Wednesday Night #1824

Written by  //  February 22, 2017  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

An historical note:
There was a U.S. presidential election in 1824 about which Wikipedia has this to say (note some similarities with current events) “The United States presidential election of 1824 was the tenth quadrennial presidential election, held from Tuesday, October 26, to Thursday, December 2, 1824. John Quincy Adams was elected President on February 9, 1825. The election was the only one in history to be decided by the House of Representatives under the provisions of the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution after no candidate secured a majority of the electoral vote. It was also the first U.S. presidential election where the popular vote was reported,[1] and the only presidential election in which the candidate who received a plurality of electoral votes (Andrew Jackson) did not become President, a source of great bitterness for Jackson and his supporters, who proclaimed the election of Adams a corrupt bargain.” Would this be why The Donald has Andrew Jackson’s portrait prominently displayed in the Oval Office?

Peter Berezin joins us to share his wisdom and views on the economy. A quick summary would include:

  • Global growth has accelerated, corporate earnings are rebounding, and leading indicators suggest that these positive trends will persist over the remainder of the year. This supports our cyclically bullish view on global equities.
  • Looking further out, the impulse to growth from the easing in financial conditions that began in early 2016 will fade, setting the stage for a slowdown in 2018.
  • If growth does falter next year, easier fiscal policy could provide an offsetting tailwind. However, there continues to be a large gap between what politicians are promising and what they can realistically deliver.
  • What is different this time is that spare capacity is much lower than it was during previous mid-cycle slowdowns. Thus, while global bond yields could eventually dip, they remain in a secular uptrend.

As some celebrated Presidents’ Day (which used to be known as Washington’s birthday in honor of the president who could not tell a lie) and others Not My President’s Day, the rift between the two Americas seems to only deepen each day of the new administration. At his campaign rally last Friday, Trump repeated the claim he made at Thursday’s rather extraordinary press conference that  “this administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”  However, the establishment media are pretty unanimous that it has not been an outstanding success. And Senator John McCain broke with the reassuring message that U.S. officials visiting Germany have sought to convey on their debut trip to Europe, saying on Friday that the Trump administration was in “disarray”. (Trump’s team in disarray, U.S. Senator McCain tells Europe)
The announcement of the appointment of Lt. Gen.  H.R. McMaster may have quelled some of the problems and uncertainties at the National Security Council, although it is uncertain how he will get along with the ubiquitous Steve Bannon given that he apparently holds different views from the Trump team on Russia, counterterrorism, strengthening the military and other major security issues.

We continue to be overwhelmed by fake and real news coming from the U.S. The Don’s unprecedented attack on five major news organizations (while relying on Breitbart, Alex Jones’ infowars and usually – but not always- Fox News; he’s not thrilled with Chris Wallace these days) as “the enemy of the American people”  is not only dismaying, but truly scary. We try to keep up with the debate on our page on Media Matters but can only touch on the highlights.  However, Steve Levine, writing on Quartz, offers this useful thought: “Reporters around the world know this drill—a leader who feels a need for an enemy in order to rule effectively. And so he creates one. As for the wild praise of his followers, I and colleagues have seen that, too—the president who plays to the galleries. Trump does not hate the media—for him, it is theater.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has his hands full with problems ranging from the South China Sea to an administration that is speaking out of both sides of its mouth to Europe, as Vice President Pence conveyed assurances of support for the EU on Monday while it is reported that the week before, Steve  Bannon met with Germany’s ambassador to Washington and expressed his view that the EU is a flawed construct and that he favoured conducting relations with Europe on a bilateral basis. What is interesting about this report is that these are apparently Bannon’s views, with no allusion to Mr. Trump …

Meanwhile, the leader of Germany’s far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) held talks with Russian officials during a visit to Moscow at the weekend, including with an ultra-nationalist ally of President Vladimir Putin, as French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron visited British PM Teresa May and  vowed an aggressive fight against the far right. He also had some tough words on post-Brexit arrangements between the two countries, saying he wanted “banks, talents, researchers, academics” to move across the Channel after Britain leaves the EU – and that his programmes would include “a series of initiatives to get talented people in research and lots of fields working here to come to France”. All of this as concern is growing in the City that Brexit-related bank moves could unravel related professions and risk wider financial turmoil. But Mark Carney expressed a much more sanguine evaluation on Tuesday, saying Brexit could be ‘smooth’ after all

Positive feedback from PM Trudeau’s Washington trip came from Mar-a-Lago where former PM Brian Mulroney and Mila dined with the Trumps during a cancer benefit and he received a standing ovation for singing When Irish Eyes are Smiling it. The Globe & Mail reports that “Mr. Mulroney has taken on the role of Mr. Trudeau’s unofficial emissary to the United States, using his long-time personal connection to Mr. Trump and other members of his cabinet, as well as the President’s outside business advisory councils, to help shield Canada from America First protectionist policies. … Since Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Mulroney and former Canadian ambassador to Washington Derek Burney have acted as informal advisers on how to handle the Republican-led Congress and the Trump White House and cabinet secretaries.” This example of non-partisan cooperation is all too infrequent and very welcome.

It would be nice if we could say the same for the reaction to the Anti-Islamophobia motion  M-103 , but sadly Conservative Leadership candidates Brad Trost, Kellie Leitch, Chris Alexander and Pierre Lemieux have been leading a pack of hysterical opponents of what Terry Glavin refers to as the “shabbily-drafted but otherwise sensible Liberal motion on the contested subject of “Islamophobia”.  They should be ashamed to be making common cause with Ezra Levant and the Rebel team. Happily, interim leader Rona Ambrose, Saskatchewan MP David Anderson and Ontario MP Scott Reid, along with leadership candidates Michael Chong and Erin O’Toole have demonstrated the fair-minded and constructive approach that should be the hallmark of a Loyal Opposition.

We should also acknowledge Mr. Trudeau’s gracious apology for his refusal to answer a question in English when asked specifically about English mental health services at his town hall meeting in Sherbrooke, Que., last month. Trudeau has since called the woman he replied to in French at the meeting to offer his apologies and wrote to the Quebec Community Groups Network, saying he is committed to the English-language minority in Quebec. Good to see a leader who can admit an error.

We recommend the recent lengthy article published by Quartz: These are the science concepts you need to know to understand political life in 2017
Faced with a bombardment of environmental data, our brains make constant unconscious judgments about what’s worth our attention. Confirmation bias is the flaw in our reasoning that impels us to seek information that supports our beliefs and discount or ignore that which doesn’t. It’s a constant presence in our politics, media, and personal relationships.
When it comes to science, confirmation bias can lead to flawed research and disastrous results. It’s the reason doctors are prone to overlook symptoms that undermine their diagnoses, or researchers dismiss as errors results that don’t support their hypotheses.

Kudos and Congratulations to Beryl Wajsman and the staff of The Suburban!
“After some nine months of conception, writing, editing, selling, artwork and production The Suburban’s 270 page special edition magazine celebrating MTL375 will be out tomorrow (Wednesday 22 Feb) …a rare thing in today’s contracting world of hard-copy press….this is a keeper and it is excellence in journalism. Look for it at your door and at newsstands throughout the GMA…distribution continues through March 2.” We dare to hope that Wednesday Night will merit a copy or two, even if, for whatever reason, we are not normally within the delivery area.

For your calendar:

3 March 2017, 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM EST
Montreal session
AGE-WELL and HACKING HEALTH have teamed up to launch a national ideation competition. The challenge is focused on identifying and investing in great new ideas (technologies and services) to support healthy aging.
An ideathon is a collaborative event where diverse stakeholders harness their collective knowledge and creativity to brainstorm innovative solutions to pressing challenges.

17 March 2017 — 1 October 2017
Fashioning Expo 67 at the McCord Museum
Embracing visual image, display, and spectacle to promote its optimistic and forward-looking world view, Expo 67 was a watershed moment for Montreal. Its modern mix of art, architecture, technology and design conveyed a message of openness and creativity that resonated with the Canadian fashion milieu. Young designers and manufacturers alike seized the opportunity to participate in multiple projects such as futuristic fashion magazine spreads shot on the site, locally designed uniforms for hostesses, and live fashion shows with roller skating models, and take advantage of this exceptional showcase to shine on a world stage. The exhibition Fashioning Expo 67 invites visitors to enter the world of Expo 67 and experience the effervescence of Montreal’s fashion moment. The exhibition will feature over 60 outfits —hostess uniforms from various pavilions, branded clothing by Quebec designers— and products from every sector of Canadian fashion, including hats, gloves, umbrellas, purses, jewellery, and even fur.

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