Updates from December, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Jack 3:11 am on December 14, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: edmonton sun, , , , ,   

    Bad Judgement 

    It’s as if even the Wynne Liberals know it’s time to stick a fork in them, cause they’re done.

    That after 14 years in power, they’ve lost touch with ordinary Ontarians, most of whom work in the private sector.

    Take last week’s bizarre defence of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s minimum wage hikes by Barrie Liberal MPP Ann Hoggarth, who served up this gem:

    “If you’re going to go out of business on the backs of your employees because you can’t afford to pay them this, then perhaps you should reassess your business plan and reassess whether you should be an employer at all.”

    Hoggarth was no doubt drawing on her vast experience running a small business as a career elementary school teacher and past president of the Simcoe County Elementary Teachers Federation, before entering politics.

    Since my late father did run a small business — Al’s Men’s Wear on Yonge St. — and I was a teenager before I realized not all fathers worked six days a week, for at least 60 hours and often more, let me suggest what Hoggarth doesn’t understand.

    First, it’s not that Wynne hiked the minimum wage that has the Ontario Legislature’s Financial Accountability Office predicting it will put at least 50,000 jobs at risk, while the TD Bank says 90,000 and the Keep Ontario Working Coalition, an employers’ group, 185,000.

    It’s that Wynne announced a 31.6% hike to the minimum wage out of the blue in May, increasing it from $11.40 an hour to $15 in 15 months, from Oct. 1, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2019.

    Hoggarth apparently doesn’t understand hiking the minimum wage doesn’t just increase the payroll costs to small businesses for minimum wage workers, but for those earning more than the minimum wage as well.

    For example, when government raises the minimum wage from $11.40 to $15 over 15 months, small businesses also have to increase the salaries of employees who were earning $12 to about $17 an hour before the minimum wage hike was announced, in a similar time frame, if they want to keep good staff.

    A government that understood the vital importance to small businesses of cost predictability would have increased the minimum wage gradually over the Liberals’ 14 years in power, not hit them with massive hikes — particularly the increase from $11.60 on Oct. 1, 2017 to $14 on Jan. 1, 2018 — less than six months before the June, 2018 election.

    Does Hoggarth know anyone who has seen their salaries increase 31.6% over 15 months?

    If not, how does she expect small businesses to increase their revenues enough to cover a 31.6% hike to the minimum wage over that period?

    Because if you can’t increase revenues that quickly, then the only option is to reduce expenses by cutting back on labour costs.

    Finally, in addition to the minimum wage, Wynne is increasing the costs faced by small businesses for employee vacations, emergency leave, part-time and temporary work and shift cancellations.

    That’s to say nothing of the escalating costs small businesses have faced under Liberal policies to pay for such things as skyrocketing electricity bills and increasing natural gas costs, the latter caused by Wynne’s cap-and-trade carbon pricing scheme.

    On Monday, Wynne rejected calls from the Progressive Conservatives for Hoggarth to apologize for her arrogant and ignorant remarks.

    More proof the Liberals shouldn’t be in the business of government at all.



  • Jack 3:39 am on December 12, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , ,   

    Sincere Advice 

    The American decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an inspired move and the Canadian government’s decision to respond judiciously is very commendable. Nothing useful in the Middle East peace process has occurred in 25 years, but the correlation of forces in the region and the ambitions of the Arab powers have evolved. For decades, Israel’s most fanatical enemies were Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia, and the first two countries have disintegrated and Saudi Arabia is now an Israeli ally with Egypt and against Iran. The Arabs dislike the Palestinians at least as much as they dislike the Jews and the Lebanese Christians — all are considered commercial elites where they have been minorities in Arab countries, and as there are no more Jews and very few Christians in Arab countries, that animosity has abated. For decades the Arab powers used the Palestinian question as a red herring to enflame the Arab masses and distract them from the chronic misgovernment the Arab rulers were inflicting on their peoples. Now, for the first time since the British relinquished Palestine, and Jordan and France vacated Lebanon and Syria, 70 years ago, there is a physical encroachment on the Arab world, from their ancient Persian enemy.

    The Arab Spring was nonsense — the notion that democracy can easily take hold where it has never been and no institutions exist to promote it was a fantasy worthy of George W. Bush, whose aggressive championship of democracy handed Lebanon to Hezbollah and Gaza to Hamas, and contributed to the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, where it had been the 900 pound gorilla in the Arab house for 75 years. (By the dumb luck of the Brotherhood’s incompetence, the West dodged the bullet and the Egyptian army took back the government.) The only way forward is authoritarian government seeking economic growth and gradual social progress. This was essentially the course followed by the Shah of Iran, the most enlightened ruler Persia has had since Alexander the Great’s transitory regime 23 centuries ago, and he lost control of events to mad medieval theocrats. Saudi Arabia, a state that has been a joint venture between the House of Saud and the Wahhabi radical Islamic leadership, is now modernizing and becoming a benign and more secular dictatorship, leading the resistance to Iran. The new government of Saudi Arabia has proposed to the Palestinians a settlement of its affairs with Israel less generous than the Israelis have themselves offered, and it implicitly acknowledges that Jerusalem is Israeli.

    There will be no significant opposition to this move, apart from festive burnings of American flags and pictures of Donald Trump in the West Bank and Gaza. The Arab masses don’t care what happens to the Palestinians or Jerusalem (and the U.S. will presumably put its embassy in an uncontested section of Western Jerusalem). The Chinese and Russians object because they consider themselves rivals to the United States and are happy when the United States is mired in Middle Eastern conflicts as a prolonged, low-key Vietnam, as it was for 13 years under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. China has no dog in that hunt, and Russia fancies it has a role to play as champion of factions in several of the fictional or failed states in the region. The Western Europeans object because they think they have a role there as former colonial powers. In fact, there has never been a West European post-Second World War policy in that region except to await the American position and then stake out something more favourable to the Arabs.

    We have just observed the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which Jews, or at least Israel, have generously celebrated as the first recognition of Israel’s right to a Middle Eastern homeland. In fact, and as I have had occasion to remark in the British House of Lords (I am a member of it), the British, more than any other country, created this mess by selling the same real estate to two buyers at the same time, and inciting the right to possession of both, with the professed ambition to create “a Jewish homeland” without compromising the “rights of the Palestinians.” This was moonshine and Britain checked out, leaving the new Jewish state, established on the motion of Stalin’s U.S.S.R. at the United Nations, seconded by President Truman’s America, to fight for its life. The Jewish people effectively faced a second attempt at annihilation just three years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps.

    While the Arab sections of Israel have been under-served, the Arabs enjoy liberties they cannot exercise in any predominantly Arab country and have a large representation in the Israeli Knesset and full civil rights. To some extent, Israel has carried out the second part of the Balfour Declaration and observed Palestinian rights, difficult though it is when the official policy of the Palestinian leadership is the eviction or extermination of the Jews, yet again, and as so often before. It ill behooves Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, to say that President Trump has been “unhelpful.” The British dalliance in the Middle East was a disaster, except for British Petroleum, and ended in the ignominy of Suez in 1956, where Lester Pearson and Louis St. Laurent, with American encouragement, did what they could to salvage any decorum for Britain and France.

    This recent and contemporary bunk about Israel as an apartheid state is the last gasp of the useful idiots of primeval anti-Semitism. The Jews are the majority, unlike the Afrikaaners; the Arabs have substantial rights; and Israel was not just admitted to the United Nations as a territory and jurisdiction, like Canada and the United States and other existing countries in 1945 were, but was created by the United Nations as a Jewish state. It is the ultimate, legitimate country. The agitation about Jerusalem as capital is nonsense — the Israeli Knesset and Supreme Court are there and Russia recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in April of this year, which makes their disapproval of Trump’s move this week a bit rich, even by the unvaryingly cynical standards of the Kremlin. Prior to 1967, when the Jordanians ruled East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Jews could not pray at the Western wall, could not attend the Hebrew University at Mount Scopus or be treated at the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, which Jews had founded decades before, and they could not live in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, where their ancestors had lived for 200 generations. Trump has undone the shame of Obama allowing the United Nations last year to condemn Israeli possession of these sites as “a flagrant violation of international law.”

    All has changed in the Middle East. The Palestinians no longer benefit from the patronage of the Arab leaders to keep the pot boiling with Israel — they were happy to be cannon fodder, to prevent the improvement of the wretched settler camps or the resettlement of their inhabitants, as long as it made them personally rich and world famous. They could have had a Palestinian state any time in the last 40 years if they had been prepared to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, its raison d’être. They preferred celebrity and violence and some of their leaders have called for a new Intifada this week; presumably, this time, the population will have the intelligence to resist the call — it’s not as if the last two Intifadas were a howling success. They have been abandoned by their former patrons and Israel is geometrically stronger than it was even 20 years ago, not at all isolated, and not threatened by Iraq and Syria.

    The answer has been obvious since the Taba meetings in January 2001: the West bank becomes narrower and the Gaza Strip thicker and the Palestinians have a secure road between them. It isn’t Israel, which is primarily for the Jews, or Jordan, which is majority Palestinian but ruled by the Bedouins and the Hashemite kings, but it is a state, and with foreign assistance, which would be plentiful, and Palestinian tenacity, which is proverbial even by local standards, it would flourish. There are 198 countries in the world — not every newly created state can expect to be a Canada, Australia, or Brazil.

    Donald Trump has recognized realities and done the Palestinians a favour, if they and their ancient terrorist leadership aren’t too punch-drunk to recognize the facts: the Palestinians were used and are no longer useful. Donald Trump is a realist and is not overly concerned with the American Jewish vote, which is now infested with Jew-hating Jews anyway. The Palestinians should take what they can get while they can get it.

    National Post


  • Jack 3:06 am on December 9, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Trumpophobic Idiocy 

    It is hard to believe that Trumpophobic idiocy can plumb depths more profound than it has reached in the last few days. Just as the Russian-collusion argument, which was never supported by anything except Hillary Clinton’s sulky evasions of her own responsibility for her electoral defeat, was sinking beneath the ripples the Trump-hating media had strenuously created for it, the Flynn indictment came. To anyone with any legal insight, such as Alan Dershowitz, Trey Gowdy, and Andy McCarthy (one of them should be the attorney general), it was the barefaced admission by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that, after nine months in charge of an investigation that had already been under way for eight months, he has absolutely nothing to justify continuing this charade within its original mandate to explore a Trump-Russian connection. Flynn was indicted for precisely the reason President Trump dismissed him as national-security adviser: lying about discussions with the Russians.

    The relief of the anti-Trumpers when the Flynn indictment gave them a lifeline to keep the impeachment dream alive in the minds of the fervent was inflated by ABC News’s bulletin that Flynn had alleged that Trump had told him to contact the Russian government before the election. This in itself would not have been worrisome — anyone can speak to Russians if they want — but it led to window-rattling ululations of Trumpophobic joy. Typical of it was the action of semi-comedienne (about as humorous as Al Franken) Joy Behar (whose book, The Great Gasbag, is, surprisingly, not autobiographical): She burst into applause and generated a standing ovation from the studio audience of her daytime television program. But it was fake news: Flynn claimed nothing of the kind. The reporter who produced the story, Brian Ross, had previously been reprimanded for suggesting that a mass murderer in Colorado several years ago was a member of the Tea Party when there was no evidence for that; and, in 2001, he suggested that Saddam Hussein was behind anthrax attacks in the U.S. when there was no evidence for that, either. Last week he was forced to recant and to withdraw his story, and was suspended without pay for four weeks. Ms. Behar was left with one hand clapping. The president, as has been his custom for two years, vehemently attacked fake news, with accuracy and effect. He debunked CNN by Twitter, eliciting the righteous falsehood of the egregious Wolf Blitzer that that network had served truth to the world for “nearly four decades.” Media solidarity fragmented on that whopper, as it was pointed out by several commentators that CNN had whitewashed Saddam, in order to maintain its bureau in Baghdad after other Western media had fled or been expelled by the Iraqi tyrant in 2003. Competitor Rupert Murdoch hit home when he claimed about 15 years ago that CNN’s Havana correspondent was Fidel Castro.

    When the president tweeted on the weekend that Flynn had been fired for lying to the FBI as well as to the vice president, he succeeded in stirring up another hornets’ nest of absurd confected outrage. Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blumenthal (the latter of whom had campaigned in 2010 referring to his service in Vietnam, a complete fabrication) torqued themselves up to agitation about a possible prosecution of the president for violating the Logan Act, and for obstruction of justice. The Logan Act of 1799, which prohibits private citizens from unauthorized attempts to conduct U.S. foreign policy, is nonsense constitutionally, and has never yielded a conviction or even been invoked since 1852. It does appear to have been a bugbear of official anti-Trumpism, having been bandied about for some time by many Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi and the beleaguered John Conyers. There has been some speculation that its potential violation was the pretext used by the Obama administration to conduct surveillance on the Trump campaign, an activity which, when revealed by Trump in March, led to much derision. It is a contemptible, nonsensical insinuation. No one officially complained when Senator Teddy Kennedy asked Soviet leader (and former KGB head) Yuri Andropov to join sensible Americans in opposing President Reagan’s foreign and defense policy, or when former special prosecutor Archibald Cox wrote every government in the world asking them not to cooperate with President George H. W. Bush in the Gulf War in 1991. MSNBC’s synchronized foamers-at-the-mouth, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, tried to breathe new air into the flat tire of the 25th Amendment for replacing mentally and physically incompetent presidents.

    Launched on slightly sturdier legs was the claim that Trump had obstructed justice, because, if he knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI, his statement to Comey on January 27 that he hoped the FBI director would be able to avoid prosecuting Flynn was an attempt to obstruct justice, compounded by his subsequent dismissal of Comey. As Representative Gowdy explained in a television interview — having read all of Comey’s memos over the period — if Comey had thought he was being tampered with by the president, he withheld that from himself (and Comey has publicly stated that he did not feel that).

    The anti-Trumpers have been engaged in a demeaning mousetrapping exercise for a very long time. The Justice Department (in the person of subsequently fired deputy attorney general Sally Yates) apparently asked to interview Flynn, and specifically asked him about conversations with the Russians, only to check his responses against what they had already ascertained from tapping into telephone conversations of the Russian ambassador, seeking a discrepancy. Flynn was so relaxed about it that he was not accompanied by a lawyer — unusual for someone who might be accused of treason — and he probably mistakenly forgot the conversations (as the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, claimed he did with the same ambassador). But Flynn pleaded guilty to lying as a single count, presumably to get rid of the expense and strain of Mueller’s persecution in exchange for a shoestring to the special counsel to keep this sham investigation going.

    The Democratic retreat was impossible to disguise. Virginia senator Mark Warner, ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, who nine months ago was claiming there were a thousand Russian agents planting anti-Clinton comments in swing states in the election campaign, and that Russia had won Wisconsin for Trump (complete falsehoods), and claimed until recently that the Steele dossier was “taken seriously by Britain, our ally,” bumbled almost incoherently out of our television screens on the weekend about obstruction of justice. This must be the last trench of defense for this bedraggled cabal of myth-makers and slanderers. Allegations about Trump’s tax returns, the infamous Clinton-commissioned Steele dossier, the whole collusion nonsense, and the 25th Amendment foolishness have all crumbled, and we are left with a statutory relic from John Adams and an obstruction scenario that Trump described persuasively as “more fake news about another Comey lie.” This rubbish can’t have been much consolation in a week when Trump got his tax bill through the Senate; the Supreme Court allowed his immigration executive order to proceed, pending determination of the main issue; it came to light that Mueller had had to fire an overt Trump-hater, Peter Strzok (who had helped push Comey into letting Hillary Clinton go unprosecuted for more serious lies to the FBI than Flynn committed); and Roy Moore regained the lead in the Alabama Senate election.

    It is difficult to know whether President Trump deliberately pours gasoline on the fires of Democratic and conventional-media frustration with provocative tweets, or is just reckless; the most likely option is a combination of tactics and insouciance. His enemies almost always overreact and crunch their teeth into another nothingburger. He is clearly winning the long battle: Almost the entire congressional Republican caucus now accepts his leadership and is working to enact the Trump agenda that most of them opposed up to the election, and, as the tax bill shows, he is breaking through; the Democrats will shut the government down at their peril. But as he takes hold, the president should consider whether he doesn’t owe the country and his great office a de-escalation of the tweet-wars. By all means, communicate with the vast Trump constituency and ignore the dishonest media — but he could graciously forgo answering the most insignificant critics (like the ungrateful father of the basketball player he sprang from prison in China) and throwing raw meat in the faces of the Maddows, Blitzers, and Scarboroughs, entertaining though it is.

    It is also time for the visceral snobs and deranged Trump-haters to subside and allow a serious opposition to arise, that offers alternatives and does not start swinging before the ball is pitched and strike out every time. America deserves a dignified chief and a loyal opposition.

    © 2017 Conrad Black

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  • Jack 3:05 am on December 9, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: "peter pan", , , , , , , , terry glavin, trudeaupia   

    Dolts or Thieves? 

    It should tell you something about just how deeply the rot has spread that the Liberal Party of Canada was well represented at the Chinese Communist Party’s three-day “dialogue with world political parties” that was wrapping up just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was arriving in Beijing on Sunday, and that among the 300 delegates who lauded Xi Jinping’s regime “as the core in pushing forward the building of a community of a shared future for mankind and of a better world” was none other than Jean Chretien. The former Liberal prime minister is nowadays employed by Denton’s Canada LLP, the ugly little stepsister of the global conglomerate Beijing Dacheng.

    It should also tell you something about just how run-of-the-mill these kinds of obscenities have become that barely a whisper has been heard in the House of Commons following last week’s revelations about the generosity the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department and its related overseas influence-peddling agencies have been lavishing upon Canadian politicians.

    Along with pro-Beijing lobby groups headquartered in Canada, the Chinese Communist Party’s “soft power” brokers have picked up the costs of dozens of getting-to-know-you trips to China over the years for several Liberal and Conservative MPs and senators. All by himself, John McCallum, the cabinet minister Trudeau appointed ambassador to China last year, racked up freebie trips to the value of $73,300.

    But what the hell. A drop in the bucket. Xi Jinping’s increasingly imperialistic regime spends an estimated $18 billion a year on subversion and overseas propaganda, which in its Canadian content is now practically indistinguishable from the boilerplate produced by the Office of the Minister of International Trade and the Canada-China Business Council.

    We are all supposed to be somehow impressed, for instance, or at least surprised, that Trudeau’s purportedly principled insistence on gender, labour and environmental provisions in a free trade agreement with China was the cause of some hullabaloo in Beijing this week. It’s a handy storyline. Even Trudeau’s noisiest critics will settle for it. What a dolt! Dolt or not, the proposition that it’s a big deal falls apart on the fiction that there is some important distinction to be drawn between proceeding with “preliminary negotiations” as expected, and advancing to “high level exchanges” on free trade instead.

    Never mind for the moment that “free trade” isn’t even possible with a police state, let alone the sort that has lately rededicated itself with relish to the thuggery necessary to the enforcement of a command-and-control economy – which Xi Jinping has explicitly articulated as a matter of fundamental state policy. Trudeau can at least be confident that he can persist in his cringe-inducing infatuation with the Chinese regime, and that Beijing will continue to return the compliment with the flattery that he obsessively craves.

    But Trudeau’s advisors know full well that they can’t be quite so sanguine. You never can tell when public disgust will reach a tipping point. So a bit of high drama comes in handy. High comedy, too, however unintentional.

    One is left to wonder what sort of gender-parity provisions Canada would put on the table in talks with a despotism overseen by a standing committee to which no woman has ever belonged, which is nominally “elected” by a 25-member politburo with only two women at the table, overseeing a 376-member party central committee that has permitted only 33 women in its ranks.

    Okay, “the environment,” then. While Canada lathers on the praise for Beijing’s alleged commitment to the Paris Accord on global warming, China has no obligation to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions under the accord until 2030. The shelved plans for those 500 new Chinese coal plants, then? China is opening that many coal mines overseas, mostly in Africa.

    Labour standards? All China has to do is ratify and implement longstanding international standards set by the International Labour Organization – which Beijing refuses to do, because the ILO rules prohibit forced labour and discrimination against migratory workers, and the rules insist on collective bargaining rights and the rights of workers to independent unions, which Beijing will not tolerate.

    No “free trade” deal with Canada will change any of this, and while this week’s theatrics in Beijing were all very gripping, one would have to be stone deaf to irony and wholly blind to Trudeau’s hypocrisy to be impressed.

    Before he jetted off last weekend, this was a key pretext in Trudeau’s pre-boarding announcement: “A closer relationship also means more opportunity to hold regular, frank dialogue on human rights issues like good governance, freedom of speech, and the rule of law.”

    Hold the laughter about human rights and good governance and the rule of law for a moment. Freedom of speech? Seriously? Trudeau’s first big gig in Beijing was to play the marquee celebrity-endorsement role at a huge marketing and publicity event hosted by Sina, the parent company of Weibo, China’s vigorously state-patrolled social media platform. Here’s the promotional blurb: “Why would this great leader, famous for his good looks and youth, choose to visit Sina first?”

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sits with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Singh Bains as they meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

    Good question. Why would the prime minister of a liberal democracy serve as a branding and public-relations gimmick for a mammoth communications corporation controlled by an executive Communist Party committee that employs more than 1,000 people just to spy on citizens and monitor their messages for banned ideas so that dissenters can be more efficiently reported to the authorities?

    It is commonplace to describe Weibo as a micro-blogging platform that is more popular than Twitter. It is, but that’s at least partly because Twitter is blocked in China, along with the social media sites Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr and Periscope. The news media sites blocked in China – not least the New York Times, Bloomberg, Le Monde and the Economist – are just as numerous.

    So much for free speech, then. As for the possibility of free trade with China, it’s a propaganda fiction, and we would all do well to call it what it is.

    Now that Xi Jinping has consolidated his stranglehold on power following the recent 19th Party Congress, there is no turning back. Article 19 of the Company Law of the People’s Republic of China stipulates that all companies doing business in the country must incorporate a party committee into its management structure. In the case of joint ventures, the party is now demanding that the company’s party secretary be the board chairman. By the Chinese regime’s own calculations, nearly three-quarters of the 100,000-plus foreign-invested companies in China already have the tumour of a party committee thriving inside them.

    Does any of this matter to Canada?

    It does when you look at what Canadians are getting in return, and for a glimpse of that, it’s worth noticing that China’s ruling princelings have already secured a shadowy free trade zone for themselves in Metro Vancouver real estate. Last month, the International Housing Affordability Study identified Vancouver as the least-affordable city in North America, while the corruption watchdog Transparency International reports that Vancouver has emerged as a major transnational money-laundering hub.

    Dirty money is pouring through Metro Vancouver casinos, and the region’s housing stock is increasingly owned by shell companies, trusts, anonymous beneficiaries, or nominees who list their occupation as “housewife” or “student.” It’s gotten to the point that B.C. Attorney General David Eby reckons there is simply no relationship between house prices in Metro Vancouver and taxable income reported to Revenue Canada “until you get out to the distant suburbs.”

    Since the return of the Liberal Party to power in October 2015, Ottawa and Beijing have signed at least 50 “important bilateral collaborations,” to borrow the Chinese Communist Party’s terminology. The collusion includes national security files, military exchanges, education, consular affairs, and “cybercrime.”

    It’s one little capitulation after another.

    It matters.


    See Also:

    (1) Any “Free Trade” Deal With China Must Be Decided By A National Referendum

  • Jack 3:36 am on December 4, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , patrick brown, ,   


    We applaud Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown’s promise to scrap the Liberals’ 2009 Green Energy Act if he wins the June, 2018 election. This badly flawed and dictatorial legislation has cost Ontarians a fortune. It is the legal underpinning of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s, and before her premier Dalton McGuinty’s, disastrous and ruinously expensive plunge into green energy. Green energy — primarily wind and solar power — that was never needed to eliminate Ontario’s use of coal-fired electricity, which was actually done with nuclear power and natural gas.

    The Green Energy Act, plus the fact the Liberals ignored the advice of their own energy experts, are the reasons Ontarians today are locked into paying for unneeded, expensive, unreliable and inefficient wind and solar power for 20 years. Power Ontario has to buy first, regardless of whether it’s needed, which makes the entire electricity system run less efficiently as a result. Power we don’t need, because Ontario has a massive energy surplus. That means the public has to subsidize electricity being sold at a loss to neighbouring jurisdictions like Michigan and New York, or dumped, with zero compensation, known as curtailment, because there’s no buyer for it, even at cut-rate prices.

    In 2015, auditor general Bonnie Lysyk reported Ontarians were paying twice as much for wind power on average as American energy consumers and 3.5 times as much for solar power, a total of $9.2 billion more than necessary over 20 years. Small wonder Brown accurately calls the Green Energy Act the “bad contracts act.” Brown can’t unilaterally break these contracts without incurring huge financial penalties. But he says he will use every legal means available to exit from as many as possible, by taking advantage of cancellation clauses, if this is financially beneficial for the public. Beyond the waste of money this has led to, the Green Energy Act never delivered the jobs the Liberals promised, as reported by former auditor general Jim McCarter in his 2011 report on their renewable energy policies.

    The legislation also took away local planning rights in deciding where industrial wind farms would be located. In this, the Green Energy Act was, and is, fundamentally undemocratic. It resulted in rural communities across Ontario having industrial wind farms rammed down their throats, with no ability to impact the outcome. Instead of acting as an impartial mediator in deciding where industrial wind farms would go, the Liberal government often sided with wind developers, many of whom donated money to the Liberal party, against the local community. Simply put, the Green Energy Act was fundamentally flawed and dictatorial legislation, passed by the Liberal government at a time when it seemed far more interested in getting praise from global warming guru Al Gore than doing right by the people of Ontario. Brown is fully justified in scrapping it if he wins in June.


  • Jack 4:22 am on December 3, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: canadian doctors, , canadian insurance industry, cathy tomlinson,   

    Injury Industry 

    He seldom treats patients, but Howard Platnick still brings in as much as $800,000 a year working as a doctor.

    The Toronto practitioner makes his living compiling reports on accident victims for auto-insurance companies. A review of about three dozen of Dr. Platnick’s cases by The Globe and Mail shows he usually finds the injuries suffered by claimants aren’t significant.

    In a good year, Dr. Platnick has said, he gets roughly 1,500 bookings, which suggests he assesses six accident victims in an average workday. Approximately 300 of those are “paper reviews” in which he’s sent a person’s file and evaluates their condition without ever seeing them.

    Dr. Platnick is among a raft of physicians whose reports have been rejected by judges and arbitrators – some repeatedly – for being inaccurate, unfairly biased against the injured person, or written by someone else. And yet those doctors continue to get work.

    Case records show Dr. Platnick talked another doctor into altering her report in an insurance company’s favour, then had her back-date it to when she wrote her initial assessment. In another instance, he made no mention of two car crashes the victim actually had, but referenced an earlier accident that never happened.

    He declared a truck driver could go back to work, after noting the man could no longer handle driving long distances.

    Rules governing doctors stipulate any such assessment should be independent and unbiased. However, records show State Farm e-mailed Dr. Platnick last year, thanking him for “co-operating with us” to get a claim settled, saying “your involvement was essential to our efforts.”

    In Ontario and B.C. alone, hundreds of Canadian doctors take in roughly $240-million a year collectively, putting their names to accident injury assessments for the auto-insurance industry. Insurers primarily use those reports as leverage, to limit or cut what they pay for treatment and other benefits.

    Laura Carpenter found out how seriously those practices affect victims, after Dr. Platnick wrote a brief “summary” for her insurance company declaring there was “consensus” among a team of doctors that she was not catastrophically injured. He came to that conclusion without ever meeting her. That is a common, accepted practice among doctors doing these assessments.

    TD Insurance ended Dr. Carpenter’s coverage, a month after it received Dr. Platnick’s summary. A family doctor herself, Dr. Carpenter then went five years without full treatment for her injuries, before she had a chance to show TD – at a long-awaited arbitration hearing – the “consensus” his report cited didn’t exist.

    “Because I did not receive as much treatment as I needed, I believe that my injuries and impairments worsened significantly,” Dr. Carpenter said in an affidavit.

    Dr. Platnick was paid though Sibley and Associates, one of several assessment companies that hire the doctors on behalf of insurance firms, then edit and polish the medical reports. Those middlemen take a cut of the fees, which come from premiums paid by drivers.

    According to an 85-page report by another doctor on the team that examined her for Sibley, Dr. Carpenter couldn’t work or even get around without a walker, had chronic pain all over and was in “constant distress” – from injuries that had been “inadequately treated.”

    Some days the pain was so bad she sent her children to school in a cab.

    Records buried in her files and later obtained by Dr. Carpenter’s lawyer include several e-mails from a Sibley administrator to members of the medical team, asking them to remove or alter sections of their assessments. Key changes were then made, some of which watered down or omitted their opinions on how seriously Dr. Carpenter was injured.

    Two of the doctors pushed back, however, telling Sibley they would not alter their reports or sign Dr. Platnick’s “consensus.” One called the pressure to do so “offensive and insulting.” Yet, Dr. Platnick’s opinion prevailed and was the only one TD heard.

    Confronted years later with the missteps in her case, TD quietly settled with Dr. Carpenter. She is now suing Dr. Platnick and others for $7.75-million in Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

    In his defence filing, Dr. Platnick said the assessment company that hired him should have taken the term “consensus” out of his summary, when other doctors didn’t sign on, before sending it to TD without his knowledge. He also claims the dissenting doctors’ assessments didn’t fit with Ontario insurance rules.

    Dr. Platnick said he finds it “incredible” that an accident victim “turned a minor fender bender into a catastrophic impairment case,” calling it “unfair” that she is now suing for millions, despite already receiving a “gratuitous windfall” settlement from TD.

    In its statement of defence, Sibley says it had input on the doctor’s assessments but claims it didn’t change their “substance.”

    Sibley declined The Globe’s request for an interview. Dr. Platnick’s lawyer said his client would “be happy to speak” about this, but couldn’t for legal reasons. Through her lawyer, Dr.. Carpenter also declined to comment.

    Tatiana Nemchin, a former yoga studio owner, suffered from PTSD after an accident, but the psychatrist who examined her told the insurance company that her PTSD wasn’t serious. Ms. Nemchin fought in court, where the psychiatrist was exposed not only for writing things about her that were wrong, but for misrepresenting his credentials. Read more about Ms. Nemchin’s case below. Photo by: JACKIE DIVES/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


    Edward Tanner, shown in his home in Sarnia, Ont., lost his benefits from insurance company Allstate based on a neurologist’s report. Mr. Tanner fought for five years to have Allstate pay for treatment of his brain injury, and during that time, he says, he got addicted to prescription opioids and also began selling them to pay his bills. Read more about his case below. Photo by: CHRISTOPHER KATSAROV/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


    Damaged vehicles at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s salvage yard in New Westminster. Canada’s auto-insurance system has helped a little-known but growing industry of ‘independent medical examinations’ to thrive. DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS Photo by: DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS


    The lucrative, little-known growth industry that generates “independent medical evaluations,” or IMEs as they are called, has gone largely unchecked in recent years. It is a byproduct of an auto insurance system that even the Insurance Bureau of Canada says is “broken,” at least in Ontario.

    That became clear in case after case, as the Globe and Mail scoured more than 300 court and arbitration rulings on car accident cases in Ontario and B.C., where most doctors who write those reports are based.

    Injury lawyers working on behalf of accident victims also hire IME doctors, to help bolster the claimants’ cases, while insurance companies view every claimant but the most seriously injured as a possible exaggerator or fraudster. That starts an expensive, drawn-out game of what the insurance bureau calls “duelling assessments,” by numerous doctors, working both sides.

    Legitimately injured accident victims caught in the middle are the most profoundly affected, and report being shocked and devastated or at least baffled when doctors for hire conclude they are not seriously hurt. Sometimes their injuries get worse, instead of better, as they go months or years without adequate, goal-oriented treatment. Some get hooked on strong painkillers while being sent to numerous doctors for assessments.

    Normally, when doctors treat patients, the law says they owe them a “duty of care.” Not so with these assessments. IMEs are done outside those rules, so the doctors are beholden to whoever hires them, not the accident victims they assess.

    Injury lawyers say claimants up against unfair or incorrect doctor reports end up feeling intimidated and exhausted, so many of them settle – for less treatment coverage than their own doctors feel they need.

    The bureau says even the insurers who use IMEs have “long-standing concerns” over their “impartiality, quality and costs.” Questionable practices are so rampant, even the organization representing doctors who do IMEs has cited “arrogance and lack of formal training” as a problem. The Canadian Association of Medical Evaluators has written to members, warning “amateurism, bias and fraud will be tolerated less and less in the future.”

    The vast majority of cases remain hidden from scrutiny, however, because more than 95 per cent of claimants settle out of court and their files are kept under wraps. Complaints about doctors to their regulators are also not made public. The Globe uncovered several where doctors were criticized or cautioned by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario for questionable practices, but none has been disciplined.

    I just thought, oh my God. I have such obvious injuries. I’ve worked so hard to get better and then it was just thrown back in my face. It’s a terribly broken system. There is no accountability for these doctors.

    What Stacey Taylor went through represents the most common and perhaps worst-case scenario: The legitimate, seriously injured accident victim who goes up against seasoned IME doctors working for insurance companies, and who loses and can’t comprehend why.

    “You don’t realize how the system is set up against you until you are in it,” she said.

    Ms. Taylor doesn’t remember the crash in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., that ended life as she knew it. Her car was broadsided, shoving her leg bone into her hip and smashing it beyond repair. That put Ms. Taylor, a federal archeologist, in a wheelchair for months, trying to walk as her hip joint deteriorated.

    Pembridge Insurance started sending her to doctors, among them Dr. Platnick, to get assessed, she said, while she was still in hospital.

    “These people are trying to prove you are lying – and you know you are not,” said Ms. Taylor. “They would try to move my leg until I would scream because the bone was hitting bone.”

    Her doctor said she was too young for a hip replacement at the time. As painful arthritis and other complications set in, Ms. Taylor fought to recover, exhausting her basic coverage. Pembridge then stopped paying, when she was in the middle of her treatment, because Dr. Platnick – who’d never met her – declared her injuries not serious enough to warrant long-term benefits.

    “I just thought, oh my God. I have such obvious injuries. I’ve worked so hard to get better and then it was just thrown back in my face,” Ms. Taylor said. “It’s a terribly broken system. There is no accountability for these doctors.”

    Dr. Platnick had summed up reports from other assessors, also paid by Pembridge, and concluded she was not catastrophically injured – in contrast to her doctors’ views. Ms. Taylor’s last chance was at arbitration, where she said she limped in, using a cane. Dr. Platnick’s report carried the day.

    “It would just make you cry because you knew that this was ridiculous and you were in a system that you couldn’t beat,” she said, while choking back tears.

    In his report on Ms. Taylor’s case, the arbitrator upholds Dr. Platnick’s findings that she was not catastrophically injured.


    Another doctor on the team paid by Pembridge to assess Ms. Taylor was Lawrie Reznek, an Ontario psychiatrist.

    His reports have been rejected by judges and arbitrators in at least 10 cases over the years for “serious flaws,” “cherry picking,” “impartiality found wanting,” “a number of problems,” “incorrect” assumptions and “superficial” interviews.

    In case after case, Dr. Reznek used what he’s admitted are unique, unproven tests on accident victims. He would tell a joke and if they laughed he would report they seemed fine. He’d have his assistant knock on the door and, if the noise didn’t startle the person he was interviewing, he would conclude they weren’t seriously affected by their accident.

    Dr. Reznek often concludes people are “malingering,” which essentially means they’re faking injuries. In a small minority of court cases, his testimony has helped insurers get dubious claims thrown out, which may explain why the industry continues to hire him as an expert.

    He’s testified he makes more than $100,000 a year, just assessing auto insurance claimants. In one case this year, he charged $14,000 for a single day in court.

    “You have paid insurance for so many years and you trust doctors … but then you see them and you realize they have an agenda,” Ms. Taylor said. “You respect them and you listen to their opinion. You don’t think they are not going to have your best interests at heart and line their pockets.”

    Dr. Reznek declined The Globe’s request for an interview, but pointed to a recent case where an injury lawyer asked a judge to disqualify him as a witness, because of his history. The judge refused, ruling even though he is “zealous” in defending his opinions, that doesn’t prove he’s biased.

    The fact they succeeded – that totally destroyed me. The picture they presented to the jury was not me.

    IME doctors are allowed to testify repeatedly, despite questionable track records, because most Ontario judges won’t allow injury lawyers to challenge them about past testimony. Precedent-setting case law says that just because an expert is discredited in one instance doesn’t mean he or she won’t be credible in another.

    Maria Parra is a Toronto realtor who learned the hard way how much power and influence those doctors have, even after they’ve been criticized numerous times.

    “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But the longer I went, the more I realized – this is a business,” Ms. Parra said.

    She took her case to trial, she said, because she was in constant pain after being rear-ended and had lost her $200,000 annual income. The other driver’s insurance company opted for a jury – as injury lawyers say they usually do – and the verdict left Ms. Parra with nothing.

    She believes the jurors were persuaded by doctors, including Toronto physiatrist Rajka Soric, hired by the insurer. (A physiatrist is a physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehab.)

    “The fact they succeeded – that totally destroyed me,” Ms. Parra said. “The picture they presented to the jury was not me.”

    Unbeknownst to the jury, Dr. Soric has been taken to task by judges over the years, for misreading an accident victim’s medical history, claiming to do tests that were “not documented,” testifying about non-existent injuries, making reporting mistakes, “ignoring” her expert duty to be fair and being an “advocate” for insurance companies.

    Dr. Soric told The Globe she believes that judicial criticism was simply the result of injury lawyers trying to discredit her, over irrelevant details that made no difference to her opinion. “They are taking things out of context. My reports would say exactly the same thing – even if they didn’t find small mistakes, my conclusions would have been the same,” she said.

    “I really resent the way the expert witnesses are handled. The process is very adversarial. Cross examination does not focus on professional opinion of the witness … instead, they really try to undermine your professional and personal credibility.”

    Dr. Soric has testified she’s made as much as $470,000 a year, most of it from doing IMEs for insurance companies. She said she hasn’t done more work for accident victims because injury lawyers almost always decide not to hire her when she doesn’t tell them what they want to hear.

    “I am asked to give them a call and if they find my report is not in their favour, they will say please don’t write a [final] report,” Dr. Soric said. “They say: ‘Thank you very much but this is not helpful to my case. Please submit an invoice and don’t write a report.'”

    In Ms. Parra’s case, the judge took the unusual step of making a post-verdict ruling that rejected the testimony of the doctors on the insurance side, including Dr. Soric, who had played down the effect of the accident.

    The court then declared Ms. Parra’s injuries were catastrophic after all, which meant she still got nothing but wasn’t stuck with the insurer’s legal bills.

    “I am still paying, though. I am still suffering. I am still having expenses and I am still struggling with my life,” Ms. Parra said

    In a 2016 ruling, Ontario Justice John Sproat rules that Ms. Parra suffered a serious injury from her car accident.


    Dr. Martin Grypma’s office is in a hangar at the Langley airport in suburban Vancouver, where he keeps a private plane. In the past eight years, he has direct-billed B.C.’s public auto insurer $1.8-million. Photo by: JACKIE DIVES/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


    Another criticism of doctors who do independent medical evaluations has to do with their credentials, or lack thereof. Accident victims such as Ms. Parra say they’ve been surprised to find some doctors they are sent to for IMEs haven’t treated patients for years.

    The Globe obtained physician rosters from those companies that tap doctors to do IMEs across Canada. Hundreds of doctors are listed, and several have been licensed for more than 30 years. Many are at or past retirement age.

    One orthopedic surgeon, Martin Grypma, known for getting chastised by judges, gave up his full licence seven years ago. Nine years before that, an Alberta court found him negligent for botching routine back surgery on a patient, leaving her permanently disabled.

    His practice is now restricted to conducting IMEs only.

    Dr. Grypma works out of a hangar at a suburban Vancouver airport, where he keeps his private plane. Over the past eight years, he billed B.C.’s public auto insurer $1.8-million, which hired him directly, not through a middleman firm. He also earns more, by working for at least three of the assessment companies.

    Not only is Dr. Grypma not a fully licensed doctor, his reports have been rejected by the courts more than a dozen times. Judges have called him out for being “deliberately or grossly careless” in one case and “misreading” an accident victim’s records in another, while being “argumentative,” “incorrect” and “an advocate.” Another judge called his evaluation “ill-considered and superficial.”

    Excerpts from two B.C. Supreme Court rulings in separate cases, in 2016 and 2013 respectively, question the credibility of evidence brought forward by Dr. Grypma.


    B.C.’s College of Physicians and Surgeons told The Globe that when a doctor is criticized by a court a “file would be opened for investigation.” However, it confirmed none of the IME-related probes it did in the past five years stemmed from court rulings, which would include those involving Dr. Grypma. He declined The Globe’s request for an interview.

    In Ontario, one neurosurgeon listed on a roster of IME doctors has been a physician since 1954 – 63 years – but is still on call to do IMEs for two assessment companies.

    “I think anybody who practices for this long, it’s time to retire,” Dr. Soric said. “I am not sure that every single one of them is fully qualified to perform these assessments because you have to simply be aware of all the possible medical complications from injuries.”

    The physician rosters show most of them never meet the people they assess. Those doctors are only available to do “paper reviews” of accident victims’ records, which can be sent to them electronically, wherever they are. However, other doctors told The Globe they would never assess a person’s injuries without seeing them in person.

    In Tatiana Nemchin’s case, an Ontario psychiatrist was exposed in court, not only for writing things about her that were wrong, but for misrepresenting his credentials, by giving the impression he had a full-time practice, when he didn’t.

    “It was shocking, finding out basically his whole practice is doing this for insurance companies,” said Ms. Nemchin, a former yoga studio owner, who added the reports had “inaccuracies and quotes of words I never use in my life [in his report]. The first thing is disbelief. You are like, what? And then you think, is this the right file?”

    Tatiana Nemchin said the anxiety and effort of taking her case to trial made her feel worse. ‘You just never get time for your nervous system to stop and heal.’ JACKIE DIVES/THE GLOBE AND MAIL Photo by: JACKIE DIVES/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


    Richard Hershberg has been a psychiatrist for 36 years. He met Ms. Nemchin once and then reported to the insurance company her PTSD from the accident couldn’t be that bad, because she was able to move to B.C. from Ontario to live on her own.

    Two years after writing that, he conceded in court she had never moved out west and he actually “didn’t nail it down,” along with other mistakes and omissions. The CV he put into evidence stated he was a “senior psychiatrist” at a local clinic. In court, he admitted that was inaccurate and that he earned 90 per cent of his income – at $600 an hour – doing IMEs.

    If Ms. Nemchin hadn’t taken her case all the way to court, none of that would have been discovered.

    Dr. Hershberg said his mistakes had no bearing on his opinion of Ms. Nemchin’s condition. “Those are basic mistakes. I am sitting here now, I have nine binders for a case. Often, it’s not a case of not getting enough information; it’s having a lot of information to go through,” he told The Globe.

    He said he often finds accident victims’ aches and pains are made worse by aging or other problems, then prolonged when they don’t get back on their feet.

    “It’s not fraud. It’s people in their own way that are suffering,” he said. “They are struggling with life – not so much as with pain.”

    Ms. Nemchin said her biggest struggle was having to go to trial, which she described as an exhausting ordeal no one should have to endure. “It was hell sometimes … I can totally understand why people give up because your integrity is questioned. Everything you do is questioned. The story of your life becomes not what it is,” she said.

    “You just never get time for your nervous system to stop and heal. The process the insurance company puts you through makes your stress worse … you pay for insurance and it shouldn’t be that difficult.”

    I took time out of my life and my practice to say, ‘if you are going to beat me up I’m going to do something about it.’ People have to take the time to stand up for themselves. But – I was in a better position than most.

    Only the colleges that license doctors have the power and mandate to hold them accountable. Those regulators all have set standards, which stipulate doctors should be accurate and unbiased when they write IMEs.

    Despite regular criticism in the courts and complaints “every year” from accident victims, the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons said it couldn’t find one doctor in the past five years who has been formally disciplined.

    In B.C., the College said it has concluded 26 IME-related investigations since 2012 but only one doctor received “low level criticism.”

    The Globe found eight instances where Ontario doctors have been quietly advised or cautioned, however, over inaccurate or inappropriate reports. That criticism is not posted on the doctors’ online history, so if anyone checks their college records they will find nothing.

    Neurologist Luis Morillo, who is only allowed to teach, was caught doing insurance assessments without a licence.

    Occupational medicine specialist Katherine Isles was “cautioned” for writing an “inadequate and inaccurate report.” The College said Dr. Isles disregarded how serious an accident was and got basic details wrong, which was “indicative of the absence of almost any factual content.”

    Psychiatrist Leslie Kiraly was advised to stop calling his assistant “doctor,” because he had him do a psychiatric evaluation on an accident victim, after introducing him as a physician.

    Only unlicenced Dr. Morillo was told to stop doing IMEs, while the others carried on without the public knowing they’d been criticized.

    Some have faced more than one College complaint, such as physiatrist Alborz Oshidari, who has been investigated at least four times. Another doctor reported him to the regulator a decade ago, after finding errors in Dr. Oshidari’s assessment of his injuries, from an accident he said he was lucky to have survived.

    “I was fortunate enough to be a doctor and recognize his unfair examination and the College saw it my way,” said Ontario general practitioner Michael Madonik.

    “I took time out of my life and my practice to say, ‘if you are going to beat me up I’m going to do something about it.’ People have to take the time to stand up for themselves. But – I was in a better position than most.”

    Four years later, Lynn Logtenberg complained about Dr. Oshidari, for concluding she was not catastrophically injured, even after she called him out for misreading medical reports and misquoting her doctors. The College told Dr. Oshidari to be more accurate in the future, but that didn’t help Ms. Logtenberg, who was still left fighting her insurance company for benefits.

    Godwin Jogarajah filed his case just last year, after he had to push Dr. Oshidari to correct several mistakes in a report about his injuries. The College took no action. In the fourth case, the College found the physiatrist left out details about an accident victim’s condition, but didn’t criticize him for it.

    Dr. Oshidari’s opinion has been disregarded by arbitrators in at least four other insurance cases, some because he never saw the claimants.

    In one case, he concluded a 58-year-old man who spent months in a wheelchair was not seriously injured, because he didn’t need surgery. The only reason the man didn’t need surgery, though, was because no operation could fix his injury.

    Dr. Madonik doesn’t understand why insurers keep relying on those reports. “To repeatedly go to these doctors when they have been discredited, there is something wrong with that. It’s almost played like a game but it shouldn’t be a game.”

    Dr. Oshidari declined the Globe’s request for an interview.

    ‘They dragged it out and it drove me crazy – and so I was doing stupid stuff,’ Edward Tanner says of his battle to get treatment for a brain injury. ‘I was on medication and I was losing my mind.’ Photo by: CHRISTOPHER KATSAROV/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


    Some legitimately injured accident victims suffer and deteriorate for years without money for proper treatment, while insurers send them to a merry-go-round of doctors, all well paid to keep challenging them on whether they are really injured. Many turn to opioid painkillers.

    The Globe found several cases where people were made to see more than a dozen physicians. If they refuse to go, even when they are feeling too ill, the insurance company can close their file. Doctors and assessment companies also charge insurers or accident victims as much as $6,000 for any missed or cancelled appointment.

    One judge noted an accident victim had been sent for at least 17 medical assessments by a “small army” of doctors, including five neurologists and four neuropsychologists. The court ruled sending her to any more would be “oppressive” and a “fishing expedition.”

    Edward Tanner suffered through five years of countless appointments, which the arbitrator called a “deplorable amount of time,” before he won a fight against Allstate Corp. to pay for treatment.

    In those years that he struggled with no income and a brain injury, Mr. Tanner said he got hooked on prescription opioids, which he also sold on the street to pay the bills.

    “They dragged it out and it drove me crazy – and so I was doing stupid stuff. I was on medication and I was losing my mind,” said Mr. Tanner, a former carpet installer. “My wife left me. I lost money. I borrowed money and it put me in the hole. Yeah, I sold some of my pills – to survive.”

    Allstate had cut him off years earlier, based on a report by Adrian Upton, who has been a neurologist for 43 years.

    “I was really upset when I was in his office,” said Mr. Tanner of Sarnia, Ont. “I remember him saying to me, ‘You don’t have a head injury. You can go back to work. You can do whatever you want in life.'”

    Another accident victim, who was cut off based on Dr. Upton’s assessment, fought his insurance company for six years, before an arbitrator ruled in his favour. By then, though, he was in a deep depression and it was too late to salvage his music studies.

    Dr. Upton has been investigated by the Ontario College at least once, for allegedly misquoting medical records, but he faced no repercussions. An appeal board sent the case back for re-investigation this year, however, because College investigators failed to look at the records, to actually check if Dr. Upton had quoted them incorrectly.

    Arbitrators have questioned or rejected Dr Upton’s opinion a handful of times, going back 30 years, but he’s also helped insurers win tough cases. One woman with a dubious brain injury claim fought eleven years for benefits, before Dr. Upton’s report helped the insurer get her case thrown out.

    Dr. Upton’s office didn’t respond to requests by The Globe for an interview with him.

    I think the public is in the dark. Like I was. I would have never known this unless I went through this accident. They made their money and they are still making money, because of other people’s suffering.

    It’s not simply insurance companies who are working closely with IME doctors. The other side to all of this, according to insurers and physicians who work for them, is that injury lawyers also hire IME doctors who bolster or exaggerate their clients’ cases, resulting in the phenomenon of “duelling assessments.”

    For example, court records show Allstate hired both Dr. Hershberg and Dr. Reznek to fight a questionable injury claim from a bagel maker, after the man hired a lawyer and “manufactured” his symptoms to get a payout because his bakery had gone out business.

    The baker suddenly tapped Allstate for benefits three years after his car accident, while he was being chased for back taxes and facing charges for trafficking in marijuana. He claimed the accident made him mentally ill for life.

    Psychiatrist Mortimer Mamelak, hired by the baker’s lawyer, said he had “motor vehicle accident injury syndrome,” which is not a recognized condition. Dr. Hershberg and Dr. Reznek testified he had no diagnosable disorder and the arbitrator believed them, so Allstate was able to close the file.

    Ontario insurers have “long been concerned that assessments could be used to inflate claims for bargaining purposes,” said Insurance Bureau of Canada spokesman Andrew McGrath.

    “Going back more than a decade, the insurance industry has called for a serious examination of the effectiveness of existing structures,” he said.

    All drivers are getting hit with the huge price tag.

    In Ontario, with the highest auto insurance premiums in Canada, medical assessments ordered by insurance companies eat up approximately $200-million annually, paid to doctors and assessment companies. And that’s just one province.

    “I think the public is in the dark. Like I was. I would have never known this unless I went through this accident,” said Ms. Parra, the injured Toronto realtor. “They made their money and they are still making money, because of other people’s suffering.”

    Some doctors are charging both government and patients privately in illegal double-dipping practice Regulators are doing little to stop doctor-owned clinics from quietly making desperate patients open their wallets to bypass long lines for everything from simple appointments to major surgery, a Globe investigation found.

    Canadian patients, advocates speak out about illegal doctor double-billing Patients and advocates come forward after a Globe and Mail investigation found unlawful extra billing by doctors through private clinics.


    B.C. doctors warned that charging patients as well as public system is illegal This past summer, the province’s regulator sent a letter to private-clinic physicians warning them against the practice of overcharging.

  • Jack 4:21 am on December 3, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , service industry,   


    Much of the advanced world is now creaking and groaning under the difficulty of finding useful employment or at least activity for the core of the population of traditional working age. For the first time, technological advances are increasing unemployment more than employment, and traditional business is generally less labour intensive with each innovation. The surge to service industry and other white collar occupations has been pronounced for decades. The trend was accompanied by a pandemic of socioeconomic snobbery that made it unseemly to have what was once called a blue-collar job. As mentioned in my piece here last week about some of the vagaries of contemporary education, the percentage of people with a university degree has skyrocketed, but the utility of the degree has deteriorated. When I gained a B.A. about 50 years ago, it was a virtual guaranty of employability, though I did not use it for that, and continued at university for some years, while beginning my newspaper career.

    Now, far more people graduate from university than there are jobs to be filled and, as I wrote last week, the quantity of governmental and private-sector resources dedicated to education keeps increasing, but the laws of supply and demand are not being allowed to influence the career ambitions of the young or the provision of access to occupations where young people could best gain their livelihoods. The gallant Lindsay Shepherd, heroine of the Wilfrid Laurier University inquisition mentioned in this space last week, is a graduate student in communications studies, the largest department in the university. But this isn’t a real subject in the sense of being a coherent discipline where someone could emerge confident of employability, or of being launched in the study of a recognized field of scholarship like history, an important language or other distinct cultural field like art or music, direct formation for the study of a learned profession, or any of the main physical and engineering sciences.

    Companies with huge capitalizations like Facebook and even Amazon have relatively few employees, and some, like Facebook, feed a novel and faddish taste but don’t actually make life much easier or more efficient, unlike Microsoft, Amazon, eBay and Uber. The drive to keep more people engaged in benign activity that isn’t directly productive is causing economic society to crack at the seams at many points. There are too many post-secondary school students while the trades are under-served with recruits, both because they are unfashionable and because the unions and associations are not, in current parlance, inclusive, and wish to retain fewer members receiving greater incomes. The governing politicians have allowed entitlements to get out of control, and with greater longevity, lower birth-rates, and ballooning pension obligations, formerly immoral activities like drinking alcohol, gambling and recreational marijuana are flourishing and rendering (now or soon) great revenue to the treasury.

    The present federal government has written off the wealthy as a voting bloc and seems to be trying to move far enough left to cut the NDP off at the ankles, an admirable goal, even if the means are distasteful — the red diaper socialists in this country are numerous enough that they would accomplish more in the Liberal Party than as a third party, where they have always been ignored, other than when they were hosed out of their under-clothing by Pierre Trudeau under David Lewis and Ed Broadbent. But even this government, which is responsible, especially in league with its profligate cousins in the provincial government of Ontario, for top personal income tax levels that could not be justified in any circumstances except an extreme national emergency, seems to see that pushing rates much higher will drive wealth out, intensify the ingenuity of tax avoidance measures and raise the cost of tax collection, and someone might even understand that attracting wealth is good for economic growth, though it would be hard to credit this regime with that insight on its record.

    There are far too many lawyers, because the legal profession is in charge of composing, as well as arguing and adjudicating, the laws and regulations that, in their ever-rising profusion, assure that there will always be a demand for more lawyers, more over-paid and more contemptuous of most of their clients as each fat year succeeds another. There are too many consultants of all kinds, too many hair stylists where barbers will do, financial advisors that executives who know how to do their jobs don’t need (that is, those who don’t need to cite to their directors and shareholders as the justification for compensation that is too high and as the source of ideas that didn’t work and were costly). In these circumstances, the pressures are not those of the free market for more skilled trades to reduce their cost to customers and employ more people who are now being expensively educated in uneconomic academic courses, creating spurious and practically redundant place men (like Lindsay Shepherd’s harassers at Wilfrid Laurier). The pressures instead assure the proliferation of more and more superfluous occupations at greater and greater social cost.

    If the governments in Canada applied some of the disciplines to the education monster mentioned last week in this space, and the incentives to skilled trades, and perforated union influences in overpaid areas, and required the consolidation of statutes and regulations to make legal advice more easily and less expensively attainable, permitted private medicine and redefined universality as a guaranteed basic level for everyone and reduced government benefit for those who could afford to have it reduced, a later retirement age for those who wish to continue working, and privatization of some government services, personal and corporate income taxes could be reduced, the multiplier effect of increased private spending and saving and investment would increase economic growth rates, and a benign cycle would begin.

    We see the results of these strains in the politics of almost all advanced countries. In the United States, Trump and Clinton, whatever their other limitations, managed to keep the country between the 30-yard lines and out of the hands of the Ted Cruz far-right and the Bernie Sanders far-left. (Either would be a disaster.) And Trump is imposing some reason in policies for economic growth, better and less wasteful non-unionized schooling, and against anti-employment green mania. In the United Kingdom, there is a minority government dependent on the old Ulster Paisleyites, chaos over the Northern Irish order and in other aspects of leaving the European Union, and a leader of the opposition (Jeremy Corbyn) whose heroes are Castro and Chavez and who is an outright communist, who approves of elections as long as he wins them. His election, which the polls indicate could happen, would be the national suicide of one of the world’s eminent nationalities.

    In Germany, there is no longer a workable majority, and while the economy is strong, the population is aging and the chasm is widening every month between, on one side, those who wish Germany to pull on the same oar as Europe, accepting 200,000 refugees a year, banning atomic energy, and bailing out poorer EU countries; and those who want Germany to behave responsibly as Europe’s greatest power and emancipate itself from the Nazi and imperialist yoke of moral inhibition, on the other. In France, where a brand new party and people govern, all is to play for. But in the election this year, the new party led the petit bourgeois nationalist right by two points; it led the Gaullists by one, and the far left, Communists and others, trailed the Gaullists by only one half point. All four candidates were within five per cent of each other. If this regime doesn’t work, France could shake the world by its disunity. It has done that before.

    It is less dire in Canada, but if we started tackling this universal problem of technology-generated unemployment creatively, the whole advanced world would follow. Why not lead?

    Note: I apologize to Rex Murphy for not mentioning him with Christie Blatchford and Barbara Kay as one of the National Post columnists who had denounced the mistreatment of Lindsay Shepherd. I was traveling on the day his piece appeared, and it was, as always, incisive and timely. Again, I apologize.

    © 2017 Conrad Black

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  • Jack 3:32 am on December 1, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: autism, boy genius, jacob barnett, ,   

    Autism Reminder 

    Originally published on September 4th, 2013. Featured again on February 8th, 2014.

    September 4, 2013: It is long past time for us to modify our perceptions about the uniqueness and creativity of those with autism, just as it was in the 1950s when left handedness was seen as abnormal.

    In fact, the notion that there was something wrong with me, and different than my fellow students, was brought home to me on my first day of Kindergarten.

    I was colouring something when the teacher, who was slightly behind me, suddenly whacked my left knuckles with a ruler.

    Of course, I screamed and cried but all the teacher could say was something to the effect that I shouldn’t ever use that hand again — that from now on I had to use my right hand.

    Talk about prejudice and what would be found out later, an unfounded one.

    Anyway, the long term result is that, while I write better with my right hand, I can write with either hand in a pinch! And, besides handwriting, I do everything else with my left hand.

    Anyway, my left-handed point is that what is seen as inappropriate or weird by one generation is not necessarily so in later generations. Without a doubt, that is what is happening now regarding some types of autism. Behaviours that were considered wrong or weird before are now being referred to as simply different or genius.

    Any doubts? Read Paul Well’s article in the current Macleans about Jacob Barnett, a boy who has both autism and genius (H/T Jack’s Newswatch) and is currently attending the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario.

    Truly amazing. Jacobs’ supportive parents and siblings, but particularly his mother Kristine Barnett (who wrote “The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius”), seem to have awakened the broader ABA (behavioural counselling) and publicly funded education community, to new ways of planning for, and accommodating, children and youth with autism.

    My title is on purpose. Is 15-year-old Jacob Barnett a genius because of his autism spectrum disorder? Or, is he a genius in spite of his autism? My point is that it doesn’t really matter. He is who he is.

    There is also the question: Is Jacob’s gift indicative that he is a savant? From a professional perspective I would say no. Why do I say no? Because Jacob is not gifted in a single area, such as remembering numbers, calculating multiplication and division in his head or composing music. He is gifted in all areas of science.

    As this Daily Mail column states: “The boy wonder, who taught himself calculus, algebra, geometry and trigonometry in a week, is now tutoring fellow college classmates after hours.”

    Yes, savants are wonders, and I have written about them before, but savants are usually developmentally delayed in all areas except the one area of their gift. For sure, savants don’t finish Master’s and Ph.D degrees — as Jacob apparently plans to do.

    It is true, however, that for some families and children diagnosed with a severe ASD (autism spectrum disorder), the repercussions of the disability is difficult for everyone involved and support and housing is a lifelong requirement.

    Similarly, it is true for individuals who are even marginally disabled with an ASD (such as my adult son), because they and their families will also have to depend on government benefits and independent living assistance.

    Nevertheless, as Jacob’s example shows, just as many, if not more perhaps, of people who are diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s, are essentially normal or, in some cases, gifted — they simply show their creativity and genius in different ways.

    So, in my opinion, the crux of the matter is that Jacob’s case is a call to arms to the autism support community — such as behavioural therapists, school administrators, special education teachers and regular classroom teachers.  That call means it is long past time we started looking at children and youth with autism in a way that encourages them to be who they are, not what we want them to be.

    Update Thursday, Sept. 5th, 2013: For those who would like to follow Jacob’s story,  here is the link to Jacob’s website and blog. 



    (1) Full disclosure. Up until recently, I believed that autism at all levels was, at the very least, a disorder, if not an outright disability. However, over the last few years, I have modified my views somewhat and understand what the disagreements were all about.  However, I realize that my changed views do not alter the challenges my adult son has to go through or those who are severely autistic. But, and this is a big BUT, I DO realize why some high functioning autistics resent the constant negative labels and why the education system has to find ways to accommodate those changed realities.

    (2) I have now read Kristine Barnett’s book. See my review and recommendations here.

    (3) This article was cross-posted at Jack’s Newswatch.  So, Jack’s regulars should look for it there as well.


  • Jack 3:10 am on November 30, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , neil macdonald, , , , ,   

    Sex and Money 

    As required, I’ve read and consented to updates of CBC’s regulations covering sexual harassment and other venality.

    The rules are exceedingly clear, and similar to those governing employees at other Crown corporations or public servants in government departments.

    Basically, it spells out unacceptable behaviour: bullying, unwanted sexual advances, uninvited physical contact, sexual innuendo, demeaning language, discrimination based on bigotry, etc., and warns that offenders will be disciplined, or fired. Period.

    The document seems sensible, unremarkable. But then I’m not an elected politician. I’ve never enjoyed the “privileges, powers and immunities” (to use Parliament’s own jargon) that come with election to federal office.

    Human nature being what it is, it isn’t hard to imagine what happens when powerful, privileged and immune people get to write rules governing their own behaviour.

    Governing Congress and Commons

    The United States Congress is a superb example. And the Canadian House of Commons isn’t much different.

    As an old acquaintance who once worked at the very apex of the Canadian public service puts it, politicians have enacted specific policies to protect themselves against their victims.

    Under Congressional rules, an employee who tries to complain about sexual misconduct by a politician is quickly hogtied and silenced. It’s atrocious.

    The very act of submitting a complaint is characterized as a “request for counselling,” as though the victim is the one in need of counselling. And, of course, there’s a non-disclosure agreement.

    If the complainant can’t be counselled out of complaining, she or he must participate in a month or so of mandatory mediation. With the offending boss. And, of course, continue to show up for work.

    There’s then a month-long “cooling-off” period, which, presumably, allows her or his unthinking anger to cool, and to perhaps further consider dropping the matter.

    Only then, 90 days later, can an investigation begin. Oh, and the taxpayer pays the legal bills of the accused politician, but not the complainant.

    It’s like a bunch of guys got together and made Congress a great place to be a sexual harasser. Actually, that’s exactly what happened.

    To be fair, there are politicians trying to change the system. Naturally, they’re all women.

    Democrat Jackie Speier says the system in Congress is designed to protect harassers. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

    Republican Barbara Comstock and Democrat Jackie Speier have publicly (and most unwelcomely, no doubt, where their male colleagues are concerned) accused unnamed fellow politicians of grabbing and fondling to their hearts’ content, sometimes on the actual floor of Congress.

    Speier has called it a system set up to protect harassers. Sen. Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has said the secrecy must end.

    Perhaps it will. Doubtful, but maybe.

    And Canada? I spent a day this week asking officials in Ottawa about the accountability of MPs and senators. The answer: see above reference to powerful people writing rules for themselves.

    Policy on Parliament Hill

    The House of Commons does have a policy.

    It’s a most discreet policy. Discretion, not the offence itself, is clearly the paramount concern. Almost every paragraph begins with an admonition to everyone involved about maintaining total confidentiality.

    Like Congress’s policy, it gags the accuser and lends enormous benefit of the doubt to the accused. Unlike CBC’s policy, or the rules of the public service, it doesn’t even mention punishment. That sort of distasteful stuff is left to the discretion of party whips. Perhaps the loss of a committee chair, or a parliamentary secretaryship.

    The Canadian code begins by strongly urging the complainant to engage first and directly with the harasser, basically hoping to high heaven things can be settled quietly and privately.

    That must be comfortable for a woman who’s been groped. Gropers are such sympathetic listeners, especially when they’re your boss.

    The two sides can even seek advice from the coordinator of the “Finding Solutions Together Program.” Seriously. Such a thing exists. Formal mediation is also “strongly encouraged.”

    Eventually, though, if the complainant is stubborn enough, the complaint can be investigated. The investigation must be secret, and both sides have to agree to secrecy, and the witnesses have to keep their testimony secret.

    The complainant does have the right to know the investigator’s final finding, but only if he or she agrees not to discuss it with anyone else, because, you know, it’s secret.

    Gag, gaggity, gag, gag.

    Now, anyone who’s ever worked on Parliament Hill has heard stories of what goes on. It’s not really much different from Washington. Power seeks sex and money.

    So. Since this code of conduct was adopted three years ago, how many investigations have there been?

    The answer, from a senior official speaking on background: it’s secret. The House has acknowledged the existence of exactly one inquiry, and another is apparently reaching its conclusion. The party affiliation of the members involved, of course, remains secret.

    The official reason is that MPs are special. So very special. They’re not employees, so cannot be subject to the rules that govern ordinary public service plebs. They cannot be fired or even disciplined by anyone other than their party leadership.

    Remember, they enjoy “privileges and powers and immunities” that must be respected if democracy is to survive in this country.

    The whole process is overseen by the Commons Board of Internal Economy, which could instruct CSIS on keeping information secret.

    “It’s quite gross,” says Green Party leader Elizabeth May. “The Board of Internal Economy is the ultimate protective mechanism for the three main parties.”

    May says, with some understatement, that the MPs code of conduct is “weak,” and that you’d think an elected member’s conduct is a matter of public interest. But: “The rules around here don’t tend to tilt toward ‘we should make this public.’

    “No party is going to approve any policy that can blow back and hurt them. There is solidarity.”

    Senate code

    Then there’s the Senate. Senators are effectively hired — not elected — help, but they have powers and privileges, too.

    The Senate has had a policy in place since 1993.

    Unlike the one adopted by the House down the hall, the Senate code actually does address punishment and discipline for misbehaviour.

    Alison Korn, Senate spokeswoman, passed on a long quote from a senator praising the system.

    I asked how many investigations have taken place since then, and how many complaints were upheld. The answer: “…the Senate does not disclose information pertaining to these matters. Thank you.”

    Korn then wrote back to say that three formal harassment complaints have been received by Senate human resources within the past two years. The senators involved, the offences and the outcomes? Secret.

    All this said, we are not America. We don’t have the touchingly feminist breast-grabbing Sen. Al Franken, we don’t have what appears on strongly corroborated evidence to be a child molester running for high office with the chief executive’s endorsement, and we don’t have a self-described genital-grabbing enthusiast in charge of the country who has an army of rabid supporters standing between him and justice for all the women who’ve accused him.

    But then, we don’t really know what we have, do we? Other than a political class whose privileges, powers and immunities swaddle it in secrecy and gags complainants.

    This column is part of CBC’s Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ.


  • Jack 3:32 am on November 29, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: lggbdtttiqqaap, megan fox, , , , sensitivity training, ,   

    Good Grief! 

    Gather ’round children! The Canadian Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario has some super interesting new information for you! First, we’re going to learn a new acronym. Can you say, “LGGBDTTTIQQAAPP?” Let’s try it to the tune of “Old MacDonald!” Everyone sing along! Next, we’ll learn what these letters mean. Are you ready?

    L — Lesbian (everyone knows what this is, right?)

    G — Gay (and I’m sure I don’t need to explain this to you smarties!)

    G — Genderqueer Now this one is new. So let’s make sure we all understand what this means. “Genderqueer; denoting or relating to a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.” That’s easy, isn’t it, kids? Basically, this is a person who has no idea who or what they are, okay?

    B — Bisexual (That’s self-explanatory, isn’t it?)

    LGBT Activist Threatens to Burn Down Church

    D — Demisexual Oh boy! Another new one! Let’s get out the ever-expanding queer dictionary to figure it out! “A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone.” This used to be known as monogamous love. But now we throw the word “sexual” on it to make it attractive to the kids. Got it?

    T — Transgender (You all know all about this one! These are boys or girls who dress up like the opposite sex and want everyone to pretend not to notice!)

    T — Transexual (You are familiar with these people too! Same as above, only they’ve gone through irreversible surgery to remove healthy body parts because feelings. Let them in your bathroom. Everything is fine.)

    T — Two-Spirit Oh my goodness! How exciting! It’s another category no one on earth has ever heard of! This one is complicated, dear ones. For sure you have to be a Native American. And smoking a lot of peyote could only help to understand what the heck a two-spirit is. It appears to be a third gender not yet discovered by science and only found in the Native American community by gender studies majors who take adventure vacations and hang out in sweat lodges.

    I — Intersex (This is that very rare condition that we used to call hermaphrodite, where a child is born with both sex organs of male and female. It is very rare, as in, hardly ever happens. It is a birth defect.)

    We are just motoring through all these new terms and if you need a snack to recharge, choose something high protein! We are going to need those brains functioning at peak capacity for this one!

    Q — Queer Just when you thought you couldn’t use the word “queer” because it’s an insult, think again! It’s back! Queer is an umbrella term designed to describe all people who aren’t normies. I think. It’s hard to tell. These things do change on an almost daily basis.

    11-Year-Old’s Response to Nude Teacher Sex Proposition: ‘OK IDC’

    Q — Questioning is a term used for people who are still deciding where they are going to fall on this list. It seems contradictory to the “born that way” theory—to have a bunch of people still questioning their sexuality—but the LGBTQWTF brigade says it’s fine, so rest assured, there’s nothing to question about questioning.

    A — Asexual people have no interest in sex. This also used to be known as people who are married with kids. See the classic TV show “Married with Children” for an example.

    strong>A — Allies are people who virtue signal constantly on Twitter about supporting their LGBTQWTF friends and family. These people aren’t gay, queer, or even questioning! They’re simply shielding themselves from the gaystappo squads who come around looking for people who aren’t properly broadcasting their approval of the queer agenda. Be an ally, children… if you know what’s good for you!

    P — Pansexual is just a more confusing way to say bisexual. There really is no difference, only we pretend there is so we can use a word that reminds us of Greek mythology and it sounds more interesting than bisexual, which is so last decade.

    P — Polyamorous people are basically leftover hippies who miss communes. Or hardcore Mormons. Either way, they are people who like to have more than one partner, sometimes at the same time.

    Now that we’ve finished our lesson for today, children, it’s time for questions! What’s that? Why are there no furries on the list?

    AAAARRRRGHHHH!!! The discrimination is rampant! Get the markers! Add a letter! Print new flyers!


    See Also:

    (1) Now Sitting on Santa’s Lap Is Grooming Girls for Rape?

    (2) Pity the women, pity the men

  • Jack 3:48 am on November 28, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , ,   


    The value of an apology is inversely proportional to the public relations pressure under which it was given. Principia Apologia, auth. Bertha Newton (Isaac’s sadly overshadowed sister)

    According to that metric, which I enthusiastically endorse, the twin mea culpas from Wilfrid Laurier University to Lindsay Shepherd (one from its president, Deborah MacLatchy, the other from the leader of the troika who visited the Thought Correction Session on Shepherd, Nathan Rambukkana) approach, if not collide with, zero value.

    I am heartened in this view by the consideration that Post colleague Christie Blatchford frowned most mercilessly on Laurier’s whispered regrets. Gifted with a jeweller’s eye in such matters, Blatchford applied the adjectives “craven, dissembling, and revisionist” to their efforts, adding — good sport that she is — that she would “tell them all to blow the mea culpas out their various bums.” (Christie, ambivalent as always.)

    More to the point, our honoured protagonist in this affair, Lindsay Shepherd, also scaled the apologies low on the down slope. With the clarity and directness now established as her hallmark, she wrote: “Moral of the story: A university must be repeatedly publicly shamed, internationally, in order to apologize…. Even then, ambiguous about free speech.”

    Apologies, as a priority tactic in damage control, are getting quite a workout these days — from Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey to Charlie Rose — not that I am attempting to conflate the open bathrobe gambits of Weinstein and Rose, or the crotch expeditions of Spacey, with the Wilfrid Laurier shenanigans. That would be like dragging a Hitler speech into equivalence with a three-minute clip from TVO’s The Agenda. An utterly unthinkable operation we all agree.

    Forced apologies come perilously close to a contradiction in terms, the point of an apology being the willing recognition of a genuine wrong and sincere regret for having caused it. Rather than, as in Laurier’s case, a desperate hope to pacify angry donors and reel back the good will of an outraged and astonished public.

    May I summarize the points so far by saying that my positionality on their apologies is problematic and my problematics on their positionality is profound.

    The real mess here, however, is that they are choosing not to see the full problem at all: that their dealings with Shepherd are but a particular of a general phenomenon, a parable, if you will, of a collapse in the understanding of the university, what education is, and how it is being delivered.

    Here’s what is not in the apology. That this is not some one-off incident, but rather an egregious illustration that some humanities courses at all universities (mainly with the tag “studies”) function not as educative undertakings, but as commitments to a narrow, predestined ideological viewpoint. That such studies are enclosed universes of fixed thought, or intellectual predisposition. That wedding any course to a pre-chosen political goal — social justice, identity studies, oppression studies, feminism — turns it into a sophisticated vehicle of indoctrination and propaganda. Such courses inculcate doctrines, disoblige inquiry, abhor dissent, and are the reverse of an educational exercise.

    They are as dogmatic and intolerant of heresies as the churches of old when they held sway. The heresies of today are any deviation from the prescribed progressive truisms of social justice, which constitute the catechism of advanced political correctness. And by the way, throwing the incantation “alt right” at anyone who walks a different path is not the intellectual exorcism that those who avail of this tawdry, manufactured, empty label think it is. It’s a signal that you can’t argue.

    And that is why every three-minute exposure to an argument of Jordan Peterson — even in debate with another professor — is regarded as “epistemic violence” that creates a “toxic climate for marginalized students,” and which must bring the full weight of inquisition onto an honest, clear thinking and un-ideological teaching assistant. The Lindsay Shepherd incident is simply one bubble in a boiling caldron.

    So if Laurier really wants to apologize, instead of confining itself to the particular case, it might want to regard how it created its own climate of intolerance to varying perspectives, how the reflex of its three professors went immediately to turning on the heretic, rather than examining how their faculty went so quickly to quashing a valid exchange of thought. It might want to examine the cloying righteousness and condescension on full display in the taped session and ask from whence came the bland certitude, slipshod intellection, and presumptuous righteousness so characteristic of her interrogators.

    That might offer grounds for a repentant apology of some value and worth. And let it be noted that Laurier is far from alone in this; it’s just the particular university that got caught with the door open.

    Here is one final thought on this miserable business. Miss Shepherd has said that, on her return to class, she was more or less ostracized; that she was, in her own words, “looked on as a monster.” Really? We’re just a few days away from Remembrance Day. Is there so little of the courage we so greatly celebrate on that anniversary now residing in the hearts and minds of university students and professors that they forgo — for the trivial fear of being thought not onside with “conventional wisdom”— common manners and due respect to one of their peers?


    See Also:

    (1) The Lindsay Shepherd fiasco exposes the desperate state of post-secondary education

  • Jack 3:11 am on November 27, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , national housing, ,   

    Who Cares? 

    It’s a national housing strategy. It’s a national strategy, for housing. It’s a housing strategy, only it’s national. It’s a strategy for national housing…

    That gives you the flavour of much of the coverage of the Trudeau government’s new National Housing Strategy. Had it simply been billed as a plan to spend more money on housing it might not have excited quite such admiring notice. But somehow those two words — “national” and “strategy” — seem to have a peculiarly bewitching effect. It is enough to recommend it that it is, or is called, a national strategy. What’s actually in the strategy? Who cares!

    This is especially true of Liberals, who are famously in favour of “a national strategy” for just about everything. In some cases, to be sure, such enthusiasm is justified. A national strategy for freeing trade within our borders would be nice: enforcing the existing constitutional ban on internal barriers to trade is a quintessentially federal responsibility, even if federal governments of all stripes have generally shirked it.

    But housing? Suppose it were true, as reported, that the federal government was “returning” to the housing file, and not, as with much of the announced spending — er, strategy — merely renewing existing federal programs. Would that necessarily be a good thing? It may be part of the role of government to build social housing. But is it the role of the federal government, specifically? What is it about housing that recommends it as a federal responsibility, as opposed to the provinces or indeed municipalities where the housing will be built?

    Do federal politicians know something about the housing needs of Lethbridge or Chicoutimi that the mayors of those cities don’t? If, as the Globe and Mail reports, “the goal is to promote diverse communities with a mix of incomes and uses that are near transit, work, grocery stores and public services,” are these really best assessed from Ottawa?

    There’s an exception to this. The best part of the federal plan, from a number of perspectives, is the new Canada Housing Benefit. Rather than being used to build public housing, which may or may not be to its tenants’ liking (the historical experience is distinctly spotty), the money would go to supplementing the rents of its intended beneficiaries, following them around wherever they choose to live. Paying benefits in cash rather than in kind is not only better social policy, on the whole — money, as George Bernard Shaw said, gives us what we want, rather than what other people think we need — but it’s also an appropriately federal intervention, since people may decide to move not just within each province but between them.

    But even here, there are problems. For the federal money appears to be contingent on the provinces matching it out of their own budgets. (Federal background material describes the provincial funds as “expected.”) Not only are the Liberals proposing to go halvesies on the $4-billion Canada Housing Benefit, but also the $8.6-billion Canada Community Housing Initiative and much else besides. We are back to the old 50-50 cost-sharing formula of the 1970s.

    There’s a reason why these sorts of programs fell out of favour. Either the provinces dictate how spending is allocated, in which case the feds are forced to watch while the provinces spend 50-cent dollars without having to account for the results. Or the provinces find themselves under pressure to fall in line with federal spending priorities, which may or may not coincide with their own. (You say housing is an urgent priority? So are lots of things: health, education, social assistance. And resources are finite.)

    Or, as is often the case, you get a bit of both: a mish-mash of blurred accountability and perpetual backbiting, allowing two sets of politicians to claim credit for spending the same money while blaming each other for any shortcomings. Until at length one side or the other, usually the feds, runs out of money or tires of the game and caps its contribution, leaving the other holding the bag for a program on which people have come to rely. Already the provinces are showing some reluctance to ante up, while Quebec issues its usual non-negotiable demand for all of the money and none of the responsibility.

    Of course, it’s good that the Liberals have not overreached: most of the opposition complaints about the plan — that it is focused on improving the lot of the poorest, rather than attempting, probably futilely, to address middle-class complaints about the cost of home ownership, or that the money is to be spent over many years rather than all at once — are in fact its virtues. But it would surely be better for the federal government to concentrate on the funding and delivery of the portable rent supplements, and leave the bricks and mortar stuff to the provinces, the cities, and the private sector.

    Or if the issue is fiscal capacity — the feds have the money, and the provinces have the needs — is that not an argument for simply transferring taxing power from the federal to the lower orders of government? Shouldn’t we be trying to make each level of government accountable for raising and spending its own taxes, rather than adding yet another to the existing pile of complex, acrimonious, usually ill-managed shared-cost programs?


    See Also:

    (1) New federal housing plan requires big provincial buy-in

  • Jack 2:53 pm on November 26, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , jane wilson, , , , , , , wind farms   

    I Don’t Know 

    Every time I am interviewed by the media, or speak at a public meeting, I am asked: Why is Ontario continuing to push ahead with its program of industrial-scale wind turbines and wind power, when all the facts seem to argue against it?

    I don’t know.

    I don’t understand why Ontario’s Liberal government never did a cost-benefit analysis, or why it has ignored the admonitions of two auditors general about impacts and costs, or why it seems unable, or unwilling, to look at the real-world experience of its wind power experiment.

    I don’t know why the government signed contracts in 2016 for 600 megawatts of wind power when we already have a power surplus.

    In 2016, Ontario paid $2.7 billion for generators of electricity from nuclear, gas and hydro not to produce power, because we were forced to accept wind power (when it shows up) to the grid.

    In September, a new 100-megawatt wind power facility started commercial operation, but that same month, 42% of wind power in Ontario’s west region was curtailed (surplus, not added to the grid).

    Ontario’s electricity customers paid for that power, anyway.

    When the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, the government already knew there were problems, but it pushed ahead anyway, going so far as to remove local land use planning power from municipalities seeking to protect their residents.

    Of those thousands of reports, more than 50% received no response from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. Only 1% resulted in a priority response.

    On the formal Pollution Incident Reports kept by the government, there is space to name the “client”.

    Who might that be, for the ministry whose pledge it is to protect the environment and human health?

    Not the people of Ontario.

    On each report, the “client” listed is the wind power developer.

    New noise protocols were released earlier this year but guess what?

    The newly contracted projects don’t have to abide by the new rules.

    There are concerns about the effect of the vibration from wind turbine construction and operation (picture a giant tuning fork stuck in the ground).

    But the environment ministry appears to have abdicated its role as regulator, and relies instead on self-regulation by the multi-billion-dollar wind power industry.

    What is the reason behind these social, economic and environment costs that so moves the Ontario government to keep pressing ahead with this problematic program?

    I don’t know. The government is not answering.

    Wilson is a Registered Nurse and health care writer; she is volunteer president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of 30 community groups and hundreds of Ontario citizens


    See Also:

    (1) Delingpole: Exposed – the Liberal Astroturfers Behind the Global Warming Scare

    (2) AGAR: Refuse to be part of the herd


  • Jack 5:32 am on November 20, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: book review, , , ,   

    “Hacks” Review 

    Donna Brazile’s latest book,”Hacks,” is very well written and I have no doubt, from her heart. It was also very interesting and easy to read.

    Yet, nearly every single page rings of fear, paranoia and, to a certain extent, a delusional view of the 2016 election result.

    It is as though Brazile and her Democratic colleagues cannot look at the real reason for Hillary Clinton’s defeat and that was the candidate herself.  In fact, I believe that had Brazile herself run, she might have won because she comes across as real.

    Nevertheless, Brazile’s slanted view of the 2016 election is right on the front cover of her book as her sub-title is:  The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.

    Meaning Brazile believes that the alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server and Wikileaks releases influenced the voting results — even though she admits no votes were directly changed by the hacks.

    And, to be fair, the constant dribble of Wikileaks releases did get a lot of press. Yet, at no time through the almost 300 pages, does Brazile look at the DNC candidate in a meaningful way. In fact, I did not read one negative thing about Clinton. Just the opposite. Brazile said, at least once, that she believed Clinton was honest. That view I found astounding!

    All that said, Brazile did not have an easy time when she took over the DNC as Chair and I don’t blame her for writing this book. In fact, on her first day when she arrived in Washington at the DNC office, the staff were openly hostile to her. In fact, there were two employees that were basically Brooklyn spies (where the Clinton campaign was run from). No matter what she did, the Brooklyn campaign senior staff always knew about it.

    Not only that, from Brazile’s point of view, the entire campaign was a struggle for power and money — because as we all know now, the Clinton campaign held the purse strings. I have to tell you though, Brazile had to have been deeply committed to Clinton to take the crap she took.

    Of course, we knew before Brazile released her book that the DNC server was hacked. But, what we didn’t know was that the FBI was involved in fixing the problem, as were some extremely well qualified volunteer technicians. In other words, the complaint that the DNC should just have given their hard drive to the FBI right at the start is not accurate. The DNC apparently couldn’t because the drive was full of confidential information on donors that would have been lost had they removed it. As a result, their computer operating system and software had to be cleaned in-situ.

    Anyway, I may be a conservative but, in spite of her ability to spin like a top, I like Brazile. She is feisty and dedicated to her cause. Moreover, while I may disagree with her point of view, I respect her for having the guts to tell what she experienced as DNC Chair for those few months before November 8th, 2016.

    The crux of the matter is that Donna Brazile and the Democratic Party, and probably most of Hillary Clinton’s supporters, really and truly believe the Russians are at fault for Trump winning the Electoral College vote. Meaning, that until liberals face the reality that it was Hillary Clinton herself who was the problem, they are going to continue to want to impeach a President who won fair and square given the existing U.S. constitutional rules.

    Lastly, I would give Brazile’s book 5 stars out of 5 on the basis that, even though I disagree with her point of view on many topics, she has written her own story well.

    Endnote: While I am a Canadian, I have been following the U.S. political situation for years. In fact, there are many things Canadian conservatives can learn from the U.S. electoral situation. Our Liberals, under PM Justin Trudeau, like the Obama Democrats, also truly believe that they are the natural governing party and any other point of view is just plain wrong. Not so, of course but the difference in views splits both our countries down the middle.


    See Also:

    (1) Donna Brazile’s Tell-All Is Troubling For the Wrong Reasons

  • Jack 6:09 am on November 19, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , daniel dale, , , , ,   

    NAFTA Jitters 

    WASHINGTON—The end of NAFTA would be bad but far from devastating for the Canadian economy, reducing growth but not stopping it, several economists have concluded.

    With a big dose of caution.

    Experts are hesitant to make grand predictions because there are so many unknowns involved. One of them is that nobody knows what U.S. President Donald Trump would do after striking the death blow.

    Once strictly hypothetical, the question of what termination would mean for Canada has taken on increasing urgency in boardrooms around the country as North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations have faltered on account of Trump’s protectionist demands. The fifth round of talks began Friday in Mexico City.

    Trump could potentially terminate the deal, as he has repeatedly threatened to do, and simply move on to other matters. Or he might throw a “tariff tantrum,” in the words of economists at the Royal Bank of Canada, starting a trade war by slapping import duties on all sorts of Canadian goods.

    The tantrum scenario is “remote,” RBC says and other experts agree, given the legal and political constraints Trump faces. There are two things that experts believe are far more likely.

    The first possibility is that Trump allows the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which NAFTA replaced in 1994, to come back into effect. Since that agreement is similar to NAFTA, though it excludes Mexico, the overall impact of NAFTA itself going away would likely be small.

    The second possibility — the one that Canadian companies are planning and bracing for — is that Trump decides to kill the Canada-U.S. deal as well. In that case, long-abandoned tariffs could be brought back into force.

    That’s where things would get difficult for Canada.

    After shipping goods south without these added costs for a quarter-century, Canadian companies would suddenly have to figure out how to be profitable and globally competitive with them in place. And after being able to invest in Canada for a quarter-century with the certainty that they would have tariff-free access to the U.S. market, foreign companies would suddenly face more costs and more risks.

    Companies doing everything from selling car parts to selling pig parts would be hurt, some of them badly. Jobs would be cut. Growth would slow. The average Canadian would likely experience some increase in prices on a variety of goods.

    But it would probably not be a calamity.

    In general, economists and analysts say, people outside of the most trade-sensitive sectors would be unlikely to immediately notice the impact of NAFTA vanishing. The effects would more likely be gradual, they say, as businesses decide not to make the investments in Canada they would have made if NAFTA were still around.

    “It’s not like they come in and just shut down the auto industry in Ontario and move it wholesale,” said Philip Cross, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and former chief economic analyst for Statistics Canada. “These plants are worth something, these workers are trained. So they just gradually run it down. They don’t invest anymore. And then you wake up after 10 years and go, ‘Gee, we used to have a good auto industry in Ontario, what happened?’”

    In the return-of-tariffs scenario, RBC predicts a loss of 1 per cent of Canada’s economic growth over 5 to 10 years, so 0.1 per cent or 0.2 per cent per year. The Conference Board of Canada forecasts a hit of 0.5 per cent in the first year, said director of economics Matthew Stewart.

    Scotiabank expects growth to fall to 1.2 per cent in 2019 rather than the 1.5 per cent expected under NAFTA, then 1.3 per cent in 2020 rather than the 1.5 per cent expected under NAFTA, said deputy chief economist Brett House. There would be a 30 per cent chance of a short recession right after termination, he said, but he emphasized that this is unlikely.

    Exports to the U.S. made up a fifth of Canada’s economic activity last year — more than $400 billion in total. If we’re so dependent on this trade, why would NAFTA dying not be crippling?

    First, many of the tariffs would be relatively low. The U.S. tariffs that would be coming back into force, known as Most Favored Nation (MFN) rates, have fallen substantially since NAFTA came into effect, and they now average less than 4 per cent for goods entering the U.S. in 2017. For many Canadian companies, then, the MFN rates would be a difficult but surmountable obstacle.

    Second, Canada’s dollar is widely expected to fall in response to a Trump termination. That would help make Canadian exports more competitive again — compensating, though probably not fully, for the return of the tariffs. House said he would also expect the Bank of Canada to cut interest rates, further stoking the economy.

    Still, particular export-focused industries, which are disproportionately located in Ontario, would likely take significant hits.

    The auto and auto parts industries are chief among those at risk. Even 2.5 per cent, the average MFN tariff on cars and parts, could make numerous Canadian parts companies uncompetitive, said Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association — their primary advantage, of being located in a tariff-free American “satellite,” suddenly gone.

    “The vast majority of firms, the hundreds of firms that are in the small- and medium-sized volume space, would be hard pressed to be able to compete on price with an increasingly higher-quality Asian automotive sector,” Volpe said.

    Other industry representatives, some of which are facing MFN tariffs much higher than the average, also warn of severe damage to their companies.

    A return to U.S. tariffs on exports of Canadian beef would be so painful for Canadian cattle farmers that many might decide to give up and retire, possibly creating a “mass liquidation of cattle herds,” said Canadian Cattlemen’s Association executive John Masswohl.

    Bob Kirke, executive director of the Canadian Apparel Federation, said the revival of U.S. clothing tariffs as high as 27 per cent would likely prompt bigger Canadian companies to shift the rest of their production to facilities offshore, smaller companies to shut down.

    Ron Lemaire, president of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, said any tariff at all could be calamitous to fruit and vegetable growers already operating on margins below 5 per cent. The end of NAFTA, he said, “could wipe out entire produce sectors in Canada.”

    Karl Littler, a vice-president at the Retail Council of Canada, said the industry could conceivably lose roughly 40,000 to 50,000 of its two million employees.

    “Your cost of goods is getting squeezed at the one end and consumer wallets are getting squeezed at the other. So you’ve got two effects happening,” Littler said.

    The fourth round of talks, last month, ended with Canada and the U.S. trading public accusations. The fifth round started on a more conciliatory note, with Canada and Mexico signalling a willingness to at least talk about contentious U.S. proposals they had dismissed as non-starters.

    Tariffs would not be the only concern in the event of a termination. Without NAFTA guarantees, companies would be plunged into an environment in which non-tariff rules of all kinds could be suddenly changed during the course of, say, a three-year manufacturing contract.

    “Does the U.S. start putting extra inspections on Canadian imports? Do we get to the stage where they want more information on Canadian travellers coming in?” said Paul Ashworth, chief North American economist for Capital Economics.

    Not everyone is terrified of a Trump withdrawal. Jerry Dias, president of the Unifor union that represents Canadian Auto Workers, said he would prefer a Trump termination to the status quo. “Overall, it’s been a colossal disaster,” Dias said, citing the increasing share of auto production being done in Mexico.

    Industry representatives expressed optimism that termination could be avoided. Several noted that legal challenges would be sure to follow any Trump attempt to kill the deal, since it is not clear if he has the power to do so without congressional approval.

    Between the unresolved questions of Trump’s desires and Trump’s powers, House said there is an “extremely low probability” that tariffs on Canada will actually end up being increased. He warned against a sensationalist panic over a future that probably will not be a whole lot different than the present.


  • Jack 2:49 pm on November 16, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , karim achab, , , , , , , tarek fatah, , yasmine mohammed   

    Define Madness 

    A professor of linguistics at the University of Ottawa, commenting on the so-called anti-Islamophobia motion, M103, has urged the Trudeau government “to start an international Commission on how to handle the violence in the Koran,” which, he says exists, without doubt.

    Professor Karim Achab gave his presentation on Nov. 8 to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage regarding the motion on systematic racism and religious discrimination, which focuses on “Islamophobia.”

    Using a PowerPoint presentation, Achab, who is of North African Amazigh (Berber) ancestry in Algeria, said “Islamophobia” is an inappropriate, unjustifiable word.

    He then focused on the definition of “Islamophobia” offered by many Islamist activists: “The irrational fear or hatred of Muslims that leads to discrimination or actual acts of harassment or violence.”

    Achab suggested the word was an example of “academic lexical creation” and, even though people have the right to create such words, they should have no place in parliament or law.

    Dissecting “Islamophobia”, the linguistics professor told MPs, “phobia (is) a medical term referring to one type of mental disorder.” And yet, he noted, no one speaks of Coptophobia, even though, “Copts are slaughtered daily in Egypt.”

    Alluding to anti-black racism and the genocide of the Yazidis by Islamic State, the professor asked why there were no words for “Blackophobia” or “Yazidiphobia”?

    If the clarity and explicit language of Achab gave the Liberal MPs and their NDP wingmen heartburn, what was to follow left them gasping for a politically correct response.

    The next speaker was my friend, Yasmine Mohammed, another Canadian of North African Arab heritage. She was born in Canada in a strict Islamic environment but has today stepped back from the faith.

    Mohammed introduced herself to MPs on the committee with these words: “I was born and raised in Canada. I both attended and taught in publicly funded Islamic schools in Canada. I wore a hijab from the age of nine in Canada. And later, when I was forced into a marriage with a Jihadi, I wore a niqab, here in Canada as well.”

    Getting straight to her point, Mohammed said: “M103 is doing the exact opposite of its intent. Rather than quelling bigotry, it is feeding the fire because it includes the word “Islamophobia” that is not about protecting people — Muslims — it is about protecting the ideology — Islam.”

    She addressed the fear of Canadians whom, she acknowledged, have “been naturally uneasy and suspicious about how a so-called peaceful ideology (Islam) could be spilling so much blood.”

    Then she told her story. It moved even Liberal MPs who, for the most part, have insulted Muslims who have opposed M103 before the committee.

    Mohammed said: “But to people like me, people with backgrounds in the Muslim world, this is blase. We have been dealing with Muslims killing in the name of religion for 1,400 years. We are accustomed to Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, and Jihadis like al-Qaida and ISIS.

    “I was married to a member of al-Qaida. I had his baby. None of this is a mystery to me. None of this is new.”

    Later, not one Liberal or NDP MP asked her a single question. It was as if she had never been there.

    Maybe the professor and the ex-niqabi should have worn multi-coloured socks and placed their feet on the table.

    Hell, even the mainstream media would have covered that.


  • Jack 3:24 am on November 16, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    Dirty Business 

    It is hard not to look upon the Roy Moore imbroglio as another well-timed hit-job from a familiar and well-practiced source — the same people who thought they had destroyed the Trump campaign by releasing the Billy Bush tape from eleven years before, and, when that didn’t finish Trump off, tried the nuclear option very late in the campaign by shopping to the media the Steele dossier, which the Clinton campaign had commissioned, with its salacious and seditious elements. The dossier was so extreme in its allegations and so thoroughly unsupported and unverifiable that even the most rabid Democratic mouthpieces wouldn’t touch it.

    They could only get a nibble from Yahoo before the election, despite Democratic senator Harry Reid’s publicly writing to the well-traveled FBI director, James Comey, who was sitting on the dossier like a toad. The Clinton campaign engaged retired British spy Christopher Steele and sent him on a denunciation-buying tour of the Kremlin, with a thickly packed wallet, and worked hard to get it into the hands of the FBI and the media. Their choice of media recipients confirmed the general belief that their most slavish influential media supporters were the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, CNN, and Yahoo. The omission of MSNBC must be a hurtful reflection on its ratings for Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Rachel Maddow.

    I don’t like Moore as a candidate; I think it is outrageous for any candidate for a serious office to flourish a firearm at an election meeting, and some of his comments, especially about gays, have been completely unacceptable for a candidate for the U.S. Senate. I have no problem with his putting a large and unauthorized monument to the Ten Commandments in the court-house rotunda as chief justice of Alabama, and the removal of him from that office for doing so is reprehensible. His opponents were inviting him to seek a high electoral office, and his most sophisticated opponents were ready for him. With the other earmarks of a well-planned assault, disposing of Moore and slicing the Republican Senate majority to a knife-edge, the Democrats and their media allies left it to just one month before the runoff election.

    Moore has denied the allegations, but some of the answers he gave to Sean Hannity on Fox News about “dating teenage girls” when he was in his thirties were unimpressive. It is an issue because of the acute sensitivity to physical harassment of women and even greater public outrage about any form of abuse of minors. Both are well-founded and justly righteous public attitudes. Their application in this case is mitigated by the absence of authoritative corroboration, any seriously alleged pattern of repeated misconduct (as in the Weinstein allegations), and the fact that the alleged incident is violently denied by the former chief justice of the state, occurred 38 years ago, did not involve any direct physical grope or probe, was not reported to law authorities (and was not necessarily illegal if it happened at all and certainly is not actionable now) and was given instead to the trusty first battery of reliable Democratic artillery in the media. (After the Watergate character assassination, the Washington Post holds that status permanently, like the nuncio of the Holy See being the dean of the diplomatic corps in all countries that attended the Congress of Vienna.)

    It is a reasonable supposition that most people in public life have something not much less embarrassing than this in their backgrounds that remain unknown, one form of misconduct or another. It is also true that even if this incident occurred, as long as it was not repeated, it does not disqualify Moore from being a senator, if he has had 38 subsequent years of unexceptionable sexual and romantic conduct. However, the Democrats and their media allies can usually be relied upon to drum up some sort of after-outcry of the long-silent aggrieved, and they started to come out of the woodwork on Monday. If further accusers are credible, Moore is doomed. If it looks like an orchestrated take-down, he may have a chance. Obviously, if Moore is likely a serial sex-criminal, he must be stopped.

    As I wrote above, I don’t like Roy Moore as a candidate, but I don’t like premeditated political character assassinations either, and in a parallel of the fact that impositions on underage girls by grown men should be punished, if there is proof that they occurred, electioneering by severe partisan defamation unleashed at critically timed pre-electoral moments should not be rewarded with success. They have not been with the Steele dossier, which Kimberley Strassel correctly described in the Wall Street Journal on November 10 as the greatest political dirty trick in American history. The great investigation of Trump-Russian election collusion was just Hillary Clinton’s instant excuse for her electoral defeat, and the entire country has had to pay for this nonsense, which may stumble on to some financial or impropriety missteps by secondary individuals, but is basically just a long-running smear job against Trump, instigated and launched by his scheming and sulking opponent, who may now, finally, be facing her own special counsel.

    The president can’t get involved in the Moore affair. If the cascade of subsequent allegations is plausible, his candidacy will be overwhelmed, and his withdrawal will have to be secured and a mighty effort made to write in the name, probably, of his unsuccessful primary opponent, Luther Strange, on the ballot, or the governor persuaded to defer the date of the special election again while the Republicans get another candidate. The fact that John McCain ran for the tall grass and said Moore had to go on the basis of the first allegation alone, like the absence of support for Moore from the Republican Senate leadership (which, along with the president, supported Strange), is unsurprising, but not much attention should be paid to it. (Mitch McConnell is entitled to some revenge.) If the Republicans lose the Senate seat, scratch it up to a poor candidate, abetted by an unscrupulous opposition. With no lack of sympathy for the alleged victims, it is no consolation and will serve no purpose to rake over Bill Clinton’s peccadilloes again. But like the judge-shopping to find flakey leftist judges to attack the president’s rights in immigration, hoping Trump would ignore them and facilitate impeachment talk, the Democrats are trying to bait him again, into the misogyny issue, another complete fabrication.

    At some point, this practice of denunciation being insuperable and due process just an irritant and a useless antiquity, like an appendix — as it has been in the Weinstein and Moore cases — will have to stop, if the U.S. wishes to retain any credibility as a society of laws. This status is badly impaired already by the 99 percent conviction success rate of U.S. prosecutors, 97 percent without a trial; but if the current controversy over Trump-Russian collusion does not lead to a sharp rebuke of the Democratic party and a clean-out of the FBI, for allowing the phantasmagoric Steele dossier to become the basis for a monstrous defamation of the president and his administration by the frenzied anti-Trump media, the United States will have justly lost that status.

    The election of the government of Virginia was a setback for the president, but not a representative one, given that the Republican candidate was a rich Bushie lobbyist who kept his distance from Trump, and considering also the role of the Charlottesville riot, which was exploited to the hilt by outgoing governor Terry McAuliffe (a dyed-in-the-wool Clintonian) and Charlottesville mayor Michael Signer (a charter member of the anti-Trump Resistance). It is possible to overthink that type of off-off-year vote; it need not portend much more than did the election of Republican John Lindsay as mayor of New York in 1965 (though the founder of National Review, William F. Buckley Jr., having gained 13 percent of the vote in that election, made the best victory speech). Though it has died as the phony issue it was (about whether Trump condoned Nazis and the KKK), it lingers yet, unpleasantly, in the minds of Virginians. If — as seems likely, though there has been no shortage of despairing commentators — the Republicans pass a tax cut and reform bill, and economic growth continues at between 3 and 4 percent, barring a foreign-policy debacle, the Republicans will do well at the polls next year, despite current analysis of voting trends.

    The president’s Asian trip has gone well. The South Korean leader, President Moon Jae-in, seen as an antagonistic leftist when he was elected, is in lock-step with the president; relations could not be better with Japan, and Chinese president Xi Jinping claims to agree that a nuclear-military North Korea is as unacceptable to China as to the U.S. There was progress on trade, and though the president could be less declarative about the banefulness of multilateral trade agreements, an aggressive stance as a starting point in these matters can’t produce worse results than the suavity of his predecessors has in the same area. All those who loudly claimed that Trump would embarrass America abroad have been proved mistaken. The hypocrisy of those who claimed he would mortally antagonize China, and now accuse him of kowtowing to the Middle Kingdom, is exposed, like those who said his tough talk with Little Rocket Man would make things worse, and he is perfectly correct that constructive relations with Russia, if attainable, are preferable to a resumed Cold War with a diminished Russia. This fake collusion charade must not get in the way of the pursuit of the U.S. national interest.


    See Also:

    (1) Steve Bannon and Allies Have Second Thoughts About Roy Moore, Sources Say

    (2) Fake reporter robocall targets Alabama residents for compromising information on Roy Moore

    (3) Thank liberals if Roy Moore survives the charges against him

    (4) We Don’t Have To Wait For Due Process For An Opinion On Roy Moore

    (5) IT’S A FAKE! Analyst Says Judge Roy Moore Signature Inside Gloria Allred Accuser’s Yearbook Was FORGED

    (6) Long Before Assault Allegations, Roy Moore Betrayed Conservatism

    (7) Paul Ryan on Roy Moore: ‘He Should Step Aside, These Allegations Are Credible’ (Ed: The House’s resident imbecile weighs in.)

  • Jack 4:14 am on November 12, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , ,   

    Standup Guy 

    One year after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, establishment Republicans as well as establishment Democrats remain at a loss to explain why. To those on the left, Trump is a travesty – a white supremacist and sexist Neanderthal who must be impeached. To those on the right, especially the Never Trumpers, Trump is no less an aberration — a liberal masquerading as a conservative, a fraud willing to say or do anything who somehow won last November and who deserves to be removed today.

    But the Trump detractors of the left and right need only remove their blinders to understand what hit them. The voters that put him in office – the “deplorables” unblinded by animus toward the Trump persona — correctly sized up Trump last year. Trump is a true conservative, the genuine article.

    Trump doesn’t talk like a conservative – he doesn’t talk like anyone in the rarified circles of policy wonkdom and officialdom. But his instincts are as conservative as they come, and no Republican – not even Ronald Reagan – can claim a more conservative record in office.

    In going after big government, Trump is pursuing unheard of cuts in the size of the civil service. He has already made unprecedented cuts in the regulatory field – removing 16 regulations for each one added – and plans to eliminate 80 per cent of federal regulations while shortening the approval process for projects from the current 10-20 years to two. To date he has removed the red tape preventing pipeline projects from proceeding, LNG projects from proceeding and energy from being developed on federal lands. Apart from liberating these economically viable projects from government ensnarement, he is liberating the economy from subsidizing numerous projects that are unviable on their own, among them renewables and electric vehicles. Standing apart from all other leaders in the world, Trump has repudiated the Paris Climate Agreement and is defunding the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    In the economic sphere, Trump is pushing for the largest tax cut in history, one that would provide relief for corporations as well as individuals. He would fund these cuts in good part by removing tax breaks that overwhelmingly benefit the rich. These include the current ability of the affluent to deduct interest on million-dollar mortgages for their homes, along with deducting their state and local taxes from their federal tax bill. In effect, the affluent in the U.S. pay little or no state and local tax, courtesy of less affluent federal taxpayers who mostly have been unable to capitalize on these made-for-the-rich features of the insider-benefitting U.S. tax code.

    In trade, Trump is pursuing free trade, just not through the multilateral agreements that have worked to hobble U.S. exporters. The bilateral deals he wants with Canada and Japan, for example, would see these countries’ protected agricultural markets opened up to U.S. exports.

    True conservatives have a reputation for being tough in foreign policy. Trump in his few months in office has already eliminated the ISIL caliphate and is tougher on North Korea and Iran than predecessors Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama, whose appeasement encouraged North Korea to become a nuclear weapons state. Trump is also likely to be tougher than Reagan, who responded to Hezbollah’s killing of 241 U.S. marines and service personnel in Beirut in 1983 by turning tail. Putin, who obtained control over part of Ukraine and all of Crimea during the Obama years, has taken no territorial liberties since Trump assumed the presidency.

    Perhaps the biggest surprise in Trump’s policies and personality has been his claimed opposition to abortion, a conservative touchstone which evangelicals – almost alone — rightly grasped as genuine. “President Trump has been the most pro-life president in modern history, slashing the Mexico City Policy shortly after taking office, which sent millions of taxpayer dollars overseas to pay for abortions,” states Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, echoing a common view in the pro-life community. Trump gets credit with it for appointing Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court, appointing consistently pro-life judges to lower courts, and stacking “the Department of Health & Human Services with pro-life warriors who are already making positive differences for the protection of the unborn.”

    Trump’s cabinet, in fact, is unusually, archly conservative, says Bill Bennett, who served as education secretary under Reagan. In health, the Trump administration promotes health care allowances, in education, school choice. Donald Trump’s cabinet is a “more conservative cabinet” than Reagan’s cabinet was, Bennett told a conservative conference last month.

    Trump is the president of the United States because the United States citizenry is, fundamentally, conservative. According to Gallup, conservatives outnumber liberals in 44 of the 50 states. Since Reagan, Democrats have won most presidencies in part because their Republican challengers have presented themselves as somewhat moderate, in part because their Democratic opponents have presented themselves as somewhat conservative. Trump presents as someone unambiguously conservative, but only to those who don’t believe everything they read in the mainstream press, and who don’t suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome.

    Trump’s personality rubs most people the wrong way, leading many to reject him out of hand. But for those able to look past his persona – his tweets, his vulgarity, his crassness, whatever — and to judge him on his substance, Trump presents as extraordinarily fit to be president, as a standup guy, a true conservative able to take on the corruption of the elites and the obscenity of political correctness.



  • Jack 4:14 am on November 12, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , teachers unions   

    Higher Learning? 

    Last week, I discussed deteriorating results in Ontario students’ mathematics tests, but had little space to lay out broader views on education. Apart from decertifying the teachers’ unions and banning the right to strike in the public service, and invoking the notwithstanding clause where necessary to vacate judicial decisions that would impede those steps, I think the school boards should be abolished as useless and redundant, the teachers’ colleges should be seriously reoriented, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education should be entirely repurposed, teachers and students should be tested objectively every year, and those who fail should be allowed to fail. Teachers have to be treated with respect as learned professionals, but they must also behave as learned professionals, and irresponsible emulation of industrial trade unions should be responded to by impounding their immense pension funds pending resolution of all material issues.

    The realm of higher learning is such a tenebrous thicket of extravagance, faddishness and oppressive political correctness that it is almost a no-go area for anyone seeking any reforms. It must be established that any university that does not promote reasonable freedom of expression is ineligible as a recipient of taxpayers’ money and is liable to human rights prosecutions under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    The saga of my courageous and erudite friend Jordan Peterson, who has faced recurrent threats and demands that he conform to confected adaptations of language and restrictions, is now notorious. I have written here before that he must not be required to face this assault alone and the entire thoughtful community must support his right to free speech. Recently, Wilfrid Laurier University has been the scene of many spectacles of administrative and faculty cowardice before the juggernaut of political correctness, including removing a statue of John A. Macdonald because of the whining and carping of militant aboriginals, and, as Christie Blatchford recounted in the National Post this week, hassling a student Lindsay Shepherd for proposing that students should be exposed to Prof. Peterson’s arguments.

    Wilfrid Laurier did not agree with much of what the Salvation Army said, but he famously offered to lead their parade in Ultramontane Catholic Quebec in the late 19th century to establish their right to march peacefully and speak freely. The university that bears his name now regularly dishonours it.

    Much undergraduate activity generally can be moved to the Internet at immense saving to the country, and the whole basis of post-secondary curriculum should be flipped from candidate preferences to labour market requirements. Instead of endlessly proliferating numbers of degree-bearing authorities on esoteric subjects, we should encourage more trades and crafts, and their status can be made more prestigious and lettered. Plumbing is almost as much an academic subject as business is, and these vital and skilled occupations are relatively under-populated and are reliably gainful. Our entire society is hobbled by an over-investment in service industry, and in too many activities and occupations that don’t add value to anything. Factory workers, farmers, those who extract and process or refine natural resources, and a significant number of white collar occupations, such as doctors, serious researchers, and competent executives, add value. But large numbers of consultants, lawyers, academics, do not.

    Of course, we must be a society of laws and have enough lawyers to operate it, and a society that values and encourages all useful cultural activity. Higher learning and the arts must be generously supported and we must always be on guard against being or becoming an ignorant or professionally under-served society. We have substantially fewer doctors per capita than almost all other advanced countries, mainly because Pierre Trudeau and Monique Begin drove large numbers of our doctors out of the country by banning private medicine in 1984. The legal profession and legislative and regulatory authorities should be required to operate a constant statutory and regulatory consolidation service to moderate the steadily increasing profusion and complexity of laws and regulations and reduce society’s need for an ever larger number of lawyers, and incentives should be offered through a more flexible and less compulsively universalist health-care system to encourage the graduation of more doctors.

    We live in an era where technological advances create more rather than less unemployment, and new high-tech companies like Facebook have huge capitalizations but don’t employ many people. It is one of the best features of the last 30 or so years that there have been tremendous advances by democratic government and the free market, generally as a result of the Western victory in the Cold war and the rout of the international Marxist left. The pursuit of economic growth in China, India and Indonesia, representing about 40 per cent of the world’s population, has boot-strapped a billion people out of poverty and into productive economic life over that time. This has increased economic competition and Canada must respond to it. There has never been any excuse for Canada to have a lower standard of living than Australia and the Netherlands, and we should focus as goals on leading all indicators of economic strength (except size, which is unattainable to a country of 36 million people). This should start in the schools and require better performance from everyone, then move to the universities and generate what society needs in an academic atmosphere of traditional tolerance and not a fascistic pressure-cooker of politically correct censorship.

    The country is at a turning point now, between a humane, planned drive for greater competitiveness and prosperity for the pursuit of a higher and fairer quality of life in this very rich country of exceptional achievement, or a politically correct, high-tax, highly regulated, government-heavy, benefit-addicted state effectively governed by the high courts, and a ring of judges swaddling themselves in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and reinterpreting legislation to accomplish public policy goals defined by the elected statist elite. This is the course Canada is now on, and it was highlighted last week by the Supreme Court Symposium and the address of the new Governor General, Julie Payette, to a science forum in Ottawa.

    The symposium championed the interpretation of Section 7 of the Charter, which guaranties that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of the person,” subject only to “fundamental justice,” as the enabling text for the proclamation of positive rights, and particularly the promotion of aboriginal self-government, enforcement of climate change policy, and a redoubled assault on poverty. The theory of outgoing Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin is familiar; she considers her court to be the supreme legislator in the country, and claims the Charter makes it so. This is rubbish and was not intended by Pierre Trudeau, the Charter’s chief author; and of her policy goals at this valedictory symposium, only the attack on poverty is even desirable, but that is not the task of a court. The Governor General, in her address, denigrated any notion of a divine role in the beginning of life, and disputed that there was any possible argument against the belief that the world is getting warmer and that man is partly responsible for it.

    Both the high court and the Governor General seem to be in lockstep with the federal government, but it isn’t going to work. Handing legislative powers to courts is anti-democratic and unconstitutional and the Governor General (an admirable person in this case) should not be aligning herself with atheism and antitheism, which are views the majority of Canadians do not share, and she should not be publicly skeptical of global warming doubters, since the entire allegation of global warming has effectively retreated into the less vulnerable and precise claim of climate change.

    The federal government is urging or tacitly approving the outgoing chief justice and incoming Governor General to plunge into areas where they are mere and rather unenlightened trespassers. The government should reassert the law-making power of the high court of Parliament. Ultimately, the people will decide; appointed officials will not make up their minds for them as stars in a puppet show directed from the prime minister’s office.

    National Post



  • Jack 4:13 am on November 12, 2017 Permalink |
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    Liberal Debacle 

    “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member,” ace wisecracker Groucho Marx famously said. As with any durable putdown, contained within its smart-ass punch is a worthy insight, the wisdom of the tamer proverb: “You can tell a person’s character by the company he keeps.”

    The line should be haunting the pretentious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Sciences?) this year, as, starting with Harvey Weinstein, various luminaries of its exalted membership have been revealed one by one to be either sexual marauders or keepers of the silence around sexual marauders. Who wants to join the club that’s exalted Harvey Weinstein?

    The academy is a prize example of the Groucho rule. Now, the Liberals will never challenge Groucho for quips and putdowns, but lately, they’ve been making a bid in the slapstick and farce department. They boldly announced a month or so ago that they were going after “tax cheats” and scurrilous “evaders,” like store clerks who get in-house discounts and family farmers who shamelessly make use of tax “loopholes.” You know, the very rich at Home Hardware and the back forty.

    It wasn’t long before both the PM and his finance minister were tangled up in their own net, with questions about numbered companies and family trusts, falling back on the increasingly ineffectual ethics commissioner Mary Dawson as an excuse for sailing so close to their own ethical guidelines. Then came the Panama Papers and tales of Liberal-friendly billionaires with offshore accounts—all legal of course, but rather tawdry coming from so righteous a government. As comedy it rivalled the closet scene in the classic A Night at the Opera.

    Halloween gave them a temporary lift. Trudeau and his environment minister Catherine McKenna delightfully went with the spirit of the day—he by showing up dressed as Clark Kent/Superman, and her by showing up in a green Lone Ranger mask and climate activist T-shirt. Underneath, the unctuous caption: “We all need to be superheroes in the fight against climate change.” If a riposte is needed to put that sullen “climate Barbie” slur finally to rest, that photo is it. This is a serious ministry.

    But even superheroes have their off days, and it was not long before the masked climate activist supplied an example. From McKenna’s Twitter feed came this curious? odd? startling? inexplicable? effusion: “Canada salutes Nicaragua and Syria for joining on to the Paris Agreement!” Note the exclamation mark, high signal of enthusiasm and approval.

    It took but minutes for this tweet to generate a near universal outcry of puzzlement and wonder. Outside of North Korea, which has also signed on to the Paris Accord, Syria has the most despicable and murderous government in the world. What in Heaven’s name was the Minister of Environment and Climate Change up to, offering effusive congratulations to Bashar al-Assad?

    And what in Heaven’s name can Bashar al-Assad offer to the oft-invoked “climate community” that has our tranquil nation saluting him? Has he promised to cut back fighter jet traffic in the bombing of his own citizens? Does displacing some two to three million Syrian citizens count in some sadistic way in cutting back on Syria’s carbon emissions? Has he pledged to cut back on the gas attack emissions?

    McKenna, to be fair, was not alone here. Out of the great march of the penguins, the UN Convention on Climate Change COP 23 in Bonn, Germany (25,000 in attendance), came near-equal raves, all eagerly noting that, with Syria signing on, only Donald Trump was out of the accord.

    It says something about the monomania of the avid climate change crusaders that they will reach for any grimy stick with which to beat Trump, even if the stick in question is the hideous and murderous dictator of Syria. The repeated headline the world over was this: Syria Plans to Sign the Paris Climate Deal. That Makes the U.S. the Only UN Country Opposing It. If that’s what it takes to bash Trump, well then Welcome Bashar.

    Has the COP 23 club not heard of Groucho Marx? Who wants to be part of a club that welcomes Bashar al-Assad to its membership? That welcomes a sign-on from the hell-state of Kim Jong Un?

    Naturally, McKenna backtracked on the tweet, blaming it first on staff, then taking responsibility for it. But it’s not clear she drew the real message of her error, or understands why pariahs such as North Korea and Syria see advantage in joining the club of planet-savers—even as they savage the citizens of the part of the planet they actually control.

    Let’s try to point to the moral here. There is nothing so convenient (and empty) for signalling political virtue than what is ludicrously called “making a commitment to halt climate change.” If such a move appeals to Bashar al Assad and Kim Jong Un, what value is it, and what truth can be in it?


  • Jack 2:31 pm on November 7, 2017 Permalink |
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    Legal Shambles 

    I have scoured the American and some international media in vain to find any recognition of what a Gordian knot of absurdity the investigative pretzel of official Washington has become. No one seems to have noticed that the Democrats are now making unctuous noises about the inviolability of a process that has disintegrated into utter nonsense. According to the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Steele dossier is the only possible evidence of Trump-Russian collusion, and we now know that it was composed of unsubstantiated allegations by unaccountable sources in and around the Kremlin, paid through intermediaries engaged by a retired British spy and paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the sleazy political dirty-tricks provider Fusion GPS. We also know that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and the deputy attorney general who engaged him, Rod Rosenstein, were, as FBI director and U.S. attorney for Maryland, the prosecutors of the Russian representatives who offered improper incentives to secure Russian acquisitions of substantial American uranium interests, but did not bother the Clintons or Clinton Foundation, which contemporaneously were generously paid by those who favored that transaction, at a time when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s approval was required under national-security legislation.

    We also now know it is likely that the Steele dossier was used as the excuse for surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition activities in the Trump Tower in New York by the Obama administration, which had appointed Mr. Mueller and Mr. Rosenstein to their former FBI and Justice Department positions. And, despite an energetic effort by Mueller to prevent FBI personnel from testifying before congressional committees about the FBI’s role in the Steele dossier, we now know that his protégé and successor at the FBI, James Comey, caused the appointment of his friend Mueller by Rosenstein (who had recommended that Comey be fired), by leaking to the New York Times a memo to himself (Comey) of contested accuracy and ownership (it might belong to the government), about Trump’s views of former national-security adviser General Michael Flynn (an issue that has noiselessly died, though Comey hyped it for a brief time as a possible obstruction of justice by the president). And finally, in this Alice in Wonderland sequence, Comey confirmed to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had assured President Trump three times, starting on January 27, ten weeks after the FBI took over the Steele dossier from the failed Clinton campaign, that Mr. Trump was not a suspect of any wrongdoing.

    The burning question is why this unutterable nonsense continues, and the Trumpophobic media respectabilize the (Hillary) Clinton view that paying for the Steele dossier was just a normal attempt to get “campaign information.” This was something that she had denied knowledge of for months and that neither she, nor her campaign manager, nor the ousted national-committee chairperson, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, remembered doing, though it cost $9 or $10 million. The Resistance (Democrats) and Never Trumpers (Republicans) seem to accept the assertion of the egregious ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff (Calif.), faithfully representing the collective imbecility of his Hollywood constituents, that “it doesn’t matter who paid for the Steele dossier.” Yes, it does.

    If this all sounds like the Hound of the Baskervilles chasing its tail, that is because it is that and more: The hound has caught its own tail and devoured itself from behind to the point that it has become a deformed biped. In résumé, original Obama appointees Mueller and Rosenstein (the latter of whom named Mueller to his present post as special counsel — at the improper behest of Mueller’s friend and protégé Comey, after Comey leaked an improperly removed and self-addressed document — and recommended Comey’s firing as FBI director) are examining whether Trump-Russian collusion occurred, based on allegations in a dossier that Comey has testified did not implicate Trump, and that was composed and paid for by the Clinton campaign. Reduced to its simplest terms, the Trump-haters who control the media are asking the nation and the world to believe that the continuation in office of the constitutionally chosen president of the United States depends on a file prepared by unanswerable Kremlin sources incentivized to defame the president who were retained and paid by the president’s election opponent — a file that the person Trump fired as head of the FBI (Comey) on the recommendation of the sidekick of the special counsel in not investigating the Clinton side of the uranium controversy in 2014 has testified does not implicate the president now being investigated by Comey’s mentor Mueller. Even the paid propaganda alleged by Kremlin riffraff who were paid up to $10 million by the Democratic National Committee (itself a subsidiary of the Clinton campaign, according to its former chair, Donna Brazile) doesn’t generate enough on Trump to make him a suspect of anything illegal, in the sworn opinion of someone (still Comey) whom Trump has just fired, partly on the advice of Mueller’s friend Rosenstein, who then engaged Mueller to investigate Trump.

    Even the most febrile conspiracy theorist could not make up such a convoluted story. It is bunk, rubbish, a Babylonian ziggurat of pompous and officious suppositions and confections that, when it is explained in its correct sequence as above and as simply as possible, no sane person could take seriously. One candidate paid for a smear job by a group of foreigners on her opponent, lost the election, and now screams of collusion by the foreigners she has been paying to defame her opponent; the FBI chief who saved her candidacy by not prosecuting her for serious offenses, when fired, after leaking an unprobative and self-serving memo, secures the appointment of a special counsel to investigate her opponent’s relations with the country with which she has collaborated, and that investigation is conducted by the very same mentor of the fired FBI chief who whitewashed her in her latest and greatest controversy (emails), after he and the person who appointed him had whitewashed the losing candidate in the greatest previous controversy of her career (Uranium One). (This leaves out of contention for that distinction the latest allegations that Mrs. Clinton arranged her selection as Democratic nominee by violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act in rigged primaries, as claimed by a former party chairman: the imposing but unfeasible Donna Brazile, who had been such a fervent supporter that — while acting in a journalistic capacity — she passed Mrs. Clinton questions in advance of a presidential debate.)

    I wish at this point to proclaim my admiration of the Clintons. He was an above-average president; she has been adequate in the roles she has filled. They are a couple of astounding success and considerable talent, risen from obscure socioeconomic backgrounds, and have surpassed the Bushes and Barack Obama as the leading political force in the United States between Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. More than that, they have been the great story politically for a whole generation, the last 25 years. It has not been a story like George Washington and the cherry tree, or Abe Lincoln splitting rails or seeing the evils of slavery as he went down the Mississippi in his youth, but they have held the principal attention of the nation and the world for a quarter-century, despite their jejune and squalid foibles. And, like most very successful politicians, they are interesting and pleasant people, from my limited acquaintance with him.

    But the national interest must prevail; this ludicrous farce must end. It is like the blasting of a flying pest with insecticide: It must die, but it is briefly frenetically active before dropping down dead. After all the revelations of Trump-Russian collusion as the ultimate nothingburger, it is time for the curtain on this fatuous charade that his enemies pretend is a sword of Damocles looming over Donald Trump’s distinctly coiffed head. Many will miss it, but Great Powers do not prolong such indignities. This is the most demeaning self-inflicted embarrassment a Great Power has had since Lin Biao, the second-ranking Chinese leader under Mao Tse-tung, cleared his drugged-out mind by inhaling motorcycle fumes, commandeered an aircraft to flee after a failed coup attempt, and was shot down over Mongolia by Mao’s loyal air force in 1971. The present American national spectacle is bloodless and no one seems to be inhaling anything improper, but it is a disgrace. The Trump-haters are damaging only themselves by keeping this buffoonery going, and they can’t do it much longer, whatever the dispositions of Mueller and others who live off it. Donald Trump might succeed or not as a president, but his only offense so far has been winning the election.


    Robert Mueller’s First Indictments

    The Ever-Expanding Mueller Investigation

    Why the Mueller Investigation Shouldn’t Shake Trump

    Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, and Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership.


    See Also:

    (1) Donna Brazile rips Schultz over ‘perks’ that kept chair ‘fat and happy’ amid DNC cash crunch

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