Dear America

I must admit you both mystify me and frighten me. The current administration is especially worrisome. Before I go any further, I must state I am writing the from outside your borders, so I have not extensively studied your history.

As I understand it, the United States was settled by immigrants fleeing tyranny and religious persecution in various parts of Europe. If this is as accurate as I’ve been led to believe, can you explain something please? Why is it you, in the form of your government are trying to prevent people fleeing a similar situation from entering your country? What ever happened to “Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to be free…”? Or does that not have an asterisk after it? Something like *”Provided those masses are white Christians”?

Since January 2017 I’ve noticed something of a paradox in your country. There appears to have been an increase in xenophobia, which is commonly defined as “a fear of foreigners”. This of course could lead to the situation described in the previous paragraph. Yet at the same time your leader seems to have no problem interfering or attempting to interfere in the affairs of other nations through threats of tariffs or other means. America has long considered itself a shining beacon in the world, worthy of being emulated. Unfortunately, in the past almost two years, the current administration has dimmed that beacon and turned that perception into one of bully and laughingstock.

On the level of the individual, I admit I am completely baffled by the way you approach politics. From what I’ve seen, both online and through personal contact, if your parents vote for one particular party, that’s the way you vote. Is this because “what’s good enough for m parents is good enough for me” or did you examine the parties and candidates and make your own decision? My sons were raised to think for themselves and to question things. One result of that is that the politics of my oldest son are nothing like mine. But he’s taken the time to look at candidates and issues and reached his own conclusions. I also cannot fathom the way many of you register as supporters of a particular party.

Another thing I and many of my friends fail to grasp is the chauvinism displayed by many Americans. Yes, we too are proud patriots, but we don’t feel the need to proclaim that by flying our national flag from our homes. National pride is a good thing, but by constantly telling everyone what a great country your have, you actually come across as insecure about that greatness.

Finally, I’ll just come out and admit it: Your President scares the crap out of me. How many times since he was sworn in on that day in January 2017 has ne pushed the world to the brink of war? People, a war with another nuclear nation won’t just affect the two warring parties. Radiation won’t magically stop at he borders of the nations involved. It will affect all of us. An analogy might be the Icelandic volcano that erupted. The cloud from that grounded all air traffic in Europe for weeks stranding thousands. Radiation from a war would spread over a much wider area. I can only hope that last night’s election results can put a leash on some of his more outlandish pronouncements and actions.

I am also deeply disturbed by presidential actions and directives aimed at the LGBT communities. Whether he wants to admit it or not, many people who stand under this umbrella are making valuable contributions to American society, such as serving in the military. Yet he wants to legislate them out of existence,

I haven’t studied political science or international relations. I’m just someone who observes then thinks about what I’ve seen. What I’ve written here is based upon that, one more observation before I close: it will take the United States of America at least a decade after the current administration leaves office to recover from and repair the internal and international damage.

Cat,

America, where have you gone?

I am really worried about the future of the United States of America. Let me explain my concerns. Since the spring of 2017, America appears to be on a downward spiral.

Thanks to the rhetoric of the apprentice president, the country seems to be more divided than at any other time in recent history. Emboldened by the vile words that emanated from the election campaign, and the apparent tacit approval of the Oval Office, the white supremacists and other nationalistic groups have attacked, verbally and physically, minorities; people of colour and people of other faiths. Has the apprentice done or said anything to alleviate this dissent and social unrest? No. In fact, when referring to the Charlottesville murder, he is quoted as saying there were probably “good people” on both sides. How the hell can someone who deliberately ran their vehicle into a group of peaceful demonstrators, killing one, be called a “good person?” Just about every day, there are reports of some white person calling the police because they see some black person doing something innocent. The comments issuing from the White House and some of the legislation and executive orders are doing nothing to ease the “us against them’ mentality that seems to have taken hold in the so-called “land of the free”. Or does that phrase have an asterisk after it now: *provided you’re a white American citizen?

Immigrants are being targeted. We’ve all seen or heard of the current situation where children of all ages are being separated from their parents if they try to cross the southern border outside a regular border-crossing point.

The economy is another area the apprentice president seems to be intent on destroying. Trade barriers in the form of tariffs while good in theory, don’t work in practice. When a country imposes punitive duties on imports, two things happen. First, imported goods become more expensive. If the goods are materials for the manufacture of products, the costs are passed along to the end user – you. If finished products are imported, the same thing happens – you end up paying more for that product. Why is this? Simple. Because the manufacturer or importer isn’t going to eat those additional costs since it will affect their profits, therefore the consumer pays more. The second thing trade barriers do is cause the countries affected by American import duties to retaliate by imposing their own extra duties on American products. The result? The other country will buy less from American suppliers because of the extra duties; and they’ll find a manufacturer in some other country that can provide goods of a comparable quality at a lower cost. According to a news report I saw tonight on one of the news channels, at the moment, Washington has imposed punitive extra duties on goods from countries, and had those countries impose similar duties on American goods, that account for two-thirds of American foreign trade. I have read in the last couple of days that BMW, which manufactures vehicles in the US, is going to move some production to China to avoid the tariffs the Chinese have imposed on the import of automobiles manufactured in the US. Even if you’re not an economics major, you know what effect those actions are going to have on the economy of the United States? If you said they will cost jobs, you pass the course.

Internationally, in addition to the imposition of trade barriers, the apprentice appears to have made it his personal mission to alienate nations that have long been staunch allies of the US. His habit of meddling or commenting on the internal affairs of other nations have done much to ensure that other countries don’t like America much right now. Just today, at the NATO meeting in Brussels, he tore a strip of Germany for their reliance on natural gas from Russia, going so far as to call Germany “a slave of Russia”. I’m certain that Angela Merkel loved hearing that from someone many in her country consider a buffoon. In the meantime, while driving allies away, he is making efforts to become friends with Vladimir Putin, the leader of a country long considered America’s sworn enemy.

The military is another area that seems to have attracted the attention of “the powers? that be”. Having failed to have any and all transgender members discharged, they have turned their attention to immigrants serving in the armed forces. Some are being discharged, often with no reason given, or a vague “national security” reason, with no specifics provided. Such action can only serve to weaken morale in the armed forces. Having worked for a company that at one time, was reducing staff, I know that such actions lead to a general feeling of “am I going to be here next week? Or am I the next on the chopping block?”

A country divided internally by strife; with a struggling economy and a weakened and demoralized military is a prime target for some power with a hatred of the US to consider an attack of some type. This may not be an actual physical occupation, it could take the form of an economic takeover of the United States instead. No fuss, no muss and the objective is still achieved.

I seriously hope I’m wrong, but from what I’ve seen, this appears to be very possible.

Cat.

What will he try next?

Ever since he won the Republican nomination people have been comparing Donald Trump’s various pronouncements to those of Adolph Hitler during the 1930’s. This past weekend the apprentice president (my term for him) made comment on the fact the government of the People’s Republic of China is debating a motion to allow President Xi Jinping to remain president for life. The apprentice president’s comment was to the effect maybe the US should try that someday.

That set off alarms in my mind for last year I mentioned to a friend that we’d seen the last free election in the States. In my gloomy mind, I could see a crisis manufactured that would require the 2020 elections to be suspended “in the interests of national security” for the foreseeable future, which would leave the apprentice president in charge. Think it couldn’t happen?

Don’t forget the apprentice president seems to admire Hitler’s methods and some of his ideas and don’t forget Hitler used the Reichstag fire to postpone free elections in Germany until 1946. What will be the donald’s version of the Reichstag fire?

For those unsure of the reference to the Reichstag fire, a brief primer. One night, there was a fire at the Riechstag (think “Congress”). A Dutch immigrant, who was a Communist sympathizer, was arrested, tried and found guilty of the crime. Many people now believe he was framed and it was actually an inside job, the purpose of which was to bring in further restrictions on the populace and give an excuse to suspend elections

Some historians have pointed out the donald has already followed some of the things Hitler did, such as demonizing the press (“fake news”); done his best to incite animosity toward immigrants; incite mistrust in the courts and law enforcement and marginalise certain religions. I might add, that even if he himself isn’t capable of engineering such an outcome himself, there are others inside and outside his administration who would gladly take such steps for him.

I really hope I’m wrong in my assessment, but I have a nagging feeling I’m right.

Cat.

A view from without

For the past several months, there have been many postings on social media both for and against the apprentice president. I use Facebook, but I presume the reactions are the same on all social platforms: comments follow such postings – comments that either castigate or support the posted point of view. Some of these comments come from people from other countries and are occasionally met with responses along the lines of “why are you commenting, you’re not even American?”

This is in response to those questioning outside comments. Reasonable people, no matter where they live, are aware that what happens in Washington will, or may, affect them and their countries of residence. Whether something as simple as insulting Kim Jong-un (“little rocket man”) or as divisive as declaring the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the words and tweets of the apprentice have an effect not only in the US, but internationally. Look at the protests and riots in some cases over the Jerusalem announcement. As I write this, there are protests in front of the US embassy in Toronto.

While American influence on a global scale has been somewhat diminished by the actions and comments of the current occupant of the White House, it is still significant in many places. Leaders of countries that are considered allies of America are condemning the Jerusalem decision, claiming that rather than bring stability and peace to the region, it will only inflame passions.

We here in Canada, especially those in the southern part of the country, are inundated with American broadcasting, including news, mainly because we more or less speak the same language. So much so does this occur that many Canadians are more aware of the American political scene than they are of their own. We are also aware that as our closest neighbour, events in the US may affect Canada long before they affect other parts of the world.

To those who question why we comment on postings about the apprentice president, I say this: America does not exist in a bubble – our ass in on the line too.

Cat,

Kellyanne Conway explained

INTENDED AS HUMOUR OR SARCASM AND NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY

As a Canadian and not directly involved in the recent American election, I’ve refrained from commenting on the fallout from the results of that election except for the occasional snarky comment of other people’s Facebook posts. To be honest, Donald Trump scares the living hell out of me.  But Kellyanne Conway and some of her bizarre comments are just too tempting to resist.

If you read or watch science fiction, you are no doubt aware of the concept of alternate universes.  This concept goes a long way to explaining her comments, specifically the “Bowling Green Massacre.”    It should be obvious to even the most casual follower of news and/or politics that she is not from this planet.

An alternate universe would easily explain her comments.  In our universe (the “real” universe) Bowling Green is known as the location of GM’s Corvette assembly line.  But, in the universe usually inhabited by Ms Conway, it was the scene of a terrible massacre by terrorists.

The problem isn’t that she’s using alternative facts, it’s that with her ability to engage in interdimensional travel, she sometimes forgets which universe she’s occupying.  There, problem solved and her weird statements explained.  Think about it – what else makes sense.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too, no matter what universe we inhabit.

Cat.

Walls to the south of us, walls to the north

We’ve all heard Donald Trump talk about a wall between Mexico and the US. But how many of us remember long gone Republican candidate Scott Walker suggested a wall between the US and Canada.

Having spent perhaps three minutes considering his idea, it is very obvious this man is intellectually unable to fulfil his current elected position. Think about the physical problems such a wall would entail and tell me you don’t agree with my assessment. Let’s start with the simple fact such a wall would be at least 5,000 miles long – more if he wants to wall off Alaska from those pesky Canadians. And don’t expect Canada to pay for it.

Did Walker consider that the only road access to Alaska runs through – guess where – Canada! Another little problem there with the wall and land access is Port Robert Washington. It’s stuck on a peninsula on the south coast of British Columbia and once again, the only land access is through B C. If you’re driving, you need to clear Canada Customs at one of the ports of entry south of Vancouver, then go through US customs when you get to Port Robert. Unless there’s a wall in the way, in which case someone will have to institute a ferry service from mainland Washington and avoid customs all together.

Across the prairies there doesn’t seem to be any unusual pitfalls. At least not until you get to the Great Lakes. This vast inland freshwater sea is where his plan really starts to fall apart. Look at a map and you’ll see the border runs approximately down the middle of the lakes and connecting waterways. There are three possibilities – the Canadian shore, the American shore, or follow the border exactly. And there are problems with all three. I can’t see either Canada or the US being willing to cede even one foot of territory for this wall. The third choice – following the border – has the additional pitfall that Lake Superior is 900 feet deep in places. That’s a lot of bricks. The border also runs down the centre, more or less, of the St Lawrence River. Again, same problem.

Now that we’re in the eastern part of the continent, he’d start running into other problems. Straddling the Canadian/US border, as well as the Ontario/Quebec border is the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve. Can’t see the Mohawks agreeing to a wall down the middle of the St Lawrence because it would interfere with their “extra-legal imports”. When the border cuts inland on the south shore, things really reach migraine status for our unthinking politician. Many small towns and villages in Quebec and bordering states actually straddle the border, In some cases, where the house was built before the border was set, it isn’t unusual for the kitchen to be in one country and the living room to be in the other. Derby Line Vermont comes to mind as a place where this happens.

I can’t think of any major problems, other than rivers, between New Brunswick and Maine, to cause our politician grief, other than the mutual co-operation that exists between Calais Maine and the corresponding Canadian city (the name of which escapes me, but I think it might be St, Stephen NB).

So, if three minutes thought gives me this many flaws in his suggestion, do you really want to vote for him again?

Cat.

Be afraid – your future is at stake

I wasn’t sure I wanted to post this, but what the hell.  As a blogger and writer, if I’m not upsetting people and/or making them think, I’m not doing it right. And I’ve taken  flak before.  After one posting I had my intelligence compared unfairly to that of a turnip, but I know that on a good day I can outsmart that turnip two times out of three.  First off, I’m Canadian, so the results of the upcoming presidential election shouldn’t have any direct effect on me.  But, as a thinking human being, I am also aware that what happens south of the 49th parallel will affect my country as well.  As a result, I’ve paid some attention to what is happening in the primaries, especially the Republican campaign.  I’ve stayed away from commenting on the campaigns so, far, but I think it’s time I voiced my opinion.

I’ll admit Donald Trump scares me.  From what I’ve seen and heard, he is preaching a gospel of hate.  Talk of building a wall along the US/Mexican border; banning all Muslim immigrants from the country and now, in the wake of Brussels, increasing police presence in Muslim areas and around mosques doesn’t exactly sound presidential.  Throw in his attitudes towards torture and this is one scary man.  If you notice, he keeps talking about “making America great again” and “getting Isis”, yet I’ve never heard him offer one single detail of how he will accomplish this other than “nuke ‘em”.   Talking with friends, most agree that if elected, Trump would drag the world into another war.  Most put the time frame for that at somewhere between six and fifteen months.  And unlike previous wars, this time America would be in the crosshairs which means Canada would also be hit.

As much as Trump scares me, Ted Cruz absolutely terrifies me. He too favours using nuclear weapons in the middle east (“I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’ll find out”). This man is an evangelical Christian from all reports, which is a dangerous character flaw for a politician because they tend to follow their teachings rather than common sense when dealing with matters of state.  One report stated that if elected, he would establish a national church, which I understand is in direct conflict with the Constitution.  Yesterday, during an interview, one of his aides stated that Senator Joe McCarthy had the right idea with the House Un-American Activities Committee – the “Red Scare” of the 1950’s – and it should be re-instated.

Picture this: If Cruz were to win and establish this national religion; and the aide wasn’t speaking his personal opinion on HUAC, we could be looking at America becoming a theocracy.  And no doubt the reborn HUAC would be used to root out heretics (“are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Episcopalian Church?”).

Cruz also favours increased security in Muslim areas and other xenophobic measures.

Both men seem to favour isolationist policies (other than bombing the middle east) based on their comments about building walls and banning  immigrants.  My view is that  the world would take care of that for them because if either were to actually follow through on their exclusionary rhetoric, most of the world would boycott America.

Those who follow American politics and have a better understanding of how the system works have told me that in the unlikely event either man does become the next President, the system would prevent them from instituting their more radical ideas.  I certainly hope so.

But, in the event they are wrong, Ontario is a nice place to live and winters aren’t really that bad.

Cat.