Wednesday, February 08, 2017

SOME QUICK QUESTIONS ABOUT THE 9TH CIRCUIT'S HEARING OF THE TRUMP E/O APPEAL

Here is some interesting information regarding the Appeal to the US Federal District Court 9th Circuit yesterday regarding the Trump Administration's Executive Order regarding entry to the US from seven named countries.  
Before reading it please allow me to stipulate that I believe the Trump Admin. will lose the Application/Appeal. I believe the lower court judge's ruling will be upheld. This is not for legal leasons but for the politicized nature of the debate in general and this circuit in particular.
This analysis of the case is from CNN's Legal Analyst who studied law at Harvard and politics at Oxford (which, if you can't get into Dalhousie, are an acceptable back-up plan). If her analysis is correct, and my prediction is correct, then we are left with two questions:
(a) How are we to know which laws we must obey?
(b) If the judges do not obey the law, why must we obey their decisions?

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/07/opinions/ninth-circuit-should-rescind-mcenany-opinion/index.html

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

WHY MERYL STREEP IS LIKE A DA VINCI PAINTING

The Mona Lisa is not just any painting. This masterpiece, which is on display at the Louvre, is recognized as one of history’s great art masterpieces. For centuries the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile has entranced those who have seen the painting. Who is she? What is she thinking? Her face stands out against the faint background behind her. The lighting, the colours used are all evidence of da Vinci’s genius.

His use of colour is even more impressive, in my own view, in another masterpiece The Last Supper in which the robes of the various disciples are painted in bright and vibrant colours.

Of course different artists use colour and light in different ways. Da Vinci’s style is different from the landscapes of John Constable which are, in their turn very distinct from the soft colourful impressions we see in a Monet. Picasso's use of colour is in a category by itself.

Each artistic genius has his or her own style and his or her own idea of what they want the viewer to experience. They have their inspiration, they imagine and plan it and then set about applying the paint to canvas so as to make their imagination real.

And yet though different, whether the work is by da Vinci, Constable, Monet, Picasso or any other artist, they all have one thing in common.

No one cares what the paint thinks.

This is because the beauty and effect of a painting is as a result of the genius and imagination of the artist. The paint is his or her tool.

The same must be said of actors. Actors act. What they do is not real. They memorize lines written for them by others, and perform those lines in scenes devised by the writers and directors. The words they utter must be done so as to comply with the vision of the director or the producer. If it fails to meet the requirements, it needs to be re-done as many times as it takes. These are called “re-takes”. Some actors are better than others, just as some paints and surfaces are better than others…a painting will look better on a canvas than on a cardboard box, for example.

When a painting is bad, we blame the artist, not the paint. Graffiti is the fault of the vandal, not the spray can or cement wall. So too with movies. When a movie is bad, generally it is the writer, director or producer who is to blame. The actor can truthfully say that he or she simply did as directed.

The same applies to home decoration. My dad was a house painter and I can testify that never once did he ask the paint what colour the trim should be. The drops never cleaned themselves (though I admit that when I try to do windows the paint seems to have a mind of its own) and satisfied customers never complimented the latex on a job well done.

Even the actor’s face as shown on the screen is not real, but the product of the genius of others. Make-up artists win Oscars for how they can make the actor appear, and whether they enhance the vision of the director. Compare Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan Jessup and as The Joker...that is the vision of the director. The actor’s opinion of the make-up is irrelevant since their function is to advance the goals of the director. Their faces are the workspace of other artists (not to mention plastic surgeons).

As human beings, of course, actors are entitled to their opinions but when they traffic in their celebrity to try and enhance the credibility of their opinions, it is illegitimate. Indeed, their wealth and insulation from the real world make most of them singularly ill-suited to speak on the subjects about which they wish to speak. You would not ask Hal Linden to lecture on forensic investigation techniques just because he played Det. Barney Miller. Yet this is what Jessica Lange did when she testified before the US Congress about the problems in farming because she had played a farm wife in a movie.

Leonardo di Caprio has appointed himself some kind of environmentalist guru despite having no scientific background whatsoever. He speaks at conferences about climate change but goes to these conferences by flying to them on his private jet, and when on vacation relaxes on his giant yacht in the Mediterranean. He scolds us that we have to cut back on our consumption, while having a personal carbon footprint the size of a Sasquatch.

And there was Meryl Streep bravely attacking the yet to be inaugurated US President (imagine the courage it took to attack Donald Trump before a Hollywood audience). And even if it can be said she was emoting in defence of the disabled (she was not, of course-they were merely her foil) she did so while remaining silent about the young disabled Chicago teen whose torture for two days last week was broadcast on Facebook. And she did so while wearing a gown the cost of which would probably have paid for a year of physiotherapy for a platoon of injured Colombian soldiers or a ward of disabled children.

Actors who use their celebrity to traffic for political causes of the left or right need to learn something.

They are paint.

And no one cares what the paint thinks.

Monday, December 19, 2016

THE REAL BASKET OF DEPLORABLES

If you have read my posts you know I argue that the left cares nothing about the values it asserts. Rather they wield these values as weapons whose function is to bludgeon their political opponents, and to make themselves feel good about themselves.


Here is more evidence, if it was needed. Nature magazine has a lengthy article about Hans Rosling, a Swedish demographer who has worked to reduce disease in developong countries. In the interview he mentions something Melissa Gates (of the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation) told him.


"Melinda Gates says that after a drink or two, people often tell her that they think the Gates Foundation may be contributing to overpopulation and environmental collapse by saving children’s lives with interventions such as vaccines."


Think about that. These white-wine socialists, pinky fingers extended, with their tongues slightly loosened, come clean about what they really think. To the public they will receive their plaudits for their support of the Gates Foundation but privately think wouldn't it be better to just let those kids die. Progressiveism and eugenics and socialism...all part of the same programme. They claim to speak for "the people" but care nothing for, and rush to sacrifice, individual examples of humanity.


Speak of a "basket of deplorables".



Friday, December 16, 2016

1984: DELAYED BUT FINALLY IT ARRIVES

From George Orwell’s 1984

“'Just now I held up the fingers of my hand to you. You saw five fingers. Do     you remember that?' 

'Yes.' 

O'Brien held up the fingers of his left hand, with the thumb concealed. 

'There are five fingers there. Do you see five fingers?' 

'Yes.' 

And he did see them, for a fleeting instant, before the scenery of his mind changed. He saw five fingers, and there was no deformity. Then everything was normal again, and the old fear, the hatred, and the bewilderment came crowding back again. But there had been a moment -- he did not know how long, thirty seconds, perhaps -- of luminous certainty, when each new suggestion of O'Brien's had filled up a patch of emptiness and become absolute truth, and when two and two could have been three as easily as five, if that were what was needed. 

1984 by George Orwell Part 3 Chapter 2

(The scene in which O’Brien, holding up 4 fingers, forces Winston Smith to not only SAY he sees 5 fingers, but TO BELIEVE he sees 5 fingers.)

This year, 2016, was the year we were forced by the Social Justice Warriors to accept that a man with a penis can be a woman, and that a woman with a vagina can be a man, if they say they are. They must be permitted to go to whichever washroom, change room they decide. Dissent is crushed. Well, 2016 is only 32 years after 1984, so we are a little delayed, but it seems to me that 1984 has finally arrived.


All that awaits people like me is Room 101.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The LaMia Airlines Crash And The Pilot's Catastrophic Negligence

So, basically, he ran out of gas.


This is incredible. They could have topped up in Bogota, or even other airports, had they wanted to.


I have a couple of questions/observations.


(a) The co-pilot must have known what was happening. She would have recognized the danger as much as the pilot. But she was (i) young, (ii) the captain was also the co-owner/founder of the airline and (iii) in any event the Captain always has control of the plane.So she had no ability to overrule the pilot's decision to proceed to Medellin with insufficient fuel. I imagine she was upset. I think the cockpit voice recorder will have some very telling information.


(b) Why did the Captain not declare an emergency until the last moment? I think I know (all speculation, of course). Rules for aircraft require that planes carry a fuel reserve that allows them, in the evnt of an emergency, to reach their furthest alternative landing site PLUS thirty minutes extra fuel. By the rules, the LaMia jet should have easily been able to get to Bogota (it is less than an hour away by air). The Captain would have known these rules and knew that he had not complied. He knew he had taken off with insufficient reserve fuel. Had he declared an emergency he would have been exposed upon landing to an AeroCivil investigation and they would have discovered immediately that he had left short on fuel.


So, he deceived the Medellin Control Tower and said only that they were suffering a "Fuel problem" (sure was...he didn't have any!). He gave the Air Traffic Controller in Medellin no opportunity to give him a landing priority because he never told her what was really happening. When he finally owned up to the fact they were out of fuel, she gave him immediate priority but by then it was too late.


(c) The Colombian response was great. Apart from the attempt by air traffic to get the plane on the ground, the rescue personnel (volunteers, Red Cross, Firefighters, Police and others), the hospital and health care professionals, the investigators have excelled. Even the media, for a change, deserves credit in how they have covered this tragedy. Finally, of course, the response of the people of Medellin has been wonderful. The gathering at the football stadium last night was emotional, yet dignified. Mejor imposible.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

CASTRO'S DEATH: A SILVER LINING EXPOSING HYPOCRISY OF THE LEFT

I have often said that it is a dark cloud that doesn’t have a silver lining.

As I have seen the obituaries about the death of Fidel Castro, I have been trying to discern a silver lining to his life. And it is difficult. Usually when a person, but especially a historical personage, dies we celebrate their life and mourn their loss. With Castro it is the reverse since we must mourn the fact that he existed and celebrate the fact that, finally, he is gone.  What a sad legacy it is to leave behind, that one’s death is a net benefit to humanity.

And yet even with Castro there has been, for myself at least, a sort of silver lining to his existence. I have realized that it was in reading comments by, and thinking about, Castro’s apologists and sycophants that I drew some conclusions about many of those who claim to be supporters of human rights. The conclusion I have drawn, reluctantly, is that many of those who pound the table for “rights” mean not a word of what they say.

Let me explain.

Castro’s legacy is a horror for the Cuban people. In setting himself at the top of the State he denied to the Cuban people everything that makes us human.

  • ·         As humans we are born with minds and the ability to think and feel. He seized control over minds and determined what people were permitted to think and feel. He determined on behalf of an entire people what they would be allowed to think.
  • ·         As humans we are born with the ability to speak our thoughts and express our ideas and feelings. Castro seized control of what Cubans were allowed to say, write, draw, sing, perform and especially to laugh about. A measure of freedom is whether we can laugh at our leaders…we joke about Santos, Trump, Obama, Clinton, Trudeau as we want…I defy you to find a Cuban who would dare make a joke about Fidel Castro in downtown Havana. There would be nothing funny about the results.
  • ·         As humans we are born with the ability to reason and form opinions and beliefs. Castro arrogated to himself the power to control how Cubans were allowed to apply their powers of reason and what they could or could not believe.
  • ·         As humans we are born with the ability to learn, to read and to write. Castro took steps to ensure that every Cuban could read and write but then in his arrogance took control over what they were allowed to read and write. Imagine the dreariness of life if you learn to read but the only thing permitted is the grim lies and propaganda of Granma. That is the literacy given to Cubans by Castro…as though an animal in a zoo suddenly aware he is in a cage.
  • ·         As humans we have the ability and innate desire to love, to form families and plan for better futures for our children. Castro determined who you could love (if you were gay, watch out!) and inserted the state inside the family so that what was best for the family was not decided in the home but by Castro’s dictatorial bureaucracy. And children were taught to betray parents who spoke wrong opinions, while parents learned to fear their children for they were the state’s eyes and ears inside the home. The destruction of the family, by perverting the innate love we have for our families, was an essential part of Castro’s State control.
  • ·         As humans we seek to do better for ourselves and our families and to make our own decisions using our own human free will. Castro deprived Cubans of the right to use their free will, to enjoy the products of their labour and to pass on a better life to their families. He effectively enslaved an entire people.
  • ·         Most of all, as humans we are born with the ability to dream…to dream of a better future for ourselves and our children. Our dreams are our own, personal and held deep inside our souls. Castro clawed his way into the souls of every Cuban, extracted their dreams and stomped them under his hobnailed boot. He denied to Cubans the right to have their own dreams and replaced them with HIS dreams. And so, through his indoctrination, and terror, he turned the dreams of Cubans into nightmares. Nightmares that drove 20% of the population to risk their lives to flee their island home. 

All that makes us human, therefore, Castro sought to control and DID control. Those who failed to bend died, disappeared, suffered torture, saw their families suffer…sometimes all of these. First and foremost, Castro was a killer and surrounded himself with killers (when Che Guevara told the UN General Assembly that to make a revolution you had to “break a few eggs” he wasn’t kidding…though it wasn’t eggs he was talking about, but the tens of thousands of butchered Cubans). Those he didn’t kill he tortured and jailed.

Those who had the temerity to protest, even in recent years old ladies, were beaten. And continue to be beaten.

So, the act of being human, doing what as a human is our instinct, indeed our BIRTHRIGHT…thinking, speaking, expressing, opining, loving and even dreaming…these are the acts that Castro suppressed, punished and sought to stamp out. His totalitarian thuggery sought to destroy everything that makes us human, that defines our humanity. He sought to replace it with a dismal, dark mutation of humanity created from his own perverse ego.

And yet I look around and see those, particularly on the left who mourn his death and write glowing words about the great “El Comandante”, his iconic revolutionary zeal, his achievements in education (really indoctrination) and health care (mainly for the elite as it develops).

And here, of course, we arrive finally at the silver lining. Because those who extol the great Castro include many of those who I have had to listen to over the years talk about how we need to protect and expand human rights. We need to protect women’s rights, worker’s rights, rights to health, rights to protest, rights to oppose (you choose…Iraq war, Trump, police brutality, voter identification, Wall Street…) pick your poison.

And yet many (not all) of those who demand those rights are the same as those who idolized Fidel Castro and mourn his passing.

These ideas cannot, in any rational mind, co-exist. He who sought to destroy any vestige of humanity and its expression in the free will of the Cuban people cannot and could not have been a legitimate hero to anyone who sincerely believes in and cares about human rights and human dignity. No LGBT activist can sincerely laud Castro. No worker’s rights supporter can honestly cheer for the man who enslaved an entire country. No free speech enthusiast can honour the thug who sought to wring out of a vibrant Cuban culture any vestige of spontaneity or joy arising from their own dreams and imagination.

So then what could I conclude? Reluctantly, I conclude that there are those who claim to support human rights among us who say the words but do not sincerely mean it. They use the words as tools…as tools to make themselves feel virtuous about themselves (“I am so good…I support human rights!)…as tools to make themselves look good in the eyes of others (“See how good I am? I support human rights!)…as tools to look cool (“How do you like my Che hoodie?”)…and as political tools to bludgeon political opponents and to gain political power (“Follow me! I am the one who believes in human rights and will protect yours!). These last are the most dangerous because, once they get power anyone who actually believes their words may end up against a wall. You could ask a lot of Cubans who made that mistake but they ended up against a wall.

So that is the silver lining…from Castro’s existence I have a standard by which I can measure those who sincerely believe in human rights and those who are at best hypocrites and at worst tyrants-in-waiting. The former will say “I denounce Castro because I believe in human rights” while the latter will say “I love human rights, now let us drink a toast to the memory of the great Fidel Castro”.

It is regrettable that so many Cubans needed to suffer for this silver lining to be revealed.

Finally, if it is not clear, when P. M. Justin Trudeau purports, on behalf of Canadians, to express condolences upon the death of Castro he does not speak for this Canadian. I have always said that I fear Trudeau’s shallowness (until the arrival of Donald Trump on the scene maybe the least knowledgeable national leader) will manifest itself in some great show of ignorance. His Castro eulogy may be of this nature…making both himself and the country look stupid.


My eulogy for Castro would be two words: 

Good. Riddance.

Friday, August 12, 2016

LOSING OUR RIGHT TO ACT UPON OUR CONSCIENCE

I believe there is a problem that has reached Colombia, but which has not originated here. It has to do with the lie that those who wish to have certain "rights" recognized only want respect for themselves and their ability to live their lives peacefully.

This is a falsehood.

Those behind the fight for recognition of  same-sex marriage do not want just that.

Those fight for the "right to choose (abortion)" do not want just that.

Those who lead to fight for the right to "die with dignity" do not just want that.

And those who insist upon the right to “self-identify” as to gender, do not want just that.

They want...indeed DEMAND…that those who disagree with these ideas to not only go along and comply with their views, but to actively participate in the violation of their personal consciences.

This is why same-sex marriage activists seek out bakers/photographers who, for reasons of conscience, do not wish to participate in such ceremonies, and force them to do so (even though there would be many others available who would be happy to participate), or be run out of business.

This is why doctors, nurses and institutions who oppose abortions are being forced to actively participate in them. In the US, the federal government seeks to force nuns to provide abortifacient drugs to their employees. In Colombia a decision protected nurses from being forced to participate in abortions, but why?  Because the “pro-choicers” have been trying to force them to do so. Forced compliance.

This is why doctors and health care facilities who conscientiously disagree with euthanasia are being forced to participate actively in providing and procuring euthanasia under threat of losing their licenses (this is what Canadian doctors, for example, are now faced with).

And now, if my 17 year old daughter joins a gym in Canada or the US and tries to take a shower, some guy can “self-identify” as a female and go in the shower with her. And if I have the temerity to object, I am supposedly the bigot.

I deny that I am a bigot.

But people are being frightened into compliance and participation against their consciences.  We are seeing tactics that are not only horrific but totalitarian. We see lawfare applied against dissenters, so that people buckle-under under the threat of economically unsustainable litigation.  We are seeing the criminalization of dissent in many countries. For example, in my former life as a lawyer I defended people against state-sponsored lawfare of the most obscene kind.

Worse, we see the Orwellian distortion of language and redefinition of words to create weapons against conscience. To me the most striking today  is that "dissent” has now come to be re-defined as “hate”. If you dissent, you are a “hater”.

I deny that if I dissent, or if I am worried for my daughter's safety, I am a hater.

Rather I am a free man in a free country with not only the right to hold views based upon my conscience, but to act upon my conscience. And I deny to anyone…individual, group or state...to inquire into, or opine upon, how or why my conscience was formed. If it is based upon religion, lack of religion, history, genetics or the roll of a die it is no one’s business but my own.

So, those who call for respect for opposing views make a valid plea but I am very afraid that the situation is devolving to the point that we need to do more to protect our right to a conscience than just beg for respect. Some resistance, such as the march the other day, may become necessary.


Otherwise, I am not sure for how much longer I will be able to say “I am a free man in a free country.”