Sobering Thoughts

Comments on politics, the culture, economics, and sports by Paul Tuns. I am editor-in-chief of "The Interim," Canada's life and family newspaper, and author of "Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal" (2004) and "The Dauphin: The Truth about Justin Trudeau" (2015). I am some combination of conservative/libertarian, standing athwart history yelling "bullshit!" You can follow me on Twitter (@ptuns).

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Saturday, April 30, 2016
Breaking news: Conservative Policy Convention shocker: Ambrose, Rempel scuttle policy process
I have a story at The Interim on the Conservative Party of Canada interim leader Rona Ambrose's efforts to scuttle debate on abortion motion. This motion might have had difficulty passing at convention, but by killing it prematurely she makes it a story. Dumb. There have already been reports on divisions within the party along social issues such as same-sex marriage. Allowing a debate where everyone gets their say and those who can live with the decision work together in the party is the way to promote unity. Pretending that differences do not exist to the extent that party elites prevent the debate, especially detrimental to one side, only ensures the divisions continue, and in the open. As I said, dumb.

Sannikov wins John Bates Clark award
Yuliy Sannikov, a professor at Princeton University, won the John Bates Clark award for best economist under the age of 40. A Fine Theorem explains Sannikov's work on dynamic contracting, for which the highly mathematical Sannikov is most famous. I find his work too math-heavy and don't read him, but his contributions to areas such as game theory (including incentive theory), contracting theory, and macroeconomic fluctuation modeling are important and indisputable. Bloomberg reports on Sannikov's influence:
Fed Chair Janet Yellen cited his work with Markus Brunnermeier, another Princeton professor, in a speech she gave at the International Monetary Fund in 2014. In a footnote, Yellen said the two economists had developed an economic model to explore whether long periods of relative economic stability led to excessive risk-taking and financial imbalances that damaged the economy when they were unwound.
In a presentation to the Kansas City Fed’s Jackson Hole symposium in 2012, Brunnermeier and Sannikov argued that central bankers can’t just focus on achieving stable prices.
"Policy rules that ignore financial stability fail to lean against the buildup of imbalances and systemic risk in normal times and are not credible in crisis times," they said.
Their 2013 paper on financial friction making economics shocks worse was published in the American Economic Review and is an important study of idiosyncratic risks.

Harry Wu, RIP
China's Solzhenitsyn has passed away. The Wall Street Journal editorializes that "the cause of Chinese human rights lost a brave advocate this week with the death at age 79 of Harry Wu," a political prisoner who spent nearly two decades in Red China's "reform through labour" camps, or laogai. The Journal says:
Wu’s work continued through his Laogai Research Foundation and museum in Washington. He often testified to Congress about Beijing’s unmet promises to reform its estimated 1,000 labor camps, as well as forced abortions and sterilizations, Internet censorship and religious repression. In 2002 Hong Kong denied him entry on specious “safety” grounds, an early sign of Beijing’s authoritarian influence in the former British colony.
It is a shame that the laogai are not as famous -- or infamous -- as the Soviet Union's gulags. They deserve the same level of infamy and opprobrium. If you are unfamiliar with the Chinese labour camp system, the Laogai Research Foundation has a brief but useful explanation. The Washington Post's obituary (via The Independent) tells of Wu's crusade to inform the West through Senate presentations and media appearances of the laogai:
Mr Wu described the prisons, which purported to deliver laogai, or “reform through labour,” as the Chinese gulag, and said he would not rest until the word laogai appeared in “every language dictionary in the world.”
In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, he described them as “the cornerstone of the Chinese Communist dictatorship and the machinery for crushing human beings physically, psychologically and spiritually”.
The American Enterprise Institute's Marc Thiessen says in his remembrance of this freedom fighter:
Wu passed away yesterday at the age of 79. The Chinese regime stole 20 of those years, and he spent his remaining time fighting for those left behind in the Laogai. As he put it in an interview, “Millions of people in China today are experiencing my experience. If I don’t say something for them, who will?”
Harry Wu, you fought the good fight and spoke up for those who could not speak for themselves.
There is a brief bio and links at the Political Prisoners website and of course there is a Wikipedia entry.

2016 watch (Too little too late? edition)
The Washington Examiner reports that according to one poll, Senator Ted Cruz has a significant lead over Donald Trump:
Cruz leads Trump by 16 points, 45-29 percent, among registered voters in the state according to a poll released by the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics. Underdog candidate John Kasich follows in third place with 13 percent of the vote, while another 13 percent of voters remain undecided.
While these numbers may be favorable for Cruz, they do not match the other polls that have come out of the state in recent days showing Trump leading the field.
According to Real Clear Politics, two of the other three most recent polls has Cruz within margin of error behind Trump. John Kasich is still garnering 13% to 21% support.
There are 57 delegates. The statewide winner gets 10 and the winner of each of the state's nine congressional districts receives three. The delegates have already been selected but are bound to the winners for the first round at the convention. The other 20 delegates (three RNC members and 17 preassigned "bonus" delegates) do not appear bound to any candidate.

Friday, April 29, 2016
I assume half of Twitter was 'cool' and the other half was 'WTF'
National Post: "C.J. Cregg, a.k.a. Allison Janney, stopped by the White House for a surprise press briefing." Journalists probably wet themselves.

Excellent advice for political candidates (and others managing crises)
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, says that Donald Trump doesn't need to persuade people that his controversial statements about women are correct, but reframe the question to the women's issues on which he agrees with most people. This is sound advice: reframe, don't persuade. It is hard to change someone's mind; it is easier to get others to look at something a little differently. There is obviously room for persuasion in political discourse, but reframing is better for managing a crisis.
Adams also notes that Trump isn't particularly nasty to women, he's nasty to all his opponents. That sort of reframing probably isn't what Adams has in mind.

Boehner vs. Cruz
Former House Speaker John Boehner called Senator Ted Cruz "Lucifer in the flesh." He elaborated: "I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life." Senator Mike Lee was not happy with Boehner's remarks, noting the former Speaker doesn't call out Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, or Hillary Clinton, but he rails against the Texas senator. Lee said it "was appalling" and Boehner should apologize." Radio host Mark Levin said he's never heard Lee so angry. NRO also weighs in with an editorial, stating: "Boehner’s attitude is widespread among Republican insiders who are foolishly allowing personal ill will to cloud their reasoned judgment about who, among the candidates left in the GOP race, is the best representative of conservative principles and policies, and about who would be the best candidate in the upcoming general election."

Women (and maybe men) who don't have kids should get maternity leave: childless author
NRO's Katherine Timpf:
Meghann Foye, recently came out with a book titled Meternity — the fictional story of a woman who fakes a pregnancy to get maternity leave. In an interview with the New York Post, Foye explained that even though the story in her book is fictional, it is rooted in her very real belief that childless women should get maternity leave, too.
Yep. Foye told the Post that she was 31 years old and working as a magazine editor when she started feeling like it wasn’t fair that the people who had kids got to, like, leave early to pick up those kids and take off time to have them.
“The more I thought about it, the more I came to believe in the value of a ‘meternity’ leave — which is, to me, a sabbatical-like break that allows women and, to a lesser degree, men to shift their focus to the part of their lives that doesn’t revolve around their jobs,” Foye said.

Thursday, April 28, 2016
Resist Remain fear-mongering
In the Brexit vote, Remain campaigners are painting an economic worse-scenario that takes effect immediately if the United Kingdom decides to leave the EU. Daniel Hannan, MEP for South-East England, provides some clarity for what a Leave vote means:
A referendum is best understood as voters instructing their government, rather as a client instructs his barrister. Voting to leave means giving ministers a mandate: we’d be telling them to negotiate our departure on the best possible terms.
Remain campaigners don’t want us to understand this. They want to make the prospect of withdrawal seem as abrupt and as scary as possible. Hence their suggestion that a Leave vote on 23 June would somehow start a countdown, that we’d have two years to negotiate a new deal and that, if no agreement were reached within that time, we’d in some unspecified way be outside all trade arrangements.
A moment’s thought reveals how absurd all this is. A vote to leave won’t start any countdowns. Ministers would simply be under instruction to find departure terms that suit Britain – and, indeed, that suit the rest of the EU.

Boris has been a great mayor
Writing at Conservative Home, Chris Philp, Conservative MP for Croydon South, says the British capital has thrived under Mayor Boris Johnson:
From 2010 to 2014 we saw economic growth of 15.9 per cent in real terms compared to 8.2 per cent nationally.
London has confirmed its place as a leading international financial hub. The brightest and best French financiers flock in their thousands to London, much to the disgust of the French socialists who have driven them away. Boris Johnson should take huge credit for this renaissance.
Economic strength and resilience starts with a strong and flexible workforce. The employment rate in the capital increased from 67 per cent in 2010 to 73 per cent in 2015, which is pretty much at the highest rate since records began. With Boris as Mayor and George Osborne as Chancellor, London has got back to work.

Damned if the government does, damned if they don't
The Globe and Mail editorial on paying ransoms for hostages is tough and fair, raising important points about how Canada has, despite denials, paid for the safe return of citizens abroad. It also raises vital questions:
Mr. Trudeau must take a firm and unequivocal stance – in public. But a blanket refusal to negotiate is not always the right response. The evidence suggests that our government has actively worked in the past to free Canadian hostages, and was willing to let ransoms be paid.
Which raises a troubling question: Why did the efforts to free Mr. Ridsdel fail? Could the Trudeau government have done more to save him, the way previous governments apparently saved others? Or did a new intransigence on this government’s part doom him?
This is a difficult issue. Most people, I would guess, have a visceral reaction either against rewarding hostage-takers (and incentivizing further hostage-taking) or in favour of saving the lives of hostages. Any political leader who makes this call can't win: pay and save a life, and get criticized for rewarding hostage-takers and making it more likely that more hostages would be taken in the future, but don't pay and the hostage dies, the leader will be criticized for not acting to save the life.
This would be one of the hardest issues any prime minister faces; it makes sense that as the Globe notes, Gar Pardy, a former director general of Canada’s consular affairs bureau, strongly suggests that whatever the public policy might be, in reality Canada pays ransoms. Still, when hostages are killed, prime ministers are going to be second-guessed.

Liverpool and the Tories
ConservativeHome's Paul Goodman has an essay that looks at the long-term trend of the Conservative decline in Liverpool, which began before Thatcher and culminated with Cameron as the Tories lost their last seat in the city. Furthermore, the party does not have a single city councilor. However, I'm hesitant to endorse Goodman's suggestion that Michael Heseltine be given responsibility to win back Liverpool to the Conservative side of the political ledger.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
New Cruz website
CruzCarly replaces the old website.
FiveThirtyEight had a chat about the Carly Fiorina announcement (she's Ted Cruz's veep nominee in case you haven't heard), and this is noteworthy from Julia Azari: "So other than the gender angle, I don’t think this is totally about Trump. This is about attention in the news cycle." That will be short-lived and probably can't really change California.

2016 watch (Donald Trump foreign policy agenda)
Donald Trump gave a speech outlining his broad foreign policy principles. It is nothing new, providing a relatively coherent litany of all the ways Trump has promised to get tough with not only American enemies but allies and friends. What might be surprising is how The Donald marries the two strains of Republican foreign policy thought, realism (interests) and neo-conservatism (hawkishness in the service of certain classical liberal ideals).

Monte McNaughton's manufacturing crusade
I have ten tweets on Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton talking about the crisis in Ontario manufacturing.

Brexit vote and David Cameron's future
Matthew d'Ancona has a column in The Guardian that goes against the convention wisdom: "Whether it’s Brexit or remain, David Cameron is not going anywhere." Prime Minister David Cameron has already said he would step down before the next election in May 2020, but the conventional wisdom has the PM resigning if he loses the Brexit vote (he supports Remain). d'Ancona concludes his column:
What is he up to? I think I have a hunch. Remember how Cameron’s leadership was born: he arose from the ashes of the Tories’ 2005 defeat, empowered by Michael Howard’s determination not to stand down as leader until an alternative to David Davis had been groomed.
If Cameron stepped aside immediately after defeat in the referendum, Johnson would be the strong favourite to succeed him. He might well remain so. But time is the enemy of all frontrunners: if the present Tory leader delayed his own departure, other candidates could arise and flex their muscles. At the very least, the range of potential successors would broaden. It would be a big mistake to imagine that Cameron is indifferent to who follows him. As the chess-playing president Josiah Bartlet used to say in The West Wing: look at the whole board.
d'Ancona is uncannily good at understanding Cameron's strategic moves -- enough so that I assume he has terrific sources among Cameron's brain trust -- so this is not merely an attempt at a clever argument for the sake of offering a clever argument. The person most likely to continue on the path set out by Cameron and formerly his most likely successor, Chancellor George Osborne, has taken a hit in the polls since his unpopular budget last month. Home Secretary Theresa May, another loyalist in recent years, doesn't seem to have the chops for a successful leadership bid, although she's hungry for the job. There was a falling out between Cameron and Michael Gove, the Justice secretary who ably served as Education secretary. If Britain leaves the EU, Boris Johnson's stature only increases and Cameron probably can't stomach having the London Mayor replace him as Tory leader and Prime Minister; there is just too much history, both personally and in various political and policy battles. d'Ancona is probably correct to predict (or presumably know something about) Cameron not leaving Number 10 any time soon.
The one point that d'Ancona does not give enough credence to, that Jay Elwes of Prospect magazine pointed out last week, is that not only will Cameron have lost a referendum that he initiated and which represents the most important issue of his ministry, but that about a third of Cameron's caucus will have opposed their leader's stance on the issue (d'Ancona concedes that 50, or about 15% of the caucus might ask for a leadership review). I would add that many in the pro-Remain camp may not be happy with their leader if they lose.
The most recent ORB poll has Remain at 51% and Leave at 43%, but once you manipulate the polls for expected turnout it turns into a five-point gap, with about one-in-five respondents either undecided or open to changing their mind. Leave voters are slightly more likely to see they will definitely vote.

The uselessness of Kasich
Theory gone wrong. Of course, most pundits thought that John Kasich would look like a credible candidate at some point as the field was winnowed. Apparently not.

Patrick Brown permits greater freedom for his PC caucus
Progressive Conservative MPP Randy Hillier praises party leader Patrick Brown in a guest column in the Toronto Sun:
The fundamental change that has happened with the PC Party under Patrick Brown’s leadership is this: Freedom to represent those who elect us, liberty to discuss policy, and respect for voting independence by PC MPPs. Brown has ushered in a new era for our democracy; it cannot, and must not, be overlooked ...
Although many people believe that politicians always say one thing and do another, Patrick Brown made a commitment to caucus that free votes would be not only permitted, but welcomed, and he has followed through with his commitment.
Hillier then shares three specific examples from the last year in which he was free to speak his mind and vote his conscience.
Other MPPs have told me that Brown lets everyone have their say and is respectful around the caucus table, and that while they might not win the argument they feel they are being heard. This is a huge improvement over the last several Tory leaders, and Brown is to be congratulated for fulfilling this important leadership campaign promise.

The permanent state of emergency
The Globe and Mail editorializes:
At least three times in the past few years, Attawapiskat has declared a state of emergency. Reserves in northern Ontario seem to be especially prone to emergency conditions. In fact, there are now 28 active states of emergency in Ontario – with some reserves having more than one reason for declaring the status.
In 2013, the federal Auditor-General published a report on reserves’ states of emergency. It recommended what it called a “risk-based all-hazards approach” with “prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.” The federal government agreed with the recommendations, but the large number of declarations of states of emergency on reserves persist.
The state of emergency has become a chronic condition in many First Nations, especially in Ontario. Some appear to lurch from crisis to crisis. However, in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces there are currently no reserves with an active state of emergency.
The “risk-based all-hazards approach” with prevention and preparedness would suggest that, at least in some regions of Canada – places where the state of emergency has become endemic – there should be some kind of co-management between the band councils and the federal government. Provincial governments help with emergencies, but that’s because they may have equipment or personnel nearby; they generally don’t have any constitutional obligation to help.
Both band councils and the federal government have failed those living on reserves, so it's unclear why it would be different now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Getting tough on crime vs. getting smart about crime
Alex Tabarrok makes the case for police over prisons:
Our focus on prisons over police may be crazy but it is consistent with what I called Gary Becker’s Greatest Mistake, the idea that an optimal punishment system combines a low probability of being punished with a harsh punishment if caught. That theory runs counter to what I have called the good parenting theory of punishment in which optimal punishments are quick, clear, and consistent and because of that, need not be harsh.
We need to change what it means to be “tough on crime.” Instead of longer sentences let’s make “tough on crime” mean increasing the probability of capture for those who commit crimes.
Implicit in Tabarrok's argument is that criminals are rational and take into account probabilities of capture and harshness of punishment, and while certainly they do to a point it seems foolish to make too much of a case for it.* Still, Tabarrok is probably correct. Conservatives focus too much on punishment (see the focus on mandatory-minimum sentences in both Canada and the United States) while liberals tend to dislike both punishment and policing; the first comment is from Steve Sailer: "The Obama Administration’s actions in recent years have certainly infused law-abiding young men with confidence that if they choose a career in police work they won’t be turned into a hate object by the federal government and prestige press."
* That said, this from Peter Orszag: "Raising that probability seems far more likely to deter crime than longer prison sentences do. After all, most people, let alone most criminals, seem more motivated by near-term consequences (the chance of arrest) than long-term ones. Boosting the perceived threat of capture may even reduce crime sufficiently to lower both the number of crimes and the number of people in jail."

Cowen and Paglia
Tyler Cowen interviews Camille Paglia and it is, of course, self-recommending. You can listen, watch, or read. It is nearly 90 minutes or 15,000 words, and worth every minute invested even if the discussion on Spenser's "The Faerie Queene" brought back some of my worst university memories.
This might be my favourite part:
COWEN: If you could travel to one place you haven’t been, where would it be and why?
PAGLIA: I’m like Huysmans’s aesthete, des Esseintes. I am not a great fan of traveling. I just feel like it’s become too onerous. No, I’m a mind traveler.
A close second is her discussion of criticism:
The British Film Institute asked me to write on a film and I said, “How about The Birds?” and I did. I wrote this book, and it was universally panned by the film journals, which said about it, “This book does nothing. This book does nothing.” By which they meant that it wasn’t poststructuralist, it wasn’t postmodernist.
There wasn’t a lot of theory ...
I’m just trying to inspire graduate students to rebel against this horrible fascism that forces theory onto them before they expose themselves to everything that’s wonderful and imaginative in the history of literature and art.
I believe that paying minute attention to the actual work itself is the mission of criticism. I am hopelessly old-fashioned. Because that’s not what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to mention Foucault 59 times in one paragraph, et cetera.
And this, as part of a magnificent rant:
You have all these people thinking Foucault was some sort of innovative figure in the history of modern sociology or intellect, and he wasn’t. It is a disease in these people. Everywhere, every single university in the United States, every single gender studies department, they’re impregnated with Foucault. That’s why we have graduates who know nothing.

Monday, April 25, 2016
2016 watch (Presidential qualifications edition)
Donald Trump says that John Kasich shouldn't be president because he's a "disgusting" eater.

Government logic
Reason's Jacob Sullum reports that Colorado is considering on a ban on marijuana edibles in the shape of fruits, animals, or people but not THC-infused candy shaped like moons, hearts or marijuana leaves. Why? I don't think Sullum is quite being fair when he says, "This bill is more about eliminating products that make legislators uncomfortable than it is about preventing accidental ingestion," although there isn't a good reason offered by the ban's advocates.

Smart cities of the future will be privacy-destroying snoops
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Now Singapore may soon be known for something else: the most extensive effort to collect data on daily living ever attempted in a city.
As part of its Smart Nation program, launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in late 2014, Singapore is deploying an undetermined number of sensors and cameras across the island city-state that will allow the government to monitor everything from the cleanliness of public spaces to the density of crowds and the precise movement of every locally registered vehicle.
It is a sweeping effort that will likely touch the lives of every single resident in the country, in ways that aren’t completely clear since many potential applications may not be known until the system is fully implemented. Already, for instance, authorities are developing or using systems that can tell when people are smoking in prohibited zones or littering from high-rise housing. But the data collected in this next phase—and how it’s used—will go far beyond that ...
The centerpiece of Singapore’s effort is a kind of digital crystal ball that acts as a superpowered, X-ray version of Google Maps. Sensor data will be fed into this system, which will store exact dimensions of buildings, placement of windows and types of construction materials used.
The information will be used to provide better public transportation and design more efficient buildings. But it could also be used for policing:
Any decision to use data collected by Smart Nation sensors for law enforcement or surveillance would not, under Singapore law, need court approval or citizen consultation. If the network is somehow hacked, criminals could potentially access a trove of data about citizens’ lives.
Singapore has its unique political and economic features, but city planners -- who are actually central planners -- everywhere will want to follow suit in order to design cities according to their personal preferences and boss people around (for their own good, of course).
Bonus Singapore fact: "government- or state-owned companies own or control many aspects of daily life, including public transport networks and housing. More than 80% of Singapore’s 5.5 million people live in government housing."

Politics is just a numbers game
Conservative Review on the math behind the deal between Ted Cruz and John Kasich:
Trump currently has 849 delegates. If he adds 135 tomorrow, that would put him at 984 delegates, 253 delegates short of the nomination. After tomorrow there will be 502 delegates left. Trump would need to win just over 50 percent of them. It has become increasingly tough to keep Trump under 1,237 because out of those 502 delegates, 406 of them are winner-take-all either statewide or by congressional district. Indiana accounts for 57 of the delegates. This is why the deal is important.
Indiana awards its delegates in a winner-take-all primary statewide and by district. The statewide winner receives 30 delegates; 27 delegates are split three each per district. The primary is next Tuesday, May 3, 2016. The person with a plurality wins the delegates.
The current Real Clear Politics polling average for Indiana is 39.3 percent Trump, 33 percent Cruz, and 19.3 percent Kasich. A little over eight percent are undecided. This polling puts Cruz within historical striking distance of Trump, even with Kasich in the race. If Cruz failed to win statewide in Indiana and gain the vast majority of the delegates, it would be devastating. If Cruz won statewide and in seven of the congressional districts, he would receive 51 delegates, keeping those from Trump.

2016 watch (Countering Trump's 'rigged' complaint edition)
Correct tweet is displayed now.

2016 watch (Donald Trump nicknames himself edition)
The Hill reports, ""An election between Crooked Hillary and Wonderful Donald, it'll be the biggest, most incredible vote getting election in the history of our country," he said during a campaign rally in Hagerstown, Md." Wonderful Donald. Good grief.
For what it's worth, he also vows "We will beat her so badly" in the general election.

I get political fundraising is supposed to speak to the base but ...
This is really, really lame. I think these criticisms are where many Conservative voters are at in how they think about Justin Trudeau but if Tories don't take the policy differences between themselves and the government more seriously, they'll never effectively engage anyone who isn't already on the party's email list.
(Link fixed.)

Finally, a deal between Cruz and Kasich to stop Trump
Reuters reports:
Republican White House rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich announced a deal on Sunday to stay out of each other's way in some upcoming state primaries in hopes of blocking front-runner Donald Trump from winning the party's presidential nomination.
Cruz's campaign said in a statement he would focus on the Indiana and give Kasich a clearer shot in Oregon and New Mexico, states where the Ohio governor expects to do well. Kasich, in turn, agreed to shift resources west and away from Indiana.
The Indiana primary is on May 3, Oregon's is May 17 and New Mexico's June 7.
It might be too late and it is inexcusable that this deal wasn't made earlier. Kasich's ego got in the way and he must bear some of the responsibility if Trump edges out Cruz in the early balloting at the Republican convention. #NeverTrump welcomed the announcement:
"Whether you support Ted Cruz or John Kasich, a second ballot at the Convention is imperative to stopping Donald Trump. We're happy to see the Kasich and Cruz campaigns strategically using their resources to deny Donald Trump delegates where they are in the strongest position to do so," said the group's senior director, Rory Cooper.
Of course, Donald Trump tweeted his reaction: "Wow, just announced that Lyin' Ted and Kasich are going to collude in order to keep me from getting the Republican nomination. DESPERATION!"
Here are the John Kasich and Ted Cruz announcements regarding the agreement between the two. Kasich's organization said, "we will shift our campaign’s resources West and give the Cruz campaign a clear path in Indiana," and called for independent third parties to follow the lead of the two candidate's campaigns. The Cruz campaign said: "we would hope that allies of both campaigns would follow our lead. In other states holding their elections for the remainder of the primary season, our campaign will continue to compete vigorously to win.”
This strategy is based on the Cruz gamble that he has enough delegates to win on the second ballot.

Sunday, April 24, 2016
What I'm reading
1. Cold Fire: Kennedy's Northern Front by John Boyko. I didn't think there was much too add to the existing story of JFK's relationship with Canadian prime ministers Lester Pearson and John Diefenbaker, but there are plenty of new interesting anecdotes. I don't buy Boyko's attempts to make Kennedy more conservative than he was.
2. Inventing American Religion: Polls, Surveys, and the Tenuous Quest for a Nation's Faith by Robert Wuthnow. This book came out last fall and I'm only getting around to it now. It is precisely what the subtitle suggests it is.
3. Prisoner of Hope: Lyndon B. Johnson, the Great Society and the Limits of Liberalism by Randall B. Woods. Just started but it looks more like a policy-oriented biography of LBJ than an examination of the limits of liberalism.
4. Fluke: The Math and Myth of Coincidence by Joseph Mazur. A lively look at the statistical probabilities of seemingly unlikely events. It is in the early running to be among the best books of the year.

Kids in short pants and the Conservative Party
Conservative commentator David Krayden wonders whether the "kids on short pants" are still running things at the Conservative Party. It's a complex issue (what's happening and why), and I have neither time nor inclination to get into it all right now, but Michele Austin's Policy Options article on the Federal Accountability Act describes how federal rules restricting career opportunities and paths for political staff contributes to the problem of younger and less experienced people holding senior positions in government. Over time, it will afflict the Trudeau government, too.

2016 watch (Democrat veep speculation edition)
Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post very briefly examines the cases for and against five possible candidates to become Hillary Clinton's running mate. There's no way Clinton is picking Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, but the list could include less high-profile ticket-balancers such as Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar or Labour Secretary Tom Perez. I'm in agreement with Cillizza that the most likely pick is HUD Secretary Julian Castro:
Julian Castro: Castro, on paper, is the person Clinton would like to pick. Why? He is a telegenic 41-year-old Latino from Texas. He complements her in virtually every way, demographically speaking. My working belief has long been that Castro was picked to be secretary of housing and urban development in the Obama administration at least in part so he would have the experience and profile to be part of a national ticket. Castro will absolutely be vetted; whether he passes that vet remains to be seen.
Clinton officials say a woman will be among those considered for the vice presidential nomination. Cillizza says, "Klobuchar fills that slot for now as an up-and-coming star in the party who represents a state — Minnesota — where Democrats would be favored to hold a seat in the Senate. But this could be Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) or former Homeland Security secretary and Arizona governor Janet Napolitano — or a woman we are not even thinking about right now." I go back-and-forth on Clinton making a bold, unpredictable pick or choosing a safe, predictable running mate. HRC is a pretty conventional candidate, so the latter seems more likely. Napolitano might bring slightly more to the ticket than Sheehan or Klobuchar.

Saturday, April 23, 2016
2016 watch (Cruz or bust edition)
The Wall Street Journal's interview this weekend is with Ted Cruz, supposedly the last man standing between Donald Trump and the GOP nomination and Hillary Clinton and the White House:
This turn is somewhat awkward too. Mr. Cruz, the populist who exalts participatory democracy, will need to convince the delegates that choosing the runner-up is not disenfranchisement. He must also, after running a campaign that targeted the most conservative and religious segments of the electorate, win the support of people who identify as somewhat conservative or moderate, as well as the so-called establishment. And after working so adeptly for years to polarize true believers and their backstabbing elected officials, he must now try to put the party back together.
Mr. Cruz seems to appreciate at least a few of these ironies, and he’s more reflective and off-script than normal. With pitiless logic, he rattles off a proof for his candidacy:
This election is one of those “inflection points in history that change the direction of nations.” A Clinton presidency could leave the U.S. economically irreparable when “we are perilously, perilously close to that point.” Her Supreme Court appointments would leave the Constitution “unrecognizable.” National-security threats would “continue to metastasize.”
There is, he suggests, a single choice. “Where we are right now, if Donald Trump is the nominee, Hillary wins. I think, looking at the numbers, that is all but indisputable,” Mr. Cruz says. “And the only candidate who can beat Donald Trump is me. I recognize there are probably some folks around the table who, in a perfect world, would prefer a John Kasich, would prefer a Paul Ryan, would prefer a long list of other individuals, none of whom I believe have any possibility of defeating Donald Trump.”
If the businessman closes the deal by June, Mr. Cruz says, “the election is lost and I don’t think there’s a thing that can be done to save it at that point.” Ergo, for anyone who isn’t ready for Hillary, he’s the only option. Q.E.D.
I do not agree that Donald Trump can't win; in fact, I lean toward fearing a Trump victory more than the GOP losing to Hillary Clinton. But Cruz is taking advantage of the #NeverTrump campaign, so he has to make every anti-Trump argument he can. Still, Cruz has so much more to offer. He's a Reagan Republican, or National Review conservative, who, for better or worse, checks all the appropriate boxes a conservative Republican is supposed to. I'd really like to hear more about the case for Cruz than the case against Trump or Clinton. For example, we need to hear more about Cruz's tax plan:
Mr. Cruz also says that he wants his tax plan to “credibly” speak to the economic worries of average Americans. He explains that “the distributional component was quite important, and that’s a complicated thing to do.” His team worked through a lot of permutations, “but the problem is every time you ran those numbers, your distributional tables were garbage. Basically, you were preparing a tax plan that, with predictable certitude, everyone would scream is a massive giveaway for the rich and does nothing for the middle class and for the people who are struggling.”
Some conservatives have been skeptical of a VAT because it is such a money machine for government. “It is very efficient in raising revenue,” Mr. Cruz grants, “although I think an economist would say you want a tax to be efficient.” In particular, he says, his plan would eliminate the payroll tax, which “dwarfs the income tax in terms of what people are paying. And so by eliminating the payroll tax, we’re able to have a plan that generates real after-tax income gains at every income level.”
He continues: “One of the potent virtues of the simple flat tax is its simplicity and universality.” Eliminating progressive taxation, that is, handcuffs the political class, because a tax hike for the rich would be linked to a tax hike on the poor.
I'm not a fan of sales taxes unless they are accompanied by a constitutional amendment outlawing income taxes. I fear politicians will fiddle with both taxes. But Cruz's tax plan taps into his anti-Establishment because it would limit Washington's ability to fiddle with tax codes and favour this or that group. Americans should hear the case for serious, game-changing tax reform, and only Cruz is in a position to that right now.
One last point about Cruz vs. the Establishment (whatever the heck that is). While many pundits say he is going to need to compromise to become acceptable to the Establishment, it is also true (or more true) that it will have to compromise to accept Cruz.

Friday, April 22, 2016
First names and political donations
The Washington Post has a neat story on a Verdant Labs review of political donations since 1996 and first names. Kates and Jessicas tend be Democrats, Donalds and Duanes Republicans. Ten most common Republican names are boys, while nine of ten most common Democrat names are girls (Ian is the only boy's name on the list). The inverse is true, too; the least common donor names to Hillary Clinton are male, while the least common donor names for the Republicans are female. Mohammad is the most common first name for people who donated to Hillary Clinton (and Juan is third). Karls are the most common donors to Bernie Sanders (yes, Karl, with a K). For Trump it's Bobby, for Kasich it's Glen, and for Cruz it's Billy (with Travis #3). Not a lot of Mohammads donate to Cruz.
We already knew that baby names are a pretty decent indicator of parental politics. Combined with the Verdant Labs data, there is a strong suggestion that one's politics strongly correlates with their parents.
It's fun playing around with the Verdant Labs site. You can see what the average donation is by name and search by name. Are people who share your name more likely to be a Democrat or Republican. I checked for Paul and 53.6% were Republican (the same as Joann and Jeffrey).

Truth in political rhetoric
David Harsanyi has a column on how Democrats and their media allies frame issues to give themselves an advantage. Harsanyi says, "It's one thing for Democrats to try and set the parameters of a debate before the debate is even had, but it's quite another to watch the press participate." When the media predominantly uses Democratic and liberal rhetoric to frame debates, it sets up the Left as defenders of all that is good and the Right as invaders on sacred soil. Take the birth control debate:
When there's a lack of access to birth control, it doesn't, as the dictionary might lead you to believe, mean that Walgreens and CVS have been dissuaded from selling condoms, or that someone is bolting the door when women attempt to purchase birth control at the local pharmacy. It means that government has not made condoms free for anyone who desires them...
Voters who pay only marginal attention to political debates (most) are probably left with some vague notion that men are working to deny women access to birth control. It would be understandably disconcerting if this were true. The idea of a War Against Women loses a bit of its bark when it's really The War on Having Taxpayers Pay For Everyone's Pill.
It's not just birth control:
There are plenty of other distortions. "Disenfranchisement" once meant revoking the rights gained through suffrage, but has been corroded to mean asking a person to provide a picture ID or to wait in a line before voting. Today, a country that deports hundreds of thousands of people every year has open borders, while millions of illegal immigrants are called everything but illegal. Today, tax cuts cost Americans something, but state spending is an investment. And so on.

Happy Earth Day. Say goodbye to your freedom.
Green Car Reports (via Yahoo!):
The Dutch parliament recently passed a motion that would end sales of new cars powered solely by gasoline or diesel after 2025.
Sales of hybrid cars would still be allowed after 2025 under the proposed rules, and internal-combustion cars sold before 2025 would be grandfathered for operation until the ends of their lives.
What year is the over/under for a similar law here in Canada? Or California?

Thursday, April 21, 2016
NDP leadership race watch (Ruth Ellen Brosseau edition)
CTV reports:
Quebec MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau is not closing the door on the idea of running for NDP leader.
Brosseau, who first made headlines in the 2011 election campaign over a vacation to Las Vegas, says she entered politics as a single mother who wanted to be part of the middle class.
This is not as ridiculous as some may think. Brosseau has overcome her inauspicious start as a punchline to become a competent MP. Not sure she's quite leadership material, let alone whether she can win, but her resumé is a little deeper than college bar assistant manager.

Justin Trudeau on Elizabeth II
I like the statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office today:
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada
“Today, Sophie, our children, and I join Canadians across the country to celebrate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.
“I am deeply mindful of Her Majesty’s long and tireless service to the Commonwealth and its citizens. Since Her Majesty acceded to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II has served with dignity, wisdom, and grace.
“Over the past 64 years, Her Majesty has stood with Canada through key moments of our country’s history and, as our nation underwent change and transformation, has been a rock of stability and a steadfast keeper of tradition.
“Today we admire her devotion to duty, and are thankful for her deeply-held affection for our country and unwavering loyalty to all Canadians.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I wish Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II a happy 90th birthday, and continued health and happiness for many years to come.”

Me on the Manitoba election
I am quoted extensively in Jeremy Lott's Washington Examiner story on the Manitoba election. I make a point about how "contra the narrative just a few months ago, Canada is not uniformly Liberal," and that the Progressive Conservative victory in Manitoba might affect federal-provincial relations.

Minimum wage laws lead to greater unemployment
The Los Angeles Times reports that California's new $15/hour minimum wage adversely affects the state's apparel industry. The Times reports:
Last week American Apparel, the biggest clothing maker in Los Angeles, said it might outsource the making of some garments to another manufacturer in the U.S., and wiped out about 500 local jobs ...
"The exodus has begun," said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Cal State Channel Islands and a former director at Forever 21. "The garment industry is gradually shrinking and that trend will likely continue." ...
After years of net losses, moving production out of Los Angeles is necessary for the survival of American Apparel, industry experts said. The company initially considered staying in California and moving to the city of Vernon, according to a person familiar with the discussions who was not authorized to speak publicly. After the state raised the minimum wage, executives began looking at manufacturers in the South, the person said.
Sensing opportunity, garment makers from Las Vegas, El Paso, Texas, and Las Cruces, N.M., have already come to the Southland to tout the benefits of moving production to their regions, said Sohn, the economist.
It isn't only the clothing industry, but universities that are hotbeds of progressive activism, that are laying off minimum-wage employees. Townhall reports, "UC Berkeley Forced to Cut 500 Jobs After $15 Minimum Wage Hike." The university is cutting 6% of its workforce, and minimum-wage earners are going to be hit hardest:
The $15 minimum wage hike in California has sent financially troubled UC Berkeley into decision making mode, and "the people who clean buildings, who work in food services or health clinics,” says Todd Stenhouse [a spokesman for the American Federation of State Chancellor], will be the ones without a job.
I don't understand why the Left thinks that being unemployed at $15 per hour is better than working for $10 per hour.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
2016 watch (Doing well in Wisconsin vs. doing well in New York)
The Week reports:
In fact, Cruz won more votes in the Wisconsin primary — 531,129 — than Trump appears to have won in New York. With 98 percent of precincts counted, Trump has 518,601 votes in his home state. On the other hand, Trump will win at least 90 of New York’s 95 delegates to Cruz’s zero; in Wisconsin, Cruz’s big victory earned him 36 delegates, to Trump’s six.
Hot Air's Allah Pundit) notes: "In fact, thanks to the delegate 'bonuses' that state and district winners receive, Trump overall is actually receiving slightly more delegates per percentage point of the popular vote he gets (1.22) than Cruz is (1.14). Shouldn’t every vote count equally?" As Allah Pundit says, it may not be fair but Ted Cruz isn't complaining because "the time to question whether delegates are being awarded correctly was before the primaries began, not in a fit of strategic petulance after you’ve gotten an outcome that you don’t like."

Darn Tyler Cowen; free blog costs me (more) money
I've noted many times before that in recent years many of my books, and easily more than half of my non-Canadian politics/history books, are in my collection because of something Tyler Cowen wrote and recommended. I wanted to highlight this one:
Myra Strober, Sharing the Work: What My Family and Career Taught me About Breaking Through (and Holding the Door Open for Others). The memoir of a female economists who started her career teaching at Berkeley in the 1970s. There should be many more books like this. It is a micro-history of discrimination, and how it changed, in addition to looking at the profession through the lens of a “normal” economist rather than one of the super-famous. Bravo.

2016 watch (Ted Cruz edition)
It wasn't a good night for Ted Cruz. He didn't win a single one of New York's 95 delegates. Donald Trump has won 89, John Kasich three, and three other Congressional Districts are too close to determine whether Trump failed to win 50% and thus let Kasich might eke out a few more delegates. It wasn't the result the Cruz campaign was looking for. Ideally, Trump would have been kept to under 50% statewide with Kasich and Cruz combining to win a total 15-20 delegates (with Cruz taking a minimum of four). That didn't happen. Not even close.
Cruz swept Wisconsin two weeks ago and got zero bounce in the New York primary and polls indicate he gets no bounce in the northeastern primaries next week. And last night's result doesn't help. Whatever "momentum" Cruz had as the stop-Trump candidate evaporated. Worse, he cannot win enough delegates to secure victory before the convention (Cruz needs 678 more delegates and there are only 674 more in play) and Trump gets closer to securing 1237. There is also the political reality that the GOP won't be able to stop a Trump that is very near 1237, so while that is treated as the magic number, Trump winning 1200 delegates almost certainly earns the billionaire the right to the nomination in both practical and moral terms. The non-Trump faction needed to minimize Trump's haul last night and it failed miserably.
But all is not lost. As Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur says:
Cruz's task now is to starve Trump of a majority of delegates and challenge him after the first ballot. Critical to that is grinding out small victories at state conventions and delegate battles, using the maze of arcane primary rules to his advantage. On this front, the Cruz campaign has proven vastly superior to Trump's.
The Bloomberg article is long but has good insights into the math and paths for Cruz and Trump: Trump needs to dominate the northeast, do well in Indiana, and still win the vast majority of delegates in the three Pacific states, while Cruz needs to prevent Trump from amassing large numbers of delegates while scoring a few victories of his own after next Tuesday's northeastern primaries.
The point is: preventing Trump from winning just got harder, but it is still not impossible to deny the New York real estate magnate the nomination. Cruz is still in better position than Kasich to do so.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Undoing one part of Harper agenda that reflects reality of 2016 costs taxpayers $11.2 billion
The Globe and Mail reports:
Reversing the Conservative plan to raise the retirement age to 67 will ultimately cost the federal government an additional $11.2-billion a year but federal finances will remain healthy over the long term, according to a new report from Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Fréchette.
People live longer and work longer, but Justin Trudeau's government is stuck in the 1960s.

More circle jerks?

Just say no to the Winter Olympics
The Globe and Mail editorializes against Quebec City, or any other Canadian city, bidding for the 2016 Winter Olympics:
The eagerness of Quebec officials and, according to reports, of officials in 1988 host city Calgary is a little more puzzling.
The process costs millions, and they’ve already heard the spiel. The Games are lyrically depicted by the Olympic public relations machine as an infrastructure-revamping, legacy-leaving, urban-revitalizing bonanza.
It’s mostly, if not entirely, bunk. The evidence compiled by experts the world over is overwhelming. Barring a couple of notable exceptions, the Olympics have become a transfer of wealth from national to local governments to the IOC family, its allies and its corporate partners.

Buddhism is like macroeconomics
Tyler Cowen being Tyler Cowen: "perhaps Buddhism is like macroeconomics — you can’t understand it until you know what people argue about." That's from a post on John S. Strong's Buddhisms: An Introduction.

Justin Trudeau did not pass his science test with flying colours
Konstantin Kakaes in the Washington Post: "Actually, Justin Trudeau doesn’t get quantum computing." It's complex and not for everyone, but if you want to know what quantum computing really is (and isn't) read the full article. Kakaes concludes wondering if it matters (of course it does):
Does it matter that Trudeau was wrong? As Scott Aaronson, a noted quantum computing expert, says, “The widespread praise for this reply surely says more about how low the usual standards for politicians are, and about Trudeau’s fine comic delivery, than about anything intrinsic to what he said.” The experts polled by Motherboard can’t really be taken at face value, as who is going to go out on a limb to criticize a photogenic politician who has just brought your discipline into the limelight?
Trudeau’s mischaracterization matters only insofar as we care about getting it right for the sake of it. No physics student is going to be led astray by his remarks, and people who don’t actually want to learn about quantum computing are happy to be wooed by his starry eyes. The 50 million in Canadian dollars that Trudeau announced was to be given to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is a very good thing. He created a new cabinet-level science post and has renewed attention on the pressing issue of climate change in Canada.
Just don't make Trudeau out to be a scientist.

2016 watch (Trump the complainer edition)
The Wall Street Journal says the rules of each state are known well in advance of each primary/caucus/convention and there is no reason for Donald Trump to complain that the system is rigged simply because he isn't winning.

2016 watch (Conventions trumping voters edition)
Convention rules and a few thousand party insiders (read: delegates) will choose the nominee of both parties -- thanks to the Super Delegates in the Democratic Party -- and not the primary/caucus voters that have come out in the millions. This is how the system worked and if primary voters didn't know this along the way, too bad for them. The Wall Street Journal gives sympathetic coverage to those outraged that those in Cleveland and Philadelphia this July will be choosing their parties respective presidential nominees.

2016 watch (Anything can happen at a convention edition)
Including GOP presidential nominee George Pataki? Probably not, but Hot Air's Jazz Shaw says the former New York governor seems to be holding on to some hope for his presidential aspirations despite already endorsing Ohio Governor John Kasich and one of the last three still standing. Shaw makes a long-and-winding case for the possibility of a Pataki nomination and although there is very little chance of it happening, the necessary circumstances Shaw describes are likely:
Frankly, the entire prospect of a contested convention is turning a lot of the coverage into something which resembles a scene out of Game of Thrones. People still seem to be counting on Donald Trump not being able to pull in 1,237 delegates on the first ballot and enough back room shenanigans to drive him down further on any subsequent votes. But who is the clear winner on the next go round? I know the default answer is supposed to be Ted Cruz, but once the assembly of men in togas finish pulling the daggers out of Trump’s torso, how much loyalty will there be in the room when so many fresh and exciting possibilities are suddenly up for grabs?
At that point all bets may be off. If there are groups of power brokers in there who were never all that fond of the Texas senator to begin with and they’re not so sure about Kasich as a guy who faced the test of the voters and won basically nothing, the entire “guy on a white horse” scenario suddenly comes back into play.
That means Paul Ryan or someone else, not Pataki. You'd have to figure Mitt Romney has a better chance than Pataki does.

Abortion questions for Hillary Clinton (and other pro-aborts)
David Harsanyi at the Federalist: "Hillary Says She Wants More Questions About Abortion. Here Are 10 She Won’t Answer." Harsanyi says:
During the last Democratic Party debate, Hillary Clinton demanded to know why the media wasn’t asking her about abortion. “We’ve not had one question about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care. Not one question,” she plaintively pointed out. Hilary Weaver at New York translated Hillary’s plea to mean: “Why the hell aren’t we talking about the fact that a bunch of conservative dudes want to police my body?”
Well, that’s not a question. That’s a political platitude with a question mark at the end. It’s also an inane way of framing a complex debate that, in its fairest reading, pits questions about life against privacy concerns. But Weaver is right. It’s exactly what Hillary would like to talk about. Because Democrats don’t want to answer questions about the science or the moral implications of abortion, they want to talk about a bunch of conservative dudes.
So Harsanyi offers ten questions of his own, including these:
Do you believe women should have the legal right to use abortion as a tool of eugenics? For example, should abortion be available to people who don’t want to be saddled with a Down Syndrome child?
Do you believe women should have the legal right to have abortions as a means of selecting the sex of their babies? How about eye color?
The abortion issue is a tough one, and voters deserve to hear real answers to tough questions, not platitudes.

Monday, April 18, 2016
Maclean's columnist Scott Gilmore asks serious question, Twitterverse responds with predictable stupidity
Reasonable question about Attawapiskat and Indian suicides:
Twitterverse responds.
Debate is impossible with people who are politically tribal and who elevate emotions over reason. Both sides are guilty, but the former is a big problem for the Right and the latter more for the Left.

CapX on Brexit
Good day with three pro-Brexit pieces at CapX.
MEP Daniel Hannan has "7 risks in voting Remain," including deeper integration with Europe, shrinking from the rest of the world, and loss of democracy to Euro judges.
Lord Salisbury concludes his correspondence with Bruce Anderson (who supports Remain) on the loss vital loss of political autonomy Britain suffers through its formal inclusion in the EU. I recommend going back and reading the links to Anderson's original piece and Lord Salisbury's previous correspondence.
Andrew Lilico counters the various fear-mongering statements of George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, noting they are judgements, not facts. Lilico says we do not yet know if each UK household would be worse off (£4,300 worse off by 2020) if Britain left the EU or if the EU would indeed refuse to buy UK goods and services. Both these judgements seem more designed to scare voters than they are based in fact.

New York City's Jews are disproportionately Republican
Five Thirty Eight's Clare Malone has a fascinating article on the efforts of John Kasich and Ted Cruz to win table scraps delegates in Metro New York, and if you enjoy the granular details of election campaigns, you should read it. I want to highlight the surprisingly important Jewish vote for Republicans in the Big Apple:
About 1.1 million of the 8.5 million people living in New York City are Jewish, and most of them are political liberals. According to a Pew Research study on American Jews from 2013, 55 percent of Jews living in the New York City metro area said that they leaned Democratic while 31 percent leaned Republican. This is more rightward leaning than the rest of the country’s Jewish population; nationwide, 70 percent identified as Democrats or said they lean toward the Democratic Party, and 22 percent identified as Republicans or leaned Republican.
New York’s relative conservatism of New York’s Jewish population has to do with the city’s high number of Orthodox Jews, who tend to vote for Republicans: According to Pew, 57 percent are Republican or lean Republican, and 36 percent are Democrats or lean Democratic. New York City is home to about half a million Orthodox Jews, and Pew estimates that 89 percent of the country’s Orthodox population lives in the Northeast region, primarily New York and New Jersey.
While the majority of Jews in NYC are still Democrat, they are less likely to be Democrats than Jews in other parts of the country.

Sunday, April 17, 2016
2016 watch (Donald Trump dials back Twitter craziness edition)
Byron York in the Washington Examiner: "For Donald Trump, two outrage-free weeks." York reports that after the billionaire's attacks on Ted Cruz's wife, the blowback has been so intense that Trump has listened to his new staff. Paul Manafort, hired to manage the convention floor for Trump but who has since taken on a larger role, may be making a difference. York reports:
It took Manafort a few days to get up to speed. But since his arrival, Trump has been remarkably outrage-free. He's still giving the same basic performance in his rallies, but he has been a little more discriminating in his press appearances and has stayed away from doing obviously dumb things, like attacking his opponent's wife. The campaign hopes the bad period is over.

Why can't a self-identified seven-year-old enroll in Grade 1?
Amusing video from Family Policy Institute.

Saturday, April 16, 2016
2016 watch (Wyoming primary edition)
Not a lot of coverage of the Wyoming's delegate selection, but Senator Ted Cruz took all 14 delegates at the Wyoming convention. Again, it came down to organization. Fox reports:
“The ground game is starting early and starting at your most local, smallest enclave,” said Ed Buchanan, Cruz’s Wyoming chairman.
After being tapped by Cruz in February, Buchanan started drafting activists across the state. His efforts were bolstered by two days of Cruz campaign stops in Wyoming last August.
On the other hand, Donald Trump didn't organize or campaign in the state.

Justin Trudeau, some science, and the orgiastic press
J.J. McCullough on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's visit to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo where they do science things:
So, to summarize, the PM went to a place and learned about a thing. During the speech that followed, he excitedly suggested he wanted to talk about the thing he just learned. A reporter was disinterested in playing along, and tried to ask a more relevant question, but Trudeau ignored him and launched into what was clearly a pre-prepared treatise on the thing.
In the reporting that followed, the Canadian media deliberately and pointedly did not place Trudeau’s verbal essay on quantum computing in the context in which it occurred. They instead chose to present the story in a fashion that would ensure maximum PR benefit to the prime minister — namely, this idea that Trudeau confidently called the bluff of a patronizing reporter.
To put it another way, the Canadian media has actually reversed the realities of the story 180 degrees. What is being falsely presented as a story of a scrappy prime minister resisting a hostile press is actually a story of a slavishly subservient press who are actively shaping their reporting to suit the government’s needs.

Proposed Canadian euthanasia law
Catherine Ferrier, a physician in the division of Geriatric Medicine at the McGill University Health Centre and president of the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, explains in the Ottawa Citizen why C-14, the government's assisted-suicide law does not provide any actual protection for vulnerable individuals:
Anyone who is sick or has a disability, is suffering and wants to die can be killed by a doctor. Any diagnosis will do, and natural death need not be imminent, only “reasonably foreseeable.” As it is for us all. There are now thousands of Canadians whose lives are now considered by our government to be not worth protecting.
An heir to your will can sign you up on your behalf (albeit before two independent witnesses). The bill mentions a 15-day waiting period, but allows it to be cut short. There are provisions for “good faith” protection for those around the victim: If they believe that you met the criteria to be killed, although you really didn’t, they are exempt from prosecution ...
If they really want to protect vulnerable persons from death, what they need is clear and firm rules, not ambiguous and nice-sounding words.
The bill is meant to protect doctors and other medical professionals from being prosecuted, not patients from being killed. C-14 includes a provision that anyone (and anyone is not necessarily defined as a physician or other medical professional, hence Ferrier's worries about ambiguous wording) that anyone who has a "reasonable but mistaken belief" that a patient's death is "foreseeable" (not necessarily imminent) and that a patient wanted to be killed, would be exempt from being charged.
National Post columnist Andrew Coyne writes that limits on euthanasia will remain in place for long. As The Interim noted in a recent editorial: how can we permit, in the age of Charter rights, that some people have access to this Charter right to have a doctor kill them for some reasons but not other people access for other different reasons. The important thing in this debate to the courts is not the patient or the reason for wanting to be killed but the Charter right itself. Charter rights cannot be denied. Safeguards will fall by the wayside, whether by court order, legislative changes, or medical practice (with doctors ignoring whatever the law might say).

Plate moralism
Megan McArdle on non-GMO fare (and, I would add, local food): "Consumers don’t really want to buy farm-to-table food. What they want to buy is the moral satisfaction of farm-to-table food."

The pop culturalization of politics
Cost was reacting to this:

Trudeau's plan: ostensibly open up the party, while taking control
The Hill Times reports:
A ground-breaking new Liberal party constitution that would eliminate traditional party memberships and open the party’s doors to any person who signs up as a “Registered Liberal” also contains clauses that would give Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and successive leaders unilateral power to appoint a new national election campaign committee, as well as additional powers in other areas.
The document, obtained by The Hill Times, also shows that Mr. Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) and his top backroom advisers, party brass and legal advisers are proposing a potentially controversial change that would discontinue the historic tradition of developing party policy positions for election campaigns through national convention debate and votes on resolutions from grassroots party members across the country. The idea would be to shape platforms through undefined policy consultations through continual contact and discussions in a new form, likely depending in large part on online surveys and reach-out of the kind Mr. Trudeau and his campaign team employed when the party accumulated its sweeping platform for the federal general election last October.
To be fair, parties are merely instruments to get a group of like-minded people elected, and those people are at the top of the party, not the bottom. We -- political leadership, the media, we in the public -- should end the romantic notion that political parties are supposed to be democratic, grassroots organizations. That behooves elites to pretend that parties are grassroots groups, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is actively promoting the fiction (for his own benefit). And what the Liberals are doing is no different than what the Harper Conservatives are doing in streamlining and centralizing control. It is how smart, controlling politics is run.

2016 watch (GOP convention delegate edition)
National Review Online: "Cruz Outmaneuvering Trump in Battle for Rubio Delegates." I remind people that Ted Cruz is terrific at organizing because he has a great ground game. He's good at the nuts-and-bolts of politics. I'm not so worried about electability at this stage -- we simply never know about whether or not a candidate is electable until they are tested by a general election campaign. (The same is true for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.)
Anyway, as the NRO reporters say, Marco Rubio won Minnesota on March 1 and now his 17 delegates are up for grabs (including on the first ballot). Indeed, there are another 12 Rubio "free agents" in Oklahoma and two in New Hampshire. NRO reports:
Since both Minnesota and Oklahoma have yet to choose their delegates, they offer the campaigns fertile ground to rack up new supporters. Cruz is taking advantage of the opportunity. Jeff Johnson, who served as Rubio’s campaign manager in Minnesota but has since endorsed Cruz, says that much of Rubio’s organization in the state has mobilized behind Cruz, helping his campaign as it works to woo delegate candidates. “That organization is still in place, we’re just kind of adding to it,” he says of Rubio’s infrastructure in the state. “We’re joining.” RELATED: Why a Contested Convention Favors Cruz In both states, delegates will be chosen through a series of congressional-district conventions held over the next month and a half before a final convention in May. The elaborate process will benefit campaigns that have extensive, well-established statewide organizations — organizations that several state Republican officials say only the Cruz campaign possesses.
And Trump will complain that Cruz, by taking part in the process, is cheating and stealing his nomination.
And the Cruz campaign is also targeting Trump delegates, too. As Cruz says, he is the only Republican candidate whose message resonates with some of Trump's blue-collar supporters. Cruz should be able to decrease Trump's support on the second and subsequent ballots.

2016 watch (Empire State edition)
Politico reports that polling in New York state shows that Donald Trump will win the state-wide delegates and most delegates from the Congressional Districts, but that district-level polling shows that John Kasich and Ted Cruz will win several CDs, denying Trump perhaps as many 20 (or more) crucial delegates. State-wide, according to the Republican-leaning Optimus Consulting Trump leads Kasich 49%-24% with Cruz trailing with 14%. (This has Cruz doing a little worse than most other polls have.) But because in NY a candidate that doesn't win a CD, splits the delegates 2-1, Trump winning mere pluralities rather than majorities, means bleeding those delegates to others. It appears that Kasich would be the primary beneficiary of this dynamic as Cruz is running third in 25 of 27 CDs.
Furthermore, according to Politico:
Also up for grabs are statewide delegates, and in that race, Trump stands just below the magic 50 percent threshold he needs to hit to win all 14. If he falls short, he’ll split them proportionally with Cruz and Kasich, costing him roughly seven delegates.

Friday, April 15, 2016
'You can take the girl out of East Germany, but you can't take the East Germany out of the girl'
Mark Steyn, of course, on Angela Merkel and the humourlessness of Official Germany after vanishing a comedian critical of a foreign leader (Turkey's).

Work-life balance
The Economist's Ryan Avent has a long, balanced essay on work-life balance. Work-life balance -- although I don't like the implication that the implicit suggestion that work is not part of your real-life -- is complex, but this explains a big reason of why so many people have difficulty with balancing work and non-work:
One reason the treadmill is so hard to walk away from is that life off it is not what it once was. When I was a child, our neighbourhood was rich with social interaction. My father played on the church softball team until his back got too bad. My mother helped with charity food-and-toy drives. They both taught classes and chaperoned youth choir trips. They socialised with neighbours who did these things too.
Those elements of life persist, of course, but they are somewhat diminished, as Robert Putnam, a social scientist, observed in 1995 in “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital”. He described the shrivelling of civic institutions, which he blamed on many of the forces that coincided with, and contributed to, our changing relationship to work: the entry of women into the workforce; the rise of professional ghettoes; longer working hours.
People look to economic and technological explanations far too often, and they are often contributing factors, but cultural changes have large-scale direct and indirect effects.

Favourite Bible verses (Donald Trump edition)
BuzzFeed reports:
Donald Trump said in a radio interview on Thursday that his favorite teaching in the Bible is the Old Testament punishment of an “eye for eye.”
“Is there a favorite Bible verse or Bible story that has informed your thinking or your character through life, sir?” asked host Bob Lonsberry on WHAM 1180 AM.
Trump responded, “Well, I think many. I mean, when we get into the Bible, I think many, so many. And some people, look, an eye for an eye, you can almost say that. That’s not a particularly nice thing. But you know, if you look at what’s happening to our country, I mean, when you see what’s going on with our country, how people are taking advantage of us, and how they scoff at us and laugh at us. And they laugh at our face, and they’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our money, they’re taking the health of our country. And we have to be firm and have to be very strong. And we can learn a lot from the Bible, that I can tell you.”
I'm pretty sure that Jesus repudiated this Old Testament belief in both Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29.

The real war against women: sex-selective abortion
Breitbart reports:
The real “war on women” takes place on the battlefield where abortion clinics target baby girls for elimination, according to congressional testimony from Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, a human-rights group.
“Sex-selective abortion is the ultimate violence against females,” Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, told Breitbart News. “Aborting a baby just because she is a girl is the ultimate act of gender discrimination.”
On Thursday, April 14, a congressional hearing is being held before the House Judiciary Committee to debate the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2016, a bill aimed at reducing gender-based abortion in America. The bill is being opposed by abortion-giant Planned Parenthood, NARAL and other abortion-rights groups.
The United Nations estimates that some 200 million women are “demographically missing” in the world today due to sex-selective abortion. This number is greater than all the casualties of all the wars of the twentieth century combined.
Back in 2011 I reviewed Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men by Mara Hvistendahl. I noted:
But as Jonathan V. Last pointed out his Wall Street Journal review “choice is choice” so “if ‘choice’ is the moral imperative guiding abortion, then there is no way to take a stand against ‘gendercide’.” Killing an unborn child because she is a girl, Last notes, “is no different from aborting a baby because she has Down syndrome or because the mother’s ‘mental health’ requires it.” Or as Mark Steyn noted on his website: “In practice, a ‘woman’s right to choose’ turns out to mean the right to choose not to have any women.”
The Interim has provided extensive coverage of the issue of gendercide in recent years, which was recently an issue in Canada again due to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal which found that some immigrant communities have a strong preference for boy babies and thus abort their preborn girls.

Thursday, April 14, 2016
Assisted-suicide law introduced
The government has tabled Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying). News reports stress that the law will not be as broad as the parliamentary report suggested in February (allowing mature minors to be killed, permitting people with dementia to sign advanced directives, or giving access to assisted suicide to people for psychiatric conditions alone). As we warned in The Interim this month, the parliamentary report is what euthanasia will eventually look like in Canada by 2030 because "safeguard" is really just discrimination preventing some groups of people from accessing what the Supreme Court (erroneously) considers a Charter right.
My views are basically aligned with the EPC: "The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) opposes giving anyone, the power in law, to cause the death of another person. We oppose any form of euthanasia and assisted suicide."
We ain't hitting the June 6 deadline for Canadian assisted-suicide law. The Canadian Press reports:
The government confirmed late Wednesday that Liberal backbenchers will be free to vote according to their consciences on the legislation, the same as MPs from other parties. Government House leader Dominic LeBlanc had suggested some weeks ago that Liberal MPs would be required to support it.
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, who was health minister in the previous government, said she's concerned there'll be little time for all MPs to debate the merits of the new bill and pass it in both houses of Parliament by June 6.
Legal experts and others also predict the new bill will inevitably be challenged, both by those who feel the law doesn't go far enough and those who feel it goes too far.
The proposed law has to pass first and second reading, go before committee where witnesses will presumably be heard, possibly be amended, return to the full House of Commons to pass third reading and then go to the Senate where it goes through the process again. In less than two months? If the government's proposed law doesn't pass before June 6, euthanasia and assisted-suicide will be available without limits, regulated (or not) by provincial health rules and the regulations of each jurisdiction's professional bodies. If Parliament does not pass a law by June 6, it can still pass it (or another) later, so calling this date a deadline is, admittedly, a bit misleading. But it is easy to imagine that this ball will be dropped politically if it doesn't pass by June 6. I'm not saying this is a good or bad thing. I'm just saying the timeline is both a false one and going to be a little rushed.