Wednesday Night #1903

Written by  //  August 29, 2018  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

The week’s news has been overcome by Senator John McCain’s death and reactions to it, many of which are based on a compare and contrast with the current occupant of the White House.
Senator McCain was deeply admired by many, and perhaps Nicolas Kristoff put it best:
“I disagreed with John McCain on countless issues, from his support for the Iraq War and the 2017 tax bill to his 83 percent voting record in sync with President Trump. He was a conservative and I’m a liberal, so he frequently infuriated me (Sarah Palin for veep, really?!). But for all our disagreements, I deeply admired his guts, passion and determination to follow his moral code. His death leaves a great emptiness in Washington.
It is not that McCain was courageous at every moment. But even when he pandered, he was the world’s worst panderer — so obviously guilty and uncomfortable as he trolled for votes that he convinced nobody, and was always penitent afterward.”
Others take a less kindly view and one of the most perceptive is probably McCain and the Roman Precedent by Paul Berman, writing in The Tablet.
For a lighter take, Death Absolutely Exhausted After Chasing John McCain For 55 Years: ““You know, that guy was one tough cookie,” said the looming spectre of death this afternoon, echoing the words of pretty much all of John McCain’s friends (and enemies) while pausing to collect his breath after a 55-year chase that involved multiple airplane crashes, a fire at sea, a prisoner-of-war internment, a campaign for president of the United States, a number of hospitals, and in the end, a quiet bed on a cool, drizzly afternoon in Sedona, Arizona.”

Meanwhile, largely overlooked was the news of the death on Sunday of the great Neil Simon, the most popular and frequently performed playwright of his day. Jesse Green of the New York Times offers an affectionate look at the playwright’s work, flaws and all.
You might also have missed the fact that in Massachusetts Aug. 25 (his birthday and the 100th anniversary of his birth) was Leonard Bernstein day, but it would have been hard to miss the celebration of his centenary around the world. The tribute from the LA Times Leonard Bernstein at 100: A look at the exasperating genius of the brilliant composer is comprehensive and delightful. And do enjoy Leonard Bernstein Introduces 7-Year-Old Yo-Yo Ma: Watch the Youngster Perform for John F. Kennedy (1962)

The weekend also marked the first anniversary of the campaign against the Rohingya of Myanmar. The UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar issued its report on Monday. Its findings: Myanmar’s military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya with “genocidal intent”, and the commander-in-chief and five generals should be prosecuted for the gravest crimes under international law. It was expected that the verdict for the two jailed Reuters journalists accused of illegally possessing official documents would be announced on Monday, but the announcement has been postponed until September 3rd.

One of the more bizarre continuing political sags is that of the revolving door of Australian prime ministers.  The abrupt departure of Malcolm Turnbull is apparently due to a row over energy policy  which offers an excellent segue to  Champion climate-change denier Trump may be leading the rich, English-speaking world to scale back environmental policies, writes Robinson Meyer in The Atlantic. “The global climate action of 2016 may be producing something like a worldwide climate backlash—especially in countries with powerful fossil-fuel interests, like Australia and Canada.” He continues to deliver a harsh critique of Australia’s politicians and Justin Trudeau.

Coincidentally, August 29 is the 13th anniversary of hurricane Katrina

The Global Climate Action Summit will take place September 12-14 in San Francisco. Organized at the behest of the UN by a group of non-state actors, it will bring leaders and people together from around the world to “Take Ambition to the Next Level.” American nongovernmental organizations and states have stepped forward with campaigns designed to reinvigorate climate activism and policy making. As the anniversaries of America’s most infamous climate disasters (Harvey, Irma, and Maria) come around once again, communities in the southern United States are calling attention to the disaster scenarios they currently face and the fact that it is the most vulnerable of the population who inevitably suffer the most. Over a year ago, Martin Lukacs of The Guardian encouraged individuals to “stop obsessing with how personally green you live – and start collectively taking on corporate power” (Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals).

You may have heard/read that Donald Trump is complaining in an early Tuesday tweet that “Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal?”. Rex Huppke of the Chicago Tribune treats the accusation with the respect it deserves in Google is TOTALLY biased against Trump. Just search ‘dumb presidential tweets.’. Not so funny is economic adviser, Larry Kudlow’s comment that the White House is “taking a look” at whether, and how, Google should be regulated by the government.Trump’s economic adviser: ‘We’re taking a look’ at whether Google searches should be regulated.

NAFTA negotiation news is not great. With the news that the U.S. and Mexico have come to bilateral agreement, Lawrence Martin, for one, is skeptical that Canada will be able to withstand pressure from Washington ( U.S.-Mexico NAFTA double-cross puts Canada on the defensive). On the other hand, some of the U.S. commentators are equally skeptical about what has been accomplished so far and especially about Trump’s ability to “withdraw from” NAFTA without congressional approval. A number of U.S. lawmakers believe that Trump’s approach is neither wise nor legal, potentially creating fresh hurdles. Congress must sign off on any trade deal before it can take effect. Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters Tuesday that there would be “technical problems” with Congress voting on a bilateral Mexico-U.S. trade deal under fast-track procedures that were expected to apply to a trilateral NAFTA renegotiation (Trump’s path to a new NAFTA deal runs through Canada, lawmakers say)

On another Global Affairs front, relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia appear to be at a standstill, however, there is one bit of good news: Saudi medical trainees allowed to stay in Canada, for now. The reprieve does not extend to other students, nor apparently to the many Saudi patients seeking medical treatment here. Unrelated – or maybe not – is the Reuters report that Saudi king tipped the scale against Aramco IPO plans
The king spoke, and a $2 trillion dream went up in smoke.
It was the brainchild of 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. But after months of setbacks, the prince’s father, King Salman, stepped in to shelve the deal. … the shelving of the Aramco IPO is a major blow to the prince’s Vision 2030 reform program, which aims to fundamentally transform Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent, state-driven economy.

Ron Meisels continues to be bullish – as do many others, but we still think it is worth calling your attention to this from Brookings, David Wessel’s Economic Update: Are Trump’s tariffs hurting the US economy?  His conclusion: No, the trade war has not yet devastated the U.S. economy, but we may not have seen the worst yet.

At home, the launch of the Quebec election campaign on the 23rd was initially overshadowed by Maxime Bernier’s rupture with the Conservatives. As Bernier’s new party project seems to be going nowhere, we can all concentrate on the Quebec race. According to CBC’s poll tracker, the CAQ is leading the pack. We recommend Adam Daifallah’s analysis in The National Post:  Quebec’s Liberals have done a good job … but that might not matter at all
Opinion: Election will likely come down to whether a desire for change and anxiety about immigration outweigh a desire for continuity and stability
The PLQ candidate to replace Jacques Chagnon in Westmount-Saint-Louis is Jennifer Maccarone whose campaign HQ at 1134 Ste-Catherine West (corner Stanley), Suite 710 opens on Thursday. We plan to invite her to a Wednesday Night.

And because we always like to end on a cheerful note:
Unintended consequences of the rotation of Australian PMs:
Wax off: Madame Tussauds suspends work on Malcolm Turnbull figure
The wax museum announced on Friday that work on a new wax figure for the now-former prime minister has stopped abruptly – and the museum’s curators are considering whether it’s even worth their while to continue adding more Australian prime ministers to its World Leaders exhibit. The museum has now lost confidence in the ability of Australian politics to retain a leader long enough to build their likeness out of wax.

The Parody Project’s tuneful commentary on the distressing dismissal of science by the Trump administration:
A Parody of Sound of Silence – Confounds the Science
Confounds the Science (Sequel)

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