Wednesday Night #1811

Written by  //  November 23, 2016  //  Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1811

Discussion about the obvious conflicts of interest regarding the Trump organization and the necessary probity of the occupant of the White House focused on three alternatives.
a) Blind Trust
b) Turn everything over to the children and maintain that they will be completely divorced from any and all discussions and/or information regarding Administration policies.
c) Sell all the Trump holdings.
Each of these alternatives is better in theory than in practice. The second is obviously totally unrealistic. What would they discuss at family get-togethers?
A very cogent piece (No More Business as Usual, Mr. Trump – He has to abandon his company in order to deal on the country’s behalf.) from Peggy Noonan of the WSJ (with whom we almost never agree) sums up the problem and concludes:
“It would be a painful act, selling the business he loves and around which he has ordered his life. But there would be comfort in this: In doing the right thing, in denying his opponents a sword, in enhancing his stature and demonstrating that yes, he will sacrifice for his country.
You’ve made your money. Now go be a patriot.”
For the lovers of Sesame Street, and in honor of American Thanksgiving, this Wednesday Night is brought to you by the letter T
and the letter E

The TPP appears to be dead in the water (the Pacific Ocean), thanks to president-elect (we do have trouble saying or writing this) Trump’s announcement that he will cancel the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on his first day in office (Jan 20)
Among all the wringing-of-hands articles, Gwynne Dyer’s Opinion piece The end of the big trade deals nears presents some interesting views as does David Jones’ Trump Faces Foreign Policy Challenge in East Asia
Guy Stanley reacts to the Gwynne Dyer perspective as follows:
“The big trade deal was the WTO. The failure of Doha sparked a spree of regionals of which this is one, in which trade policy is used “strategically” to produce some geopolitical result – mainly commercial pressure on those not included. Some in the US also believe that trade diplomacy should produce a hub and spoke system in which the US is the hub. The Canada-US FTA was the first of those deals. If this is the last of those deals, then so much the better. They generally undermine or complicate the progress the WTO was designed to produce and reflect the inability of trade mavens in some big western countries to deliver enhanced market access in heavily protected sectors — like agriculture. Another point (rarely made although timely) is that the full costs of trade liberalization has to include trade and tech adjustment programs. Neolib governments rarely made the calculations nor worked the policies, preferring to trust in the “magic” of markets.”

Justin Trudeau has been busy. According to the government website, “During the [APEC] meeting, the Prime Minister worked closely with his counterparts to promote a progressive trade agenda that builds a stronger middle class, and ensures the benefits of an open global trading environment are fairly distributed and felt by everyone.” There is that terribly over-used ‘middle class’ again. When will our politicians simply talk about Canadians? Now he is off to La Francophonie via Liberia and Madagascar – while at home he is under fire for attending a cash-for-access fundraiser with Chinese billionaires.

At this point, there are at least three schools of thought aside from the alt-right. The first wants desperately to believe that Donald Trump could not possibly be as awful as his campaign persona – this group is aided and abetted by ‘soft’ interviews like the Tuesday evening PBS interview with Kellyanne Conway, who says that he is open to listening on climate, Medicare and will make decisions in consultation with his experts. His sit-down with the [sworn enemy] New York Times indicated some significant shifts in policy. Another group is horrified by perceived attempts to ‘normalize’ Donald Trump (e.g. the 60 Minutes interview), although The New Yorker’s David Remnick will certainly make sure that doesn’t happen. Finally, there are those who believe that the president-elect represents one of the greatest threats to democracy (James K. Galbraith: Trump era threatens pillars of US society) and the internationalists among them are concerned that ‘Trumpism’ is spreading. And France could well be headed in the same direction
We are all deluged with facts and factoids from our friends and favorite sources, so we will simply offer this link to a very perceptive view of the urban/rural divide between U.S. voters. Tony Deutsch notes that the current governments of Hungary and Poland also owe their election to this divide.
Whether it is announcements of staff and cabinet picks – some good (Nikki Haley?), some bad (Rudy Giuliani, really? ) and some ugly (Steve Bannon): – or slightly weird statements about Melania not moving in to the White House, the media are ready to pounce. And that despite the current castigation of the role of social media aka fake news sites (see: Social media, society and technology 2016).

The only good news is that the government has withdrawn the appalling bill that would have granted amnesty to some men convicted of child sex assault if they married their victims.
Aside from that, Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) is likely to table a bill for a referendum on the constitution in the coming months… under the proposal Erdoğan would be able to continue in office until 2029.(Erdoğan rule could extend until 2029 under proposal) and Turkey has issued arrest warrants for the leader of the main Syrian Kurdish party (PYD) allied with the western anti-“Islamic State” coalition. Ankara accuses the PYD of ties to Kurdish guerillas in Turkey’s southeast (Turkey indicts top Syrian Kurdish leader). And finally, “Whether sacked in the post-coup purge or for signing a petition decrying violence against Kurds, Turkish academics are leaving in droves and don’t plan to return. They say more will follow, irreparably damaging Turkey.” (Turkey’s post-coup brain drain)

The Economy
Project Syndicate is packed with opinions about how Donald Trump’s election will affect the U.S. and other economies, but Mr. Trump’s volatile nature makes predictions chancy at best. Even Nouriel Roubini is unusually hesitant about predictions, pointing out that “Markets will give Trump the benefit of the doubt, for now; but investors are now watching whom he appoints to his administration, what shape his fiscal policies actually take, and what course he charts for monetary policy.”
Alexander Friedman asks Can Global Capitalism Be Saved? and fails to answer his own question at least, not to our satisfaction.

The Environment
As delegates emerged relatively satisfied from the COP22 Climate talks, President Obama Scrapped Arctic Drilling Ahead Of the Trump Presidency and the arrival of Myron Ebell, the Climate Contrarian, who is Now Plotting the EPA’s Precarious Future. Donald Trump has promised in a video address on Monday that he will scrap regulations that hold back fossil fuel production. “I will cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal, creating many millions of high paying jobs.”


You have, of course, been avidly following the search for Canada’s national bird, so you probably know that the the gray jay has beaten out the loon, snowy owl, goose and black-capped chickadee. Gray jay? Sounds disappointingly modest, but we were cheered by the fact that it is also known as “whiskey jack,” Wisakedjak in Cree, meaning mischievous prankster.

Thank you to Quartz for pointing us to this delicious item from the Toronto Star. We cannot help but wonder if the location of the major Pokemon Cabot Square activity near the Westmount RCMP HQ is significant…
Canada’s spies have a new risk — Pokemon
CSE issues guidelines for spooks trying to catch ’em all.
The game uses a phone’s GPS and camera to catch and battle Pokemon in the real world — players collect, train and fight Pokemon at “Poke-stops” and “gyms” attached to locations like churches and restaurants.
But because the game requires location and camera data to play, it poses a risk to people who would rather not be tracked: like employees of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s powerful electronic spying agency.
For instance, if you check into the same Poke-stops while walking your dog or commuting to work, that information would show times when you’re likely not home or what bus routes you commonly take.
The agency also recommended creating a dummy Google account, using a fake name not associated with your other online activities, like “Professor Oak.” Trainer names should likewise avoid using real names or biographical information, such as birthdays.

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