Archive for the ‘American Politics’ Category

Would a gold piano sound tinny?

Monday, December 31st, 2018

Most commentators write a recap about the preceding year on New Year’s Eve but I only thought back a week to an ‘oops.’ I realized that this Canadian missed the Monarch’s message to the Commonwealth. It is with fond memories I note that mother used to always insist that her brood gather round the radio for it on Christmas morning.

My first recollections of this go back to King George VI struggling with his stammer. You could hear his consort, Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother), in the background helping him.

Googling Queen Elizabeth II and her speech this year was a bit of a disappointment. It seems that many of the ungrateful in the United Kingdom complained about the opulence of the gold piano behind her. They thought it was incongruent with a speech about the struggles of the poor and despondent around the world.

But I am sure there were some positive parts to the speech. Queen Elizabeth has had a good deal of time to perfect the genre over the years. She records the speech weeks ahead though as she has other duties on Christmas and Boxing Day. On Christmas there was the traditional sighting of royals as the young ones traipsed down the road to the local church while the 92-year old Queen came in one of the royal limousines.

It seems as though the young ones have already taken over the public interest in the Brit royals. Kate and William, along with Meghan and Harry have become the Brit version of the American Kardashians. Would you believe there is an entire industry built around the royal gossip produced for people who really need to get a life.

But all this silly gossip passes and becomes of less interest in Canada and other Commonwealth countries. It is of dying interest in Canada particularly as more and more we have to pay attention to what is happening to the south.

When Pierre Trudeau compared Canada’s position as sleeping with an elephant, he had obviously never met someone such as Donald Trump. We are beset today in trying to sleep with an insomniac who is the Twitter King and who plays at his own fantasy Game of Thrones.

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Copyright 2018 ? Peter Lowry

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

Mr. and Mrs. Trump go to war.

Saturday, December 29th, 2018

In the last half of the 20th Century, Hollywood star Bob Hope was famous for his Christmas shows for American military. These shows took place in areas of conflict where Americans where deployed around the world. Hope’s compensation was that he could edit the recordings of the shows and run them as television specials.

His formula was a variety type show of musicians, dancers, comics and always a particularly voluptuous Hollywood star. My favourite was when he took Rachel Welch, a lady who could just stand there and you could appreciate her. It was Hope’s contribution to the American service men’s morale.

It was obvious the other day that Donald Trump was also aware of Hope’s formula. He took his wife Melania to Iraq to meet the troops. It guaranteed him a positive response from the men. He might be on the outs with his generals but he was appreciated by the rank and file who got selfies with Melania.

Trump might have got a mixed reaction to his speech though when he told the troops that he intended to bring them all home. His line was that “We’re no longer the suckers, folks.” And he told them that he is committed to bringing them all home despite the advice of the experts.

To placate the service people he was talking with, he told them he had no plans to leave Iraq. He told them Iraq was a good staging point if at some later date, America went to war with Syria or Iran.

He told the troops that the United States cannot continue to be “the policemen of the world.” Trump said, “It is not fair when the burden is all on us.”

You have to figure that Mr. Trump’s words were annoying to the Arab countries as well as allies who have backed up the United States over the years.

The Trumps’ visit to the Iraq airbase was kept secret until Air Force One returned to the relative safety of Washington.

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Copyright 2018 ? Peter Lowry

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

For want of a wall.

Monday, December 24th, 2018

About a quarter million Americans can now be classified as slaves. They are not being paid for their work. They have to do their jobs anyway. You will understand this better when you realize that they work for an organization that has Donald Trump as its chief executive officer. These people all work for the Trump Administration.

Mind you it takes more than one party to create an impasse. The Senate had a money bill to pass and then for president Trump to sign. Mr. Trump said he would only sign it if it included $5 billion for his wall to keep the Spanish-speaking hordes away from the purity of the United States of America.

The Bigot-in-Chief had promised his ignorant followers that he would build a wall across the south of the country. It was the cornerstone, so to speak, of his campaign for the presidency. At his rallies, he would have them all screaming “Build the wall!”

This type of impasse could not happen in Canada. In Canada the supply of money to the government administration is provided by what are called supply bills. If one of these bills is defeated in parliament, the government that proposed it is considered defeated and the problem of money is handed to the Governor General (representing the Queen). This worthy then makes the payments to the civil servants and either calls on someone else to try to form a government or calls for a general election.

Regrettably, the people who wrote the American constitution did not think of this. Since many of them were slave owners anyway, they did not worry very much about people being paid. And they only allowed the administration to be changed every four years. They did allow for impeachment but they hardly made it easy.

And that is why for want of a wall, a presidency can be lost. The question is though, can those American government employees afford to wait two years for their paycheques? (Translation note: Americans call them ‘paychecks.’)

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Copyright 2018 ? Peter Lowry

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

Who’s left at the Trump White House?

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

OK, so it is hard to get good help these days. The problem is that the revolving door they put on the employee’s entrance at the White House is getting far more traffic than even president Donald Trump’s detractors expected. The question is, is the atmosphere just getting more toxic or has that ship of state sprung too many leaks. Is that ship sinking?

And it is not just rats that are deboarding. The one group that the Incompetent-in-Chief had shown some respect for was the military. Even these people are going AWOL. When the secretary of defence says something akin to “I’m out of here,” you know that president Trump is in trouble. General Jim Mattis was about the last guy left who gave any touch of class or sanity to the Trump board of directors.

General Mattis had the good grace to resign with time for president Trump to choose a successor and (maybe) have the candidate confirmed by the Senate. He made it clear in his resignation letter that he disagreed with Donald Trump and his version of the truth.

He told the president that America’s strength was based on its relationships with its allies. He said the allies should be treated with respect and the country’s leadership has to be clear-eyed about the threats to America. While he was obviously very concerned about the president over-riding the concerns of his advisors and pulling America’s 2000 troops out of Syria, those concerns could also apply to allies such as Canada and Mexico.

America’s military leaders were very concerned about their troops who were supporting the Kurds in the battles with Daesh in Syria. There was no confirmation whatsoever of Trump’s claim that Daesh was defeated. It also left the Kurds at the mercy of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his friends in Russia. The military analysts and many others believe that al-Assad will retaliate against the Kurds in an outright attempt at genocide. Without the Americans there, it will be without witnesses.

With the departure of General Mattis, it is felt that there will be no adults left in the administration. This will become clearer as Trump tries to find a credible replacement for Mattis.

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Copyright 2018 ? Peter Lowry

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

Imperial Trump is the problem.

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

The Emperor of Twits was using his Twitter Throne to criticize the Fed last week. It seems that president Trump is unaware that he might just be the problem and certainly not the solution to the turmoil over interest rates and the tumbling of the markets.

The leader of the free world be damned. This guy is just not worth the worth the trouble he causes.

But here he is criticizing the Fed for even thinking of raising short term rates in an unstable situation caused by the U.S. Incompetent-in-Chief. Only an ignorant egomaniac would want to have a trade war with China. Only a nincompoop would slap tariffs on his country’s best customer and friend in the part of Canada—claiming it is to ensure national security.

It was good that the official spokesperson for the Fed only huffed and declared that Fed decisions are based on economic analysis only. In as much as Mr. trump has no clue as to the subject of economics and thinks that analysis is only used for blood tests to check and make sure you have not picked up a social disease.

Trump has been heard to say that the Fed is a bigger problem than China. Neither listen to him anymore. Neither can trust him.

And neither do Canadians. It is extremely difficult for the Bank of Canada to keep on top of the interest rates problems because of the erratic situation in the United States.

But Canada’s problem is also compounded by the wishy-washy handling of Trump by Canada’s prime minister. Mr. Trudeau has absolutely no understanding of how to deal with Mr. Trump.

Emperor Trump certainly does not understand diplomacy. He thinks Justin Trudeau is obsequious and always wanting something. Trudeau does not realize that Trump thinks as a developer, always looking for the advantage. Trump does not want to deal honestly. He bluffs, he lies, he postures and good luck if you do not lock up your daughters when that dirty old man is around.

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Copyright 2018 ? Peter Lowry

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

Pompeo’s Rebellion.

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2018 ? Peter Lowry

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

American capitalism betrays us.

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2018 ? Peter Lowry

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

And a possum shall lead them.

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2018 ? Peter Lowry

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

President Trump’s Achilles Heel.

Monday, November 19th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2018 ? Peter Lowry

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

The Hordes are in the House.

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2018 ? Peter Lowry

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