Wednesday Night #1807

Written by  //  October 19, 2016  //  Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

With our thanks to Catherine Gillbert who made sure the WN tradition was unbroken!
Together, we watched every minute of the Debate on PBS and shared our reactions, including our shock and disbelief of Donald Trump’s refusal to say that he would accept the election’s outcome. This was the moment of the debate on which most media seized.
The New York Times, as usual, produced almost-instantaneous reaction What We Saw in the Final Debate from a variety of opionators
The Atlantic‘s review was even harsher:

Clinton Nukes Trump’s Remaining Chances
The Democratic nominee threw her rival’s own words back at him, to illustrate his unsuitability for the office he seeks.
Never has Donald Trump looked so wrong and so dangerous as he did in the final debate against Hillary Clinton, huffing and puffing and sweaty-upper-lip sniffing over nuclear weapons.
He overstated Russia’s nuclear might. He disowned his own words. He lost his barely contained temper when Clinton said she finds the prospect of Trump’s finger on the nuclear button “terrifying.”
“Look, she’s been proven to be a liar on so many ways,” Trump pouted. “This is just another lie.”
It was no lie. Clinton simply had the temerity to quote Trump himself to show how little he knows or cares about the fragile set of post-World War II agreements that have contained nuclear proliferation. She said Trump would let non-nuclear countries go nuclear. “There’s no quote,” he said. “You won’t find a quote from me.”
Yes, we will.

T H E  P R O L O G U E

Something to take the focus off Brexit – two auspicious anniversaries were celebrated in the UK on October 14.
Battle of Hastings re-enacted by 1,000 soldiers for 950th anniversary
By the coast near Hastings on 14 October 1066, the forces of Harold and Duke William of Normandy met. Anglo-Saxon King Harold was killed and William seized the English throne, in a battle whose bloodshed was later immortalised in the Bayeux tapestry. William earned his epithet of “the Conqueror” and in time the town of Battle grew up around an abbey built to commemorate the event.
Oct. 14, 2016 marked the 90th birthday of Winnie-the-Pooh! (All that honey must have real health benefits.) To celebrate everyone’s favourite Silly Old Bear and his friends, CBC has come up with 90 weird and wonderful facts about the Hundred Acre Wood, 90 wonderful facts for Winnie-the-Pooh’s 90th birthday In May, we missed the enchanting new story  Winnie-the-Pooh tours London, meets Queen Elizabeth celebrating Her Majesty’s 90th birthday (and Pooh’s). We hate to find fault, but while the narration is charming, the illustrations just don’t capture the magic of the originals by Ernest H. Shepard.

In our current quasi-catatonic state we almost missed the first anniversary of the Trudeau government’s Oct. 19, 2015, election, an anniversary worth celebrating, especially when we contrast the tone of that election campaign with the one that has us mesmerized this year. Maclean’s offers a score card of promises kept, promises broken and promises being studied or consulted on, or -as John Geddes puts it- ‘works in progress’. Elizabeth Thompson is less forgiving as she details the backlog of more than 300 government-in-council and other appointments that are due to be filled. At least one outstanding vacancy was filled shortly after she filed her story when Malcolm Rowe was named to replace Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell.
David T. Jones, our OWN eagle-eyed observer of all things Canada-U.S., did not miss the anniversary and has produced an impressive overview of the past year’s developments, 2016: A Summer of (Liberal) Canadian Content for The Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Quirky Canadians as therapists. Some Canadians watching as American politics have hit rock bottom in recent weeks decided that the United States needed a cross-border pep talk. Thus was born a social media campaign called “Tell America It’s Great,” complete with a hashtag, a Twitter account and a series of YouTube videos.

Last Friday, the Globe & Mail published the wonderful news that “the Bank of Nova Scotia is adding another new face to its economics team, injecting new blood that should help the institution have a bigger impact on policy matters.” The new face is Wednesday Nighter Brett House, who has been named the bank’s deputy chief economist and we are now assured of a steady stream of his writings on matter of economics and public policy. Perhaps he will start with comments on the following:
Complexity Economics Shows Us Why Traditional Economics Always Fails — Why markets are like gardens, not machines.
And then move on to this:
Canada’s cowardly CEOs are sitting on billions, rather than investing in the economy – Michael’s essay
Last month, Deloitte published the results of a survey of big business which showed that fully 90 per cent of business leaders lack courage. As a result, the Canadian economy is suffering mightily, stuck in neutral, as Deloitte says. The report is entitled “The future belongs to the bold.” It found that Canadian executives are far more risk averse than those in other countries, especially the United States. The irony is that Deloitte found that the 10 percent of so-called courageous companies did better at the bottom line than the chicken-hearted.
On the topic of risk, Inder Arya, writing in the Gazette, reminds individual investors that When investing, it’s important to understand how to assess risk reminds us that “Geopolitical and government changes are also risks that are hard to quantify, such as certain Argentine bond holders finally repaid after years of lawsuits. There may be specific geographic risks, such as an earthquake in Japan knocking out a nuclear reactor and directly affecting uranium sales from Canada. Legislative changes, such as a taxation change affecting the net return for an investor from a previously tax-sheltered income stream, can also be hard to measure, but undoubtedly have a noted effect on your portfolio. These and many other qualitative elements can be broken down further, debated, guessed at, or even ignored, depending on your investment philosophy.”
Another friend of Wednesday Night, C. Uday Bhaskar, writes about the BRICS Summit in Goa – Bilateral Buoyancy , giving the Indian perspective and emphasizing that the real deal was the trade and aid partnerships. He concludes:
“Can Chinese investment in major infrastructure projects like ports and roads enable tangible enhancement of regional connectivity in the Bay of Bengal? By extension, can India leverage this for its own economic agenda that includes the coastal states and the Indian North East ? This will call for a review by Delhi of its current China policy which is dominated by security-strategic issues that include the discomfiture with Beijing’s unswerving support to Pakistan, NSG membership et al. The reality that Delhi has to face is that India’s interlocutors — whether in BRICS or in SAARC — do not perceive China in a manner similar to India. Whether Delhi can engage with Beijing on trade and economic issues, while seeking to quarantine terrorism will be the litmus test for the political dexterity of the Modi-Xi combine and the future of the Asian century.”

Mosul is taking over some of the headlines from Aleppo. Despite general agreement that Mosul will fall and some up-beat declarations about the troops advancing more quickly than expected, the general outlook is best summed up by Tallha Abdulrazaq, writing on Al Jazeera, Mosul will fall again, but at great cost. In What happens after Mosul falls will set the new status quo for region, Matthew Fisher outlines some of the issues that will plague the aftermath, noting that “The biggest elephant in the room is Kurdish independence, but tensions could surface quickly if ISIL’s resistance suddenly collapses, and fighters try to flee across the desert to Syria, where its other redoubt, Raqqa, is besieged by Russian and Syrian forces and coalition warplanes.
Among the competing interests are members of the Kurdish peshmerga, who are itching to seize more land for what they hope will be a Kurdish state. Another possibility is the territory that evolves north and east of Mosul is so autonomous, it will be independent in everything but name.”

As pollsters and pundits predict that Donald Trump’s campaign is heading south, he is fomenting post-election trouble. He spent the weekend asserting that the 2016 election is “rigged” by the media, by potential voter fraud, and—much more disturbingly—by the electorate itself, thus sowing deep suspicion of the American system.  The stakes are high: Democracy itself depends on the losers accepting defeat. There is no basis for his charges according to numerous stories including The Atlantic  and The Guardian, as well as the excellent segment of PBS Newshour “Why Trump’s ‘rigged election’ claims are wrong and dangerous”.  During the  latter, Richard Hasen  raised a truly terrifying issue that so far has not been discussed: “I’m worried especially in states where there is an open-carry law and people could be taking firearms to the polling place.” We cannot fathom why anyone would want to incite such reactions, but have given up any thought of judging the candidate by any normal standard.
Do watch  President Obama: “I’d invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.”

Céline Cooper salutes the New York Times for standing up to Donald Trump and quotes a statement from the chairman of the Committee to Protect Journalists recognizing that a Donald Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom.
A sad example of that reality is The Arizona Republic which endorsed Hillary Clinton, the first time in over 125 years that the paper had endorsed a Democrat. Since then, the paper’s publisher and staff at all levels have received death threats. Read the response from the publisher, a very courageous woman.
The Columbia Journalism Review underscores Donald Trump’s antipathy to any critical press in Trump’s many, many threats to sue the press since launching his campaign
Meanwhile, Cleo Paskal writes in The Sunday Guardian that The big debate in US is about the media “All over the media landscape, “right wing” and “left wing” outlets screamed at each other from their fortresses, each accusing the other of everything up to, and sometimes including, treason.” … “This is far beyond partisan business as usual. Tom Rosenstiel, the executive director of the American Press Institute, described one of the camps this way: “This is the journalism of affirmation, not verification … It’s designed to reaffirm what you’re thinking.”

To conclude on a happier note. If there was need of justification for our fondness for CBC Radio and the ubiquitous Michael Enright, this delightful audio scrapbook from CBC’s Rewind  is it.
CBC Explains takes you from the 1940’s to the 1990’s for a look at the early days of the metric system, mobile phones, the internet and wacky new food like pizza and fondue. Remember fondue parties?
A delightful reminder of how bewildering the appeal or usefulness of a new technology – or product – can be to an older or uninitiated generation.
We remember the awesomeness of having car telephones in the late ’60s that we acquired when a security service decided to upgrade.

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #1807"

  1. Douglas Lightfoot October 19, 2016 at 1:24 pm ·

    The Battle of Hastings has an interesting history in our family. There were Lightfoots on the side of King Harold. My wife’s family were on the side of William of Normandy. We did not know this until a few years ago when Anne’s maiden name of Nourse was traced back to Normandy.
    It was the conquest by William that enriched the English language. For example, the meat from sheep is known as mutton from the French word mouton for sheep.
    Hope you have a good meeting. Best wishes,
    Douglas Lightfoot

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