Monthly Archives: January 2018


Justin Trudeau, #metoo, Warren Kinsella, Canadian PoliticsWarren Kinsella aka the “Lying Jackal” is a dirt bag and pond scum all wrapped in a nauseating odor of fake sanctity. He is also the go-to guy for a certain sort of Canadian Liberal when there is a family crisis in the Party. He is good at putting out fires.

Over at his place today, (fully screenshotted as he is scummy enough to bury his mistakes), we have this wee gem:


“Before I board the plane, I hear from a former Prime Minister. I tell him what an honour it was to work for him – a man who married his high school sweetheart. A man whose conduct was beyond reproach. A man who never tolerated such conduct by his staff or his caucus or his cabinet. Ever.

“It was different, many years ago,” he says. “It was difficult for women to complain.”

He paused.

“Those days are gone,” he said. “And that’s a good thing.”
Why would Jean Chretien call the Jackal? They are buddies and everything but I kinda doubt JC just buzzes the Jackal for the sheer hell of it. If Chretien is calling the Jackal it is likely because the Jackal is a go-to guy to put out Liberal fires.

A few paragraphs above Kinsella suggests,


“There are other men who are about to be exposed. Count on it. The media have been on their trail for many weeks. Once it gets through the editors – once it is okayed by the lawyers – other men will be going down. It is overdue. It is needed.

One of these men is very, very powerful. The stories have been known about him for three years. They are in affidavits, plural.

His name will shock you.”


And, finally, in the comments, which the Jackal watches like a, well, Jackal lest a word of contradiction punctures his bubble, appears this:


Matt says:

If it’s the same person who I’ve been told has multiple sworn affidavits against him, you can’t get bigger in Canada. I know one of the people who’s signature is on one of the affidavits.

This person has told me the contents of the affidavits. Explosive doesn’t even begin to describe it. I will not repeat what I was told here because haven’t personally seen them, and even if I had, I don’t want to make legal trouble for Warren.

What I will say…… if they do get out, they will destroy this persons very carefully crafted public image and reputation.



If the affidavits floating around really are about a guy who likes “themed socks” there is an inferno about to break loose…Who ya gonna call if you are an ex-Prime Minister who loves the Liberal Party and, incidentally, Canada…The Jackal.

Could be huge.

h/t LOLWUT commenting at Blazing Catfur


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Susan Hutchinson+ RIP

Susan HutchinsonMy friend Susan Hutchinson died. Her funeral is tomorrow and I am too ill to attend. Though I might not have in any event because I do not like funerals, even of friends.

Susan was a friend from college. Model Parliament in fact. And the Liberal Party.

Even then she was a round peg in a series of square holes.

Susan had a huge problem. She was a social justice warrior, a third wave feminist, a burr under the saddles of the ambitious from a very young age. Long before any of that was “a thing”.

She’d grown up on military bases. Her father, William “Bill” Hutchinson, in the Princess Patricia Regiment – which he eventually commanded – and which, I suspect gave her her middle name, Patricia. A year here, two years there. Her mother could run up a set of curtains for every style of military accommodation. She had two younger siblings, Bill Hutchinson who once said of my middle son as he, at ten, tackled a kid who rather obviously shaved on the rugby field, “That was courageous”, and her sister, Barbara, who writes songs for children and is filled with grace.

From the go, when I knew her, she kept a perfectly domestic sense of the feminine with a deep sense of what men (or boys as I was then) needed at two in the morning when their night had not gone well. A glass or two of whiskey and a shortbread cookie and intelligent conversation. She read Vogue, sewed clever patterns and lived for Dorothy Sayers, the Royal Family, the Regiment and a deeply intelligent grasp of politics at the macro scale and a disastrous inability to hold her tongue at the micro-scale.

Her contemporaries and friends, people like Colin Hansen (ex-Finance Minister of British Columbia) or Pamela MacDonald (ex-BC desk, PMO, Jean Chretien) played the microgame far better but, so far as I could tell, remained friends even as Susan dove deeper into the feminist depths which, while they are paid lip service to now, were never a route to political success. Or, should I say, appointment.

We lost touch over the years as we lived on different coasts. Through the grapevine, I heard that she had been ordained in the Anglican Church. Which made a certain sort of sense within the Dorothy Sayers’ world of cultural Anglicanism. Off she went to the Gaspe Bay in Quebec to minister to flocks of dying grey headed Anglos. (Interestingly, we are pretty sure she held the benefice (if that is what it is called these days) of a church my great grandfather endowed.) She blasted down the roads of the Gaspe Peninsula (I think) at her usual breakneck speed to deliver Communion to a dozen parishioners here and then another Church twenty five miles of icy road away. Chatting about it years later the driving was the hard part, the liturgy a Gift from God.

She moved on from the Diocese of Quebec and moved on back to BC where she ended up in Prince George. Along with getting T-boned at an intersection she found herself at odds with her congregation and, once again, moved on. Once again, a round peg in a square hole.

At this point she came into Victoria and we reconnected.

The same Colonel’s daughter, the same sense of humour and wide reading – often of the brilliant second rank women like Joanna Trollope and Mary Wesley which England seems to produce so effortlessly – and the same sense of engagement. Susan introduced my younger boys to “Top Gear” and British television lying on a couch in our house. She sewed curtains having taken my Susan and the boys on a high-speed race to Fabric Land.

And then she was gone. Places to go, things to do. But, in fact, she was, essentially, living in her car. Ever the Colonel’s daughter she didn’t want to overstay her welcome. But she did and we lost contact again.

From there, ten years back, I heard nothing from Susan. I wrote a couple of times but, nothing.

The conceited ass that I am I suspect Susan was a little in love with me decades ago, and, honestly, I was a little in love with her. We’d moved on.

In a funny way, Susan reminds me of Sarah Leighton in “The Jewel in the Crown”. Completely competent to chastise Prime Ministers, kick disorderly Bishops about and revere the Queen as she should be revered. In another, more serious, way she reminded me of Barbie Batchelor in that same sequence. While Sarah was the Colonel’s daughter, Barbie simply did not fit. A round peg in a square hole.

I’ve been missing Susan since Pamela sent me the news. Her politics were whackadoo, her theology and liturgy annoying, her heart and head sound and loving.

Susan Hutchinson touched many lives, some deeply, and I am lucky to have been one of the deeply touched.

Go in Peace, Dear Lady. I don’t need to commend you to God…he knows.



Won’t take “Yes” for an answer

Last week we had the hilariously abortive two and a half day government shut down when the Democrats refused to fund the government unless their immigration demands were met. That went well. The Democrats caved in record time and, in the process, pretty much destroyed the “shutdown” as leverage.

Then Trump floats a comprehensive immigration/Dreamer/wall/visa lottery/chain migration package.

The nationalist right went crazy. 1.8 million Dreamers, 15 million related family, villagers…Froth, foam…Betrayal. Never going to vote for Trump again and so on.

But the reaction of the Democrats, particularly their base, was brilliant. “The burning cross,” was mild. Faucahantus is livid tweeting “By ending DACA, @realdonaldtrump subjected 800k Dreamers to deportation. Now he wants to hold them hostage to Steven Miller’s anti-immigrant wish list. It’s insulting.” And so on.

Both reactions were entirely predictable.

From the Democratic side of the table, the deal Trump offered is never going to be acceptable because the Democratic base sees immigration as a must “win” piece of the “resistance”. Winning on the Dreamers while conceding on the wall, etc. is essentially out of the question because it would give the hated Trump something he might want. So long as wall/chain/visa lottery we included the Democrats will support no Trump proposal.

Which Trump knew going in.

What Trump also knows, but which the Democratic base has not taken on, is that the Dreamers turn to pumpkins when the Obama executive program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) expires in early March. Trump didn’t renew the program so, as it required an Executive Order to be renewed, it is dead. Deportations will not follow immediately, but they will most certainly be on the horizon unless Congress can enact some sort of legislation. (Which, Trump says, is exactly what Congress should do rather than relying on a continuing, likely unconstitutional,  bit of Presidential legislation by pen.)

If DACA ends there is very little downside for Trump and minimal downside for the majority of GOP Representatives and Senators. Illegal immigration is not particularly popular in the US. But if DACA ends and is not replaced with legislation the Democratic base will go nuts. Unfortunately for the base, the legislative proposal floated by Trump is far and away the best offer he is going to make. His base is already furious that he has gone this far and while Chamber of Commerce Republicans and GOPe types are in favour of more permissive immigration solutions, Trump Nation is not.

DACA supporters are very likely to go over the top in the next few weeks bringing home the idea that these are not the sort of people America wants to bend over backward to accommodate.  The Kamala Harris/Elizabeth Warren wing of the party will grow shriller and loonier as the days pass. Chuck Schumer might try for another government shutdown but the politics of that are unattractive after the previous failure.

All of which Trump and his people know.

So what happens? Schumer has no choice but to turn down a very generous deal. Then, “tick tock”. The deadline approaches. Mitch McConnell makes good his pledge to let a bill “legalizing” the current DACA regime reach the floor of the Senate for a vote. That bill, I suspect, will be much less generous than the current offer and it will certainly have the wall/visa lottery/chain migration provisions baked in. And then? Well then the genius Democrats will vote against it and, with no time left on the legislative clock, the Dreamers will lose their, always provisional, status.

Trump will have maneuvered the Democrats into voting against legislation which their core constituency desperately wants. DACA will die, but it will die at the hands of the Democratic Party.

At that point, Trump can dictate his terms. He does not have to deport every dreamer the day after DACA dies; in fact, there is pending litigation which will prevent deportation for months if not years. But now Trump can cheese slice immigration reform. He can work with the Republican majority to create legislation which will provide routes to citizenship and he can work with that majority to fund the wall, eliminate chain migration and kill the visa lottery. There is no legislative necessity for more than a simple majority on any of these measures except and unless the Dems decide to filibuster. Tough to filibuster a bill that lets, say, 400,000 or so of the registered Dreamers in provided that they meet fairly strict criteria.

It has taken Trump a while to figure out the game in Washington. Lots of errors and missteps along the way. But The Donald seems to be a quick study and he certainly knows how to drive wedges between Democrats. As the economy continues to improve and as the Mueller investigation descends into farce for want of any actual evidence of any actual crime, Trump is building political capital. He is beginning to understand how to deploy that capital. As he gets better at the job my bet is that his approval ratings will rise. If he breaches 50%, because the media have created such low expectations, he is going to be seen as a serious and effective President.

And then the indictment of Clinton cronies will begin. Do you think Huma will sing? I do.

Can’t wait.

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Oh Great….Tsunami

The good news is we are around several corners from the likely waves. The bad? Well, we are about 10 feet above sea level.

Lots of warning and prepped. I doubt it will be more than a ripple here but you never know. There are other, much more exposed, areas where I hope and pray people go uphill.

Update: Turned out to be a late but quiet night…now a wind storm. Hoping power stays on.



Oh Dear…

Who could have seen that coming?

Cryptocurrency is a very good idea. It is not going to be a popular idea. At least in the real world of banking/government/central banking. And, hey, do you really think Visa is going to fight that world…they are that world.


The problem of monoculture

I used to live in one of the most productive forestry areas in Canada. It was the perfect growing environment for trees, especially conifers. And it was, as the expression goes, a “tree farm”. Every forty years the forest owner would come in and cut down hundreds of acres of trees and then, assiduously, replant them. All the trees were of the same species and all were, depending on where they were in the cycle, exactly the same height. Miles and miles and mile of Douglas Firs. The monotony was only broken in the small areas which were set aside either as old growth or as stream allowances. There you’d find cedars, broadleaf maple, arbutus and many other species. But that was only a tiny, less than 1%, of the land. It was a monoculture and very efficient if you were trying to maximize the growth of what the companies call “fiber”.

A political landscape can become a monoculture. Essentially only a limited range of ideas are allowed to flourish, ideas outside that range are suppressed or, more often, ignored. Within a political monoculture you may have a variety of parties but each is limited to the ideas within the range. Preferment – as it was called in a gentler time – is limited to people who accept the limits of the landscape.

This sort of political monoculture can persist for several generations and produce statesmen of varying talents all of whom want to accomplish one or another of the central tenets of the monoculture in preference to the others; but all of whom are in agreement as to the limits of acceptable political discourse. In a stable society this sort of acceptance of the limits of debate can make a lot of sense and create a political world in which the essential stability is preserved. A concept which is philosophically attractive to a certain sort of conservative in the small “c” sense of that term.

There are three threats to the monocultural forests where I lived: fire, blight and economics. Fire is obvious and would be a threat to any forest no matter how diverse. (We’ll leave questions of regeneration to ecologists and foresters.) Blight, whether mold or insect, is a huge threat because of the complete lack of diversity. Economics are a threat because what you planted forty years before may not be in demand forty years on. Fire is a rapid threat, blight a medium term threat and economics a constant threat.

A political monoculture has its own forms of threat but they all come down to a challenge to the stability of the society in which the political monoculture has been operating. The problem for the political monoculture is that, pretty much by definition, the assumption of stability is axiomatic. Asking questions going to the assumption of stability is outside the terms of the monoculture. So those questions and the policy prescriptions which flow from them will either be suppressed or ignored.

What can challenge the assumption of societal stability? A wide variety of things. Demographic decline, the erosion of the society’s economic foundation, runaway economic inequality, external threats or the internal inability to manage problems as they arise all can challenge the stability assumption. So can technology, communications and failures to adapt to changing conditions. If a large fraction of the society is rendered powerless or redundant, stability can be challenged.

The problem a political monoculture has is that it lacks even the vocabulary to address such systemic challenges.

Of which, more, later.



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Bannon Eruption

The internet is going a bit nuts today over purported quotes from Steve Bannon vis a vis Trump and Trump’s reaction to them. (“lost his job and lost his mind”)

A few points. The author of the book from which the quotes are taken, Michael Wolff, is a fairly notorious inventor of quotes and takes which bear only a glancing contact with reality. (See here for example.) And the quote from Bannon which is making the most waves is as follows (Guardian version):

“The meeting was revealed by the New York Times in July last year, prompting Trump Jr to say no consequential material was produced. Soon after, Wolff writes, Bannon remarked mockingly: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Bannon went on, Wolff writes, to say that if any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people”. Any information, he said, could then be “dump[ed] … down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication”.

Bannon added: “You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had.””

I fear that Steve Bannon thought that Don Jr. and the other people involved were dummies. Which, frankly, they were.

If there were some political professionals in the White House the response to all of this would be a) Steve is entitled to his opinion, b) looks like the book has more than a few errors, c) the President has more important things to do than respond to six-month-old gossip.

As there are no political professionals in the White House – generals and ex-Ralph Lauren models are not political pros by definition – Trump took it upon himself to respond early.

The term clusterfuck does not even begin to describe Trump’s statement:

Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.

Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans.

Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself….”

And so on.

There are many things wrong with Trump and one of the biggest is his inability to simply absorb a few shots while getting on with the job. The Wolff book is no threat to the Trump Presidency and would have been discredited in due course. It would have been in the rearview mirror in a matter of days as more and more of its assertions were proven incorrect or exaggerations. However, by jumping on it before it was even published, Trump has ensured that it will sell, be discussed and, potentially, be damaging.

By doing that Trump is confirming the kernel of Bannon’s thesis, Trump and his White House are not very smart.

When Bannon left the White House my interest in defending Trump dropped to nearly zero.

I still want to see the US do well. I still think that Trump is making many of the right moves – largely by instinct – both domestically and internationally. And I still think it is vitally important to the interests of the United States that the corruption of the Obama Justice Department, FBI and White House be exposed and that the gunsels of Clinton Inc. face their day in Court. But that does not mean I don’t think that Trump is a vindictive, short sighted little man whose only claim to fame was the sheer good luck of being nominated to run against the worst Presidential candidate since WWII. Just when he seemed to be getting a handle on the job along comes a minor issue and he loses sight of the job he was elected to do.


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