Are Trump and Sanders two sides of the same coin?

Their experiences in gaining traction as presidential candidates certainly suggest so, even if their ideologies are markedly different

Are Trump and Sanders two sides of the same coin?Despite appearing to be polar opposites, do U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders actually have a lot in common? Are they perhaps two sides of the same coin, two peas in a pod? Let’s consider. The hostile takeover Neither Trump nor Sanders emerged as presidential candidates with the blessing of party establishments.…

Flu pandemic of 1918 brutal, virulent killer

One hundred years ago, a flu pandemic swept across the world, killing tens of millions of people, particularly those in the prime of life

Flu pandemic of 1918 brutal, virulent killerFrom the wet and windswept northwest of Ireland to rural southwestern Ontario, the flu pandemic of 1918 to 1920 was remorseless. My mother and my wife’s father lost siblings to an illness where death might come within 24 hours of first symptoms. And sometimes it was particularly brutal. Historian John Barry has described it this…

The Black Death and its aftermath

Surprisingly, post-Black Death populations tended to live longer and enjoy better health and standards of living

The Black Death and its aftermathBubonic plague came to England in the summer of 1348. Popularly known as the Black Death, the disease arrived via a French ship that docked in what is now Weymouth on the south coast. From there, it spread rapidly inland and westwards over the water to Ireland. It was also transmitted across the North Sea…

Calling Elvis: When the King came home from the army

Calling Elvis: When the King came home from the armyElvis Presley was no more immune to the draft than other young American men of his era. Having reached eligible age, he was medically examined, declared physically fit and duly called up. Apart from his training period, his entire two-year army stint was spent in what was then West Germany. And the lead up to…

In praise of trashy paperbacks

What could be bad about stories that are pacey, and replete with nefarious dealings, treachery, passion and lust? They're great fun and you won't nod off reading them

In praise of trashy paperbacksApart from childhood forays into the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott, most of my fiction reading was done in the 1960s and 1970s. And the ubiquity of reasonably-priced paperback novels was a huge facilitator. A goodly portion of what I consumed can be described as respectable. Somerset Maugham, John O’Hara and…

The American melodrama after Super Tuesday

Many smart and highly educated people live in a bubble, and are shocked, shocked when the hoi polloi don't agree with them

The American melodrama after Super TuesdayYou’ve got to admit that the ongoing melodrama south of the border is gripping stuff. Aficionados of American politics are like kids in a candy store. From the Democratic caucus fiasco in Iowa to the turnaround of Super Tuesday, it’s been all drama all the way. If you wrote a fictional script along these lines,…

Justin Trudeau’s leadership failure

Leadership is complicated. Character counts, as do vision, competence, judgment and the ability to persuade or inspire. The PM misses the mark

Justin Trudeau’s leadership failureLooking at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the ongoing blockade fiasco, it’s difficult to avoid comparison with how his father, Pierre Trudeau, dealt with the 1970 October Crisis. Faced with the revolutionary FLQ’s kidnappings of British trade commissioner James Cross and Quebec provincial cabinet minister Pierre Laporte, the senior Trudeau moved decisively as prime…

Ireland on the cusp of political upheaval

Should Sinn Fein come to power, it’ll be interesting to see how they deliver results. Making promises is easy. Getting a job done is different

Ireland on the cusp of political upheavalIreland’s recent election produced an unusual result. You might call it downright peculiar. Or maybe just momentous. Irish politics has been dominated for the past century by two parties whose origins derive from the civil war that followed the establishment of an independent Irish state. In many cases, family voting patterns were faithfully handed down…

The making of an unlikely U.S. president

The new book Becoming Ronald Reagan details the unlikely emergence of the most consequential Republican conservative of the 20th century

The making of an unlikely U.S. presidentAmerican liberals always had a problem with Ronald Reagan. He was, they thought, no more than an “amiable dunce,” a mouthpiece for someone pulling the strings behind the scenes. Yet through the hurly-burly of political contests over the span of a quarter-century, the dunce cleaned up on a regular basis. He was elected California governor…

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance stands the test of time

The classic film takes an unusually nuanced look at the Old West. Heroes aren’t necessarily who you think they are

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance stands the test of timeJohn Ford was an Irish-American film director whose active career began in the silent era and extended into the 1960s. Along the way, he picked up four Academy Awards for best director. Immense talent notwithstanding, Ford had a dark side. He was, to put it mildly, a bully. You might call him a tyrant. Belittling…

The return of the Red Tories

The return of the Red ToriesBack in September 2012, I wrote a column suggesting that Jean Charest’s recent political retirement wasn’t the end of the story. A man in his mid-50s who’d spent almost his entire adult life in politics would find it difficult to irrevocably wash his hands of the whole business. Now, on the brink of his apparently…

The Stuarts, a dynasty brought down by religion

In addition to displaying the Stuart propensity for absolutism, James II publicly converted to Catholicism. The die was cast

The Stuarts, a dynasty brought down by religionOf the world’s failed causes, one of the most enduring is the romantic tale of the House of Stuart. Who hasn’t heard of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his tragic-heroic attempt to recover the three crowns lost by his grandfather? Let’s back up a bit. The Stuarts were originally French, having crossed over from Brittany in…

The American melodrama heads for home

A Canadian guide to keeping close watch on the 2020 U.S. presidential election

The American melodrama heads for homeAs we roll into 2020, aficionados of American politics will be in their element. Beginning with the Feb. 3 Iowa caucus and the Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary, there’ll be a continuous series of events leading up to the Nov. 3 finale, the day of the presidential election. And most Canadians will fervently hope –…

A child’s Christmas Eve in 1950 Dublin

One of my earliest Christmas memories was going to see Roy Rogers, the "King of the Cowboys", in The Gay Ranchero in a Dublin cinema

A child’s Christmas Eve in 1950 DublinAs you get older, one of the things that Christmas evokes is a sense of remembering. And for me, one the earliest such memories relates to Christmas Eve 1950. It was the first time I ever went to the cinema. Or, as Dubliners would have said, the pictures. I was six years-old at the time…

Boris Johnson is a consequential politician

Prime ministers often come and go without making a material difference. For better or worse, Johnson looks like an exception

Boris Johnson is a consequential politicianBoris Johnson has been called many uncomplimentary things, charlatan and clown being among the milder epithets. Even those sympathetic to his current agenda are liable to use terms like “unprincipled opportunist.” However, another descriptor is becoming increasingly apt. Johnson is shaping up to be a consequential politician, defined as one who makes a difference. A…
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