say one thing four years ago, then completely flip-flop on that statement today shows incredible disrespect for those who elect them, to say nothing of the process.

It is a sad turn of events indeed.

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My Neighbour Is Sick

For as long as I can remember we’ve had the same neighbour. We go back years, decades, indeed centuries. We live in what in the real estate world is known as a semi-detached. Which of course means it is also semi-attached; we share one very long partition, I am hesitant to call it a wall, given what my neighbour has in mind for the other side of his house.

We are very similar in so many ways, and get along just fine for the most part, even if we disagree on how to spell neighbours. Oh, sure we have the occasional spat, a little falling out. But when push comes to shove we have each other’s back. For instance, my neighbour had an ungodly upset on September 11, 2001 when one of the central family members was struck down in an egregious act of violence. We did what we could to help the situation and felt our bond grow stronger as often happens in difficult times.

Before the current pandemic, we often spent time in each other’s place; in fact, we are each other’s most frequent visitor. Over the years many members of my extended family have married into my neighbour’s clan, and vice versa.

Our cultures are similar, sports, arts, entertainment are all on the same track. Not identical mind you, but shall I say variations on a theme. The way we run our household and make decisions is, again, on the surface comparable, yet dig deeper and it is almost like night and day.

Before the current pandemic, we often spent time in each other’s place; in fact, we are each other’s most frequent visitor. Over the years many members of my extended family have married into my neighbour’s clan, and vice versa.

All in all, we are a pretty close pair. Which is why I write this. You see it has occurred to me recently, after poring over newspapers and electronic media, that my neighbour is sick, undeniably very ill. Over the past four years there has been something akin to a cancer coursing through my neighbour. Perhaps it has always been there, but since a new head of the household moved in, the vile malignancy has surfaced. For the most part this sickness started manifesting itself in relatively small flare-ups, but lately major outbreaks have erupted erupts that knock everyone for a loop.

Over the past four years there has been something akin to a cancer coursing through my neighbour. Perhaps it has always been there, but since a new head of the household moved in, the vile malignancy has surfaced

My sadness over my neighbour’s sickness is compounded by a strong feeling of frustration. You see, the illness, hideous though it is, is absolutely curable. Other neighbours in our community have suffered from similar afflictions, and have taken appropriate actions to remedy the situation, and rid themselves of the demon. But many of my semi-detached neighbours not only refuse to consider the cure but rather insist on confronting the disease by applying even more disease.

We have been good neighbours for so long that it pains me deeply to see this lovely big household  (mind you our house is bigger even if our family is smaller!)  afflicted in such a destructive manner. I hope that in early November, before it is too late, my next-door neighbour will realize that something must be done to eradicate this infirmity. In conclusion, I must come clean, I would be lying if I did not admit to also having a selfish desire to see my neighbour well, and that is the concern that, like popular culture, the disease may spread to our house.

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