Archive for the ‘American Politics’ Category

Donald Trump has a plan?

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Heard any good conspiracy theories today? It is amazing how many pundits are writing about Trump’s real plans for world-wide dictatorship. They see Trump’s actions in the White House as part of a scheme. They think it is designed to keep outsiders confused.

But it should be obvious to everybody that Trump is the one who is confused. He is erratic, unprepared, unaware and badly advised. And if you can figure the conspiracy in that, good luck!

Just look at those decrees that he so grandiosely pens in the Oval Office. They are a sham. They are window dressing for his supporters to show that he is working for them. He could save time by sending the presidential decrees to the courts for vetting. Most make no sense. The ones that the departments try to implement such as the restrictions on Muslims coming to America are basically racist and cause nothing but problems.

And the promises he made to squash Obamacare were blocked in Congress by his own Republican Tea Party supporters. How he expects to get his budget passed might be the most serious problem he will ever face. He would need a new book on the art of the deal for that.

Judging from what we have seen so far, Trump’s idea of getting things done is to be the bully who shouts the loudest.

His version of foreign affairs is to trade insults with the crazies of North Korea and hold hands with the British Prime Minister. Now the poor lady is facing an election and that interaction with Trump could cost her job.

Justin Trudeau of Canada also had a friendly meeting with Trump and Canada has been dumped on ever since. Trump thinks it is Canada’s fault that the steroid-fed cows of Wisconsin are producing too much milk. Or maybe he thinks supply management is something his wife does when she is mad at him. Anyway, he does not like it and he talks about screwing around with or just dumping the North American Free Trade Agreement to get even.

At least the courts will settle his recent tax on soft wood lumber from Canada. That has become routine. The Americans impose a tax on Canadian lumber. It goes to dispute resolution and gets thrown out. They can hardly expect it to be fourth time lucky. In the meantime, the price of new homes in the U.S. has gone up. And the Canadian lumber barons are missing the peak buying season for home building in the U.S.

Does Trump really think he is the only person who can negotiate better deals. What he does not seem to realize is that the first thing to establish when negotiating between countries is good faith. That might be a novelty for him.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Is Justin the adult in the school yard?

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Has Prime Minister Trudeau been getting advice from psychologists on how to handle a bully? It is certainly to his credit that he is keeping his cool. Donald Trump continues to lob his ignorant taunts over the longest undefended border in the world and Canada’s prime minister just says, “We can discuss that.”

As angry as that loudmouth boor Trump makes most Canadians, it is important that our prime minister stay above the fray. As he says, Canadians will be pleased to discuss the problems with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). And to help, we have our own list of problems with the agreement ready for the negotiations.

When dealing with any irrational bully, you have find out what is behind the screaming and yelling. For you to scream and yell back at the irrational juvenile will do you no good.

For example, we really need to find out where this recent mention of the energy market came from. Many Canadians took exception to the American demand for full access to our energy reserves in NAFTA. They thought that was being too generous. And with what we now know about the pollution problems with tar sands oil production, there is growing pressure to leave it in the ground.

What is common knowledge on both sides of the border is that the Canadian milk producers have nothing to do with the disastrous over-production of milk in Wisconsin. When you consider that there are more steroid-fed cows in Wisconsin than there are cows in Canada, nobody but Trump would think to blame Canada. Wisconsin voted for Trump and helped put him in the White House. Now that he is there, he needs to play nice with the other world leaders—whether he likes them or not.

The one thing that we have understood from Trump’s tiresome tirades is the concern for soft-wood lumber on the west coast. That NAFTA argument has been in and out of the courts a number of times. How renegotiation would solve it is anyone’s guess. All we do know about this complaint is that the lumber kings of Oregon and Washington are going to be able to charge a lot more for their products when they do not have to compete with the lumber kings north of the border. Only the American home buyer will get screwed.

We do not always agree with Justin Trudeau but it is nice to see him handle this problem with Trump in an adult manner. He gets his handiwork stuck on the refrigerator for this one!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Trump’s ‘Milk of Human Kindness.’

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

“Once again unto the breach” (sorry Mr. Shakespeare) President Trump jumps into a situation of which he has absolutely no understanding. He is making a habit of it and this time he is trying to skewer the Canadians. He has pitted the free market, unfettered Wisconsin dairy farmers against what Trump calls the ‘unfair’ position of Canada’s farm marketing boards.

That must be what you get when you do something decent for people. The milk marketing board in Ontario is probably always under fire for its trying to balance the cost of production with the price at the farm gate for milk. What it is trying to do is to keep farmers producing while keeping the price to consumers at a reasonable level.

Americans should not knock it until they try it. Under the Canadian boards, a company that unilaterally cut off 75 farmers because it wanted to switch to lower world milk prices would be out of the milk-related business. A Canadian board would not allow that kind of disruption in the market.

But President Trump is telling the farmers in Wisconsin that we are just unfair. Tell that to the soft-wood lumber people in British Columbia. He really does not understand that you cannot have free trade agreements with other countries and then demand that federal and state governments buy American to the exclusion of your free trade partners.

What Trump does not understand is that the highly integrated North American market demands open borders to speed commerce back and forth. Canada exports far more raw materials to the United States for processing than the U.S. sends to Canada. We are probably America’s most reliable supplier. We are also the best customer that America has ever had.

Cooler heads in Washington had better start thinking seriously about where Trump is taking them. If he really starts building walls between countries that are his neighbours, he is liable to start something he cannot control. His approach to these concerns could throw North America into an economic tailspin that could ultimately create a world-wide recession. Will anyone want to ‘buy America’ then?

Donald Trump should start getting his information straight or shut up.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Mother of all Bombs: No oversight required?

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

During his presidential campaign, President Trump promised to bomb the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL) brigands in the Middle East back to the Middle Ages. He now seems to have given America’s generals carte blanche to do that. The only problem is that the ISIL fanatics involved in Afghanistan are already living in what is very much a Middle Ages world.

The American generals recently used a MOAB, popularly called the ‘Mother of All Bombs,’ and which also means Massive Ordnance Air Blast on a target in Afghanistan. It is a conventional high explosive, guided bomb device and was used for the first time by the Americans on an area of Achin in the Nangahar Province of Afghanistan. The huge bomb contains 10,000 kilograms of high explosive and its three-kilometre diameter blast area would have obliterated a large number of poppy growers along with their crops and families. The generals were hoping that the force of the bomb would crush the tunnels and caves in the area which are believed to be used by the ISIL forces.

And that is a great deal of ordnance to expend without civilian oversight when American forces are heavily involved in an undeclared war in the area.

The Achin area is east of Kabul on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The proximity of the border provides ISIL with convenient resupply and troop movement from Pakistan. Most of these fighters are Pakistani who speak the local Pashto language.

But it is the lack of civilian oversight in the use of a MOAB that is of the most concern. When the generals start carpet bombing with these things they will endanger the lives of Afghans and ISIL fighters alike. Mind you, bombs of this size and capability do not come cheap. Nor can they be delivered by a conventional bomber. They have to be dropped from the largest air transport planes that the Americans have.

President Trump cannot just give up his oversight responsibility as Commander-in-Chief of the American forces. He can only abrogate his oversight at serious risk. Collateral damage might just be a statistic to the generals but the statistics are the civilians being placed in harm’s way. It is the Commander-in-Chief who has the ultimate responsibility.

It makes you wonder though: If the American generals used a few of those ‘Mothers’ on targets in Pakistan, would it help slow down the endless war in Afghanistan?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

“You don’t say, Mr. Spicer!”

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

On the wall above our computer is an old framed black and white Frank & Ernest cartoon with four characters in the wigs and knee-britches of the colonial period. One of the gentlemen, who does not look like George Washington is saying: “’Cannot tell a lie,’ eh? … In that case, you’ll need a press secretary.”

The cartoon was a gift from an old friend from years ago who was also in the media relations game. He had also partaken in some of those awkward moments in providing media briefings, that we have all had to handle. It is in thinking of Sean Spicer, Press Secretary for President Donald Trump that the cartoon has added meaning.

Spicer has an absolutely impossible task and he handles it so badly. He not only holds his client up for ridicule but he comes across as a complete fool.

The basic problem with his briefings is that everybody there knows that the President is a congenital liar. The media end up with two levels of lies and have no idea what to believe anymore.

And it hardly helps that the media being briefed come into the room knowing that Spicer will lie to them. It all comes down to how big a load is left in his diaper after each session? You are almost thankful that this lame-brain is no political spin doctor.

But remember, he is Donald Trump’s man. Whether you are spokesperson for the Pope or a serial killer, that person has selected you to spread the word. And you speak for them.

There were times when representing the Liberal Party to the national media, you would sometimes have a snide party official feed you false information just to put you on the spot. They would soon find out who it is at the microphone and who has the final say.

And it is not always what is said on the podium that matters as much as the chats over a beer after work. An effective spokesperson is someone who has earned a reputation for being knowledgeable and telling the media what can be said in a straightforward manner.

And before you make any casual comparison to other leaders, living or dead, you had better be damn sure of your facts.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

You think Trump got it right in Syria?

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

There were pictures in North American papers the other day of Trump and his key advisers in a small room at his Florida resort. The captions explained that they were being briefed on options in Syria. The question that has to be asked: Is a strike against one airfield any kind of solution?

Does the world really need tit-for-tat gamesmanship?

Is this a Trump era solution? Trump can bawl about babies being killed all he likes but babies have been routinely murdered in Syria for the past six years, to the despair of the world, and there is no permanent solution in sight.

Trump is an ass. He is being congratulated for 58 out of 59 Tomahawk missiles being able to find their general target area. And it only cost a little over a million (US dollars) for each missile. Based on the after pictures, Syrian Leader Bashar al-Assad could have the base operational again in about two weeks if he wants. Just one surgical nuclear weapon would have made the air base unusable for about 2000 years.

The difference is that between an admonition and a conviction.

Looking at all those rich white men (and one young and rich Trump relation) around that table makes you wonder who really made the decision? It was a bad decision in any event. It was made in retaliation and in anger and because they could.

Better people than Donald Trump and his Merry Men have addressed the Syrian situation and have been found wanting. When a dictator such as al-Assad spends his idle afternoons in Damascus thinking up new ways to kill his county’s people, there are no simple solutions. And having Vladimir Putin of Russia stick his oar into the desert sands of the Middle east is not exactly helping the problems.

But what is America doing on this Holy Crusade? If we heard Mr. Trump correctly last year, we thought he wanted nothing to do with the Middle East. And yet, he thinks he can bomb the ISIL brigands back to the Middle Ages. He just has no idea how to do that.

You would think that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with his background with ExxonMobil could explain the politics of oil and the Middle East to him. Maybe Mr. Trump is more of a coal guy.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Teaching Trump ‘The Art of the Deal.’

Friday, April 7th, 2017

The first thing Canadians should do is stop sweating over renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It has never been a really fair deal and it became overly complicated when Mexico joined. Given the opportunity to renegotiate, Canada could improve its position. The only problem is that we would never get to negotiate with Donald Trump. He has shown often enough that he has no understanding of the deal.

Where we erred in the first negotiation of NAFTA was when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney pulled our civil servant negotiators. Mulroney was frustrated by the delays and replaced the experienced negotiators with politicians who lacked the background and negotiating skills. Since then, we have spent enough time just arguing over soft-wood lumber to renegotiate the NAFTA deal three times over.

To suggest that Trump knows about negotiating because he has a book out over his name called ‘The Art of the Deal’ is a laugh in itself. Anyone who believes that should be forced to read the book. The reality is that Trump’s style of negotiating is nothing more than bullying, braggadocio and B.S.

What Trump and maybe Trudeau seem to fail to understand is that since the Auto Pact in the 1960s and the two versions of NAFTA, North America has become a single, tightly integrated economy. Nobody should be so stupid as to suggest closing any borders. Any precipitous action by any of the three countries could actually bankrupt one or several major automobile makers. They are hardly kidding when they say that many auto parts and assemblies cross borders multiple times in the manufacturing process.

Those states in America that are following Trump’s lead and proposing Buy America laws are in for a surprise when they find their laws in conflict with federal laws to the contrary. It would take Congress a long time to change the country into the bellicose backwater it will become if it does not take America’s world role more seriously.

We are constantly amazed by the utter ignorance of President Donald Trump. He might not be quite as stupid as former president George W. Bush and we do appreciate that sometimes ignorance can be cured. Stupid, as displayed in the 1994 movie, Forrest Gump, usually lasts a lifetime. And is rarely funny.

But we can assure you that in terms of NAFTA, it would take at least two lifetimes to disassemble.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Trump sure doesn’t know America.

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

When driving back with the wife from a trip to Washington several years ago, we took a lazy route north through the Appalachians. It was early summer and it was a stunningly beautiful vista in those ancient mountains. It was a great trip until we crossed into New York State and found a state trooper greeting us at a local speed trap.

The trooper had checked our speed on radar in Pennsylvania where the speed limit was 65 mph. The radar reading was lower. When crossing the state line, there was a sign saying the state limit was 55 mph. There was another a few hundred metres ahead of where he stopped us saying the limit was 45 mph. Reality was that the head of the state police and the New York bar seemed to think it was funny and we should pay off the Town of Carrollton the few hundred dollars (US) they were demanding.

It is also why you will not see us picketing Trump Tower in New York. We do not drive in New York State anymore.

This is to say that Donald Trump really needs to drive south through the Appalachians. He really needs to see the beauty in northern Pennsylvania before he continues south and the picture changes.

The reason many of those Appalachian coal miners are out of work is because coal mining technology has changed. They used to send those poor men into the mines in the mountains to dig out the coal. They do not do that anymore. Too many of them got black lung disease or other problems. They were always suing the mine owners.

Coal mining has changed. Instead of tunneling into the mountain, now they just knock down the damn mountain and use machines to dig the coal. It is faster, cheaper and more profitable for the mine owners—Mr. Trump’s friends and relations. And in a hundred years or so, those lower mountains will have new forests on them to hide the scars.

And if you thought for one minute that Donald Trump gave a damn about all those sick and dying coal miners, you are as ignorant as he is.

Donald Trump signed all that B.S. at the Environmental Protection Agency the other day because he could sit there and say this was on behalf of clean coal. And there is nobody’s blood on this clean coal—it is untouched by human hands.

But it seems that between 65,000 and 75,000 people in the U.S. still consider themselves coal miners. Like cigarette smokers, they are a dying breed.

And yet, it is reported, that over 600,000 jobs in the U.S. are now in the rapidly growing clean energy business. These are jobs making wind turbines and other foolish stuff. Betcha Mr. Trump did not know that!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Lies. And Trudeau-Trump lies.

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

You have come to expect it in the daily reports from the American White House. You know that the man in the White House tells lies. You just do not expect it from the guy in charge in Ottawa.

And you already knew that the guy in charge at the White House does not give a damn about the environment. You are more conflicted by the guy in Ottawa. This guy says he wants to save the environment and makes a big show of it. And then he approves doubling the Kinder Morgan pipeline over the Rockies to pump diluted bitumen to an ocean port. And he is a cheerleader for President Trump approving TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline to the Texas Gulf.

Of course, there is nothing new about the guff that Trump spews for the American news media. He even believes there are American jobs to be had. He had Russ Sperling, president of TransCanada Corporation in his office for the announcement. Sperling would have tripled the number of jobs created by that pipeline to get more bitumen to that Texas port. Hell, he might consider putting Trump’s grandmother on the payroll if that would help.

But it is not going to pave the way past all those environmentalists in the American Midwest who are digging their own trenches for the coming Keystone Wars. This question is not resolved by a long shot. Trump can try to call out the Nebraska National Guard if he likes but Keystone is going to have to run over a lot of environmentalist barricades on its way to the sea.

Trump appears to be drinking his own bath water though when he uses the usual untruths about Keystone. The American jobs Trump was going on about will be fleeting and if the entire line from Alberta to Texas involves as many as 400 maintenance jobs, it will be generous.

But by no stretch of the imagination will Alberta tar sands bitumen make North America self sufficient in ersatz oil. Nor will bitumen-based synthetic oil be cheaper. The greedy bastards who want to pipe the bitumen down the line will hardly be happy until the price of crude oil again hits the US$80 mark. And if we really tried to use bitumen-based oil to supply North America, we would all be knee deep in bitumen slag from trying to refine so much bitumen into synthetic oil.

It seems to be common knowledge now that Donald Trump usually does not know what he is talking about. What is Justin Trudeau’s excuse?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

You want Trump to go? And then what?

Friday, March 24th, 2017

There seems to be a growing consensus among mental health professionals that Donald Trump might be crazy. After all, he thinks he is President of the United States. How crazy can that be?

And the man does seem delusional. We all saw it early in his campaign. He would preen himself in front of his crowds of followers. He would rant outrageous lies about his opponents and the previous President. And he is still doing it. Even after being told he won, he wants to stay in the campaign mode. He keeps on having victory rallies just to hear the cheers of his fans.

So, what if the man really is paranoid? There are people who want to see him removed from office. They start with his Vice President and half the Trump staff. It must be a nightmare for the Secret Service protective staff.

But look at the nightmare he is putting the world leaders through. Angela Merkel must have gone home to Germany after meeting Trump and doubled her protective staff. Trump has Canada’s Justin Trudeau and his government so traumatized that they are afraid to do anything that Trump might dislike. They are acting like tensed up ball boys in the Trump one-man tennis match.

And then there is Kim Jong-un of North Korea—there is a match for Trump made in Hell. The world watches while these two crazies argue about who has the biggest missile. Even China is reluctant to get in between.

But if Congress impeaches Trump as a nut-case, what do you get? You get the Tea Party’s darling and Koch Brothers’ lap dog: Mike Pence. This guy was famous in Indiana when as governor he tried to restore 19th Century bigotry. He had to retract when industry leaders said the they would leave the state if he did not back off. Now he is busy running around assuring people that the situation in the White House is not as bad as it looks.

If Congress is able to impeach Trump, Congress would then own President Pence. It would be a situation where the President did everything Congress wanted. He would send them the bills they wanted and would sign them into law without question. The One Percent would be embarrassed by a plethora of tax cuts.  Congress would simply fire the remaining staff of the Environmental Protection Agency. The military would get anything they asked for. Nothing would be left of Obamacare or Obama’s legacy.

But the Trump followers, the losers and the malcontents, the generations technology has left behind, are going to miss him. He cared about them. When they realize he is gone, they are going to riot in the streets. They will be looking for another saviour. We will likely feel that we should have left that Mr. Trump alone.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me