Wednesday Night #1810

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

This has been an awful week – first, the election result, then Leonard Cohen’s death (see Wednesday Night’s OWN Wanda Potrykus’ tribute Leonard Cohen, He’s Our Man)  and on Monday, the shocking news that Gwen Ifill of PBS NewsHour and Washington Week has died at the age of 61.
We should also note that The Economist published a touching tribute to Raoul Wallenberg under the heading Raoul Wallenberg was, at last, declared dead on October 26th.  While there was little doubt in recent years that this was the case,  we, along with many others, have avidly searched for scraps of news and updates of this remarkable humanitarian in the hope that somehow, against all odds, there might be a happy ending to this story.

Peter Berezin will be with us this Wednesday. As Tony Deutsch wrote to him following last Tuesday’s results “you should get full credit for being the first person I know who recognized that Trump is electable. Obviously you saw something that the rest of us did not. Grievances were out there , whether justified or otherwise, that we all agree on. Your special insight was that Trump , with his painfully obvious handicaps, would be accepted by the US electorate, as a suitable person to deal with these. A well deserved feather in your cap!”
So it behooves us to pay attention to Peter’s recent statements that
• All three of Trump’s signature policy proposals – fiscal stimulus, a more restrictive immigration policy, and trade protectionism – are dollar bullish.
• The implementation of these policies could cause the U.S. economy to overheat, forcing the Fed to raise rates more than it otherwise would.
• A Trump presidency is unlikely to lead to major institutional changes at the Fed. Trump is okay with a stronger dollar and higher rates, as long as these do not cause growth to stall.
• Investors have gone from too bearish to too bullish about what a Trump victory means for equities. A tactically cautious stance is still appropriate.

One of our favorite sources of thoughtful commentary is Project Syndicate. Over the past week, its columnists have offered copious advice including
Joseph E. Stiglitz: What America’s Economy Needs from Trump
“The first order of business is to boost investment, thereby restoring robust long-term growth. Specifically, Trump should emphasize spending on infrastructure and research. Shockingly for a country whose economic success is based on technological innovation, the GDP share of investment in basic research is lower today than it was a half-century ago.”
Nouriel Roubini predicts in The Taming of Trump that political and market forces will stifle the US president-elect’s populist agenda.
and Philippe Legrain says in Trump’s New World Disorder that the US president-elect can be expected to wreak havoc on the global economy.

We will have to get used to announcements like Oil billionaire considered to lead Energy Department, but we are not sure how we can ever adjust to the appointment of the odious Steve Bannon As worrying is the suggestion that the choice of Secretary of State probably lies between John Bolton who Wants To Bomb Iran and whom the HuffPost describes as “one of the most disliked foreign policy operators on the world stage”, and Rudy Giuliani, who blithely declared that President-elect Donald Trump would likely focus much of his initial foreign-policy strategy on destroying Islamic State, setting aside more vexing problems in the Middle East and elsewhere. We are not quite sure how one would disentangle those ‘vexing’ problems from a campaign to destroy ISIS. We wonder if either the president-elect or Mr. Giuliani has delved into the complexities bound to follow the fall of Mosul. Perhaps they should start by reading Matthew Fisher: What happens after Mosul falls will set the new status quo for region and
Petraeus says there’s a bigger challenge to come once Iraq retakes Mosul from ISIS

Peter may have some comment on the differing attitudes towards Russia of the two candidates. Bolton has repeatedly slammed President Barack Obama for his willingness to engage in limited cooperation with Russia in Syria and Iran and in 2014 wrote “I think we’ve got to begin to treat Russia like the adversary that Putin is currently demonstrating it to be.” Meanwhile, Giuliani has “issued a cavalier dismissal of the threat posed by Russia, calling for a more cooperative relationship while also suggesting that military force be more readily threatened.’Russia thinks it’s a military competitor, it really isn’t,’ Giuliani said. ‘It’s our unwillingness under (President Barack) Obama to even threaten the use of our military that makes Russia so powerful’.” As of Tuesday morning, Giuliani appears to be the favored candidate. Neither seems a splendid choice to us. For now, all we know is that Yesterday, Trump and Putin Discussed Syria. Today, Russia’s Bombing the Hell out of Aleppo.

In other related news the transition is being described as a “knife fight..” This coupled with Trump’s Transition Team Is Just Now Learning What A President Does is cause for some alarm. We cannot ever remember such public displays of rank amateurism during a transition period.

One of the more bizarre revelations is that Trump appears reluctant to move away from his penthouse apartment in his beloved Trump Tower, according to The New York Times. Trump had reportedly spoken to his advisers about how many nights a week he will have to spend in the White House, emphasizing his need to spend as much time as possible at his home in New York. Throughout his campaign, Trump was determined to fly home after every rally so he could sleep in his own bed.

A lot of truth in this piece by Freddy Gray in the Spectator.
President Donald Trump: political mastermind
Through the sheer force of his obnoxious personality, the Donald won the race.

And do not miss Cleo Paskal’s What now for Trump’s America? in the Sunday Guardian

Now that the election is over, Google and Facebook  are being targeted for presenting ‘fake news’ and/or ‘misinformation’ and are scrambling to mend their ways. This should prove to be an interesting challenge.

We have long been worried about the application of political correctness on university and college campuses. There is a wide gap between genuine concerns for students’ safety, or the need to offer comfort and counselling following a genuine tragedy, and the encouragement of reflexive shrinking from any and all potentially offensive topics.  Classes Being Canceled Because Trump Won Is Why Trump Won offers some harsh truths.
“So, Donald Trump won the presidential election, and colleges and universities around the country are predictably canceling classes and exams because students are predictably too devastated to be able to do their schoolwork
Newsflash, kids: “There is something in my life that is bothering me” is not automatically followed by “Therefore I do not have to attend to any of my responsibilities,” and your entitled expectation that it is has contributed far more to Donald Trump’s rise than anyone’s racist uncle.”

Finally, for those who, like us, are in need of a lighter moment, we recommend 25+ Hilarious Conversations Between Obama And Biden Are The Best Medicine After This Election and Joe Biden, a Meme for All Seasons

For your calendar:
The Jeanne Sauvé Foundation reminds us that they will be presenting:
Tuesday, November 22 (5-7pm): Measuring and Monitoring Progress in Solving Today’s Complex Social Challenges, with guest speakers Matthew Bishop (Senior Editor, The Economist; Co-Founder of Social Progress Index) and Dr. Angel Hsu (Assistant Professor, Yale-NUS College and Yale School of Forestry; Principal Investigator, Environmental Performance Index) and moderator Kim Samuel (Professor of Practice, McGill University).
Tuesday, November 29 (5-7pm): Overcoming Social Isolation Through Solidarity and Community Building with guest speakers Kennedy Odede (Founder/CEO, Shining Hope for Communities) and Jessica Posner (Co-Founder/COO, Shining Hope for Communities) and moderator Kim Samuel (Professor of Practice, McGill University).
Monday, December 5 (5-7pm): Building for Belonging: The Role of Urban Design in Bringing People Together. Guest Speaker TBC. Moderator: Kim Samuel (Professor of Practice, McGill University).

Sophie Conteska’s WeDoSomething Mtl continues its successful fundraising events on Wednesday 23 November with SIP+DO GOOD to support Haitians who have lost everything to Hurricane Matthew. Leave your car at home and stop by after work for Haitian-infused tunes, cocktails and nibbles in Montreal’s newest Haitian outpost, Ti-Agrikol. Your ticket entitles you to as many delicious nibbles as you can eat, as well as a drink, and thanks to Haiti’s award-winning Rhum Barbancourt, the full amount of additional cocktails purchased will go to the 2 charities we have chosen: one which addresses immediate medical emergencies in the hardest hit region of Jérémie, the other which supports long-term efforts that restore independence and dignity to those who lost everything.

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