Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Why Donald Trump hates the Clintons

Donald hates the Clintons?

No way!

Best buds: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (with Bill Clinton and Melania Trump above) have their arms around one another and are smiling for the camera in a photo from his 2005 wedding

In fact, these folks in the photo were pals for forty years before Donald and Hillary embarked on the great Presidential run-off.

Donald doesn't hate the Clintons. Together they're taking over the country!

The Three Amigos or the Three Stooges?

In my ruminations about the Ottawa summit meeting of Obama, Nieto, and Trudeau, I painted a rather bleak picture of the human rights situation in Mexico. It's actually considerably worse than that.

Got a death wish? Get into journalism in Mexico. I understand they have jobs available! (That's a tip for all you unemployed J-school grads with a bit of Spanish language skills in hand - you don't have to work at Starbucks, you could be practising your craft!) Yup, Mexico needs some dedicated investigative journos to help root out corruption!

Good luck!

Here's another great career choice for the aspiring idealist with a bit of Spanish; become a labour union organizer in Mexico! Not for one of the state controlled official unions, but for the fledgling independent labour movement.

You'll soon find yourself in the same ditch as Mr. Journalist above. Your heads may very well wake up somewhere else.

Yes, there are ample human rights issues in the northerly Amigostans, but Mexico is an entirely different world... so why are Mssrs. Obama and Trudeau sucking up to the leader of a corrupt failed state?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Two Amigos and a Stooge

It's a big week in Ottawa. Yup, the "Three Amigos" festival is in full swing! That's where the leaders of the three NAFTA partners get together to tell one another how great they are.

NAFTA. What a grand boondoggle that was!

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

I'm sure I wasn't the only working-class Canadian who had trouble understanding why creating a level playing field between five dollar a day Mexican labour and twenty dollar an hour Canadian labour wasn't going to turn out well for our side.

And, although our mainstream economic pundits still can't bring themselves to admit it, it hasn't. But here's what's really messed up; it hasn't worked out for the Mexicans either! Or the Americans for that matter.

You don't want to over-generalize of course. It goes without saying that NAFTA has been good for some folks in all three countries. It just hasn't been good for average folks in any of them. The one percenters have done quite well by it though.

So what you're seeing in Ottawa this week is two leaders of more or less developed nations getting together with the leader of what is, for all practical purposes, a failed state. It's not really "Three Amigos" we're watching here; it's two Amigos and their crooked and perhaps slightly retarded cousin.

Here's a brief synopsis from Business Insider of the kind of hanky-panky that would have got the other two Amigos impeached, if not jailed. In Mexico corruption is taken for granted. "Show me a poor politician and I'll show you a poor politician" is a popular maxim.

And you can't pin all the failure on Nieto - he's had a lot of help. NAFTA, crafted when Nieto was still in short pants, set the stage for an influx of jobs from the northern partners on the one hand, but at the same time it threw millions of peasants off the land by flooding Mexico with subsidized US agricultural products, especially corn. So industrial jobs grew in number but due to the oversupply of labour the pay went down. So much for the rising tide lifting all boats.

Not that the tide actually rose all that much. When NAFTA was created a peso was worth thirty cents. Now it's worth a nickel. There goes your rising tide!

The other thing that's been killing Mexico is the exorbitant level of violence. Think we've got a problem with MMIW here in Canada? We certainly do, but in Mexico they call their missing and murdered women a "pandemic of femicide." Not only that, but the record of law enforcement in Mexico is exponentially worse than ours; less than two percent of crimes ever result in a conviction.

And let's not forget about those 43 student-teachers who just "disappeared." Yup, they were last seen in police custody, and then they were gone! Nobody knows a thing.

I know we've got our quarrels with the cops here in the northern Amigostans, but nothing on that scale!

Then you've got the ever-popular war on drugs. About ten years ago W and Nieto's predecessor signed the Merida Initiative, whereby the US would give the Mexican government lots of guns and money and the Mexican government would get really serious about fighting the cartels. Can't say the Mexicans haven't held up their part of the bargain; at least 165,000 civilians dead in the ensuing ramped up war on drugs.

Just how violent is Mexico? We Canadians like to think of ourselves as a peaceable kingdom compared to our gun-happy neighbours in the USA. Well guess what? Cross the Rio Grande and the murder rate is 400% higher than in the US!

Anyway, at least for this week, they're all just three happy "Amigos," living large on the public dime in Ottawa, pleased to be doing the photo-ops together. And Justin's already made a beautiful gesture to help those Mexicans set things right.

They'll no longer need visas to visit Canada.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Is Donald Trump Hillary's stalking horse?

Think back as hard as you can (if you can) to the Donald - Hillary relationship before this so-called election campaign began.

Do you ever, ever, ever recall them getting pissy with one another?

No! In fact they were pals!

True fact; Hillary and Bubba went to one of Donald's weddings.

Hmm... give it some thought, folks.

The history of shoes

Met my old pal Kipling at the Teviotdale Truck Stop for breakfast a couple of weeks ago, there to shoot the shit and catch up on what old mutual acquaintances are out of jail or in the nursing home. Or in the grave. We get together every three or four months, or whenever my supply of the weed 'o wisdom is running low.

Kipling has been a big fan of this blog ever since I first mentioned his name in it. He occasionally makes suggestions, and at this breakfast meeting he suggested I cut back on the political shit and do more "human interest" stuff.

Fair enough, but the way I see it, there's a huge overlap between the political and that human interest shit. Didn't some wise person once claim that "the personal is political?"

Sure, but you know what? There's something that's both personal and political...


Back in the sixties and seventies you couldn't open the business section of Canada's national newspaper of record without reading some fawning story about a great Canadian success; the Bata shoe empire. You got the impression Thomas Bata was some struggling immigrant who arrived at Pier 21 penniless, and due to Canada's wholesome pro-business environment and his adopted Canadian values of honesty, integrity, and hard work, made a success of himself. Yup, the classic Horatio Alger tale, but set in the Great White North.

Kipling was my connection to Wally Tucker and the Church of the Universe, and, over the years, a lot of really good weed. Sometimes, too, some not so good weed... but also, at times, weed that was WAY TOO GOOD! And I gotta say, over the years he has developed into quite an astonishingly competent herbalist.

That's why it's so important to the think tank here at Falling Downs, that as PM POTHEAD legalizes the weed, that space be left for the independent small-time cultivators like Kipling who have been cultivating better bud for the past fifty years.

I generally don't fire one up till the Farm Manager has turned in for the night. It wasn't always that way. We used to enjoy sharing a few giggles. That changed forever one night after we burned one in the WTG category mentioned above. Not to give too much away, but she came damned close to being the first person in the 10,000 year history of cannabis consumption to OD on pot.

After three puffs!

See what I mean about way too good? So ever since then I make sure I just get the more gentle stuff from Kipling.

So the other night, I'm sitting in the kitchen, kinda mellow, researching the history of shoes, and out the corner of my eye I think I see a mouse scurry across the kitchen counter.

Impossible! We've got two elite mousers living in the house, and at least one them is so big she's taken on the nickname "Doublewide."  No chance any mice are getting past her!

It's just your imagination, I tell myself.

Back to the shoes.

There's no denying that the Bata shoe empire was a great success story. How "Canadian" it ever was is open to question. Seems the Bata clan owned one of the world's great shoe empires back in the 1930's, when they were based in Eastern Europe, with over 60,000 employees and thousands of retail outlets around the world.

So then I think I see another mouse... holy shit... two mice? Playing tag on the countertop? No way... sure enough, when I actually focus on them, they go away.

Just the weed, obviously.

By the middle eighties the esteemed Bata name had fallen into some measure of disrepute, at least in the "radical" circles I prided myself in being peripherally associated with at the time, and here's why.

Seems the Bata empire was opening up shoe factories all over the global south. India, Pakistan, all over Africa, and everywhere they opened a new factory the story was the same; the supply of cheap plastic injection-molded shoes had a devastating impact on the traditional local shoe-making industry and their supply chains. Yup, one little factory in Sandalistan would employ twenty people and throw two thousand local artisans out of work.

Hey, I have no clue how much of that was actually true, but there was an "activist community" that believed every word of it.

Anyway, aside from the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, you'd have to look pretty hard for a trace of that great Canadian success story in Canada today. The company remains a big player in the global footwear industry, but now they're based in... what?!

There's two mice on the fucking counter... they're pulling a strand of spaghetti out of the saucepan... wait a minute... I can't believe it!.. They're swinging it around like it's a skipping rope! Oh my god, I can't believe what I'm seeing! Here come the baby mouses... and ya, they are actually skipping rope with a piece of spaghetti on my countertop!

Holy shit, brother, that is some nice weed!

Where was I... oh ya. Bata destroyed the traditional sandal making artisans all over Africa. That's why I was so pleased when I came across this story at CNN.  That right there is a bit of an anomaly, isn't it? A good news story at CNN? Out of Africa?

Yup, imagine that, Africans manufacturing a world-class product.

Gonna get me a pair of Enzi shoes, and you should too.

Think I'll pick up a couple of mousetraps as well, just in case there's more at work in my kitchen than the potency of Kipling's pot.

England Brexits out of EUFA Cup!

These are indeed dark days for the British Empire. Last week, bitter old white people wrenched the country out of the EU. If you've been reading The Guardian you'll know this means old white people, especially the ones not employed by the big banks, are not only bitter but stupid as well. Sure they used to have jobs and now they don't, but how is that the fault of the five million east Europeans who have moved to the UK since the '90's? Whatever happened to digging deep, bucking up, the stiff upper lip etc?

But today's shock is, if such a thing is at all fathomable, even more shocking - being sent home from the EUFA cup by... Iceland?



TransCanada looks to US taxpayers for $15 billion compensation for not building Keystone XL

As outrageous as that sounds, that's precisely how "free trade" agreements are intended to work. Kind of a "heads I win, tails you lose" arrangement if you ask me, but our corporate overlords love it! Build your pipeline and laugh all the way to the bank, or don't build it, claim 15 billions in compensation, and laugh all the way to the bank anyway!