Archive for the ‘American Politics’ Category

Pompeo’s Rebellion.

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

It makes you wish you were there to see the look of astonishment on the European’s faces as American secretary of state Mike Pompeo explained his version of Donald Trump’s ‘Brave New World.’ It happened last week in Brussels. It might have contradicted the agreement Mr. Trump made with China’s president Xi Jinping a few days before in Argentina but since nobody on the Trump team ever talks from the same play book, why start now?

Pompeo pompously postulated that in Donald Trump’s world, no bilateral or multi-lateral agreement between the U.S. and other nations is sacrosanct. It seems as head of this brave new world order, Mr. Trump can change or jettison agreements with other countries at will. (And he does, as Canadians have discovered.)

Mr. Pompeo explained that this onerous role Mr. Trump has taken on for himself is fitting in a new liberal(?) world order. It seems Mr. Trump can unilaterally decide which agreement or treaty should or should not be honoured.

The Europeans are still mulling over president Trump dumping the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal made by a Pompeo predecessor, former secretary of state John Kerry. The European Union has strongly supported those two agreements and feel betrayed by the Trump’s cavalier and unilateral decision to end American participation. In a speech in the United States recently, a European Union spokesman said it was more like a “rule of the jungle replacing a rule of law.”

What Pompeo was really doing in his speech which, at best, drew some polite applause, was to criticize the European Union as a supranational body interfering in the wishes of member states. He mentioned the UK’s Brexit as an example of the problem—which surprised the Europeans who knew far more about that situation than did the American.

In Pompeo’s pompous ‘Brave New World of Mr. Trump’ there is one constant impediment to this world of liberal co-operation and vision: Mr. Trump himself.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

American capitalism betrays us.

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Since 1908, when Sam McLaughlin started building auto bodies in Oshawa for William Durant’s Buicks, Canada has been part of what became General Motors. Through good times and bad times, in World Wars and in boom times Canadians have supported GM. Today, we stand betrayed.

The relationship was always a consideration through the Auto Pact and the first Canada-U.S. free trade agreement and then the North American Free Trade Agreement. We always trusted General Motors. It was always a consideration. We willingly put up the loans that GM needed to survive the American debacle of capitalism in 2008.

We should have been alerted when General Motors did not take up all the incentives the previous Ontario government was offering for the development of electric cars. To now say that Canada cannot be part of the electric trend is insulting.

But we know that American capitalism is uncaring. American industry is an oligarchy without morals. It cares not for honour.

American capitalism funded Donald Trump as president. American capitalism and American politics share an unholy corruption that works against the real needs of the American masses.

And America is a land that insults and belittles its neighbours. It is a land that references its Gods but is steeped in bigotry. It is a land that corrupts politicians, police and parsons. It is where lawyers are amused by the overwhelming corruption.

Canadians spent a long time struggling with the confusion of negotiating a better free trade agreement. They were dealing with public servants who also had to struggle with their own leadership.

But the point all along was that such a deal has to be based on fairness, not greed. It must be based on honesty, not advantage. It needs to be based on all parties building something better together.

But General Motors’ oligarchs have wiped away the frosting on the cake. They have told those Canadians: Fuck you.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

And a possum shall lead them.

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

Are you old enough to remember American Walt Kelly’s sage words: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”? And if you knew what those words meant, there is still hope. Cartoonist Kelly died in 1973 but people still make pilgrimages to the Okefenokee Swamp to seek the wisdom of his possum.

Maybe it was just an up-dated Pogo that was the inspiration for Master Yoda in the Star Wars series.

But it was the tight mid-term races in Florida and Georgia that made me think of Walt Kelly’s denizens of the Okefenokee. The swamp area straddles the north-south border of the two states and encompasses more than 1700 square kilometres of wetlands.  Despite the Okefenokee being mostly protected under federal and state parks, it continues to be polluted by inconsiderate tourists and locals who consider the parks theirs to despoil. That must be like the difference between declaring an area a protected wetland and providing the funds to help protect it.

It is also similar to the mid-term election recounts that came down heavily on the side of the people doing the recounts.

Someone needs to explain the American electoral system to me. How is that so different from the system in Russia where Mr. Putin and his friends count their own ballots? At least in Russia, they do not say that the opponent lost by less than one per cent. That just rubs salt in the already grievous wound.

Somehow, the results of those American mid-term elections still feel like one-step forward and two-steps back. There is a strong feeling that the status quo prevailed.

Yes, we have been told that things will be different with a democrat-controlled House of Representatives. Somehow, we expect there can be no guarantee of that.

In two years, there will be another election in the U.S. of A. We expect the Republicans will be too cowed or too stupid to try to dump Trump. Will he run for re-election with another horde at the gates of America? Or will another incident just happen that will set him up? Will bigotry continue to work for him? Will nobody call him out for his lies and what an ass he is?  Or was Pogo right all along: the enemy is us.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

President Trump’s Achilles Heel.

Monday, November 19th, 2018

It does in all pretenders eventually. U.S. President Donald Trump has no clue as to how a competent person would handle the vicissitudes of the job that he found himself in by accident. The world is watching as he gradually slows in his responses to the slights he might have noted, misunderstood or imagined. His usual vitriol is less forceful. The twits are less biting. His pace slowing, he is aging in a role that he does not fully comprehend.

But it is the man’s ego that is his Achilles Heel. He is too much of a narcissist to be president of the Americans. He cannot understand that the job is more important than the person in it. It is the reason that so much pomp and ceremony goes with the position. Americans exaggerate their presidents and pay their honours to the position.

But foreign leaders have their own games they play. They all want something from America when they visit or when they meet in lofty conclaves. Some might just settle for respect. That can be like cash in the bank when they get home. And are you dealing with a buyer or a seller? Everybody wants something.

The American president also has to travel. Air Force One makes the travel easier but it also has a leash trailing, a heavy load of constant communications. Mind you, nobody knew it would provide an Internet connection to the juvenile likes of a keyboard warrior such as Donald Trump.

The world waited for Trump to react to words carefully selected by French president Macron the other day. The Twitter feed after their meeting in Paris was predictable. The American president chose to deliberately misunderstand Macron’s call for a European army to meet the needs of the European Union’s defence with or without American military assistance.

The ill-considered Trump tweet not only insulted the French but every American ally in two world wars.

It is probably not a criminal offence in the United States of America to be a narcissist. Self love can be misguided and a weakness of character and Mr. Trump does carry it to excess.

But it, in itself, is probably not grounds for impeachment. Too bad.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Hordes are in the House.

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

Donald Trump can stop worrying about the hordes heading north in Mexico. They served their purpose during the run-up to the mid-terms. They gave him a target for his bigotry. And it worked for him. It brought out a streak of meanness and uncaring in Americans.

But the mid-term elections also left President Trump with a divided Congress. With no ability to finesse, he is now reliant on others to get his agenda—such as it is—through Congress.

But do not assume this will leave Trump a lame duck president for the next two years. The person who controls the White House can cause a lot of trouble. Pity the soldiers camped on the Mexican border. Pity the news media condemned to reading those maniacal tweets from Trump.

What everyone will be waiting for in the next two years is the sorting out of the leadership of the Democratic Party. This is a party that needs to restore the honour in being liberal. It is a party that has to recast a reform agenda that people can understand. And the party has to lead, not follow.

And a refreshed, renewed and reformed Democratic Party has to defeat Trump’s lies with truth. It is critical that America restore its credibility with the rest of the world. Americans have to be sold on the need to look outward at a complex and concerned world.

And, given the opportunity, they might want to help save that world from global warming. By all of us doing the bit that we can, we can save our world.

It is really too bad that Donald Trump became president of the United States at a time when traditional news media are in decline. Trump is a liar and perpetual prevaricator and this is a problem that needs continual analysis and denial. To give him any freedom because of a weakened news media is license to prevaricate and confuse the deplorables and create serious problems for America and the world.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

It started with Kennedy and Nixon.

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

As a Canadian, I had no dog chasing a rabbit in the race but it has impacted my attitude about politics for the rest of my life. Being there in 1960 to watch the first ever television debate between presidential candidates John Kennedy and Richard Nixon was not just a casual event. We were watching a permanent change in how North American elections were conducted.

What is very important about these debates is to consider that, while they rarely solve anything, they do help set the stage. They often highlight opportunities gained and lost. For example: Two years ago, Hillary Clinton might have gained some ground if she had stopped Trump from upstaging her by telling him to get back in his cage.

The next such debate we will be seeing will be the single leadership debate that is to be arranged for the Canadian 2019 federal election. In his usual elitist style, Trudeau has appointed former Governor General David Johnston to make all the arrangements. With his only experience in this field as an emcee of a couple such debates, the vice-regal Johnson might have bitten off more than he can chew.

It will be particularly interesting to see how he gets along with the television networks to ensure that there is as wide an audience as possible for a debate in each official language.

The first problem Johnston faces is that everyone goes into these events with entirely different objectives. He will want the television people to give up the revenue from the most lucrative time of their day. If he would just settle for 3 am on a Sunday morning, he would have as much time as he wanted.

But his most serious problem is that political parties are, as the words imply, political. They are always looking for ways to have a political advantage. That is not Johnston’s strong suit. If it looks like he is getting his advice from the guy who appointed him to this job, he is going to find what it is like to be vilified.

Frankly, Trudeau would have been far smarter to meet with ‘Chuckles’ Scheer, Elizabeth May and a representative from the NDP and appoint someone whom they also trust.

But then, we have never heard anyone complain that Mr. Trudeau is too smart.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Fall of the House of Trump.

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

It might have been the beginning of the end we saw the other day. Donald Trump’s words on the tragedy in Pittsburgh were the final bullets in a fool’s arsenal that ricocheted around the world. He complained that there would not have been the deaths involved if the synagogue had an armed guard at the door.

If any place of worship, anywhere, feels it needs an armed guard, there is something seriously wrong in that society. And if children cannot go to school safely, that society is failing its most precious assets. There is no excuse.

Too many people are describing the current situation in the United States of America as the demise of America as a world leader. It has traded its democracy for a tin-pot dictator. It is following him in a downhill path to isolation, to xenophobia, tariff barriers and consorting with fellow dictators.

You have to wonder who motivated the current march north by refugees from Honduras and other Central American countries? The timing is suspect because Donald Trump can now tell his claque that the hoards are at the gates. He is sending more soldiers to defend the borders than there are marchers—who are many weeks from the American border.

(Though somebody should compliment the Mexicans on their hospitality and caring about these people.)

But the American mid-term elections are next week and that should tell the tale. There is little information available as to which side might prevail in the elections. Nobody seems to have much hope for the Senate elections but there is a strong possibility of the House of Representatives ending up with a democratic majority.

What occurs to me is that if the democrats just had some leadership, they could win both houses of Congress. It is hard to imagine that the majority of Americans would want to give Donald another two years of free rein in Washington. Has he not done enough damage to America, to other countries that Americans could count on as friends and to democracy around the world?

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Exxonneration?

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Help is on the way. It was wonderful to read that ExxonMobil is being sued by the New York Attorney General’s office in the United States for the lies to investors about the pollution caused by producing oil from Alberta tar sands. After three years of investigating, it is claimed that ExxonMobil (through its Canadian subsidiary Imperial Oil) has been understating its carbon emissions taxation exposure to the tune of US$30 billion.

With carbon taxes expected to reach $50 per ton in at least 10 U.S. states as well as across Canada by 2023, this $30 billion oversight is going to cost ExxonMobil much more than $30 billion in catching up and in possible court penalties.

The charge is that Imperial Oil and its parent company ExxonMobil have been lying to investors and the public for many years. Those of us who knew about some of their lies were not surprised. To a company created by American John D. Rockefeller, the lies were just as to be expected and the US$30 billion and fines will be paid out of petty cash.

The lies about the tar sands go back to the beginnings of Alberta as a province of Canada. It was the lie told to every Canadian school child that the Athabasca and Cold Lake tar sands were the largest reserve of ‘oil’ in the world. The bitumen-like heavy oil of Venezuela is probably the larger reserve but political problems there are currently preventing that country from increasing production.

But it was more insidious to rename the tar sands as ‘oil sands’ and to pretend that Canadian bitumen was just another form of heavy oil. The problem is that bitumen has to first be converted to synthetic crude oil before it can be further refined into oil products. That initial refinery step produces three times the carbon pollution of normal crude oil refining. It produces huge quantities of what is called bitumen slag.

While none of the ExxonMobil lies to investors has yet been discussed in court, it will be very interesting to see what ExxonMobil’s lawyers say in the company’s defence.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

This honour might not be justified.

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

There was an e-mail the other day informing me that Babel-on-the-Bay is being honoured for its support of U.S. Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Good God! Did I? When? Why? And why do I not remember committing such a heinous crime?

The e-mail is detailed and serious. It is from some right-wing crazies, based in Washington, D.C., called Judicial Watch. All I know about them is they spend an inordinate amount of time and money trying to get Hillary Clinton locked up.

To tell the truth, I do not recall writing anything about the U.S. judge. He is just another example of a highly politicized judicial system that is going downhill fast. I was appalled at his undisciplined display of anger in his appearance before the U.S. Senate committee. I knew nothing else about him and I had nothing insightful to say about him.

But here is Judicial Watch congratulating me on “the role you have played in getting out the truth.” I wish.

They claim “The leftwing (sic) members of the Senate violated every rule of proper procedures and basic decency…” I guess those senators will be next after they lock up Hillary Clinton.

It seems these Judicial Watch people have been putting together an obviously extensive list of blogs that they think will be a force for conservatism and Donald Trump. And this is “right when America needs us most!”

But here I am being feted by these people for “the role you have played in getting out the truth… And changing the course of history.”

Judicial Watch is going to expand its Blog Watch website to accommodate every blog I and my fellow conservative(?) bloggers do on any issue involving government corruption, election integrity, illegal immigration and terrorism. They promise to put them front and centre on their website. They will even e-mail the blogs to their entire list of some 40,000 names on their press(?) list. They want to share my commentaries with their 5 million Facebook followers, one million Twitter followers and 60,000 Instagram followers.

I know this will come as no surprise to regular readers of Babel-on-the-Bay, but the question is: should I tell these brain-dead, right-wing dingbats that I am a Canadian? And, to make it worse, I really am a left-wing liberal?

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Legault’s likely legacy?

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Back in August, Babel-on-the-Bay ran a column discussing the anger of the electors that can result in poor choices in politicians. At the time, only Donald Trump was discussed but it was assumed readers could see how the disease is spreading. A few readers questioned me at the time as to whether we could keep these poor choices under better control with proportional voting.

Under proportional voting, Donald Trump would not be president of the United States. He would have come up short by around three million votes.  Nor would Douglas Ford be premier of Ontario, or would François Legault of the CAQ likely be sworn in as the new premier of Quebec. Both won by about 40 per cent of the total vote and, under proportional voting, would only be entitled to about 40 per cent of the seats in their respective legislatures.

The usual procedure in these minority positions is for the party with the most seats to make a deal with one or more of the smaller parties to give them a majority position and a chance to rule. What you are also doing is giving these small parties an inordinate amount of power to influence legislation.

And that influence is just one of the problems with proportional representation. The facts are that proportional representation encourages fringe parties. Why, for example, do you think Israel, a state that is otherwise secular, is shut down every Sabbath? It is the religious fringe parties that make a repressive Sabbath a standing condition of support.

Another major problem with proportional voting is how hard it is to get anything done in a country where no party can ever win a majority. If you thought Ottawa was slow with all its safe-guards and elitist senate, check out some of the Scandinavian countries with their many political parties.

Mind you promising the voters a proportional form of voting is just one of the mistakes Legault has made. What he needs to realize is that under proportional voting, he would have a hard time forming a government.

And like many autocratic, right-wing politicians, he also thinks he can casually override the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He wants to kick immigrants out of the province if their French skills do not come up to snuff. He needs to understand that abusing human rights is something you do at your peril—even in Quebec!

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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