Canucks cruise into offshore power

Posted October 13, 2013 on 1:27 am | In the category Canada, Immigration, Obama, Tea Party, U.S. Domestic Policy, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

September was one of the finest months for Canadians to demonstrate their rising power in the arena of foreign politics. The US government has shut down through the monty pythonish behaviour of  the so-callled pillars of democracy. John Cleese, where are you when the Ministry of Silly Walks would represent a  a crucial place  of stability and order in the otherwise dysfunctional pecking order of Washington D.C.?  I’ll tell you where you could ussefully demonstrate your walks.   Take a stroll  on the floor of the US Senate for 25 hours with Canadian-born Senator Tom Cruz, an expat Canadian currently living in Texas.   You could follow him as he paced about telling  you everything he knows about the awful socialist, maybe even Commie health care system in his northern  homeland, where every citizen – even Cruz, should he ever visit his homeland  – has the absolute right to free medical care, no matter who they are and what they earn.  And amazingly, he seems to know absolutely  nothing and says he didn’t even realize he was a citizen of another country, which disqualifies him from becoming US president.  He also says that he is ready  to replace President Obama, but looks like foreign affairs won’t be his strong suit.  Instead he rambled on about everything under  the sun except the tiny little step towards some sort of sanity that Obamacare would bring to the  the US medical system, which  as it is is adequate  for most of the middle and great for the upper class and non-existent for something like 45 million US citizens, who have no insurance at all if  they have any medical problem.

Meanwhile in another election in a far-off universe, the people of the Republic of Austria went to the polls, and gave a new party named after and led by Canadian auto-parts magnate Frank Stronach almost 10% of the vote.  His main strength  seemed to lie in the feeling that anybody from  a place like Canada would have to be a better leader than anyone currently involved in the chaotic dysfunctional political climate of the splendid imperial city of Vienna.   As if to prove the point, the major  right wing party received 21 % of the vote in Austria while the one with similar views on immigration and the European Union in Germany   received an almost invisible  percentage of the votes in last month’s German election, coming nowhere near the 5%  needed for entering parliament. So what do we make of it.  In a single month  a Canadian wins the Nobel Prize for Literature, another one  becomes a political force to be reckoned with in Austria, and a third one is a major mover and shaker  in the self-inflicted shutdown of the US government and considers himself to be a dark horse shot for President.  Watch out!   From Vienna to Stockholm to Washington D.C.  The Canuck are coming, the Canucks are coming!  If only they would take on Ottawa next.

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Quo vadis Europe

Posted September 5, 2012 on 1:47 am | In the category Economy, Europe, Immigration | by Mackenzie Brothers

The financial disaster called Europe sails on with no port in sight and with deadly reefs looming on a regular basis. Captain Merkel uses her delegated powers as the boss whos pays the bills to forge ahead on her chosen path with such a powerful and refined lack of charisma, in a political world otherwise run by charismatic lightweights and clowns, that no one can really challenge her spartan version of the financial globe. She demands sacrifices from European lands that have not been willing or able to live within their means, that ultimately mean a tremendous lowering of quality of life for the average Joe. Greece is the very small poster-boy for this campaign but bigger and much heftier combatants are falling over each other to try to keep out of the Merkelschiff’s course. Spain, no small piece in the European puzzle, now has higher unemploment (25% of the total population, 50% for those under 25) than does Greece. That is a recipe for disaster somewhat reminiscent of previous social catastrophes like the potato blight in 19th century Ireland (for a staggering fictional account see Peter Behrend’s The Law of Dreams) or the food failures of late 19th century Scandinavia (see Vilhelm Moberg’s epic The Emigrants). When 50% of the young people and large numbers of professionals cannot find work or feed their families, there is revolution or emigration brewing. And big players in  the economic puzzle like Italy and even France are running scared and Portugal is already staggering.

So far the solution of choice is emigration. This is a guaranteed right of all EU members and unemployed young Spaniards and Italians as well as middle-aged unemployed skilled labourers and professionals from all of southernEurope are moving north looking for jobs in Germany and Scandinavia. Portuguese engineers, with no work at home, are moving to booming oil-rich Angola or Brazil, as it suddenly pays to speak Portuguese in parts of Africa and South America. Who knows where it will end. Will the demographic map of Europe brcome seriously altered, probably to the benefit of already prosperous north european countries? Will the brain drain of southern europe to the richer EU countries or even to the former colonies, be long-lasting as was the emigration of the Scandinavians, Jews and Italians to North America a little more than100 years ago?  Or will, as Captain Merkel hopes, it all settle down relatively quickly and the EU will then reach an economic stability which is nowhere to be seen today?

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America VS. The World

Posted May 12, 2010 on 10:00 pm | In the category Immigration, Obama, Press, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian.
Pat Paulsen

As a nation of immigrants and descendants of immigrants the United States is having a hard time figuring out how to deal with immigrants. The state of Arizona has enacted a law that requires police to demand identity papers from anyone resembling their idea of whatever it is that an illegal immigrant looks like. That would tend towards demanding papers of anyone who might look Hispanic, African, or Asian but probably would not lead to police hassling Scandinavian looking blondes or worse yet, French speaking Canadians.

But lest our pals the Mackenzie brothers expect a warm welcome, the nuttiness is not restricted to Arizona. Minnesota House Republicans rolled out their own brand of Arizona-inspired immigration legislation last week, which they said was necessary in order to deal with the estimated 100,000 illegal immigrants in Minnesota. The bill, introduced by State Rep. Steve Drazkowski (a rather foreign-sounding name) (R-Mazeppa), is called the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act” and like its Arizona cousin it would impose many of the most controversial measures put in place by that legislation. A quick look at a map indicates a rather lengthy, relatively unprotected border with Canada so clearly Rep. Drazkowski has Canucks in his gun sight.

The difficulties presented by foreigners became clearer when a Greyhound bus was pulled over in Portsmouth, NH because a passenger thought he heard the word bomb over a neighboring cell phone conversation. Passengers were told to leave the bus one by one, hands up, were handcuffed and led away, but one man remained on board for hours, refusing to leave. According to police reports later the bus was surrounded and held for hours because the remaining passenger was a “strange looking man who spoke a foreign language”. The man was African, was in the U.S. legally, but did not speak English and was terrified at the huge police presence surrounding the bus.  Now, there are not a lot of Africans or African-Americans in New Hampshire (ca. 1.2%) so we can suppose he looked “strange” and lord knows he spoke a foreign language. But what is going on when a bus is isolated and surrounded by police for several hours out of fear of such a person because of an inability to deal with a foreign language? You cannot make this stuff up.

Somewhat related is the belief – held by over 20% of Americans – that President Obama was born in Africa and is therefore not eligible to be president. Arizona added to its campaign for laughing stock of the Western World when its House of Representatives passed a bill requiring any candidate for President of the U.S. to show an original birth certificate in order to be allowed on its presidential ballots. We can assume that this was not aimed at anyone with the last name “Bush” – or “McCain”, just as we can assume that it is unconstitutional and would have been deemed so had it become Arizona law.

The state of Hawaii, having produced President Obama’s birth certificate for some 40 to 50 birthers each month for over two years, finally passed a law that allows the state to ignore most of such requests, all of which come from the mainland – particularly Arizona, South Carolina and Florida, according to state spokeswoman Janice Okubo.  (Aha! Another foreign-sounding name.)

The press tends to report on these kinds of events in a straightforward kind of way that would make sense if the events made sense. They do not; all they do is embarrass us.

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Whiting out the USA

Posted August 7, 2009 on 11:17 pm | In the category Canada, Immigration, U.S. Domestic Policy, U.S. Foreign Policy, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

According to last week’s New York Times, the US Homeland Security folks have ordered the guards at their new border station in Massena, New York – across from Cornwall, Ontario – to whitewash – erase -the name United States from the side of their building, as they consider the name itself to make it a security threat. The Montreal Gazette then wrote that the word “paranoid” no longer suffices to describe the US border policy, “surreal” is the right word.

Can it really be that such a great and powerful country whose own border it is supposedly defending is afraid to name itself? Can anyone imagine Romania or Bulgaria, both of which are now easier for Canadians to enter than the USA is, giving out such an order to their border guards? Is the lady who not long ago announced that the 9/11 terrorists came from Canada still in charge of Homeland Security?
Please, Barack, put some people who live on this planet in charge of your borders before it is too late.

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Interview with The Homeland Security Secretary

Posted April 22, 2009 on 2:01 pm | In the category Canada, Immigration, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

As if poor President Obama doesn’t have enough to worry about, as he considers whether it is the chaps who ordered torture in the name of homeland security or the chaps who carried out the orders – or neither or both – who should be brought to trial. And then, as a side show, his choice for protector of that same border gives an interview on Canadian national television outlining her concerns. Coming as it did upon the conclusion of a Canuck hockey game and first round sweep, the talk with an unknown woman appeared to be a perhaps somewhat heavy-handed satire about the former guardians of the US side of the Canadian border. Here was a comedienne portraying a US diplomat who was announcing that the US-Canada border must be made more impenetrable – just like the Mexican one – because the 9/11 terrorists had entered the US that way and that the currently informal border controls would have to be made much more stringent so it didn’t happen again. Well, you could walk down the street and ask almost anyone and they would know that no 9/11 terrorists entered from Canada, so this part of this routine was too nutty to really be cutting satire. The four-hour waits at the border on the last long weekend also made the second part too obvious since it was just meant to show the supposed US diplomat hadn’t crossed that border in years, if ever.

And then her name flashed on screen – Janet Napolitano, apparently a Canadian comedienne my brother and I had never heard of, though we have great connections in that field. And then her title popped up – Homeland Security Secretary of the USA. Well, that was a good one, if a bit of a cheap shot, until it turned out to be true. This birdbrain – apparently the former governor of Arizona – is in charge of US border security, and is going to cost both countries billions of dollars in lost trade, more if she builds a wall like the one on the Mexican border in the tunnel between Detroit and Windsor, and she doesn’t know what country the guys came from who attacked New York. Sometimes satire just doesn’t pay.

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Sports and Politics – Part Four – Demographics and Football teams

Posted June 13, 2008 on 1:17 am | In the category Europe, Immigration, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

The current European football championships offer a fascinating look at the changing demographics of nations both in and out of the European Union. Some of the countries offer team rosters in which every single player has a name that reflects the traditional ethnic line that once formed the critical mass of almost any country in the map of Europe as we know it. Turkey, Greece, Romania, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Austria and Poland are all nations without colonial ambitions (in two cases we should probably add “since the end of World War One”), and none of them has a team that includes any sign of the immigration of populations from former colonies. And none of them has been much interested in encouraging new immigrants, though Poland has a rushed-through a New Pole from Brazil on its roster (he has scored their only goal so far), and Austria has a collection of names from the old Habsburg Empire, plus a couple of Turkish ones. But none of these countries has a single non-Caucasian player unlike the rainbow teams of the powerhouses.

In general one can conclude that the lesser football powers have not benefited from either having had a former colonial empire or a desire to bring in fresh blood, while the major powers have. France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Germany – the favourites – all certainly do, as would the English team if it had managed to qualify, which it didn’t. There is an exception that proves the rule, world champion Italy, which certainly has had colonial ambitions in the past and has much immigration these days, but no player on its national team has a non-italian name. And Switzerland, with a team as multicultural as France, plays a neutral role, even on the football pitch, and has already been eliminated. Russia is a world of its own, more in Asia than in Europe, but its football team seems to be made up of European Russians.

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Immigration and the U.S. Political Scene

Posted October 9, 2007 on 5:51 pm | In the category Election 2008, Immigration, Politics | by Jeff

Bob and Doug MacKenzie have posted below on the recent anti-immigrant riots in Switzerland and while they cover Europe very well indeed, they do not address the situation in their Friendly Neighbor to the South.

The endless U.S. presidential campaign has been mostly charted as a horse race with the touts focusing largely on trivialities – Hillary’s cleavage, Hillary’s cackle, Edwards’ haircut, Romney’s ” my gosh and golly” vernacular, Hucklebee’s folk songs, Giuliani’s family problems, how much money each has raised, etc. But while the Democrats focus largely on Iraq and healthcare the Republican candidates are beginning to sound a bit like the American equivalent of the European far-right. There is something about scaring the bejesus out of everybody that appeals to them and with 9/11 apparently losing some of its scare appeal they have discovered the undocumented workers who pick grapes, mow lawns, wash dishes, drive taxis, etc. as this year’s group to fear.

The United States flirted with a solution when a bipartisan immigration bill, supported by President Bush, almost passed the Congress but the bill became a target for most of the Republican candidates and they continue to suck on that teat as they drum up not-so-new passions against their latest scapegoat – the illegal immigrant. But none of them seem to have a reasonable solution – although some are better than others. The basic message is that these people are breaking our laws and we need to throw all 11 million of them out of the country and never mind whatever contribution individuals might have made – in some cases for many years – paying taxes, doing hard work for low wages, etc.

As the campaign heats up there is considerable potential for campaigns to flirt with a subtle form of racism which may very well make the U.S. a soulmate of Switzerland and Austria. And as with almost every issue of any significance in the U.S. it is becoming increasingly difficult to have a serious discussion about the real problems and practicalities involved in immigration policy with discussion moving to mindless shouting matches with bogus statistics and rants of “no amnesty”, “ they are taking our jobs”, “they want their children to go to our schools”, ad nauseum.

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trouble in paradise(s)

Posted October 9, 2007 on 2:05 am | In the category Europe, Immigration, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

The ever more violent clashes between far right and far left political groups in Europe erupted in a most unexpected place on the weekend, Bern, the capital of Switzerland, which would probably win a popularity poll searching out the most peaceful place in Europe. But for anyone paying attention to the growing animosity between those in favour of a multicultural/multiethnic Europe reflecting the concept of free movement and settlement of people across borders, and those defending the idea that a piece of land occupied for millennia by a specific linguistic (and often ethnic) group should remain the domain of that group, this should not have been such a surprise. Switzerland has always had a strong nationalistic wing determined to keep Switzerland as Swiss as Wilhelm Tell would have liked it, and it is not only in recent years that there has been a strong far right party, which now however forms the largest party in the Swiss parliament.
The latest clashes took place when masked far left left wing demonstrators stopped a political march by 10,000 members of the arch-conservative Swiss Peoples Party under its leader, Switzerland’s finance minister Christoph Blocher. In the ensuing riots, 17 policeman were injured, some of them seriously, store windows were smashed, cars set on fire and dozens of protesters arrested. My brother and I have come up with a theory about the rise of big right wing parties in western Europe that are opposed to much immigration, namely that they are growing by leaps and bounds in small countries, where many citizens are afraid that their old national qualities will be threatened by immigrant groups preaching new religions, speaking exotic languages and demanding different social codes. Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Austria are all western European societies with long histories and short borders and they have all spawned far right parties with broad popular support drawing on the fears of large-scale immigration. It’s true that some larger countries, France comes quickly to mind, have had serious flirtations with such groups as well, but they seem to be able to swallow them up much more easily into moderately conservative parties than can those small nations who consider themselves under immediate threat.

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The War on Drugs: Nonsense and Insensibilities

Posted May 14, 2007 on 3:18 pm | In the category Canada, Immigration, Terrorism, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

A short item in the NY Times today tells of a Canadian psychotherapist who was stopped at the border by U.S. immigration officials who searched his name on the Internet and learned that he had written in an academic journal about his experiences with psychedelic drugs in the  1960’s. The article continues:

He was asked by a border guard whether he was the author of the article and whether it was true. Yes, he replied. And yes.

Mr. Feldmar was held for four hours, fingerprinted and, after signing a statement conceding the long-ago drug use, sent home.

Mike Milne, a spokesman for the Customs and Border Protection agency in Seattle, said he could not discuss individual cases for reasons of privacy. But the law is clear, Mr. Milne said. People who have used drugs are not welcome here.

“If you are or have been a drug user,” he said, “that’s one of the many things that can make you inadmissible to the United States.”

Since the psychotherapist gave up drugs in 1974 he could hardly be deemed any more of a threat than – oh let’s say, the border guard who did a random and arbitrary internet search and added one more nail in the twin coffins of a sane immigration policy and an effective war on terror.

The good news is that this raises the possibility of extraditing known cocaine user George W. Bush to whoever would take him – maybe Iraq? Not Canada certainly.

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