Wednesday Night #1871

Written by  //  January 17, 2018  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Welcome home all friends who have been taunting us with pictures of beautiful beaches and blue seas – we hope you are enjoying the heavy white blanket that has enveloped Montreal and all the noisy night-time snow removal activity. Even less fun is the news of rising taxes with which to pay for it and many others items in the new budget. The demerged municipalities are being hit hard and will likely contest. Honeymoon’s over, Mayor Plante.

Yet another Trump-dominated news cycle this week with his vulgar dismissal of immigrants from Haiti, Africa, Latin America and pretty much everywhere except Norway. The outraged response has ranged from dignified diplomatic (the ambassador from Haiti, an MIT graduate, was particularly engaging) to defiant promos of gifted young people from some of those countries. Among the reactions, one of the most interesting points to the fact that “Africans have the highest educational attainment rates of any immigrant group in the United States with higher levels of completion than the stereotyped Asian American model minority. It is not only the first generation that does well, as estimates indicate that a highly disproportionate percentage of black students at elite universities are African or the children of African immigrants.”
Meanwhile, the fight over President Trump’s vulgar comment is exposing divisions in both parties, raising the risk of a government shutdown with unknown political consequences.

As the DACA debate continues, When Deportation Is a Death Sentence is a poignant and distressing account of what all-too-often happens to undocumented immigrants and those seeking asylum in the U.S.

Rest assured, Trump supporters aka deplorables, Conrad Black has ridden to the rescue. In an opinion (Mr. Black has never been short of those) piece Michael Wolff and the Death Rattle of Trumpophobia in The National Review, he states “”The nasty little secret, singing joyously above the battlefield like a lark, is that Donald Trump is a very capable president, and has had the best first year of any president since Nixon, if not Eisenhower, or even FDR.”
Some suspicious minds might wonder if he is angling for a presidential pardon.

It seems that the enthusiasm for an Oprah run for the presidency is dwindling, as some thoughtful analysts suggest that trading one celebrity billionaire for another, albeit a far more sympathetic one, would in effect, as The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland argues “be declaring that Trump was right, that the presidency is indeed an extension of the entertainment industry: [the Democrats] just want to install a different entertainer.” Also telling is Oprah Winfrey Helped Create Our American Fantasyland – Any assessment of her possible presidential bid should consider the irrational, pseudoscientific free for all she helped create.

For the Russia watchers among us, we suggest the two-part Passionate Eye documentary Putin’s Revenge It “draws on more than 60 interviews with heads of U.S. intelligence agencies, diplomats, Russian politicians, historians and journalists to trace how Putin went from low-ranking KGB agent to long-serving president of a newly assertive Russia with the ability to wage cyber-war in the U.S. and across the globe.”
Meanwhile, Virginia Heffernan, the talented daughter of one of Diana’s dear friend from Georgetown days, paints a fascinating picture of the founder of Fusion GPS and his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee: “Simpson insists he’s still an investigative reporter, in quest of nothing but the facts. At Fusion GPS, however, he works for corporations, individual billionaires and governments — figures who, unlike newspapers, pay real money. For the first time, there is one entity Simpson is not working for: readers.” A close reading of Glenn Simpson’s Trump-Russia testimony

Freedom House has released its annual Freedom in the World 2018: Its conclusions? Political rights and civil liberties around the world deteriorated to their lowest point in more than a decade in 2017, extending a period characterized by emboldened autocrats, beleaguered democracies, and the United States’ withdrawal from its leadership role in the global struggle for human freedom.
Democracy is in crisis. The values it embodies—particularly the right to choose leaders in free and fair elections, freedom of the press, and the rule of law—are under assault and in retreat globally.

One of our great good fortunes is the number of Wednesday Nighters who publish their thoughts on a range of topics.
We somehow missed Julius Grey‘s excellent column Fighting right-wing populism and the identity politics of the left last month, but it remains as timely today.
“In the name of solidarity and freedom, it’s high time to repudiate the new cruelty that is seen on both ends of the political spectrum.” After castigating the populism of the right, he turns to: “It appears that the identity politics that has taken over the left — gender politics, ethnic politics, native rights — exhibits much of the cruelty of the new demagogic right. We see no problem in destroying careers over politically incorrect statements, especially in academia, in smashing reputations because of unproved allegations, in creating panic about sexual matters so as to exclude non-conformists, in demanding quotas and depriving some of the chance to succeed.”
This week, the two Davids examine the circumstances surrounding German Chancellor Angela Merkel and possible future scenarios as the fate of coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) is to be decided on January 21st. Read David Jones: Rust Spots Gather on the Iron Chancellor and David Kilgour: Europe, and the World, Need Merkel in Office
Alan Hustak‘s latest book Magnetic North – the unauthorized biography of Justin Trudeau, Canada’s selfie PM is a great addition to our library and we eagerly anticipate Alan’s return from Saskatchewan in March when we will welcome him back to WN.

Escapist moments:

On January 17th, the entire Food section of The New York Times will be devoted to the food scene in Canada, ranging from indigenous restaurants to immigrant cuisines. It marks the occasion of both The Times’s expanding coverage of Canada’s rich and diverse cuisine and their first live event in Montreal.

Steve McQueen’s “Lost” Bullitt Mustang Is Unveiled
The star of arguably cinema’s greatest chase was long thought to be lost to history, but it’s just been in a New Jersey garage for a few decades. And even better, it was just unveiled Sunday in Detroit, along with a new 2018 Bullitt-edition Mustang, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the movie. If we had a ridiculous amount of disposable income, there would be a Bullitt-edition Mustang in our parking space.

And in conclusion: the perils of machine translation

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