Monday, August 01, 2016

Yes, I Am Canadian; What About It?

This is what my Facebook Timeline looks like to those who are not on my "Friends" list


It has become a constant prediction, whenever I engage in online discussions about the American election: the accusation of excessive Canadianism in an American-centric topic.

It first started back when I began to discover my conservatism, and was "outed" by the husband of someone I had considered to be a friend: "It should be noted that Lissa is Canadian. A hike should be taken."

It bothered me back then, and I suppose it still does, to a degree, but I'm better able to combat it now that I've had some practice.

The latest happened in a Facebook group for Jewish conservatives. Not American conservatives. Jewish. I was added to the group by an American friend with whom I share much of the same mindset.

In discussing Donald Trump (did you think otherwise? Have you been following me at all?), I got heavily involved in expressing my concern, even disdain, for a candidate who has shown no conservatism, no decency, no presidential stature at all.

At one point, a Trump-supporting member decided to check me out on Facebook. Now, I am the maven of privacy options, so all any non-Friend can see is my display photos. The above photo is a screenshot of what non-followers see when they go check me out.

(For the record, I added the overlay of the Israeli flag some years back, and haven't changed it as most of Facebook has, with the terrorist-attack-du-jour; my support of Israel is strong, constant, unwavering, and proud).

That's what this mini-Sherlock saw, and gleefully brought it to the group.

"Maybe the flag of Canada as your cover photo makes it difficult for some of us to take your points seriously."

To which I replied,

"I didn't realize free speech had borders.

Look, you know nothing about me. Yes, I'm Canadian, but anyone who thinks they should only opine about their own country is living in ignorance.

EVERYTHING that happens in the world affects us. EVERYTHING that happens in the USA affects Canada.

I may not be directly affected but loved ones and friends are.

And until the admins of this group tell me I cannot post because of my geographical location, I will continue to have an informed opinion as loud as I'm permitted."

She continued - calling me a troll because I don't have a vote south of the border (this person was, the next day, made moderator of the group - o joy). It became a topic of conversation then, others coming in from both sides.

One admin said that I have no say, no place commenting, based on my nationality.

Someone else refuted that, with a third coming in and saying, "why is she allowed in the group, then? Are we preparing ourselves for Trump's stomping on the First Amendment?"

Another admin - anti-Trump - made the point that their "logic" would mean none of us who lives outside of Israel has a right to comment on Israeli current events. A third admin - also anti-Trump - confirmed that there is no support among the admins of the group for kicking out non-Americans.

I made a statement that I've continued to make throughout:

"If I were pro-Trump, my nationality would not even be a blip on your radar."

No one bit - except for the support I got from those in agreement.

Today, it happened again - same group.

In a discussion about Trump somehow being better than Clinton because he never raised taxes, never voted for a war, etc etc etc, I commented that it's irrelevant, as he has no political record whatsoever.

Of course, this brought in the pro-Trumper who tried to present logic that the post was not about Trump (it was - Clinton was never mentioned, and I made note that the post actually served as the pro-DJT ad Trump's campaign has yet to release).

The Trumper didn't like my logic. She refuted with, "I would make a bet that you bashed Stephen Harper in your election too."

That was her oh-so-cute way of revealing to the as-yet-uninformed of the group that I'm Canadian.

Though I owed her nothing - and said as much - I proudly proclaimed that I had been active for over a year, campaigning with and for our local Conservative Party candidate. That I had proudly blogged about the campaign, gone door-to-door, and had been privileged to meet and shake hands with our former Prime Minister, and his family, expressing my support to the Harpers at all 4 of the rallies I was lucky enough to attend.

The back-and-forth continued, with my letting her know, "Yes, I'm Canadian, but that cud's already been chewed in this group."

She became snarkier with each post, somehow blaming Trudeau on me (now, THAT'S an insult!), and when I continued to rebut with calm, semi-bemused posts of truth and logic, she went all-out Trumper on me, insulting me and calling me names.

So let's talk about my crime of Canadianistic origin.

Does it make me less informed about the USA?

Well, there are Canadians who are ill-informed, uninformed, or uninterested in American politics. Many of those don't even inform themselves about Canadian politics (we call those people Liberals).

But I am not the only Canadian who does learn everything I can about the USA.

First of all, it's unavoidable

 Anyone who watches American television has no choice but to be bombarded with news stories, updates, commercials, comments about the candidates and the current events. And our Canadian news shows carry stories about the election happenings south of the border as well.

If you have friends, family, loved ones in the USA, you are likely hearing about this election - even if you never heard much about prior years. This one is different. This one has sensationalism.

And if you're on Facebook, with even ONE American friend, you're going to be seeing headlines. It's unavoidable.

Secondly, it's interesting

I know, now, that I should have stuck with Political Science way back when. I might have had a different path in my life, but that's okay; I learned later, and I learned intensively.

But the process, the patterns, the topics, the candidates...they're all interesting. They provide a lot of food for thought, and a lot of information for those of us who are discerning enough to want to know about what's outside the box of our lives.

Most importantly. it is obligatory

My mom had a saying: "when the USA sneezes, Canada catches a cold."

I recently learned, from my dad, that my grandfather had another saying: "When the USA gets a cold, Canada gets pneumonia."

You get the idea; we are affected. Our economy, our travel, our relations with the USA and with other countries, our security, our trade, our human interests. Everything we do is governed by some political subset of ideas, no matter where we live.

And sharing the longest undefended border in the world with the USA, Canada stands to endure much in the ways of the above-mentioned issues no matter who gets elected in November.

But let's go outside of that

Are we that provincial, that small-minded, that tunnel-visioned that no other country's current events should be of interest to us? And if it is of interest to us, are we that narrowly governed by society that we should not engage in meaningful - CIVIL - discourse on those events?

Is any topic of current events a proprietary issue?

Perhaps a suicide bomb in Kabul doesn't affect my day. I will wake and go to sleep the same ways I did the day before, my food will be as plentiful, my technology will work,  my kids will be happy and healthy, my dog will get walked, I'll enjoy laughing and sharing via phone calls, and I'll still be able to catch up on the latest Netflix offerings.

But to think that suicide bomb in Kabul doesn't affect everything in this world is incredibly tone deaf. Of course it affects us. It means there are terrorists who are continuing to harm others in the name of their extremist ideologies, it means that no one is safe because the next terrorist emboldened by that successful bombing may be on a plane to North America, or Europe, and we will - not "may" - be affected when that happens.

Do we stick our heads in the sands of our own countries, our own states or provinces, our own towns or boroughs, and breathe in only the air that is local to us just because we don't vote in other countries?

Or do we continue to thrive as citizens of the world, taking interest, learning facts and information, absorbing realities, and talking about it with other citizens of the world in order to be prepared for What Comes Next, no matter how directly or indirectly we are affected?

I don't know about you, but I'll take the latter.

Ignorance, friends, is not bliss.

No matter where you live.





Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What Is Trump's Endgame?



I've been wondering, since a year ago when he announced in a controversial statement filled with hyperbole and seeming to aim for humor rather than substance, his bid for the White House, just what Donald Trump wanted.

His inability to articulate anything outside of slogans and catchphrases, his inability to properly debate issues in detail, and his seeming unwillingness to assume a presidential stature have all led me to wonder if he's not throwing this election for some reason.

It was put forth to me - also toward the beginning of his campaign (and by someone I respect profoundly for political analysis and intelligence, among other things) that Trump is likely shilling for his friend Hillary Clinton. And that perhaps this election campaign was just his way of ensuring her election.

See, Hillary Clinton could not have run at a worse time for her situation: saddled by scandal after scandal (old and new), in the 7th year under a presidency that went from bad to worse - economically, security-wise, and in sharply dividing the country along lines of race, and partisanship - was bad enough for Clinton. Then, the growing headlines of her email server becoming more clearly felonious in its existence and use, she could not win among savvy voters - could she?

She could, if she were pitted against the weakest link. And in a field of 17 Republican candidates, many of whom were weak but at least experienced, the one person she could beat, it became clear, was Donald Trump.

Could the country elect the narcissistic Trump whose ventures have continuously failed (to the point of litigation and loss), whose only claim to fame was his reality shows and philandering ways, and whose mouth was on constant overdrive without his brain being engaged?

It didn't seem so, at first. Trump characterized Mexican immigrants as "rapists and murderers," in a shocking, sweeping generalization that would insult the good, hard-working immigrants of all nations who are legally admitted to the USA every year.

He then continued his outrageous remarks. I have outlined many of my points of contention in another post, and won't repeat them here. But since that post, he has continued to gather more feet in his mouth, and flip-flop on issues than any other candidate I can remember.

Flip-flops and Bumblings




 For example:





It also gave Clinton an 8-point lead in Florida - another crucial battleground state.

  • Moving sharply to the gun control position of the left after the horrific terrorist attack in Orlando June 12th, where he stated he would talk to the NRA about banning people on the no-fly list from obtaining firearms (problematic, as people on that list are often on it for random, unjustified reasons; there is an 8-year-old boy who is on the list, and the late Ted Kennedy also had his name on it; problematic because the NRA has no say in laws over the no-fly list but does have a position on due process as a constitutional right). Denying anyone on that list their due process is a violation of the Constitution. It is also something the liberal left - including Hillary Clinton - has been pushing for without end.

In fact, Trump - who has held up a Supreme Court Justice nomination as his raison d'être to become the next President, to "protect the Second Amendment" - is no different than Clinton on the Second Amendment; his history with gun rights is extremely liberal, even as it changes constantly.

  • Trump is suffering from the highest disapproval numbers of any candidate in history: 70% of Americans have an unfavorable view of him. His disapprovals are high with women, men, blacks, Hispanics, whites, college students - to name only a few.
  • Trump has spent $0 on ads. Hillary Clinton has spent $21,000,000. So far. Perhaps Trump is counting on another $2,000,000,000 worth of free airtime that the media gave him during primaries; he won't get it. The only network in the tank for him is Fox; every other network is ramping up the negatives I'm listing here (and as they continue to pile up daily).

Clinton's filings showed her having raised $26,000,000 in May, finishing the month with over $42,000,000 cash on hand.

Trump's filings are another story. They show that he raised $3,200,000 and finished the month with only $1,300,000 cash on hand.

His expenses are astronomical. He spent $208,000 on hats. He paid his kids a salary. In a very unusual situation, he seems to draw a salary as well.

20% of his expenses go to his businesses (all bearing his name). This link will take you to some of the more eye-opening details.

In a bizarre entry, his filings show that he paid $35,000 in advertising to a recipient by the name of Draper Sterling. Yes, if you're a fan of Mad Men, you'll recognize those names. The address of this "firm" is a residence (above-ground pool included) in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

We can compare Trump's numbers to Mitt Romney's in 2012, at this point in time; Romney had raised $86,500,000.

In fact, Ted Cruz - who suspended his campaign in April - has $6.8M cash on hand as of today. Even Bernie Sanders has $9.2M in the bank.

All this is a stunning revelation, as Trump has trumpeted his wealth all along, stating that he is "very, very rich," and declaring he was self-funding (proven to be untrue - he accepted at least $14,000,000 in donations during the primaries).

In May, Trump boasted that he didn't need the Republican party. Yet, this week, he asked for Republican help. 

Unpresidential Behavior




All this time, he has continued to behave in decidedly unpresidential ways: nicknames worthy only of high-school bullies (and even then), constant "clarifications" from his campaign staffers due to impulsive - or unscripted - statements that raise eyebrows among conservatives and liberals alike, and a confrontational, self-centered demeanor that slightly overshadows his lack of substance in his speeches.

Yet an advisor for his campaign has warned against expecting changes: "If you read any of this to believe Trump is going to change in any way, you're probably misreading it," he said. "Donald Trump is Donald Trump and he's not going to change into something else."

The Real Agenda 



Here's what I believe is happening - and what will happen down the line.

In a shocking revelation, Donald Trump admitted, early on in the campaign, that he and Bill Clinton spoke on the phone before Trump announced his bid for the White House.

Ask yourselves why such a call would take place - especially if Trump were planning to oppose Hillary, either as a Democrat or Republican.

There's one reason, and that is to help Hillary. We all know that the Clintons operate this way; they bend break the rules, they create landscapes that unfold in their favor, and they tend to get away with it every time.

The theory I mentioned at the beginning of this article is sound; Hillary needed someone who would make her look like a more desirable choice for President. The only person in the race who could do that was Donald Trump.

The Clintons knew they could not hold their own against a poised, skilled, principled conservative like Ted Cruz, and that the field - including Jeb Bush (a popular candidate, even if many felt he wasn't right for the job), Rand Paul (consistently popular), outsiders like Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson, and the wildly successful Scott Walker - to name a few - did not look like one Hillary could beat.

But they knew Donald Trump. They'd been friends for years. He praised Clinton's stint as Secretary of State, saying she'd been a "terrific Secretary of State", and is on record stating she would "make a great president."

He's known to have been a major donor to her campaigns, as well as to the Clinton Foundation. And he is seen, in a famous photograph, with the Clintons at his 3rd wedding. He is quoted as saying: "“Hillary Clinton, I said, ‘Be at my wedding,’ and she came to my wedding. She had no choice because I gave to [the Clinton] foundation."

What does this mean, besides an almost certain win for Hillary Clinton when she runs against the disastrous candidacy of Donald Trump?

Bold Prediction 



 I've been mulling over a bold prediction that - in this bizarre election cycle - could just be less outlandish than plausible.

See, I couldn't understand how someone could so blatantly, and clumsily be throwing this election the way Trump continues to bumble through. Shilling for Hillary to win is now widely believed among conservatives. But what does he get out of it? Because with Donald Trump, it's always about him.

What if, after Clinton wins (by the landslide she's expected to win against Trump's consistently low performance in polls against her), she then holds a joint press conference with Donald Trump?

What if, at this press conference, she announces that she is going to give Trump an advisory position in her cabinet?

And what if Trump declares that he is doing so "in the name of unifying the country", something he's been unable to do in the party he purports to represent?

You're laughing right now. You may be ridiculing this utterly ridiculous projection. But you probably laughed when Trump announced, and then advanced his candidacy for president too.

Don't dismiss it out of hand. He's friends with the Clintons, a major donor to her previous campaigns, he's a lifelong Democrat, and he is crazy enough to be throwing this election just to emerge with a seat on the Clinton train after all, having gotten a massive ego boost out of an implausibly conceived triumph in primaries (if you can call 44.8% of the entire primary count "triumphant").

We don't know what the phone call entailed when Bill Clinton and Donald Trump talked about the campaign. But knowing both of these two weasels, deals could have been struck to this effect.

I feel strongly about this possibility.

Time will tell; but in 2016, with these two highly questionable scampaigns being the last two standing, anything is possible.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Coping Beyond 2016: A Canadian View




I'm Canadian. People have tried to shut me down, when I comment on American politics:

  • "You don't have a horse in this race."
  • "You don't pay taxes in my country so you don't have a right to meddle." (to which I reply, "how is expressing my opinion considered meddling?")
  • "Why don't you go worry about your own disastrous Prime Minister?" (Oh, I do. Every day)
  • "Shut up."
  • "Take a hike."

You get the gist. And yes, those are the Trump cultists who don't like it when I state my opinion of him - which, as you might well imagine - isn't very positive.

Here's the thing: I'm Canadian, a politics junkie, and someone well-informed enough to know that every political situation on Earth is my business, as it should be yours.

I've been called everything from racist (make that "raaaaaaaaacist") to right-wing nut-job when commenting on Barack Obama's presidency.

Now, the Trumpidians are attacking me for not being "on board" with the "presumptive Republican nominee".

(The irony of being attacked globally by those who mocked Obama supporters for the same behavior is simply amazing)

Newsflash: my conservatism - which extends from my Canadian values to my love for the United States - doesn't allow me to get "on board" with a guy who is, essentially, as liberal as his opponents (speaking of both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders). It doesn't allow me to support a guy who states "This is the Republican Party, not the conservative party, and I don't need conservatives to be unified in order to win."

My conservatism is centered on values, principles, and core beliefs which transcend the borders of our two countries.

My conservatism embraces the individual liberties, small government, personal accountability, and love of country the Founders of the USA embraced, and which my former Prime Minister - Stephen Harper - did as well.

In fact, Stephen Harper was not the first conservative PM of Canada, but he was most definitely the purest conservative in terms of his values and the way in which he ran my country.

I was about to live vicariously through the USA this year. Last October, we lost the government of Stephen Harper to a fledgling/substitute drama teacher whose pretty hair and brand name were responsible for his popularity among low-informed voters, and subsequently his election.

This year, I was going to live my dreams of conservative government when the USA elected a true conservative to heal my neighboring country. I would rejoice with my friends and loved ones in America that, finally, there would be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and we would see sanity prevail at last.

Well, you all know what's going on, and I've been vocal enough on social media for anyone in my realm to know exactly how I feel about Donald Trump; he is not conservative, he is not sane, he is not for the people - he is a liberal chameleon out to win for his own narcissistic ego stroking, and his sanity is most definitely in question.

He's not even by the people: with 27,052,068 votes cast so far, he has amassed merely 10,994,897. That's 16,057,171 who have not voted for him. 44.13% of the vote. Clearly not the majority of voters in these primaries.

But due to wall-to-wall free coverage across the media (network and cable "news" networks), an outrageous personality with a brand name, the loudest mouth on stage even when there were only 4 candidates debating, and refusal to debate the one remaining conservative (who terrified him to the point of cowering from one-on-one), he rose to notoriety and somehow, in farcical fashion, the nomination within reach.

I supported Ted Cruz. I watched him since his election to the Senate, read his book, followed his speeches, and cheered when he announced his candidacy. I mourned when he suspended his campaign, but those hopes of mine did not die; in fact, I still - realistically or not - hope he can command enough of a following before the convention to at least cause a stir.

But today, I began to think about the Bigger Picture. Beyond 2016. I've resigned myself to the reality that one of the two New York leftists will, tragically, take Office on January 20, 2017. That's the simple reality.

Thing is, rather than give into anger, frustration, head-exploding astonishment, I've been thinking about What Happens Next.

See, I'm always inspired by Margaret Mead:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
Isn't that how the United States of America came to be in the first place? Who's to say that can't - or won't - happen again?

When Ronald Reagan failed in 1976, he didn't leave his dreams behind. He built on them. The country fell further, and when he came back in 1980, successfully to the nomination and then the White House (with a landslide 44-state victory), it was when the country was at a low point on every level.

When he won his second term with an even more impressive 49-state landslide, that - to me - was a definitive statement by the people: in unison, voices raised. The healing had begun, they needed it to continue, and they trusted Reagan to stay the course.

When he left Office in 1988, it was as the most successful President the country had seen, and to this day, that designation stands.

We can recapture that. I believe the next 4 years will be that Rock Bottom the USA has to hit in order for there to be a massive wake-up call. It is frightening to think about all that will happen, no matter who takes the Oath of Office that day in January. But it is a necessary evil for healing to finally begin.

And whether it is Ted Cruz, Ben Sasse, or any other up-and-coming conservative who emerges as the Reaganesque figure to heal the country, I truly believe we will see a mirroring of the 1980 phenomenon that propelled Reagan to historic infamy.

We're in different times now, for sure: social media has all but replaced journalism, journalism has become more social media (where is the objective news anchor these days?) and people believe everything they hear - because they saw it on the Internet.

We're in a time where low-information voters are outnumbering - or at least out-blogging - those with critical-thinking skills. We're in a time where low-information voters mimic their idols in cults of personality and abandon any pretense of values, principles, or common decency.

But there are many principled conservatives who are not standing by and letting that happen. The #NeverTrump movement grew legs, to the point where more conservatives are willing to let the chips fall where they may by shunning both choices, rather than become sheep who simply kowtow to the Establishment or cross the aisle to choose the lesser of two evils.

There is no lesser of two evils this time around: just the evils of two lessers.

The true conservative voices raised in protest of a candidate who commanded only 44.13% of the vote in the party he purports to represent are louder than the cultists who proclaim that he is the One to lead America back to her former self.

(Again, incredible irony of those who mocked - rightfully - the cultists of 2008/2012, fawning over Barack Obama who could Do No Wrong, now behaving in exactly the same ways over Donald Trump)

I won't go into why I know their justifications are folly; nothing he has said is even close to what the Founders envisioned, and in fact, I don't believe he's ever spoken of, quoted from, or even read the Constitution.

So here's where my head is at: a New Day. Tyranny comes in different forms, and the Founders came together to fight it militarily. Who's to say a political uprising cannot do the same, fighting a different form of tyranny?

I would like to see conservatives rallying the troops, forming, perhaps, a new party in which principles and values are honored. A new party in which liberty is cherished. A new party in which conservatism is celebrated, and in which voices are heard, not stifled or drowned out by rhetoric.

I think there are more conservatives than not who are looking for a new home. The GOP is not dying; it is dead. Donald Trump is the symptom, perhaps, not the cause, but his nomination and (I shudder to think) possible election will kill it for good - especially as more GOP politicians and civilian members begin to surrender to what they believe to be inevitable.

There is nothing Grand about that Old Party; and it's time for a new one. One that represents what is being lost in this election, that which has been ridiculed, stifled, derided, and attacked in the past 2 elections.

So why not mobilize? Why not rise up against the party whose members are more invested in their winning than in doing the good work of the country? Why not rise up against the party whose citizens are selling out either in resignation of (and surrender to) what they see as a binary choice, or in osmosis with a populist movement that has as much to do with traditional Republican/conservative values as it does to constitutionalism?

What if a new party were formed, and we used the next 4 years to help it gather speed, members, a doctrine, and a Voice?

And what if we started now?

I may be physically on my side of the border, but the Internet knows no boundaries; my heart is with those in the USA who want and deserve better, and I am a single, but very prolific voice willing to do what I can to rally the call and do the work.

This possibility has grown larger in my mind since I began workshopping it earlier this evening, and instead of just being an idea, it is now a Mission.

It is also serving to do something I did not have when Stephen Harper was voted out October 19th, 2015: giving me faith, and giving me a way to cope with the devastation that is reality.

I can now start to see beyond 2016, to 2020, and it will help me - and I hope more than just a few of you - to truly get through the next 4 years of chaos in order to come out the other side with the sun still shining and principled optimism stronger than ever.

If we can start healing now, I believe this election will not be a source of depression, but of action.

I'd love to hear from anyone who's on board.

Let's start a dialogue.

#Hope2020

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Case Against Trump



I've been vocal on Facebook and Twitter, making no attempt to hide my utter contempt for Donald Trump. It's time to do that in a more formal way.

When Trump first announced his candidacy, it was laughed off - I mean, Pat Paulsen ran too, right?

But he started rising in the polls, and the curious phenomenon grabbed my attention. I listened to him, and while his antics were mild and entertaining, I heard the message: Americans are angry and they need someone who will say it as it is.

In The Spirit Of Transparency: I will state here and now, I have never wavered from my hopes that Senator Ted Cruz would enter the race, secure the nomination, and go on to become the 45th President of the United States. I had been watching Cruz since his rise in politics, and he appeals on all levels. More about him later.

But Trump was Everyman. He said it without eloquence, but he said it. He expressed the no-holds-barred anger of Americans in what their president had done to their country, and he made some points, I had to admit.

Then things changed. He became extremely derisive of those who either criticized him, or threatened his political aspirations.

  Nasty On Steroids 

 

 It began with Dr. Ben Carson - a mild-mannered man who also wants to help in the fight to make America great.

Aside: I leave off the "again" - unlike Trump, I happen to feel America's great by virtue of her values, her history, her beautiful land, her people, and that she needs healing, not transformation. Also, by giving into Trump's catchphrase, one would have to admit that Obama has succeeded in "fundamentally transforming the United States of America" and while things are bad, America's basic roots and founding principles stand strong. I know many Americans who love their country and happen to believe, as do I, that she's pretty darn great already.

Back to Dr. Carson. He is a Seventh Day Adventist, and back in October of 2015, Donald Trump questioned that faith:
"I'm Presbyterian, he said. "Boy, that's down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don't know about. I just don't know about."
It was an odd statement, because Trump was clearly taking a shot at Dr. Carson. He also derided the doctor for his past:

Dr. Carson, in his autobiography, told a story of how, in his troubled youth,  he had attempted to stab a classmate but that the knife had hit a belt buckle. Trump not only called Carson a liar, he mocked Dr. Carson at rallies.

He also compared the "pathological" Carson to a child molester.

I began to take note. This was not politics, this was ugly and cheap. And while politics CAN get nasty, this was out of the ordinary. Dr. Carson had done nothing to Donald Trump but exist.

Then it got worse.

As Senator Cruz was in the race alongside Trump, Trump was asked in a September interview whether he felt the Canadian-born Cruz was eligible for the presidency.

(For the record - and in case you've just returned from your trip to Outer Space: Cruz was born in Calgary to an American-born mother, and the Constitution states very clearly that his mother's citizenship makes him a natural-born American citizen)

But, as Cruz began to surge in Iowa, and it looked as though he could be a threat to Trump's heretofore runaway candidacy, Trump flip-flopped.

Suddenly, he was not only questioning, he was making veiled threats that he would sue Cruz for eligibility.

The attacks escalated. And when Donald Trump came in second place to Ted Cruz in Iowa, he turned full-force hate on Senator Cruz.

I won't recount every detail. It's not only well documented everywhere across the Internet, I'm sure you're all familiar with the attacks and accusations.

But it's when I decided that no matter what, I couldn't fathom ever supporting Trump.

It got worse, still. In New Hampshire, Trump used a vulgarity to describe Cruz. Oh, he'll say he didn't use it - but he did. A woman in the front (likely a plant) used the word. He feigned shock, fake-chastised her, asked her to repeat it, and then repeated it himself so that everyone could hear it.

There's no call for that. It's the shock-jock mentality of his supporters who love every crass statement that crosses his lips.

The Trump Temper and a Question Of Conservatism

 

 Trump has a temper(ament) problem. He gets angry and when he does, he turns into a victim. Suddenly, he's the one being attacked - and this is when normal, politically motivated discourse even lightly criticizes something he's said.

(He never sees it as wrong when he attacks his opponents, with either ordinary criticism or the all-out ugliness I outlined above; he epitomizes the Double Standard)

When he is attacked at a debate, or a rally, he comes out with the same whiny "they're not fair to me" complaint we have heard from Barack Obama.

Obama complains that Fox News isn't fair to him when they ask him hard-hitting questions (like why the IRS targeted Conservatives or why Obamacare was such a misleading premise from the start). Fair game for those who dare to practice journalistic integrity.

Trump complains that his opponents cite his deeply-liberal record. Also fair game.

How does someone who has spent most of his lifetime as a far-left liberal, who has contributed millions of dollars to liberals and their organizations, supported partial-birth abortion, still supports funding Planned Parenthood, promises socialized healthcare suddenly become conservative?

On February 17, 2016, in a town hall he scheduled on MSNBC in order to directly compete with the one on CNN in which Ted Cruz was appearing, this happened:



I'm not sure how anyone can look at that and not start to question his conservatism.

But Trump is teflon. His minions seem blinded to his glaring flaws. I recently learned of a term coined to describe a typical Trump follower: "Trumpanzee". No term could be more descriptive or clever, and no image could be more glaring: appealing to the basest instincts, with no need - or concern - for diplomacy or finesse; unleashed, uninhibited, poo-flinging misbehavior.  They don't even seem to care if he's conservative or not.

This came into my timeline this morning - and it is terrifying:



Why is it terrifying?


Because this election is critical. It is crucial to pulling a country that has been steered so far to the left it is almost unrecognizable, back to at least the center, if not toward the values on which it was founded.

Conservatives who once held fast to the desperate need to regain control of the House and Senate, to defeat Democrats who were taking the country to lawlessness, socialism, and values so liberal they were alarming, who would criticize any politician, pundit, voter, or analyst if there were a (D) after his/her name, are now saying that the Party doesn't matter as long as their leader-of-choice runs the country.

How is there to be any differentiation between ideologies if party lines are blurred? Yes, it's commendable for any leader to cross party lines and work with the opposition.

But politics are about ideologies. Doctrines that describe the very spirit of each Party. Conventions are held with full days spent outlining those doctrines and their tenets. People who have deep connections to their party ideologies stand strong for what represents their values, their very way of thinking, and for how they will vote in order to influence their very lives.

And if those ideologies are put second, so does the entire body of the party being impersonated.

These are your values, people. And the conservatives I know hold those values so deeply, it is written in their DNA. If that ceases to matter, if there is no need for party, just person, how will your values ever count?

If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.

Misleading is one thing; masquerading is entirely another.

Donald Trump may be tapping into the anger of the people, but so have a lot of other candidates. Saying it "like it is" is not particular only to Trump.

He has made a statement that is extremely alarming:





That was after the vulgarity he used about Senator Cruz, and an example of his odd, misguided notion that people who use profanity are those who eschew political correctness (more about that below).

But he doubled down on the 18th of February, stating in a CNN Town Hall: "I can  be different with different people."

That, to me, reeks of a lack of honesty, lack of integrity, and lack of trustworthiness.

If he can change so rapidly, how do voters know which Donald Trump they are electing? What happens if he is (*shudders*) in the Oval Office and decides to change to pro-socialism? Pro-Communism? Pro-Palestinian?

Given his statement this week that he will remain neutral on the Israel-Palestinian issue (a deal breaker, for me), he is certainly capable of that chameleonesque transformation.

(Aside: Israel is a key issue in my mind, no matter which side of the border; Canada elected an anti-Israel government; the USA has one now. For anyone to suggest neutrality is to suggest that there is moral equivalence on this issue, and when there is one nation fighting for its very survival, and another trying to see it destroyed and its citizens dead? There is no neutrality. Not standing up for Israel is a decidedly liberal stance in both the USA and Canada. Jewish Canadians who voted liberal did so despite Trudeau's lack of support for Israel; Jewish Democrats in the USA stand up for politicians who easily snub Israel. This is a topic for another article, but I had to mention this in regards to Trump, who raised yet another red flag this week with his neutrality statement)

Narcissism In Red


But principles seem to be less of a valued commodity to him than his power. His ego is enormous. Asked any question, he begins with how he "loves" whatever-it-is-in-question. He goes on to talk about how every time he addresses it at a rally, he gets a standing ovation. He skirts the question but seems to feel that if he tells his interviewer how much his audience loves him, and how well he gets along with others, it is enough to convince the listener that he has a handle on whatever-it-is-in-question. And perhaps encourage the interviewer not to follow up with "But Mr. Trump, you didn't answer the question." (That, by the way, rarely happens)

I made this in August; it was probably when the pattern of bristling-when-criticized began to emerge:

But Trumpanzees don't see this. They like his personality. The parallels are invisible to them.

He spends most of his time talking about himself, not the country. His website has an "issues" section but each issue is addressed via a video of - you guessed it! - Donald J. Trump talk about it. He knows his followers want All Donald, All the time.

Serious candidates will talk about themselves vis-à-vis their positions on the issues. Trump's site has a "positions" section but it is lacking, to say the least (nothing on healthcare anywhere on the site, which is a huge issue with many voters).

Trump's Appeal


Trump has appeal to people who laugh at Jackass, nut-shot videos on YouTube, and fart jokes.

His ideological record and continued twisted-journey through changing stances put Lombard Street* to shame.

*Lombard Street, San Francisco, narrow road, eight hairpin turns


His candidacy could have been serious, had he displayed an ounce of finesse. He says he's not politically correct. But that's the wrong term. Tell me: if your kid came home using the kind of vulgarities Trump used to describe Senator Cruz, you likely wouldn't praise him for being politically incorrect. You'd lecture him about common decency and having manners.

Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe that being the leader of a country - especially a super power like the United States of America - requires a certain personality as well. A polished, diplomatic, personable aura that is in place even when being attacked by one's critics.

A true leader will rise to the critics, taking them on by systematically proving them wrong, answering their charges and coming back with a thoughtful clarification.

Donald Trump turns on his critics, attacks them, insults them, fabricates rumors about them (see Tom Coburn incident, just this week), and then threatens frivolous lawsuits.

Or there was the time he made fun of a disabled journalist (and women, and a war hero who was a POW):



This is not presidential. It is high-school level taunting, petulance, and arrogance. It is Bullying.

And it is a major reason I feel he is unsuited to be a candidate, much less the nominee or (*shudders*) elected to Office.

Teflon Trump, Substance-Free 

Watching Trump at his rallies (in small doses - I cannot take more), I am struck by how he presents himself. He delivers his stump speeches more like a stand-up comedian than like a serious candidate. He loves to get a rise out of his audience.

 And he can talk about anything, prove nothing, provide nothing but slogans and catchphrases ("Build a wall!" "China!" "Make America Great Again!") without any red meat whatsoever; but what baffles so many is that his poll numbers rise. His followers are impervious to their idol being substance free.

They don't want boring old issues. It isn't why he draws the crowd. So he manipulates them with his faithful standby line. He told the New York Times:

You know, if it gets a little boring, if I see people starting to sort of, maybe thinking about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I just say, ‘We will build the wall!' and they go nuts.

They want the stand-up routine. Issues are irrelevant.

Telling, as well, is his unabashed egotistical arrogance:

 "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?" Trump remarked at a campaign stop at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. "It's, like, incredible."

Another problem with Trump's followers was beautifully phrased just this weekend, by Jonah Goldberg:
Trump’s total lack of ideological or intellectual rigor and consistency is making fools of people who once claimed they cared about such things.
(I urge you to visit the Goldberg link; he describes how Trump's supporters follow him blindly, no matter how much he shows his bull-in-a-china-shop clumsiness and warns about the "Middle Finger Politics" being toxic)

I see people - including those I have known as staunch conservatives - suddenly, unconditionally defending Trump.



But a problem I've found is that so many defend him by stating he's "what the country needs", by trouncing his competitors, and by attacking his critics. I don't see a lot of principled, substantive debate going on.

Sadly, this is too reminiscent of my own country's elections just a few short months ago. I challenged those who supported the inexperienced, bumbling Liberal candidate to please state why they wanted him in power.

Not one person gave me substance. They gave me fluff. Lemming Logic that wouldn't stand up at any elementary-school debate, much less on the national stage of politics.

He's also shown an utter lack of substance in his attacks on his opponents. His current line is to accuse Senator Cruz of lying. That's what he says, over and over, with his inarticulate high-school whine. But he never addresses the reasons. He accuses without merit. I just wish more media would ask him to clarify what it is being said about him that is untrue. Because Ted Cruz, in a press conference this week, outlined exactly what he's been saying, with evidence backing up his statements. 

Same with Trumpanzees. I've had to block followers on Twitter for the personal attacks, the vitriol, and the zombies who, almost in monotonal unison, chant the name and slogan of their Hero as though that is enough to ward off the coming storm.

Liberals did that during the 2008/12 elections in the USA. Liberals did it in the 2015 election in Canada.

Now, it is conservative against conservative, because it's Trump. Whatever appeal he holds has no basis in conservatism. He is making a mockery of conservatism, the Party, the process, and the country. His followers are encouraging him to do so, even as he encourages them to behave badly.

I do stand by my defense of Senator Cruz; I will outline my reasons in my next piece.

And I am praying that people wake up, see how the right is being torn apart, and see the true conservatism in Ted Cruz who is being called "the closest in our lifetimes we have ever been to Ronald Reagan."

I'm not sure many conservatives care about the fate of the country; or if they do, and they believe Donald Trump is the solution, society is in worse shape than anyone could have predicted.

I welcome your thoughts, as always, in civil discourse.


Thursday, December 03, 2015

Radio Silence



 There are some areas where people should be able to transcend ideology. Some of those include music, art, nature, technology, the county fair, and sports. Yes, we can have lively debates over art, and music, and the like - but not divisive ones.

You all know, by now, that I'm a rabid hockey fan - more to the point, a rabid fan of the Montreal Canadiens. They've been my team all my life, and I've written about my fan experiences and development extensively here, here, and here - just a handful of my hockey fan meanderings.

I became a Habs writer a little over a year ago, and have been blessed with the opportunity to write about the team, the games, the issues, and the sport in general. Marrying my writing skills with the team I adore has been a perfect alignment of stars for me.

In keeping with my ever-present quest for knowledge, enlightenment, and expertise from those who have been doing this longer than I have, I began listening - when I became a savvy fan - to local sports talk radio.

The station began as just an independent sports talk station (under the umbrella of one media corporation) but then became a TSN outlet (TSN is Canada's ESPN) when the conglomerate was bought out by a bigger one. TSN690 has always been extremely interesting to me. I've been able to listen to the analyses of All Things Canadiens and learn from that, in order to actually be able to watch games with a better eye.

It's been interesting, entertaining, informative and validating to be a listener of TSN690 - until today.

Today, that relationship I've had with the station, as a loyal and engaged listener, comes to an end. And for the worst possible reason: partisanship. Correction: abrasive and disparaging partisanship.

As you may also know, I am a proud Conservative - and have made no secret of that fact. I have done so out loud but I've also done so with respect for the views of others - both strangers, and those with whom I have relationships. Ideology should never result in personal attacks, nor should a difference in ideological values come between people who have so many other things in common.

I've had friends actually tell me they may not agree with me politically but that my friendship means more to them than just our ideological views, and they'd never let that get in the way of what's good and agreeable between us.

I've been unfollowed on social media, by those who disagree with my views, without even giving me a chance to explain them. And I don't miss the people who have picked up and left in a huff. Real friends don't do that. Even decent acquaintances do not vilify people for ideological disagreements.

I have never allowed my politics and my Habs involvement intersect. Those are two areas in my life which remain isolated from each other. I will find solace in my love for the Habs, and I find stimulation in my political discourse (though there is the adrenaline-based rush watching the Habs too!) . But never have they intersected - nor will they ever.

Back to radio:

TSN690 is part of a conglomerate that is, in its other stations' broadcasts, quite Liberal in their views. I have been a fan - and sometimes-guest - on CJAD-800 talk radio, but lately, the liberalism I've heard has been too much to take and I find myself turning it off more often than not. It's sad - but I'm tired of my views, my party, and my leaders being attacked with the same old rhetoric that is not only inaccurate, but should be met with the kind of balance this city deserves.

In fact, the only host on CJAD who even gives conservatives a like-minded perspective, is Tommy Schnurmacher, and his informed voice of reason in a biased world is refreshing. I do listen to his show.

But every other host - as nice as they are, personally - tends to take the liberal side of things, without really acknowledging that conservatives have another side. And often, to the point of vilifying the conservative leadership, values, people.

It's really too bad; in a city with one - ONE - English talk radio station, with an audience comprised of - doubtlessly - more than just Liberals, that one station should not be biased out loud as often as it is. Or if it is, it should offer counterpoints to its views, instead of being lapdog media we see in the television arena.

Don't forget - viewers and listeners learn, more often than not, from what they hear on radio. Whether that's opinion or facts, they don't care - and often don't differentiate; if they heard it on radio, it's what they internalize as facts. And that is extremely dangerous when there is no balance whatsoever.

I'm not the only Conservative listener of either CJAD800 or TSN690. I'm 100% sure of that. So why would any radio station want to alienate half of its audience?

I digress. Back to sports.

Today, I was listening to TSN690 as they addressed a story that made the news today. In the Canadian Parliament, we have a Senate, but it isn't run like the American model. Senators are chosen, not elected, and have nowhere near the kind of power American Senators do. They're more along the lines of goodwill ambassadors.

One Conservative senator was Jacques Demers. Mr. Demers was a coach of the Canadiens, among other teams, and won his only Cup, in his coaching career, with Montreal the last time the Habs won the Stanley Cup.

He was with the Conservatives as a Senator until today, when he announced he would be changing his affiliation to "Independent".

TSN covered the story. It is, after all, a sports-related story, and it isn't untoward that they would do that.

But the banter became alarmingly partisan. They alluded to their distaste of Stephen Harper, which already had my back up - but it wasn't as bad as what was to end their segment.

One of the hosts - I don't know who, I don't really care - made an offhand comment about registered members of the Conservative Party as "douchebags". The laughter that ensued led into commercial, and - more importantly - led to my turning to a music station.

Here's the thing, folks: I get that the Conservative Party - both here, and in the USA - isn't the "popular party". It isn't cool. It isn't sexy. It isn't representative of the values that are cool and sexy and popular - at least, not in the leftist perspective.

But it is a valid, and populous affiliation. My values are as bona fide - and should be as respected - as yours. Moreover, my right to ascribe to those values should be as respected as your right to yours. Without having to take abuse over it.

Adlai Stevenson (two-time Democratic presidential nominee) offered this:
My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.
Sadly, I don't believe we live in that society. Because of my political affiliation, I am unpopular but am also the target for insults, accusations, typecasting, and ridicule. As are my fellow Conservatives.

I've suffered fools gladly. I've been called many names by people who directly disagree with what I have to say, and who have decided the attack route is the more viable option for them instead of sticking up for their ideals.

I can be a sensitive person but I am not - as often accused - hypersensitive. I know when to take offense because I've learned to discern when it is intended.

I won't, however, suffer radio hosts insulting me the way they did today. I understand they are biased, but that doesn't give them - or any media personality - the right to launch immature, low-road, ad hominem attacks on those who hold the political viewpoint opposed to theirs.

I also find it extremely irresponsible of those hosts: alienating what may be half of their audience - or even a portion - is not what their station manager, or their advertisers would likely find conducive to promotion or continued employment. It certainly doesn't elevate public opinion of the station.

I'd venture a guess that even some liberals, if they were to admit it to themselves, would agree that taking shots in that way is uncalled for, by professionals whose voices are heard by many, many thousands of listeners.

I know my liberal friends, those who support my right to be Conservative without giving me a hard time for it - or calling me disparaging names, would likely take offense on my behalf. Because yes, this is personal.

I've seen it on social media; music artists, authors, actors, public figures who make political statements and then endure the backlash of so many who confront them for essentially insulting half of their audience.

It isn't smart, it isn't responsible, it isn't kind, and it just isn't nice.

There are myriad outlets, in this world of technology and telecommunications, from which I can get my news, and my sports analyses. I need not patronize the station - or its advertisers - that chooses to insult me, and people like me, because they don't agree with my values.

And I plan on pursuing this further.

As for now? This "douchebag" is no longer a listener of TSN690. I hope others - fellow Conservative douchebags - will follow suit.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Love Or Nothing: The Refugee Fallacy



I've "debated" the refugee situation, these past few days on Facebook. Despite my very clearly expressed views, I'm accused of many things.

Here's what I've learned:

Because I don't agree with the government's plan to cram tens of thousands of refugees, unvetted, unidentifiable and unknown, into planes to be on Canadian soil by the end of the year (Happy New Year, Canada!), I must be some sort of animal.

I mean, really. How can I be so unloving? How can I have no compassion or basic human decency? How can I have no humanity at all?

I'm told, in people's attitudes, "if you're not with us, you're against us." It has to be all or nothing. I have to be filled with love and compassion OR I have to oppose the whole thing. There's no middle ground.

And besides, this isn't a political discussion, it's one of HUMANITY. LOVE. COMPASSION.

Well, no, you're wrong: this is very much a political discussion. Why?

  • Because political revolves around policy. And it's this fledgling government's policy to rush these people to our shores.
  • Because it's the politicians who have declared their plan, doubled down, tripled down, locked it in.
  • Because it is something that affects every single last one of us, which is - essentially - what "politics" comprises.

Here's the definition:

Is this issue one that is:
  • associated with the governance of a country or other area?
  • the activities of governments concerning the political relations between countries?
  • the subject of academic study of government and the state?

Yes, yes, and yes.

So if you're not ready to discuss the politics of this issue, you're not really prepared for a discussion. You'd prefer to drop rainbows and cookies on everyone and walk away without acknowledging the reality or the facts.
 
 And if you're stating your view ("it's about love" or "it's about humanity"), without taking into account the reasons everyone disagreeing with you ARE disagreeing? Again, you're not ready to discuss it.

Here's the thing: love, compassion, humanity - none of those is our government's job to instill or foster, and none of those is a reason to vote for any particular person or policy. They're emotions, people. Not the thinking behind any major decision. And they must be put aside in any issue this important. This is where facts are crucial, critical thinking imperative, and the uninformed, or low-informed, need not apply.

 I've defended myself on Facebook (I do that a lot - it's the price of being a Truth Warrior), and if people wanted to be honest, they'd know their accusations (that I have no heart, or compassion, or humanity because I don't want refugees here) are fabricated from their own inferences.

I've never said it. I never will. Refugees are a problem every country has, and will be faced with, and I'm not personally adverse to Canada welcoming those downtrodden.
 
But that's not why I'm opposed, and again, people who aren't honest with themselves can talk themselves into making me out to be a bad guy all they want. It's their way of making themselves feel better for not facing the truth - either about me, or the issue at hand.

I look at the USA's plan to bring in 10,000 within a couple of years; even that, the FBI is saying, is a security risk.

I actually quoted 0bama (yeah, don't hold it against me) when I saw this in an article:
Defending his administration's screening program, Obama said it takes 18 to 24 months to clear a refugee for entry, following vetting by the U.S. intelligence community and other agencies...
18-24 months...and our government wants to do this whole thing - from soup to nuts - in 45 days??

Look, ISIS has threatened to hide its fighters among refugees. It's been said, and they've carried it out in Europe already.

At what point do we actually believe what they're telling us? Especially after they prove that they mean what they say?

So, are my concerns that outlandish? Are they that unfounded? Are they ridiculous and baseless?

Oh, and they're not just my concerns. Even those who voted Liberal are expressing their concerns - and disappointment with a PM who would rather take selfies and stick by a campaign promise despite its inherent recklessness than be smart and keep Canada safe. Then again, he also stated outright that he believes terrorists deserve Canadian citizenship.

Here's what I've found:

Leftists who question me don't acknowledge my point of view. A typical exchange will begin with my response to someone asking the ubiquitous question: "what about love? Where's the love?"

And my response will usually be an encapsulation of what I've written here. That it isn't about the human suffering at all, it's about preventing more by ensuring there are no wolves among the lambs. That I don't oppose refugees, I just oppose the timeline, the number, and the plan (or lack thereof - today it was reported that the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has no idea what Ottawa's plan is; they've been kept in the dark. Transparency much, Mr. Trudeau?).

My response will reiterate that I'm not blind to the desperate innocents fleeing terror but I'm also not tone deaf to current events and how we could easily see a repeat of Paris 13/11/2015 here in Canada if unvetted hordes are dropped in overnight.

And then I'll get the usual, "I'm not into politics, just into humanity." Or something like that (from those, ironically, who seemed to be very much into politics when advocating for "anyone but Harper" during the fall election campaign but have returned to their regular apolitical social media activity - oh, except for this).

You who want to link arms and sing "kumbayah" while hugging the newly arrived masses among us don't realize that you, too, would be in the crosshairs of any terrorist's weapon; you, too, would be blown to pink mist in any suicide bombing; you, too, would be held hostage in any such situation. You could wave your peace sign all you want - but you would end up as dead as the rest of us who oppose terrorists on our shores.

You, too, are an infidel.

We all are. And my fear is not of some innocents needing refuge; it's of the murderous monsters injecting themselves among those innocents with the express plan to come here and cause as much harm, pain, and murder as they can.

So here's my proposal: don't accuse me of hatred, bigotry, racism (which is silly, as Syrians are not a race), or inhumanity. Don't question my compassion, my desire for peace, or my deep-seated quest for truth.

If you question me about my concern, be prepared to discuss the politics. Painting some utopian dream of rainbows, unicorns, and lollipops where we all live in peace and harmony and no one hates anyone is not going to win points. It's going to win bemused head-shaking acknowledgment of head-in-the-sand syndrome that is rampant these days.

I have no problem talking about my concerns but being accused of that which has no merit is what the liberal left does well; thing is, the conservative right does Truth better than wild accusations, and Truth wins every time.

It isn't "Love or Nothing". It's calm, careful, judicious awareness of a potentially deadly situation that won't go away once it's here. It won't be easily caught, and we can't deal with it once they're settled; if they're here, they're our problem, and if you don't own that, you are expecting that which no one can deliver.

I'm happy to accept responsibility for good old-fashioned Canadian values of open doors and respect. But you have to accept responsibility for the consequences of reckless open doors and blind, one-way respect; because the people who could well be waiting for their Canadian welcome won't respect you.

Even if you call for their "right" to be here.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

I Fought The Law And *I* Won

 

I recently got a ticket. It was March 17, 2015 (I remember the date well, it was a dear friend's birthday), and I was on the way to pick up my kid from school.

What Happened:

I was approaching a school zone, so I knew the speed limit was lower (30km), and had slowed down. I stopped at the corner where the stop sign was, but because there was a massive snow bank on the lawn just beyond the stop sign, I then inched forward to ensure that I was safe to cross.

There were no other cars, so I proceeded to drive on. As I was halfway through the intersection, I looked to my right. There was a police car parked halfway down the block, and he began to drive when he saw me. (I think he believed my looking directly at him was a sign of guilt - but some people do check all directions as they are crossing an intersection)

I saw his lights behind me, pulled over, and could not believe he was citing me.

When he came to my window, he informed me that I had not made my complete stop. I was adamant in my own defense.

I told him, "Look, you're going to do whatever you will do, but I know I made my stop, because I always stop at the stop signs."

He said, "Maybe you usually do, but you didn't this time."

(I didn't cry - once, some years back and very stressed at the time, I did, and the officer let me off with a verbal warning. )

He wrote out the ticket - $162 and 3 demerit points - and when he handed it to me, he told me I had 30 days to pay or contest it.

That gave me an idea. I had never contested a ticket before because the few I've received (5, maybe 6 in all my years of driving) have been for speeding, and I owned up to it.

I've never been stopped for a stop sign violation, and in fact, people who don't stop are one of my two biggest pet peeves (the other is how few people signal).

So I decided to contest the ticket. Sent in my "not guilty" plea and waited.

I got the notice in August, to appear November 10th, at 4 p.m. And though I knew I was in the right, it was the one thing I needed to get through, the one thing that hung over my head for weeks­.

My Day In Court

 

Prior to going to court, I made out a diagram. I showed the two streets - the one I was on, and the side street - as well as the directions (N, S, E, W). I also drew the stop sign, and the snow bank. As well, the police officer's location was noted.

On the diagram, I wrote out my notes - simply what happened - and took it with me, in a folder along with the notice to appear, and my original ticket stub.

When I arrived at the courthouse, I checked in with the security guard, who crossed my name off a list he had. He pointed me to Room 1.

(NB: I saw no other rooms. Room 1 is aptly named but we live in a small suburb, with a municipal court that serves various municipalities on the West Island...one courthouse, one courtroom - but well named).

He advised me to turn off my cell, which I'd done in the car. I told him I'd done so; was I thinking that by showing how compliant I am, I'd somehow gain points? Maybe karma points. But the security guard had nothing to do with my hearing. Silly me.

I entered the courtroom and another security guard took my invitation notice to appear. He handed it to a young woman sitting to the side of the witness stand, who placed it on her desk.

(NB: the witness stand is literally a stand; no seat, just a podium built into the structure of the main "stage" in the room; I'd have taken photos but something tells me A) it wasn't a good idea and B) it wouldn't have spoken well for me when it was my turn to appear)

I watched 3 cases unfold while I waited for my turn. When one woman pleaded her case (talking on her cell phone without hands-free), I listened carefully. The judge advised her that she is under no obligation to prove her innocence; the prosecution is obliged to show evidence as to the defendant's guilt.

This is not new to me, but it was slightly startling to hear what I've previously heard/read in criminal cases spoken in traffic court.

The woman was found not guilty, and when she left, I gave her a smile, which she returned.

Before the next case was called, my name was called out - I went to the front where I was handed the police officer's report. No longer do the officers have to appear in order for the defendant to argue their case. The report acts as their testimony.

While that kind of differs from the "if the cop doesn't show up, you win by default" adage, it also speaks to the advantage of the defendant, as the officer is not present to answer questions to challenge the defendant's testimony.

I took my report - which is given as it is a defendant's right to know the evidence being used in the case - and sat back down to read it.

When I read my report, the officer had claimed he had a clear view, unobstructed. Yeahrightsure. I knew differently.

But it got me nervous all over again, despite the confidence that had been instilled in me by a Pep Talk before I left.

Nevertheless, I breathed through the nervousness (and drank a lot of water - good thing I had brought a full bottle) and when it was my turn, I walked confidently up to the podium.

My Turn On The Stand





I was sworn in (no Bible, just raised hand) and instead of Cell Phone Woman's "I absolutely do!" vehemence, I simply and quietly answered, "I do." - and the judge read the report handed to him by the prosecutor.

He then looked at me and said, "Ms. Albert, what happened?"

I calmly (I think) went through my side of things. I added that I always make my stops, that I set an example for my kids and that my son is a new driver for whom I was being extra demonstrative in law-abiding behavior. I even mentioned that I have no stop-sign violations on my record, which has very few traffic violations in my 30+ years of driving. I had listened to the others testify in their own defense, and anecdotal/character points such as these were common.

But I did not ramble on. I made my points, told my side, and stopped when the facts were said.

When I was done - and I had indicated my diagram - the prosecutor asked me the following questions:

"Can you describe how you stopped?"
This was easy. The Montreal Gazette had published an article before the summer began, outlining the ways in which drivers had to be careful, and described what a legal stop is. From memory (I'm blessed/cursed/blessed with a sharp memory for details), I used the exact words: "I applied my brake, and felt the car rock back onto its back wheels. I even counted to 2 or 3, before proceeding through."

"How fast were you going when you came to the stop sign?"
(I think they were fishing - this wasn't even an issue on the ticket)
I told her I was fully aware of the school zone, that my nephews had attended that school and I drive past it very often, so I was either going my 30km or slightly under, in anticipation of the stop.

"When did you first see the police officer?"
Also easy. He was parked halfway down the block (and he had indicated as much in his report; the only difference was his account stated he could see all points of the intersection clearly, and I knew otherwise). I saw him only after I had inched up, had seen that there were no other cars and was already going through the intersection. I said, "I saw him parked there, and as I looked toward his car, he began to drive toward the corner, at which point he put on his lights."

Clearly, if I only saw him as I was driving off, there's no way he saw me at the corner.

She verified that I was already driving, and I said yes, my foot was on the accelerator as I was resuming my driving.

She said to the judge, "I have no further questions." And she sat down.

The judge asked if I wanted to submit my diagram into evidence. He said "I can't use it in your case if you don't."

I said, "Oh, for sure, please!" And handed it to the prosecutor - perhaps a little more enthusiastically than I had planned. She stamped and initialed it, and handed it to the judge.

The Verdict:

 

The judge glanced at my diagram, referred to his report, and said, "Ms. Albert, this is a straightforward accounting of your side of the story, which I find credible. I find you not guilty."

(I so wish I had a video of this - now that it's over and done with, it's pretty cool, and that Moment was the best!)

(I think) I kept the huge grin from my face. I did smile, say, "Thank you, Sir," and rush to gather my purse, water bottle, folder, and book, and then out the door.

I did not keep the grin back then, though. I know I flashed it wide as I emerged into the lobby. The two security guards returned it as I thanked them and left the building.

It was an exhilarating drive home. When I got there, I recounted the entire story for my son, and then went to share the news with others on phone and text.

What Did I Learn?

  •  If you think you're in the right, stand up for yourself. The worst that can happen is that you pay the fine anyway. The best? Well, I experienced it.
  •  If you think the police are overstepping, again, stand up for yourself. There have to be checks and balances in our system, but there are none. So it's up to citizens to stand up and say, "I did not do what you said I did, and just because you have the pretty lights on top of your car does not give you the right to accuse me falsely."
  •  I respect the law enforcement in our society. From police officers on the beat, in traffic, on patrol, first responders, and the military - I actually revere those who put their lives on the line, daily, for our safety. But I do not believe all traffic violations are warranted, and I decided to do something about this one.
  •  When I am in the wrong - and I have been - I take the ticket, pay it, and do better next time. But when I am in the right - this is the result.
  •  Because there are no checks and balances other than citizens who decide to fight their tickets, there is no consequence for an officer who writes an unwarranted ticket. I wonder how much is spent in time and resources to hold traffic court for so many people who are fighting their tickets.
  •  What if the officers whose tickets were thrown out were somehow consequenced? Perhaps they should pay a percentage of the ticket fine into a charity. I know there are police officers who write tickets to meet monthly quotas; in fact, just 4 days before I was ticketed, there was a news story here in Montreal stating that some officers were doing just that. 
  • If that's the case, and police officers had thrown-out cases added to their records so that they were identified as "over-ticketing", or "ticket-happy", perhaps there would be fewer traffic tickets handed out and we could all save a little time, money, and stress.
  • I can't imagine the prosecutor - or judge - finds the work very stimulating. But I commend them for their respectful and thorough handling of my case, and those I saw before me.

I must say, all month, I was dreading the 10th of November, 4 p.m.; I was nervous, and even though my worst-case scenario (mentioned above) was nothing frightening, it's still nerve-wracking to go before a judge, not knowing what the proceedings are like or what to expect, and thinking that the officer who wrote the ticket might be there to face in person.

After the verdict, I was not only exhilarated, I was really quite proud: I did something that did take some courage, and I followed through to its (happy) ending.

Now, it's smooth sailing through November; the Day Of Court is over, it was successful, and I am not only sitting with all my demerit points intact, but with almost $200 that did NOT have to be spent in this pre-holiday month.

Time to go price the iPad I want...