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Friday, April 20, 2018

Douglas Murray: How many fourth-rate academics are first-rate bigots?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote two pieces about a very rum collection of ‘academics’ who had written to The Guardian defending Jeremy Corbyn from accusations of anti-Semitism.  Since then it is safe to say that the debate has not gone their way.  Or to put it another way – particularly after Tuesday’s debate in Parliament when Jewish Labour MPs and others testified to the racism now rife within the Labour party – there is even more evidence of anti-Semitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party today than there was when those forty ‘academics’ wrote to the Guardian.

Of course back then I had a bit of fun with the fact that the academics in question seemed not only to be at distinctly fourth-rate institutions, but also seemed to be ‘experts’ in non-subjects.  Almost every signatory was in a ‘media studies’ department, where their expertise ranged from ‘zombie studies’ to ‘Star Wars’.  One signatory was a saxophonist.  Personally I have no especially fixed attitudes either for or against the saxophone.  But why playing the saxophone should be said to give anyone any authority on the matter of anti-Semitism is quite beyond me.

Anyhow, imagine my surprise, nay my absolute amazement at the discovery that one of the signatories of that letter (zombie lady, as it turned out) should now turn out to have some very ugly views of her own. 
n what may be a journalistic first for the Huffington Post that publication has discovered that Jane Dipple of the ‘University of Winchester’ may not be a neutral voice on the whole issue of Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism.

According to the Huffington Post, this ‘lecturer in media and communication’ has been very active in the past on social media on the matters of Jews and Zionism.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when I read that Ms Dipple had been chuntering away on Palestine Live (the anti-Semitic Facebook group of which Jeremy Corbyn and his son were also members) about these subjects.  Among her posts she refers to one ‘Icke’.  By which perhaps she is referring to David Icke – precisely the sort of thinker I would expect a ‘lecturer in media and communication’ at the University of Winchester to be in the habit of citing.  Anyhow Ms Dipple refers to ‘Icke’ who apparently referred to ‘rampant Zionism across the media.’  Elsewhere she refers to a ‘Zionist attempt to create a pure race’.  And she also merrily re-posts from the neo-Nazi website ‘The Daily Stormer’.  The piece from that disgusting publication which so impressed the University of Winchester’s ‘lecturer in media and communications’ was headlined ‘BBC To Replace Male Jew Political Editor With Female Jew.’

The University of Winchester has responded to the Huffington Poststory by saying ‘We were shocked by the content in these posts and we are investigating further as a matter of urgency.’  Well let me just say that I doubt that there is anyone outside the public relations department of the University of Winchester who is shocked by this...

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Setting The Record Straight About Doug Ford


As Ontario nears its next provincial election, the political establishment is working itself into a panicked frenzy.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal Party are so unpopular that it seems a near certainty that she'll lose on June 7, and will be replaced by the Progressive Conservative Party headed by Doug Ford.

Both Doug and his late brother Rob were the subjects of unprecedented media attacks while they served as elected officials in Toronto, Rob as mayor and Doug as a City Councillor and his brother's right hand man. Those attacks involved media stalking the Fords, inventing lies about them, and writing columns so histrionic that they did more damage to the credibility of the news outlets which published them than they did to Doug and Rob. The main motivation behind the attacks was that the Fords were populists committed to serving the actual public and not the city's well-heeled establishment and the special interest groups with which they work hand-in-glove.

Doug himself has been accused of being part of the 'elites' he decries. Indeed Doug Ford does come from an affluent family, but it was recent, self-made wealth by Doug Ford Sr. The Fords were never part of Toronto's established Old Boys Network. The business that Doug Sr started was built up to a huge, transnational success by Doug, who established a branch in Chicago as well as the home base in Etobicoke that is one of the continent's major label manufacturers.

I've come to know Doug pretty well in the last few months and I've come to consider him a friend. He's spent time at my home and we've had long talks about political philosophy, the direction Ontario, Toronto, and the country has been and is heading, the role of media, and all sorts of topics.

The establishment is worried to the extent that they're pulling out all the stops and spreading every lie they can think of to slander Doug before election day. And hearing those lies being told about a friend is somewhat upsetting, so I think it's time to set the record straight on a few of them.

An astroturf group which implausibly denies links to Kathleen Wynne's Liberal Party has been dishonestly implying, and in cases outright lying, about Doug being antisemitic and homophobic.

These are blantanty false accusations which are the opposite of the truth.

One incident, which I only recently recalled, is a particular example of how Doug went out of his way to fight antisemitism in Toronto when almost all of his then-City Council colleagues were too cowardly to do anything about it.

A few years ago, back in 2011, I was in contact with Rob Ford's office about the proposed use of city property to host an antisemitc hate fest known as Al Quds Day.  That annual event was created by Iran's despotic, homicidal Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini to promote the genocide of Israel's Jews. These al Quds Day rallies routinely feature calls to violence against civilians and expressions of antisemtic hatred.

While most of City Council sat on their thumbs in fear of offending the Islamists behind Toronto's al Quds Day, Doug stepped up to the plate without a moment's hesitation. Fighting the City's bureaucracy, which contains a few unsavory, pro-Islamist people who are armed with a spool of red tape big enough to color the CN Tower crimson from top to bottom, Doug nonetheless did all he could to have the al Quds Day fanatics prevented from using a taxpayer-supported facility to spew their hate.

In the end, because of opposition by some of the entrenched, NDP-linked bureaucracy at City Hall, Doug was unsuccessful at getting the al Quds Day event removed from the City facility, but much to the Islamists' chagrin, had Toronto Police send an officer from the Hate Crimes Unit to monitor their malevolent jamboree, which forced them to moderate from their usual vicious bile.

Doug stood up for the Jews when the so-called 'progressives' at City Hall enabled or cowered in silence in the face of antisemitism.

As to Doug's supposed homophobia, the 'proof' offered by an asinine propaganda website operated by anonymous trolls relates to the complete distortion of something Doug said about an incident that occurred when a few protesters crashed a Ford Fest, a  big, multicultural barbecue put on by the Ford family every year. One of the anti-Ford protesters carried a sign upon which was printed '#1 Ford Hater." A couple of the protesters were wearing rainbow flags. The anti-Ford protesters were confronted by some Ford supporters and among the back and forth, regrettably, there were some anti-gay comments made by a couple of people.

In the aftermath of the kerfuffle at Ford Fest, Doug, who said and did nothing homophobic, and who was not in the altercation, nonetheless apologized for what those few Ford supporters did to the protester. He also reasonably noted that if people go to an event, even a sporting event, for the purpose of taunting people as the protesters did, the result, far from being surprising, is more likely exactly the attention the protesters wanted.

At the time, Doug observed, "you can't show up at a Yankees game with a Red Sox hat on" or in that instance, it's absurd to come to a Ford party for the purpose of trashing the Fords, and expect no trouble. That's just obvious logic. Characterizing that as homophobia by Doug, as the anonymous trolls at notdoug.com attempt, is a sleazy lie, just as disseminating sleazy lies and intentionally deceptive mischaracterizations is the purpose of that website.

As it happens, Doug has many friends in Toronto's gay community, has reached out to help them when they were in need, and had even donated $4000 of his own money to Toronto's Pride Festival. These are hardly the hallmarks of a homophobe.

From a long career in different aspects of media, including a major Hollywood production company which has won multiple Academy Awards, experience has taught me that the personalities of public figures as they present on TV are rarely precise representations of them in real life. But there are exceptions.

My friend Tarek Fatah is one who is very much in private the way he comes across in media, he's passionate, excitable, and deeply committed to the causes about which he speaks. Doug Ford is another case where the private and public person are basically the same.

The ways that the private Doug and the public one differ is that Doug's great sense of humor, his politeness, and the touch of shyness that is about him don't fully come across on TV. But the essence of the man is there and what you see with Ford is what you get. If he says something he means it, which contrasts with the politicians we're used to, and who spend more time trying to avoid telling us what they really think than they do in being straightforward. He's absolutely committed to doing good for his community and the people. Unlike just about every other politician I've ever met, Doug does most of that good without seeking publicity for it, taking satisfaction in having helped out the people who needed his assistance.

One of the reasons Doug is running for Premier which he and I have discussed is that he believes in the rights of individuals to be respected as individuals. The government takes money from us in the form of taxes, and taxpayers have a right to expect government to be accountable to them and treat them fairly. We have a right to be treated as individuals, not members of a collective.

The Liberals cynically play the identity politics game pitting communities against each other while completely disregarding individuality or accountability. That was in plain display recently when Kathleen Wynne spoke about telling young voters that they have to vote to prevent old white people from deciding elections.

Compare that with Doug, who in explaining why he opposed al Quds Day fanatics from using City property to demonize Israel's Jews said he doesn't "believe city facilities should be used by one community to denounce another."

There's a stark choice in this election. Continuing with Kathleen Wynne's disastrous fiscal policies and cynically divisive Identity Politics from a Liberal government that believes it should be able to control every aspect of the lives of Ontarians. Under her administration, the overriding philosophy is that the people should be accountable to government.

Alternately, we have Doug Ford, who respects individual rights, and who believes that government's role is to protect people's freedom, and not to take it away from them. Doug will make sure government is fully accountable to the people, respects all of us, and will ensure that public servants are there to serve the public, not the other way round.

Take the chance to meet Doug if you can in this time leading up to June 7th. The real Doug Ford is not the person that most of the establishment media portrays. He's a good, decent, compassionate man and he will be a great, much needed Premier for Ontario.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Exposed: Jeremy Corbyn’s hate factory


...Twelve senior staff working for the Labour leader and the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, are members of groups containing anti-semitic and violent comments, including praise for Adolf Hitler and threats to kill Theresa May, the prime minister.

The most comprehensive investigation conducted into 20 of the biggest pro-Corbyn Facebook groups — numbering 400,000 members — found routine attacks on Jewish people, including Holocaust denial.

The dossier was compiled over two months by whistleblowers working with The Sunday Times in the groups, who gained access to restricted membership groups. They uncovered more than 2,000 racist, anti-semitic, misogynistic, violent and abusive messages.

Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said the comments appeared to breach hate-crime laws...
More HERE

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Doug Ford is about to change climate change policy for the whole country — and it's about time

Doug Ford’s victory in the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race changes the national climate policy picture in a significant way. Not because he is opposed to carbon taxes: Many other federal and provincial politicians are as well. What makes Ford different is his willingness to declare that he sees climate change as a secondary issue in comparison to basic bread-and-butter economic priorities.

Lots of politicians agree, but they are too nervous to say so. They find it safer to nod along with the loudest voices on the other side, whose righteous crusade against (as they see it) planet-destroying fossil fuels leads them to believe that any policy, no matter how extreme and costly, is never enough.

Ford’s realism may inspire others to join him. And his view is well in line with expert opinion. The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, after surveying the projected costs and benefits of climate change, concluded: “For most economic sectors, the impact of climate change will be small relative to the impacts of other drivers… Changes in population, age, income, technology, relative prices, lifestyle, regulation, governance and many other aspects of socioeconomic development will have an impact on the supply and demand of economic goods and services that is large relative to the impact of climate change.”

In other words, when it comes to the things that truly affect peoples’ day-to-day lives, climate change might belong on the list, but far down. Polls show that people have largely figured this out for themselves, with climate change consistently ranking far behind most other priorities.

Policy should reflect this...

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I'd have thought the average Trump voter assumed he's had sex with at least a dozen porn actresses

Mark Steyn has this one right.

Trump voters couldn't care less about which or how many porn actresses with whom he had sex.

He wasn't elected to be a role model or a model paragon.

He was elected to bring about change, and that he's done.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Why John Bolton is no warmonger


Photo by Michael Vadon via Wikipedia
The hysteria from the Left over Donald Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as National Security Advisor to replace Lt. General H. R. McMaster has been partly hilarious, partly alarming to behold. From The Guardian in this country to The New York Times, CNN, Slate, Salon, and beyond in the United States, we are presented with a scarecrow figure who makes Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove look like Albert Schweitzer after a nap. ‘Yes’, screamed an editorial in The New York Times, ‘John Bolton Really Is That Dangerous’. Bolton is a ‘hawk’s hawk’, an ‘extreme ideologue’ and ‘warmonger’ whose appointment ‘scares people’ and ‘puts us on a path to war’. Adds Fred Kaplan, writing in Slate, ‘and it’s fair to say [sure it is, Fred] that President Donald Trump wants us on that path’. In short, ‘the time to panic is now’. Argh!!!

Hysteria has its pleasures.  But if we step outside the echo chamber of this feverish anti-Trump mad house, we soon discover that John Bolton is not the reincarnation of Genghis Khan. On the contrary, he is an informed and thoughtful commentator on international affairs. The over-caffeinated chihuahuas yapping at his heels are in a panic because he doesn’t like the ‘deal’ (what some of us would describe as the craven capitulation) that Barack Obama made with Iran over its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Obama shovelled more than a billion dollars in cash to the Mullahs and said in effect ‘pretty please do not make any nuclear bombs’. The New York Times, in one of its excoriations of John Bolton, wrote that ‘The Iran deal has substantially halted the nuclear program and needs to be maintained’. But anyone not blinded by ideology knows that the third thing the Iranian leaders do each morning, after proclaiming ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to America’, is to chivvy their scientists to get on with their work making a bomb with which to obliterate the Zionist entity and threaten the Great Satan.  

Something similar can be said about North Korea. Bolton’s critics chatter like terrified, dyspeptic starlings because he has suggested that Kim Jong Un’s deployment of nuclear weapons presents an existential threat that may have to be met by a preemptive military strike. But does any thinking person doubt this? Moreover, as Rocket Man prepares for his meeting with President Trump, the presence of John Bolton in the American entourage should have a clarifying effect on the tubby tyrant.

But the revulsion on the Left against John Bolton is occasioned by much more than his robust positions on Iran and North Korea...

See also: 

John Bolton Has His Chance to Kill the Iran Deal Trump Tried to Fix

Monday, March 12, 2018

#KathleenWynneCares

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who heads up the most corrupt, incompetent government in the history of her province, and which has run up the world's largest sub-national debt, says "Government exists to do the things we can’t do on our own ."

Here are some examples of things her government does that you can't do on your own.

Can you think of some more?







Sunday, March 11, 2018

Objectivity Has a Poor Reputation in the Humanities, and Universities are Paying for it

...Equity studies and related fields are built on studying inequality (mostly based on group identity) and its effects on people. These fields have a symbiotic relationship with progressive activists in order to further the stated goal of equality, just as the field of chemistry has a symbiotic relationship with the chemical industry. Fifty years ago, when the civil rights act was only 4 years old and Canada still had an unwritten tradition of discouraging immigration from anywhere but Europe, there certainly was a pervasive system of inequality that would impede the success of certain groups of people. In a climate like that, there absolutely is a lot of content to for equity studies to produce. Because its necessity, competent individuals pursuing higher education would have been willing to study in this field.

Fast forward 40 years, things look a lot different. There are laws in place to prevent discrimination based on gender, race, disability, and sexual orientation. There are also hate crime laws that add additional penalty for crimes existing crimes motivated by bigotry. While still not perfect, all available metrics are trending in the direction of equality (between gender, race, and sexuality). When this inevitably happens, do the academics in equity studies just pack it up and go home? Of course not, this is their livelihood and they need to stay relevant. And if relevance is the necessity, the goal is to have a real impact.

Equity studies is indisputably less important than it was at its inception and incoming students recognize this. The other thing incoming students recognize is that a degree in equity studies and related fields are among the least marketable bachelor degrees one can hold, at a time where a high paying 9-5 career is harder to get without any technical skills. So, what does a competent student with a notion of personal responsibility do? They study something else. This leaves a field desperately in need of a rebranding and a prospect pool that is declining in quality...

Saturday, March 10, 2018

For eerie, fun drinks on Toronto's Queen Street West, it's Hocus Pocus

Queen Street West in Toronto is one of those destination spots where new businesses frequently appear and disappear. That's the economics of retail and sales rather than magic, however a new, very intriguing place on Queen West materialized recently and magic does play a big role in it.

I happened to stumble upon it a couple of weeks ago, and almost passed by it entirely until something on the chalkboard placard outside the Hocus Pocus Witchery (at 592 Queen West) caught my eye. With its storefront appearance, looking in from the street, the place appeared to be a sort of occult shop, selling Wiccan and magic paraphernalia. It's something I found interesting from an academic perspective when I wrote a screenplay once dealing with some of that subject matter, but that was a while back. So I only really qualsi took in the place as I was passing by until I almost tripped over their chalkboard, on which was written, 'Come and check out our smoking cocktails.'

While communing with Beelzebub wasn't on the forefront of my mind, I was indeed seeking out a place to get a drink. The prospect of booze in the witchcraft store was interesting enough to explore, so I got a notion to get a potion, so to speak.

There is indeed a bar at the Hocus Pocus Witchery, and a few tables, as well as plenty of items for sale, from magic potion ingredients to statues of ancient Egyptian deities to a wide assortment of Tarot decks to  $1000 'Love Wands" which I can only assume is something the parents of rich kids at Hogwarts would buy for their forlorn children. However, from my perspective, they had an impressive drinks menu, and the "smoking cocktail" description was not a metaphor.

There are a number of drinks at Hocus Pocus Wichery which literally smoke and bubble, and create an eerie graveyard mist which flows over the rims of the myriad of unusual receptacles that contain the concoctions. The drinks are delicious and quite reasonably priced for such elaborate recipes and presentation.  

Despite the ominous theme, the staff are rather friendly. Although to a point. I have some vague recollection of the suggestion that I could be turned into a newt if I didn't behave myself. Although that could just be part of a hallucination from the wormwood in the genuine French Absinthe contained in one of the beverages, the preparation for which is a ritual in itself.

My only complaint about the Hocus Pocus Witchery is that they close rather early for a bar on weekdays, at 9 pm, but they are open late on Friday and Saturday nights, and on the late closings, they frequently have entertainment. The last of which I saw was a burlesque dancer named Pastel Supernova (although I strongly suspect that is not the name she was born with) whose performance somewhat evoked the dance Salma Hayek did in From Dusk Till Dawn, minus the boa constrictor.

Considering how much fun I had there, I hope the Hocus Pocus Witchery doesn't vanish anytime soon.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Canadian Universities, where supporting students' fragile emotions is more important than teaching them

The free-speech wars have broken out again. The battlefield this time is the little campus of Acadia University, located in bucolic Wolfville, N.S. The villain of the piece is Rick Mehta, an associate professor of psychology who's been teaching there for 14 years. Critics call him a free-speech absolutist whose outrageous views are endangering the safety and security of his students. He calls himself an independent thinker who offers different perspectives to challenge the prevailing narrative. This week, we learned that the campus administration has launched a formal investigation to determine just how dangerous he is. A letter he received from Heather Hemming, the vice-president of academic, said that the administration had received too many complaints to ignore. "The university has a legal responsibility to provide an environment free from discrimination, sexual harassment and personal harassment," it said.

We've been down this road before. You'd think that universities have learned a thing or two from the Jordan Peterson debacle. The University of Toronto's efforts to stifle Prof. Peterson backfired badly by helping to turn him into the Western world's foremost martyr to free speech. He's a rock star. Sensibly, the university is now leaving him alone.

Prof. Mehta is an unabashed Peterson fan. He, too, likes to whack away at current campus pieties. He has also said that Indigenous policies have fostered a victim mentality, and that he, personally, does not feel guilty for the wrongs done to historic populations before he was alive. (As an immigrant of East Indian descent, he can hardly be accused of white privilege, either.) The bill of indictment also includes statements he has made on social media, and sometimes in the classroom, about men and women and the fact that their career interests tend to differ. He thinks that the pay gap is largely fictional, that immigration policy needs vigorous debate and that introductory psych courses (such as the one he teaches) largely ignore the role of intellectual ability in determining social outcomes. In the real world, none of these views are particularly radical, and some are empirically correct. But in the hothouse world of today's universities, they are automatically racist, sexist and hateful...

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Matthew Lau :How greedy McDonald’s became the most effective poverty-fighter in the country

...Poor people (and not-so-poor people) are enriched by McDonald’s offerings of cheap and filling food. The popular economics blog Freakonomics has suggested McDonald’s McDouble burger could be “the cheapest, most nutritious, and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history.” With two beef patties, pickles, and onions, McDoubles offer — for just a couple of bucks — half the daily recommended serving of protein, seven per cent of daily recommended fibre, and 20 per cent of your daily calcium and iron.

But it’s not through cheap food that McDonald’s helps those in need. Visit an outlet in any major city’s downtown and you’ll see, essentially, a temporary shelter for struggling people who badly need a rest, some warmth, or just a bathroom. As a report in U.K.’s left-wing Guardian described a couple years ago, “for many of the poorest, for the homeless, and for people caught in an addiction, McDonald’s are an integral part of their lives.” The washrooms are clean, there is social interaction, McDonald’s restaurants are often safer than homeless shelters, and many locations are open 24 hours.

And many kids get their first job working at McDonald’s, developing work habits and customer-service skills that qualify them for higher-paying jobs down the road. When it comes to getting young Canadians onto the first rung of the economic ladder, McDonald’s has outdone every anti-poverty organization in the country...

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...

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Scott Adams in the Wall Street Journal: The Mystery of Trump’s Lousy Polls

Do you remember a few decades ago when one of the main complaints about politics was that Democrats and Republicans were not so different? Not anymore. The news industry has found that polarization is a strong business model. The first group of pundits claim many times a day that Republicans are right about nearly everything and Democrats are stupid and evil, while the second group do the reverse. Voters tend to consume news that agrees with their opinions, thus reinforcing them. In this environment, you can’t reasonably expect the folks who voted for the losing candidate to warm up easily to the winner. In the past the differences between victor and vanquished in the political arena were mostly questions of policy. To partisans today, Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump are a lying, cheating murderer and a crazy, impulsive, lying, racist, homophobic, sexist narcissist. That’s a big gap.

And it’s not as if Mr. Trump’s opponents are eager to close it. Michael Jordan missed about half of the shots he attempted. That isn’t because he lacked skill, but because the opposing players were highly capable at defending. Likewise, the political and media professionals who oppose the president are playing unusually strong defense, and that works against his job-approval ratings.

Example: Anti-Trumpers take it as a given that this president is a racist. As evidence, they point to a series of news stories and quotes that seem to support that position. Your common sense tells you that even if some of the claims are exaggerated or taken out of context, there are so many of them that they can’t all be wrong.

But as any cognitive scientist will tell you, they can all be wrong, and that wouldn’t be unusual. Confirmation bias looks exactly like a mountain of evidence. If that sounds crazy, consider how much solid evidence the press gave us in 2016 that Mr. Trump could never get elected...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Death of Mainstream Journalism is Nothing to Fear



There's a crisis in journalism.

We know that because journalists keep telling us that there's a crisis in journalism.

However, what the mainstream media considers a crisis may be, for the rest of us, something else entirely.

From the media's perspective, the crisis in journalism is declining revenues and fewer jobs.

They argue that translates to a less informed public.

Is that truly the case?

Just three decades ago, to the average person, news was doled out by a small cartel consisting of a few newspapers, radio stations, and a small handful of TV networks. All of them controlled by a  coterie of wealthy people whose personal political and social biases frequently determined the way the news was reported, and even more frequently which stories their media outlets chose to, and not to report.

Those mainstream media organizations still exist, and still operate the same way. But they're losing market share and revenues.

Media's main revenue source revenue is almost always from advertising rather than from something like the amount collected from the sale price of a newspaper or magazine.

Ad revenues are down for mainstream media because now they have competition.

The Internet has revolutionized the way that news is delivered and consumed. Now anyone with a smart phone and a twitter account is a potential journalist. Anyone with a blog or facebook account can reach a wide audience and point out how the mainstream media is either publishing outright falsehoods or selectively reporting about issues, leaving out crucial facts.

The world is changing. Media is changing. For anyone interested in what is going on in the world, there's far more opportunity to get information from a variety of sources than ever.

That may be a crisis for mainstream news media, but it's good for having an informed public.

What we're seeing isn't a crisis. It's just a facet of changing times and the decline of an outmoded industry. It's the same sort of crisis buggy-makers faced when Henry Ford came out with the Model T.

It's a crisis we should welcome.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Were tax dollars used by the CBC to pay hush money to cover up sexual affairs among its staff?

These are very serious allegations by journalist James diFiore about corruption and abuse of tax funds at the CBC. He also alleges that the Toronto Star is involved in helping the CBC manage the matter.

He says that there are reports that the CBC used tax funds to pay hush money to cover up staff affairs involving Peter Mansbridge.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ben Shapiro: Why no one will care about an adulterous sex romp with Trump

So, the President of the United States apparently had an affair with a porn star while he was married to the current First Lady of the United States, four months after she gave birth to their son. Now that porn star, the aptly-named Stormy Daniels, is slated to give a 5,500 word interview about President Trump’s habits in bed, his genital size (congratulations, Marco Rubio!) and pillow talk.

And this won’t change one thing about Trump’s support level.

There’s a theory in economics regarding the stock market: the so-called efficient market hypothesis. That theory states that attempting to “beat the market” is silly — the market, at any given time, has already factored in all available information, and so prices accurately reflect fair value. There is no such thing as an “undervalued stock,” in this view. The “strong” hypothesis suggests that even hidden information has already been priced into markets.
the strong efficient market hypothesis applies to President Trump’s political fortunes. No new information, barring actual changes in the underlying economy or a war, will dramatically change Americans’ views of Trump. Everything has already been baked into the cake.

That’s why the puzzlement of the Left over the Right’s apparent disinterest in the latest scandalous reports about Trump having sex with porn stars while married misses the point: we already knew this was Trump. The man had an affair with his second wife while married to his first; he had an affair with his third wife while married to his second. He used to call up newspapers in New York, pretending to be his own press agent, and lie to them about his sexual peccadillos. He’s appeared in a Playboy soft-porn video.

What about charges of racism? Nothing will change opinions there, either. He made his political bones on birtherism; he was accused of racial discrimination in the 1970s. If Democrats think Trump will go down over his comments regarding “s***hole countries,” they’re crazy.

What about suggestions that Trump is nutty? Nope, already priced in. Look at his Twitter feed. Anyone who truly thinks that Trump supporters haven’t taken into account his volatility and eccentricity (in their view) ought to have their head examined.

You’re not going to beat the Trump market. You’re just not...

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A phony Islamophobia panic is ruining Canadian politics

...There is something unmistakably perverse about the bizarre appetite many Canadians, particularly those on the left or in elite positions, seem to have for tales of outlandish Islamophobia, an appetite that causes otherwise sensible people to turn off their faculties for caution and skepticism and adopt the credulity of a supermarket tabloid reader. At best, they gobble up such anecdotes as a variant of so-called “decay porn,” in which weird cravings for tales of a hellish world can be satisfied only by increasingly outlandish stories cooked up by fabulists. At worst, these are mini-Gulf of Tonkins of the mind, emotional pretexts that rationalize backing politicians or legislation that erode free speech, due process or national security in the name of fighting some unprecedented enemy.

As the Toronto Sun’s Anthony Furey observed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a long track record of erring on the side of radical Islam, a pattern seemingly born from a larger tendency to frame Muslims as creatures without agency and deserving reverence for all claims of persecution, no matter how dubious or ambiguous. This, in turn, animates many of the man’s marquee political promises, from a generous intake of Syrian refugees to eliminating judgmental language from the Canadian citizenship guide to ending bombing raids against the Islamic State, all of which have, at their core, an implied need to redeem the Islam-skeptical character of Canadian society.

Phony or exaggerated charges of Islamophobia, in other words, are not merely victimless non-crimes. They inflate the resolve of a certain flavor of progressive whose political agenda aims to sacrifice much of traditional liberalism in the name of a bigotry course correction, as well as the denialist ignorance of the reactionary right, like those who peddled conspiracy theories about last year’s mosque shooting in Quebec City. The end result is a society whose politics have been agitated to polarize around the Muslim issue in a deeply inaccurate, unserious way...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Decline of Anti-Trumpism



 David Brooks in the New York Times:

...the anti-Trump movement, of which I’m a proud member, seems to be getting dumber. It seems to be settling into a smug, fairy tale version of reality that filters out discordant information. More anti-Trumpers seem to be telling themselves a “Madness of King George” narrative: Trump is a semiliterate madman surrounded by sycophants who are morally, intellectually and psychologically inferior to people like us.

I’d like to think it’s possible to be fervently anti-Trump while also not reducing everything to a fairy tale.

The anti-Trump movement suffers from insularity. Most of the people who detest Trump don’t know anybody who works with him or supports him. And if they do have friends and family members who admire Trump, they’ve learned not to talk about this subject. So they get most of their information about Trumpism from others who also detest Trumpism, which is always a recipe for epistemic closure.

The movement also suffers from lowbrowism. Fox News pioneered modern lowbrowism. The modern lowbrow (think Sean Hannity or Dinesh D’Souza) ignores normal journalistic or intellectual standards. He creates a style of communication that doesn’t make you think more; it makes you think and notice less. He offers a steady diet of affirmation, focuses on simple topics that require little background information, and gets viewers addicted to daily doses of righteous contempt and delicious vindication.

We anti-Trumpers have our lowbrowism, too, mostly on late-night TV. But anti-Trump lowbrowism burst into full bloom with the Wolff book...

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Finding the Way Forward on Iran

...For the most part, Western attention focuses on what Iran has — centrifuges, ballistic missiles, enriched uranium — as well as what it does — fund Hezbollah, assist Bashar al-Assad, arm the Houthis, or imprison the occasional British or American citizen. Administrations of both parties have spent most of their Iran energies trying to cajole or coerce Tehran to relinquish and desist, without much success.

Not nearly enough attention, however, goes to the question of what Iran is. This isn’t just about whether it’s a dictatorship. What kind of dictatorship? To get the answer right is to know what kind of pressure can change its behavior or break its back.

The conventional wisdom is that it’s a dictatorship with democratic characteristics, and that it’s riven between hard-liners who want to make it more repressive and militant and reformists who want to make it less. Western policy, according to this analysis, should do what it can to encourage and reward the latter at the expense of the former.

But the analysis fails to explain why, for instance, the number of executions in Iran rose under the ostensibly reformist leadership of President Hassan Rouhani. It doesn’t account for Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif laying a wreath in honor of Imad Mugniyeh, the Hezbollah terrorist responsible for killing hundreds of Americans. And it doesn’t explain Tehran’s hyperaggressive foreign policy in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal, which was supposed to inaugurate its opening to the rest of the world.

A better way of describing Iran’s dictatorship is as a kleptotheocracy, driven by impulses that are by turns doctrinal and venal. Note how quickly the provincial protesters turned their sights on the supreme leader: Maybe it’s because they know better than most how thoroughly he’s fleecing them...