Wednesday Night #2015

Written by  //  October 28, 2020  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Less than a week until the voting (but not the final count*) in arguably the most important election -anywhere- of the past 100 years is over.
*Mail-in ballots in key battleground states including Michigan and Wisconsin cannot be counted until Election Day, setting up a scenario in which a winner in the race between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden might not be known until well after Election Night.
The anxiety level mounts with each new poll, and every headline, many of which conflict with a previous one in the same publication. Take for example these from The Hill:
Don’t believe the polls — Trump is winning
Democrats see signs of hidden Biden voters flipping from GOP
Poll watchers note:THERE ARE NOW ROUGHLY 168 HOURS until the end of Election Day 2020, and we appear to have a stunningly static race. NATE SILVER pointed out Tuesday night that there have been 34 post-debate polls, and the average overall change is .1 points toward TRUMP.

 Both Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas are cautiously optimistic (but afraid to jinx the outcome?) about the prospects of a Democratic win. On “Diplomatic Community” – they discuss what the US election means for the world, and specifically for Canada in the event of either a Trump or Biden win. If you have not been following Biden’s policies that would affect U.S. – Canada relations, here is a quick summary

The disgustingly rushed approval of Amy Coney Barrett (SCOTUS, Trump & the US courts May 2020 –) has dominated the U.S. media for the past week.
There is nothing further to be done. She is duly sworn in and the SCOTUS has tilted right. You have all read about it in your favorite sources, and have noted your favorite political cartoons so we will refer you to only a couple. The first refers to the unusual event at the White House held about an hour after the Senate confirmation.
Amy Coney Barrett’s first decision as a justice was a wrong one
Barrett didn’t have to participate in a prime-time political spectacle at the White House, just eight days before Election Day. But she did.
The second is the scholarly Amy Coney Barrett’s Judicial Philosophy Doesn’t Hold Up to Scrutiny co-authored by Maine Senator Angus King Jr. and our favorite historian, Heather Cox Richardson

While Her Father Rails Against ‘Idiot’ Scientists, Ivanka Trump Talks Ice Cream
“On the one hand, a president’s family member can offer a softening and humanizing touch,” said Gil Troy, a presidential historian who has written extensively on first families. In such a polarized and binary environment, he added, Ms. Trump can still offer some measure of reassurance for Republicans who do not like her father but who would be loath to support Mr. Biden. … At a certain point, though the contrast becomes too stark. “It becomes almost a countercampaign rather than a supporting one,” he said.

Andrew Caddell avoids talk of elections in the U.S. or elsewhere in his weekly Hill Times column focusing instead on The 1995 Quebec referendum: recalling a ‘near-death’ experience and calling out The Journal de Québec, which “led by failed Parti Québécois leader Pierre-Karl Péladeau, published a nine-page insert on the “shame” of the narrow “Non” victory.” He concludes: “The bitterness expressed by nationalist francophones this week should be countered with a response that the question was vague, the voting was skewed, the federalist campaign was incompetent, and the referendum result had no authority to decide the fate of Canada. And, given the turmoil of the past two decades, we are better off in a united Canada. But like much of history, it is the myths that endure, not the facts.”

So, turning to Canada for a moment, Former deputy prime minister Don Mazankowski has died at 85 – He was a good man.
We can be thankful, albeit rueful, that election news here has created little reaction. But in fact, there were some dramatic events:
Barely half of B.C.’s registered voters cast a ballot in Saturday’s provincial election, according to preliminary estimates by Elections BC, making the rate of participation the lowest ever in records going back to 1928. Still, John Horgan’s pandemic election gamble paid off, as the B.C. NDP has come away from Saturday’s provincial election with a majority government with 55 seats. all at the expense of the B.C. Liberals, who now hold just 29 seats, the fewest seats they’ve held in the B.C. Legislature since the 1990s. Meanwhile, Elections Saskatchewan began counting more than 40,000 mail-in ballots Wednesday morning – they will settle the outcome of a very tight race. And in the Toronto federal by-elections, no surprises as the anointed Liberal female, appropriately diverse, candidates were elected. Sad for Annamie Paul, Green Party candidate and leader, who, by all accounts, ran a very strong campaign.

Covid is wreaking havoc in North American and European markets. Oil prices dropped more than 5 percent, and shares of energy producers fared poorly. Even Big Tech suffered: Apple and Microsoft dropped more than 4 percent, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, slid more than 5 percent. (would that have had anything to do with Facebook, Google, Twitter CEOs clash with the Senate Commerce Committee; the hearing was set to discuss tech’s content-moderation practices, but antitrust and extremism were also debated?)

Will Ron Meisels be able to explain the market news as an expected part of a cycle?
Wall Street sinks 3%, Dow at late July lows as pandemic surges
U.S. stocks tumbled on Wednesday, with the Dow closing at lows last seen in late July, as coronavirus cases soared globally and investors worried about the possibility of a contested U.S. presidential election next week.
Stock market slide muddles Trump’s economic message days before 2020 election
Wednesday’s sell-off follows Monday’s sharp decline as the president tries to make a closing argument with voters.
Maybe if Trump wants to continue to vaunt his economic prowess, he should back off any suggestion that he would contest the outcome of the election? What a dilemma!
From Ken Kostarakis : ” How Do Presidential Elections Impact The Stock Market?
The Financial Advisor’s guide to answering client questions about the election—with downloadable charts and visuals.

As Europe contends with an alarming increase in Covid-19 cases, France and Germany have announced second national lockdowns and Emmanuel Macron has to contend with Muslim backlash against his insistence that publication of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad is fundamental to freedom of speech – Muslims in France – and elsewhere – are also furious at what they claim is a heavy-handed government clampdown on their communities in the wake of the killing 11 days ago of the high school teacher Samuel Paty.

The sad story of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh drags on. “The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh remains one of the most tragic and persistent disputes in Europe. It is one of the last pieces of unfinished business from the end of World War I, still fought by the zero-sum rules of the last century.” (No Compromise in Sight for Armenia and Azerbaijan)
Gwynne Dyer writes (sorry, no link yet) “The month-old war between Azerbaijan and Armenia is so low on everybody else’s list of concerns that when Azerbaijan won the war last Monday morning, hardly anybody in the media elsewhere even noticed.”
Mr. Dyer also writes about another conflict passing under the radar of  US election-obsessed media, Nigeria‘s intergenerational war

Good reads
We wish Margo Somerville could be with us to comment on this complicated ethical issue
Solved cold case raises questions about genetic privacy
Genealogists never anticipated that their benign but passionate interest in tracking relations through records and DNA would ever lead to law enforcement’s most potent cold case tool kit. ….
Even as we appreciate the profound relief that comes to families with the resolution of cases decades old and the prosecution of heinous criminals, it’s important that we ask hard questions about genetic privacy and law enforcement’s access to people who have never given away their DNA to commercial sites nor consented to have their DNA scrutinized.
At the heart of the problem is the nature of DNA. Our most intimate substance is a powerful identifier because each of us possesses an utterly unique combination. But our DNA doesn’t belong just to us: it also belongs to everyone we are related to.
We have many more genetic relatives than we can possibly know. If we upload a sample of our DNA to a database that allows for police searches then we are making that decision for everyone who is related to us, past and future, known and unknown, rendering the notion of consent nonsensical.
What happens if Trump and Biden tie in the Electoral College?
The Constitution is pretty clear on how this plays out. If there is no winner in the Electoral College, Article 2, Section 1, Clause 3 states that the decision goes to the House of Representatives while the Senate picks the vice president. But the voting in the House is different from the Senate. In the vote for vice president, each Senator has one vote. But in the House each state has only one vote for president—regardless of its size—and a presidential candidate needs 26 states to win.
If the presidential race should end up in the House the outcome would depend on which party controls the state’s delegation. As it stands Republicans are in the majority, with control of 26 state delegations. Democrats control 23 state delegations and one state, Pennsylvania, has a tied delegation: 9 Democrats and 9 Republicans.[1] But the Congress is sworn in before the Electoral College votes are read out in the Senate. In the case of a tie it will be the next Congress not the current Congress that votes on the presidency, and a handful of 2020 congressional elections could decide the presidential election.

Thanks to Kitty Qiu for this disturbing piece
The American Republic vs the CCP—Documentary exposing China’s game plan for 2020 US election
#TikTok—an app often used for entertainment. But could it be a tool for the Chinese Communist Party (#CCP)? And is the CCP using TikTok to manipulate the presidential #election while creating chaos and division in the United States?

Adam Gopnik: Being French, they looted with terrific taste.
In Love with the Louvre
How a great picture gallery became one of the first truly encyclopedic museums.

Planet Canada – How Our Expats Are Shaping the Future
John Stackhouse, A leading thinker on Canada’s place in the world contends that our country’s greatest untapped resource may be the three million Canadians who don’t live here.
Entrepreneurs, educators, humanitarians: an entire province’s worth of Canadian citizens live outside Canada. Some will return, others won’t. But what they all share is the ability, and often the desire, to export Canadian values to a world sorely in need of them. And to act as ambassadors for Canada in industries and societies where diplomatic efforts find little traction.

A lighter moment which we all need!
Rediscovering “Columbo” in 2020 – essential to scroll to the very end.

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