Friday, July 29, 2016

Some takeaways from the Republican and Democratic conventions



Republicans and Democrats have wrapped up their national conventions and what happened at them told us a lot more about what to expect than any poll numbers we'll see over the next week or so.

Trump's bounce was significant, taking him into a slight overall lead, but Hillary's, in the aftermath of four days of news coverage and media like CNN reshaping itself into the Clinton News Network, should balance things out. But none of the polls this early in the game mean much. It's the debates that we'll see in fall and what the public thinks of them that will be the real indicators of which way the electorate is leaning. Don't forget that all those intelligent, experienced, skilled Republican Senators and Governors were supposed to make Trump look like a fool and collapse his support during the primary debates. It didn't work out that way. Whether Hillary fares better or worse remains to be seen.

However, for now, there are some very significant convention factors worth noting.

The dissent at the conventions was the highest I remember ever seeing in my lifetime. The closest ones I recall were the Reagan/Ford and Kennedy/Carter rivalries. But neither of those reflected the internal discord that Clinton faces from the Sanders camp and Trump from the old school Republicans. This degree of internecine dissatisfaction bodes ominously for both nominees. But particularly for the Democrats.

The dissent within the Republican Party came almost completely from The Establishment. That, in many ways, works to Trump's advantage, since after 8 years of a Democrat President and widespread dissatisfaction and insecurity in the nation as a whole and the GOP in particular, there's a big appetite for change. In such a climate, being seen as part of The Establishment can be a disadvantage. To that end, Trump's strategy was to paint himself as an outsider while tagging his Republican rivals during the primaries as embedded in the establishment and the Democrat's Presidential nominee as "Secretary of the Status Quo."

That charge stings. It's why during the convention, Hillary and her proxies, including her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and current President Obama went to such great lengths to portray her as an agent of change. But whether that's a convincing sales pitch when applied to someone who has been entrenched in the Washington political establishment for more than a quarter century is a dubious proposition. Especially when the people championing Hillary and telling you that she rejects the status quo are the very people who comprise the status quo.

While Trump's problems within his own party as serious, as Hillary endorsements from people like Republican Michael Bloomberg indicate, they're not as severe as Hillary's problems. Well before November, the bulk of Republican establishment will almost certainly fall into line to set up a line of defence for the party, and to save their own skins in the event Trump wins.

Hillary's dissent problem is much more threatening to her prospects for victory. Her party's establishment was completely behind her. So much so that, as the recent DNC leaks published by Wikileaks reveal, the Democrat establishment tipped the scales in her favor. But the establishment, for all its power and influence, is a relative handful of people. It's the grass roots where Hillary has a problem and that is going to be devastating to her unless she can win them over by election day. As it stands, Hillary  has to contend with legions of democrats who detest her, seemingly even more than they do Donald Trump. Having those problems with her voter base may mean she has an even bigger problem winning over the independents and centrist Republicans she hopes to attract.

There's also the authenticity factor.

Trump says wildly outrageous things as a matter of course. What he says often seems to reflect what he actually thinks at the moment, as if there's no filter between the frontal lobe of his brain and his mouth. Although there are obvious disadvantages that come with that trait, it has the single advantage of making him seem genuine. Trump also understands showmanship and charisma and he has plenty of both. Politics in the TV era is in no small measure entertainment, and Trump knows how to entertain. It can't be overstated how important a factor that is in a national campaign. Trump may have delivered the longest party nomination acceptance speech in living memory, but it wasn't boring. In entertainment, there's no greater sin than being boring.

Hillary's speech, insofar as content goes, was good. But just as timing is crucial to comedy, charisma and at least the appearance of authenticity are crucial to politics. In that, Hillary still has a serious problem. For all her policy expertise, Hillary's acceptance speech sounded as if it were something written by Bill Clinton and delivered by a Kurzweil voice synthesizer. Much of it was dull by virtue of the way it was delivered, and by being dull, went on too long. That dullness was exacerbated by being spoken by someone who conveys the feeling that everything she says is calculated for political advantage rather than coming from the heart.

Having been lauded at the convention in sermons by two of the greatest political orators of our generation, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, might have even been disadvantageous to Hillary, since it highlighted her comparative shortcomings to them. Retired General John Allen and Senator Cory Booker also delivered more stirring addresses than Hillary, predictably making hers anticlimactic and, even with a generous assessment, no better than the 5th best performance of the Democratic convention. Say what you will about Donald Trump, but there was no question about whether he was the star of the show at the Republicans' gathering.

As an aside, it's interesting to consider and compare the two "first daughters" who introduced the Democrat and Republican nominees before making their acceptance speeches. Chelsea Clinton is clearly a lovely, decent, intelligent woman. But she inherited her mother's dearth of charisma and seems to have lost something, even from that, in the transfer. By contrast, Ivanka Trump is beautiful, extremely articulate, warm, convincing and dynamic. Whether that makes much, if any difference to voters is doubtful, but elections are sometimes very close calls and if there is an advantage to be had in that regard, Trump has it.

In the end, the two conventions have given American voters something akin to two choices to pick from off a menu. Hillary is like a healthy, green salad, made up mostly of lettuce, with a light dressing. Trump is like that big, greasy chili burger with cheese dripping down the side. Even though it's bland, you know the salad is healthier. That chili and cheese burger isn't nearly as good for you. It might not even taste good and if you swallow it, there's even the possibility it could make you puke.  But on the other hand, it might taste great, and it might give you energy and make you feel really good.

You know you should probably choose the salad, but you know that the chili burger is going to be a lot more fun. The fact that America has one of the highest obesity rates in the world may give some indication of how its voters will choose come election day in November.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Barbara Kay: In a case with no witnesses, how can any judge be so sure?

I'm very glad Barbara Kay wrote this. 

The judgement, and the whole while thought it very strange and was more reflective of the judge's biases than of any of the evidence cited in the decision. 

Rape is a terrible crime and I hope the defendant is guilty if he was convicted. But based on the evidence, as she wrote, there's no way of telling whether the accuser or the defendant is telling the truth (or at least being the more truthful of the two) without accepting the principle that the defendant in a sexual assault case is guilty until proved innocent. 

The judge also made repeated, contemptuous references to the defendant's having a string of relationships, of which the accuser was one, and how he was anxious to have a threesome. The judge's comments on them bordered on prurience and seemed both bizarre and inappropriate for a legal judgement. It made it seem he was biased against the defendant for his prior sexual history, none of which involved any sexual assault, and was being convicted on that basis. 

There are unfortunate similarities between this and the Ghomeshi case in that one wants to sympathize with the victim, but we also don't want a legal system in which a person can be found guilty and imprisoned simply on the basis of an accusation that has no supporting evidence. It seems in many ways, the judge was setting out to try to make a statement about the Ghomeshi case more than the one he was trying.

You can read the full decision HERE.


Last week York University PhD candidate Mustafa Ururyar was convicted of sexually assaulting grad student Mandi Gray. My curiosity piqued by reports of comments made during trial by Justice Marvin Zuker, I read the 179-page judgment.

The specifics of the incident — an evening of social drinking, a quarrel en route to Ururyar’s home, his break-up of their two-week casual “relationship,” followed by sex he says was consensual, she says wasn’t — can be found in the transcript. There were no witnesses and no injuries. This left us with a he-said, she-said story in a judge-alone trial.

In the end, Zuker found that Gray was “the credible witness” and there was “no uncertainty in this court. Ms Gray was raped by the accused.” In Zuker’s opinion, then, the defence failed to raise a “reasonable doubt,” which in criminal law, as he notes, “is not a far-fetched or frivolous doubt. It is not a doubt based on sympathy or prejudice. It is a doubt based on reason and common sense. It is a doubt that logically arises from the evidence, or the lack of evidence.”

Zuker’s absolute certainty puzzles me, for whatever the truth is, I – someone with “reason and common sense” — found Ururyar’s account no less (or more) credible than Gray’s. Now it is not unusual for two witnesses, one lying and one not, to produce credible stories. But to quell my own reasonable doubt as to an accused’s guilt, I would not only have to find the accuser’s story more credible, I’d have to find the defence implausible. Ururyar’s story may not be true, but it is indeed entirely plausible...

"Social Justice" fascists are enraged because the new Wonder Woman is a Jew who doesn't hate Israel

Don’t expect this to get one-tenth as much attention as the supposedly sexist pre-release attacks on the all-female Ghostbusters. But Wonder Woman is under attack from SJWs — for being Israeli.
While most of the tweets about the upcoming Wonder Woman movie’s new trailer have been positive, many are quite toxic because the lead, Gal Gadot, is an Israeli “Zionist.”...

also im feeling more than slightly disillusioned abt wonder woman now that i realize what a vehement zionist gadot is...

Complaints after CBBC shows ‘ISIS-style execution’… of a boiled egg

A sinister ‘toast jihadi’ stands behind an innocent egg – before decapitating his victim



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Andrew Lawton: Trump support more diverse than media admits


...They are not united by a singular race, nor even by an ideology, but rather a belief that politicians have ignored them and Donald Trump won’t.

Though some white nationalists will cast ballots for Trump come November (as some undesirables invariably will for Hillary Clinton) it would be disingenuous to say that these represent the majority. 
I spoke with numerous black attendees who spoke highly of Trump and even endorsed him as the guy to bridge America’s racial divide.

A Hispanic Texas delegate told me he has reservations about Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric, but is supporting him overall based on his positions on other issues.

On the second night of the convention, a group called LGBTrump held an event featuring gay provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, during which a number of speakers—including Dutch MP Geert Wilders—charged that the left is focusing on “distraction” issues like wedding cakes and transgender washrooms while Trump is tackling the real threat to gays—radical Islam.

“Donald Trump is the most pro-gay Republican nominee we have ever had,” event organizer Chris Barron told me.

It would be easy to surmise that those at a Republican convention are hell-bent on supporting any Republican, but conversations outside the convention walls further revealed the breadth of Trump’s appeal.

During a cab ride from Cleveland to my hotel, the driver, a black man who hasn’t voted in 20 years, told me, unprompted, that he’ll be supporting Trump in November.

“He’s different than everyone else,” he said. “Everyone is scared of him getting in because they know he’s going to shake things up.”

Trump not only inspired this man to vote for him, but also to reverse two decades of rejecting the political process—all because Trump is not a part of the much-maligned “establishment,” a group whose definition becomes broader with each passing day...

Public Servants Selling Influence Reveals the Staggering Level of Corruption in Kathleen Wynne's Government


Political staff of many Ontario cabinet ministers double as fundraisers for the Liberal Party, encouraging companies that do business with government to buy tickets to private events hosted by the same ministers who make decisions on contracts and policy.

The Globe and Mail has obtained several invitations to Liberal fundraisers that list ministerial aides as contact people selling tickets.

And more than a half dozen sources in companies doing business with the province say it is commonplace for staffers to invite them to donate to the politicians they deal with...  

Bernie's rebellion is going rogue

Chants of "Bernie!", and boos whenever Hillary Clinton’s name was mentioned, filled the opening hours of the Democratic National Convention, with delegates supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont repeatedly drowning out other speakers with their vocal dissent.

Never mind that after the weekend’s Wikileaks scandal revealed bias against Senator Sanders, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) issued a formal apology, forced the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and moved Senator Sanders’ speech to the final keynote spot. His supporters were largely unappeased.

Indeed, the Vermonter whose insurgent campaign tapped into latent frustration with America’s political system, is now finding that many of those he inspired are unwilling to fall into line. Sanders delegates here emphasize that he’s not directing them, and that any protest activity on the floor is a result of grass-roots activism. That makes the push for unity, now coming from both Mrs. Clinton and Sanders, an even more daunting challenge.
 
“If we learned one thing from Bernie Sanders, it’s that the movement is about all of us, not him,” says Justin Molito, a union organizer from Connecticut who is attending the convention as a Sanders delegate. “So when he asks us not to protest, I’d respectfully disagree. You have to make a moral choice about what your role is here.”...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Democrats trip over low bar set by GOP convention

After last week's "Mad Max: Fury Road"-themed Republican National Convention, the bar for Hillary Clinton's coronation this week in Philadelphia had been set fairly low.

Low enough, apparently, that the Democratic Party managed to trip over it and land face-first in the mud.

The weekend release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee showed Clinton was unquestionably the party's favored candidate, enraging the perpetually enraged supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders and prompting party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign.

Hours before the convention began Monday afternoon, Sanders tried to preach unity to some of his most ardent supporters, but they broke into a chorus of boos when he said they needed to support Clinton. The monster Sanders created was no longer taking orders from him...

See also: Trump Bounces into the Lead 

The fight of Hillary Clinton’s life



First things first. Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton. To many Americans, mere talk of it is preposterous. They should get used to it. At some point, Mr Trump is likely to take a lead in the polls. It might last for two days or persist for weeks. Liberal Americans should steel themselves. As author Nancy Isenberg put it: “When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance the dancing bear will win.”

Mrs Clinton, moreover, is capable of squandering her inbuilt advantage. Whatever happens at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this week, the next three months will be the battle of her life.

What should most concern the anti-Trump forces? Mrs Clinton’s biggest hurdle is the depth of hatred for her across large parts of America...

See also:   Election Update: Clinton’s Lead Is As Safe As Kerry’s Was In 2004