Two Canadians Peer Across the Border

WHATNOT WEDNESDAY

Blogger Biff has begun a series on his blog which he’s calling “Whatnot Wednesday,” and invites others to follow suit. The idea rather appealed to me, so I’ve decided to take the bull by the horns and write a post about the US political scene. Seems to me that’s a Whatnot if ever there was a Whatnot.

Regarding the title of this post, I’m not referring to the two Canadians who live in this house. We may read a lot but, give-or-take, we have a rather limited understanding of the subject. I may slip in a few opinions of my own, but mainly I’m going to tell you about two books written by prominent Canadians who do have a good grasp of the global, American, and Canadian political scenes, and have shared their understanding.

“Who cares what a Canadian thinks about Donald Trump,” you may ask? I’ll be so bold as to suggest that we may at times have a clearer view from up here. There’s so much smoke and fireworks generated in the US political scene, I wonder how often Americans in general can see the total picture? Also, it does anyone good at times to look at the situation through some neutral person’s eyes.

THE AGE OF DISRUPTION

Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper writes in the introduction to his book that he was sitting in his living room on Nov 8, 2016 watching the US presidential vote. He didn’t expect Donald Trump to be chosen that evening, though he did think there was a slim possibility. He says:

“Trump had not impressed me He seemed to me less conservative, less convincing, and less politically capable than virtually all of the other candidates. He had a presence and a forcefulness, but not much else…
But Trump won the Republican nomination, and now he was winning the presidential election. So I asked myself: What happened?”

After he got over the shock, Mr Harper took an in-depth look at the political scene and the overall economic picture. Then he wrote a book for the benefit of his fellow Canadians, giving his opinion on how this situation came about.

RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW: Politics in the Age of Disruption, published in 2018 by Penguin Random House Canada, doesn’t examine President Trump or his candidacy as much as it analyzes the shift to the right that’s been taking place in society. Being an economist, he includes a look at market policies, trade, globalization, and immigration, issues that seriously trouble voters, factors that have produced this right swing.

“America Has Lot of Jobs”

My thought on one of these points:
I read a blog post by an idealistic young lady who denounced President Trump’s restrictions on immigration. Quoting the plaque on the Statue of Liberty, she suggested the States should rather open the doors and welcome all immigrants. I left a comment asking her where these immigrants are going to find work, considering how many manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas. Her response was something to the effect of, “Of course there will be jobs for them. There are lots of jobs in America.”

Oh, to be so naive! The welcome on the Statue of Liberty is a wonderful ideal, but was written at a different time in US history. Now, before Uncle Sam opens the gates and lets everyone into the US who wants in, someone has to factor in the US economy as it stands today. There need to be jobs for those coming in, or the home folks may start to resent having to support the newcomers. Or they resent losing their jobs to immigrants who’ll work for less. Then you have anti-immigrant feelings boiling over. Read history; it’s happened before.

Folks who’ve made their money, who can afford upscale communities, holiday resorts, and luxury cruises, haven’t got the same take on jobs and immigration as the miner’s wife in Kentucky, the factory worker in Detroit, or the single mother providing for her family in Texas. I’ve heard that, with his plan to make American great again and provide jobs for Americans, Donald Trump’s tighter immigration policy appealed to not-so-politically-correct and non-globe-trotting Americans. And they are the majority.

A PRESIDENT LIKE NO OTHER

Former Canadian financier and newspaper tycoon Conrad Black has met Donald Trump and learned to know him, even done a bit of business with him. For his sin of owning too much in the US, Black also did a punitive year-long stint in a Florida prison, where he spend a lot of time teaching inmates how to read and write. There he got a good picture of life for those on the bottom rung.

Black is now retired, though he does some editorial writing. A celebrated historian, he’s written a hefty volume titled RISE TO GREATNESS, The History of Canada, also biographies of two other US presidents: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Richard M Nixon. And now he’s written the book DONALD J. TRUMP: A President Like No Other, published in the US in 2018 by Regnery Publishing.

Mr Black believes in honest journalism, not the sensationalism that characterized the last presidential race. In a number of editorials during that event, he denounced his fellow journalists in the US for distortion and dishonesty and explained for bemused Canadians why leftists — including so many in the media — hate Donald Trump.

In his book he looks at Trump’s strengths and weaknesses. He considers why Trump, a successful businessman, chose this point in time to step up to the plate and run for office, as well as the way he’s conducted his campaign. Black also analyzes Trump’s America-first policies versus the more global approach of leftists like Obama and Clinton.

From the jacket:
Trump diagnosed what America’s ruling elite, in its arrogance, had ignored for more than twenty years — that it had mismanaged America’s affairs for the benefit of the few, the well-connected, and privileged identity groups, and not for the American people as a whole.

All in all, he’s done a thorough and honest analysis of Donald Trump and his methods. And Black continues to keep us informed, to balance out the none-too-accurate headlines we see so much of. Just recently he published an editorial in the National Post where he lists impressive gains President Trump has made in returning power and profit to America. He predicts that, in spite of all the media opposition, Donald Trump will win by a landslide.

We’ll see if his prediction comes true, but for sure it will be an exciting, even explosive, race. Depending on who the Democrats nominate to run against him, the next presidential election will generate a lot more smoke and fireworks.

Not to worry, though. According to Mr Black, Americans love political fireworks.

Book: Patrolling the Heart of the West

True Tales of a Nevada State Trooper

by Steve Raabe

Patrolling the Heart of the West: True Tales of a Nevada State Trooper by [Raabe, Steve]

Every now and again I finish a book and think, “Everyone should read this!” That was my reaction yesterday when I finished the final chapter in Trooper Steve Raabe’s accounts of incidents in his life patrolling the highways in Nevada.

Five Stars from me! I found the writer’s on-the-job tales informative as well as interesting and well told. I think every American — and motorists everywhere — should read this book to get a clearer picture of what the job entails for the man behind the badge, the officer who pulls them over to warn them about that missing tail light, hand them a citation for speeding, or order them to buckle up.

I learned something myself in regard to an experience I once had in the States, when I came up to, and finally passed a patrol car going about 10mph below speed limit. Officer Raabe explains why this is a practice among patrolmen, how it’s helpful for spotting problems, like expired license plates and shifty-looking drivers. 🙂

Raabe shares his memories with compassion and a delightful humor. I appreciate that he hasn’t sensationalized or gone into gruesome details of accidents. He tells a few stories about speeders who paid the price, and of needless deaths because the driver and/or passenger wasn’t/weren’t buckled in. Yet he doesn’t come across in a preachy tone.

In addition to the on-the-road threat of armed-and-dangerous criminals, department favoritism or hostilities can sometimes make a cop’s job miserable. In one chapter we read how, sadly, even in the police force, administrative high-handed interference and imprudence can derail a promising career.

I think this book would be useful in driver training classes, a great asset for fostering understanding and compassion between police and beginning drivers. While the writing is overall quite clean, there are a few places where the author repeats the exact words spoken to him.

Summer Morning

Hello again, everyone. A lovely, sunny morning greets us today, with a fine veil of white cloud in the southern sky and a light wind.  Now that the fire ban has been lifted, I could start a small fire in our outdoor fire-pit — if I cold find anything out there dry enough to burn. One of life’s ironies: when we’re allowed to burn our debris, the branches are too wet to burn.

I woke up this morning feeling like a large branch had fallen on my left big toe. I was starting to feel some pain in it yesterday evening and thought maybe a small vein had burst, but this morning I realize it’s a passing kick from “old Arthur”: gout in my big toe. So I’m hobbling around and will probably stay indoors today and maybe read, write, darn socks, and set up blog posts. I sure hope this doesn’t interfere with my rest-of-the-week activities, though.

I woke up early, got up at 6 am and came out to the kitchen to tend to our cat’s food needs. I opened the door to let Pookie out and scared away a bird from our railing — likely a wren. The daring little mites come close to the house. Later, passing by the hall window I scared an oriole at our hummer feeder. She soon came back to enjoy the fresh juice I put out yesterday evening. Passing by half an hour later I scared away a hummingbird, so I guess it is being used in the morning even if I don’t see much activity there during the day.

It was quite cool this morning so Pookie was ready to come in before long. So why is it that a cat will come dashing to the door as if they can’t wait to be inside, but stop three feet away and consider his options? Is he really ready to come in? He must look around the yard first to see if there might be anything more interesting going on outside. Only after the matter has been well pondered will he decide that, yes, he does after all want to come in. Dogs aren’t like that.

Lately I’ve been reading a interesting series of mild mysteries, the Tess & Tilly series by Kathi Daley. Tess, the main character, is a letter-carrier and helps part-time with dog training and adoptions. Tilly is her very well trained dog who helps with all these projects. Yesterday I finished the third book in this series, The Mother’s Day Mishap, which can be found on Amazon HERE if you’re interested in having a look.

Story-line: A couple of weeks before Mother’s Day Tess delivers a card to her best friend’s address, but they find it was actually meant for the previous owner, Edna. A long-lost son wants to meet and reconcile with his aged mother — who has passed away. If she can find it in her heart to forgive him, she should meet him at their special place. Tess and her friends set out to find this place and this prodigal, to tell him the bad news and also inform him that his mother’s belongings are waiting at a storage unit to be collected. Of course the card has no return address, just a Chicago postmark.

Well, I should hobble along now and see what I can accomplish today besides drinking coffee with my feet up. 🙂 I hope you’re enjoying this day.

Free Book News!

If you want to read a really great book, Dan Walsh’s The Deepest Waters is free as a special promo for a couple of days on Amazon. Here’s the Amazon.com link.

The Deepest Waters by [Walsh, Dan]

In 1857 newlyweds John and Laura Foster sail from San Fransisco en route to New York, where John intends to introduce his beautiful bride to his family. He sent a letter informing them of his arrival, but they have no knowledge of his recent marriage. Nor has he informed Laura of that fact, thinking it will be only a short time he can introduce them all and they’ll be so impressed with his wife that his strained relations will be soothed and they’ll welcome the couple.

When the ship founders and death seems certain, the couple hold hands and prepare for the end. However, the women and children are rescued from the sinking ship and taken to New York where, after a letter from his “prodigal brother”, Joel Foster is expecting John’s ship to dock. He’s shocked to hear that the ship sank and bears the sad news to the family.

It takes several days for the rescue ship to reach port and Walsh has woven some intriguing episodes into this period. The story cuts periodically to John, after their ship sinks and the survivors are clinging to debris, keeping themselves alive and hopeful of rescue as best they can.

Sadly, a watchful, thieving crewman on the rescue ship spies all the pouches of San Fransisco gold the women are carrying and before they reach port he relieves the naive women of their little money pouches. Thus Laura finds herself penniless in a strange city and facing a family that know nothing about her. Of course they suspect her of being an impostor, as John had all the legal proof of their marriage and their trunk of wedding gifts, with him when the ship went down.

This really is a compelling tale, well told, with vivid and believable characters and a Christian perspective.

Books: The Perfect Christmas

I picked up this book at Value Village just before Christmas, and only just now got around to reading it. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it very much.
This two-tale book is well written, as are all of Debbie Macomber’s books, I’ve found. The first and longer tale, The Perfect Christmas — © 2009 — is one of those non-romantic romances where two people meet and don’t like each other. However, the author does this in a realistic way with no phony melodrama, no spitting nails at each other, such as you often see in modern anti-romances. The characters and dialogue are believable, professional, and respectful. The idea of paying that much money to find a spouse is the only thing I found incredible — but I don’t live in big city USA.
Seeing as the dating scene hasn’t delivered her dream spouse, Cassie Beaumont takes a friend’s advice and hands over $30,000 to a professional matchmaker to find her a well-matched mate. Rude and abrupt Simon Dodson may be, but she has to go along with his programme if she wants results. Determined to find the man she can live with, and have a family with, she can’t afford to have Simon, the psychologist running this business, get upset and refuse to work with her.
He proposes three character tests for her — and these are real jewels in themselves! I really enjoyed the realistic experiences Cassie has and what she learns as she works in these situations Simon has set up for her. Hats off to the writer for an excellent job on this part! She passes the tests and Simon promises to deliver the perfect spouse for her. But a wrench lands in the gears…

Can This Be Christmas? is an older, shorter story (© 1998) the writer has added as a bonus, yet it’s worth buying the book just for this one. Focusing on five characters needing to join family for Christmas, this morphs into a heartwarming human interest account of strangers stranded in a train station by a winter storm. None of them want to be here, but the Christmas spirit softens each one individually and melts them together as friends.

I rarely give a book five stars, but this one deserves them all.

A Light, Enjoyable Series

Over the Christmas holidays I discovered a new series and have been reading through them one after the other. This is the Markham Sisters series by Diana Xarissa, who also does the Aunt Bessie (An Isle of Man Cozy Mystery) series.

The Markham sisters are two retired teachers who spend their little inheritance windfall on a bed & breakfast in what they think will be a calm little English village. Which it is, for the most part; the locals do their best to make the sisters welcome. The constable drops in often just to check on them—and is easily persuaded to stay for a bite to eat, seeing what a great cook Joan is.

Owning a bed & breakfast has been Joan’s dream since she was young, and since she’s the older, she’s persuaded younger sister Janet to go along with the plan. But running a business and dealing with customers sometimes proves intriguing. Joan has a stronger sense of propriety — which means “no snooping.” It’s Janet who gets quite curious about people who are acting suspiciously or whose stories don’t add up. Joan tells her to mind her own business, but Janet can’t resist doing some investigating.

This series is quite tame, more along the lines of Nancy Drew mysteries. Just what I like: no dead bodies discovered, but smaller crimes like art fraud, an odd shortage of narcotics at the drug store, counterfeit money being passed, and people who aren’t who they claim to be. The novel “cases” are named alphabetically and each book is a short, easy read.

There are ordinary day-to-day details some might find rather boring, but I enjoy the setting and characters. I’d take away one star, though, for the way the sisters interact sometimes. They are in their 60s but Joan is still bossing Janet like a teen older sister — at times this seems overplayed. And Janet, when she’s miffed, still sticks her tongue out behind Joan’s back. I’d think if they’ve lived together all their lives they’d have developed more of a respect for each other, show more of an accepting, “live-and-let-live” attitude. (Mind you, I’ve never lived with a sister for years, so I can’t say what roles they might fall into.)

There is a certain “ghost” angle written into these tales that, for my part, could have been left out. In the stories I’ve read so far it’s only been references to sounds Janet hears and occasionally a strange wind slamming a door.

Anyway, I’d give this series four stars. I read each book separately, but I see the author has published collections now, available free to those of you who have Kindle Unlimited. Here are first four cases:

A Markham Sisters Collection - ABCD by [Xarissa, Diana]