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Joe Biden’s Catholic faith has shaped his life and approach to politics. How will it shape his presidency?

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Written By Jazmine Ulloa

 

Edited By Harry Miller

 

 

President-elect Joe Biden left St. Joseph on the Brandywine church in Wilmington, Del., on Nov. 8.ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — On the morning of one of the most consequential days in his life, and maybe the nation’s history, too, Joe Biden attended Mass at the unassuming Roman Catholic church near his Delaware home.

The trip wasn’t a photo-op, just part of the normal routine for a man who will become only the second Catholic ever to be US president.

Biden always carries a rosary in his pocket and laces speeches with scripture. On the campaign trail, he was known to stop for a moment of quiet prayer, sometimes alone, sometimes with someone he had just met. Throughout his political career, it was not uncommon for Biden to attend a Saturday morning event with churchgoers and still make an evening service, his longtime friends and staffers say.

Indeed, his central pitch to voters as he paved his path to the White House this year carried a religious overtone: Americans were in “a battle for the soul of the nation.”

“I don’t think you go to Mass on Election Day to make a political statement,” said Margaret McGuinness, a professor of religion at La Salle University in Philadelphia. “We don’t have a tradition of that in this country. I think you go because you care and it means a lot to you.”

Despite breaking with Catholic doctrine on key issues such as abortion, Biden is expected to draw on a branch of his faith that is strongly rooted in social justice and reform for his governing philosophy. Rather than being in conflict, religious observers say these beliefs complement his worldview and permeate his deal-making approach to politics — a strength, supporters say, as he attempts to unify a splintered country.

But much like the rest of America, Catholics are polarized. Biden will have to build trust and bridge divides as he seeks to bring people of faith into the Democratic fold, despite those who see his desire for compromise and calls for unity as belonging to a bygone era.

“Anytime you see the good in people, you get called naive, and Joe has seen a lot of good in people,” said Sister Carol Keehan, the former president of the Catholic Health Association, a ministry of the Roman Catholic Church that encompasses hundreds of hospitals and health care facilities.

Biden’s comfort with his faith — and his willingness to talk about it — contrasts with most presidents and certainly the current one, historians said.

McGuinness often starts her lessons on John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, by noting that his wife, Jacqueline, once called him “a bad Catholic.” Kennedy, who won the White House after years of anti-Catholic sentiment, was so self-conscious about appearing to be influenced by the pope that he gave a speech during the 1960 campaign before a group of Protestant ministers pledging to resign should he ever be forced to “either violate my conscience or violate the national interest.”

President Trump has spoken little of his own faith, rarely goes to church, and is seen by many as morally flawed, even among his most ardent Christian followers. He was roundly criticized last summer after law enforcement officers forcibly cleared mostly peaceful racial justice protesters near the White House so he could stage a photo-op with a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Biden, meanwhile, has long threaded his religious beliefs with his politics and could be more explicit still in how he blends those principles with his governing priorities, historians said.

In that vein, Biden is like Jimmy Carter, who saw his deep Baptist faith as enriching his presidency, not interfering with it, said Thomas H. Groome, professor in theology and religious education at Boston College.

Biden’s “whole life is permeated with the values and especially the social values of his faith,” Groome said. And yet, “he also knows he can’t impose the moral teachings of his faith unless people are willing to embrace them.”

In a 2015 interview with late-night TV host Stephen Colbert, Biden described his brand of Irish Catholicism, cultivated through his family and Catholic grade school education, not so much as a practice or a system of beliefs but as “a place you can go” and that brings “just an enormous sense of solace.”

“Some of that relates to ritual, some of that relates to this comfort of what you’ve done your whole life,” Biden said, whether by saying a rosary or being alone with your thoughts in a crowded Mass. “All the good things that have happened have happened around the culture of my religion and theology of learning.”

Not that he hadn’t grappled with doubt. “The faith doesn’t always stick with you,” he said, nodding to members of the audience, who like himself, had experienced tragedy.

Delaware Senator Chris Coons, who first met Biden as a young lawyer more than 30 years ago, remembers when Biden was not so open about his faith or his personal losses. Coons said Biden rarely spoke of the car crash that took the lives of his first wife, Neilia, and his infant daughter, Naomi, near Christmas in 1972.

Another tragedy — the death of his son Beau, from brain cancer in 2015 — changed that, Coons said.

“When something shattering happens to you, you either turn away from God or you turn toward God, and Joe, after Beau’s death, has demonstrably turned toward God,” Coons said.

Like others close to Biden, Coons has seen the president-elect in his most pensive moments grasp the rosary beads that once belonged to Beau. Biden still carries a small rosary in his pocket, which theologians such as Groome describe as “a very concrete way that Catholics have of taking their faith out of their heads and bringing it into their hands.”

In recent months, Biden’s motorcade has remained a regular sight at St. Joseph’s on the Brandywine, an unadorned church in Greenville, Del., with walls of pale yellow stucco, white trimming and silver steeple. Neilia, Naomi, and Beau are buried in the church’s cemetery.

Like many Irish Catholics, Biden’s faith is more grounded in family and local parishes than in strict adherence to the hierarchies of the Roman Catholic Church. He attended Catholic schools in his hometown of Scranton, Pa., and in Wilmington, Del., where his family moved when he was 10. Nuns and priests were a constant presence in Scranton, where he would roam the streets with friends while on weekend visits with his grandparents. It was there where his grandfather taught him to pray the rosary and “church always felt like an extension of home,” Biden wrote in his 2007 memoir, “Promises to Keep.”

He briefly considered entering the seminary to become a priest. His religious studies were steeped in Catholic social teaching, a doctrine that emerged in the 1890s and evolved into 10 principles centered on social justice and the common good, the most central being that all people are created with inherent dignity.

Under these guiding rules, it is not enough to feed the hungry, theologians said, but to also address the cause of their hunger. Biden spoke of this in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor in 2007.

“The animating principle of my faith, as taught to me by church and home, was that the cardinal sin was abuse of power,” he said. “It was not only required as a good Catholic to abhor and avoid abuse of power, but to do something to end that abuse.”

Still, Biden, like other Democratic Catholic politicians, has been scrutinized for his stances on issues such as abortion, LGBTQ rights, and so-called religious freedom. Breaking from traditional Catholic teaching, Biden in 2012 became the first national leader to support same-sex marriage and has said he believes “reproductive rights are a constitutional right” that should be accessible to every woman. Last summer, he reversed his decades-long support for a measure barring federal funding for most abortions after facing intense pressure from Democratic rivals.

For a hardening faction of conservative Catholics and evangelicals, there has been a growing sense of perceived persecution. This has come as Pope Francis — the first pontiff to hail from the Americas — steers the church in a more liberal direction on issues such climate change, poverty, and the enduring impact of colonization on marginalized people. Historically, there has been a divide among Catholics between those who believe in strict accordance with Catholic doctrine and those who want the church to use the teachings of Jesus Christ to put the needs of the poor and oppressed first.

“In the end, it is a difference of opinion on what we will be judged on when the time comes,” McGuinness said. “It is a difference of opinion on what it means to be a good Catholic.”

In the US, more than half of Catholics now believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Center. But their views diverge sharply along political lines: Some 55 percent of Catholic Republicans say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while 64 percent of Catholic Democrats believe the opposite, the Pew research has found.

Biden has long grappled with this evolution. During negotiations over the Affordable Care Act, where the Obama administration had committed to not letting federal funds be used for abortion, Biden pushed to ensure that pregnant women had access to complete prenatal coverage to care for their babies after their birth. It was this sort of understanding of human dignity, Keehan said, that Biden often brought to legislative work to aid the poor, low-income workers, and even middle-class families.

“You can’t say everyone should have good health care, good nutrition, and not do anything about it, particularly when you have the kind of power and influence he held,” she said.

Biden sought to imbue the same principles into his presidential campaign. He and his running mate, Kamala Harris — a Black Baptist from a Hindu family who is married to a Jewish man — made direct appeals to people of faith centered on common good values.

“Faith was integrated across the campaign, not just siloed into one outreach department,” said Josh Dickson, the Biden campaign’s national faith engagement director.

“What stands out to me is … how his authenticity in his faith was just so clear,” Dickson said.

For Catholics such as Nichole Flores, motivated to volunteer for Biden after the Trump administration split apart migrant families at the border, it was the first time they felt their faith was truly seen by the Democratic Party. She still doesn’t agree with the party’s stance on abortion, but said she appreciates Biden’s Catholic approach to so many other issues, including immigration and wealth distribution.

“One thing I think he brings to the conversation is a model for the diverse ways that Catholics live out our values in public life,” said Flores, an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia.

Another Biden volunteer, Grant Tabler, 22, said he came to see his vote for Trump in 2016 as likely “the greatest regret of his life,” one that now compels him to “fight for some sense of equality for all.”

He first heard of Biden in a critical way — when friends and family would argue the former vice president should not receive Holy Communion. But he soon realized that Biden “is pro-life, pro-protecting the migrant, pro-protecting the poor,” Tabler said.

Catholics make up about a fifth of US adults, and exit polls showed they split almost evenly between Biden and Trump; the Republican retained support from conservative evangelical Christian leaders and Catholics for his positions on defending religious freedom and opposing abortion, and for packing the courts with conservative judges.

Some lamented that Biden did not do more to appeal to voters of faith beyond the key battleground states, such as in Texas. “If he came and talked to Latinos about his faith …shared his passion and plans for his future, he would have won” the Rio Grande Valley, said Antonio Arellano, the interim executive director of Jolt, the largest Latino progressive organization in the state.

The political divide among Catholics was clear this month when Biden received a congratulatory call from Pope Francis while Trump was still refusing to concede. Days later, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced a working group to analyze Biden’s support for abortion rights, and experts said this effort could also consider whether to deny him communion.

Biden isn’t likely to be deterred in his calls for unity. In his victory speech on Nov. 7, he turned to the Christian hymn “On Eagle’s Wings,” calling for “faith in America and in each other, with a love of country — and a thirst for justice” in the quest to be a better nation.

“So I remember, as my grandpa said when I walked out of his home when I was a kid up in Scranton, he said: ‘Joey, keep the faith,’” Biden said. “And our grandmother, when she was alive, she yelled: ‘No, Joey, spread it.’ Spread the faith.”


Reach Jazmine Ulloa at jazmine.ulloa@globe.com or on Twitter: @jazmineulloa.

Source: – The Boston Globe

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Newfoundland ex-pat makes waves pairing politicians with their cartoon doubles – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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An effort to shake off some homesickness led Adam DuBourdieu to mix pop culture and provincial politics — namely, taking politicians involved in this election and matching them with their visual counterparts on “The Simpsons.”

Originally from Kippens on the province’s west coast, DuBourdieu, 30, moved to Edmonton just before the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

As with many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, he experienced homesickness in the months that follow such a move.

A keen follower of local politics, DuBourdieu set about combatting his traveller’s lament by having some fun with the upcoming provincial election.


“Let’s have a laugh with it, It’s a good thing. It’s a bit of good fun.” — Jim Dinn (aka Principal Skinner)


Combining his love for “The Simpsons” and politics, he matched the politicians running in the upcoming election with the Simpsons character he saw as their cartoon counterparts.

“It is something people are familiar with,” DuBourdieu said about why he chose to use “The Simpsons” as a reference point.

Some matchups were tough, while others were easy fits, such as the NDP’s Jim Dinn, a former schoolteacher, and his match with Principal Skinner.

“You can’t take yourself too seriously. Being a teacher, that’s par for the course,” Dinn said of that character match.

Dinn has seen the rather large social media thread containing the pictures.

He said that as a teacher, he learned long ago that you have to have a sense of humour, and it’s a lesson he’s taken with him to politics. Seeing the thread, he took it in good fun.

He said it could be worse. It could turn into a meme like a recent picture of United States Senator Bernie Sanders.

“Let’s have a laugh with it,” said Dinn. “It’s a good thing. It’s a bit of good fun.”


Kippens native Adam DuBourdieu generated plenty of interest when he started matching Newfoundland and Labrador politicians with characters from The Simpsons earlier this week. Contributed photo — Contributed

The result was a 47-part thread on Twitter filled with pictures of the politicians placed alongside images of characters from the show. It involves a mixture of retiring MHAs, incumbents and party leaders of all political stripes.

“The Simpsons” and politics have a bit of history. Across its 32 seasons, the show has mixed humour and politics.

The show seemingly predicted the start of the United States presidency of Donald J. Trump, and the Lisa Simpson presidency that followed him.


“I hope people get a good chuckle out of it.” — Adam DuBourdieu


Coincidentally, Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans is paired with the presidential Lisa.

The relationship, however, between “The Simpsons” and the political arena doesn’t stop at a coincidental presidential prediction.

The show has often tackled topics of the day, such as same-sex marriage and gun control, and it has often been accused of having a liberal bias. Springfield’s Mayor Quimby is a regularly appearing character, and DuBourdieu saw him as a perfect match for Conception Bay East-Bell Island incumbent David Brazil.


NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Bette Midler were paired together during the exercise. Midler made a cameo on the show in Season 4. Photo courtesy Twitter
NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Bette Midler were paired together during the exercise. Midler made a cameo on the show in Season 4. Photo courtesy Twitter

Homer Simpson — coupled with Topsail-Paradise MHA Paul Dinn — once fought former U.S. president George H.W. Bush after the two became neighbours. Former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford have also made cameo appearances on the show.

DuBourdieu tabbed Ford as the right match with Mount Pearl North MHA Jim Lester.

“Politics has always been in ‘The Simpsons,’ and Newfoundland politics has some characters,” said DuBourdieu, who says he always the show.

“I watched it with my dad.”

Some of his political subjects have a similar appreciation of the show,

Harbour Grace-Port de Grave MHA Pam Parsons knew at once who voiced Bart Simpsons’ former babysitter, Laura Powers.

“That’s the one where Darlene from Roseanne voiced the character. Sara Gilbert,” she said.

Like other children of the ’80s and early ’90s, Parsons grew up in the early years of “The Simpsons.” She saw the show move from animated shorts on “The Tracy Ullman Show” to a pop culture phenomenon on Fox.

“Growing up as a child, I certainly watched ‘The Simpsons.’ I loved Bart Simpson. I think we all did,” said Parsons. “I even had the little toys that McDonald’s was putting out.”


Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote found her Simpsons doppelganger in Mrs. Hoover. Photo courtesy Twitter
Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote found her Simpsons doppelganger in Mrs. Hoover. Photo courtesy Twitter

Parsons is one of 10 women featured in the long Twitter thread. Of the 10, nine are incumbent MHAs and their animated doppelgangers. The other is Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote.

She was paired with Springfield Elementary second-grade teacher, Mrs. Hoover.

“I like that (Dubourdieu) was non-partisan (in his choices),” said Parsons, who appreciated the comedic break it offered.


Liberal MHA Pam Parsons was paired with former babysitter Laura Powers. Photo courtesy Twitter  — File Photo
Liberal MHA Pam Parsons was paired with former babysitter Laura Powers. Photo courtesy Twitter — File Photo

“I got a good chuckle out of it.”

The response to the sizeable thread has been favourable online.

It was something that surprised DuBourdieu at first.


“I like that (Dubourdieu) was non-partisan (in his choices). I got a good chuckle out of it.” — Pam Parsons (aka Mrs. Hoover)


Since it went online, there have been dozens of interactions between politicians and the public. People have marvelled at how spot-on some of the comparisons are, such as independent MHA Eddie Joyce being matched with oil tycoon Rich Texan.

Still, there have been alternative suggestions, including by the subjects themselves. Liberal candidate George Murphy tweeted he thought of himself as the lovable barfly Barney Gumble instead of Police Chief Wiggum, his chosen match by Dubourdieu.

Other candidates, such as Progressive Conservative candidate Kristina Ennis and the NDP’s Jenn Deon, have expressed interest in being connected to animated doubles.

Lake Melville NDP candidate Amy Hogan even went ahead and did her own. It was Jerri Mackleberry, the mother of notable twins Sherri and Terri.

“I think I’m probably the twins, Sherri and Terri’s mom, Jerri. It’s is the purple hair and the glasses,” Hogan tweeted.


Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley made the perfect visual double for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey. Photo courtesy Twitter
Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley made the perfect visual double for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey. Photo courtesy Twitter

DuBourdieu pledged to add a third part to the thread if there is enough interest.

In the days since the original post, a link to the thread made its way around the Progressive Conservative email chain.

“We got a good kick out of it,” said Conservative MHA Barry Petten. “You can’t help but laugh.”


“We got a good kick out of it. You can’t help but laugh.” — Barry Petten (aka Superintendent Chalmers)


The Conception Bay South representative readily admitted he wasn’t much of a Simpsons watcher and had little background on Superintendent Chalmers or why he was paired with him.

Still, Petten said he appreciated the work and the humour it brought to the election.

“It’s all good humour,” he said.



 DuBourdieu has enjoyed the work that’s gone into his humourous entry into the Newfoundland and Labrador political scene,

Some comparisons were easy, while others required a bit more thought, he said, and he learned a little along the way, including how male-dominated this province’s legislature is.


Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown and Bart Simpson sidekick Milhouse got paired together. — Photo courtesy Twitter
Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown and Bart Simpson sidekick Milhouse got paired together. — Photo courtesy Twitter

As the province rolls toward the Feb. 13 election, DuBourdieu will watch from his home in Alberta.

In the meantime, he is glad he got to contribute to the run-up in some way.

“I’m glad I did it and I hope people get a good chuckle out of it,” said DuBourdieu.

Nicholas Mercer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering central Newfoundland for SaltWire Network.


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Scaramucci to Trump: ‘Get out of politics and back to business’

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The Canadian Press

Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

LOS ANGELES — Larry King, the suspenders-sporting everyman whose broadcast interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary Joes helped define American conversation for a half-century, died Saturday. He was 87. King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted. No cause of death was given, but CNN reported Jan. 2 that King had been hospitalized for more than a week with COVID-19. His son Chance also confirmed King’s death, CNN reported. A longtime nationally syndicated radio host, from 1985 through 2010 he was a nightly fixture on CNN, where he won many honours, including two Peabody awards. With his celebrity interviews, political debates and topical discussions, King wasn’t just an enduring on-air personality. He also set himself apart with the curiosity be brought to every interview, whether questioning the assault victim known as the Central Park jogger or billionaire industrialist Ross Perot, who in 1992 rocked the presidential contest by announcing his candidacy on King’s show. In its early years, “Larry King Live” was based in Washington, which gave the show an air of gravitas. Likewise King. He was the plainspoken go-between through whom Beltway bigwigs could reach their public, and they did, earning the show prestige as a place where things happened, where news was made. King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews. In 1995 he presided over a Middle East peace summit with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He welcomed everyone from the Dalai Lama to Elizabeth Taylor, from Mikhail Gorbachev to Barack Obama, Bill Gates to Lady Gaga. Especially after he relocated to Los Angeles, his shows were frequently in the thick of breaking celebrity news, including Paris Hilton talking about her stint in jail in 2007 and Michael Jackson’s friends and family members talking about his death in 2009. King boasted of never overpreparing for an interview. His nonconfrontational style relaxed his guests and made him readily relatable to his audience. “I don’t pretend to know it all,” he said in a 1995 Associated Press interview. “Not, `What about Geneva or Cuba?’ I ask, `Mr. President, what don’t you like about this job?’ Or `What’s the biggest mistake you made?’ That’s fascinating.” At a time when CNN as the lone player in cable news was deemed politically neutral, and King was the essence of its middle-of-the-road stance, political figures and people at the centre of controversies would seek out his show. And he was known for getting guests who were notoriously elusive. Frank Sinatra, who rarely gave interviews and often lashed out at reporters, spoke to King in 1988 in what would be the singer’s last major TV appearance. Sinatra was an old friend of King’s and acted accordingly. “Why are you here?” King asks. Sinatra responds, “Because you asked me to come and I hadn’t seen you in a long time to begin with, I thought we ought to get together and chat, just talk about a lot of things.” King had never met Marlon Brando, who was even tougher to get and tougher to interview, when the acting giant asked to appear on King’s show in 1994. The two hit it off so famously they ended their 90-minute talk with a song and an on-the-mouth kiss, an image that was all over media in subsequent weeks. After a gala week marking his 25th anniversary in June 2010, King abruptly announced he was retiring from his show, telling viewers, “It’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders.” Named as his successor in the time slot: British journalist and TV personality Piers Morgan. By King’s departure that December, suspicion had grown that he had waited a little too long to hang up those suspenders. Once the leader in cable TV news, he ranked third in his time slot with less than half the nightly audience his peak year, 1998, when “Larry King Live” drew 1.64 million viewers. His wide-eyed, regular-guy approach to interviewing by then felt dated in an era of edgy, pushy or loaded questioning by other hosts. Meanwhile, occasional flubs had made him seem out of touch, or worse. A prime example from 2007 found King asking Jerry Seinfeld if he had voluntarily left his sitcom or been cancelled by his network, NBC. “I was the No. 1 show in television, Larry,” replied Seinfeld with a flabbergasted look. “Do you know who I am?” Always a workaholic, King would be back doing specials for CNN within a few months of performing his nightly duties. He found a new sort of celebrity as a plainspoken natural on Twitter when the platform emerged, winning over more than 2 million followers who simultaneously mocked and loved him for his esoteric style. “I’ve never been in a canoe. #Itsmy2cents,” he said in a typical tweet in 2015. His Twitter account was essentially a revival of a USA Today column he wrote for two decades full of one-off, disjointed thoughts. Norm Macdonald delivered a parody version of the column when he played King on “Saturday Night Live,” with deadpan lines like, “The more I think about it, the more I appreciate the equator.” King was constantly parodied, often through old-age jokes on late-night talk shows from hosts including David Letterman and Conan O’Brien, often appearing with the latter to get in on the roasting himself. King came by his voracious but no-frills manner honestly. He was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger in 1933, a son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who ran a bar and grill in Brooklyn. But after his father’s death when Larry was a boy, he faced a troubled, sometimes destitute youth. A fan of such radio stars as Arthur Godfrey and comedians Bob & Ray, King on reaching adulthood set his sights on a broadcasting career. With word that Miami was a good place to break in, he headed south in 1957 and landed a job sweeping floors at a tiny AM station. When a deejay abruptly quit, King was put on the air — and was handed his new surname by the station manager, who thought Zeiger “too Jewish.” A year later he moved to a larger station, where his duties were expanded from the usual patter to serving as host of a daily interview show that aired from a local restaurant. He quickly proved equally adept at talking to the waitresses, and the celebrities who began dropping by. By the early 1960s King had gone to yet a larger Miami station, scored a newspaper column and become a local celebrity himself. At the same time, he fell victim to living large. “It was important to me to come across as a ‘big man,”’ he wrote in his autobiography, which meant “I made a lot of money and spread it around lavishly.” He accumulated debts and his first broken marriages (he was married eight times to seven women). He gambled, borrowed wildly and failed to pay his taxes. He also became involved with a shady financier in a scheme to bankroll an investigation of President John Kennedy’s assassination. But when King skimmed some of the cash to pay his overdue taxes, his partner sued him for grand larceny in 1971. The charges were dropped, but King’s reputation appeared ruined. King lost his radio show and, for several years, struggled to find work. But by 1975 the scandal had largely blown over and a Miami station gave him another chance. Regaining his local popularity, King was signed in 1978 to host radio’s first nationwide call-in show. Originating from Washington on the Mutual network, “The Larry King Show” was eventually heard on more than 300 stations and made King a national phenomenon. A few years later, CNN founder Ted Turner offered King a slot on his young network. “Larry King Live” debuted on June 1, 1985, and became CNN’s highest-rated program. King’s beginning salary of $100,000 a year eventually grew to more than $7 million. A three-packs-a-day cigarette habit led to a heart attack in 1987, but King’s quintuple-bypass surgery didn’t slow him down. Meanwhile, he continued to prove that, in his words, “I’m not good at marriage, but I’m a great boyfriend.” He was just 18 when he married high school girlfriend Freda Miller, in 1952. The marriage lasted less than a year. In subsequent decades he would marry Annette Kay, Alene Akins (twice), Mickey Sutfin, Sharon Lepore and Julie Alexander. In 1997, he wed Shawn Southwick, a country singer and actress 26 years his junior. They would file for divorce in 2010, rescind the filing, then file for divorce again in 2019. The couple had two sons, King’s fourth and fifth kids, Chance Armstrong, born in 1999, and Cannon Edward, born in 2000. In 2020, King lost his two eldest children, Andy King and Chaia King, who died of unrelated health problems within weeks of each other. He had many other medical issues in recent decades, including more heart attacks and diagnoses of type 2 diabetes and lung cancer. Through his setbacks he continued to work into his late 80s, taking on online talk shows and infomercials as his appearances on CNN grew fewer. “Work,” King once said. “It’s the easiest thing I do.” Funeral arrangements and a memorial service will be announced later in co-ordination with the King family, “who ask for their privacy at this time,” according to the tweet from Ora Media. ___ Former AP Television Writer Frazier Moore contributed biographical material to this report. Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press

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How political symbolism brought down Keystone XL – CBC.ca

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The new president of the United States described his inauguration on Wednesday as a moment to move forward. But moving forward properly requires a reckoning with the past. In Joe Biden’s case, that reckoning came for the Keystone XL pipeline.

The project’s fate seemed to be sealed years ago, but it haunts us still. And now, with strident words from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney about a trade war, it could haunt Canadian politics indefinitely.

Or, Canadian leaders could decide that it’s time for them to move forward, too.

The executive order that rescinded Keystone XL’s permit on Wednesday states that “the United States must be in a position to exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway.”

If that sounds familiar, it’s because President Barack Obama said almost the same thing when he blocked Keystone in November 2015. “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change,” Obama said. “And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.”

John Kerry — secretary of state in 2015 and now Biden’s climate envoy — put an even finer point on the significance of Keystone in his own statement at the time. “The United States cannot ask other nations to make tough choices to address climate change if we are unwilling to make them ourselves,” he said.

A pipeline that became a referendum

In his remarks, Obama argued that the practical value of the pipeline had been wildly overstated — by both sides. Keystone XL, he said, would be neither “a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.”

But the economic arguments in favour of the pipeline could not overcome the profound symbolic value assigned to it by environmental groups and climate-focused voters.

On its own, Keystone wouldn’t spell the difference between a green future and a “climate disaster.” But the pipeline became a referendum on the U.S. government’s commitment to combating climate change — a tangible thing on which American activists could focus their energies.

Trump, who actively sought to undermine attempts to fight climate change, revived the project. But the political frame that was placed around Keystone XL in 2015 never went away, while legal challenges to the project continued.

By the fall of 2019, most of the major Democratic candidates for the presidency had pledged to rescind Trump’s order on their first day in office. Last May, Biden insisted that he would kill the pipeline.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden walk down the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press)

After Biden’s victory in the presidential election, the Eurasia Group said that rescinding the permit was a “table stake” for the Democratic president and that backing away would risk “raising the ire of activists, their committed followers, and — importantly — the left wing of the Democratic party in Congress.”

“Rescinding KXL would be one area the Biden administration could act [on] and deliver a win to a key political constituency with no congressional interference,” the global consulting firm said.

Bill McKibben, one of the activists who led the campaign against Keystone, wrote in the New Yorker on Thursday that he was grateful for Biden’s decision and never doubted that the new president would follow through. “Even today,” he wrote, “Keystone is far too closely identified with climate carelessness for a Democratic president to be able to waver.”

So the second death of Keystone shouldn’t have surprised anyone. It might have seemed rude of Biden to not wait a day or two to allow Canadian officials to make a fuller presentation on the pipeline’s behalf, but that only would have delayed the inevitable.

The lingering costs of climate inaction

Perhaps Biden thought he was doing his neighbours a favour by ripping the Band-Aid off quickly.

What might have happened to Keystone XL had Canada and the United States taken more aggressive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the years leading up to Obama’s decision? It’s an intriguing hypothetical. Keystone may have paid the price ultimately for decades of global inaction on climate change.

In the here and now, any debate about Keystone will have to consider whether its additional capacity is even needed at this point. In the meantime, Premier Kenney wants Justin Trudeau’s government to impose trade sanctions on the United States if Biden refuses to revisit his decision.

Stephen Harper could be ungracious in his defence of Keystone — he famously said that approving it was a “no brainer” — but his government doesn’t seem to have ever publicly threatened to impose sanctions if Obama rejected it. Nor does it appear anyone called for sanctions when Obama officially killed the project shortly after the Trudeau government came to office.

Sanctions out of spite?

This idea of reprisals seems to have originated recently with Jack Mintz, a Canadian economist, who also conceded that imposing tariffs could be akin to “cutting off our own nose to spite our face.”

Notably, Erin O’Toole’s federal Conservatives have not joined the premier in calling for sanctions. Kenney — whose government is polling poorly and whose party is being out-fundraised by the opposition — is spoiling for a fight. He has seized on the fact that federal officials did not respond to Biden’s decision in particularly strong terms — and the Liberals may not have struck the right tone for those listening in the Prairies.

WATCH: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says Ottawa ‘folded’ on Keystone XL

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the federal government ‘folded’ in response to U.S President Joe Biden’s decision to revoke the Keystone XL pipeline. 2:14

But before launching a trade war against this country’s closest ally and its new leader, one should consider the potential results and opportunity costs.

Would a trade war convince President Biden to brave the wrath of his supporters and reverse a campaign promise? Or would a renewed fight over Keystone XL simply consume political and diplomatic capital that could be put toward other things?

Kenney has said sanctions might discourage the Biden administration from intervening against two other contested pipelines that originate in Alberta — Line 5 and Line 3. Writing in the New Yorker, McKibben did identify Line 3 as a target. But there’s also a decent chance that sanctions would only inflame existing tensions around those projects.

Threats and futility

In May, 2015 — nearly six years ago — former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson wrote that it was time for the Canada-U.S. relationship to move on from Keystone XL. Robertson argued that there were too many other important things to talk about. Six years later, that list of important things includes fostering collaboration on clean energy, fending off ‘Buy American’ policies and combating China’s aggression.

Still, Kenney warned that if the Trudeau government does not do more to defend Keystone, “that will only force us to go further in our fight for a fair deal in the federation.”

But if the battle for Keystone was effectively lost more than five years ago, should the federal government’s willingness to keep fighting it have any bearing on Alberta’s relationship with the rest of the country?

The death of Keystone XL will have a real impact on those Albertans whose jobs depended on it. There are real anxieties and questions that need to be addressed, not least by the federal government.

But the question now is whether fighting over Keystone will do anything to address those concerns — or whether it’s time to put that political energy toward other purposes.

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