Archive for the ‘American Politics’ Category

They are killing their children in America.

Monday, February 26th, 2018

It seems that Bashar al-Assad needs the Russians to help him kill children in Syria. Many world organizations have already charged al-Assad with crimes against humanity.

But what about Donald Trump’s crimes against humanity? Is he not culpable when he caters to his friends in the National Rifle Association (NRA)? Does he really think the NRA can teach teachers to shoot back? There will be no more basketball hoops on school property. They will need the space for the teachers’ shooting range.

But what good would gun-toting teachers be? There was an armed and trained guard outside that Florida school recently and we hear he was afraid to go where he could hear someone was shooting. I gather he was fired before President Trump could pin a medal on him.

I do not want to be critical of our American friends and neighbours but as long as you allow guns to be distributed as generously as Cracker Jack prizes, children will continue to die.

You can hardly put a bounty on NRA members. There are many Americans already working hard to solve this problem peacefully. It needs lots of reason, encouragement and a big stick. There are obviously some Americans in need of re-education. You can start with the members of Congress.

You can tell them that carrying a gun does not make anybody safe. There is always somebody with a bigger gun with a longer range.

And people really have to get over the idea that automatic weapons replace the need for accuracy.

In any country, there are people who are mentally and emotionally unsuited to be walking around with guns. When you insist on everybody having a right to their weapon of choice, you know that you are going to have some mistakes made. It is inevitable. People will die. And regrettably young people will also be in the line of fire. If you think your Second Amendment rights are more important than the lives of children, you have a serious problem.

And thinking of that problem—and if you are angry about it—you should put some purpose to your anger. Target the elections this November. Plan ahead, work ahead and organize ahead. You want to support candidates for congress who will support firm gun control. Not this namby-pamby stuff they spout—real gun control.

All you might save is the life of another child—carelessly cut down by people who should not have guns.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trashing Trump.

Monday, February 5th, 2018

It is the new cottage industry in North America—and probably the entire world. We just need our daily fix on what is wrong with American President Donald Trump. The best laughs are at the artificial attempts to temper the tragedy by mentioning something nice about him. We were reminded of this the other day when a writer who is a student of language history told us that we might be wrong to laugh at Trump’s use and abuse of English.

The writer stunned this writer by saying that Trump is not a bad orator and that he knows how to use language to good effect. That came as a surprise.

One of the important aspects of the English language is that it is a living language and it continues to change at a remarkable pace.

But when you describe Trump as an orator, is that with or without a teleprompter? Is if from a prepared text or is it off the cuff? And what mood was he in when he delivered it?

Trump’s State of the Nation address was articulate, boring, self-aggrandizing and too long. It was not Mr. Trump’s usual form. While I am sure he interfered with the writing process, it did show a professional touch.

Trump talking to his lumpen proletariat followers is another matter entirely. He loves his Lump (as I like to think of them). He uses what he thinks is their bad grammar. He repeats himself constantly. The language is gross and over the top. If he is not ignorant, then he must think his audience is.

Before writing about Trump, you really need to see how he handles his rallies. He reminds me of the line in the old Brit sea shanty: We’ll rant and we’ll roar like true British sailors.

Trump’s Lump are a broad spectrum of America. They are older in Florida than they are in Ohio. They chant “Lock her up” about Hillary Clinton with equal enthusiasm. You could be at a Sunday morning prayer meeting if the guy up front was not a well-known non-believer, misogynist and philanderer.

My favourites in Trump’s Lump are the bikers, American Nazis, gun enthusiasts from the NRA and holly rollers who share his xenophobic view of the world. Those religious right love Trump and their fellow church goers—as long as they are white.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump follows the formula.

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

That did not need to be the real Donald Trump addressing Americans the other evening. The State of the Nation address is now down to a formula that a trained monkey could handle if you just dubbed in the usual clichés and platitudes. I spent the obligatory hour and 20 minutes wondering if Hillary Clinton would have read, at least the first half, differently?

Clinton would have made the same entrance: the crowd scene around the entranceway; people leaning down to shake hands; pointing to someone in the crowd and waving; the obligatory time to finally get to the podium. And what was all the applause about? Did they think the presidential cavalcade could not find the Congress?

Luckily, the teleprompters were in place. There was no need for the speaker to also think. The words were simple. The media were ready with their tally sheets to check off the standing ovations.

Trump launched almost immediately into his American heroes who were strategically placed in the hall. Why somebody thought it a good idea to embarrass these people further by introducing them is beyond us. It at least provides a break and a stretch—and is listed as another standing ovation.

While there were the usual trite offers of bipartisanship offered, this was Mr. Trump’s night and he was not about to let anyone forget it.

I liked the line about the old tax system being broken. Are not all of them broken? That feeling soon passed as we suffered through the tax-cut heroes. That was worse than expected.

The hypocrisy of Trump’s exultation of “In God we trust” was bad enough but when one of his heroes that he introduced was a 12-year old who put flags on graves, it was bordering on stomach churning schmaltz.

His report on the ecology was a list of the increased carbon his administration is letting lose on the environment. It was nothing more than help for his friends in the coal business and a free rein for General Motors to pollute.

Trump stayed away from mentioning the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) but he gave no succor to concerns. I expect he and his so-called negotiators have a timeframe in mind to cancel the pact. When, we do not know. When it happens, do not be too surprised.

From there, Mr. Trump’s rant concentrated on his hate for immigrants and his love for the military. The real State of the Nation is for his citizens to handle—as best they can.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Report from the front lines of America.

Monday, January 29th, 2018

While Vassy Kapelos of Global Television was interviewing David Frum last Sunday, the wife kept asking me questions. When she asked why a Canadian would write a book about Donald Trump, I explained that he is now an American citizen, a registered Republican and worked in the White House for George W. Bush. She stopped when she heard that, as she rightly guessed that I might not be a fan.

And no, I have not read his book. I figure that in the next several years I will be able to fill a couple bookshelves with Trump tomes—all from the remainders piles at my favourite bookstore .

What intrigues me about a book by a Republican such as Frum are the positive statements as opposed to the complaints. For example; he does not think Donald Trump is stupid. He admits that there are subjects with which Trump might not concern himself and is ignorant about, but he considers him wily. And he says that Trump is more knowledgeable about his powers as President than he reveals.

Frum is very concerned though about the damage that Trump is doing to American institutions. He is worried about the damage already done to the Department of Justice and the immature direction of the military. Americans who think that things could be worse have yet to face their comeuppance.

The essence of Frum’s book is that Donald Trump is doing damage to the American Democracy. Trump, the autocrat, is not what Americans wanted in the White House. Frum blames the ‘appeasers’ and the ‘enablers’ from his own Republican Party who ‘keep Trump afloat.’

It is surprising to see that instead of criticizing Trump’s xenophobia, Frum appears to agree with his fear of people from other countries and his anti-immigration stance. It is hard to believe Frum has said openly that he considers people to be racist by nature.

Trump’s xenophobic view of the world includes close neighbours such as Canada and Mexico. Combine that attitude with a complete lack of understanding of how trade with other countries contributes to the economy and Frum sees Trump pulling the plug on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at any time.

Frum was positive in the interview that there are forces for balance emerging to offset Trump.  I guess they just need to move more rapidly.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Walls of NAFTA.

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

There is more than one wall to consider when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiators meet in Montreal this week. The wall that the negotiations is creating between Canada and the United States of America is just as serious as the wall of ignorance President Trump wants to build against Mexico. The difference is that Trump thinks he is manipulating Canada and all he is doing is creating a lasting ill will between countries long known for their friendship.

In a situation as serious as NAFTA, we started with denial. We launched into the negotiations with a Pollyanna perspective. We thought that the wannabe President in Washington would talk tough but negotiate. He seems to have no intention of that. He is threatening to take his ball and his bat home and the game is over.

The clauses we felt could be improved in the agreement where brought up. We thought it would show our willingness to negotiate. We were pointedly ignored. Instead, clauses were proposed by the Trump minions that gave America the clear edge and all the power. They included a ridiculous leverage on a high percentage of automobile assembly and an automatic five-year cancellation—unless stayed. This is not negotiation, this is demanding.

The feeling is that the U.S. negotiators might not make it through a winter week in Montreal. For that matter, the Mexicans would not really want the experience either. We could have a situation where the Americans might beat the Mexicans out the door. In as much as it is Canada’s meeting, it would be awkward for us to walk out first.

But the anger Canadians have been feeling is as cold as that Arctic Vortex we have felt this winter. When that bastard Trump is not belittling Canadians and our participation in NAFTA, he is patronizing us.

Trump has been told by now to stop pushing the Canadians. He might think he can jerk the Mexicans around but they obviously need NAFTA more than the Canadians. When Trudeau did not show up in that meeting in the Philippines recently to sign off on an Asia-Pacific pact, it was obvious that he wanted it held until the NAFTA meetings either folded or were clearer.

Trudeau’s problem is that he will have lost the respect of his own people if he caves in to Trump. He is working on Plan B.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Shilling for the politicos.

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Full disclosure requires me to admit that I was a political spin doctor before I knew what a spin doctor was. I am not as proud of it as I should be. Maybe it is because I always felt embarrassed for people who claimed such expertise.

Case in point is Barbara and Murray Frum’s son David. He could never find anyone right-wing enough for him in Toronto, so David headed for the U.S. where he could be a spin doctor for President George W. Bush. The junior Bush was probably the dumbest president the U.S. had ever produced before Donald Trump. Frum proudly told anyone that he was the one who wrote the “Axis of Evil” line in George W’s State of the Union address in 2002. He even wrote a book calling George W ‘The Right Man.’

Sure, George W might have gone to Harvard and Yale, he still did the stupidest thing he could have done in going to war over some mythical weapons of mass destruction. One thing you learn early in politics is that a candidate’s education does not guarantee s/he will not do something stupid.

And being a spin doctor does not mean that you will always give the incident the right spin. I remember one evening, a Toronto Star reporter entertaining half the passengers on a full Air Canada DC9 from Ottawa lampooning a statement from me, trying to rescue the Liberal Party from embarrassment. My effort was caught on national television. Luckily, it was the unintended but amusing twist on the story that saved the day.

The problem with Frum is that he is not in the fawning clack around Donald Trump. He made it clear from the beginning that he would prefer to vote for a real politico such as Hillary Clinton.

But that sorry bunch around Donald Trump are hardly spin doctors. They are users. They are using Trump for their own agenda. They would turn on him in a second. Even the Trump progeny are referred to in the Wolff’s Fire and Fury as dim and spoiled. Trump treats his wife as arm candy and it is obvious she despises him for it.

And yet an obviously intelligent person such as Rex Tillerson remains as Secretary of State in a cabinet made up of a cluster of clowns. Is it a sense of duty to the nation that keeps him on the job? I would spin it that way.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

In Trump land, I’ll make my stand.

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

For some reason, the tune for “Dixie” was running through my mind this morning as I read of the latest exploits of U.S. President Donald Trump. We did know he was a racist—did we not? We did know he was not fit to appear in polite company—did we not? So why is everyone surprised at his latest outburst about other countries? Can he even spell ‘diplomacy’?

Maybe the Brits have the better idea. No, not the idea of lines of proper Englishmen and their ladies mooning Mr. Trump. You simply withdraw the invitation to visit the Queen. The lady has enough problems without having to put up with a clod such as Trump.

And just how many lines of copy can the writers come up with about the American President referring to some struggling countries as “shit holes”? And he sure embarrassed the Norwegians. They could not have liked the racial slur with its comparison of them.

Donald Trump could be the first American President to be declared ‘personna non grata’ in both the United Kingdom and half of Africa. Just wait until he tries to plan a holiday off-shore and the Secret Service explains that there is no place safe for him. I was thinking of the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas but you have to remember that Ismaili leader is a Muslim. Good luck on that!

The most disturbing after-shock of Mr. Trump’s racist rants are the mentally ill who consider his words as license for random attacks on people who might be Muslim. It must have been a very slow news day the other day when it was reported that man took after a child’s hijab with a pair of scissors. It turned out that the incident was just a child’s cry to not be seen as different. Yet, the attack made it all the way to  national and international news feeds. We now hear it was fake news

And we are blaming it all on Trump. He is telling his ignorant mob that it is alright to act out your racist tendencies. He is playing to the dregs of North American society with his ongoing racism. His Mexican wall continues to enrage Latinos as well as other clear-thinking Americans.

Next thing we know, Mr. Trump will have removed the New Colossus plaque from the Statue of Liberty. Trump has perverted the sonnet by Emma Lazarus for all the world to ridicule. He has extinguished “the lamp beside the golden door.”

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

No, no Oprah!

Friday, January 12th, 2018

The people advising Oprah Winfrey about going into politics seem to have as little knowledge about politics as does Donald Trump. We have seen many of these dilettantes over the years and experience says that no good comes of it.

And at this stage, Donald Trump can supply most of the reasons why not. A campaign for the American Democrat or Republican nomination for president is a year out of your life that you will always want back. And since Trump never believed he would win, it was a shallow and frustrating year that culminated in the shock of winning.

The only pleasure gained in that year was the adulation of the Trump camp followers. It was hard to tell if Trump found his voters or they found him. We laughed at his bikers. We made jokes about his holy rollers, the Tea Party and the American Gothic farmers. He gathered all those losers around him like a Messiah preaching to the multitude.

He had few delusions of their adjustment to the realities of life—but they loved him. He still goes back to that campaigning mode with those lumpen proletariat. They are so suited to each other.

The point is Ms. Winfrey, you lack the right followers. The housewives who watched you on daytime television are not all Democrats. Some of them are just lazy Republicans. You might have spoken well to the feelings of your peers in Hollywood last weekend. You might have dazzled your audience across the nation but your most important audience had more important things to do than tuning in to a self-congratulatory Hollywood love fest.

The people you need to be talking to today are the political apparatchiks who saw clips the next day and smiled knowingly. Nobody is saying that your heart is not in the right place or that you are dreaming in technicolour. Sure, it is doable. You can overcome the baggage you carry. You can likely raise the millions needed. You still have time to get out on the backroads of America and win the support needed. You are able to study the questions and develop the strategies. The remaining question is; are you ready to give up the life with which you are comfortable?

A campaign requires tireless dedication. You forego privacy and personal life. You learn to say what the listener wants to hear. Unlike Mr. Trump, you would learn the words of diplomacy. You would come into the job, still eager and vital. You would leave four or eight years later grey and drawn. You go into the job to do what is right and proper. When you leave, you can be proud to have kept the peace.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Tales of the Trump White House.

Friday, January 5th, 2018

The Brits have a saying that no gentleman is a hero to his valet. And in politics, all the apparatchik insiders are a form of valet. The politician has to hire carefully and fire even more carefully. We all have a book in us.

As Donald Trump has none of the instincts of a politician, we can observe that in his run up to the presidency he hired carelessly and fired casually. A case in point is senior strategist Stephen Bannon. The past and again head of Brietbart News, Bannon seems to be the hero in a tell-all book on the Trump Presidency by writer Michael Wolff.

Why Trump gave access to the White House to Wolff, is just another chapter in the incompetence of Donald Trump. Why he allied himself, even briefly, with Bannon, is another story. It seems Bannon still loves Trump but Trump seems to lack the same enthusiasm for his once confidant.

The good news is that all the juicy parts of the book are being broadcast by the news media and it will save us the time and expense of acquiring and reading the book.

Not that there is much new in the book. For a deputy chief of staff to say that dealing with Trump is like dealing with the whims of a child does not surprise us. Trump is childlike in his attention span and his choices.

What is causing the most consternation in the white House are the writer’s allegations against Donald Trump Junior. The claims that Junior was involved in negotiations with the Russians during the presidential campaign is going to have the FBI scurrying around to check out the story. The fact that Wolff claims Bannon fed him this story seems to make it less credible than more.

I particularly liked the excerpts about Melanie Trump. She so obviously hates her husband, it is easy to understand her reluctance to be trapped with him in the White House. The denials by her spokesperson are lame.

Maybe for a few days Trump will tweet vociferously about Bannon and the book but soon they will find him a new toy. If you really want to have a copy of the book, you will probably be able to buy it on the remainders shelf in the next six months. There will be more books about Trump out by then.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump’s Terrific Triumph?

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

We have been told that U.S. President Donald Trump wants to have another inauguration this month. This time he wants a proper count of all his supporters out in the cold of Washington and a second chance to do things right. This is despite all those writers who have summed Mr. Trump’s first year as a terrific triumph.

Even a writer as sedate as John Ibbitson of the Toronto Globe and Mail thinks President Trump ended 2017 as a winner. He actually believes that Trump has done a fine job of screwing things up. We do get the impression that Mr. Ibbitson is not a Trump fan.

But we are not giving Ibbitson high marks for humour. He seems serious when he says that Trump’s predecessors had built an orderly world since the Second World War and Mr. Trump is busy wrecking it. It might help if Mr. Ibbitson got out of his pajamas, went outside and looked around. If he can find this orderly world that Trump’s predecessors created at such great supposed expense to Americans, good luck to him.

Frankly, the fact that Trump has got this far into his presidency without starting a war is one hell of an accomplishment. If you just ignore his nocturnal twits, you might even think the guy is more peace loving than both of the Bushs—father and son.

And for Ibbitson to suggest that Trump has pushed America’s allies into spending more on defence has it backwards. They are under the impression that they need to improve their defenses against the U.S.A. With someone as erratic as Donald Trump, there is no telling what he might do as Commander-in-Chief.

The Globe and Mail writer seems to miss that point that what Trump does not understand, he does not like. Take the economics of trade. Trump called off American participation in the Trans-Pacific Pact without bothering to ask the experts. And he has no concept of the US$17 trillion in trade flowing between the three North American countries. All three countries benefit. Trump does not understand that the American economy will be hit the hardest if he cancels NAFTA.

What Trump really wants is longer holidays. He goes up and down the east coast staying at one or the other of his golf resorts. He actually gets the American people to pay out millions to his companies so that he can recuperate from the ardors of being President. He might be the only U.S. President that profits on the taxpayers’ generosity—and gullibility.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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