Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Ugly American vs. The Ugly Canadian

Some mornings you feel like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. You wake up and you wonder: "Am I in [insert your state/country here] anymore?" And if we're not in Kansas or wherever, where the heck are we and how do we get back home?

During these challenging times, we're all learning what it means to be a good and decent American--or Canadian, Mexican, Brit, German, Indian, Australian, etc.  Perhaps these articles of how not to become a negative symbol of your country could help us all to become better human beings.

The Ugly American 
by C.A. Matthews

I'd planned on posting some reportage and photos of a Toledo protest against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos this week, but the darndest thing happened. Betsy became a no-show once news of our protest got out. Like so many of Trump's associates, she probably decided not to risk a public shaming. 
Mrs. DeVos' handlers must have worried something could happen along the lines of what happened recently to DHS Secretary Nielsen, Press Secretary Huckabee-Sanders or now-former EPA head Scott Pruitt if she took a tour of an outdoor area where protesters could see her and wave their signs for the TV cameras. Betsy just couldn't put herself out in front of ordinary Americans and face the creative signage and chants pointing out some her less-than-glamorous flaws. (Update: DeVos did make it to Toledo according to The Blade, but times for her visits to private charter schools were not published. She sneaked in and out of back doors, thwarting chances for the public to actually see her, so CSRN, a local activist group, did a press conference with the media instead on education issues DeVos has totally missed the mark on.Well, it's not like Betsy actually works for the American people, right?)

At least we did receive some good news this week when the story broke that Scott Pruitt was quitting the Environmental Protection Agency due to numerous federal investigations showing how he has personally profited from destroying the agency. Unfortunately, he'll be replaced with his deputy Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, but we can comfort ourselves with the fact that our calling Pruitt out for his crimes against humanity and the environment shut him down eventually. Or was it the magnitude of the man's greed that did him in? Either way, good riddance, Scott!

I'll admit I was really looking forward to the DeVos protest. Betsy's blatant disregard for the health, safety and mental well-being of our students--and the fact that she personally makes a lot of money from student loan collection agencies and a private "baby jail" immigration detention agency out of western Michigan--doesn't endear her to me or anyone with half a heart. She is just one of many of Trump's appointees who need replacing, so perhaps Pruitt's resignation (and coming trial?) will inspire her to do likewise.

It really is hard to say who the "ugliest American" is in the Trump administration. There are so many to choose from. However, today at a bi-weekly peace protest I ran into the most perfect example of an ordinary ugly American to ever cross my path. He fit all the MAGA supporter stereotypes imaginable. He even drove a monster truck jacked up twice as high on its axles as allowed by law with a smokestack on the back belching thick, black polluting smoke as he drove past our corner demonstration. 

Before he drove off with a curse word and a finger, he parked and walked up behind us on the busy street corner (where motorists generally give a honk or thumbs up for our peace and social awareness signs) and gave us a tongue lashing to beat the "snowflake libtard" out of us (while occasionally threatening bodily harm to us as well). His veins practically popped out of his face as he yelled at how stupid we "Commies" were for believing in such things as "Love your neighbor" and "Peace on Earth." After all, a border wall will solve all our problems.

He informed us that we were all "queer dog fornicators," or words to that effect, if we felt people had the right to express the gender identity in the way they felt comfortable with.  He ranted on about the evils of socialism, universal health care and the $15 minimum wage. He blamed all on the "illegals" who had the gall to expect due process of law for themselves and their children when seeking asylum in the US, and their children had to be locked up because they were "criminals." From his remarks, it seemed evident he didn't understand what "seeking asylum"  or "due process" or "socialism" meant. (He claimed to receive his information from "alt right dot org" or similar outlets.) His presence and manners emanated an aura of unhappiness and fear. 

I kept a low-key tone and repeatedly suggested, "Why not go home and do something loving for your family, like making ice cream or cooking dinner? You'll feel better." But he stated he didn't want to have anything much to do with love or family. It's a "drugged up hippy" thing he informed us.

I wonder if this statement made an impact on the young woman standing beside him who kept her mouth zipped  the entire time. Was she his wife, girlfriend, sister, cousin or simply a friend? I couldn't imagine what life around this very unhappy young man who didn't want to have anything to do with love would be like. Suffice it to say, it probably wouldn't be very satisfying, and  it  might even be downright scary at times.

The bellicose Trump supporter is your
quintessential "ugly American." He is a sad person who'd rather expend large amounts of energy hating and blaming others for his and the world's troubles rather than simply loving and accepting his fellow human beings the way he'd like to be loved and accepted. I genuinely felt sorry for the guy. Didn't he have anything better to do on a beautiful summer's day than to yell at a bunch of strangers with peace signs? He's young and has his whole life in front of him, but with so much obvious anger and hatred in his heart, there's a high probability of him suffering a serious health issue, such as a stroke or addiction, or getting into a deadly fight or accident, and dying before his time.

Ugly Americans aren't the only "ugly folks" out there (as our guest blogger will inform you in the next piece). But I keep thinking wouldn't it be nice if Americans could set a positive example of what it means to be a good and loving neighbor on this planet. Why aren't we taking the lead on this worthy goal? Could it be simply because we can't make big bucks on it like Scott Pruitt did at the EPA?

(Here's a video about a bill that could help bring about peace on Earth, goodwill to all mankind, especially those suffering in Yemen:  https://youtu.be/SDy5sQ5gA98)

Doug Ford, a.k.a. the Trump of the North
The Ugly Canadian
by Vegematic Deluxe 
What is happening to our world, our values, our compassion? I realize that I shouldn't read comments on You Tube videos, but the truth is comments provide a snapshot of a segment of society and, as such, provide me with some insights. 

The insights that I gained from my fellow Canadians last week distressed me greatly. I had been watching a CBC documentary following the trail of refugees fleeing violence and poverty in their Latin American homeland. To these traumatized people, Canada represents what America once did--a chance to live in peace and freedom. The video was at once heartbreaking and inspiring. 

The comments were vile and disgusting. I will not dignify the hate and racism here by quoting them, but generally they were on par with something that would be published by the KKK. Coinciding with the election of Doug Ford, an extreme right-wing windbag as premier of Ontario, my faith in basic Canadian decency was dealt a serious blow. Add to that an interesting tidbit about our former right-wing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose government was soundly defeated in the last Canadian election.

The Canadian embassy in Washington DC received  a call from John Bolton, asking who would be accompanying the prime minister to a meeting on Monday. The surprised embassy staff called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office who were completely dumbfounded. It turns out that Harper had broken with accepted protocol and not informed the PM of his invitation to meet with White House officials. Although a hastily arranged call claimed a mix up and that his office had meant the former prime minister, one is left with the impression that this was intended to humiliate Trudeau.
Former P.M. Harper eyes climate justice?

Harper has no authority to speak on behalf of Canadians; he is a private citizen. Harper had also secretly arranged meetings with Trump advisors to re-negotiate NAFTA. He is being welcomed in Washington with open arms.  This is an unprecedented attack on the Canadian people. Indeed, it is an attack on democratically elected governments worldwide. It is unprecedented for a defeated politician to act and be treated as if he had any legislative power to negotiate on behalf of the Canadian people.

Given the contempt Trump has for democracy, I suppose Canadians should not be surprised. Is he now planning to install Harper in a bloodless coup? Both men suffer from authoritarian personalities, and Harper never got over losing his grip on power. Being Trump's puppet would appeal to Harper since ideologically he and Trump are birds of a feather.

These are the darkest of days for those of us who treasure democracy and freedom, yet there are glimmers of hope. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  has displaced a powerful corporate Democrat with a fraction of the money. The struggle to regain democracy will be a marathon, not a sprint, and there are undoubtedly more trying times ahead. Fellow progressives must reach out to each other and redouble our efforts to bring about a more just and sane society.

BIO: Vegematic is a humorous and insightful Canadian podcast commentator with an ever-growing following on You Tube. Check out his channel and subscribe.

More stories on current US-Canada Relations:

Canadians Rally Around Retaliatory Tariffs
https://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/50977-canadians-rally-around-retaliatory-tariffs-aimed-at-the us                                                                                                     

Canada's Retaliatory Tariffs

Doug Ford Is Already Hurting Jobs And Could Cost Billions

Trump Threatens Canada--Canadian Defence Community Stays Quiet


And now a book review about a non-ugly American that many voters wanted to become president in 2016 (and may yet become in 2020).

Bernie or Bust: Pioneers of Electoral Revolt
by @BernieOrBust with Patrick Walker
Dorrance Publishing Company

Reviewed by A. J. Matthews

Of the events that occurred during the contentious 2016 presidential election, the blatant rigging of the Democratic Party primaries against Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is at the top of the list in importance. The Bernie or Bust movement was one of the prime movers in public debate on the issue of the Democratic nominee selection process and its aftermath which resulted in the nomination of Hillary Clinton, a deeply flawed candidate with a mass of political baggage who represented the status quo during a time when the American electorate desperately wanted change.

The author and his associate Patrick Walker started the Bernie or Bust grassroots movement in 2016 with a manifesto aimed at affecting change for the better in the American political system. The objective was – and still is – the use of leverage to force the Democratic Party to heed the will of the American people, not that of Big Business. This book recounts a warts and all picture of the movement from the inside. It doesn’t flinch from admitting the mistakes and conflict involved in seeking a way forward, nor does it flinch from scathing and justified condemnation of the Democratic Party machine that helped elect Donald Trump.

Where the book scores highly is in the wealth of advice included for activists, voters, and future progressive movements. This is a valuable resource which can be dipped into for guidance, inspiration and a wealth of "how to" examples (such as facts to refute spurious arguments by Clinton supporters who claim Bernie cost the DNC the election). It is also an important historical document in its own right for all who wish to understand more about the 2016 election, those involved and the consequences of their actions. 

Highly recommended. 
BIO: A.J. Matthews is a multi-published novelist, book reviewer, essayist, and all around decent human being. He openly admits he supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary elections.
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Power to the people and not the corporations!

Win Without War

The war machine is caging kids, and profiting off it too. Defense contractors like General Dynamics and MVM, Inc. are making millions off surveilling and detaining thousands of migrant children away from their parents.

Usually, deep-pocketed defense contractors can get off the hook for war profiteering. But this is different. Right now, people power mobilizing against Trump’s racist immigration agenda has cracked open the door to hold these companies accountable for their cruel profiteering.
If we mobilize grassroots pressure onto defense contractor CEOs, then we can build on this current political momentum and force them to stop profiting from Trump’s family detention policies.

General Dynamics and MVM are both top recipients of lucrative Pentagon war contracts. Both have dirty histories of misconduct including anti-Muslim discrimination against employees and corruption.
And these war profiteers are raking in the cash from Trump’s inhumane and cruel immigration policies. General Dynamics has a $1,667,580 contract with the Trump administration’s Office of Refugee Resettlement for the infrastructure to detain migrant kids. Yep — that’s $1.6 million public dollars. And MVM has a long list of multimillion-dollar contracts to detain and spy on migrants as well.

But here’s the silver lining: Right now, General Dynamics and MVM, Inc are vulnerable. In the current migrant-led activist surge, General Dynamics has already responded to pressure by making public statements trying to distance themselves from the business of family detention [1]. However their contracts with the Office of Refugee Resettlement for infrastructure for the shelter of unaccompanied children show they are instrumental to detention [2]. Their public statements also prove they are worried about their public image-- which means we have the upper hand. 

If we let these companies know the public is still watching, we can overturn their contracts and stop them from making war profits off family detention. But we need to act fast. We must seize this opportunity to make them cut their anti-immigrant contracts now!

Ending child detention contracts is only the beginning. If we question the contracts that allow for detention profiteering, we can start to unravel the defense industry’s tangle of profits from traumatizing children and tearing livelihoods apart beyond our borders as well. After all, racism doesn’t just drive Trump’s immigration policies — it keeps the war machine churning forward by devaluing the very lives displaced and destroyed by militarism to begin with. Together, we can bring down corporate profiteering from war and white supremacy, here and everywhere!

Thank you for raising your voice against militarism,
Tara, Cassandra, and the Win Without War team

PS: Did you see our split fundraiser last week for 9 frontline groups working to end border militarization and migrant detention?
[1] US defense contractors profit from child detention—and you might, too
[2] General Dynamics- Department of Health and Human Services Contract Summary
From Acre Action Center on Racism & the Economy:

After white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine Black churchgoers in Charleston in 2015, Amazon said it was banning the sale of Confederate flag images from its site. Today, we released a report with the Partnership for Working Families showing that not only are products with Confederate flag and other hate imagery widely available on Amazon.com, but that Amazon allows recognized hate groups to use its various platforms to spread their ideas and generate resources. Read the report here.


The growth of racist hate movements in our country provides a base of support for horrific policies like Trump's Muslim Ban and so-called "zero tolerance" immigration policy. As racist movements have grown, so have incidences of racist violence.

Will you join us in calling on Amazon to take a stand against hate?

Normalizing white supremacist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic extremists puts our communities at risk -- and yet the country’s largest online retailer and largest distributor of e-books is providing these groups with a platform to spread their ideas and generate resources to support their operations.

Sign the Petition: Amazon, Stop doing business with racist hate groups!

With the public contest for Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2), many of us are taking a critical look at what kind of neighbor Amazon is, and what values the company promotes. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his board of directors must take a public stand against this hate and violence, and stop enabling others to profit from hate.

In unity,
Carrie Sloan


  1. Pruitt down, DeVos next.

    I'm sorry you had to go through that dreadful experience with the 45 loving MAGA-nut. The day of the male caucasian is drawing to a close, and his kind fear their loss of influence in the world. They may lack the intelligence and/or education to articulate their feelings, so they resort to violence. Hopefully the young woman with him got the heck out of his way for good. Sad unhappy people who won't listen to others or accept help are toxic to be around.

    1. It was surprising, after all the many bi-weekly peace demos I've attended, to have someone like this young guy go out of his way just to berate us. We very rarely receive cat calls of "I love Trump!" or "Build the wall!" or angry looks from people driving by, but they don't usually get out of their cars to "make a point" like this guy did.(Most people smile/honk and flash a thumbs up or a peace sign at us.) I suspect this guy was bored and thought we were easy targets. However, if he truly wanted to change our minds, he was definitely going about it the wrong way. As the old saying goes: "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!"


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