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Well That's Certainly Awkward

The Disaffected Lib - Thu, 10/13/2016 - 08:28

Four Republican members of Congress who denounced Donald Trump and retracted their endorsements of their party's presidential nominee have now retracted their retractions.

The quick reversals back to Mr. Trump’s camp vividly illustrated Republicans’ predicament as they grapple with a nominee whom some of their core supporters adore, a Democratic candidate their base loathes — and a host of voters who believe that Mr. Trump is self-evidently unsuited for high office.

In Alabama, Representative Bradley Byrne, who said flatly over the weekend, “It is now clear Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States,” insisted to reporters on Wednesday that he had always said he would “be a supporter of the Republican ticket from top to bottom.”

“I’m a Republican,” Mr. Byrne said. “I don’t vote Democrat.”

The Last Person Standing

Northern Reflections - Thu, 10/13/2016 - 05:49

Yesterday, Tony Clement dropped out of the Conservative leadership race and Chris Alexander dropped in. The Conservative ranks are teeming with ambition. But ambition is expensive. Brent Rathgeber writes:

Running for the leadership of a Canadian political party is no modest undertaking. Including the registration fee and a subsequent charge for access to the membership list, it costs $100,000 to play.

But that’s only the beginning. Canada is a big country. Given that the leadership contest is weighted — that is, the 338 electoral districts are each assigned an equal number of points in the final vote — it’s important that serious candidates at least show up in most ridings and regions. That’s a lot of flights, a lot of hotel rooms.
In the end, it's money that will determine who will leave and who will go. And money is tied to an MP's record. Clement's Achilles Heel was his record:

He will never be able to walk back the reputation he picked up during the 2010 G8 Summit. Clement was in charge of a $50 million infrastructure program intended to reduce border congestion; some of the money was used to build parks, walkways and gazebos in Clement’s riding in advance of the summit. To a lot of people, he’ll always be ‘Gazebo Tony’.

Although that pork barrel episode probably guaranteed his re-election as MP in Ontario Lake Country, it also destroyed his credibility with fiscal conservatives across the nation.
Clement is only the first contender to drop out. There will be others. It's impossible at this point to guess who will be the last person standing.

Image: Huffington Post

The Final Meltdown of the Monster Donald Trump

Montreal Simon - Thu, 10/13/2016 - 04:37

As we all know Donald Trump is now unshackled, going after the Democrats and the Republicans.

And of course trying to smear Bill Clinton, even though he's not running for anything.

But Trump's desperate attempts to deflect attention off his reputation as a sexual predator seems seem to be backfiring spectacularly.

Because now he's been hit by another sordid scandal.
Read more »

Putin Ally: Vote for Donald Trump Or Die

Montreal Simon - Wed, 10/12/2016 - 21:23

As we know Donald Trump has a cozy relationship with the Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

So cozy in fact that the Obama administration has accused the Russians of trying to influence the result of the American election. 

The Obama administration on Friday formally accused the Russian government of stealing and disclosing emails from the Democratic National Committee and a range of other institutions and prominent individuals, immediately raising the issue of whether President Obama would seek sanctions or other retaliation.

But this is the absolute limit.
Read more »

Why Is the Mainstream Press Ignoring This Story About Donald Trump?

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 10/12/2016 - 12:51
I was alerted to this story by my friend Jonathan; it is profoundly disturbing, even though, because it involves an alleged rape committed by Donald Trump, it probably should not shock or astound anyone.

Tomorrow, October 14, may be a stressful day for the Republican nominee, in that he has a 10:00 a.m. appointment at the Thurgood Marshall Court House, Lower Manhattan, in response to a suit launched by Katie Johnson, who claims she was raped by Trump in 1994, when she was but 13 years old:

You can view the plaintiff's complete complaint here, but here is the essence of it. The details may not be suitable for everyone:
A federal lawsuit filed in New York accuses Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of repeatedly raping a 13-year-old girl more than 20 years ago, at several Upper East Side parties hosted by convicted sex offender and notorious billionaire investor Jeffrey Epstein.

The suit, first reported by the Real Deal, accuses Trump and Epstein of luring the anonymous plaintiff and other young women to four parties at Epstein's so-called Wexner Mansion at 9 East 71st Street. Epstein allegedly lured the plaintiff, identified in the suit only as Jane Doe, with promises of a modeling career and cash.

Another anonymous woman, identified in additional testimony as Tiffany Doe, corroborates Jane's allegations, testifying that she met Epstein at Port Authority, where he hired her to recruit other young girls for his parties. Trump had known Epstein for seven years in 1994 when he attended the parties at Wexner, according to the suit. He also allegedly knew that the plaintiff was 13 years old.

Jane Doe filed a similar suit in California in April, under the name Katie Johnson, also accusing Trump and Epstein of rape. That suit was dismissed on the grounds of improper paperwork — the address affiliated with her name was found to be abandoned. Today's suit confirms that the plaintiffs are one and the same.Here is what allegedly happened, in Johnson's own words:
I traveled by bus to New York City in June 1994 in the hope of starting a modeling career. I went to several modeling agencies but was told that I needed to put together a modeling portfolio before I would be considered. I then went to the Port Authority in New York City to start to make my way back home. There I met a woman who introduced herself to me as Tiffany. She told me about the parties and said that, if I would join her at the parties, I would be introduced to people who could get me into the modeling profession. Tiffany also told me I would be paid for attending.

The parties were held at a New York City residence that was being used by Defendant Jeffrey Epstein. Each of the parties had other minor females and a number of guests of Mr. Epstein, including Defendant Donald Trump at four of the parties I attended. I understood that both Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein knew I was 13 years old.

Defendant Trump had sexual contact with me at four different parties in the summer of 1994. On the fourth and fnial sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied me to a bed, exposed himself to me, and then proceeded to forcibly rape me. During the course of this savage sexual attack, I loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but he did not. Defendant Trump responded to my pleas by violently striking me in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted,

Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened me that, were I ever to reveal any of the details of Defendant Trump's sexual and physical abuse of me, my family and I wold be physically harmed if not killed.
Here is a video statement Johnson made:

The filing also includes a statement by Tiffany Doe, the woman who brought Johnson to the party:
I personally witnessed four sexual encounters that the Plaintiff was forced to have with Mr. Trump during this period, including the fourth of these encounters where Mr. Trump forcibly raped her despite her pleas to stop.

I personally witnessed the one occasion where Mr. Trump forced the Plaintiff and a 12-year-old female named Maria [to] perform oral sex on Mr. Trump and witnessed his physical abuse of both minors when they finished the act.

It was my job to personally witness and supervise encounters between the underage girls that Mr. Epstein hired and his guests.It is important to note that Jeffrey Epstein, also named in the suit and the host of the party, is a registered sex offender who has faced a series of such allegations, and was convicted in 2008 of sex with an underage girl. Unfortunately, owing to his powerful connections, he 'served a one-year term under house arrest at his Palm Beach home.

The entire story sickens me, but you can read further details in the links provided. However, it seems to me that the larger story is the strange quiescence of the mainstream media. Surely this is a story that deserves the full attention and scrutiny of all American voters.Recommend this Post

Bad Moon Rising

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 10/12/2016 - 10:44
Oh dear, EnviroCan is warning that the island is going to take a kicking, several kickings in succession, starting tonight and running through Sunday. It reminds me of John Fogerty singing this:

I hear hurricanes a blowingI know the end is coming soonI fear rivers over flowingI hear the voice of rage and ruinWell don't go around tonight,Well it's bound to take your life,There's a bad moon on the rise, oh rightHope you got your things togetherHope you are quite prepared to dieLooks like we're in for nasty weatherOne eye is taken for an eye
This time they've issued something called a "Special Weather Statement." It sounds kind of apocalyptic. The local authorities are telling us to lay in extra water, lots of batteries and flashlights, tinned and dried foods, all the good "end of days" stuff.Most of us have all that stuff all the time anyway. We're regularly hectored by our government to maintain earthquake preparedness. It sounds like they're expecting widespread and prolonged electrical outages. Okay, no internet. I'm lucky. My stove and hot water are gas and that's rarely knocked out and I've got an ample supply of well seasoned wood for the wood stove. Candles galore. Somehow, over the years, I've accumulated a load of candles. Maybe they've been breeding. Right now it's sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky. In a matter of hours that will apparently no longer be the case. The big question now is if we'll get hammered by three severe storms or four.If you don't hear from me for a few days, you'll know why. 


Hillary's Emails Finger - Saudi Arabia, the Real State Sponsor of Terrorism

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 10/12/2016 - 10:16

Great, Canada is shipping weaponry to the real state sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia.

Take it from Hillary Clinton or rather this email she wrote in 2014:

“We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region,” the document states.

Another newly released email, from January 2016, includes an excerpt from a private October 2013 speech in which Clinton acknowledged that “the Saudis have exported more extreme ideology than any other place on earth over the course of the last 30 years.”

Hmm, I wonder if Justin would like to respond to that. I suppose he'll try to get Steffie Dion to cover his ass as he did the last time the Saudi death wagon scandal flared up.
So, let's tally it all up. 
Canada has become the 2nd largest weapons supplier to the Middle East, mainly to Saudi Arabia. 
The Saudis are the same murderous swine who've been dropping cluster bombs on Houthi civilians in Yemen, even wiping out 80 funeral mourners with a major air strike. Hospitals? Forget it. The Houthi, meanwhile, are battling al Qaeda and ISIS fighters in Yemen.
The Saudis and their pals in the other Gulf States are providing financial and logistical support to ISIS and other radical Sunni terrorists in the Middle East. In other words, they're the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in that hellish corner of the world.
The Saudis are despotic bastards with little appetite for human rights, especially for their women and their Shiite population. They've got a murderous fondness for capital punishment - public beheadings and crucifixion are especially popular - even for "crimes" such as sorcery.
And so, despite their vital support of terrorism and the radical religion that drives it, despite the blatant war crimes, despite their suppression of human rights and their brutal oppression of their sectarian minority, - despite all this - Slick thinks it's okay to sell them $15-billion worth of armoured death wagons.
Does this sound like your idea of Canada?

George Will's Prognosis - It'll Take Chemotherapy for the GOP to Save Itself from Trump

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 10/12/2016 - 09:27

Chaos has caught up with the Republican Party and, while there's never been a better opportunity to indulge in schadenfreude, that would be a terrible mistake. It's important that the American Right have a powerful voice. It's just as important that it be cleansed of the malignancy that has afflicted it for the past three decades, possibly even more.

The utter destruction of America's Right, richly deserved as that may be, is no help to the country, the American people or even its centre-right Democrats.

Of course there's a measure of satisfaction in watching the Republican establishment trying desperately to cover their tracks for what they have wrought for so many years. They didn't allow the camel's nose under their tent, they invited it in, pushing on the haunches from the backside. Now that Larry the Cable Guy pachyderm is in their tent and threatening to take over they're having second thoughts.

One of those complicit in today's GOP fiasco is George Will. Like many of his ilk he passed on every early opportunity to arrest this descent and now wishes to make it all go away. Still, his intellect is sharpened as he tries to drive a stake through the heart of The Donald.

What did Donald Trump have left to lose Sunday night? His dignity? Please. His campaign’s theme? His Cleveland convention was a mini-Nuremberg rally for Republicans whose three-word recipe for making America great again was the shriek “Lock her up!” This presaged his Banana Republican vow to imprison his opponent.

The St. Louis festival of snarls was preceded by the release of a tape that merely provided redundant evidence of what Trump is like when he is being his boisterous self. Nevertheless, the tape sent various Republicans, who until then had discovered nothing to disqualify Trump from the presidency, into paroxysms of theatrical, tactical and synthetic dismay.

Again, the tape revealed nothing about this arrested-development adolescent that today’s righteously recoiling Republicans either did not already know or had no excuse for not knowing. Before the tape reminded the pathologically forgetful of Trump’s feral appetites and deranged sense of entitlement, the staid Economist magazine, holding the subject of Trump at arm’s-length like a soiled sock, reminded readers of this: “When Mr. Trump divorced the first of his three wives, Ivana, he let the New York tabloids know that one reason for the separation was that her breast implants felt all wrong.”

His sexual loutishness is a sufficient reason for defeating him, but it is far down a long list of sufficient reasons. But if it — rather than, say, his enthusiasm for torture even “if it doesn’t work,” or his ignorance of the nuclear triad — is required to prompt some Republicans to have second thoughts about him, so be it.

...Trump is a marvelously efficient acid bath, stripping away his supporters’ surfaces, exposing their skeletal essences. Consider Mike Pence, a favorite of what Republicans devoutly praise as America’s “faith community.” Some of its representatives, their crucifixes glittering in the television lights, are still earnestly explaining the urgency of giving to Trump, who agreed that his daughter is “a piece of ass,” the task of improving America’s coarsened culture.

Because Pence looks relatively presidential when standing next to Trump — talk about defining adequacy down — some Republicans want Trump to slink away, allowing Pence to float to the top of the ticket and represent Republicanism resurrected. This idea ignores a pertinent point: Pence is standing next to Trump.

He salivated for the privilege of being Trump’s poodle, and he expresses his canine devotion in rhetorical treacle about “this good man.” What would a bad man look like to pastor Pence?

Yes, George, your Republican Party has turned into a giant shit sandwich but you did more than your share to make that sandwich and now you're going to have to take a very large bite.This is not the party of Lincoln. You and your fellow creeps - Gingrich and Jindal, Rubio, Cruz, Santorum and Rick Walker and the legion of misanthropes who turn out in swarms to support this man who cannot even speak to them in complete sentences - have torn up Lincoln's party and replaced it with the malignant movement of today.

Monbiot - The Madness of Neoliberalism

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 10/12/2016 - 09:12

The Guardian's George Monbiot contends that today's hyper-neoliberalism is fueling mental illness.

What greater indictment of a system could there be than an epidemic of mental illness? Yet plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness now strike people down all over the world. The latest, catastrophic figures for children’s mental health in England reflect a global crisis.

There are plenty of secondary reasons for this distress, but it seems to me that the underlying cause is everywhere the same: human beings, the ultrasocial mammals, whose brains are wired to respond to other people, are being peeled apart. Economic and technological change play a major role, but so does ideology. Though our wellbeing is inextricably linked to the lives of others, everywhere we are told that we will prosper through competitive self-interest and extreme individualism.

...Consumerism fills the social void. But far from curing the disease of isolation, it intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing, and to see that other people have more friends and followers than we do.

As Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett has brilliantly documented, girls and young women routinely alter the photos they post to make themselves look smoother and slimmer. Some phones, using their “beauty” settings, do it for you without asking; now you can become your own thinspiration. Welcome to the post-Hobbesian dystopia: a war of everyone against themselves.

...If social rupture is not treated as seriously as broken limbs, it is because we cannot see it. But neuroscientists can. A series of fascinating papers suggest that social pain and physical pain are processed by the same neural circuits. This might explain why, in many languages, it is hard to describe the impact of breaking social bonds without the words we use to denote physical pain and injury. In both humans and other social mammals, social contact reduces physical pain. This is why we hug our children when they hurt themselves: affection is a powerful analgesic. Opioids relieve both physical agony and the distress of separation. Perhaps this explains the link between social isolation and drug addiction.

...It’s unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It’s more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system.

...This does not require a policy response. It requires something much bigger: the reappraisal of an entire worldview. Of all the fantasies human beings entertain, the idea that we can go it alone is the most absurd and perhaps the most dangerous. We stand together or we fall apart.

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 10/12/2016 - 08:39
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Alex Himelfarb discusses why a proportional electoral system can be expected to produce better and more representative public policy:
The adversarial approach often means major policy lurches when the government changes. For example, the Harper government undid some important initiatives of the previous government, including the Kelowna Accord, signed by all provinces and aboriginal leaders, and child care agreements signed by all provinces, to name a couple. Now we are watching the current Liberal majority spending much of its legislative time undoing Harper government initiatives (e.g., restoring the census, and undoing various refugee and immigration policies). We see similar lurches with virtually every change of government, but especially when that change also represents a significant shift in ideology.

These policy lurches belie the claims that our FPTP system offers stability. They undermine our capacity for long-term planning, even long-term thinking, and waste considerable legislative time effectively going around in circles. Such policy lurches are far less common in countries with more proportional systems, where cross-party co-operation is the norm. It’s not surprising, therefore, that political scientist Arend Lijphart (2012), who has undertaken the most extensive comparison of policy outcomes in countries with differing electoral systems, found that for those issues that require a long view and policy continuity, countries with proportional systems—where coalitions are the norm—outperform FPTP countries.

For example, countries with proportional systems score significantly higher on Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index, which measures how well human health and ecosystems are protected. Other researchers have come to similar conclusions. Countries using PR were more ready to pay the price of strong environmental policies, more likely to use renewable energy, and therefore produced a lower share of carbon emissions (Orellana, 2014; Cohen, 2010). The greater co-operation and continuity in proportional systems evidently yield environmental dividends.
Orellana further argues that PR-elected governments are less inclined to “quick-fix” solutions and, because of the greater diversity of their governments and parliaments, more open to policy innovation.   For example. they are more likely to have adapted their welfare and tax policies to changes in the economy and labour market.  Orellana also demonstrates that they tend to be policy leaders on highly sensitive issues such as assisted dying, LGBT rights and freedom to marry.  This openness to change and policy innovation is particularly relevant in a fast-changing world where old nostrums and standard practices are increasingly part of the problem. It should be no surprise, then, Orellana (2014; 2016) and Lijphart (1994; 2012) also find better fiscal performance in countries with PR. There is even some evidence, though it is admittedly mixed, that countries with PR produce more robust economic growth (Knutsen, 2011).
Public policy can only benefit from a system that is less vulnerable to special interests, in which every vote influences the outcome; a system that yields more diverse representation reflective of the diverse values and interests of the electorate, and promotes less adversarial elections and more co-operative parliaments. Governments elected by PR would experience fewer policy lurches, take a longer view, be more responsive to the interests of the many, and even, arguably, more creative and open to policy innovation. - David Madland points out how a modernized system of labour laws (including more widespread multi-employer bargaining) would produce far better outcomes for workers. Augusta Dwyer writes that a shorter work day could result in substantially improved productivity to go with an improved quality of life. And both Rana Foroohar and Peter Fleming observe that unions need to play a central role in defining and improving working conditions.

- Matt Huber argues that progressives shouldn't settle for a market-based frame in discussing why and how we need to combat climate change. And David Suzuki points out the folly in assuming we can dig our way out of the environmental hole we're now facing.

- Finally, CBC reports on the World Health Organization's recommended tax on sugary drinks as a means to improve public health outcomes.

Meanwhile, Closer To Home

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 10/12/2016 - 06:12
Much of the climate-change video material I post on my blog shows the devastation being wrought in the United States. I feature such material because it receives extensive coverage on American networks. It would, of course, be foolish to assume that such effects are confined to that country. Climate change is being felt worldwide through droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding and killer heatwaves.

Closer to home, the impact of Hurricane Mathew is being experienced in the Maritimes, as the following amply demonstrates:

Recommend this Post

Not A Comforting Thought

Northern Reflections - Wed, 10/12/2016 - 05:48

While Donald Trump huffs, puffs and sniffles -- and while the Republican Party tears itself apart -- there will be those who take solace in The Donald's Demise. However, Michael Den Tandt writes, Trump's defeat will not put Trumpism to rest:

Trumpism is bigger than the man. For evidence, juxtapose a map of the two parties’ current support, with one of regional income distribution.

The safe red (Republican) states swing from the Deep South (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina) northward in a band through the Midwest (Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota), and into the upper Midwest. These are also the regions with the highest concentrations of Americans living below the poverty line (about $24,000 for a family of four).

The key swing states (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania), where Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders launched their respective insurgencies, are regions where traditional economies have been disrupted by globalization. Hence Trump’s repeated promises to “bring back our jobs,” resurrect heavy manufacturing and re-open shuttered steel mills. He’s giving voters in populous, influential states precisely the comfort they want to hear.
What Trump is selling is "pure fantasy." But that makes no difference:

Trump has given voice to a new constituency. That he is personally unfit to be president is a historical fluke. His losing next month will not prevent states such as Ohio or Pennsylvania from going full nativist in future, unless more people there can see the hope of a better economic future.
Trump's people are not going anywhere. And Hillary -- deplorable though they may be -- will have to deal with them:

A future President Hillary Clinton will need something like a Marshall Plan — a New Deal might be a better term — to bring hope to the Rust Belt. Or she’ll face another revolt in four years, likely led by someone more personally fit, and capable, than Trump. Not a comforting thought.
Image: Forward Progressives

Donald Trump and the Trumpism That Will Survive Him

Montreal Simon - Wed, 10/12/2016 - 04:46

He's been slowly losing it since he lost the debate, and a tape revealed him to be  vulgar, foul-mouthed misogynist who boasts about using his tiny fingers to sexually assault women.

He's been staying up too late tweeting crazy things, the strain of the long campaign is getting to him.

And now Donald Trump has finally gone over the deep end.

And declared war on his own party.
Read more »


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