Oprah Winfrey delivered a good speech at the Golden Globes last night, leading to much speculation that she’s considering a run for President in 2020.

But don’t delude yourself into thinking that she’s the answer to America’s problems. Consider:

  1. The answer to one rich media celebrity with no political experience is not another rich media celebrity with no political experience.
  2. She’s a promoter of pseudoscience, woo, and she singlehandedly subjected the world to the likes of Dr. Phil, Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vax movement, and Dr. Oz.
  3. Her new-age schtick works fine on TV but has no place in government. Telling people to just believe in themselves and all their problems will be solved? There’s a ton of “let them eat cake” in that.
  4. For critics of Fake News and Alternative Facts, I have 4 words for you: “A Million Little Pieces.” Google it if you don’t remember.
  5. Yes, she would be better than Trump. But that’s a low bar to set. Literally ANYONE would be better than Trump. Heck, Kim Jong-effin’-un would be better than Trump.

I’m reminded of a quote from the 1995 film The American President:

“People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.”

The Democratic Party has some soul-searching to do on how it can move forward with new, dynamic leaders of tomorrow who can connect with the electorate. It’s been too hung up on the mistakes of the past since 2016, and there are few promising candidates waiting in the wings.

And don’t get me wrong, I think a lot of people LOVE the idea of a successful African-American woman beating Trump and shutting down all the racist, misogynist haters out there who would tell Democrats that it’s too risky to run any candidate who’s not a white male in 2020.

But, sorry to rain on your parade, folks, but Oprah’s not the answer. She should stick to her entertainment empire. Politics is enough of a reality TV show as it is.

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It’s December 31st again. But it’s been no typical year.

This time last year, I wondered whether we were a little too eager to leap from the frying pan into the fire. One year later, I can say unequivocally: I was right.

Even just a short list of what’s happened in the USA the past 12 months is far more frightening than anything that we could have imagined in our worst dystopian nightmares. From Russian collusion, to neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville, to Muslim immigration bans, to a tax bill that will make the rich richer and everyone else poorer, to Puerto Rico still underwater months after Hurricane Maria, any short list of lowlights is just bad news following worse news. And that’s to say nothing of how we’re all cringing every time Donald Trump accesses Twitter to wonder if today is the day he’ll launch World War III.

What will 2018 bring in the US?

There are those who see signs that the year ahead will be better. Roy Moore lost in Alabama, after all. Surely that means the Left is mobilizing and is getting ready to take down Trump and the GOP in the midterms? Right?

Wrong.

Let’s consider the unique circumstances: The Republicans ran basically the worst human being ever (after Trump, perhaps) — a racist detached piece of megalomaniac scum who is also an alleged child molester — in what they thought was a safe state. And he still got almost half the votes. He only lost because African-Americans and minorities — who generally vote in much smaller numbers, in no small part because of a concerted effort to suppress their votes — turned out in big numbers to vote against him.

It’s an entirely different story in the 2018 midterms. The electoral math is staggeringly terrible for the Democrats in both the Senate — where they’re defending 25 seats to the GOP’s 8 — and the gerrymandered-beyond-redemption House of Representatives. No matter how bad Trump’s approval numbers are, it seems like an act of divine intervention would be needed for the Democrats to win back even one, let alone both, houses.

And scariest of all, Trump may actually get more powerful in 2018, as he appoints more judges to stack the courts in his favour. The one saving grace in 2017 is that many of Trump’s most egregious acts were blocked by the courts. But the President appoints judges, so this was a temporary stopgap measure at best. As more and more judges are appointed to the appeals courts by Trump, even that last-ditch safeguard will fall by the wayside.

I’m reminded of the old Yiddish folk tale: “It could always be worse“.

What about closer to home?

Here in Canada, things are a little less awful. Justin Trudeau may not be entirely living up to the high hopes that the Left had for him. But let’s face it: next to the likes of Trump, Theresa May, or most of the rest of the world’s leaders (democratic or otherwise), he’s still a breath of fresh air. He’s broken some promises and waffled on others, sure. But despite his penchant for selfies and occasional faux pas, I believe he’s still fundamentally a decent human being.

Meanwhile, Montreal has a shiny new female mayor in Valerie Plante, who so far has reversed the pit bull ban and cancelled the Formula E race. So what if she’s failed to defend diversity convincingly, and her more outlandish ideas, like the metro’s pink line, will never get built? At least the stakes here are refreshingly low. Montreal will go into its 376th year with just as many potholes as ever. Plus ça change.

More worrisome is our provincial political scene. 2018 is an election year, and the right-wing CAQ is riding high in the polls. There’s a lot of time between now and October, to be sure. But the prospects look bleak: The Liberals have alienated everyone with their overly zealous austerity measures, corrupt spending, and ill-conceived face-covering ban of Bill 62, just to name a few. Couillard’s approval rating is hovering around the 32% mark, which is worse than Trump’s! Both the PQ and the CAQ are determined to play the xenophobia card to win the racist vote. There’s no good alternative for anglos, minorities, or anyone with a fundamental sense of decency. Our province, already plagued with racial tension and divisive politics, is liable to get worse.

On a personal note

All things considered, my personal 2017 wasn’t all that bad.

I shared good times with friends and loved ones. I welcomed two new baby cousins to the world. I tasted good food, good chocolate, good beer. I had a pretty good year career-wise, working with a fantastic team of wonderful, smart people, one of the few lucky enough to actually make a living at something I enjoy. I live in a city I love with my whole heart. These things can’t be underestimated, and I’m grateful.

I travelled a fair bit: Ottawa, New York, Toronto, Vancouver, Portland. In the spring, I visited two new countries — Peru and Bolivia — and ticked off another one of the Seven Wonders from my bucket list. My itchy feet are always seeking out the next adventure.

Like most people, I’ve tried to do what I can in whatever limited capacity I had in order to fight to make things better: Marches, vigils, protests. It never seems like enough. But every time we show up to be counted, to say not in my name, it’s something, at least.

The point is, I’m lucky. And I’m grateful. Like most people this year, I have tried to balance my need to be informed with my need to stay sane. That means I’ve curled up in a cocoon a bit, away from the news, in order to regain my balance. It means I’ve spent time disconnected from the ever-pervasive Internet and its seemingly endless horror stories. Time with friends, time on the ski hill or hiking or biking, time in front of a fireplace with a good book. Balance is a tricky thing, especially when it’s layered with so much guilt. But self-care is important: You can’t help anyone else until you put your oxygen mask on yourself first, right?

What lies ahead?

There’s reason to hope that 2018 won’t be the end of all things. We humans have lived through much worse before, and we’re survivors.

If travel has taught me anything, it’s that despite the politicians and the power-mongers, most people in the world are fundamentally good and decent. If we keep remembering to look out for one another, to help those in need, and to hold onto our humanity, we will get through even this.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
– Leonard Cohen

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Earthquake in Mexico

09.08.2017

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico last night. So far, at least 30 people have been killed, and destruction is widespread. There’s also a major tsunami risk. Mexican authorities said at least 32 people were killed in the quake, all in the southern states. In Oaxaca, which lies along the Pacific coast, there have […]

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Sexual assault on campus: Asking the tough questions

09.07.2017

I’m almost hesitant to share this piece from The Atlantic because I don’t want to send the wrong message. Sexual assault is a huge problem on college and university campuses, and in general I’m strongly in favour of policies designed to believe victims when they come forward and to stamp out assault and toxic rape […]

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Atwater needs a bike path. A real one.

09.06.2017

In the latest from the ridiculous Montréal sait faire files: These painted lines directing cyclists to ride down the underpass on Atwater… on the sidewalk: New paint on the sidewalk on both the northbound and southbound sides indicates that both cyclists and pedestrians are permitted to use it. [ . . . ] The southbound […]

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Obama on DREAM Act: It’s about basic decency

09.05.2017

Barack Obama broke his silence that he’s mostly maintained since Trump took office, by speaking out in defence of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or “DREAM” act: Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about […]

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Bill 62: Quebecois xenophobia at its worst

08.22.2017

As white supremacists march in the streets in the US, we can’t feel too smug here. Racism is, sadly, alive and well right in our home province, as the Liberal government chooses this moment to revive the debate about religious headgear. Bill 62, the so-called anti-niqab bill, is being touted by the Liberals as a […]

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On Charlottesville and Trump

08.14.2017

Godwin’s Law doesn’t apply when you’re talking about ACTUAL FUCKING NAZIS. I’ve tried to think of something coherent to say about Charlottesville, and my rage just keeps getting in the way. I’m a white person who benefits from structural racism every single day, and if I keep my mouth shut about it, I’m just perpetuating […]

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Markov leaves Habs, heads to KHL

07.27.2017

It’s the end of an era: After sixteen years and nearly 1000 regular-season games with the Habs, Andrei Markov won’t be back next season. He’s heading back to Russia to play for the KHL, it seems. Markov has spent his entire 16-year NHL career to date as a member of the Canadiens. Narrowly missing the […]

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Trump bans trans Americans from the military

07.26.2017

There are no words for how disgustingly angry this makes me. President Donald Trump said Wednesday morning that transgender people are not allowed to serve in the U.S. military. A Pentagon directive under the administration of former President Barack Obama was going to allow transgender men and women to start serving in the military over […]

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