Monthly Archives: September 2018

Bullet Dodged

Apparently, there are still some adults left in Ottawa and they realized that Trump and his trade negotiators really were not bluffing. Soooo. NAFTA 2.0.

Frankly, I think we won by not actually losing. JT realized that the automotive trade was worth more than gender equality in trade terms. We keep trading with the US, they ship more dairy tariff-free, we get to buy up to $100 bucks an order online from Amazon without duty, keep a dispute mechanism, cultural industries (which apparently include banking, who knew?) exempted…But the big bonus is that we never again have to see Chrystia Freeland in a far too tight dress again. Thank you, President Trump.

Now, this sort of blows Justine’s prospects of running against the Tyrant Trump in a year. I mean, the Liberals will be there in spirit, but it will be impossible to spin this agreement as both a win for Canada and standing up to the big, orange, American bully.

Sensible people do what they need to do to get a deal they need. Encouragingly, there are still a few sensible people in Ottawa.

Update: Only a flesh wound,

“However, the USMCA includes language that requires signatories to give notice if they plan to negotiate a free trade deal with a “non-market country,” and to allow the other two signatories at least a month to review any agreement before it is signed. It explicitly states that if one of the signatories enters into such an agreement, the other two have the right to withdraw from the USMCA with six months’ notice.” national post

My charming elder son texted to suggest that I was full of it and that this deal was essentially NAFTA 2. No major changes.

Well, this language is a major change and a direct restriction on our sovereignty. I don’t think it is a particularly bad restriction but it does mean that the USMCA is more a trade bloc than a free trading area.

Sundance, over at The Conservative Treehouse sees this as a way of stopping the quaint Mexican and Canadian practice of allowing foreign companies to ship parts to those countries and then put the parts together and claim that the finished product is “Made in Canada/Mexico”.

I don’t think that is correct as it only deals with “free trade agreements” rather than the piecemeal import and re-export shenanigans which have characterized NAFTA. However, at a guess, that brokerage business will be curtailed by the rules going to place of origin which stud the various side letters.

Which, in my view, is no bad thing. It is one thing to buy your printed circuit boards from China, it is quite another to have entire control modules shipped in pieces and “assembled” by putting in a couple of screws in order to evade tariffs.

The Trumpians want to bring actual manufacturing home to the USA, or, at worst, to its trading partners Canada and Mexico. We can argue the economics of this but what Trump sees is jobs. Decent jobs to bring Americans – particularily black and Latino Americans – back into the workforce. So far he seems to be hitting that goal. So much so that there are now more jobs than (technically) unemployed people.

Creating an “employment” economy is very good news for the deplorables, black people and Latinos. Where the demand for labour increases so will its price. For a very long time America seemed to be mired in an economy in which the rich and the upper middle class took the lion’s share of the money and the struggling middle class and the poor and lumpen unemployed were left with crumbs, disability and oxy. Trump’s economics and his concept of “fair trade” seem to be shifting that trend. If he can keep it going he’ll win the mid-terms and he’ll win re-election.

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Inside FBI HQ

Brett Kavanaugh, TrumpThe Director: OK, McMullian. I know you are fairly new but, son, we’ve got a hot one for you.

McMullian: Yes Sir!

The Director: 35 or 36 years ago a seventeen-year-old boy is alleged to have grabbed a 15-year-old girl and thrown her on a bed. He is alleged to have tried to make out with her and he is alleged to have sexually assaulted her.

McMullian: Do we have the police report, Sir?

The Director: No.

McMullian: Witnesses?

The Director: Four, or maybe five. Not sure on that Agent.

McMullian: They were in the room?

The Director: Well she says one of them was and he “jumped on them” which let her escape.

McMullian: And where did this happen?

The Director: We don’t know.

McMullian: No problem…When?

The Director: We don’t know.

McMullian: Were the witnesses under oath?

The Director: Yup.

McMullian: So they remembered what happened?

The Director: Not exactly. They don’t remember any party at all.

McMullian: OK, so I’m to investigate a sexual assault which might have happened thirty-five or six years ago at an unknown location on an unknown date.

The Director: That’s right. And I need your report on my desk in 72 hours.

McMullian: Yes Sir.

The Director: And while you are at it McMullian, there is also an open case on a report of an incidence of unicorn farting in Maryland at roughly the same time. See what you can pick up.

McMullian: I’m on it, Sir.

The Director: POTUS want’s updates on the investigation. This could make your career.

McMullian: Does POTUS know there are no such things as unicorns?

The Director: I doubt it. But get’er done. Your country is depending on you.

McMullian: Yes Sir.

 

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Dealing with Tantrums

Democrats, Brett KavanaughAs any parent will tell you a three year old can make an awful lot of noise when he does not get what he wants. Parenting is about what to do when the three year old goes ballistic.

One thing which sometimes works is speaking calmly and rationally to the kid. That can take a while though and is often of little effect in the supermarket. You can go the other route and become angry and hope shock and awe will put out the tantrum. That sometimes works but, honestly, it probably does more harm than good. You can, of course, simply pick up your child – to the relief of bystanders and change venue.

Or you can actually hear what the child is screaming about and see if there is a way to fix the problem.

The Democrats are in the midst of a tantrum royale about Kavanaugh. The fact this is a problem of their own making is not something they are capable of hearing. Nor are they willing to look at the facts presented to date if only because there are so very few actual facts that scrutiny will collapse their narrative. Screaming “Rapist, FBI, #metoo, believe women” is the closest the Dems have come to an argument.

The trouble is that the Democrats have climbed a very long way up the tree of crazy, so far that it is now actually dangerous for them to climb down. Which is a problem for the Republicans and for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Much as I despise Senator Flake, his decision to vote the nomination out of committee but threaten to withhold his vote unless there is a short FBI investigation is a stroke of parenting genius. An FBI investigation does not reach conclusions – as Kavanaugh pointed out yesterday. Rather it looks for evidence and reports back on that evidence. There is no reason an investigation into Dr. Ford’s allegations needs to take very long. Five interviews. One with Ford and four with the people (they are not “witnesses” because they are saying there was nothing to see) who have all given sworn testimony that what Ford said occurred didn’t occur.

Now, were I Grassley I would want to secure Democratic buy in on the FBI probe – time limit and the single allegation. I suspect the Dems will hold out for the Ramirez allegation to be looked into as well. That would mean another dozen interviews. But the FBI is a big, sometimes efficient, organization and that is not beyond their capacity.

Will the FBI investigation resolve the allegations? No, because it will simply report the evidence and that evidence will be very much like the evidence we currently have. But the mere fact of an FBI investigation might just be enough to let the saner Democrats begin to carefully climb down the tree.

The objective here is not to prove or disprove the allegations against Kavanaugh – 35 years on, that is essentially impossible – the objective is to end the tantrum.

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Politics and Process

I watched a bit of Dr Ford’s testimony before the Senate Committee and I watched a bit of Judge Kavanaugh. I also have been paying attention to the various statements of the people said by Ford to have been at the party – they all denied ever having been there or that there was even a party – and heard the increasingly crazy other accusers. I am quite sure that Ford thinks something happened and I am equally sure there is no uncontradicted evidence that it did. Personally, I think you need more than an uncolaborated thirty five year old recollection to make an accusation like that stick.

Which brings me to process. Both Ford and Kavanaugh were abused by a process which, itself, was corrupted by the worst sort of partisan politics.

Senator Feinstein is a political animal. As the ranking Democrat on the Justice Committee, she was the person Ford’s initial letter went to. Something on the order of eight weeks ago. Sen. Feinstein had a very basic obligation to ensure that this serious and potentially disqualifying allegation was investigated. She has been in Washington long enough to know how that could happen and she undoubtedly has FBI Director Wray’s number.

Had she behaved properly, once she had verified the authenticity of the letter, she would have told her Committee Chair, in confidence about the letter and they would have jointly submitted it for investigation to the FBI. With eight weeks in hand, the FBI would have done its investigation and collected evidence one way or another. This would have gone into the background report. Sen. Feinstein and the Chair would also have alerted the White House to this issue.

Had the allegation been substantiated, the White House would have had the option of withdrawing the nomination. Or it could have decided that the events of 35 years ago fell short of disqualifying and proceeded. Everyone would have had the FBI’s evidence and that could have formed the basis of part of the hearings into Judge Kavanaugh.

If the allegation could not be substantiated the FBI would still have submitted its report to the White House and the Committee and chances are nothing more would have been said.

This would not, of course, have been a criminal investigation but rather part of the significant background vetting the FBI performs on all manner of Presidential appointments.

This, apparently, didn’t have enough political torque for Sen. Feinstein. So she sat on the letter, found Ford legal representation, leaked – or had someone leak – the letter to friendly members of the press and then demanded delays and FBI investigations and the automatic disqualification of the evil attempted rapist. The media bayed in unison with the Wicked Witch of San Francisco and all of a sudden we were asked to “believe the woman” because #metoo. Assorted loons came out of the woodwork yelling #metoo “I think but I was too drunk to really know”, and “as a twenty one year old college girl there was nothing I liked better than going to high school rape parties until I was forced to pull the train”.

All because a partisan old harridain was willing to ignore process and abandon honour for the potential partisan advantage defeating or delaying a Supreme Court nominee could bring.

She was, of course, aided and abetted by her own Party.

I was delighted when Kavanaugh called her out and named names. It speaks well of his temperament. A Supreme Court Justice has to have a sense of Justice and be willing to fight for that Justice. He needs to be genuinely outraged by sleezy, underhand practices and be willing to make his outrage crystal clear.

Senator Lindsey Graham understood just how well Kavanaugh qualified himself for appointment against such scumball partisan tactics, “This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics!”

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Music for Max

Justin Trudeau told the New York Times Magazine,

“There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada.” (link)

And I suspect he believes this. Why not? It makes easing into a post national world all that much easier.

Maxime Bernier seems to think that this may not be true.

So a suggestion for Max. While public choice theory is all very well, and right more often than not, music is visceral. It hits our hearts not our heads.

I was buzzing around the ‘nets tonight and ran across this benefit concert for John Mann, the lead singer for Spirit of the West who, sadly, has early onset Altzheimers. Take a watch and give what you can:

And, yes that is the divine Sarah and Jim Burnes and a bunch of other Vancouver musicians. But like any other red blooded Canadian male I needed to know who the beautiful, blonde, fiddler was in the middle of the pack. (And, no, that isn’t Peter Garrett…that would be Australian Max.)

The answer was Kendel Carson who you can see here with Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea singing Barrett’s Privateers in a none to sober evening in Halifax.

And there is grand stuff from Quebec.

Fiddles, a beat, and a calling back of traditional music.

Poor Donald Trump seems to think that the pleasures of the Rolling Stones – not to be discounted – are the way to open rallies.

Max needs to be smarter. Whether recorded or live, he needs to begin his own appeal for a better Canada with an appeal to our hearts. This music goes there.

(And, yes, I have no doubt that all the performers are soibois to the n’th degree. But that is what you have staff for. A great fiddle band to open with could flip the switch in a lot of ridings.)

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