Archive for the ‘World Politics’ Category

Trudeau’s terrific travels!

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Canadians sure get full measure when they send their prime minister on a personal appearance tour. He did more in two days in New York than most rock stars can do in a week.  The British prime minister and that New Yorker who currently occupies the Washington White House were also in town but the young guy from Canada got the star treatment.

Trudeau must have planned to arrive after Trump’s speech which was smart. Nobody could have matched the hyperbole and B.S. of that Donald Trump classic. It was over the top, overdone, over dramatic and dreadful diplomacy. Trump took the U.S. to depths of dishonour not seen in the United Nations forum since Nikita Khrushchev took off his shoe and banged it on his desk to show his displeasure.

But after a day of special appearances and being lionized, Trudeau showed up at the United Nations. This is the world’s forum. He had this golden opportunity to tell the world of his thoughts and dreams. He could have followed the American president and the British prime minister with a balance of logic and reason, peace and temperance, love and understanding.

Instead, our nit-wit PM blew it!

What egotistical brain fart led him to devote his speech to Canadians’ historical crapping on their own indigenous peoples? What made our rock-star prime minister think these world diplomats give a damn? Most of them have a rooms in their palaces for their own shames. They hardly need to hear chapter and verse on our failings.

What you do, Mr. Prime Minister, is admit your failings and move on. Nor do you try to hide those failings and let them be used against you.

But there are problems in the world that need to be addressed in this world forum. Are we to leave the North Korean problem to a sabre-rattling incompetent in Washington? Cannot Canada take a role in helping the people in the Caribbean who have had the ground washed out from under them? Where is the promised plan for Canada to help with world peacekeeping? World trade is being endangered by a nincompoop in the White House and someone has to take a stand for reason.

Are you not afraid Mr. Prime Minister that those screaming kids at the We Meeting the day before will find out you are a coward?

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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

French fuss over makeup for Macron?

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

In France, they are fussing over the cost of makeup and makeup artists to keep their new president Emmanuel Macron looking good for his public appearances. If they had any idea what it cost Canadians for the Harper hair and makeup during his regime as Canada’s prime minister, they would consider Macron’s costs reasonable.

The difference is that Emmanuel Macron is good looking to begin with. The French president is only 39 and his hairline requires no serious augmentation. In contrast, Stephen Harper was 46 when he became prime minister of Canada and there was a period when freelance makeup artists had to be tested and as the French are seeing, that is when costs are particularly high.

Harper’s solution to the problem was Michelle Muntean from CTV who served as his personal hair, makeup and clothes advisor during most of the time he was prime minister. The standard joke was that she was the reason he was always late for group pictures at world meetings.

But Canadians never did get the total cost picture as the French are getting. The Prime Minister’s Office and the parliamentary budget office stonewalled requests for information all the way. Yet, there is every reason to expect that the French figures are low in comparison. The bill for the first three months for President Macron was claimed to be 26,000 euros (about C$37,000). The rates always go up on deliveries to the Elysée.

This will be much lower when they decide on a permanent staff member to handle the task. In Canada, the story was that the Conservative Party paid Ms. Muntean’s salary. Taxpayers were definitely on the hook for her expenses when travelling around the world with the PM.

It was Ms. Muntean’s efforts that earned Stephen Harper the nickname ‘The Hair.’ His hairpiece and his real hair were lacquered to his head like a helmet. He never went on television without his eyes defined with eyeliner and a delicate blush on his cheeks to prevent a lighting glint.

And I cannot even imagine the cost of hair dos and makeup for U.S. President Donald Trump.

It was later in my lifetime that I found that young men in search of female companionship are also wearing makeup. And this is at a time when the improved quality of television cameras is saving those of us with healthy skin from having to wear makeup during casual TV appearances.

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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

In Beautiful Barcelona.

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Barcelona is one of the finest cities for tourism in Europe. Its excellent hotels, broad boulevards and beautiful buildings also provide an excellent venue for international meetings and conferences. In the time I spent in Spain, the Spanish earned my deep respect for their civility, industriousness and kindness. It is to be regretted though that I have still failed to bring myself to eat Valencian Paella.

It was when at a conference in Barcelona back in the 1970s that I met an American diplomat, Shirley Temple Black. She had recently been named ambassador to Ghana.

It was at the conference, the wife and I were heading out to lunch one day at a nice little café we had found. We were to meet there with some of the Australian and British delegates to the conference. We were going through the lobby when we stopped to talk to Shirley. She seemed to be at loose ends so we invited her to join us. She ended up having a wonderful time at the lunch as it turned out that the café owner was a huge fan of the movies Shirley was in during her childhood.

I mention this by way of noting that Shirley’s career in foreign service was based on her being a Republican. Her foreign service career seemed to skip along from Richard Nixon to Gerald Ford to Ronald Regan and finally to George H. Bush. These and many others are the types of appointments that the Trump administration has been unable to get to. And while there were the expected jokes about Shirley’s appointments, no Secretary of State was ever embarrassed by her efforts on behalf of the U.S.A. We were sorry to learn of her passing several years ago.

What I do not admire in one of the few appointments made by the Trump White House is that of Ambassador to Canada. That is the appointment of Kelly Knight Craft. Her husband Joe Kraft III donated one million to his fellow billionaire’s presidential campaign. In return, he got his coal mines re-opened to speed global warming and his 55-year old wife sent to Ottawa.

Should Canadians feel insulted?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Can a prince quit being a prince?

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Wearing a bowler hat and a trench coat, the Windsor’s Prince Philip walked off into the sunset recently.  You would suppose that scene should be followed by the words “Cut” and “Print” but is that how it happens? He might be 96 and well past his prime but is that how you do it?

Maybe Philip wants to open a seniors’ royal old-age home. If he is not willing to do his duties cutting ribbons at supermarket openings, does he have to move out of the royal’s palaces? Or does his 91-year old wife continue to support him? After all, she has been sitting on the Throne of Westminster for 65 years now and you would think the royal bum would be a bit sore.

And that means that Charles, Prince of Wales, at 68, is already a senior citizen. Is Philip setting an example for him? If Philip can step away from his royal duties, cannot Charles join him? It solves the problem of all those monarchists who want Bill and Kate and their cute kids to take over Buckingham Palace.

If they had a Commonwealth wide vote on it, Bill and Kate would win hands down. It is a pity that the monarchy does not work that way.

But then if a monarchy worked the way their subjects wanted it to, then it would not be a real monarchy, would it?

And frankly, I believe that modern democracy and monarchy are incompatible concepts. In Canada, the monarchy is a silly anachronism, left to fester by politicians afraid for themselves if the citizens ever demanded a proper constitution.

Canada is one of the few countries in the world wherein the citizens have had so little say in how their country is governed. From the time when the United Empire Loyalists fled north from the American Revolution, we have been pandering to the British monarchy.

It is interesting to append that with the thought that the one time we had a say on our constitution was on Conservative Prime Minister Mulroney’s foolish Charlottetown Accord that was supported by the Liberal Opposition. Canadians said “No.”

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Trump Technique.

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

The media were all atwitter the other day when they got some leaked transcripts from the White House of conversations President Trump had with other countries’ leaders. They got them and did not understand them. They did not seem to understand the technical term for the technique he was using; it is called B.B.S. (Better B.S.)

The American news media have never had to deal with anyone such as Trump in the White House. They do not understand a street fighter at his level of operations. He is a con man who has made a few billion. (Which means he knows his way with B.B.S.)

To accomplish what he has over his 70 years, you have to start by admitting that Mr. Trump is pretty damn good at this B.B.S. business. Does it really matter that he is vain, vulgar, erratic and has the attention span of a gerbil? He is using B.B.S. on the media, on his followers, on Twitter and now with people such as the President of Mexico.

What Mr. Trump does not want is his followers to know is that there is no way, short of war, he can get Mexico to pay for his stupid wall. The first thing he wants President. Peña Nieto to do is to shut up about who is paying for the damn wall. The second thing he wants is for Mexico and the U.S.A. to ally themselves against those jerks up in Canada. It is the old divide and conquer technique. As a developer, Mr. Trump has been using it for years.

So, he tells the Mexican that the Canadian Prime Minister is a nobody, a wus and not important. He implies that the Americans and the Mexicans can make short work of the Canadians and then solve all the problems with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between them.

Can you not just see the President of Mexico sitting in his office in Mexico City and listening to this developer’s B.B.S. He probably put in a call right after to Ottawa and said “Justin, you’re not going to believe the horse shit I just heard from that old fart in Washington.”

There is no question that President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau are going to take that silly old fart to the cleaners!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Harry says nobody wants the crown!

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

That was the good news the other day. In an interview with American Newsweek Magazine, Prince Harry of the House of Windsor said that nobody in the royal family really aspires to being King or Queen. What Harry probably meant was that it would be unseemly for any royal to want the crown while it is still firmly on the head of his grandmother Elizabeth II.

There is no question but that the role of monarch is a rather onerous duty but nobody thought to ask Harry (fifth in line for the throne) if he would refuse it. It is not likely. With the crown goes enormous responsibility for the royal estates, properties, race horses and the wealth to support it all. The British monarch is the chair of the board that oversees it all.

And bear in mind that the very fact of that monarchy returns handsomely to the United Kingdom in terms of tourism, prestige and connections with the world-wide Commonwealth. Nurturing those connections is a part of the job.

Countries such as Canada have no need for the connections with the monarchy today but the vestige of the monarchy is still used by the country’s governments and politicians as a link to the past. While a contentious connection in Quebec, it also has its political uses there.

The reason why the remarks by the prince were noteworthy was the use he made of them to sell the need for the continuance of the monarchy. He noted that it was what happened to his mother with her untimely death that changed the monarchy for all time. Buckingham Palace was put into a fast response mode when it was awakened to learn of the her death in Paris.

It mattered so little the anger of the princess’ brother. A twelve-year-old boy and his older brother had to walk behind the casket of their mother for the entire world to see. Even Buckingham Palace turned out. The palace had realized that you either humanized the monarchy or lost place in history. The cold, brittle, cloistered monarchy of Queen Victoria could no longer survive. The stiff upper lip of the proper Brit needed to be aired.

While the Commonwealth only looks on at this new monarchy, little understanding the changes, it is desperately needed at this time to try to keep the United Kingdom united. The Brexit argument continues for the U.K. and with it any hope for the future.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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