The Adult Table

China has announced the formation of a development Bank and Israel has applied join. The Big Zero and the eternal dim bulbs at State are not happy with either development.

In Western institutions there is an almost reflexive rejection of all things Israel these days with assorted one horse dictatorships and failed Islamic States demanding it’s exclusion for various – not anti Semetic they hasten to assure you – reasons.  And wimpy Euro States jump right in to support their little brown and black brethren, post colonial cringe and elite fear of growing Muslim populations fueling their loathing of that “shifty little country.”

China has no such prejudice. For better or worse, as the workshop of the world, China has interests and none of those interests require ritual obeyence to the Palestinian cause and the dreadful people who support it.  The Arabs want to sell China oil, the Euros cars and financial services, the Turks would like to continue as a terminus on the New Silk Road. Thanks to the genius of the Obama administration,  much of the Middle East is in flames and the Saudis need Israel far too much in the absence of coherence from Washington to even think of blackballing  them.

As the Chinese, Indians, British and French know, finance and diplomacy are adult activities: Israel is the single nation in the Middle East which is technologically, militarily and financially competitive in the modern world. When the Saudis need good satellite pics of Yemen and the US is too busy tongue bathing Iran to provide them… Who do they call?

In six years,  Obama and the ladies who surround him have relegated the US to the children’s table in world politics.  Assad made fools of Obama’s red line drawers. Russia has largely ignored Obama’s hot and cold stance on Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine. While Kerry pretended that global warming is real and a threat, ISIS has proven it is very real and an actual threat.

Have Chinese have decided to go their own way diplomatically and economically. They realize that entities like the IMF, World Bank, UN are stuck with having to take Third World countries “seriously”.  Worse, in the older forums, they have to take the junior varsity of American foreign “policy” into account if only because the US is very large and randomly self righteous. Rather than trying to reform the structures of a vanished world the Chinese are erecting new structures and leaving the obsessions of the old world behind.  Which means working with Israel and leaving the Palis and the Americans to grow up.

Clarkson Gone?

The Telegraph has a leak saying Jeremy Clarkson is getting the boot. Grounds are a verbal and physical assault on a junior producer which the BBC could not tolerate. (Nor should they.)

As with any leak it is wise to wait for the official announcement. And to hear what the actual evidence is. If Clarkson is being sacked I have to guess that there is pretty compelling evidence which goes beyond a “fracas” with a bit of “handbagging”. I have to assume that Clarkson went well beyond an annoyed harangue and was in full on bully mode. But we’ll see what the evidence actually is.

I thoroughly enjoy Top Gear and no question Clarkson makes the show. I find the BBC management as dismally luvie and left wing as most of the commentary suggests it is. But if Clarkson really did throw his not inconsiderable weight around and barracked his subordinate – much less hit him – then Clarkson has to go. If he takes Hammoon and May over to Netflix and puts out a car show I’ll watch it and so will my boys. But he really should have known better. 

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Well Hello Bibi

Never believe polls.

Now the fun part about Israeli elections is that no one ever wins outright.  The results define the negotiations as to who actually forms the government. But Bibi won the most seats and the nationalist coalition is in striking distance of a majority. Kulanu, a party lead by a disaffected Likudnic, is likely to fall in behind Bibi leaving the Left and the Arab list out in the cold. 

But that could all change by morning.

And yes Obama does look like a putz.


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Bibi Bye Bye

Tomorrow Israel votes and, as the only functioning democracy in the Middle East, the chances are that vote will be fair and the outcome honoured. If you want to know why I support Israel that is a key reason.

There is a good chance Netanyahu will lose tomorrow. No need to dig into the Big “0” sending people and money to bring this about.  The fact is that Bibi has always had the capacity to lose simply on the judgement of the Israelis of his merits. I’ve always liked Bibi’s tough mindedness but his execution has been shakey.  Ten more days rooting out the Hamas animals in the last Gaza war would have crippled Hamas. Working even more closely with Egypt to cut off supplies to Hamas could have worked as well.

On the dove side there is no good reason to wave the red cape of new settlements in front of a weary world.  They energise the anti Semetic left in Europe, give Obama and that dolt Kerry talking points and make it impossible to achieve the rapprochement with much of the Arab world that the rise of IS and Iran may make possible. It may make sense in terms of internal Israeli politics but it squanders opportunity in the wider world.

If Bibi loses the loss can be of two forms: first, it may well be a reduction in likud seats but without a necessary loss of government,  or it maybe an outright win for the centre left. Given a choice I would prefer an outright win or complete defeat.

Herzog is hardly a push over.  But he does not have the baggage Bibi carries. Israel has a huge opportunity to become even more of a stable, reliable ally for the West and the Arabs in the Middle East.  That will not happen with a man willing, on election eve to push the two state solution under the bus.

Amal’s wedding gift

George Clooney  for president As we watch puts Hilly on the defensive – and potentially in jail, the rest of the Democratic field pops out of the tall grass. Al Gore is in Iowa. An ex-Governor of Maryland got a standing ovation somewhere. Elizabeth Warren is still claiming to have a drop of Cherokee blood. Jerry Brown is still old. John Kerry is not quite finished selling out Israel to Iran. Joe Biden continues his hands on approach to the wives of new Cabinet appointees. Soooooo…..

George Clooney.

No, seriously. And all the more so when you realize that his lovely wife is wired to the Wiki leaks guy. How did that email addy get out?

George has made no secret of a political ambition. He has a pretty and very political wife. He is news getting out of a car. He has a billionaire buddy to pop the first 50 million. And he has a lot of charisma. He can read a ‘prompter and has a closet full of nice suits. What’s not to like?

Sure, the last actor President had two terms of Governor of California under his belt. But George has directed a couple of movies. Close enough.

All he needs to do is knock Amal up for the perfect Presidential picture to emerge.

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Context Matters

I’ve reread the Baglow v Smith et al decision. Dawg and friends seem to want to think Polowin, J. simply applied existing defamation law. I think she went further than that and I commented at Dawg’s blog as follows, (minor edits for intelligibility):

. I would read paragraphs 230-234 again Dawg.

My sense is that this is where the flat out statement of “fact” is transmuted by context into “fair comment”. It is an important point as it means that where a blog or board is primarily a place in which opinions are vented there arises the presumption that something posted to that board is more than likely to be opinion and therefore comment as well.

In a sense it is a legal recognition that the editorial pages are held to a different standard than the news pages and that material clearly labelled opinion is less likely to fail to be saved by a defence of “fair comment”.

This is why I expect this decision is important and probably not just online. The judge’s consideration and extension of WIC has, happily in my view, clarified where fair comment ends and real defamation begins. And her reasons make nearly explicit a view that editorial or opinion speech is significantly protected by the context of its utterance.

(I am going to gallop over to my little blog and put up the words “strictly editorial” … I will leave it to my lefty friends to read in “entirely fact free”.)

Unfortunately, this is implicit in the decision. For various reasons judges who extend the law often do it by implication rather than coming right out and saying it. However, the next case will push the implication further.

Context matters. And context is both the speech itself and the forum in which it is uttered. A political commentary board is all about opinion. Polowin has, implicitly, created a legal presumption that speech inside such a board is to be regarded as comment rather than fact. Even when the bare meaning of the words looks like an assertion of fact.

I think this is significant as it creates a new means of analyzing speech for purposes of defamation law. As a result of Baglow a new question arises in the fair comment defence, where were the words spoken and would a reasonable person take that forum as an editorial/comment based environment or would they assume that the words spoken there should be regarded as fact?

It is a hook upon which a good deal of pretty hard hitting commentary can be hung. When context matters the mere words are not enough to survive the fair comment tests. And, interestingly, the intention of the author may not matter much. If you post to a site which is devoted to political commentary, even if you assert as fact something which is found to be defamatory on its face, your choice of forum may well protect your words.

Cautiously, Polowin, J. may have made a key distinction. She may, by implication, have brought the “brass rail rule” to Internet political commentary in Canada. She may have said that if you are standing in a metaphorical bar, you foot firmly on the brass rail, if you call someone a Damned liar, defamatory as those words may be, you are shielded by the environment in which you’ve said the words.

Baglow seems to stand for the proposition that what you say matters and where you say it matters too.

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Law Marches On

Madame Justice Heidi Polowin has rendered her decision in Baglow v. Smith et al (Free Dominion) .

It is a long, closely argued, decision – 62 pages – ending in a win for Free Dominion on fair comment grounds. I suspect it will join Grant as one of the critical decisions advancing Canadian defamation law into the post Charter, internet age.

I want to read it at leisure but two things are striking: first, the judge has decided that each side shall bear its own costs – which mean Connie and Mark still need your donations. Second, and I have not seen this in a decision that I can recall, Polowin, J. ends her judgement with these words:

“Finally, I thank all involved for their assistance and thoughtful submissions.”

Connie, Mark, Roger Smith and Dr. Dawg should never have let this matter get to Court. But it did and as a result, and at great cost to all of the parties, we now have a roadmap for online conduct. The defence of fair comment has been slightly extended and the question of “context” driving the meaning of particular words considered.

I am delighted that Free Dominion won and the win was well deserved. But it was a damned close run thing.

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Heart of Stone

Awful fire in the very strange city of Dubai.

Aptley  named Marina Torch. 


The Divide

Justin Trudeau

Canadian, eh?

“Canada’s diversity is our great and unique strength,” Trudeau said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“We are the one country in the world that has figured out how to be strong, not in spite of our differences but because of them. So, the prime minister of this country has a responsibility to bring people together in this country, not to divide us by pandering to some people’s fears.”

Harper’s approach “frays away the edges of our multicultural fabric … (by) stoking and pandering to fears rather than allaying them,” he added.
What’s more, “it’s unworthy of someone who is prime minister for all Canadians.” justin trudeau

Trudeau is reflecting a view that somehow Canadians who oppose special treatment for Muslims are afraid of Muslims.

The alternative view is that Canada should treat all of its citizens equally and pander to none.

By making unnecessary – the veil is not a religious requirement of Islam – accommodation for particular classes of citizens and potential citizens we are creating the conditions in which there may well, in time, be something to fear as there is in France, England, Denmark, Holland, Germany and many other European nations.

Refusing to allow a Muslim woman to take her citizenship oath wearing a political statement is making it easy for a political cult to infest Canada. There are many Canadians who are uneasy with the demands political Islam makes. Excluding a woman who refuses to unveil will make Canada seem a bit hostile to political and cultural Islam. Good. Let people who want veiled women and sharia law go somewhere else. Canada neither needs nor wants them.

Trudeau thinks we have figured out how to be strong in spite of differences. We have; but none of the differences which prior groups of immigrants have brought to Canada include explicit political loyalty to a supremacist cult. The veil is an explicitly political act and, frankly, a direct insult to the nation the veiled woman and her family wish to emigrate to.

The divide in Canada is between those of us who see Islam as an overtly expansionist political organization with a thin veneer of religion and those, like Trudeau, who deny the express teachings of the Koran, the Wahabbi supremacy and the anti-asimilationist rhetoric that is modern Islam. Trudeau seems to be under the impression that there is nothing to fear, nothing to reject in Islam. He is wrong and by attacking Harper for recognizing the profound political importance of the veil, he is demonstrating just how unfit he is for office.

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President Dumb

So Obama will not share information with the Egyptians bombing ISIS.

And, apparently, he was not willing to share information with Jordan either.

The dimwit holds a conference on “violent extremism” and avoids mentioning Islam.

Now there are righties who suggest that Obama is a Muslim, or that he has been captured by the Muslim Brotherhood; I don’t think so.

What I do think is that Obama, and his gang of soft power advisers, are in so far over their heads that they have not a clue what to do. What they are certain of is that “War is bad” and so they are trying to avoid war by being extra nice. I can’t help but think that death from laughter is taking its toll in ISIS.

There are a lot of things which America can and should be doing to deal with ISIS. One of those things is to provide a lot of material and intelligence support for the people willing to actually attack the beast. This, apparently, has escaped the dimwit in chief.

Counting the days until his term is over may be a luxury America cannot afford. Impeachment – for a variety of offences – may be the only solution. The only problem being that Obama gone means Joe Biden. Not a good choice but, perhaps, better than the present idiot.

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