Archive for the ‘American Politics’ Category

Americans bomb Bombardier.

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and the prime ministers of both the United Kingdom and Canada are furious and have spoken out angrily about the proposed 219.6 per cent duty on Bombardier planes purchased by Delta Airlines. This is a direct and brutal attack on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and on the very existence of an aircraft industry anywhere other than in the United States.

Mr. Trump has found a way to make America great again—all he thinks he has to do is beggar his neighbours.

With the completion last Wednesday of the Ottawa round of NAFTA negotiations, it is now obvious that the Americans are not bargaining in good faith. They have laid out no expectations for the more contentious issues. While publicly stating that the 62.5 per cent American content on automoniles is not good enough, there does not seem to have been information received by Canada or Mexico on a way to increase American content, or if it is even possible under NAFTA.

It is the same problem with Canada’s supply management in agriculture. Without some indication as to what they want, Canadians are left with President Trump’s ranting about milk and cheese. The problem is that Mr. Trump is totally ignorant about Canada’s approach to this and his NAFTA negotiators seem to have no direction.

It is obvious that the American negotiators were blind-sided by the Bombardier ruling as much the Canadians. It is hardly a simple duty charge when you increase the purchase price by as much as three times. It is as much to say as ‘Get out and stay out.’ Why the American negotiators did not go back to Washington and resign does not speak well for their moral fibre.

Mind you, the Canadian and Mexican negotiators and their political bosses share the problem. The serious question is can diplomacy work when you are dealing with an blow-hard such as President Trump. He does not speak ‘diplomacy.’ The only language Mr. Trump seems to understand are the spread sheets of the financial managers who did the funding of his grandiose development projects.

If I were in Justin Trudeau’s or Chrystia Freeland’s shoes, I would go to New York and talk to bankers who funded some of Trump’s better projects. They might learn how to communicate with the son of a bitch.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

It will be news when Trump says it is.

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

For the longest time, Americans have been struggling with the concept of ‘Fake News.’ Is it fake if Donald Trump says it is fake? Or is it fake because Donald Trump says it? And if you are puzzled by the nuance between those two questions, you have a problem.

In fact, it is more of a moral disaster. It is something like the first time you heard him talk about ‘Corrupt Hillary.’ You were not sure you heard right. You waited to hear him explain what he was talking about. You waited to hear him offer some proof. It was a description of his opponent that he was unqualified to make. The arrogant bastard believed it.

And Trump’s claque loved it. They did not just believe but they wanted to believe. And in the dying days of that awful election campaign, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as much as said it was true—and it pushed the election over the edge for Trump. It was the most egregious harm ever done to a major political candidate in a democratic nation.

It is the realization that Donald Trump does not care what he says that is the most awful revelation. This man is sitting in the most powerful office in the world and he keeps testing its limits. With a majority in both houses of the Congress, he is getting the strongest blowback from his own party.

He is a child-man who sets his own agenda. He ignores what he cannot influence. He ignores the needs of hurricane damaged American cities until forced to go “look” at the problems. The racist pointedly ignores 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico who were in the path of disaster.

This is a man who needs constant reassurance. He uses election rallies even after his election to bolster his ego. He can tell these people anything and they cheer him on. He hires people to tell him what to do and he regularly ignores them. He goes to the United Nations and spews hatred. He is a racist who builds walls against people.

Trump fails to understand that fair trade with other countries means a give and take. He thinks it is the tough guy who wins.

The good news in all of this is that Americans are tiring of Trump. They are tired of his antics, his bigotry, his childishness, his ignorance, his misogyny his narcissism, his racism and his tantrums. And the best news is that many people who supported him in 2016 are now hedging their bets. Mr. Trump is going to be a one term phenomenon—if we can just be patient.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Use child psychology on Mr. Trump.

Friday, September 29th, 2017

This is a bit of advice for our world leaders. It is very simple. It is not even difficult. It is the realization that we have been mishandling the president of the United States. We have been erroneously treating him as an adult. He does not seem to want to be treated as an adult.

We will leave the pinning down of the exact age to the people with the advanced degrees but we expect that Mr. Trump has an emotional age of somewhere between 6 and 12. Mind you, in his relationships with women, it is doubtful that he has even been weaned yet.

But it came to us the other day when the gentleman in question was flaming tweets at the National Football League. It was beyond the president’s comprehension that an athlete might have a better way to respect the American national anthem. Kneeling seems to be a very devout way to recognize the importance of the anthem. And yet, our so very patriotic Mr. Trump gets into a tantrum about it. He wants those athletes fired.

Team owners—whom those same athletes make filthy rich—are not about to fire them. Some of those guys are going out and showing solidarity with their athletes. There are also those joining in on the juvenile practice of tweeting back at the president.

The athletes caught in the middle are the Pittsburgh Penguins. Since they are a hockey team made up mainly of Canadians, they cannot be seen to disrespect the American anthem. And kneeling on ice is not a good idea anyway. Besides, the team captain, Sid Crosby, a Canadian, has been hit on the head too often this past season and had to promise to stay out of fights.

That is why Sid and the boys are being invited to go to the White House to have a play date with Donnie Trump.

The mistake that Mr. Trump has been making is that he has failed to have his little friend, Kim Jong Un in North Korea, over for a play date. The two of them could spend some happy time together comparing the size and power of of their rockets.

It could give an entirely new meaning and scope to foreign relations.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Is NAFTA circling the drain?

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

You always assume there is hope as long as negotiations continue—as they are for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) this week in Ottawa. The only problem is that the negotiators are not the decision makers. The final solution rests with an incompetent occupant in the White House. And you should not try to confront that gentleman with facts.

Mr. Trump promised his voting claque that he would dump NAFTA. While economists might reason that pulling out of NAFTA could destroy the American economy, his claque does not understand that. And many, if they did comprehend, would not care. To them, a pyrrhic victory is still a victory.

It is the same attitude as led to the self-destructive BREXIT in the United Kingdom. People who vote in anger often live to regret it.

But those NAFTA negotiators continue to pontificate as they enjoy the fine cuisine in Ottawa. The least involved are the Mexican participants who have serious concerns about the conditions they left behind in and around Mexico City. As the world comes to their aid after the devastating earthquake, one wonders when the American and Canadian aid is coming?

And we can really be puzzled at Canadian cabinet members who naively think this negotiation can be about environmental issues. Do they really think that Mr. Trump gives a damn? This is the climate-change denier who reopened the Appalachian coal mines to make his billionaire friends richer.

You have to hand it to the American negotiators. These people are going through the motions as though they mean it. There will be no complaints from Congress and the Washington clique over their efforts. One of the surprises is they might really drive a wedge between the Canadians and the Mexicans. If they can keep the Canadians on-side in forcing the Mexicans to equalize wages (with the southern U.S. at least), it could go a long way to stopping the steady drain of labour-intensive production south to Mexico.

The problem though dear friends is that the entire exercise is nothing but an interesting review of the concerns. We can hardly deny that some changes are needed but Mr. Trump does not care what we think. None of the changes proposed by Canada or Mexico will happen. The American negotiators are more interested in what they can possibly bully the other two countries into.

And the future of NAFTA will only be decided around the Resolute desk in the Oval Office.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Who’s crazy?

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Interesting editorial cartoon the other day. It is of Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. The North Korean leader is shown pulling a child’s wagon with a small rocket on it put together with tape. The American president has an array of rockets behind him and he is wearing a straight jacket. The balloon of words coming from Trump are “If it isn’t the crazy Rocket Man!”

Luckily editorial cartoonists have far more leeway in lampooning people than do writers. It is assumed that nobody takes editorial cartoons too seriously. In as much as Donald Trump is still running loose and as it seems no psychiatrist has been able to conduct the appropriate studies, questioning and observations of his narcissistic tendencies, we still should not refer to him as a flaming nutcase.

Mind you, that did not seem to bother the Iranian leader who gave what was considered a quite restrained speech the next day about the extremist tendencies of the American president. The elderly gentleman did seem affronted by Mr. Trump’s ill-considered words about the Iranian accord.

But the entire episode does give us an opportunity to sort of think inside the mental health centre. First of all, Kim Jong Un might not be all that important. He seems to be nothing more than a willing playmate of the generals who actually run his country. For Mr. Trump to goad the little putz is just plain silly.

It is what Mr. Trump is doing to the American Dream in the rest of the world that is far more serious. Many countries who used to respect America are aghast at what they are hearing. Being the world leader gives the U.S. a long way to fall and it could have serious consequences economically as well as in world-wide prestige.

To make matters even worse, Mr. Trump is a nasty neighbour. His racist, mistreatment of Mexico along with the ignorance of his foolish wall are long going to be remembered by America’s southern neighbour. And if Trump does not realize the consequences of cancelling the North American Free Trade Agreement, somebody had better tell him. He could launch a recession that would rival the one in the ‘Dirty Thirties.’

That will sure make America great again!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

How’s the kitchen coming Chrystia?

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Though not sure if the analogy of NAFTA negotiations being like renovating a kitchen comes from Canada’s foreign minister, by now she would disown the quote anyway. After meetings in Washington and in Mexico City, it is obvious that the discussions of North America’s trade agreements are going nowhere. By the time the three amigo countries get together in Ottawa there is likely to be a fist fight.

It seems that nobody is in a position to save this screw-up. History is going to have to remember Donald Trump as a master of disaster. He has sent American negotiators on an impossible task. They really cannot win agreement from people by constantly abusing them. The Mexicans are certainly mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore.

Canada is hardly going to allow our dairy farmers to be screwed the same way American dairy farmers are routinely bankrupted. And that fixed smirk on the face of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when people mention Trump is starting to look like a death mask. The Mexicans are already pissed by Trump’s racist insults and his stupid wall.

But the Mexicans are also becoming annoyed with Canada. While the U.S. delegates simply scoff at Freeland’s environmental protection and balanced labour suggestions, the Mexican’s saw it as an attack on their labour-cost advantage. This is a three-way, two against one negotiation, when both Canada and Mexico could use an ally. Instead, they are all talking and nobody is listening.

There is no rule that says we have to resolve these questions this year or even three years from now. It would certainly be nice to find a faster solution to the softwood lumber dispute and Canada might have to apply some tit-for-tat tariffs if Trump thinks he can just ignore the existing treaties.

But an angry American Congress might have something to say if Trump tries to end NAFTA. Congress is confident that only it has the authority to accept or reject country to country treaties when the U.S. is one of the parties.

The one thing the three countries might agree on is that NAFTA needs some adjustments after a quarter century. It just cannot be as one-sided as Mr. Trump thinks it should be.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

By Jingo, by Trump.

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

That little putz with the freaky haircut who fronts for the North Korean generals is likely to lose his idiot smirk. American President Donald Trump seems to have run out of patience, out of diplomatic options, out of allies and out of restraint. He might just do what American General Douglas MacArthur wanted to do—turn that poor, benighted country into a bombed out putting green.

But General MacArthur had the same problem as faces Accidental President Trump. North Korea is tucked into the armpit of Manchuria and the Chinese keep a few armies on alert there. How you keep the dust of war from blowing across the border is a worrisome point with all concerned.

To be fair, Trump did exhort the Chinese President to bring his yappy little dog in North Korea to heel. To make the Chinese President lose face because he cannot get the yappy little dog to heel is not the smart thing to do.

It is even dumber to get the United Nations to sanction any country that continues to trade with North Korea. Since 90 per cent of North Korea’s trade is with the Peoples’ Republic of China, he has again pissed off the Chinese.

And in annoying the Chinese, he has opened a door for the Russians. Vladimir Putin is quite amused by the antics of the North Koreans. President Trump seems to be very adept at keeping his friend Vladimir amused.

But Trump is keeping uncharacteristically quiet about North Korea at the moment. All he is telling the media is that they should wait and see. That is something like waiting for the end of the world and not being sure if it will be Thursday or Friday.

Trump is probably getting all kinds of advice from the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom. Hopefully all of these generals and admirals and senior diplomats have warned him about the consequences of launching world-wide nuclear war. It is easy to start but very hard to stop.

Trump’s problem is that there is only one scenario for him to get that sailor who follows him around with a briefcase to give him the nuclear codes. If the North Koreans send a nuclear-armed missile at Guam, Japan, South Korea or the American west coast, Trump would be justified to remove the threat. Otherwise he should give his little thumbs a rest from Twitter and ignore North Korea. It is not yet his problem.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump’s nepotism confounds Palestinians.

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

American President Donald Trump seems to revel in trying to do things the hard way. He has added his own version of a Children’s Crusade to the peace process in the Middle East. To nobody’s surprise, what did not work in 13th Century does not seem to be working in the 21st Century.

You can easily imagine Donald Trump’s mental process as he worked his way through this one. He needed someone to fix the mess in the Middle East. He needed someone he could trust and who knew what was going on in the Middle East. Who better than his son-in-law, who just happens to be Jewish. (Yes, that really is the way the guy thinks.)

Jared Kushner is one of those people in real estate who plays Monopoly with real buildings. His family company bought 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City for a highly leveraged US$1.8 billion in 2008, just before the crash. The bail-out almost took him out of the game but he managed to marry Ivanka Trump—daddy’s darling daughter—the following year.

He must have impressed his father-in-law with either his three off-spring or his ability to type with his thumbs because he took over the Internet operations for the Trump campaign in 2016. Trump seems to be unwilling to recognize Jared’s involvement in meetings with the Russians during the campaign but still appointed him as ‘Senior’ Advisor to the President, once Trump was in office.

It is the Palestinians who seem the most disappointed with this stage of the peace negotiations. They even seem unclear as to exactly what young Mr. Kushner is trying to sell. As one Palestinian academic put it, there seems a holding game going on. It is not exactly clear what Mr. Kushner wants. He neither understands the situation in the Middle East nor does he seem to have any fix in mind.

The good news is that the Israeli’s do not give a damn. They are quite willing to welcome Mr. Kushner to the Middle East. In as much as Donald trump took a strong pro-Israeli stand during his campaign, the Jewish state is not inclined to object. Maybe they can sell the young man some Israeli bonds or his own tree—or what the hay—he could sponsor a forest.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump marches up the Khyber Pass.

Friday, August 25th, 2017

You sure cannot tell President Donald Trump anything. He must have missed the opportunity to read Rudyard Kipling as a child or he would have known the futility of sending troops up the Khyber Pass. The Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan and Pakistan have feasted on the rations of foreign troops heading for Afghanistan for hundreds of years.

Opium poppy growers to the world, Afghanistan is fertilized with the blood of troops who thought a tour there would be easy. In a land where you cannot tell friend from foe, everyone is your enemy, and the dusty roads all lead to your death.

Americans have been in Afghanistan for 16 years and still cannot find the exit. Mr. Trump must be listening to the wrong generals. His first instinct in regards to the country was to get American troops out of Dodge. Now he has a strategy that is so secret that he has not even told it to the generals whom he expects will implement his plan for him.

His plan is to only kill terrorists. He is then going to force the Taliban to the bargaining table and expects them to be good citizens and cooperate in running the country. What is really ‘new’ about this is a good question.

Trump also expects his NATO allies to join him in sending more troops to Afghanistan. He wisely did not specify a number. Canada and France are the only two major NATO members that are not currently doing any training or other support work there. If Trump’s people ever send a formal request for more troops to Ottawa and Paris, they can expect a great deal of double talk but little in the way of cooperation.

Trump’s biggest concern is America’s titular ally Pakistan. There is a seamless border for Taliban and various terrorists to pass back and forth from the combat zone to Pakistan to where they can rest and replenish their supplies with impunity. Trump’s suggestion that he might try to get India involved was waving a red flag to India, China and Iran. And what the Pakistanis would think of that suggestion would not be printable.

Give Trump some credit though; he did not suggest that he was staying in Afghanistan to promote democracy and the American way.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Justin Trudeau doesn’t have the chops.

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

It is often amusing when Canadian writers try to compare Prime Minister Trudeau with American President Trump. They seem to think that Justin Trudeau has been understudying for his current role all his life, while Donald Trump is an accidental politician and is only now learning that the job requires some serious time and attention.

What most observers do not see is that Trudeau is the dilettante. He is not as adept as Trump would be if the American ever exercised some discipline.

Trudeau is the bugle boy without the chops. Trump is the bully boy, angered at his own clumsiness. And it hardly helps that Trump is almost twice Trudeau’s age.

They are both products of their families. Trump honoured his father by taking over the family development business and carrying on in his sire’s tradition. Only at his father’s funeral did we realize that Justin had political ambitions. And only when we first saw him working political gatherings did we see the future of those ambitions.

There is no suggestion that Justin is like his father. He is not. He is definitely his mother’s son. Trump’s father must have been a mean son-of-a-bitch because his son so easily earns that sobriquet.

The Trudeau-Trump relationship is another matter. It is unlikely that either of them likes the other. Trudeau is probably very wary of Trump and inclined to stay away from him. Trump would see the Canadian as a pretty boy and an easy mark. If he had a building to sell, he would offer Trudeau an option.

But Trump’s assumptions about Trudeau and his government are wrong when it comes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). His bullying tactics hardly fit negotiations such as are required in international trade agreements. This is not a contest to see who can negotiate the best deal for their country. It is to see if they can negotiate a deal that can be sold to the citizens of the countries involved. Trade negotiations have to be win-win. Trump does not understand that.

And what Trump hardly understands is that he cannot threaten to dump NAFTA, like he did again the other evening in Phoenix, and then expect his negotiating team to do their job properly.

Trump shows his lack of self-confidence with his repeated campaign-type rallies. He just keeps on making Trudeau look good by comparison.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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