Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Donald Trump, America’s Nero, fiddles while the country burns

By Gerry Barker

March 27, 2017

After only 63 days, U.S. President Donald Trump has faced two defeats as he rushed to fulfill his promises to his supporters. They were the ones that he promised to get their manufacturing and coal mining jobs back.

He promised to protect the country from radical Muslim attacks by ordering travel bans from countries where the majority are Muslims. Two bills have been challenged in the courts. He promised to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. to stop the “criminals and rapists” from entering the country. He promised that Mexico would pay for it. He promised to deport the estimated “bad” illegal immigrants to their home countries.

Maybe it’s not the right time to take off the training wheels.

Last Friday, his promise to repeal The Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, and replace it with a better plan that was to cost less and be run by the states. It failed before the vote occurred in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He promised to do all this in the first 100 days in office.

His attempt to destroy the rights of all citizens to affordable health care died as the Republican-dominated House of Representatives did not have enough votes to pass the bill. Speaker Paul Ryan pulled it off the table. The bill included tax breaks for the upper two per cent of the U.S. population the cancelling of federal support of Planned Parenthood and would leave 24 million Americans without federal supported healthcare by 2026. Some 14 million would have been affected in 2018 according to the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

But most alarming was the virtual elimination of Medicaid, the last support of millions who required medical attention, because, the individual states would now be responsible. What may work in California will not work in Mississippi. It illustrates the need for a National healthcare plan that allocates recourses to those states where there is need. Finally, no matter where you live or move in the U.S., the Federal umbrella will cover you.

America is the last in providing universal health care to its citizens

Yes, it is creeping toward universal healthcare for 325 million Americans. The U.S. is the only country in the G20 of countries with the top economic power in the world that does not have universal, single-payer health coverage.

Following the bill’s failure, Trump did not admit the defeat was a loss. Instead, he blamed the Democrat minority in the House for the defeat saying they own Obamacare that remains as the law of the land. Four times he said that Obamacare would “explode” and be a disaster, harrumphed Trump.

But here is the truth. Trump not only fails to understand his job but also has little knowledge how the U.S. government works. He fails to know the party he leads. It is composed of factions that worked fine when in opposition. The House of Representatives voted more than 140 times to repeal Obamacare in the past seven years with each attempt either dying in the Senate or being vetoed by President Obama.

The so-called ultra right-wing Freedom Caucus of the Republican majority in the House was chiefly responsible for derailing their own party’s bill. It marks the differences that exist within the GOP (Grand Old Party) the party of Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and, did I mention, Richard Nixon?

It is convenient and easy for Trump to blame the Democrats for the failure of his lousy statute that came within a few votes to become law. But Trump’s arrogance and a willful House Speaker, Paul Ryan, were confident they had the votes without the Democrats who were obviously not in favour of the Republican American Care Act (ACA).

Here’s another historical tid-bit. The cost of Canada’s universal, simgle-payer health care system, averages, per person, just half that of the the U.S. system. The U.S. plan does not cover all its citizens, is frequently described as the finest medical system in the world … that is if you can afford or access it.

When you believe you are omnipotent, failure will magnify incompetence

Even the most ardent Trump supporters must now question their president’s ability to fulfill his wide range of promises made during the campaign. It is obvious that his so-called business acumen does not easily translate into running the world’s largest economic and military power.

Remember during his rallies that he said he knew more than the Generals, then turned around and hired four of them for his cabinet. General Flynn was dismissed early in the term.

His inability to understand his job and how his government works will haunt him for his term in office if he survives. He will discover that insulting and threatening your friends and allies will not work and only diminishes the reputation of a great country and people.

I call it impeach creep

The man has neither conscience nor the ability to admit he made a mistake trying to placate his supporters with his reputation of being decisive. They believed Trump would “drain the swamp” of Washington bureaucracy. There are still 100’s of federal government management positions unfilled.

It has affected productivity across many federal goverment departments.

He has fought publicly his own intelligence services. He was forced to fire his National Security advisor, General Mike Flynn, for lying to Vice President Mike Pence, about contacts he made with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S.

His cabinet is loaded with millionaires, billionaires and generals. His Secretary of the Environment is an Oklahoman who doesn’t believe in climate change. His Health Secretary is Tom Price, a doctor and author of the ACA who has managed to alienate the American Association of Retired Persons, (AARP), the various doctor organizations, veteran’s and hospital organizations across the country.

The benefactors of this terrible bill were the Health Insurance Corporations who were salivating over passage of the bill. Such an event, if it had happened, would have pushed American healthcare back to the dark ages of the 50’s and 60’s. That’s when millions, particularly the disadvantaged and poor, could not afford health insurance and were dependent on Medicaid and the generosity of hospitals who had to scramble to raise money to pay for services to the non-insured.

He promised to renegotiate trade deals, especially the 30-year North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in which Canada and Mexico along with the U.S. are partners. He keeps repeatedly calling it a disaster and it will be re-negotiated. He ignores the fact that Canada is America’s largest trading customer and the U.S. is Canada’s largest trade customer. He repeated the NAFTA disaster comment during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkle as if she cared.

The guy is a legend in his own mind.

He has insulted the leaders of Britain, Germany, and the member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,(NATO). It is a 60-year mutual defence combine to prevent attacks on European nations as well as North America. He has accused the member nations of not paying their share, citing Germany as one of those failing to spend two per cent of Gross Domestic Product on defence. Canada is up to date in that regard.

He has promised to spend $58 billion to upgrade the military that he claims has been neglected and weakened under former President Barack Obama.

The man and his words

He is continuing to run a campaign of fear, loathing, insecurity, lies and unfulfilled promises.

And it’s not going to get any better.

In Canada, we can only wait and see how he attempts to destroy the world’s most effective free trade agreement. That’s not saying there are things that should be fixed including the softwood lumber agreement in which American lumber interests accuse Canada of dumping product at lower prices.

The U.S. wants access to our agriculture markets that are currently controlled by producer-operated Marketing Boards. These include milk, eggs, poultry, cheese, pork, beef, and grains.

These various Boards were originally designed to protect the interests of the producers of these products. The winners are obviously the producers. The problem is that it’s not so good for the Canadian consumer because the Boards control prices.

These are some of the obvious changes that will come up when Trump attempts to dismantle NAFTA.

The most dangerous proposal by Trump is to establish a border tax for non-American goods and products entering the U.S. Already cooler heads are saying such a move will drive up prices to U.S. consumers.

It won’t serve to create jobs that no longer exist in manufacturing or coal mining. It is due to technological change and reduction of coal usage to drive power generation across the country. Yet Trump continues to promise a return of those jobs.

Mr. Trump, I hope is a quick study and abandons the shallow promise of America First. His country has always been first. It’s just that he doesn’t care and creates these problems that incite a segment of society.

Impeachment is on the move. But it has to be generated by the congressional members within his own party.

If the GOP is smart, they will separate themselves from Trump and leave those who believe in him to function as the Trump Party.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

The potential Trump effect on Guelph and the Canadian auto industry

Bt Gerry Barker

January 23, 2017

The new U.S. President Donald Trump, promised his supporters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin that he would bring back the jobs that have left the country.

Of his dark threats to a number of established issues, not the least of which was trade, border tariffs, make America first and great again, ad nauseum.

He made promises he will not be able to keep because he insulted the very people he will need to carry out his agenda, the members of the U.S. Congress. They, for the most parti sat in stoney silence as he threatened to get rid of the politicians that looked after themselves but turned their backs on the people.

“Friday,”  he roared, “mark this the first day of returning the power back to the people.”

He went on out to say that America will come first, including renegotiating free trade deals with countries around the world including Canada. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 30 years, has resulted in the world’s largest trading partnership. America is our biggest customer and we are their biggest customer.

So why is Trump threatening NAFTA? It’s because he is placating the voters who elected him in the so-called rustbelt states, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. These four states delivered his presidency, sufficient votes in the peculiar and antiquated Electoral College system used to elect the president. Even though his opponent, Hillary Clinton, won more that 2.8 million more popular votes across the nation than Trump.

While it’s interesting that Trump continues to rail against the Mexican border, still promising to build a wall that claims Mexico will pay for.

I can not recall in 18 months of his divisive broadsides of a very personal nature against not only his opponent but to members of his own party and more particularly minority groups and women.

It will be only a matter of time before Canada and more particularly Guelph, could be seriously affected if the Trump administration follows through and erects trade barriers.

In Ontario, there are more that 32,000 workers employed in the automotive sector of the province’s economy. In recent years the number of workers has declined as major automakers restructured due to major changes in technology.

The largest private employer in Guelph is Linamar that operates internationally but has 19 plants in Guelph, turning out transmissions, drive trains and a variety of parts most on which are shipped to U.S. assembly plans.

In 2008, Canada, both Federal and Provincial governments, supported President Obama’s plans to save the U.S/Canada auto industry. Ontario, for its part, invested $10 billion along with Canada and the U.S. This tripartite action resulted in General Motors and Chrysler, entering chapter 11 of the bankruptcy act, and the three governments funded the restructuring of both companies. Ford declined any financial aid.

Today, the NAFTA North American auto industry is healthy and profitable as are the Canadian auto parts manufacturers.

It may come of some surprise that Trump keeps talking about the jobs going to Mexico at the expense of U.S. workers, but doesn’t mention Canada. Ontario has a larger piece of the assembled-car business sold in the U.S. than NAFTA member Mexico, 27 per cent compared to 18 per cent,

I think this portends a threat to our Ontario auto manufacturing. Granted, it’s early in the game but Trump is determined to return jobs to his country by fair means or foul.

Many of those manufacturing jobs in the auto industry plants in the rustbelt are gone forever, not because of the free trade agreement but due to automation and the use of robots replacing people.

If Trump succeeds in placing tariffs on our borders, it will price our automotive industry out of business and add fodder to a full-blown trade war if he scraps NAFTA.

His judgment illustrates his glaring lack of understanding how his country and the role it plays in the global economy. Having never been elected to any level of government or served his country in any way, including military service, impairs his judgment. He was eligible for the draft during the Viet Nam war but received deferments.

So if Trump initiates his plan to install a 35 per cent tariff on all cars assembled outside the United States and landed at its borders, there will be a major trade war that could lead to a depression.

The last time that was tried was 1931 when President Herbert Hoover attempted to stop imports into the U.S. using excessive tariffs. The result was the Great Depression from which America did not recover until World War II.

Here is just one example how a 35 per cent tariff at the border for assembled vehicles could affect our Guelph economy.

The new Chrysler Pacifica SUV is manufactured in Windsor; this is the only plant to make these cars, most of which are shipped, tariff-free, across the border to supply U.S. dealers.

The Trump “America First” agenda would cripple Chrysler, make the Pacifica too expensive to sell in the U.S. and destroy the U.S./Canada Auto Pact that is part of NAFTA.

This isn’t going to happen right away but the threat of renegotiating NAFTA, (to which our Prime Minister has already agreed to) could have a devestating impact on our economy.

 

 

 

10 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

Your GuelphSpeaks Weekender

By Gerry Barker

Posted December 20, 2015

This week:

                    City Council’s Dear Santa letters

                     Conrad Black, Vladimir Putin and The Donald

                     Barbara Barker’s Scottish shortbread

 

City Council’s letters to Santa

Leanne Piper – Dear Santa, please put financial administration for dummies under my Christmas tree. If you can’t manage that I’ll settle for an abacus. Don’t eat too many cookies as you go around the world. Leanne

June Hofland – Dear Santa, my smart phone isn’t smart at all. Please give me a landline for Christmas. Wait a minute, I think I have one of those at home. June

Cathy Downer – Dear Santa, please give me a chair so I can sit higher in the council horseshow, er horseshoe, horse feathers, heck, you know what I mean. Cathy

Christine Billings – Dear Santa, ditto for the better council chamber chair. You’re not going to get me on the horse thing. I’d also like a vacation in St. Lucia if it can be arranged. Christine

Karl Wettstein – Dear Santa, I’d like a leather-bound copy of Bartlett’s Quotations so I can add some zingers to my presentations during committee and council meetings, Karl

James Gordon – Dear Santa, please set up a concert in Carnegie Hall so I can present my folk music repertoire to a new audience. Santa, I have some great new material to introduce. James

Andy Van Hellemond – Dear Santa, please leave the morning line on a horse named Doubling Down at Santa Anita. Hey, that’s a double Santa, Santa! Help me out here. Andy

Mark McKinnon – Dear Santa, I could really use a new snow blower. The prices on snow removal equipment are really low right now. Make sure it’s assembled in my garage, thanks muchly. Mark

Phil Allt – Dear Santa, Do you think you could move June over to the other side of the council table, to be next to Leanne? While you’re at it, I’d like a Darth Vader outfit to wear at the next union meeting. Phil

Dan Gibson – Dear Santa, I’d like to have a full-service grocery store in the east end. If that’s not possible how about building a public washroom downtown? Say hello to Rudolf or is it Randolph? Dan

Mike Salisbury – Dear Santa, My Harley needs a new tranny and I need a pair of Foster Grants for the open road. A Swiss Chalet gift card would go well over the Holidays. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, send some roses to Marie at Tim’s. Mike

Bob Bell – Dear Santa, if you ever need a stand-in double I’m your man. I could use a couple of elves to work in my shop to help us keep up with the demand for my bike accessories. Bob

Mayor Cam Guthrie – Dear Santa, I could use some vacation with my family. I really need a new set of drums to play with the band. Most of all, I want to wish the citizens of Guelph happy holidays and a prosperous New Year. Think you can handle that, Big Guy? Cam

*            *            *            *

A troika for all seasons: The Donald, Conrad and Vladimir Putin

Conrad Black, that non-Canadian allowed to live here, expressed his support for U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Black still carries and undying hatred for U.S. justice system that locked him up for six years. He was charged for attempting to cover up evidence in his trial of stealing money from his American Publishing enterprise.

Black was never convicted of stealing from his own company. His partner, David Radler, was convicted and brokered a deal to spend his time in a Canadian jail in return for testifying against his old partner and former friend, Conrad Black.

When Black was finally released, the Harper government allowed him and his wife to return to Canada and their Bridle Path mansion in Toronto. Trouble is that Black renounced his Canadian citizenship when the British government made him Lord Black of Cross Harbour and a member of the House of Lords.

Jean Chretien, who was Prime Minister at the time, refused Black’s attempt to keep both Canadian citizenship and his House of Lords gig. The PM said no and Black opted out.

Now he is supporting Donald Trump the realty TV star and billionaire builder who is trampling and insulting almost every faction of U.S. and foreign citizens. He has single-handily destroyed the Republican Party with his racist and personal attacks on individuals, organizations, allies of America and the National Rifle Association.

Now isn’t that the odd couple?

But wait there’s more. Enter the President of Russia who endorses Trump for the presidency.

Bumper sticker of the day “Trump-Putin in 2016.”

Kinda restores your faith in the political process, no matter where it happens. Also, it’s time for Conrad to leave Canada, the country he has renounced, for Britain where he belongs.

Question: Is Black receiving the Canada Pension and other benefits unique to Canada?

*            *            *            *

A Christmas ritual at our house, baking shortbread

About two weeks before Christmas, Barbara gets out the biggest mixing bowl in her collection and prepares to make shortbread. The recipe is basic but the system of making melt-in-your mouth shortbread is a real test of endurance and stamina.

What is shortbread? It’s a delicious treat that we believe originated in Scotland many, many years ago.

This year it was no different except that both of us struggled to mix the butter, sugar and flour, there’s a lot of that, by hand using a wooden spatula, (it’s a Scottish thing). As you gradually add flour the batter get harder to blend. It calls for determination and muscle to create the final product.

Once the ingredients are thoroughly blended, it’s time to fold into a shallow glass-baking pan measuring 9 inches by 13 inches. Final step is to score the batter into squares. Some folks like to bake their batter in those non-stick cupped pans.

Barbara prefers flat shortbread like her mother used to make. The final step is to use the spatula to flatten the air out of the batter and make it as even as possible across the breadth of the pan.

The ingredients: Butter – one pound; Icing Sugar – one cup; Flour – four cups; sprinkle salt very lightly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until the edges turn brown. Allow to cool then cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Taste and have a have a Merry Christmas sharing shortbread with your family and friends.

Enjoy! Barbara and Gerry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

How Big Bird stole the U.S. election

Posted November 8, 2012

The fallout from the Republican ranks is hilarious. Caution, they do not take defeat lightly. Here’s a compendium of the Legion of Losers or how greed, money, and arrogance failed to elect Mitt Romney and his Tea Party running mate, Paul Ryan.

My favourite dumbkiss is Senator Mitch McConnell, minority leader in the U.S. Senate, who pledged in 2009 that his primary job was to defeat President Barack Obama in 2012. Mitch, how’s that working for you?

Take real-estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump, please. Romney reluctantly accepted his support on the stage of a Las Vegas Casino. He looked like he had just swallowed hemlock that, in retrospect, may have been an election night alternative. Who is the Donald’s brain surgeon? Time for a transplant.

Former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, business czar and author, accused the Department of Labor’s employment statistics for September, claiming they were rigged in the president’s favour. And 5 million Alabamans believed him.

You have to feel sorry for all those billionaires and millionaires who ponyed up more than a billion dollars to elect Romney. The winners? TV and radio stations across the swing states. Never has so much been given to so few in the name of self-righteousness.

Take the billionaire Koch brothers who put their money where Mitt and his Republican fellow travelers were. These willful characters tried to buy an election that was not for sale. Thank-you notes to follow.

Bill Reilly, the Fox News commentator’s post election mildly racist comment about the white folks in America being in the minority. Bill, the stats show there were more “white folks” who voted for Obama than Romney. Memo to the GOP: Go back to the drawing board.

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart commenting about Republican political guru Dick Morris who predicted a Romney sweep. Post election interview with Morris said he was covered with mud because of his failure to predict the outcome. Stewart: “That’s not mud.”

Remember Karl Rove? He was a commentator on Fox News. Rove was famous for engineering the election of George W. Bush. Well, mastermind Karl struck out Tuesday night insisting that Romney had won Ohio, even after the President had been declared the overall winner.  Guess the magic dust didn’t work this time.

What happened to CNN? It used to be a middle of the road news operation. Now it’s populated by latter day Republicans (I can’t help myself) whose conservative bias filtered through the noise. Don’t bother, you know who they are.

The Libertarian Tea Party remains a force but its strength is waning as the Republicans form the circular firing squad to establish blame.

Grover Norquist is the author of the no-tax increase pledge that was signed by most Republican members of the House of Representatives. The Tea Party members of the House will be under the gun in the next seven weeks as the end of the Bush tax cuts and several cuts to entitlement programs, kicks in January 1, 2013.  Will that be Orange Pekoe or cyanide?

Marty Maroun owns the 84 year-old Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit. He spent $34 million to foist a proposition on the Michigan voters that would require them to vote statewide, to approve any new bridge linking the two countries. His proposition failed by a wide margin. Even when you are a billionaire, aged 85, there is never enough.

And then there is Florida. Two days after the election, the result is still not determined. This time, the rest of the country does not have to wait for Florida to count the ballots. This is what happens when you elect a multi-millionaire executive to be governor. In defeating multi-millionaire Romney, did the country dodge a bullet? Wake me when it’s over.

2 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines