Archive for the ‘American Politics’ Category

Who’s congratulating Trudeau?

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Stephen Harper’s PMO had a revolving door for communications people, so it is not too surprising if we do not remember one of them. This is in reference to an op-ed in the Toronto Star last week by someone named ‘MacDougall.’ What was noticeable about the article was that he claims to be a Tory and was congratulating the Liberal prime minister. How rare is that?

This Conservative communications expert was congratulating Justin Trudeau for the smart way he is handling Donald Trump. What else can our prime minister do? Donald Trump is a 70-year old dirty old man who has landed in the White House. He acts like an uncontrollable 12-year old. And since he is president, you are not allowed to spank him.

Of course, Trudeau is trying to do a work-around. He had appointed David MacNaughton as ambassador to Washington before Trump rose to a level of concern on the horizon. The job was MacNaughton’s pay-off for the slip-shod effort he did in running Ontario for the Liberals in the last election. Trudeau might still have to replace him with someone with more diplomatic skills and knowledge of American politics and politicians.

Canadian diplomacy has come a long way since the quintessential diplomat Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson was dressed down by President Lyndon Johnson for “pissing on his rug.”

And only a conservative would think it was a win for Trump to approve the Keystone XL pipeline for Justin Trudeau. Pipelines for bitumen are the noose that will eventually hang our ’ecology-minded’ Trudeau.

And the writer might have thought we handled the milk production charges with derision but anyone knowledgeable knew that the NAFTA milk concerns sit entirely on the U.S. side of the border. Overproduction is a U.S. problem when you consider that Wisconsin has more dairy cows than all of Canada.

Usually in politics when someone pats you on the back as effusively as Mr. MacDougall, you expect he is checking for the best place to thrust the (rhetorical) knife. We better keep an eye on him.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The history of image politics.

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

It must be your age that determines when history began. Reading an op-ed in the paper last week, there was a public relations guy who thought that image politics only went back to the time of American President Ronald Regan. He must have missed the lecture on the image of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Teddy, as he was known, was a hero of the Spanish-American War. He was the first ‘progressive’ to ever achieve the presidency of the United States. His ‘Bull Moose’ Party almost established third-party politics in America. He was the first president to stand up to big business. And where did you think his distant cousin Franklin Roosevelt got the idea for the ‘New Deal.’

And speaking of FDR, his use of the medium radio for his regular fireside chats created a lasting image of a caring and concerned national leader. It was a surprisingly few American voters who knew he was mostly confined to a wheelchair while serving them in the White House.

The image of John F. Kennedy through the medium of television was all it took to beat a stiff-necked Richard Nixon as early as 1960.

And what was the 1968 election federal election in Canada with its Trudeaumania? Pierre Trudeau was elected for his image, not for what he was saying. He almost lost the subsequent election in 1972 because he believed his own image.

Image control is a tightly woven tapestry with which people can be shielded from the confusion caused by exposure. Designing an image is as simple as drawing a line down the middle of a blank page. On one side, you headline ‘Do’s and on the other side, you headline ‘Don’ts.’ We will bet that public relation’s pioneer Ivy Lee drew up something like that for John D. Rockefeller in the early 1900s.

If any of his communications people had tried that with Pierre Trudeau, he would have perversely tried all the ‘Don’ts.’

We also had Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media available to us at that time and we have mistrusted the media ever since.

And what the late Professor McLuhan would make of the Internet-based social media of today would just be conjecture.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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A purchased presidency.

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Is it possible to place a price on the American presidency? Can its worth even be determined? Whatever the price might be, it probably is nowhere near the damages being done to America’s honour and reputation by Donald Trump. And why nobody has thought to sue him remains a mystery. Does the American president have some form of immunity for stupidity?

Do we have to wait until Trump tires of the game? Do we have to wait until he retires permanently to his golf resort in Florida? Maybe then we can stop paying any attention to his ignorant tweets.

Admittedly, all our experience in politics told us that Trump would lose the election. We honestly never expected that there could be that many Americans who would not see him for what he was. (Or would see him for what he was and still vote for him.) Our assumption was that his supporters would not be motivated enough to vote. Nor did we think Trump would have much of a ground game to get his vote out.

Mind you, we have never dealt with election tactics so brutal and so corrupt. In the Land of the Free, buying an election is not a cheap process. Between super PACs and the ongoing struggle between the two dominant political parties, there seems to be little hope for meaningful reform.

Despite the lesson, Americans are now learning at the feet of school master Trump, what platform is there to launch much-needed change?

Can there even be an election law that says people have to tell the truth? Are all politicians liars? And, as a voter, can you tell when someone is lying?

Many Trump voters across the states were misled by the idea that once elected, he would have good advisors to whom he would listen and follow their advice. Those poor people could be somewhat disillusioned by now.

And who do you trust for truth? You know that Mr. Trump is a congenital liar. Hell, he lies to himself. He is a narcissist—which means he loves himself. He only loves his family because they are part of him.

Mr. Trump is also a misogynist—which means he dislikes women. He considers women to only be useful as mistresses and mothers.

All in all, you would not want your son or daughter to grow up to be president if they used Mr. Trump as a role model.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The NRA’s ‘Call to Arms.’

Friday, July 7th, 2017

Anywhere but America, this would be considered an act of treason. Why anyone involved in directing the National Rifle Association of America is not locked away at this time is the question? Instead the argument rages as to the truth of a recent advertisement created to support the NRA. To understand the argument, you need to analyse the advertisement word for word. The pictures used were only designed to inflame.

The opening words are: They use their media to assassinate real news. You are supposed to know who “they” are? It seems strange the NRA cannot use a less volatile word than “assassinate”?

It continues: They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. This is where the hyperbole becomes straight lies.

And then: They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again. Frankly, the tweets from the White House create the only narrative, until now, that is amazing people.

The next sentence is a puzzler: And then they use their ex-president to endorse “the resistance.”  It makes you want to find out where to sign up.

The following part needs no comment. It is just too off the wall: All to make them march. Make them protest. Make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia. To smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding–until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.

The next part is chilling: And when that happens, they’ll use it as an excuse for their outrage. The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth. This is the incitement to riot. The only problem is, if they bring their guns, it is insurrection.

The ad concludes with the signature line: I’m the National Rifle Association of America. And I’m freedom’s safest place. Thanks for the advice but I think I will feel safer in Canada.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Rule of law beats bigotry.

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

We should all get down on our knees and thank whatever God we worship that we live in a land ruled by law. This argument over a multi-million-dollar settlement and an apology for Omar Kadr is a disgrace. It is not a political decision. It is a legal settlement for years of torture and mistreatment for a child soldier who grew old in confinement.

Those Conservative hacks who are getting face time on television or their name in the paper as decrying the amount of the settlement are coming across as ignorant and bigoted.

You also need to recognize that Kadr’s lawyer deserves to be compensated for his many years of work for which he had little hope of ever seeing payment. He was breaking legal ground with a client who was the only child soldier to be charged for supposedly committing murder on a battlefield.

The very existence of the American prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba was a direct avoidance of law by the American government. And all Americans bear the guilt for its excesses of cruelty.

It was at Guantanamo Bay that Kadr was taken before a kangaroo court and charged with the unusual crime of “murder in violation of the laws of war.” Just where such a strange law came from and who was responsible for it was never made clear.

On the basis that he could serve his sentence in Canada under international agreement, Kadr pleaded guilty.

The law suit that we hear has been settled in favour of Kadr, charges that under the Harper government, Canadian intelligence agents denied the young man his rights as a Canadian citizen. The Harper government also spent millions fighting the case in Canada’s Supreme Court. For there to be any more comment from former members of that government is just making them look stupider than they might be.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The tremors of Trump.

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

Each year at this time, we do a little introspection. While Canada Day 2017 is as joyous as ever, we feel it is the impact of the American President that causes those ground tremors we are feeling. The man seems to stomp a lot.

At first, we were under the impression that he might just ignore Canada. Oh well, so much for that hope! We sent our Prime Minister down to the White House with a welcoming casserole but President Trump was not that interested. It did not seem to matter that Justin thought he had made another friend.

And maybe not. That ignorant man in the White House soon brought up the old chestnut about softwood lumber and threw in milk for good measure. Mr. Trump has never learned how to be a good neighbour. All he accomplished was to drive up the price of new homes on the American west coast and embarrass Wisconsin dairy farmers. The happy lumber kings of Oregon and Washington are making a killing. It was President Trump’s way of saying he wants to renegotiate the North-American trade deal between The U.S., Mexico and Canada.

The only problem is that Mr. Trump’s version of negotiating is to bully, cheat, lie and steal. There is no honour in a Trump style deal. That is how he made his billions whereby he could buy his way to the American presidency.

But deals between sovereign nations are based on good faith. That is an essential component of trade agreements. The objective to be negotiated has to be fair to all parties. And fairness is not just a word on paper, it has to be the perception of all parties.

No doubt both Canadian and Mexican negotiators will also bring their lists of trade irritants to the treaty meetings. Mr. Trump will soon learn that he cannot bully his way to creating advantage from a deal entered in good faith.

While most Canadians appear to consider President Trump to be something of a horse’s ass, we can expect him to be around for a while. He will continue to be stomping on things he should not. He is our neighbour and we might as well get used to him.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Inviting President Trump.

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

In politics, you are not always able to dine with people you like. All to often you have to deal with the position rather than the person. And in the case of someone such as the President of the United States of America, the position outranks the person. And what would you ever expect to gain from insulting the position?

The truth is that there is nothing to be gained from insult. And it silly to insult Donald Trump. You can make note of your more scathing thoughts about the man and you can save them for your memoires. Nobody gives a darn in memoires and if it makes you feel better, why not.

And if you really want President Trump to honour commitments his country made in regards to the Paris environmental conference, you are not going to make any progress slagging the guy. And it is obvious that he ignores all indications of global warming. Maybe the man has yet to have some learning opportunities and might still see the light.

But you can feel sorry for the Brits. They have already invited President Trump to London where he will be drawn through the streets in a golden carriage and afforded a state dinner with the Queen. Prime Minister May is still paying the price for that foolish invitation. More than 2 million Brits have already signed a petition demanding that this Trump triumph be withdrawn. It is important to note though that while the state dinner and regal trappings were asked to be revoked, there is no objection to Trump coming to the U.K. as a tourist.

I still remember the time Bob Nixon MPP sent me an invitation to a luncheon for then Quebec Premier René Lévesque that was being hosted in Toronto. Bob knew how much I despised what Lévesque stood for. While there was no way the guy could convince me of anything, I had to admit, when listening to him, that he was serious and seeking answers.

But in the case of Donald Trump, it is hard to believe that he believes in anything other than himself. His misogynistic and narcissistic characteristics make him a lampoon of himself.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The Trials of Trump’s Translators.

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

The news that there is a serious search underway to replace President Trump’s loyal White House spokesman Sean Spicer is sad. That poor befuddled man has become something of a favourite of the media. And where else would you find someone with the experience required, stupid or vain enough to take the job.

Mind you, I would volunteer to take it if the American President would just promise to never again put anything on Twitter. Something has to be done to save him from his continued feed of nocturnal twits. He could have the best spokesperson ever on the White House podium but there would be no point if he continues to make the news of the day from a platform for the unthinking.

Do people realize the disgraceful waste of time of professional journalists having to follow Trump on Twitter? This is a communications tool for children and the challenged. It is not even a viable platform for entertainment. It is only there for people who can only think in less than 140 character sentences. It is certainly not Sudoku.

While some take pleasure in ridiculing Trump for his short attention span, it really is not that funny. Boiling down the problems of the United States to something that President Trump can comprehend is a serious challenge. His devotion to problems that he can see and partially understand is producing simplistic solutions. A ten-year-old might do a better job.

And while a ten-year-old might have the same narcistic tendencies as septuagenarian Trump, you would expect a ten-year-old to outgrow them.

But this is not solving the spokesperson problem. What I would suggest is that we are looking at the problem as one of understanding the news media. This is wrong. We need someone who understands Donald Trump.

Now that Melania Trump is resident in the White House, she should earn her keep. And what better person to stand before the world news media each day and explain her husband’s nocturnal twits and his take on world affairs. And he has already shown that he is not embarrassed by nepotism. She just might be the only person to actually understand him. It hardly matters if she likes him or not.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The anger factor.

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

A reader on the west coast asked the other day if we are seeing anger in Liberal ranks directed at Prime Minister Trudeau’s disrespect for the party? What was strange about the question was that most of that anger is building on the west coast. The flash point will be the funding and tooling up of the of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion over the Rockies.

Anger is the emotion you look for in politics. We saw it in the United States over the last election. We knew that Americans of all political leanings were angry at the stalemates and infighting of their congress. In Canada, we were angry at the arrogance of the Harper government. In England, it was the feeling of helplessness as a member of the European Union: enter Brexit.

And now that same English anger is re-directed at Prime Minister May. The French took out their angst on their right wing. Anger in itself is not political; reaction becomes political.

No doubt many psychologists have published learned papers on this anger. There is really mothing new about it in politics. Anger is a blunt instrument used by politicians at their peril. The key is to lead, to direct the mob against a person, party, race, religion, tribe or nation. Blowback is when the mob knows they have been used.

But you can never tell a mob that they are being used. Just think of the last time you tried to convert a Donald Trump supporter? That person has all their hopes and fears wrapped up in the promises of a professional con-man. Deprogramming the true believer is no easy task.

And what is really frustrating is the rejection of logic. You can use the simplest of easy to understand logic and your argument will be rejected. The true Trump supporter does not care. They want their pound of flesh at any price. They do not care what the cost is to them.

Given time, people such as Donald Trump destroy themselves. He is already showing his distaste for the job he thought he wanted. It is not offering him the satisfaction he expected. He is still hitting out at supposed enemies. He needs to spend more time playing golf.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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How would Harper have handled Trump?

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

When listening to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland give her very important speech on the new world order, there was one disturbing thought. It was a silly question as to how would our previous prime minister have handled the situation? The one thing for sure was that Stephen Harper would never have allowed his foreign affairs minister to make such an important speech. It could have only been Harper himself in the spotlight.

And the more you think of it, you realize that the speech lost something by being delivered in the House of Commons. Harper would have taken it far from the Hill. He might have even taken the speech to New York or Philadelphia. That would have guaranteed world-wide attention.

Mind you it has been most of a century since anyone gave a truly momentous speech in our House of Commons. And that speaker was a Brit by the name of Winston Churchill.

Freeland’s speech was in essence a proposed walk-around to the situation with American President Trump. And it never needed to mention his name. (The only insult the son of a bitch recognizes is being ignored.)

And Freeland’s proposed solutions are long overdue. Canadians have really had enough of being treated as two-legged pets by the Americans.

We might have counted on their protecting us under the North American Air Defence Agreement (NORAD) but who the hell is protecting us from Trump? (Are we hoping he will invade Mexico first?)

But it would sure be nice to have a real Canadian military again. Trump will be long gone before we get our military up to snuff but it will be the effort made that counts. We might even get fighter aircraft to meet Canada’s needs.

Harper would not have liked the spending part of the speech. It would be more his style to only threaten to have a real Canadian military. Yet he would have agreed to going after more bi-lateral trade deals to try to keep Canada on its feet if Trump continues to destroy the American economy with his ignorance.

But would Harper have really stood up to what is going on in the Disturbed States of America? Probably not.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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