Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

January 9, 2018

 

The Senior Times

Pit Stop by Neil McKenty

On the Shrivers, the Special Olympics and floor hockey.

I was enjoying a winter holiday in Palm Spins, California, when it was announced that Sargent Shriver gad died.  I met Shriver, married to President John Kennedy’s sister Eunice, in the early 70’s.  I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Mr. Shriver was the founding director of the Peace Corps, the signature success of Kennedy’s New Frontier.  He directed Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, founded Head Start, created the Jobs Corp and Legal Services for the Poor.

He served as President of the Special Olympics, which was founded by his wife.

Writing in the New York Times, Bob Herbert said that ”Mr. Shriver affected more people in a positive way than any American since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”

When I met Mr. Shriver in 1971, he struck me as an enormously enthusiastic and energetic man.  I met him to discuss an award the Kennedys were making to Jean Vanier, the son of the former governor-general.  Mr. Vanier was being honoured by the Kennedys for his work with the mentally challenged.

My boss at the time, the Toronto philanthropist and sportsman Harry ”Red” Foster, thought it would be appropriate if Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau wrote a short statement to be delivered at the awards ceremony in Washington.

I called Mr. Trudeau’s office and he agreed to send a short statement to honour Vanier.  There was, however, one condition: The statement would be in both English and French and must be read that way.

I explained Mr. Trudeau’s condition to Mr. Shriver and he readily agreed to find someone who would be able to handle the French.

At the event, however, somebody dropped the ball.  To my exasperation, the statement did not get read in French.

I expressed my anger to Mr. Shriver.  He was upset as I was and apologized profusely.

As this was playing out, we were negotiating with Mr. Shirver’s wife, Eunice, for Canada to play a larger role in the Special Olympics.  We had a Canadian Special Olympics at Exhibition Park in Toronto and we had been invited to join the Kennedys for the first international Special Olympics in Chicago.

One of the most successful elements of our own Olympics was floor hockey.  We had convinced the National Hockey League to get behind this project and we were eager that Mrs. Shriver accept floor hockey into the American Special Olympics.

To that end, I had several meetings with Mrs. Shriver in Washington.

What a though lady she turned out to be-though in the sense she knew what she wanted and used any means to get there.  Smart, too.

I was not the only person who thought if Mrs. Shriver had been born later she might well have become the first female president of the United States.

She questioned me carefully about the suitability of floor hockey for the Special Olympics program.

I am writing this wile still in Palm Springs.  While here, I’ve talked to a number of Americans about the Obama presidency.

Most people seem all for it or all against it.  There is no middle ground.  As one of the naysayers put it: ”My husband had a job under George Bush and he lost his job under Obama.”

My own view is unchanged.  If the unemployment rate comes down one full point or more, Obama will win a second term fairly easily.  I mean, who is likely to beat him?  Michelle Bachmann, the poor person’s Sarah Palin?

Published in February 2011.

NEIL’S RADIO SHOW

October 26, 2017

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

The Lines Are Blazing!

Neil is asking about US President Reagan.  With the live callers.

Jean P.

Article: Obamacare

February 20, 2017

A reprint from 2012 from Neil’s archives

Repealing Obamacare legislation is no winning ticket for Republicans

If President Barack Obama never passes another piece of legislation, he will go down in the history books as the president who brought universal health care to the American people.

For more than a century, Democratic presidents like Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson had been trying for universal health care. They all failed until Obama found a way to reshape the country’s social welfare system. Obama delivered the goods and he delivered change to believe in.

This change will bring health insurance to 32 million Americans who now don’t have it. And that’s just the beginning: Starting this year, insurers are forbidden from placing lifetime dollar limits on policies, denying coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions and cancelling policies because someone gets sick. In 2014, insurers will be forbidden from denying coverage to people with medical problems or charging them more.

Not a single Republican voted for this health bill. The party of “No” has fought the legislation every step of the way. (It is fighting in the Senate as of press time.) The Grand Old Party has cozied up to the yahoos in the Tea Party movement to derail health care, if not now, then at election time.

Still, there is the odd conservative voice that rejects this knee-jerk opposition to health care or anything else that Obama tries to do. (Senator John McCain boasts that the Republicans will not support Obama on anything for the rest of this year.)

One conservative voice that I have a lot of time for is David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times. Brooks is informed, balanced and knows that if the Tea Partiers take over the Republican Party, then the party is done. It is telling that in the run-up to the November elections, the Tea Party is trying to back right-wingers who will try to knock off moderate Republicans. It they succeed, the GOP will become nothing but a Neanderthal rump.

Another conservative voice that I respect is that of our own David Frum, who lives in Washington. Frum is one of the very few on the right who think the Republicans all-out opposition to Obama’s health care bill has been a disaster. Instead of working with the Democrats for a bi-partisan bill, the Republicans decided to bring down the whole house of cards. They almost succeeded.

The Grand Old Party has cozied up to the yahoos in the Tea Party movement.

David Frum tries to explain the Republicans’ hysterical opposition to one of the great pieces of social legislation in American history: “There were leaders who would have liked to deal with Obama. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and on talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother?”

Yet the Republicans, egged on by the Tea Party, are determined to keep on fighting. They say they will make repeal of health care the centerpiece of their campaign for the off-year elections and argue the new health law is so unpopular that they will take back control of Congress.

It’s true that the party in power almost always loses seats in the off-year elections. And there is no doubt the Democrats will take a drop in the House of Representatives.

It would be a shame if Nancy Pelosi, the best speaker in American history, lost her majority. The chances of Republicans taking over the Senate is pretty much nil. Still, I hope the GOP goes all out against Obamacare this fall. I hope they promise to repeal it. How many votes would they get if they promised to repeal the law’s lower prescription drug prices? Would they argue that pre-existing conditions should prevent one from getting insurance? Would they try to bar children from using their parent’s insurance coverage? Would they repeal a cap on medical expenses? I don’t think repealing the health bill is a winning ticket for the Republicans. And when some of these health “goodies” kick in, I predict support for Obamacare will grow right across the country.

But suppose the Republicans won back both houses of Congress in November and proceeded to repeal the bill. Would Obama sign the repeal or veto it? Not much doubt there.

After a short break for the holidays, I hope the Obama administration will turn to tighter regulations on the financial industry. Then we can all watch the Republicans defend the bankers, investment dealers and hedge funds, the very people who got us into the financial mess in the first place.

Some of the pundits, especially on Fox, are predicting that Obama will be a one-term president. They also predicted his comprehensive health care would not pass. The Fox-bomb throwers will probably be as wrong on the first prediction as they were on the second.

The New York Times featured two stories on the priestly sex abuse scandal exploding across the Catholic world. For the first time, the sex scandal is beginning to envelop Pope Benedict himself. What did he know and when did he know it? A priest in Wisconsin, Lawrence Murphy, sexually abused upward of 200 boys at a school for the deaf. Catholic Church authorities in Milwaukee, including Archbishop Rembert Weakland, wrote to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was in charge of dealing with abuse cases. Ratzinger did not respond.

Finally, canonical charges were brought against Murphy. He then wrote to Ratzinger, asking to be spared. Suddenly all action against him was halted. This scandal is the biggest crisis in the Church since the Reformation. Will the pope be able to lead the Church out of this quagmire? And if he cannot, will he resign? The jury is still out.

from theseniortimes.com

What do you think is really going to happen under Trump’s administration ?

BLAST FROM THE PAST

February 9, 2017

With the recent controversial nomination of U.S. Educational Secretary Betsy Devos, I thought an episode of McKenty Live! on the subject of education with guest Quebec Minister of Education, Claude Ryan would be nice.

” THE CLOSING OF THE CANADIAN MIND ”

August 30, 2015
                                                             nytimes

 

Here’s a few words to describe what the new york times said a few days ago about the 2015 election campaign.

” THE prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, has called an election for Oct. 19, but he doesn’t want anyone to talk about it.

He has chosen not to participate in the traditional series of debates on national television…His own campaign events were subject to gag orders until a public outcry forced him to rescind the forced silence of his supporters. ”

Read full article: click here

Snowstorm shut-down of Atlanta

January 31, 2014

Did anyone catch the amazing story unfolding on Wednesday night on CNN?

In the midst of the complete snowstorm shut-down of Atlanta Georgia, Police Officer Tim Sheffield from Sandy Springs, Georgia comes up to a car stranded on the side of the icy interstate highway, says to the driver, ‘Are you alright?’ ‘No’ replies a man’s voice ‘we’re having a baby’ and sure enough there he is helping his wife deliver little baby Grace without anaesthetics or pain relievers right there in the midst of all the stalled traffic. “She’s a trooper” says the officer and pitches in to help little Grace arrive safely into this snowy world.

We saw hundreds of schoolchildren spending the night asleep on the floors of their schools in Atlanta, their frantic parents caught up in the biggest traffic jam you ever saw. Some of them for seven to fourteen hours.

One family took in 22 kids from their nearby school and 5 adults. Thousands of cars were left abandoned as their owners got out to try to walk in the icy cold. Some of the children were stranded in their schoolbuses for hours. The streets in Atlanta itself were apparently so icy that one family saw their son ice-skating right down the middle of their road.

Canadians can sympathise from our own experience with the ice storm from a few years ago.

A RIVETING SPEECH?

January 30, 2014

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Did you catch President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night? Having written speeches and also heard them delivered by good orators, including my husband Neil, I was more than riveted.

Seldom have I heard anyone able to reach out to an audience to that extent, bringing them to their feet at the end with his tribute to a wounded serviceman, there in the audience.

Not all of the president’s listeners were in agreement with some of the content of the speech, nor were all of the commentators afterwards, but few failed to praise the effectiveness of President Obama’s ability to reach out to an audience.

I watched the whole event on CNN, including the arrival of many of the Democratic and Republican members. Quite a few of them chose to arrive together instead of sitting in opposite sides of the House as usual.

Michelle Obama was a stand-out in her green gown, sitting beside that veteran soldier at the front of the balcony.

The veteran had been near fatally-wounded after ten tours of duty. I’m told that Obama’s tribute to him drew the longest applause ever heard in that chamber.

What did you think of the speech?

STATE OF THE NATION: UNITED WE STAND?

January 27, 2014

A recent USA Today/Pew research poll indicates that people believe the gap between the rich and everyone else is widening in the US.

With salaries staying flat for the past five years, many people are having to find ways of saving by changing their lifestyle. The middle-income sector seems to be under the most pressure.

As President Obama delivers the state of the nation address on Tuesday he will be speaking to a nation that is cautiously optimistic about the economy but not at all convinced that the benefits will reach them.

Is this gloomy outlook the same for you? Is it the same in other western countries?

Do you agree with this assessment? Is your family able to keep up with the cost of living? Have you had to cut back on your lifestyle?

Catharine McKenty