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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Schiff Memo Harms Democrats More Than It Helps Them

Maybe Adam Schiff has more of a sense of humor than I’d have given him credit for. The House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat begins his long-awaited memo — the minority response to the Nunes memo that was penned by staffers of the committee’s Republican majority — by slamming Chairman Devin Nunes’s unconscionable “risk of public exposure of sensitive sources and methods for no legitimate purpose.” The Schiff memo, which has been delayed for weeks because the FBI objected to its gratuitous effort to publicize highly classified intelligence, including methods and sources, then proceeds to tell its tale through what appear to be scores of blacked-out redactions of information Schiff pushed to expose.
Heavy Reliance on Steele Dossier Confirmed
The FBI and the Justice Department heavily relied on the Steele dossier’s uncorroborated allegations. You know this is true because, notwithstanding the claim that “only narrow use” was made “of information from Steele’s sources,” the Democrats end up acknowledging that “only narrow use” actually means significant use — as in, the dossier was the sine qua non of the warrant application...

Monday, February 26, 2018

James Damore at Portland State

On February 17, 2018, James Damore spoke at Portland State on a panel titled, "We Need to Talk About Diversity." He was joined by former Evergreen State biologist Heather E. Heying, PSU philosophy professor Peter Boghossian, and writer Helen Pluckrose. Bret Weinstein also made a cameo appearance. The event was organized by the Freethinkers of PSU, a skeptic student group.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Lionel Shriver says 'politically correct censorship' is damaging fiction

Lionel Shriver, the author of We Need To Talk About Kevin, has warned that “politically correct censorship” risks turning the world of fiction into a “timid, homogeneous, and dreary” place, and called on her fellow novelists to take a stand against it.

Writing in March’s issue of Prospect magazine, Shriver said that authors in today’s “call out” culture are “contend[ing] with a torrent of dos and don’ts that bind our imaginations and make the process of writing and publishing fearful”. She provoked outrage in 2016 when she said in a keynote speech at the Brisbane writers festival that she hoped “the concept of ‘cultural appropriation’ is a passing fad”. Almost two years later, she has now written that “preventing writers from conjuring lives different from their own would spell the end of fiction”, because “if we have the right to draw on only our own experience, all that’s left is memoir”.

According to Shriver, the “taboo” around cultural appropriation has become a “far bigger issue in literature” than it was when she first took on the issue. She pointed to the “sensitivity readers”, who are hired by publishers to look for what she called “perceived slights to any group with the protected status once reserved for distinguished architecture”, and to the “own voices” writers at Kirkus Reviews who review titles that have characters from their own particular background.

“These days, straight, white fiction writers whose characters’ ethnicity, race, disability, sexual identity, religion or class differs from their own can expect their work to be subjected to forensic examination – and not only on social media,” she said...

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Glavin: Justin Trudeau's trip to India could hardly be going worse

...nobody seems quite sure why Trudeau is travelling around India with his wife and his children and an entourage of cabinet ministers and MPs and various officials and a celebrity chef from Vancouver.

It has struck the BBC’s Ayeshea Perera that the point of it “appears to be a series of photo ops cunningly designed to showcase his family’s elaborate traditional wardrobe.” There sure doesn’t seem to be much business to attend to. A half-day here, a meeting there, perhaps a whole day all told out of an eight-day state visit set aside for what you might call state business.

Straight away, the tone was just weird...

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Patrick Brown Shows It’s All About Him, No Matter The Collateral Damage To Ontario PCs

Patrick Brown shows it’s all about him, no matter the collateral damage to Ontario PCs. 
Even on his best days, leading in the polls and raising lots of cash and glad-handing with the best of them, it was never entirely clear why Patrick Brown wanted to be leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. 
He didn’t have a notable interest in the mechanics of the government he was hoping to run after this spring’s election, or any real fundamental differences with the province’s ruling Liberals. He never seemed to have quite grown out of the youth politician he had been, two decades before: the sort with ambition for ambition’s sake, a love of politics as a game with personal advancement the only real objective. 
Now, we have confirmation, courtesy of a bizarre week of flame-throwing that culminated in his announcement that he will run again for the job he vacated three weeks ago amid sexual-misconduct allegations: For Patrick Brown, public life is all about Patrick Brown...

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Peterson Principle: Intellectual Complexity and Journalistic Incompetence

...Peterson is the teacher and clinical psychologist who burst onto the scene after making a video decrying the government’s Bill C-16 which compelled the use of invented gender pronouns (ze and zir, etc) for non-binary and transgender people. Peterson connected the “compelled speech” of the legislation (and the unscientific instantiation of gender as a non-biologically-correlated social construct) to radical leftist ideology and authoritarian governments.

In an admittedly complex and controversial argument, Peterson blamed the spread of postmodernism within the academy for the rise of both identity politics and the emergence of the illiberal left. Many of the stories about him were shallow or missed the point, but several in respected publications like the Globe and Mail and Maclean’s by Tabatha Southey, Ira Wells and most recently by John Semley, were just hatchet jobs, replete with insults, inaccuracies and what appeared to be deliberate misrepresentations. In short, bad journalism you would not expect in good outlets...

Monday, February 12, 2018

At the Manning Conference, Doug Ford demonstrated that he's the best bet the Progressive Conservatives have to defeat Wynne

While it wasn't exactly a lion's den that Doug Ford walked into on Saturday morning, it was in front of a crowd at the Manning Conference in Ottawa more likely to be inimical than friendly.

The Manning Conference is conservative in bent, but those attending the three-day event are mainly the 'elites' in the conservative movement, the very people Ford has said have lost touch with the common person in Ontario. His disfavor among the Conservative patrician class was suggested by the disadvantageous time slot he was allocated. Eight fifteen on a Saturday morning following a Friday night of parties and entertainment at hospitality suites that went into the wee hours seemed a guarantee of a poor turnout. But interest in the populist firebrand was so substantial that Ford drew a much larger crowd than Caroline Mulroney had the day before and was about equal to the size Christine Elliott garnered at the prime time she was given just before lunch.

The interview was conducted by columnist and radio host Anthony Furey, who is one of Canada's most capable, thoughtful, reasonable journalists. He evoked Ford's approach to leadership and the person beyond just the politician. Ford's sharp contrast to  his rivals won over many of the Manning attendees. More importantly, it is likely to win over Ontarians of all political stripes.

Christine Elliott repeated that she was willing to welcome anyone who shares her "conservative values." Ford however stressed that his movement reaches out to, and and takes in, people who are politically unaffiliated as well as those who identify as NDP or Liberal. Political party membership doesn't mean acceptance of the total fiscal irresponsibility that Kathleen Wynne has brought to the province. Ford discussed the huge numbers of hard-working union members who support him, and are fed up with the incompetence and over-taxation that are key components of the Wynne government.  I can attest to that. I have friends in public service unions who are disgusted with the waste they see of taxpayer dollars at their places of work, and how increases in taxes do little that isn't for the benefit of high-paid insiders.

It was the sort of talk, along with his commitment to lowering taxes and government interference in people's lives, that won the room over for Ford. The other factor that overwhelmingly favors Ford is his sincerity. Christine Elliott and Caroline Mulroney seem like nice people, but they exude neither  full commitment nor total sincerity. One gets the feeling from Mulroney and Elliott that they tailor their message to whichever room where they're speaking. With Ford, you get the same message, and  know that whether or not you like what you're hearing, he means it. That's something even the Toronto Star begrudgingly recognizes.

To win the general election, the Progressive Conservative leader needs to understand how to reach out to everyone in the province. Ford knows that better than anyone. Ford Nation, which the left-wing Toronto Star enjoys disparaging, is the antithesis of the reality of the establishment who deride it. If you go to a Liberal Party meeting, you could be forgiven for confusing it with a Bay Street Bankers conference from 1972. As for the NDP, one of their their typical gatherings usually is exclusively made up of more bitter, old, upper-middle class white people than a John Birch Society meeting.

But at a Doug Ford rally, you'll find a wide mix of every ethnicity, age, and income status that you can find among the province's citizens. It's that broad-based appeal that is one of the main differences between Ford and his rivals. Beyond that is charisma and the ability to communicate a message. Those are traits that neither Mulroney or Elliott possess to the impressive extent as Ford. In fact, Mulroney's public performance was so weak that rumors are now circulating that she is planning to drop out of the leadership contest soon.

Despite being abysmal at governing, Kathleen Wynne is a formidable election campaigner. Whether Ford wins the Progressive Conservative Party by election or acclimation, one thing most people have come to realize is that he is the one candidate with the determination, the fighting skills, and the credibility to defeat the Wynne government and reverse the dire economic situation the Liberals have brought to Ontario.

Monday, February 5, 2018

James DiFiore: Sarah Thomson Accuses Steve Paikin, Ruins #metoo Era in Toronto

...it isn’t the little policy details that make Thomson a memorable person. It’s something else. To be kind, she doesn’t seem well. She seems…troubled. She seems like she has a thirst for the spotlight but doesn’t really know what to do once the spotlight falls upon her, and she has a habit of misleading people. She once claimed Rob Ford grabbed her ass at an event, but another person in attendance claimed to overhear her plot to create the accusation out of thin air. Rob Ford, may he rest in peace, would have been the easiest target for virtually any woman in the world who wanted to make a false claim. But Thomson is not like most women. There is an imbalance there, a quality that just seems to scream “I’m in it for the attention, and wow am I not really credible.”
That same election year she tweeted “We have the tape.” - apparently referencing the infamous Rob Ford crack tape which, at the time, was top of the news due to the people’s thirst to finally see the proof that our beloved mayor was a hapless drug addict. When she finally posted what she had, it began with a badly spoofed depiction of a man smoking something, then morphed into one of the most painful spectacles I and many others had ever had the idiocy to sit through. It was a spoof of a song….fuck it, I can’t even explain it. Click here if you want to hate me forever.
So, for someone like me who used to believe Thomson was someone who deserved to be mocked relentlessly, I have since adjusted by perspective, believing her odd public behavior must be some sort of personality tweak. In any event, she recently levelled an accusation against a target that almost nobody believes is guilty.
She said Steven Paikin tried to trade an appearance on his show...for sex.
Steve Paikin.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Doug Ford will be Ontario's next Premier

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party's leadership race has come down to two choices. Doug Ford or someone other than Doug Ford.

That was readily apparent yesterday on a cold, snowy night, in a bleak area near Pearson Airport where Ford was able to get almost 2000 people to turn out to enthusiastically launch his leadership bid.

The cavernous north building of the Toronto Congress Centre was filled to near capacity by people from different parts of Ontario. The room represented more diversity than any other political candidate of any of Ontario's major political parties ever has or could muster.

That's part of the magic of the Ford brand.

At his launch, Ford reiterated his commitment to fiscal responsibility, his opposition to a Carbon Tax, and his drive to reversing the economic decline, corrupt spending practices, and abuse of taxpayers that are all facets of Kathleen Wynne's disastrous Liberal Party government.

The electricity in the room was incredible. If Kathleen Wynne were there, she would have tried to figure out a way to tax it. I haven't seen anything like it in Canadian politics before, and as a Young Liberal, I was at rallies that featured both Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien. Just standing at the periphery, as Doug made rounds near the front of the room following his speech, I was jostled from behind, and pushed from the front by throngs of people clamoring to get near him to shake his hand or get a selfie with the candidate. What Ford's got is as close to rock star popularity as a politician in this country gets.

During his speech, I was standing near the edge of the rally with a friend and some new acquaintances who are long-time Progressive Conservative Party insiders. They came out of curiosity and were not disposed to supporting Ford. But they remarked that there is no way that his main leadership rival, Christine Elliott, could ever generate the type of enthusiasm and support that Ford does.

Ford reminded his supporters that they have to encourage everyone they know who isn't already a member of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party that they have to join in order to vote for him in the leadership race. It costs $10 dollars and a link to membership sign-up is here.

Charisma matters in a political campaign. So does credibility about keeping promises. Ford has both and is the best bet Ontario has for a Premier who will serve the people rather than manipulate them.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Alan Dershowitz on the Nunes memo: Republican 'truth' and Democratic 'truth'

The Republicans have now released the memo containing their version of what is in the controversial FSIA application. Not surprisingly, the Democrats have a different version. It should be easy to decide whose “truth” is more credible: Let the American public see the application itself — instead of second-hand, partisan accounts — and let us decide for ourselves.

The problem with that obvious solution is that the application is currently classified. But classification should never be used – as it often is – for political benefit or to protect agencies or individuals from just criticism. Let a nonpartisan expert decide what must be redacted for genuine security concerns, and let the remainder of the application be released...