The Lessons of History

FOR GOODNESS SAKE, READ HISTORY (Part One)

Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: FURY
Word of the Day prompt: SUSTAIN
Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: EULOGY

Fury, Rage, and Free Press

Sue over at Crooked Creek has done reports on the new books about Donald Trump: TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH written by his niece, Mary L. Trump, and the other, RAGE, by Bob Woodward. I think Sue has done a great job of introducing the books lightly and fairly, without getting into personal opinions about the contents.

Stickler for accuracy that I am, I do object to the subtitle “…the world’s most dangerous man.” It sounds so sensational. No doubt he is one of the most powerful men on the planet but when I think of some dictators, money men, heads of organized crime and drug lords, I’m not so sure who should receive that title. But I’ll leave that where it is.

When I read these book reviews, my thought was: at least we live in a world of free speech. People have compared Donald Trump to Hitler, but there’s so much difference. Read about that history! If any writer wrote a news story calling Hitler a megalomaniac or tried to publish a book about Adolf Hitler, the most dangerous man on the planet (which he was, in his day) the journalist or author would have disappeared in the night and never been heard from again.

I have a book here written by a woman who was a girl in Nazi Germany. Her father, a loyal army officer who had serious misgivings about the whole regime, quietly got involved in a “Schindler’s List” type arrangement with a factory owner. When this was discovered he was arrested and secretly executed. Trump may not respond well to criticism but I’m not hearing anything about vocal Democrats being rounded up and quietly disposed of.

“The Worst Ever” Usually Means “I Haven’t Heard of Anything Else”

We live in a world of sensational superlatives. The media delights in them. “The worst pandemic in history”; “the biggest, the worse, the most devastating storm” ever. Climatic conditions like fires, droughts, hurricanes, are “the most calamitous,” “unsurvivable” and “portents of much worse to come.” Political races may be called “the most contentious” or “the most fateful decision ever.”

It’s rather thrilling to believe we actually live in an era of the worst ever. These days we seem to be surrounded by news and Facebook and Twitter working to sustain panic and fury. Many people are chanting some eulogy for the West — or America. I can’t predict whether things will get worse or better, but I do believe it would be great if more people were studying history.

Speaking of which, I’ve just started reading PROHIBITION: Thirteen Years that Changed America, by Edward Behr. Fascinating era!

Image by MabelAmber — Pixabay

The Car, Harry Potter, or Donald Trump?

I had a fruitful trip to the hearing aid store yesterday; the audiologist upped the volume on my two hearing aids. I can now hear more than I ever wanted to. Shopping in stores was a general roar; our air cleaner sounded like a jet idling beside our window; plastic bag crinkles sounded like icicles crashing onto cement. To save my sanity I soon shut the hearing aids off.

Fortunately I have a little device at home called a Streamer, which I rarely use. It’s the remote volume control for my hearing aids, one that will also turn them to “phone” setting and stream the call into my hearing aids straight from my phone. However, I find it a nuisance for the most part; it’s always bumping against things, which messes up its settings. So the streamer stays in a drawer until urgently needed. We charged it up when we got home yesterday and I turned it on. Oh, joy! I was able to turn the volume in my hearing aids down to a normal level.

My hearing aids are ten years old now, and considered Obsolete — which means not fixable, not replaceable — so I asked the audiologist how much a new set of hearing aids would cost. I told him I need to prepare, decide what to sell so I can afford them. (No one wants your kidney when they find out you’ve had leukemia, so I need to think of other assets.)

He thought a moment, then answered, “Sell the car. A set of hearing aids would cost you about $3400.” He didn’t say “minimum.”

Well, yes, that would be the car. I shook my head. “Maybe I could write a bestseller? I’m a writer…and I understand the Harry Potter books author was broke and made her fortune with that series.”

Then I thought about my own writing. Not enough murder, mayhem, suspense, erotica, etc. “Trouble is, I don’t write bestseller-quality stuff,” I admitted.

“Write a book about Trump,” he said. “That could be a seller. Donald Trump, from a Saskatchewan perspective.”

Mulling the matter over later, I realized I’d easily spend $3400 traveling around the province researching “Donald Trump: A Saskatchewan perspective.” Furthermore, would readers in general, and the folks who make up the Bestseller list, be interested in knowing what we here in Sask think of him?

A Harry Potter-type fantasy, on the other hand, could be dreamed up, researched, and plotted right here at home. Hmm…

Selling the car would be easier.

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.