BLAST FROM THE PAST

December 7, 2016

For yet another rare occasion, we see Neil from a different angle, on the other side of the microphone discussing his early life with Dennis Trudeau for the show Sunday Night.

Aired on 13/04/97

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

December 6, 2016

Pit Stop by  Neil McKenty

 

There is one difference between Canadians and Americans that is not much remarked on: the difference in their attitude toward government.

By and large, Canadians view government as neutral or even benign. It tries to establish a level playing field and provide a social safety net. For example, Canadians have no big problem with the government running a single payer health care system. Especially one that covers all citizens at about half the cost of the American system. Generally, Canadians are willing to pay higher taxes so that those most disadvantaged in our society may have access to health care and other services, such as low-cost drugs.

Not so Americans.

Many view government as the enemy. They cling to the view once expressed by President Ronald Reagan: “Government is not the solution, government is the problem.”

This view is rampant at the moment. It finds its strongest expression in the Tea Party movement, which finds its inspiration in the anti-government sentiments of the Boston Tea Party.

So far, the tea-partiers are a movement, not a political party. They want fewer taxes, smaller government, and more money on security and defence, which already costs almost $2 billion a day.

Both major political parties have reason to fear the Tea Party movement, the Democrats because the movement paints them as big government and big spenders, if not outright socialists, the Republicans because the Tea Party movement is driving the GOP farther to the right. They are demanding virtually a loyalty oath from the party’s nominees: lower taxes, lower deficits, no abortion, and more money for national defence.

Tea Parties began cropping up around the United States in February of last year, responding with anger to government bailouts of banks and car companies. They then took on the task of defeating Barack Obama’s plan on health care, showing up last summer to disrupt political meetings.

 Democrats and some Republicans dismissed them as “Astroturf,” or false grass roots. Few in either party now doubt their influence.

In fact, a recent poll revealed that more people viewed the Tea Party movement favourably than they did either the Democrats or the Republicans. That influence was brought to bear in the fight for the Democratic Senate seat held for 47 years by Senator Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. It’s true the Democrats had a weak candidate and the independents moved heavily to the Republicans, but the Tea Parties were in the thick of the fight. The result was a surprise win by the GOP candidate who ran around in a pickup truck, inveighing against big government and the health bill.

The result of the election defeat in Kennedy’s old seat was a wake-up call for the Obama administration. Obama and his brain trust were advocating more entitlement programs and bigger government at the very time the voters wanted less governmental intrusion into their lives.

Should he have been pushing so hard for a health care bill when the real need was for more jobs in the private sector? It’s the economy, stupid, not socialized health care.

There’s no doubt there is considerable anger in the country against Obama and his poll numbers are dropping. I met several people here in California who don’t think he will win a second term. One retired businessman with whom I played golf in Palm Springs said he couldn’t wait for the 2012 election so he could run Obama out of Washington on a rail. But hold on for a minute. The next national election is all of three years away. Obama’s personal approval ratings are still sky high.

His policy ratings not so much. In the president’s first State of the Union address, he pivoted hard from health care and climate change to the economy and jobs.

And there’s something else. For all its growing influence, the Tea Party movement is a leaderless, ramshackle group whose only unifying plank is to attack big bad government. Is that enough to change a movement into a political party? Hardly. What’s more, the fact that it has no leader means that demagogues like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck become its loudest voices—not exactly a plus.

But what about Sarah Palin? Wouldn’t her brand of grass-roots populism and mean invective be tailor-made for the Tea Party movement? She is scheduled to be the main speaker for the tea-partiers at their first national convention, in February—although various factions are squabbling about her $100,000 fee.

But if you think Sarah Palin could be leader of a national party and a serious candidate for the presidency, please read Game Changer, the new pageturning book on the 2008 election.

It recounts in electric detail how John McCain’s senior advisers became concerned that Palin was mentally unbalanced. Her manic mood swings, her stubborn refusal to prepare for her interviews, her scalding rage against the press, all suggested Palin had a screw loose.

They were almost relieved when their candidate lost and Palin would never be a heartbeat from the presidency. I don’t think Obama has much to fear from Sarah Palin. Nor, for that matter, from the likes of Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee. When some guy tells you Obama will be a one term president, ask him who will beat him, then listen to him stammer and stutter.

As many expected, President Obama used his first State of the Union address to pivot from health care (which he still wants) to the economy, and jobs. Jobs will be the four-letter mantra for the second year of Obama’s mandate. Other populist issues will include coming down hard on Wall St. and reducing the billowing deficits.

Just imagine the Republicans voting in favour of the bankers. The folks out there—including the tea partiers—will crucify them.

Three years from now, Obama will not be running against Superman. He will be running pretty much against the same rag-tag bunch that lost the last election. Don’t bet he won’t beat them again.

NEIL’S RADIO SHOW

December 5, 2016

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

Dirty Quebec politics is the subject on today’s program. With the live callers.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

November 30, 2016

 

McKenty Live with host Neil McKenty.

On today’s program, Neil talks about the environment with guest David Suzuki.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

November 29, 2016

cover 3

Journalist, soldier, barrister and Benedictine monk, John Main’s spiritual odyssey was a deep seated quest for an authentic life of prayer.  The door finally opened when he met an Indian swami who taught him to meditate using a mantra, only to close again when he entered the Benedictine novitiate and adopted a more traditional form of prayer.

Long after ordination in 1963, John Main discovered that the form of prayer advocated by the swami already existed within the mainstream of Western Christianity but had fallen into disuse.  From then on, he was to devote his life to restoring this form of Christian meditation to its rightful place within the Church.  His work began with the foundation of a meditation center at Ealing Abbey in London and led, some years later, to the foundation of the Benedictine Priory of Montreal and the establishment of a worldwide spiritual family liked through the daily practice of meditation.

Neil McKenty paints an attractive portrait of this compelling Irish monk whose teaching and writing on meditation were to transform the lives of thousands of men and women.

NEIL’S RADIO SHOW

November 28, 2016

Exchange on CJAD  with host Neil McKenty.

The Lines Are Still Blazing!

What’ a on your mind?

NEIL’S RADIO SHOW

November 24, 2016

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

The Lines Are Still Blazing!

On the program today, Neil chats with Barbara Matuson, author of the book The Evening Stars, and the live callers.

BLAST FROM THE PAST!

November 23, 2016

A Special Treat.

An inside look at Neil McKenty in his home talking about his career and his life in general with his wife Catharine, for the show Park Avenue Metro on CFCF-12 .

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

November 22, 2016

 

Part 2: Lets continue last week’s story.                                                            51NA3O1MD+L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Appendix

Earlier Years

One day at noon time, 15 or 20 boys went sleigh siding on the hill beside the school.  I went too.  It was far enough away so the teacher could not see us.  We stayed there until 3 o’clock.  We forgot all about school.  School was let out, each one of us got four slaps with an oak ruler on our bare hand.  Just as one of the boys went out the door, he – well – he said something that wasn’t very nice to the teacher and away he went.  The next day all the boys in the school were kept in after four to see how the boys would be punished.  He was told to stand on the floor and take his coat off.  He wouldn’t do it, so it had to be taken off.  He was slapped across the back with a blue beech rod with frost taken out of it.  He was given about 20 lashes.  He didn’t try any of those tricks again.

The making of maple sugar was both work and play.  About 100 trees were tapped in our bush.  The operations were all carried out in the woods.  Wooden spiels, troughs, and yokes made by hand were used.  The sap was carried in these to the boiling-down pots, big iron pots hung on a pole over the fire.  Sugaring off took place about twice a week.  It was fun for us when we were allowed to fill empty egg shells with the hot sugar and then eat it when it cooled.”

”That would be fun Grandfather, I think you had as much fun when you were a boy as we do now, just different, that’s all.”

The door opened and dad walked in.  ”Well it was a great game,” he said.  I looked at him blankly.  Could it be possible that the game was over while I was listening to Grandfather’s story?

It was.

In 1951, when he was still a priest, Neil wrote Holiday Memories, which appeared in the Jesuit Bulletin.

The bay was clear and fresh in the bright morning sunshine.  Here and there pools of light and shadow reflected the fluffy clouds hanging like tiny puffs of white smoke in the blue sky.  And the dark spruce skyline, penciled with slender white poplars, was so sharp and close that it might have been painted on a colored backdrop hung just behind the ridge.

Our tan cedar skiff slid easily through the water, her double oars flashing and dripping sliver drops in the sunlight.  There was no sound but the soothing swish of running waters and the sharp morning cry of birds, clear as an icicle.

No one spoke.  The three Jesuit scholastics in the boat were making their morning meditation.  For a Jesuit there is no holiday from this, ever, nor from morning Mass which we had heard at our villa chapel overlooking lovely Lake Joseph.  Somehow it is easy to pray here in this enchanted spot as the frosty mists roll up from the water and the sun’s early rays fall on the tree tops about the hidden valley where the chapel is.  No, it is not too difficult to think about God here, so prodigally strewn are his gifts of water and air and sky.  To keep one’s eyes clean and one’s ears quiet, and one’s mind serene, to breathe God’s air, to work under His sky, that is the perfect holiday.

Meditation over, we slip quietly into the broad lake polished and gleaming like a silver paten.  Over there snuggled behind two gashed rocks lies Angel’s Cove.  This is a delightful haunt for a sunny afternoon.  One may swim in the clear water or read in the tracerwork of light under the spruce.  There is a room on the flat rock to set up an easel and sketch the wide expanse of water and rolling wooden hills.  Back through the woods wind shady trails for hiking.  Islands sprout up around us now.  Bright yellow and white cottages, resembling doll houses in their setting of green shrubbery, peep out from behind the islets.  Sleek motor launches skip about between the islets.  Their gleaming prows tossing spray leap out of the water like greyhounds straining at a leash.  We wave to one if the boats riding the swells nearby, its two occupants busy fishing.  At the bottom of the lake a modern hotel, with stone turrets flung up above the pines, stands out in a sweep of smooth green lawns flowing down to the water’s edge.  Just as we row under a narrow bridge into Lake Rosseau, a yellow seaplane wheels out of the sun, skim down, and taxis sloppily across the water like a great wounded bird.

Around the spur of a rock we come upon a shady cove and stop for lunch.  but first there is fifteen minute examination of conscience, made walking under the trees over the soft fragrant pine needles. The Jesuits’ spiritual exercises, lasting nearly three hours each day, are not cut down in holiday time.  As a matter of fact, after ten months of intense study, this much needed three weeks rest is capped by an eight day retreat.  For the past few years the annual retreat has been made at the summer house.

After a brisk swim and a delicious lunch we stretch out under the trees for a bit of rest before starting the row home.  Flies drone lazily in the sleepy sunshine while overhead the soft billowy clouds flap about in the fresh breeze.

Off again about four.  Lake Rosseau’s choppy surface is a patchwork of whitecaps.  Soon we slip into the Joe River leading back to Lake Joseph.  This is a picturesque stream set between ridges swaddled in spruce and pine.  It curves through scarred rocks shattered to make a channel so narrow in spots that our oar-tips brush the shore.  Sunlight glances off the quiet waters and so still is the deep afternoon that the boat might be moving across a painted landscape, flowing with greens and blues and suffused with golden light.

Back in Lake Joseph now, rowing into sunset.  The white wings of a gull poised motionless on a glistening rock are tinted pink in the flush of light.  An air of mystery hovers over the water as the evening shadows deepen.  The shore line falls back into the misty purple haze and over the darkness sounds the eerie wail of a loon.

As the boat glides silently into the dock we are just finishing the Rosary.  At the top of the bluff one can see the last rays of the sinking sun flame up behind the ridge across the darkening bay.  And through the chapel window the warm glow of the sanctuary lamp flickering before the Blessed Sacrament welcomes us home.

NEIL’S RADIO SHOW

November 21, 2016

 

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

The Lines Are Blazing!

On this one, its mostly miscellaneous interviews on different subjects and something special at the end.