Archive for the ‘American Politics’ Category

Looking south; looking askance.

Friday, May 25th, 2018

While cheerfully ignoring the Trump presidency as much as possible these days, I am sure most of my readers do not mind. I find that he can be boring. He is as awful and as dangerous to world peace as ever but it feels good to ignore the bastard for at least a while.

But you cannot ignore America’s Congress. The situation there is going from worse to bad. I got a wonderful dissertation on neoliberalism the other day from one of our favourite readers on the left coast. My vote is to give him his doctorate for that alone. He even invoked my favourite speech by Theodore Roosevelt. I thought it was long forgotten.

I also seem to have forgotten that the best example of neoliberalism is the American congress. It would do wonders for democracy in the United States of America if the anger about the lack of gun control could be used to  rid America of lots of those bought-and-paid-for senators and representatives in November. Only in America could the Vice President be a bought-and-paid-for representative of those foul Koch brothers of New York.

And only in America can the corrupt of industry and the National Rifle Association fund the re-election of their Quislings. It hardly makes you wonder if it was the system itself that lead to the election of Donald Trump?

But we still seem to be in the dark about the involvement of the Russians in electing Trump. Hell, the Russians do not understand democracy. How can they be the people to defeat it?

The only good thing about it is that Trump is so busy fighting with the American Department of Justice, he is forgetting to screw up the negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement. Every once in a while, he stops to take a poke at the Chinese but they are learning how to handle him. They are playing at being inscrutable.

I was watching TV news of the supposed leader of the free world and his son-in-law in Jerusalem the other day and all I could see was that damn fool Netanyahu grinning like the cat that swallowed the canary. If someone smarter does not get between Benny and the Iranians, there is going to be another bloody holy war in the Middle East.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Where’s Justin?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Oh, we know where on this earth Prime Minister Trudeau might be located. We just wonder where his mind might be at? This country is going downhill morally and politically and our leader was recently down in New York giving a trite commencement address to graduates at New York University. He then headed to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston where he took part in a Solve Conference to address world problems.

We can hardly be caring about our prime minister being a feminist, in touch with the LGBTW communities, and a world-wide poster boy, when he should be here pulling this country in sensible directions. He has a mess of his own making now in B.C. and Alberta and his finance minister has just locked him into a catch-22 situation indemnifying a foreign-owned pipeline company against the legitimate right of Canadians to protest.

And what good is all his simpering diplomacy with Donald Trump when he has a Trump-wannabe trying to take over as premier in his backyard of Ontario? Is he afraid of Doug Ford? We remember how Premier Wynne helped Trudeau in the 2015 election. Is the PM just a fair-weather friend?

It also would not hurt if our prime minister learned a little more about the House of Commons. While Trudeau is busy out posing for selfies, the tory opposition is eating his lunch in parliament.

And if he knew a damn thing about the politics of the Middle East he would help not confuse matters by whining about one Canadian being shot in the midst of a blood bath. He should ask Israeli leader Netanyahu, “We all know President Trump’s an idiot to start this. What the hell is your excuse?”

And speaking of Trump, why are we sending our foreign affairs minister on these NAFTA pilgrimages? Does she not have anything more important to do? As long as Trump does nothing precipitous, we still have a working North American Free Trade Agreement. We have shown we are quite willing to negotiate but surely we have people smart enough to take notes working at the Washington and Mexico City embassies. Politicians are the ones who do the signing and take the credit or the blame as required.

And judging from the foreign minister’s reports from the front lines of the NAFTA negotiations, she does nothing to clarify the situation. She seems to be getting nowhere.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Waiting for Mr. Trump.

Friday, April 13th, 2018

Is this the day Mr. Trump sends the world to war? We wait. We wonder. It might not be a good day to plan next year’s vacation. The man has his finger on the button.

He makes jokes about it. Who else knows when he is just kidding? He exchanges insults with a mindless puppet of a dictator. He threatens the world’s second largest nuclear power. He is a narcissist and a womanizer, a xenophobe and a crude and ignorant Islamophobe.

What does Mr. Trump really know about other countries, world affairs, the ups and downs of world trade, the economics and the concerns? And, come to think of it, what does he know about the United States of America?

There are no Trump Towers to build in Nebraska. There is no Trump Casino in Utah. And what was the last book about America Mr. Trump enjoyed reading? The Trump view of America comes from his travels between his building projects and his golf courses that are mostly on the East coast of the United States. For leisure, he travels to his golf courses up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

This is a shallow person with insomnia who has embraced the use of social media to make himself feel important. He brings in serious people who want to help him but they soon tire of the impossibility of the chore. Yes, ignorance can be cured but only when the ignorant person wants to learn.

Mr. Trump is not interested in learning. His ego does not allow it. He is a septuagenarian who lives in the bubble of extreme wealth. People come to him. People are there to serve him. What he wants, he can buy. The losers, the bikers, the unwashed, the born again, the desperate and the angry, see him as their saviour, as he speaks to them and, they think, for them.

Mr. Trumps current press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is an excellent example of that Trump following as she reflects the same distrust of the traditional news media. The media might consider her boorish and ignorant but she is the best they are going to get from the Trump White House.

And if you are among those who think Mr. Trump will be impeached at some time, you better help get it started. Impeachment is not something that happens overnight.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump-lite is not Trump.

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

Have you been reading the media pontificators who are comparing Ontario conservative leader Doug Ford with U.S. President Donald Trump? It is a sad comparison. It would annoy Donald Trump, if he cared. Doug Ford is a wannabe. He would dearly love to have as much money as Trump and to have ripped off so many in business. It is hard to compare the ups and downs of a label printing business to the successes and failures of Trump.

And what makes anyone think that a blowhard such as Ford is going to win in Ontario? Ford is a loser. It was his brother who created Ford Nation. It was his brother who won the Toronto mayoralty. It was brother Rob who created the legend. The only political success Doug Ford has ever had was winning his late brother’s council seat in the City of Toronto. That is hardly the route to the premier’s chair in Ontario.

The reason many of us think of Ford as Trump-lite is that he shares the same failure in not being very political. Trump has made a game of being a political fool. Doug Ford just cannot help it. Ford is trying to be political. Trump does not care. Trump is a pig with women while Ford tries to act like his mother taught him manners. Both hate the news media but that is because the honest media tell the truth about them. Trump is simple. Ford is conflicted.

The one thing that we see in both of these pseudo politicians is that they have pushed the boundaries of unsuitable for office into despised. There seems to be absolutely no need to listen to either for the purpose of learning anything.

But to suggest that the political system in Ontario is similar to the corrupted federal situation in the United States shows a lack of understanding of the two systems. Trump, somewhat unwittingly, mixed the losers, the angry, the religious right, the lunatic fringe and the bigots of mid-America into an election day force that worked to give him the electoral college. It was also something like the situation with the errors the Ontario conservatives built into their leadership voting. If we understand this properly, Ford won over Christine Elliott despite the fact she had more votes and more electoral districts supporting her.

Luckily, in Ontario, you need to have more of your party elected in more electoral districts. It is simple. It is one-person, one-vote. It is hard to get confused. You get who you get because that is the way people want it. It is the best safeguard against losers like Doug Ford to be found.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ceding civility.

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

It is the same in every country. It is obvious that simple civility is missing in our politics. Whether elected or self-appointed, our politicos are turning nasty. We are even electing cretins who think the thing to do is revile rivals, turn on their own, reject diplomacy, dispatch pacts, and make sure the needs and wants of the politicians come before promises to the populace.

What the hell are we achieving in this world? The highly successful European Union is being turned on by the losers it was designed to help. The Brits are putting Brexit to bed before teatime. We are seeing continued growth of the extremists of the right throughout Europe. President Emmanuel Macron in France has been under attack since before the honeymoon got started. And the Greeks seem mad at everybody.

How about the Russians—you remember those people who lost the cold war do you not(?)—they keep acting like they are still a world power. They think they can walk all over the Ukrainians and terrorize the Baltic states. Vladimir Putin in Russian thinks he is as important as Xi Jinping of China who is already president for life in that country.

And if you think that democracy is a better answer, look what it got you in the United States of America. That incompetent, Donald Trump, in the White House is giving democracy a bad name. And do not expect the U.S. Congress to save the day. That organization forgets who sent the individual members there on the day they are elected.

And what is really frightening about Donald Trump is that he trades insults with a lunatic in a small country who thinks he can lob a few intercontinental nuclear missiles at the U.S. A small error in calculation in Pyongyang and one of those things could land in our laps here in Canada. It would be a lousy way to end our commentaries favouring liberal democracy.

The good news/bad news is that Donald Trump has a play date coming up with North Korea’s Dear Leader Kim Jong-un. Since Kim only travels by train. Trump is flying to visit him. And considering neither of them has a clue about international diplomacy or relations between sovereign states, we will be keeping our fingers crossed that they play nice.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump should not bully China.

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump is a bully. That is how he negotiates his way through life. He bullies women for sex. As a developer, he bullied politicians for building rights. He bullies lawyers and courtiers, underlings and peers, wives and children, and lately, countries and their leaders. It is his nature.

But he probably should not try to bully the People’s Republic of China. Xi Jinping has just been made president for life in that country and he might just want to show off by stomping on that upstart Trump.

And as much as many of us would enjoy watching the stomping, it would not turn out well. Everyone loses in a trade war. A trade war is the application of onerous duties on each other’s products by two or more countries. It adds to the cost of specific products from each country. When each country reciprocates with duties of its own, it tends to stifle trade between the two countries.

In addition, companies who also make the tariffed products in the country charging the tariffs, can now charge more for their products because the tariff items become much more expensive. Check softwood lumber prices in the western U.S. and you will see the new reality.

Basic economics tells us that free trade is good for the economy and heavy tariffs are bad for the economy. And the object lesson is that trade wars are bad for all the participants. Nobody can really win. And if it is a case of outlasting your opponent, there is some reality to face here.

The Chinese tend to be more disciplined than Americans. They have suffered hardships and famines over the years. They can be more stoical.

Americans, by way of contrast, are liable to be annoyed by hardships brought on by bad management of the economy. They can be resentful. Heck, it was the way the people in London were managing their economy that set off the American Revolution. And they have not been all that amenable to the politicians who screw things up ever since.

What we can be confident of is that the Americans will have a regime change long before the Chinese. And that is why it would be really stupid for the Americans to have a trade war with the Chinese.

But, then, nobody ever accused Mr. Trump of being practical.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Choosing champions.

Monday, March 26th, 2018

One of the aspects of populism that confuses people is that they can come from the left or the right or any other part of the political spectrum. Typically, the populist rises from the environment that generated the specific populist movement. This is why Donald Trump in the United States is not considered a populist. He just had the ego and enough money to take advantage of the opportunity. He is a narcissist, a womanizer, ignorant and incompetent and those are just some of the polite words used to describe him.

But Donald Trump’s arrogance, simplistic message and racism attracted a following among a broad swath of mainly apolitical Americans ranging from neighbourhood bigots and bikers to the Klu Klux Klan and the National Rifle Association. Not even Trump had any idea how effective those people would be at the polls. When Hillary Clinton called some of Trump’s supporters “deplorables” it helped drive them to the polls to vote against her.

In America’s red states that dominate middle America, the God-fearing, embittered and concerned right had no one else to vote for as president. It was this odd coalition of the holy and the unholy who won the electoral college to make Trump president.

In Canada, we are seeing a somewhat similar situation developing in the planned June election in Ontario. Nobody is suggesting that Doug Ford is as racist and incompetent as Mr. Trump but there is some confusion between Ford and his late brother Rob Ford, the crack-cocaine smoking and plain-spoken populist mayor of Toronto for one term.

Rob Ford was the get-even mayor of Toronto. His one term as mayor created chaos. It held the city up for ridicule on late night television in the United States and in British tabloids.

While Doug Ford, the older brother, served one term in his brother’s former council seat, it was Rob who was the populist. Since the forced amalgamation of the city by the Harris Conservatives, there has been a serious schism growing in Toronto between the downtown inner city and its suburbs. Without their local politicians and councils, the suburbs have felt isolated.

What made matters worse in a city of 630 square kilometers, that rises from the downtown up steep hills, the inner-city politicians declared war on the automobile. The suburbs saw their routes to downtown congested with restricted bicycle lanes and no better public transportation services in the offing. Enter populist Rob Ford to save the day.

But Rob Ford is dead and his brother Doug failed to replace him as mayor. Doug Ford is no populist.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The last adult has left the White House.

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

President Donald Trump has fired secretary of state Rex Tillerson. He fired him on that children’s program Twitter. And, in case Tillerson might not have checked Twitter, Trump phoned him from Airforce One and made sure he knew he was fired.

Tillerson will, regrettably, go down in history as the least effective American secretary of state in the history of the office. He could not win his arguments with Donald Trump and was resented by the experts at Foggy Bottom—as the area of Washington is called where the Department of State Headquarters is located.

He came into office with the high hopes that he could bring some good management to an administration that was shaping up as a total screw-up. His efforts were wasted.

The one area where it was expected he could help was with the Russia file. He faced too much interference by the alphabet soup of U.S. government agencies starting with the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. as well as a special counsel appointed to dig into the external interference in the election that resulted in Trump winning.

In the neighbouring countries of North America, Canada and Mexico, Trump was making enemies while Tillerson was trying to make friends.

But the major obstacle between Tillerson and Trump was the North Korea file. Tillerson wanted to use diplomacy and the support of allies. Trump wanted to call the North Korean leader names and ridicule him. Trump wanted to use threats.

It was North Korea that broke with all diplomatic protocols and invited President Trump to visit that country. It was a schoolyard dare and Trump grabbed at it. He must have realized at that point that secretary of state Tillerson would never agree to such a meeting without all the diplomatic niceties of preparation and protocols. For Trump to be the ‘Big Man on Campus’ in this situation, he needed to get rid of his secretary of state.

And he had the perfect fall guy and spook to take on the job. Trump has nominated Mike Pompeo, currently director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to replace Tillerson. Pompeo is best known as a pit-bull representative of the fourth district of Kansas, where he was considered a Tea Party adherent. His one endearing quality to Trump is that he does not like the news media and does not talk to them.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“We stand on guard for thee.”

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

The last time our parliamentarians screwed around with Canada’s national anthem, they were trying to make it gender neutral. What they accomplished was to have some of us singing different words, others of us confused and all of us stuck with awkward phrasing. And it is tough to fake that you are singing along under those conditions.

But we can all be robust in song when we come to standing on guard. We know those words and we all concur in their meaning.

And, these days, we all want to stand on guard against that incompetent ass Donald Trump in the American White House.

But be warned. That bastard is trying to get us angry, He wants us to retaliate. It will launch a trade war that he will win only when he puts North America into the grip of a depression. He is more than willing to damage his own country to prove himself right. He will blame Canada. We all know of his disrespect for Mexico.

Foreign minister Chrystia Freeland can threaten retaliation but no wise person would carry it out.

Trump will do that for us. He is raising the price of softwood lumber on the west coast of the United States. Canada has already passed the 50 per cent mark in shifting our B.C. softwood lumber sales to China, Japan and Korea.

The steel markets he is threatening are more complex. It would take several years for America to replace the rolling mills in Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario that supply much of the rolled steel to America. Americans will hardly appreciate the cost increases inflicted by Trump in the meantime. Nobody is worried about aluminum tariffs as Canada and Norway share the ability to supply world markets of aluminum at the lowest costs. Trump’s lumpen proletariat will just have to bite the bullet of a higher cost for their beer cans,

In the meantime, we should let our friends and relations know that a loony spent in the United States might be less than 78 cents but it helps pay for Trump’s pomposity. We are already paying too much for products from the United States and it would pay us to cut back when we can.

And after the winter we are presently experiencing, is the southern U.S. that much better a place for a holiday? Why not enjoy a Caribbean holiday or a trip to Mexico instead?

Frankly, we should all be doing what we can to give Mr. Trump the one-finger salute.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Bully Pulpit of Donald Trump.

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

President Theodore Roosevelt said, more than 100 years ago, that the White House is a bully pulpit. It means something very different to the bully in today’s White House. Roosevelt saw the bully pulpit as a position for good. Trump sees it as a position to abuse the less powerful. He is a bully in the full sense of the word.

Even Trump’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiators, meeting in Mexico City in the past week were caught off guard by the tariffs Trump proposed on aluminum and steel. He was so proud of this that he twitted his plan to bully his country’s neighbours. He is going to bring them back to the table cowering to accept his conditions for an American version of NAFTA. (Otherwise known as ‘beggar your neighbours.’)

Trump’s negotiators have repeated told him that there is little reason for Canada and Mexico to want to “Make America Great Again” the Trump way. A trade agreement such as NAFTA can be of great benefit to the economies of the participating countries but it requires goodwill and fair dealing.

The bully in Trump tells him that it should be the most powerful nation that makes the rules. While neither Canada nor Mexico are the largest producers of steel, there has been a brisk three-way business in steel between the three countries. It has meant lower prices, more variety, adequate supplies and a fair market between the three countries. Trump is sure as hell, he is going to fix that. His tariffs will greatly increase the costs for American construction and products made with steel. He is trying to put thousands of Canadian steelworkers out of work in Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie but will jeopardize the jobs of even more in Pittsburgh and Gary, Indiana.

Trump’ followers will likely pay the higher cost for their aluminum beer cans. Canada’ aluminum smelters are located in the middle of an area of the cheapest hydro power production in North America and will carry on regardless.

Trump is waiting for Canadians to retaliate to the repeated tariff challenges for soft-wood lumber, dairy products and now aluminum and steel. He wants a trade war. He needs Canadian retaliation to get approval in his country for his trade war. It would be the end of NAFTA. That is why Canada is carefully counting to ten each time the bully makes a move.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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