Author Archives: Jay Currie

New Year, New Attitude

Alberta’s truckers are planning to drive to Ottawa in February to express their displeasure with the feds refusal to get on with building pipelines and the lunacy of the Trudeau carbon tax. Leaving aside the rigours of driving the trans-Canada in February, this is a very un-Canadian sort of activity. Because it is activity. Canadians normally sit around the bar grumbling, they don’t “do” anything which is what our masters in Ottawa and the provincial capitals count on.

While the truckers are driving in protest, an Alberta rancher is taking a stand against that province’s carbon tax. Remembering that Alberta’s Premier originally introduced the carbon tax to, somehow, gain social licence for the much-needed pipelines and noting that those pipelines have not even been started, rancher Sheila Griffith is refusing to pay the carbon tax portion of her propane bill.

While the truckers will make better copy, Ms. Griffith represents a far greater threat to “business as usual”. If more than a few people join her the Alberta government will, quite quickly, notice a hole in its budget. Apparently, the propane company will just tack the unpaid portion onto her next bill – but it will not halt delivery.

These two items, as well as the appearance of “yellow vests” at other Alberta protests, suggests that in Alberta at least, people are getting fed up with simply being ignored. They are getting fed up with the Tweedledum/Tweedledee routine of Trudeau and Scheer.

Simple, direct, action will not change the Liberal’s fixation on the tax grab which is the carbon tax or the endless kowtowing to minority First Nations opposition to pipelines or Quebec’s reluctance to replace Saudi oil with Alberta oil. It might have a small effect on Scheer’s fixation on being so bland that he wins the next election by default (a bad strategy but apparently all he’s got.) What it does do is set up the conditions for a revolt at the ballot box come October.

Right now Maxime Bernier needs to be in Alberta. He needs to visit and encourage Ms. Griffith and go to a trucker’s rally or two.

Canadians are very reluctant to actually do “civil disobedience”. It is not who we are. The fact there are large protests tells me that, in Alberta at least, a tipping point has been reached. A smart, insurgent, politician and political party would be taking full advantage.

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Shutdown

It appears that the US Government is “shut down” as of a couple of hours ago.

Oh Dear!

Because the US Government traditionally does its best work between Christmas Eve – which Trump has declared a day off for Federal Workers – and New Years.

Say what you will about Trump, and I say plenty, he is not an idiot. Right now he can have a “federal government shutdown” for twelve days and no one will notice.

I don’t think the wall or the big steel fence or whatever else Trump wants on the border is a brilliant idea. But it is a campaign promise and Trump needs to take steps to keep it.

For the moment, Trump puts the Democrat’s and the Republican’s feet to the fire with very little downside to Trump. And he can just keep going. The fact is that only about a quarter of federal employees are actually laid off in a “shutdown”. Bets are that most of them are not hugely significant to the function of the US.

We’ll see.

No PR for BC

Well, that was crushing: 61% of the 41% of eligible voters who actually voted rejected proportional representation and opted to stick with “first past the post”.

Assorted lefties and millennials were unhappy. But, really, they have only themselves to blame.

I rather like PR but none of the options presented on the mail-in ballot was worth having. Because the lefties who supported PR wanted to ensure that the PR they would have would avoid the possibility of actual “representation” for any but the NDP and the Greens while increasing the voting efficiency of those Green and NDP votes.

I will leave it to voting wonks to explain the three useless choices presented as the PR alternatives; rather I will pay attention to a very simple idea which was, of course, not included.

Reduce the total number of MLAs elected by electoral districts by, say, one half. So the 87 current electoral districts would shrink to 43. Then take the 44 seats that would open up and run a province-wide list system with a threshold of 2.5% of the votes cast. So you would have one vote in a First Past the Post race in your electoral district and 44 votes to distribute to the 44 slots on the “At Large” lists. [And I would not allow a “straight ticket” single vote…you’d have to vote 44 times or once – because vote plumping would be encouraged.]

Essentially this is the system the Australians use to elect their Senate and it allows a wide variety of candidates to take a run for office with a decent chance of winning.

It would also be a wonderfully upsetting experience for the current parties.

Ezra Levant was happy to see the FPTP system retained but wistful because he would have run a Rebel slate and thinks he could get 10%. (Maybe, I rather doubt it.) But what would happen is that a ginger group of half a dozen to a dozen “list elected”

MLA’s could represent everyone from my own favourite Wine Tax Freedom (WTF) Party to a party composed of First Nations people and on to Christian Fundamentalists and Antifa. With a 2.5% threshold, you can pretty much guarantee the First Nations party would hold four or five at-large seats. So could a Teacher’s Party or a Resource Extraction Party (see Suits and Boots). Recent immigrants to British Columbia could run their own lists as could Aged Bald White Guys such as myself.

But this sort of radical democracy was not on the table in this referendum. Too scary for the NDP and the ultra-conservative Greens.

Because real Proportional Representation was not on the ballot PR lost.

Too bad.

(I might add that it was a huge mistake for the pro-PR forces to entirely align with the left and the greens. Essentially that alignment turned the referendum into a pseudo-referendum on the current Red/Green coalition. That is never a good idea on what is actually a process question.)

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The Strange Case of General Flynn – II

Whatever hopes people had that Judge Sullivan was going to be annoyed at the FBI/DOJ’s procedural irregularities died as Judge Sullivan instead suggested that General Flynn had betrayed his country, asked the prosecution if treason charges had been considered (a remark he subsequently withdrew) and refused to rule out jail time. As he did this the Judge got Flynn on record as knowing that lying to the FBI was wrong, not believing he had been entrapped and insisting on pleading guilty even when offered the chance to change his plea.

Then, weirdly, the judge offered to postpone the sentencing indefinitely with a status update in 90 days. Apparently, this will allow Flynn to further co-operate with Special Counsel and give Judge Sullivan all the more reason not to jail Flynn.

Frankly, the indefinite postponement seems off to me. As does Flynn’s repeated assurance to the judge that he really does want to plead guilty. As Eli Lake points out at Bloomberg, “Nearly two years after the FBI trapped Flynn, the crime the Justice Department was investigating remains unknown. If it turns out that the reason Flynn was a target is as flimsy as violating the Logan Act or not being candid with his colleagues, then that itself is a scandal.”

I suspect Flynn wants to plead guilty because he has been threatened with a whole set of other indictments if he does not. Those, in turn, would cost millions to fight. And they might well involve his family as well. Purely as a matter of self-preservation, Flynn might believe he needs to plead.

The postponement of actual sentencing makes less sense. Mueller has already made his case for no jail time. Flynn is already a co-operating witness on a bunch of matters which – while well outside the scope of any proper Russian collusion investigation – Special Counsel is pursuing.

The delay may, however, give Flynn the opportunity to reconsider his plea agreement and to consider the foundation of the case against him per Eli Lake above. The only reason Flynn was in Court today is that he lied to FBI agents who, apparently, just dropped by the White House on instructions from Andrew McCabe – a now disgraced Deputy FBI Director. Why were they there? Why did they not follow standard protocols when dealing with the White House or with a represented person? As Lake asks, what crime were they investigating?

The foundations of the entire Special Counsel/FBI/DOJ operation against Trump, his campaign and his White House has always been vulnerable to attack on the basis that there is a lack of a foundational crime for the FBI/DOJ to have been investigating going all the way back to 2015 when, apparently, FBI/DOJ people began circling Trump. Back then there was no need for an actual crime because the tools being used were counter-intelligence rather than criminal.

The counter-intelligence investigation, as Andrew McCarthy has pointed out, morphed into a criminal investigation with the appointment of Mueller. But that appointment did not, in fact, create a criminal predicate.

While Flynn co-operates with the SC office on matters having nothing to do with the mandate of that office, he and his lawyers have the opportunity to rethink his case and their approach to it.

Reading Sullivan’s remarks and questions in Court today I get the sense that this rethinking was what the Judge had in mind as he systematically tore down the “Logan Act” premise and the “treason” premise by asking the prosecutor whether those charges had been contemplated.

Judge Sullivan also poked and prodded both Flynn and his counsel. The line “You sold out your country” (despite being entirely unwarranted on the facts before the Judge which he later admitted) was, in my view, meant to anger Flynn, get him to fight. So were the Judge’s remarks on the possibility of jail time.

Whether or not Flynn will be sufficiently provoked to rethink his position is hard to say. He’s been pretty badly beaten up by the process and couldn’t be blamed for simply walking away. But many things can change in 90 days.

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The Strange Case of General Flynn

“Lying” to the FBI is a crime in the United States. It is a crime which requires intent.

As Andrew McCarthy over at NRO points out, Flynn has pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI and that, in itself, closes the door on claims that he is innocent of the charge.

However, that assumes that the charge was proper in the first place. And there, even McCarthy admits, things get murky. Murky enough that Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has demanded that the Special Counsel turn over all its records of what went on with Flynn. Special Counsel turned over documents on Friday. There were two documents of note: first a 302 (the FBI’s record of interviews) for Peter Strzok’s interview seven months after the Flynn interview, second, notes made by Andrew McCabe at the time of the Flynn interview. Notably absent in the Special Counsel’s document pile was the 302 which actually recorded the Flynn interview.

Canada’s own Stephen McIntyre of Climate Audit fame, takes a long Twitter look at the circumstances of Flynn’s plea deal and the actual requirements for even the least formal FBI interview. McIntyre notes that, at the time of the interview, Flynn had legal representation on other matters which, in turn, made him a “represented person” for FBI/DOJ purposes.  (There is also the rather good argument that any senior White House staffer is automatically “represented” by White House counsel in any matter involving the DOJ. A fact acknowledged in an MSNBC interview by former FBI Director Comey:

“Describing how it is usually done, Comey said, “If the FBI wanted to send agents into the White House itself to interview a senior official, you would work through the White House counsel, and there would be discussions and approvals and who would be there.”

Recalling his decision to bypass those steps, Comey said, “I thought: ‘It’s early enough, let’s just send a couple guys over.’”)

Taking advantage of the early days of an administration to sandbag a senior official goes some distance towards tainting the investigation itself. However, ignoring DOJ/FBI policy with respect to represented persons is likely more significant.

At this point virtually all commentators agree that General Flynn will not be going to jail. But would still leave him with the taint of a felony conviction.

Judge Sullivan is in a position to vacate the plea agreement altogether if he sees evidence of prosecutorial misconduct.

Sending agents on a fishing expedition, telling the fish not to bother with legal counsel (when the fish is already represented), either failing to record or losing the contemporaneous record of the interview, substituting an interview with one of the interviewing agents for the contemporaneous record, and indicating – on such records as you do submit that the agents did not think Flynn was lying or intending to mislead the agents, all add up to more than ample grounds for Judge Sullivan to vacate.

However, given Judge Sullivan’s record, he may not stop at simply vacating the plea agreement. He is perfectly capable of going after the actual investigators and prosecutors who so badly abused the process to indict Flynn in the first place. (cf. Ted Stevens)

There is a pretty good argument that losing the Flynn plea deal to a Judge’s findings of prosecutorial misconduct would be the end of the line for the Mueller “investigation”. It is very clear that Mueller has not found much – if anything – in the way of evidence of direct Trump/Russia collusion. The ancillary crimes of Cohen and Manafort have nothing to do with Russia and little to do with Trump. Writing up a report for the incoming Democrat-controlled House of Representatives along the lines of “Orange Man Bad” is really all Mueller has left to do.

However, with Mueller gone, it will be time to start digging on exactly how the DOJ/FBI behaved on various files. Were it up to me I would start with the FISA application for the surveillance of Carter Page who Mark Styen likes to refer to as “the most innocent man in America”. Competent counsel can work outwards from there, charging as they go. Apparently, it is illegal to mislead the FISA court in sworn documents.

Should be interesting as there is a lot more “there” there, than there has been in the Mueller fishing trip.

Update: Well worth reading Mark Wauck Mueller’s ‘Enterprise’ Witch Hunt

Update #2: Margot Cleveland over at The Federalist takes a look at the dockets and suggests that the original 302 may have been filed under seal. There is a very good chance she’s right simply because Special Counsel would be nuts to refuse to submit documents in its possession at the order of the Judge. Especially this Judge.

 

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French Police vs. Yellow Vests

This is interesting.

The Yellow Vests are, ostensibly, protesting Macron’s imposition of higher fuel taxes in the name of CO2 reductions and the Paris Accord. However, while there is a strand of the protest which is really just people who like throwing rocks and lighting fires – apparently from both sides of the political aisle with more than a few of France’s increasing immigrant population taking advantage of the chaos – the bulk of the protestors seem to be the French version of deplorables. Working and lower middle class people from the provinces and the outer suburbs who have been steadily falling behind economically.

Historically, the French have been very good at organizing strikes and protests and the French police have become very good at breaking up such demonstrations.

But what this video shows is the French police “standing down”. Taking off their helmets. The crowd applauds and breaks into La Marseillaise.

Will the Yellow Vests bring down Macron? While I devoutly hope they do they will not do it on their own. However, if the police down tools that would be a different situation altogether. Of course, there would still be the Army; but how reliable the Army would be is an open question.

The one thing which the Yellow Vests need to keep their effort going is continued large numbers of non-violent protestors. This weekend there were fewer than last weekend. Christmas is coming. The point about street protests is they succeed when they are massive, they fail when people stay at home.

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Party of One

The National Post has a good article up about Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party. It is a very fair article outlining where Max is coming from and the hurdles he faces.

I joined the People’s Party a couple of days ago. Paid my $10.00 for the two-year ride and signed up as a volunteer.

I live in Elizabeth May’s riding. Wealthy, white upper middle class, reactionary enough to return a Green MP and a Green MLA. Not at all Max’s sort of a riding. But what is?

The wonderful urban voters will go Liberal and the suburban voters may vote for Scheer – but I doubt it only because he is simply a paler pink version of the Libs.

The ridings which can be taken by the People’s Party are ridings like mine. Demographically, psychographically this is counter-intuitive. After all, why would fine, rich, white people give up the great privilege of signally their virtue by voting Green in order to vote for an actual conservative party. The Greens will deliver “no change” and as you blast down the Pat Bay Highway in the 911, why would you want change?

While you may not want change, change is going to happen. As the National Post article points out, Bernier is suggesting that we cut back immigration from 325,000 (which is actually closer to 450,000 when you include what might be called temporary immigrants) to 250,000. He is suggesting that we stop pretending that our “carbon tax” will make the least difference to alleged “climate change”. He does not much like marketing boards and he hates deficit spending.

In my riding, the next election is pretty much going to be a referendum on carbon tax. Do we waste a lot of money showing how green we are or do we recognize that Canada has very little impact on climate. It will be about pipelines and making sure they are safe.

But it will also be about Canada’s future. We can do the whole Green thing and the people in this riding will barely notice. My little part of Canada is in the top ten for wealth, the bottom ten for crime and will ride out any minor economic corrections just fine.

Which means a People’s Party candidate can hold Lizzy May’s feet to the fire and push for answers on the Green agenda, immigration and how best to help the poor people of Canada. The People’s Party candidate can go into the First Nation’s communities and ask them how they are doing under the Liberal administration. He or she can talk to older Canadians and ask how they are doing. Obviously, the Porche owning folks are doing fine. But there are two Porches and a hundred banged up Toyotas in the Save on Foods parking lot.

It is hard to be a Party of One. But when Preston Manning did it most of Vancouver Island went Reform.

Is that spirit here?

I don’t know. Running against a national leader (admittedly of one) is a hard thing. But a good ground game and a serious candidate and there’s a shot. Plus, of course, national media because “national leader”.

I’m in. Looking forward to a lot of other people who are fed up.

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The Things You Cannot Say…

Twitter kicked Meghan Murphy off the platform and she’s pissed.

“On November 15th, my account was locked again. This time, I was told I must delete a tweet from October, saying, “Women aren’t men,” and another, asking, “How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between a man and a transwoman?”

After dutifully deleting the tweets in question in order to gain access to my account again, I tweeted, angrily, “This is fucking bullshit, @twitter. I’m not allowed to say that men aren’t women or ask questions about the notion of transgenderism at all anymore? That a multi-billion dollar company is censoring basic facts and silencing people who ask questions about this dogma is insane.” This tweet went viral, racking up 20,000 likes before Twitter locked my account again on Monday morning, demanding I delete it. This time they offered no explanation at all — not even a vague accusation of “hateful conduct.” (feminist current)

Ms. Murphy touched the dreaded third rail. She suggested that women are women and if you are a man in a dress, well, you aren’t.

The SJWs at Twitter were having none of that and Ms. Murphy was kicked to the tall grass.

As she flew through the air it occurred to Ms. Murphy that, perhaps, this censorship was a bug, not a feature of left-wing identity politics.

“While the left continues to vilify me, and liberal and mainstream media continue to mostly ignore feminist analysis of gender identity, people like Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro (and hundreds of right wingers and free speech advocates online), and right wing media outlets like the Daily Wire and The Blaze have either attempted to speak with me and understand my perspective, expressed support, or covered this undeniably ridiculous decision on the part of Twitter.” (feminist current)

When my pal Dr. Dawg, he of impecable lefty credentials, left Twitter voluntarily, he did so because of a similar crisis of identity politics. Either you are with us or you’re a fascist howled the Twitter brigades.

The SJW idea seems to be that self-identification trumps all and if you disagree, well, yer’a Nazi and you have no right to speak.

Saves a lot of thinking time.

Reasonable people can manage to hold somewhat contradictory ideas all at the same time. On the one hand a person self identifies as being of the opposite gender, on the other, that does not make him a woman or vice versa.

I might, simply to save on smokes, self identify as a First Nations person. It would be incredibly disrespectful but, on the SJW logic, my choice has to be respected in the face of all evidence to the contrary. My total lack of recognition by any First Nation should not matter.

It is possible, after a long journey and with a little luck, I might be “adopted” into a First Nations family and, with a ton of effort on my part, I might, maybe, be accepted as something of an adopted member of a particular First Nation. But I doubt it. Which is exactly right.

The complications of Canadian author Joseph Boyden’s claim of First Nation’s, what? Heritage? Ancestory? suggest that assertions of First Nations identity are, rightly, treated with a degree of scepticism by the First Nations themselves. (Great, long, article in the Globe and Mail on Boyden.)

Is it wrong to treat a man’s claim to womanhood or a woman’s claim to manhood with the same scepticism?

While it might be polite to respect a person’s choice in pronouns, it might be a slightly bigger deal to respect their choice in bathrooms and a very big deal indeed to accept their claims to the experience of growing up female or male. “I always knew I was a woman.” is not actually the same experience as “I grew up female.”

It is always fun to watch a lefty realize that conformity of opinion is a requirement, not an option, on the more radical fringes of the left. As Lindsay Shepherd discovered, even suggesting that people analyze “the other side” is enough to have you dragged in front of what amount to heresy tribunals. And the only people who supported her were us crazed, right wing, free speech advocates.

Ms. Murphy has, I suspect, made her career. Two weeks ago no one had heard of her or Feminist Current the webzine she edits, today she was invited onto the Dave Rubin Show and quasi-Con Ben Shapiro has a crush.

Most importantly, Ms. Murphy has, as the expression goes, spoken truth to power and been kicked in the teeth for her trouble. She seems very smart, a good writer and more than capable of connecting the proverbial dots.

 

 

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Getting it wrong

A few days ago I put up a map of Canada which showed how much electrical energy each province got from renewables. BC, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec all get the bulk of their electricity from hydro and nuclear.

Here’s another figure for your consideration:

To understand this graph you need to go to The Chill of Solar Minimum.

““We see a cooling trend,” says Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center. “High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold.”

This is not “just weather” as the CO2 cultists like to describe any form of colder than expected conditions. This is one of the drivers of the earth’s climate and a basic component to climate.

Now, there are scientists who don’t see this as a mere temperature drop.

Habibullo Abdussamatov warns that a new Little Ice Age has begun.

A highly qualified and highly regarded scientist, Dr Abdussamatov is Head of Space Research Laboratory at the Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Sunspots come and go, but the Carbon Dioxide alarmism persists in the face of new and better modelling, here’s another chart:

CO2 sensitivity is an attempt to estimate the effect on teperature of a doubling of the CO2 in the atomsphere. We’re at about 400ppm now, what would happen if that went to 800ppm?

To get buy in for serious carbon taxes you pretty much have to say that 800 is going to lead to 2+ degrees Celius of warming and then try to make the claim that this level of warming will kill lots of us. As the science becomes more exact it is becoming clear that a doubling of CO2 is going to have a hard time creating 2 degrees of warming. Worth reading this post.

I have argued for years that the science is not yet ready for policy purposes. But the Trudeau government and the Scheer Conservatives presume that Canadians are too dumb to notice that the science underlying a carbon tax or whatever dimwitted scheme Scheer is touting – apparently based on the failed Australian model – are going to cost a lot and change, literally, nothing.

It is going to take a while for Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada to catch on. But Bernier is a climate sceptic and an economic realist. As people begin to realize that the “carbon” tax or cap and trade and, frankly, all the other non-solutions to a non-problem, are simply bogus ways of taking money out of their pocket, Max is going to become a lot more appealing.

 

 

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