Wednesday Night #1881

Written by  //  March 28, 2018  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Every week is weirder, a situation that is certainly taking its toll on the part of the population that loyally follows ‘Fake’ not flawed Fox news.

It started on Thursday with Donald Trump’s naming of John Bolton as National Security Adviser. Reaction was swift and  largely very negative. Writing in the Washington Post, conservative columnist George F. Will calls Bolton The second-most dangerous American “Because John Bolton is five things President Trump is not — intelligent, educated, principled, articulate and experienced — and because of Bolton’s West Wing proximity to a president responsive to the most recent thought he has heard emanating from cable television or an employee, Bolton will soon be the second-most dangerous American. On April 9, he will be the first national security adviser who, upon taking up residence down the hall from the Oval Office, will be suggesting that the United States should seriously consider embarking on war crimes.” One of the most disturbing aspects of his thinking is advocacy of striking North Korea now, and risking the most destructive war in living memory, to prevent it from threatening the United States with nuclear weapons later. [John Bolton’s Radical Views on North Korea]

While Donald Trump prepares (a strong word in this case) to meet with North Korea’s Dear Leader,  Kim Jong-un, met secretly with President Xi Jinping of China in Beijing.

On Friday, Trump engaged in a will-you-won’t-you-sign charade and  even though it didn’t give him money for his Wall, he  signed massive spending bill, but not before a little drama.  In the where-there’s-a-will category, the WaPost reports that “Trump has told advisers that he was spurned in a large spending bill last week when lawmakers appropriated only $1.6 billion for the border wall. He has suggested to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and congressional leaders that the Pentagon could fund the sprawling project, citing a “national security” risk.”
The good news buried deep down below the military spending is that Federal funding for the arts goes up, despite GOP attempts to slash it and funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will remain at $465 million.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin casually suggested that Congress could give President Donald Trump “line-item veto” power — something the Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional, Fox’s Chris Wallace had to explain to him that Congress could not overrule the Supreme Court without amending the Constitution. Shouldn’t there be a school for U.S. Cabinet appointees with quizzes about the Constitution?

Trump escaped to Mar-a-Lago for the weekend, presumably to avoid the Daniels Storm, not to mention the March For Our Lives on Saturday. Everyone has read, watched and listened to the coverage of both events, so we will refrain from adding to your wealth of commentary and information, except to point you to this Slate article: They Were Trained for This MomentHow the student activists of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High demonstrate the power of a comprehensive education.

The drip-drip-drip evolution of the Cambridge Analytica dossier continues, thanks to [Canadian] Christopher Wylie (Whistle-blower alleges AggregateIQ involved in dirty-tricks campaigns worldwide. Concurrently, Facebook is undergoing – dare we say – loss of Face and value. Facebook has lost $80 billion in market value since its data scandal The crisis began on March 16 after Facebook (FB) said it was suspending data analysis company Cambridge Analytica for allegedly harvesting data from more than 50 million Facebook users. Cambridge Analytica worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Since then, Facebook’s stock has plunged 18%, wiping out nearly $80 billion from the social networking giant’s market value in the process. To see what has people alarmed, check out The Guardian piece by Dylan Curran: Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you

Meanwhile Robert Mueller drops shoes with exquisite timing in the Russia probe (Mueller just drew his most direct line to date between the Trump campaign and Russia)

In the aftermath of Putin’s unsurprising electoral victory in Russia, writing for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Senior Fellow Kadri Liik asks And Now What? Russian Foreign Policy in Putin’s Fourth Term. She argues that Moscow’s lively debate on the future course of its foreign policy may now become obsolete by the poisoning of Sergei Skripal. International reaction to the Skripal poisoning has been unexpectedly widespread with the expelling of Russian ‘diplomats’ from numerous countries – though none from Africa or Asia) – including some 60 from the U.S.
Unrelated but relevant: Anne Quito writes on Quartz about the new spy museum in New York that captures the boredom of modern espionage. “Compared to the tuxedo-filled tales of yore, spying today has become, well, banal.”

Closer to home, thanks to Adam Daifallah, a book launch was held last Thursday for Nik Nanos‘ new book, The Age of Voter Rage. Nik gave a lively and engaging talk about current political trends and his analysis of the success of populist leaders who come from anything but populist backgrounds. The book is a must-read and if you don’t do so already, follow Nik on CTV.

The Quebec budget was tabled on Tuesday. Philip Authier of the Gazette takes a cynical view: “So much money was being shovelled in Quebec City Tuesday, the only real question in this exercise was who, if anyone, was left out of the mix. Health care, the issue that has dominated Quebec’s political discourse for months following the wage increases for medical specialists, gets a 4.6-per-cent spending increase ($1.6 billion more). The government says that money will go to front-line services for citizens and help ease the workload of nurses. [long overdue] Education is next. Spending is up by five per cent, which means $1.3 billion more. A rare event, Quebec’s education spending actually will be ahead of the network’s cost increases.” Our friend Sylvia Martin Laforge and her colleagues at QCGN must be pleased by the announcement that the government will invest $24.5 million over the next six years to support community institutions and work to keep young anglo Quebecers in the province.
Adam Daifallah’s colleagues at Hatley Strategy Advisors remind us that “As with most pre-election budgets … critics are accusing the Liberal government of loosening the purse strings for electoral gain. The Liberals will need all the help they can get. A recent Leger poll puts the government’s support at only 26%, compared to the third-party Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) with 37% – approaching majority government territory. … CAQ leader François Legault has managed to tap into popular discontent with the government, but the high support worries some CAQ supporters. In the previous election, the CAQ peaked in the polls early in the election and lost their edge before the vote.”

The announcement that Elizabeth Ballantyne Montreal elementary school has stopped giving homework to elementary students has provoked every conceivable reaction from cheers to jeers. Our opinion is that very young students in the first years of school should not have homework, unless perhaps, a short reading assignment. We like Principal Michael Brown’s attitude “The best kind of homework is eating healthy, getting a good night’s sleep and being ready for the next day of school.” However, there is a case to be made for the discipline of some homework.Where do you come down on this?

Your lifestyle is making blue box recycling unsustainableRecycling costs are rising as communities struggle to adapt to more plastics, fewer newspapers
It’s easier to blame the consumers than the packagers, but we never asked for all the plastic wrapping and containers that are difficult to open at the best of times. And how much of this packaging is due to government regulations? Why can’t we start by getting rid of milk in plastic bags? Beryl Wajsman – here is a campaign for you!

We wish that so many of our favorite news sites would STOP trying to redesign their websites. Obviously a bunch of tekkies are twiddling their thumbs (rather than fixing broken links and … and). The latest villain is CBC whose perfectly good and navigable website has now become a nightmare.

Wednesday Night authors continue to be prolific.
The two Davids write on Turkey
David Jones: Will the West Lose Turkey? and concludes
“Turkey is not run by League of Women Voters rules, and Erdogan is a brutal autocrat. Ankara, however, remains a vital player in Middle East politics whose support for U.S. objectives is vital.
These facts lead to this conclusion: Human rights have to go on the backburner.”
(David also raises the issue of the Kurds. We recommend “Twilight of the Kurds” in the January 2018 issue of Foreign Policy Magazine
David Kilgour: Human Rights Threatened in Today’s Turkey
“The ongoing and renewed state of emergency allows Erdoğan and his ministers to bypass Parliament in enacting new laws, further limiting basic rights. Their goal appears to be to remove all elements of Atatürk’s secular state, which Turks have defended with their lives over the past nine decades. Turkey’s global friends can only hope that Erdoğan will accept the real lessons of July 15 and move back towards national reconciliation, democracy, and the rule of law.”
Rodrigue Tremblay‘s conclusion in “: Donald Trump: Is He Too Dangerous to Be Head of State? is a resounding yes and he believes that “as time goes on, the case for Trump’s impeachment is going to get stronger and stronger. His removal from office will become increasingly urgent and increasingly compelling. It’s a safe bet that credible steps for his impeachment as U.S. President will be taken rapidly, if the Democratic Party regains control of the House of Representatives during this fall election—and possibly faster, if enough Republicans see the light before then.” Unfortunately, the alternative to DJT remains Mike Pence, in our view, an even more dangerous option.
Cleo Paskal, wearing her hat as Director of The Oceania Research Project, is guest curator of the Asia Pacific Bulletin and presents a “Strategic Overview of Oceania” – as always a cogent analysis of a topic about which most of us are regrettably ignorant.

At the outset we said that this has been a weird week, so it seems only appropriate to conclude with the story of the Singaporean cosmetic surgeon who does eyelifts for Asian arowana fish

Wishing all a Happy Easter  and joyous celebration of Passover (could not resist this: Why the Passover Story Is a Jewish Rejection of ‘Make America Great Again’ )

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