Archive for the ‘American Politics’ Category

The trying times of Trump.

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Canada’s prime minister told Global News the other day that there is “a level of unpredictability” to the current trade talks with the Americans and Mexicans. What is really amazing is that one man, on a whim, can be allowed to jeopardize US$17 trillion in annual trade between the three countries. And yet, he might. U.S. President Donald Trump could order an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) within the next couple months.

Trump will explain that it is because of the intransigence of the Canadians and the Mexicans that cancellation is the only option. That is likely true. The problem will really be that the unreasonable demands of the Trump administration made it impossible to agree.

To date, the NAFTA negotiations have been a charade. Proposal and counter-proposal have been met with a stone wall. Instead of a give and take of an honest deal between friends, this has been the sham of a real estate developer’s deal, attempting to maximize the potential for one party’s profit.

How can the Mexicans take it seriously with the continued threat of a wall of discrimination and hate between their country and America?

Canadians entered these negotiations as neighbours and friends and find themselves vilified as abusers and users.

But that light we are seeing at the end of Trump’s tunnel vision is the realization that he can do far more harm to the United States than he can do to Canada. While the U.S. administration has been busy alienating the rest of the world, Canada has been out there making friends. We can never entirely end our cross-border trade with the U.S. but we can certainly reduce our dependency on it.

But Trump is doing that for us. We read the other day that his next target before ending NAFTA itself is Canadian newsprint. Along with driving up the cost of new homes in the U.S. with Trump tariffs on soft-wood lumber, he wants to drive the marginal daily newspapers in the U.S. out of business. Then more of his followers will have to rely on Trump tweets for news.

Canada’s most serious failing in this Trumpian trade fiasco is to look like we care. The end of NAFTA is hardly the end of the world. We are an industrious and creative society. There is a six-month transition to the end of NAFTA and the only industry likely to be completely screwed is the automotive. That will take years to sort out and you can figure that General Motors will have more clout than foreign minister Chrystia Freeland—so let GM solve it! And they had better remember that Canada helped the company survive the last time the American economy collapsed.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump trends to tyranny.

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

No American President in living history has earned the thoroughness of study and the resulting derision as has Donald Trump. Soon to celebrate his first year in office, he has earned the enmity that he himself heaped on his opponents for that high office. He has let down the American people. He has lost the respect for that office earned by his predecessors. He has betrayed the American trust in democracy. Luckily Trump is still a tyrant in training.

It was the role he chose. His was a bitter campaign, based in his belief that he could only lose. He lacked the ground organization of the classy Clintons. He lacked the savvy political advisors and would not have listened to them anyway. He was damned as a womanizer. His lack of ethics was exposed. He flaunted his wealth and let nobody in on its details. He had none of the credentials considered needed for the highest office in the land. The news media hated him and he screamed ‘false news’ back at them. He was as shocked as everyone else when he won.

His transition to the White House reflected Trump’s lack of understanding or concern for the customs, rituals and exigencies of democracy. His rush to serve his base brought him in conflict with the courts and the limitations of the the checks and balances imposed on presidential power. He tried to rule by edict. He tried to use the powers of his office as though he was a tyrant with unlimited possibilities.

Those first months of his administration were a constant war with the news media and a truculent Congress. All it proved was that as much as he despised those Republicans in the House and Senate, he needed them to have his way. It was an imposition on his tyranny.

His solution was to give the Republicans what they wanted. He broke new ceilings on American debt, his tax cuts were extreme for business and the rich while offering short term cuts as a sop to the middle class. Myopic Republican politicos stuck their riders to the bill, adding further pain and suffering to those that their ideology leaves behind. Millions will suffer to enable the millionaire funders of Republicanism to add to their wealth.

Donald Trump signed with a flourish a flawed tax bill he had never read. As a tyrant, need he care?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

By jingo, Trump’s a xenophobe.

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

In an era of social media on the Internet, people are having a hard time deciding what is suitable for private conversations and what is suitable for public discussions. Nobody illustrates the problem more effectively than the American President. Donald Trump seems to have it all backward.

Certainly, the most frightening aspect of Trump is his penchant for war. And, for a war-loving jingoist, he seems to have little understanding of what war involves. His childlike braggadocio and threats thrown at the dictator of North Korea are both unseemly and stupid.

But his xenophobic dislike and distrust for other countries is costing America its allies. How should the American Ambassador to the United Nations feel when she has to veto the United States being censored by every other Security Council member country over Mr. Trump’s wanting to move the U.S. Israeli embassy to Jerusalem?

He already has the entire Middle East rioting. He has infuriated the Mexicans, pissed off the Brits and Canadians, annoyed the Japanese, insulted the Chinese and brushed off the Russians. And the French President seems to think he could catch a communicable disease if he goes near him.

And the piece de resistance came the other day when the fool announced his security strategy to the generals who have to figure out how to implement it. Since he has such a limited vocabulary, Mr. Trump used the same language he used on the campaign trail over a year ago.

First of all, Trump tells them America is “in the game” and “America is going to win.” It is supposed that he meant some game other than ‘Tiddlywinks.’

Trump’s strategy is to first protect the homeland. Second, he wants to make lots of money—mostly for the rich. Somehow, he wants to demonstrate that peace is good. And fourth, he wants to advance America’s influence.

How the American generals are going to achieve any of this, is a matter on which we can all conjecture.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Fake News, Fake President and the FBI.

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

From 1924 to 1972, J. Edgar Hoover organized and controlled the federal law enforcement of the United States of America. He built a flawed and highly politicized organization into the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The mistakes Hoover made came built in with the headquarters Hoover Building in Washington today. It is still flawed and highly politicized.

The best example of the FBI’s failings is the direct and malicious interference by FBI Director James Comey into the 2016 presidential election. It was, to a measure, responsible for the election of Donald Trump. It was the final straw. For all of J. Edgar Hoover’s failings as a man and as a non-partisan servant of the people, he never issued anything like the letter Comey released to the media to impact Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency. That was a political roorback of epic proportions.

(A “roorback” is a classic political move against an opponent timed carefully to give the opponent no time before the vote to refute the, usually, scurrilous charges.)

Of course, what President would ever want someone willing to do what Comey did to work for him? Comey had to be fired.

Going back to the beginnings of the federal bureau, the “G-man” has been a staple of American fiction. Books, comics, movies, radio and television have sold the nation’s youth on the supposed invulnerability of the FBI agent. While Naval Intelligence has won the recent TV ratings wars (with NCIS), the Behavioural Analysis Unit of the FBI (Criminal Minds) has had the staying power on television. Mind you, the version imputing the extraterritorial activities (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders) left viewers incredulous. It would never happen.

But looked at as either fact or fiction, the American FBI has done a disservice to Americans. It needs a judiciary oversight that can clean out some, if not all, the politicized nature of the agency as part of the Department of Justice.

What J. Edgar Hoover built needs to be rebuilt.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Political Instincts of a Tomcat.

Saturday, December 16th, 2017

Political pundits have pondered on American President Trump for quite some time now and they still cannot get him right. The reason they fail to read him and his moves and moods is that he is not a political animal. If we accept that, we can see him for what he is. It is easiest to think of him as the terror of the neighbourhood felines.

Trump is that big fat tom that you come home to find lying on your pillow, licking his fur. He ignores you unless it is getting near dinner time. He does not slink around the house but stalks as though he owns it. He will be up on the dining room table checking out your food if there is nobody there with the speed and strength to ward him off.

And never say that Trump does not have the nerve. As President, Trump sees himself as omnipotent. He promised his clack the rewards of a world they will never see—a world free of others, a trickle-down world in which all will be trickled on, easy money in the casino of life, and easy jobs for all.

Wait until Americans see the new budget that Trump and his Congress have coming for them. No more kindness and understanding from cut-down government. The tax cuts are for the filthy rich; the rest get the table scraps. Medicare will be gutted. Americans will love a smaller and smaller-minded government. And you do not have to read the bill; read the riders.

But there are possibilities for national redemption. The fat cat had no understanding of his impact on Alabama. He turned a deep red state against him. He told them that a vote for Roy Moore for senator was a vote for Donald Trump. That was a mistake. The special election of a senator in Alabama became a cause celeb around the world. It says that a course correction is possible.

For a party without leadership, the Democrats have a cause for next year’s mid-term elections. The senate will be the target. They only need replace a few Republican senators to win control of that body. It will be a beginning.

There is much to be done to prepare for ridding America of the fat cat in the White House. The country needs leadership. It needs youth and courage. It needs people who believe in the future. That fat tomcat is part of the past.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Beating off the NAFTA bogeymen.

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) might not make it to New Year’s. Who knows? Mr. Trump might just like to go out of this year with a clean slate. He has promised his ignorant and uncaring sycophants a pyrrhic victory and he might as well deliver the killing blow.

It looks like the only partner in the deal that understands the ramifications of killing NAFTA are the Canadians. The Mexicans are too angry at the racism represented by the wall. The people hurt the worst by the move will be the Americans. And the one thing we know for sure is that it will take more than six months to pull the deal apart. Like the Brits with Brexit, there are likely too many aspects of the North American trading situation that Mr. Trump does not understand.

You would like to think that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau knew what he was doing the other week in China. That might be opportunity lost for now but it can come back. Trudeau seemed to forget one of the cardinal rules in doing business with China. If you want to do business with China, you sell the relationship first, the product sales have to follow.

But on the positive side, Canada has deals on the offing now with Europe, the Trans-Pacific Partnership with the main player Japan and with China. That adds up to far more than just a replacement for the cross-border trade with the United States.

What it will mean in the long run will be that Canada can cherry-pick what it wants to trade with all four of the major world trading blocks. If the Americans stay with the Trump approach, that country will be heading downhill to recession and turmoil. They just will not be pulling Canada down Trump’s rabbit hole with them.

What many of us observers sitting here in the bleachers of Canada will be looking forward to will be the ramifications for the North American auto industry. There seems to be a growing body of confidence in Canada that we can live better without NAFTA. While we were originally willing to talk modifying the trade situation, there is no way we will make the concessions that Trump’s unskilled negotiators are demanding. These are Trump’s NAFTA bogeymen.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The failing final days of America.

Monday, December 11th, 2017

This is a time of unease. America has failed us. The heroes of the Second World War are vanishing. The people who touted democracy to the world’s oppressed are fading into history. Around the globe there is a sense of a collective waiting. People are tense, on a short fuse, wary and concerned. What will this new version of America do next?

Have we lost all trust in America? The Americans have made bad decisions before but current strains are more than incidental miscalculations. The most powerful country in the world is on a path to destruction. Nobody is in control.

The White House is in the hands of a person who insults and betrays America’s most friendly neighbours, allies and trading partners. He has built walls of resentment, disgust, antipathy and distrust, at a time when America needs friends and allies on side. Instead of rallying, he has infuriated the Mexicans and pissed off the Canadians.

And why settle for annoying just a few neighbours when you can earn the lasting enmity of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims? Donald Trump has proved himself the world’s most hated racist.

The world’s Jews should be inured to the pandering politicians of our times. They must be concerned though when Trump trods where no American president has tramped before. Donald Trump was the last person that Israel ever needed for a friend. His announcement on Jerusalem could be America’s version of 1914 in Sarajevo!

But what is war to Donald Trump but a Game of Thrones? He insults China. He derides a delusional despot in North Korea. He eschews his friendship with Vladimir Putin of Russia. He trashes the peace gained so painstakingly with Iran. He insults the Brits and brushes aside the Europeans. Trump teeters on jingoism, preaches xenophobia and practices isolationism.

What is Trump? As a maybe billionaire, he is a boor. He reveals little of his wealth because of how he acquired it out of the shadows of bankruptcies. He is a misogynist and a womanizer. He does not have friends: he has leeches, losers and louts who spread his poison.

But what does this all say for the waning of America? The United States of America is a land that usually honors its heroes. Is this the end of times? Is this the Armageddon as foretold in the Book of Revelation?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

As the pendulum swings.

Saturday, December 9th, 2017

There can be a pendulum effect in politics. It means that for every aberration noted in one election there is often an equal and opposite reaction in the next election. We just might be seeing this in Alabama leading up to the special election for a U.S. senator next week. We can see why the vote is too close to call.

Roy Moore, a hard-right Republican is being challenged by Democrat candidate Doug Jones. The very fact of the race being so close in Republican Alabama is being cheered by Democrats across the United States. The Democrats need to win here to give them confidence of a mid-term swing to a Democrat-controlled Senate if not the House. A Democrat-controlled Senate could put a serious crimp in the Trump program being pushed through Congress.

And while a Democrat victory cannot be a prediction, it is certainly possible.

Roy Moore who is confident of holding the seat is, to say the least, a controversial candidate. Moore was the Alabama Supreme Court Justice who was ejected from office for refusing to remove a statue depicting the ten commandments from the courthouse and then tossed again for telling probate judges to ignore the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

A large part of Moore’s problems recently are the repeated charges that the 70-year old judge had a fondness for under-age girls when he was younger. They are certainly coming forward today to challenge his trustworthiness. Trump supporters are inclined to disregard these charges as false news and the Republican National Committee is sending him more money even this late in the race.

And political polling in this instance is not proving helpful. Statistically, the figures are considered even. The difference between the two candidates is well within the margin of error.

One factor that nobody can read in this race is that 250,000 prisoners in state prisons are being allowed to vote for the first time. If they vote, their choice is between a controversial Republican judge and a Democrat state’s attorney. Who would you vote for if you were behind bars? And pollsters have no effective way to ask these prisoners their questions. And why would they expect straight answers?

All us observers can say at this point is that we hope Mr. Trump has an unpleasant surprise next Wednesday morning. We will probably hear about it in the twits, he tweets on Twitter.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Wall of Wonder.

Friday, December 8th, 2017

Is the American President going to select his wonderful wall for Christmas? Hopeful contractors have erected eight samples of wall in San Diego, CA for his decision. All he has to do is pick his favourite. His Twitter followers will likely be the first to know which wall he prefers.

But how he is going to get Congress to authorize the billion dollars he needs for it, is a question begging an answer. The likelihood of Mexico paying a peso for this wall is in the range between “Never” and “In your ear, Donald!”

But they have a few engineering problems to be faced in putting up this wall. Frankly there are visitors from Mexico who might be better at building tunnels than Americans are at building walls. And these particular visitors might not be bearing frankincense and myrrh.

And we hope the new engineers putting up Mr. Trump’s wall are smarter than the ones we hear about who put up George W. Bush’s wall at El Paso, Texas. It seems George W’s geniuses left an American El Paso golf course on the wrong side of that strip of wall.

How you build a wall down the middle of the Rio Grande, is just one of the more interesting questions to be answered. They will not welcome it on the Mexican side of the river. If you put it on the American side, you will be cutting cattle off from their water.

This is not as simple as something such as the Panama Canal. Did you know that when they started to dig the canal, they thought they just needed a trench across the Isthmus of Panama? It was not until the French realized that it needed locks at either end that the Americans bought in and did the heavy digging.

While Mr. Trump is busy deciding which of the walls he prefers, Congress is still struggling with wanting to do something about the Dreamers. These are the almost 800,000 who registered for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) who are in limbo waiting for the shoe to drop. Why the fate of these people should be tied to Trump’s wall is unconscionable.

Mind you, we have determined over this year that Donald Trump is a man without a soul. Why would you assume anyone who backs him has one?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Why Sarah is the perfect press patsy.

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Her name is Sarah Huckabee Sanders and she is President Trump’s White House press secretary. Watching her in action, you get the feeling that she is something of a female version of Forrest Gump. It is her gullible nature that makes her the ideal press secretary.

Having been in her position occasionally, during a career in politics, I have to be sympathetic to her plight. Laugh at her if you wish but she is the one earning the danger pay.

Back when I was looking after the media for prime ministerial events in Toronto, media briefings were often part of the job. Sometimes I would be asked to say something that was designed to mislead the media. My most frequent answer was to ask who would make that announcement. They would promise someone else to make the announcement but they would never show.

What they really wanted for those briefings was someone dumb enough to do what they were told. And that is why Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the perfect patsy as press secretary.

Anyone thinking they can defend Donald Trump’s nocturnal twitting on Twitter has got to be a few litres short of a fill.

The other day the media confronted Sarah Huckabee Sanders outside the White House in regards to the President retwitting some racist twits about Muslims. Her explanation of the retwits left the news media folks wide-eyed and amazed. She explained that even if the twits were wrong, they were right. She also claimed that the reporters were looking at these twits from the wrong direction.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that it did not matter if the twits were real or fake, the President and her thought the threat was real. The threat, according to the twits, were that if you were on crutches, you were liable to be kicked by a person made up as a supposed Muslim, someone else in costume smashed a statue supposedly of the Virgin Mary and some other mayhem. The videos were so bad, you would have to also believe in the tooth fairy to consider them credible.

The incident certainly annoyed Prime Minister Elizabeth May in the United Kingdom. The videos came from a far-right organization in England, known for their virulent and ignorant anti-Muslim sentiments. The fact that Donald Trump retwitted them to his 43 million Twitter followers just means that a large number of Twitter-users need to get a life.

But the sound of one hand clapping for Sarah Huckabee Sanders over here in Canada is in recognition of her unwavering loyalty, her creativity and her stupidity. Bless her.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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