Wednesday Night #1866

Written by  //  December 13, 2017  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Looking forward to a double-header with Peter Berezin and Mario Iacobacci
Peter is due to talk about his recent two-part Special Report imagining a hypothetical timeline of key economic and financial events spanning the next five years. Part I covered the period from the present to the brewing crisis in October 2019 while Part II examines the subsequent three years.
Mario will discuss his recently published examination of Public Infrastructure Projects Business Cases that looks at which projects create value for the public at large and which do not.

We wrote tonight with one ear and eye on the news from Alabama. But it turned out not to be as long a night as we expected and Roy Moore can return to the gutter whence he came. Moore’s defeat by Democrat Doug Jones is a significant loss for Trump, and for Steve Bannon.
Like so many, we have been astounded by the voters’ reactions over the past days, notably those who insist that Roy Moore shares their “Christian values”, a consideration that handily defeats any qualms about his morality. The Hill reported that according to an early exit poll from NBC News, 49% of voters believe the allegations of sexual molestation are probably or definitely true, while 45 percent say they are probably or definitely false … and 35% believe the allegations don’t factor into the race at all.
The dilemma for the Republican Party and leadership was what to do if he won? David Brooks wrote that “If Republicans accept Roy Moore as a United States senator, they may, for a couple years, have one more vote for a justice or a tax cut, but they will have made their party loathsome for an entire generation.” (The G.O.P. Is Rotting)
The Jones victory must be a huge relief for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and his fellow Republicans, even though  it means the GOP will have just a 51-49 edge in the Senate for the next year. But Moore’s defeat is a significant loss for Trump, and for Steve Bannon. The tweets will be ferocious. And we may see more and more symptoms of The Madness of King Donald from Trump.

Meanwhile, the unloved tax ‘reform’ bill lurks in the background. Paul Krugman writes witheringly of the one-page report claiming that tax cuts would pay for themselves. “The document was a shameless attempt to fool the public — carefully worded to imply that economic experts at Treasury (they’re still in there somewhere, maybe locked in a closet) had actually done an analysis to that effect, without explicitly saying so. In fact, there was no economic analysis; Trump officials just made up numbers that would give them the result they wanted. He adds, “The department’s inspector general is investigating what actually happened, because Mnuchin repeatedly claimed to have such an analysis in hand.” If the experts actually did do an analysis, they probably found what everyone else has found — namely, that tax cuts come nowhere near to paying for themselves…”

As we contemplate the swirling snow of Montreal’s first real storm of the season, we could only wish that it were descending on the terrible California wildfires in the form of badly-needed rain. But, of course, there is no climate change according to the White House and its allies.

Taking advantage of the climate change skeptics, On Monday, French President Emmanuel awarded 18 climate scientists — most of them based in the U.S. — multimillion-euro grants to relocate to France for the rest of Trump’s term.

December 11 was the 60th anniversary of Lester Pearson’s Nobel Address The Four Faces of Peace, suitably celebrated on Parliament Hill and in a number of analyses including Remembering Lester Pearson, the peacebuilder by Robert Greenhill and Marina Sharpe, who argue that “While Lester B. Pearson is most remembered for his contributions to peacekeeping, he added just as much to Canada’s foreign policy legacy with his leadership on international assistance.” They are somewhat kinder to the current government than is Andrew Cohen in Lester Pearson is back in favour but the international role he fashioned for Canada is lagging who concludes “To the world, it [the government] declares: “Canada is back.” More likely, Mr. Pearson is back. Canada is not.”
The proof may well be in the pudding of the 2018 G7 meeting in La Malbaie, Quebec. We are told [by Peter Boehm, deputy minister for the G7 summit] that “Along with inclusive economic growth — which has in the past been the G7’s main raison d’être — and a traditional focus on security issues, Boehm was enthusiastic about an agenda that will highlight gender equality and climate change.” We wonder what Mr. Pearson would think.

We wonder how he would have felt about the selection of Richard Wagner as the next Supreme Court chief justice.
Chantal Hébert, always one of the best commentators, suggests that the Court and the country may be in for some interesting times.

Have you been following the story of ‘Oumuamua‘? Do you know what ‘Oumuamua’ is? It is the first interstellar object seen in our solar system. And starting Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time, the Green Bank Telescope will aim at  and observe the asteroid for 10 hours across four bands of radio frequency. The results may be made public within a matter of days. Astronomers around the world have chased after the mysterious space rock with their telescopes, collecting as much data as they could as it sped away. Their observations revealed a truly unusual object with puzzling properties. Scientists have long predicted an interstellar visitor would someday coast into our corner of the universe, but not something like this. “The more I study this object, the more unusual it appears, making me wonder whether it might be an artificially made probe which was sent by an alien civilization,” Avi Loeb, the chair of Harvard’s astronomy department. Stay tuned!
The mystery of who paid the astronomical price of $450 million for Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is solved and we also know who the previous owner was: Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. It will be exhibited in the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Prince Badr Al Saud acted as an intermediary to help the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism buy the painting
One friend comments:
“A Wahhabi prince, intercedes for Sunni buyer of a catholic artist’s work depicting the prophet Jesus. I hope the irony of this is not lost…” We would add only that the report comes from Bloomberg, completing the ecumenical circle.

Update: Sam Stein responds: Re the purchase of the Leonardo painting by the Abu Dhabi Louvre, Islam considers Jesus as an important prophet, second only to Mohammed himself, so it’s not all that odd for the museum to be acquiring or displaying it. What is odd, is the whole notion of a museum if anyone had been serious about Wahhabi thinking, which forbids any representation or veneration of saints or objects associated with them (you may have noticed that there is no representation anywhere of Mohammed). This is what animated the destruction of the Timbuktu shrines.

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