Archive for the ‘World Politics’ Category

It’s Barnum and Bailey Time.

Monday, February 24th, 2020

It’s pandemic, it’s frightening, it’s Barnum and Bailey Time. The circus has come to rescue politics from crushing boredom. In America, in Canada and around the world, the clowns, the aerialists, the lion tamers and the bareback riders are doing their stuff in the realm of politics. And it is the World-Wide Web that rules.

Whether it is by blogging, or Facebook, or twitting, or using YouTube, we have the power. We have the power to inform or to misinform. To lead and to mislead. And we should be afraid. Be very afraid. The crazies can use that power against us.

This occurred to me on the weekend as the democrats gathered in Las Vegas to play craps with the future of America. And Michael Bloomberg was there to try to convince the party that their best hope is a billionaire, former republican from New York. And the democrats gathered around the craps table to see if Bloomberg could roll his point. He spent millions on the effort and he lost. Why would America want another braggart and billionaire to fear.

But you can hardly point to the Americans as the fools. The rest of the world have their own circus acts. Here in Ontario, we have that dumb-ass Doug Ford wasting millions in taxpayers’ dollars to learn how a province is run. If he bankrupts us in the process, of what value will be his knowledge?

And speaking of learning, Canada has a prime minister who has also been learning on the job. So far, without much success. He plays at Mr. Dress-Up, he looks better in grease paint. And how do you like him in war paint?

How about that world-famous aerialist Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom? If that guy ever looses his grip in the rarified air of the big top, he will make a hell of a mess in the sawdust of the middle ring.

And are you not glad that Emmanuel Macron of France had a whip and a chair to control the ‘yellow jackets’?

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Fool Britannia.

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

Brexit has come. Brexit is gone. And what does it mean? Has the English Channel widened? Are they filling in the Chunnel? Are the Chunnel trains still running? What does it all mean and do we care on the west side of the Atlantic?

It seems unfair that the Brits will have to prostrate themselves before a jury of their peers in Brussels, to learn their fate. They have most of the year left to work out some accommodation. If I were in their position, I would not want a clown such as Boris Johnson to work out the details. He is no negotiator. He is a blowhard.

I remember when, as a youngster in Canada, we were taught patriotic songs about Britannia ruling the waves and all that stuff. I guess the only waves they can rule today would have to be in a wave pool.

But we do feel badly over here that the United Kingdom has come to this. The nation never has played well with its continental partners. Maybe there is too much history involved.

What has to be recognized is that much of the support for Brexit came from false perceptions of the benefits and requirements for a successful partnership. My feeling was that the UK politicos who never took part in the EU structure undermined the bureaucrats in Brussels. Instead of discouraging the bigotry, they encouraged it and instead of helping sell the benefits of the common market, they put it down.

Johnson hailed the fact of Brexit as a new beginning. I thought that the Brits had their real beginning when the Romans went back to Rome to get dry and warm. You can call the next 2000 years on those islands interesting but you can hardly call them progressive. Have you ever seen another country so determined to fight progress every step of the way, year after year?

Well, they just took another step backwards in time. What does that benefit them?

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The grief of greed.

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Many people share the blame for the shooting down of Ukraine International Airline Flight 752 over Iran. It is not the first time a civilian airliner has been brought down while carrying out its business.

But what business, other than greed, takes a civilian airliner into a threatening war zone?

There have been many stories written over the years about the last flight from somewhere when the clouds of war were looming. And there is never enough room for the foolhardy who want passage. It makes for impassioned farewell scenes in the movies to be made. It makes for the hollowness in the heart for the loved-ones who are lost to us.

But the commercial greed of the people running the airline gets included in the long lists of people we can blame for the incident. In the Tehran event, you can start with the ineptness of that fool American president Donald Trump. Any distraction will do while he fights off the efforts to impeach him.

Blame the sour disposition of those theocrats who oppress the Iranian people. They are living in the past and, as such, represent a danger to the entire world. They need our help to become a productive part of the 21st Century.

You can blame Canada’s boy prime minister who can say he is furious and not be credible. Anger is not in the language of diplomacy. He promised us four years ago that relations with Iran would be restored. You cannot have a dialogue unless you have the mechanics of communication in place. You cannot help unless you are there.

After the Air India bombing in June of 1985, over the Atlantic, Canadians should have a better understanding that anger and poor communication are a bad mix. We are hardly strangers to the sorrow.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Brexit and the jawbone of an ass.

Monday, December 16th, 2019

They had the jawbone of an ass to lead them and the Philistines won this one. Boris Johnson proved he is an ass and he led the Brits down a path they should never have followed.

But it is a path the English and the Welsh might travel, without the Scots or the people of Ulster taking part. The ass has torn apart the United Kingdom and centuries of history. He has likely rebuilt Hadrian’s Wall (along the border of Scotland) and restored the Emerald Isle to its united destiny.

But like his friend Donald Trump, he did it with lies and evasion. He talked incessantly about getting Brexit done without discussing the implications. It was as though he had no understanding of what he was asking people to do.

One can only wonder at what the English-speaking world is becoming? With Johnson in the United Kingdom, Trump in the United States and people such as Ontario’s Doug Ford emerging in Canada. Where are we headed but downhill?

All of them are posing as conservatives and none of them could explain the basics of conservative philosophy. They use bluster for facts, slogans for rhetoric, lies for promises and smears for their opponents.

But even worse are the conservative Templars who protect them. These conservative shock troops of lawyers, government relations professionals and communications specialists form symbiotic relationships with these populists, feeding their egos and feasting off the business-benefits they obtain for them and their clients. The pro-big business and pro-development smaller, nonintrusive government attitude of the Trump-Johnson-Ford ilk are highly profitable for these inner circles.

In a hastily-called election, two-years before it was due, Johnson played a virtuoso tune on the opposition. He read the labour fatigue outside of London and drove at the anger with thousands of Facebook ads. Those ads had little to do with facts and fed misconceptions and anger. His trade off was that he might bring down the United Kingdom. He now has to fight the separation of Ulster and Scotland.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

In that ‘better’ place?

Saturday, December 14th, 2019

It makes you wonder if the families who lost loved ones in Canada’s Afghan forays would agree that it was worth it to leave Kandahar a ‘better’ place? Maybe Canada’s defence minister Harjit Sajjan looks at it differently.

Sajjan was asked to comment recently on the American conclusion that the war in Afghanistan can never be won. Maybe it is just the confidence of the Americans that might is right that they thought the war could have a conclusion. A special inspector general report on the American mistakes in Afghanistan was obtained by the Washington Post recently, under ‘access to information,’ after the paper fought its way through the U.S. courts. The report is devastating in that it points out the lack of strategy through many attempts at stabilizing the situation in the country.

And yet, Sajjan tells us that the Canadian troops on the ground in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province were fully aware of the challenges they faced. He says, we left Kandahar a better(?) place.He served three tours in Afghanistan in an intelligence role as well as serving as an advisor to the Americans after they replaced the Canadians.

Maybe the fact that Sajjan grew up in a warrior sect such as Sikhism that he would not answer the question as to whether the war was winnable or not. For a warrior, war in itself is an objective. The honour is in serving in it.

Sajjan has been asked repeatedly about the prospects in that country and he is adamant that the situation is very, very complex. Maybe, he means that as a warrior, he can understand it but it is beyond the grasp of civilians.

But it is history that will continue to have the last word. Since the time in the 19th Century when the Brits marched boldly up the Khyber Pass, many have tried to tame the territory. And the opium poppy growing Pashtuns of Afghanistan have lived off the rations of the red coats and the armies that followed, ever since.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Whatever we do, we’re wrong.

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Have you been following the adventures of Huawei? Do you realize now why Bell Canada was so wrong when it dumped Nortel Networks? The once famous Bell subsidiary did not just encompass Canada’s past leadership in telecom technology, it was our future. Bell blew it.

Bell has always been a company that lives in the past. It used to be known as the widow’s and orphan’s stock. It had a lock on Eastern Canada with a vast network of copper wire. Today it has invested billions in fibre optics, based on foreign technology.

But the 5G networks are coming and we are in trouble, no matter what. We are damned if we do not move with the technology and damned if we do. This is the next generation and fibre optics will become just a back-office connector as 5G equipment fills the airways. If you had told me 20 years ago that a single wireless modem in my home would feed multiple high definition, flat screen televisions, I would have thought you were watching too many Star Wars movies.

It seems like all my life I have been running in place just to keep up with rapidly changing technologies. I always was an early adapter. I had a telephone in my car and no room left in the trunk when there were only eight frequencies allotted to radio telephones in Toronto. I had the first cell phone while they were still putting up the cell towers all over the city. Today, you can give me a smart phone and I would just as likely pitch it in the bay.

But when it comes to an Internet of Things (IoT) network technologies—even 5G—it is still physical equipment operated by computer software. What the hell are people afraid of? If the Chinese have the best 5G equipment, our software experts will soon find out if there are channels in it back to Beijing. And I am sure that Microsoft has it all over Huawei when it comes to being intrusive.

And if you have information that you do not want to share, do not put it where people can see it. It is called the attractive nuisance doctrine.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

In defence of First-Past-the-Post.

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

Write a few comments on how we vote and suffer the outrage of readers. Write about something serious and it’s ‘ho-hum.’ It’s not fair, you know. Last week I was called, among other nasties: “The finest mind in the 16th Century.” All I did was comment on the foolishness of Toronto city council considering ranked voting.

Fairs, fair, folks. I think people should at least pass an examination on the various common voting systems before they are allowed to malign those of us who have devoted time and interest in looking at how other countries vote. Europe and the Middle East are easy. The Scandinavian countries’ governments are a snore, the German Reichstag confusing, the Israeli Knesset a disaster and, surprisingly, the French have done the most experimentation. The English system for the Mother of Parliaments, has not been all that exciting since they abolished the two-member rotten boroughs in 1832.

A country’s voting system is at the core of its democracy. It has to be fair, easy to understand and transparent. Where we go wrong is when the politicians we elect, see it as an opportunity to serve their party’s ideology instead of the needs of the citizens.

The best and the worst thing we do under our parliamentary system is to vote for one person. If we vote for the very best person to represent us in parliament, we can be winners. If we vote for the village idiot because he or she represents a particular party, we deserve the problems that ensue.

That is what is wrong with most proportional representation voting systems. While you get to choose the party leader, you are leaving the choice of individuals in government to the party. You are giving up your right to direct input to your government.

Always remember the old saying about democracy, that it is not the easiest form of government and probably not the most efficient. It is just better than any of the alternatives.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump’s Triumph?

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

It will only be after someone translates the French word “merde” for him that Donald Trump will really know what the audience of world leaders thought of his plans for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Trump’s triumph this week is the meeting of the organization in England to celebrate its 70 years of protecting the world with truth and justice, in the American way.

If Brexit goes through as planned, this could be the last time that the United Kingdom will play host or any meaningful role in NATO,. Trump even had the chance to be fêted by the Queen the other day as sort of a farewell gesture. (Would that the Americans could rid themselves of him so easily.)

But Trump’s bête noire, French president Emmanuel Macron, will still be belittling the importance of NATO to annoy him. He and that kid from Canada (with his snide remarks) seem to be there just to make life difficult for the Trump-in-chief. It is assumed though that Trump made no more threats to pull the U.S. out of the alliance.

They would be luckier if Turkey made the same threat. A resignation from that quarter would certainly be accepted. Turkey’s president Erdogan thinks he can keep one foot in Russia and the other in Europe and that is not sitting well with his NATO allies. It seems Erdogan has recently bought an air defence system from Russia and nobody has figured it out yet if it is to fight off the Kurds, the Syrians, the Ukrainians or the Americans?

Turkey’s allies might baulk at the idea of rushing to the defence of Turkey, when it’s overrun by the Kurds.

Trump must be having fantasies about his triumphant return to Washington, such as entering the city with Macron in chains, dragged along behind the Trump chariot.

But like Julius Caesar, Trump might be misreading the “lean and hungry look” of the Democrats and miscounting the number of Republican impeachment knives ready to do him in.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

And when they are down, they are down.

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

Funny, that nursery rhyme has been running through my head. You know the one: The grand old Duke of York, He had ten thousand men. He marched them up to the top of the hill. And marched them down again. It seems the modern Duke of York has gotten himself into a spot of bother, he has!

The second son of Queen Elizabeth, Prince Andrew, is the current Duke of York. This is a title that has gone through many hands throughout English history. It has usually been a title given to the second son of a reigning monarch, more than a few having gone on to become the monarch—most recently Elizabeth II’s father, George VI.

But Prince Andrew would not likely make that cut today as he is behind his older brother, Prince Charles and Charles’ oldest son and grandchildren in the order of succession. He has also let the side down in his relationship with an American convicted sex offender.

In a rather ill-considered television interview at Buckingham Palace recently, Prince Andrew really bollixed up the Royal scene while trying to tone down the criticism of his actions. In fact, he made things worse.

What was surprising about it is that despite the favouritism, the Queen has always shown for Andrew, she is actually very careful of the royals’ reputation. It is a very valuable commodity.

It is going to become an even more important commodity if the silly Brexit argument takes the Brits out of the European Union. It is most unlikely that the United Kingdom will stay the same for very long under those circumstances. Scotland is most likely going to leave England to stay with the EU, as well as Northern Ireland is most likely to join the rest of Ireland.

Oh well, the royals are the Brits’ problem. Oh darn, I just remembered, they are also our royals. Too bad.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Justin Trudeau defends NATO?

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

There seems to be a difference of opinion between French President Emmanuel Macron and prime minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. Macron says that the 70-year old North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is suffering brain death, while Canada’s PM thinks it is doing ‘just fine, thank you.’

Trudeau insists that NATO is holding its own as a group of countries that come together to share values and an ongoing commitment to shared security.

And if he thinks such defence will earn him any ‘thanks’ in Washington, Trudeau is whistling past the graveyard. Donald Trump will be just as stupid when he gets up tomorrow as he was today.

The Americans who supported NATO in the past deserve much of the credit for creating and holding NATO together as any other country. Yet, to not police Turkish despot Erdogan’s flirting with the Russians is a serious error in leadership. To abandon allies such as the Kurds in Syria is also a disgrace. And yet all Trump complains about is the countries that, he thinks, are not spending enough on defence.

The Canadian government and its citizens have backed NATO since its inception. And Canada has done its part in trying to keep the organization strong and effective.

And it is hard to imagine the Canadian who would be proud of their prime minister kissing the nether parts of that ass in the White House.

As Babel-on-the-Bay reported yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a bold step forward to build a new reality in a unified Europe. He may not be the reincarnation of Charlemagne and a united Europe would not be the Holy Roman Empire but it would be a financial and military heavy weight. Monsieur le President Macron does not think small.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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