Category Archives: politics

Some somewhat objective thoughts on the new Trudeaumania

Lots of chatter on this recently, Justin Trudeau: Canadian Prime Minister, Free World’s Best Hope? – Rolling Stone.

It’s good that the world thinks highly of our leaders, whomever they are. Canada is a significant nation in the world with the ability to influence other nations, and having a leader that is looked up to makes a positive difference.

As a Canadian citizen, I’m more interested in the substance than the PR. And I’m more interested in what the government is doing, not just the Prime Minister. I try to look at the government’s policies, competency in executing on those policies (either through legislation or direction to federal agencies), and how the government supports democracy (through actions to make our country more democratic) or hinders it (by making the country less democratic or by being corrupt).

That means I spend less and less time reading pieces like this, which are along the lines of “if you people were as smart as me you’d realize how bad Trudeau is” . Instead, I look to sites like this which track the government’s progress. For example, this site, TrudeauMeter, has ongoing ratings of the government. Other commentators, like John Ibbitson, provide periodic ratings: Video: Opinion: John Ibbitson rates the Trudeau government as Ottawa wraps up for the summer – The Globe and Mail. Finding sources of information you find comprehensive and objective are always your best bet.

If you don’t support the Liberal government’s policies, then I can see why you would not want the government in place.  Likewise there will be times when you do support the government’s policies but you feel the level of corruption or incompetence is so high you want to turn to a different group. If you are going to rate the Prime Minister and his government, those are good criteria to evaluate them on, not PR like the Rolling Stone magazine, or any other specific good or bad focus pieces on them. The government works for you, and if you are a good boss, you evaluate them mainly on the entirety of their efforts, not just things here and there.

Some other thoughts on Trudeau:

From what I can see so far, his government is starting off unsurprisingly: being successful over things the government has control over (like spending) and having less success over things that requires working with other groups. I suspect they will make no progress on electoral reform unless there is a major push from Canadians. Likewise, there are so many issues and problems with regards to Aboriginal peoples that any progress there will be modest, at best. I wish neither of them were true, but I am not optimistic on those fronts.

I suspect that as long as the economy is doing fine, the government does not appear corrupt or incompetent, and people aren’t tired of his government, then Trudeau and his team will be in power for some time to come. The first one, the economy, will be the one that is most likely to hit him. Corruption takes time to seep in (although major scandals can occur at any time and make the government appear corrupt), and government fatigue takes longer still. Whatever you thought of Chretien or Harper, that was true for them and I suspect it will be true for Trudeau as well.

I will continue to ignore articles that underestimate Trudeau (like the one above). He’s flashy and sometimes appears smarmy, but he’s smart, he has a good team, and politics is in his DNA.  If you oppose Trudeau, underestimating him only works to his advantage and not yours. In addition,  he is as much his mom’s son as his Dad’s. The combination makes him much more effective than his Dad could ever be. His Dad may have had a higher IQ than him, but he has a higher EQ than his Dad ever had and that will make him more challenging to defeat than people who approach politics intellectually realize.

Likewise, I will continue to ignore articles that compare Trudeau to Trump. There is little if anything to be gained by them. Trump is an anomaly. Almost any leader looks good in comparison to the 45th President of the United States.

I like Trudeau for alot of reasons.  That said, it doesn’t matter if I like him or not, anymore than it matters that you dislike him or not. What matters is his ability to do the job. He’s not an entertainer: he’s an elected official. When the next election comes, it won’t matter how good or bad Trudeau’s PR is. What matters is that in comparison to other politicians looking to lead the country, is the government he proposes to lead the best one for the job based on the criteria I have.  That’s the only thing that matters.

 

 

 

 

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Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a candidate right out of a Philip K Dick Novel

Melenchon hologram
In France, politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon plans to be in seven places at once using  something similar to a hologram. According to Le Parisien:

Strictly speaking, these are not holograms. Jean-Luc Mélenchon will be present in seven different places thanks to … an optical illusion discovered for the first time half a century ago by an Italian physicist

Virtual Mélenchon reminds me of the politician Yance in Philip K Dick’s novel, The Penultimate Truth. We may not be far off where we get virtual candidate that look like people but behind the scenes we have AI or some combination of AI and people.

For more on the technology, see the article in Le Parisien. For more on Dick’s novel, see Wikipedia. Read up now: I think we can expect to see more of this technology in use soon.

Eric Holder has a new role – defending California against the Trump Regime

The State of California has a new lawyer to represent it: Eric Holder. The New York Times has the details, here. A good piece, showcasing what we can expect from that State while Trump occupies the White House.

As an aside, I found it fascinating to see how Americans perceived Holder. For a number of Americans, they saw him and his Justice Department as inhibitor of liberty due to how his department cracked down on leaks, among other things. For African Americans, they likely saw him as a provider of liberty, as his DOJ went after those looking to restrict their voting rights.

I think both those activities reflected the wishes of his boss, as well as his own goals.

I think he will be formidable in the next four years as he and his law firm defends the interests of California. It will be interesting, for certain.

Shocked by the image of the Syrian boy in the rubble? Here’s how to help | World news | The Guardian

Syrian civil war as of 08-2016

There is much outrage over the images of dead and injured children. If you feel compelled to do something, here’s a good source of information on how: Shocked by the image of the Syrian boy in the rubble? Here’s how to help | World news | The Guardian

If you are wondering why it is so terrible, especially around the city of Aleppo, then you can read this: Lina Khatib on the Battle of Aleppo – Council on Foreign Relations Lina Khatib on the Battle of Aleppo – Council on Foreign Relations.

Khatib argue that because Aleppo is seen as crucial for success by both regime and opposition forces, much terrible fighting is occurring there. To add to that, partners and proxies are joining the fight, turning it into something that looks like a modern day Stalingrad. At this time, there does not seem to be many (or any) good diplomatic or military solutions. Hence the terribleness that is happening.

 

 

 

 

Democracy in action – An Introduction to Field Organizing

If you want to do more than vote in an election, especially if you are an American, then read this: THIS ELECTION IS FREAKING ME OUT, WHAT CAN I DO!? (An Introduction to Field Organizing). Obviously this is geared towards Hillary Clinton supporters for president, but read it regardless of you who you plan to vote for and at what level.  It should help you get to the point of at least knowing the right questions to ask and where you might go next to get more involved.

Voting is important, but there is much more to democracy than that. If you step up, your involvement will make a difference, regardless of your role. Good for you for taking that next step.

Nate Silver and Paul Krugman on the importance of good models to understand and predict

This piece by Nate Silver, How I Acted Like A Pundit And Screwed Up On Donald Trump in FiveThirtyEight, is ostensibly about how he messed up in his predictions on the rise of Donald Trump. What I think is worth reading is how he goes about his work and what he learned from his mistakes. Specifically, it’s a great study on how important models are and how a good model works and what it can tell us.

Related, Paul Krugman talks about his model here: Economics and Self-Awareness in The New York Times. Like Silver, he uses models both to understand and predict. Obviously they are modelling different things, but in both cases good models are the basis of their thinking and the work they do.

It’s likely too much to ask now, but eventually anyone doing analysis and making predictions should have to disclose the models they are basing their decisions upon. The opinions of anyone not having such models are likely not worth much.

A better way to follow the US presidential race…

..is to follow this, from Bloomberg:  Who’s Winning the Presidential Delegate Count?

You can still read the news and follow along, state by state, but what really matters more and more is the delegate count.

One thing that surprised me: right now, Ted Cruz is alot closer to Donald Trump than I imagined. Obviously there is a way to go still, but he is doing well. Will Cruz win? I think the odds are against him, but right now they are not insurmountable.

As for the other side, I believe Hillary Clinton is going to win, regardless of the Michigan surprise showing of Bernie Sanders. Sanders is performing better than many imagined, but she has a big lead in delegates and that will only get larger as we go along.