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EDITORIAL: Straight talk, not politics – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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Let’s just put it plainly: it’s tiresome.

Not only that, but, during a global pandemic, it’s counter-productive, and is increasing the amount of fear Canadians already live with every day.

If you’re having a hard time figuring out when vaccines will arrive in Canada, and what order will be used to set the priority for the first vaccinations, you’re far from alone.

And Canada’s federal politicians aren’t helping, because they’re using the same old tricks and tactics to turn the pandemic into a cheap way to score political points.

Here’s a sample from the House of Commons question period on Tuesday.

Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole: “The prime minister has suggested that only a few Canadians will be vaccinated by September.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “As experts have said, we expect most Canadians to be vaccinated by September of next year, but we hope it will be much sooner than that.”

O’Toole again: “This morning, the deputy prime minister announced that only a handful of Canadians will be vaccinated by next summer. This government’s delays are putting lives in danger, and Canadian families want to see a plan.”

Canada’s federal politicians aren’t helping, because they’re using the same old tricks and tactics to turn the pandemic into a cheap way to score political points.

Trudeau: “Mr. Speaker, this government worked hard throughout the summer and secured access to tens of millions of doses of vaccines for Canadians.”

O’Toole: “Why did the prime minister put the lives of Canadians in the hands of Communist China when it came to a COVID vaccine?”

Trudeau: “Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Opposition should not just make stuff up.”

And it’s not just the leaders of the federal parties.

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre: “Mr. Speaker, Canadians want their lives back, but yesterday they got no plan to fix the vaccine mess that the government has made.”

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland: “Mr. Speaker, let me start by setting the record straight on what I said about vaccines this morning since the leader of the official Opposition misconstrued my words, something which is becoming a bad habit of his. As Moderna’s chief medical officer said this week, ‘Canada’s in the front row’ on vaccines.”

Back and forth it goes, and somewhere in the middle of all that lies the truth. Congratulations to you if you have any idea where.

The Conservatives claim the worst-case scenario, while the Liberals, if they actually have a plan, are being far too coy about telling us what it might be.

This is not a political football. It’s too serious to be kicked back and forth for marginal political points.

If there’s one thing that Canadians deserve as they suffer through both the broad range of impacts of the pandemic economic downturn, as well as the personal health dangers of COVID-19, it’s the absolute truth about where we are, and what we can expect.

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Macho Politics Defined Trump's Presidency, Culminating With Capitol Riot – NPR

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A Trump supporter dressed as the president in a Superman outfit attends the Jan. 6 rally against the election results before rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

Jose Luis Magana/AP

In President Trump’s Jan. 6 speech ahead of the riot on Capitol Hill, there was a telling moment that was easy to miss amid his calls to “fight like hell.” It was when Trump went on a tangent about the Republican governor of Georgia, one of the states Trump is angry he did not win on Election Day.​

“And I had Brian Kemp, who weighs 130 pounds,” Trump told the crowd. “He said he played offensive line in football. I’m trying to figure that out. I’m still trying to figure that out. He said that the other night: ‘I was an offensive lineman.’ I’m saying: ‘Really? That must have been a very small team.'”

The crowd laughed appreciatively.

For however random and rambling that may have seemed, it nevertheless fit into the speech perfectly: the president belittling an opponent as weak while portraying himself and his supporters as strong. Weakness, it turned out, was a major theme in that speech, with the president wielding it in particular against his fellow Republicans.

“We got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world,” he said, calling out the House Republican Conference Chair who would ultimately, days later, vote for his impeachment. “We got to get rid of them.”

It wasn’t just this speech. Amid all the chaos of the Trump presidency, he has been unfailingly consistent in his fixation on being a tough guy — one with a very particular, combative form of masculinity.

It has shown up everywhere in his political career from petty insults, referring to primary opponents as “lil’ Marco” and “low-energy Jeb,” to encouraging violence against protesters at his rallies.

That macho presidency culminated with a riot on Capitol Hill that left five dead. The crowd was not only overwhelmingly white, but majority-male, according to observers.

A “not totally unpredictable” riot

“The events at the Capitol, while they were dramatic and outrageous, they were not totally unpredictable,” said Jackson Katz, author and creator of the film The Man Card, about white male identity politics. ​

In his opinion, while race has been central to Trump’s political strategy, gender is also inextricable.​

“What he’s been signaling is not just that he’s the white person who’s going to stand up for white civilization, if you will, but he’s a white man who’s tough, who doesn’t back down and who’s strong, who embodies a certain kind of masculine gravitas and strength,” Katz said.

Many Trump supporters’ rhetoric mirrors this. Before Trump even became president, some of his supporters in the so-called “alt-right” referred to Republicans whom they deemed insufficiently hardline as “cucks” and “cuckservatives.” That word is a portmanteau of “conservative” and “cuckold.”

Trump backers in Washington seemed to understand the types of masculine compliments Trump craved. When Trump was diagnosed with coronavirus, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted: “President Trump won’t have to recover from COVID. COVID will have to recover from President Trump.”

In fact, the days since the riot have provided still new evidence of Trump’s preoccupation with his gender. Former chief of staff John Kelly told a Des Moines audience that Trump can’t admit to mistakes because “his manhood is at issue here,” as The Des Moines Register‘s Donnelle Ellers reported.

In pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to help him overturn the results of the election, Trump reportedly resorted to a misogynistic vulgarity. “You can either go down in history as a patriot, or you can go down in history as a pussy,” Trump said according to the New York Times.

Masculine ideals predict Trump support

The strong link between performative masculinity and the Trump presidency is not just anecdotal. There is a growing body of scholarly evidence of the links between gender attitudes and Trump support: for example, in a newly published study from Terri Vescio and Nathaniel Schermerhorn at Penn State University.

“Our main finding was that people who endorse ‘hegemonic masculinity,’ or the idea that men should be powerful, high status, tough and nothing like women, the people who endorse these ideals were more likely to support Trump,” Vescio said. “And that was for men and women over and above gender, over and above political orientation, and regardless of level of education.”

Again, that was for men and women, meaning that it’s not surprising that women were among the rioters. In one widely shared video, Texan Jenny Cudd bragged about her part in the riots.

“We did break down [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s office door and somebody stole her gavel, and took a picture sitting in the chair flipping off the camera, and that was on Fox News,” she said.

The idealization of a particular type of masculinity has gone hand in hand with hostility to women. Research has also found a link between “hostile sexism” and Trump support. In addition, numerous reports since the Capitol Hill riot have cited misogynist language among the rioters toward women leaders like Pelosi and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser.

One man, Richard Barnett of Arkansas, was photographed sitting at Pelosi’s desk and later bragged about stealing a piece of her mail.

“I wrote her a nasty note, put my feet up on her desk and scratched my balls,” he told the New York Times Matthew Rosenberg.

Richard Barnett holds a piece of mail as he sits inside the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after rioters breached the U.S. Capitol. He bragged about leaving a note containing a sexist slur for Pelosi.

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Trump’s broad appeal to voters and the way that he emboldens right-wing extremists reflect broader global political trends, in the opinion of Soraya Chemaly, executive director of the Representation Project, a nonprofit that fights gender inequality.

“​I think there’s a lot going on. I think that one thing is that there is a global tide of macho fascism and masculinist backlash against change,” she said. “And I think that what we saw in the rise of Trump was part of that tide.”

Trump benefited from and amped up existing political and cultural attitudes about gender, in short, meaning that as he leaves office, those ideas won’t go away. In addition, Chemaly stressed, attitudes about gender are tightly woven together with those about race, class and party.

For now, Trump and his team are trying to burnish his masculine image as he leaves office. This was highlighted when Fox News’ Bill Hemmer asked Trump campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley last week about Trump’s feelings in the fallout from the riot.

“With the social media crackdown, does he feel emasculated?” Hemmer said.

“Look. I wouldn’t say emasculated,” Gidley said. “The most masculine person to ever hold the White House is the president of the United States.”

It was one of the most salient aspects of the Trump presidency, captured in one unsubtle question and one unsubtle response.

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US politics live updates: Democrats promise Donald Trump's impeachment trial is coming 'soon' as Biden readies executive order blitz – ABC News

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What’s the deal with executive orders?

No, not THAT kind of executive order.

Hey so how do executive orders work? Can Biden make whatever he wants happen with no oversight?

-Lost

Nope. America fought a war to prevent that exact thing from happening. You might have heard of it? Happened around the 1770-80s? Involved an English guy called George they didn’t like very much.

In the US, the president is the head of the executive branch of government. The job of the executive is to enact and enforce the laws sent to it by Congress. As head of the executive, the president can issue executive orders directing that branch to do what they want. The official White House website says the orders “direct executive officers or clarify and help implement existing laws“.

So they’re not unlimited. The president can’t create laws, but through an executive order can enforce a particular interpretation of a law. One area where the president has massive power for example is foreign policy, which is why Trump’s travel ban via executive order was allowed to happen. Same with the Paris Climate Agreement.

One big thing an executive order can’t do is spend money that Congress hasn’t allocated to the executive branch.

Now of course, sometimes presidents overreach and the executive orders are challenged. Then it’s up to the Supreme Court to step in and make a ruling.

Great stuff as always, Pete! What are the limitations of an executive order? If the COVID bill meets significant resistance in the Senate, why not just issue an executive order instead?

-Executive question

Remember when I said an executive order can’t spend money not allocated to the executive? That’s why Biden can’t just make his COVID-19 relief bill happen with an executive order. He also wants to change some of the tax code, which is Congress’ job to approve. The $15-an-hour national minimum wage is also something that Congress would need to sign off on.

Sensing a theme here? The constitution gives Congress has what’s is commonly called the “power of the purse”. Which ultimately gives it say on almost any law in the US (most require funding in some capacity).

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Josh Hawley’s political ascent stalls after US Capitol attack – Financial Times

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When Josh Hawley ran for public office for the first time in 2016, the future US senator with TV looks and an impressive conservative pedigree put out an ad vowing not to be the kind of politician who used victory as a catapult to higher things.

“[Missouri] is full of career politicians just climbing the ladder, using one office to get another,” Mr Hawley said. “You deserve better.”

Less than a year later, after a successful run for Missouri attorney-general, Mr Hawley was gunning for his next job as a state senator. After winning that contest in 2019, he emerged as a potential Republican presidential candidate for 2024.

Then, his ladder skidded.

As one of the leaders of the Republican attempt to block the certification of the November 2020 election results — which morphed into an attack on the US Capitol — Mr Hawley has faced widespread recrimination from some of his biggest supporters and financial backers.

Mr Hawley’s longtime mentor, the former Missouri Republican senator John Danforth, said that championing Mr Hawley’s rise was “the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life”. Two of his top donors have renounced him.

Hallmark, the greetings card company based in Mr Hawley’s state, has asked his campaign to return donations from its employees, while his hometown newspaper declared in an editorial that the junior senator had “blood on his hands”.

Carlos Curbelo, the former Republican congressman, suggested in an interview that Mitch McConnell, the top-ranking Republican in the Senate, might even strip Mr Hawley of his committee assignments or censure him, along with Ted Cruz, the other senator behind the certification campaign.

Mr Curbelo said Mr McConnell knew “these types of attitudes have to be purged from his conference” and that both senators were “extremely vulnerable”.

Friends of Mr Hawley said they had watched in horror as events unfolded.

“I’ve thought a lot about Macbeth: when you’re halfway through the river, you might as well go to the other side,” said one friend, referring to the Scottish general’s monologue in Act III when he describes being so deep in “the river of blood” that he is unable to turn back.

“Am I surprised by what happened?” asked David Kennedy, the Stanford history professor who mentored Mr Hawley as an undergraduate and has stayed in close touch with him over the years. “Yes. Am I disappointed? Yes.”

Mr Kennedy said he was perplexed by Mr Hawley’s decision not to use the “off ramp” taken by his Republican colleagues, who abandoned the challenge after the riot in the Capitol.

The senator’s press office did not respond to a request for comment.

Despite his populist leanings, Mr Hawley had the kind of opportunities that most Americans can only dream of. The son of a banker who grew up in small-town Lexington, Missouri, Mr Hawley was educated at a private Catholic boys school and then attended Stanford, where Mr Kennedy recalled him as among the “most gifted” undergraduates he had ever taught.

Under Mr Kennedy’s tutelage, Mr Hawley’s senior thesis on Theodore Roosevelt was eventually published as a biography on the 26th president when its author was just 28.

Mr Hawley enrolled at Yale. A prestigious clerkship under Chief Justice John Roberts at the Supreme Court followed. Ms Hawley’s future wife, Erin Morrow, was a fellow clerk.

A life-long conservative who was a member of the Federalist Society at Yale, Mr Hawley joined a conservative non-profit in Washington, then taught constitutional law at the University of Missouri before his election as the state attorney-general.

Josh Hawley has become a lightning rod for anger over the attack on the US Capitol, as evidenced by this placard at the old courthouse in St Louis, Missouri © Lawrence Bryant/Reuters

In the Senate, Mr Hawley made a name for himself as a populist conservative, becoming one of the biggest GOP critics against Big Tech, an issue that some friends linked back to his interest in the trustbusting Roosevelt.

He advocated for a second round of $2,000 relief cheques for Americans during the pandemic, a stance that aligned him with the likes of Bernie Sanders and eventually secured the backing of President Donald Trump.

Mr Kennedy, who contributed to Mr Hawley’s first campaign and attended his inauguration as state attorney-general, said he was dismayed when he saw Mr Hawley starting to align himself closely with Mr Trump during his Senate run, a trend that only accelerated. “He seems to not only have drunk the Kool-Aid but swam in it,” he said.

In interviews, some friends of Mr Hawley’s from Yale Law School and the Supreme Court recalled Mr Hawley not as a political climber but as an affable, mild-mannered conservative who was polite about his deeply held beliefs.

“I can name 10 conservative douchebags from his time at Yale Law, and he wasn’t on the list,” said one classmate, who donated to Mr Hawley’s first campaign.

But others have less favourable recollections of Mr Hawley. They remember him as condescending to those he deemed to be below his station or of little use on his path to success.

“I got glimpses of his Senate floor personality when we were in law school,” said one, who described Mr Hawley as “ideologically pure” but “personally unlikeable”.

In the days since he was photographed walking into the US Capitol on January 6 — giving a fist pump to the Trump protesters outside — Mr Hawley has defended his decision to object, arguing that “democratic debate is not mob violence”.

And he has lashed out at Simon & Schuster, which announced it was cancelling his forthcoming book in the wake of the riot, accusing the publisher of making a “direct assault on the First Amendment”.

But as a legal scholar, Mr Hawley will know that while the First Amendment protects free speech, it does not prevent private companies from deciding what to publish.

One law school classmate said he did not think Mr Hawley really believed the election was stolen. “He’s a smart person . . . articulating a [false] idea to curry favour with a certain part of the population.”

He added: “Everyone knew it was a dangerous, destabilising idea, and he was the first one to . . . throw caution to the wind because of political expediency.”

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