Wednesday Night #1776

Written by  //  March 16, 2016  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Much discussion of the U.S. political scene and the awfulness of Donald Trump’s success which is based on his very clever catering to the dissatisfaction of the American people with the politics of Washington. His gift for speaking to the public at the level of 4th grade education, with frequent repetition of key words and expressions is part of his success, but so, it seems, is his appeal to baser instincts, along with a complete disregard of facts (and sometimes the truth). Fact checking seems irrelevant to his supporters. What happens if he (the matter of the $40 million suit over Trump University) and Hillary (Judge inches toward subpoenas in Clinton email server case) are both overcome with legal problems – would their respective conventions take the risk of nominating them?. Ted Cruze and John Kasich are not welcome alternatives. Senator Cruze is an ideologue whom nobody in his own party seems to like and Governor Kasich is far from  warm and cuddly; his anti-abortion and anti-labor actions have been reprehensible. Now there’s talk of a brokered convention and Paul Ryan as the compromise ‘moderate’.
Could Michael Bloomberg be drafted by the Democrats at the Convention?
Tony suggested that we have heard nothing recently about the Castro brothers (Julian & Joaquín Castro) who both have a lot to offer, not least of all having a Texan and Latino to balance the ticket. [Last June, The Daily Beast ran a story Why Hillary Needs Julian Castro as Veep extolling the virtues of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julio] – being identical twins, one can think of all sorts of improbable plot lines to follow. That said, is it too early for Americans to embrace a pair of Castro brothers, even if they are Texans of Mexican descent?

With the arrival of Hosein, we turned our attention to the results of the recent elections in Iran. Certainly the election of so many ‘moderates’, essentially supporters of President Hassan Rouhani, and the defeat of several prominent hardliners is cause for optimism. Younger Iranians are anxious for greater opening to the west. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is the Supreme Leader and as such is far more powerful than the President of Iran. It is the S.L. who appoints the heads of the military, the civil government, and the Chief Justice (with none of President Obama’s problems) – plus he is Commander-in-chief of the Iranian Armed Forces and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

P R O L O G U E

1776 …  If the members of the Continental Congress could have viewed today’s presidential primary circus, perhaps they would not have signed the Declaration of Independence.

The results of Tuesday’s primaries are in.Trump’s wins in Florida (Marco Rubio has suspended his campaign), Illinois and North Carolina brought him closer to the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination and left those in the party trying to stop him with a dilemma. Republicans can either throw their weight behind a candidate who rejects their policy goals or go on trying to stop him in the hope that he falls short of the majority required, enabling them to put forward another candidate at the July convention in Cleveland to formally pick their candidate for the Nov. 8 election. That, however, would risk alienating the millions of Americans who back the real estate developer and former reality TV show host.
If you can bear it, check out this segment Tar Heel family illustrates why Trump appeals to the South – three generations working for The Donald.
Two interesting explanations of Donald Trump’s success:
The payback candidate: Trump’s campaign is for conservatives seeking revenge on everyone they think disrespects them
Trump’s running to get revenge on everyone who laughed at him, and that’s why his supporters identify with him — Trump’s personal motivations are fascinating, but what is even more so is how much his pettiness, his hurt ego, and his desire for revenge on those who think aren’t giving him his due is what compels his supporters to rally around him.
Andrew Coyne: Trump is winning not in spite of his vices, but because of them
Once, it might have been held against a candidate that he had no experience in politics or governing, had no serious policies, was unfamiliar with basic facts, slurred women and minority groups, issued public threats against those who crossed him, announced his intent to break the law once in office, celebrated and encouraged violence at his rallies, and generally carried on like a disturbed adolescent.
But Trump has turned all of these into virtues. He is winning not in spite of these, but because of them.

Never underestimate Russia‘s Vladimir Putin’s ability to surprise. The editors of the Quartz Monday morning brief summarized the pundits’ dilemma neatly: The pullout means either that Putin thinks that Assad’s rule is no longer threatened, no longer believes the Syrian ruler can maintain his grip on the fractured country, or doesn’t care if Assad falls. Our favorite European listening post suggests that “If the Saudis, Iran, Turkey, France and USA would do the same, the Syrians could decide for themselves what kind of future they want and are able to have. Probably this would lead back to Assad’s authoritarian regime, but also allow the majority of Syrian refugees to return home. They did not leave to escape Assad, but to avoid being killed in a war not of their making.” PBS offered a good report from Margaret Warner, reminding viewers that Tuesday marked five years since the armed uprising in Syria.

Justin Trudeau in Washington – and now at the UN
It seems he is going where Stephen Harper feared to tread. In the most recent “David v David” commentary published in the Epoch Times, David Jones does not attempt to hide his scorn for the Washington visit, but then he has never hidden his scorn for President Obama or Canada’s Liberals. David Kilgour is far more positive while unable to resist commenting: For reasons of politeness, Canadians are likely to continue avoiding discussions with Americans on deep-difference issues such as governance (and election spending limits), resource management, health care, education, culture, gun laws, capital punishment, and international relations.

President Obama will visit the U.K. sometime in April to try to convince the British public to vote on remaining in the European Union when a referendum is held in June, according to a report in The Independent on Sunday newspaper. We wonder if anyone will bring up the matter ofthe 240th anniversary of above-mentioned Declaration? Obama’s visit comes at a time of fraught campaigning by both sides of the political establishment to persuade Brits to vote either to “stay” in the EU, or to “leave.” We suggest that he not bring  the brilliant and prescient commentary on Brexit from  Yes Minister: Sir Humphrey on Europe

An unhappy reminder from a Kashmiri friend that March 16 marks the 170th anniversary of the day when Kashmir was sold by the British East India to Gulab Singh in exchange for 7.5 lakh Nanak Shahi ruppees and one horse, twelve shawl goats of approved breed (six male and six female) and three pairs of Cashmere shawls.
Postmedia sale complicated by unsustainable debt and sagging business model: Don Pittis
In one possible future scenario, Paul Knox, former chair of the Ryerson School of Journalism, who has written for newspapers across the country, sees the papers and their associated websites being sold off to people with deep pockets who have a stake in keeping their local communities vibrant. … while exactly who owns the shares in Postmedia may not matter to many, the survival of the privately controlled news media in so many Canadian cities — reporting on government, business and the local scene — remains important to all Canadians, whether they know it or not.

Tuesday 22 March – Budget Day
While you are pondering the possibilities, you might want to take a look at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Alternative Federal Budget 2016 which, the Centre claims, delivers a plan that would lift 1.1 million Canadians out of poverty, reduce income inequality, boost economic growth, and, at its peak, result in 520,000 new jobs, bringing Canada’s unemployment rate to 6.0%. Wednesday Night economists, on your mark!
And by the way, 1776 was the year that Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations in London.

For the mathematically inclined (or as Gerald would say, the numerates), this offering on Monday via Ron Robertson.
Today is Pi Day, 3/14. To observe this mathy holiday, Xiaojing Ye from Georgia State looks back at the search for the value of pi since ancient times, and Lorenzo Sadun from the University of Texas points out places pi appears that you might not expect.
This Pi Day is very special, in 2016…Today is 3/14/16, which is Pi to 4 decimal places….(3.14159….)…It will never happen again…. – ahem, at least not for another 100 years.

 

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