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  • Crooked Timber responds to The Intercept's release of data regarding Russian interference with American elections.
  • Dangerous Minds reports on how Melanie Gaydos overcame a rare genetic disorder to become a model.

  • Dead Things seems unduly happy that it does see as if Tyrannosaurus rex had feathers. (I like the idea.)

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on our ability to detect the effects of a planet-shattering Nicoll-Dyson beam.

  • The Frailest Thing considers being a parent in the digital age.

  • Language Hat notes the African writing systems of nsibidi and bamum.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that Trump-supporting states are moving to green energy quite quickly.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russian guarantees of traditional rights to the peoples of the Russian North do not take their current identities into account.

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  • blogTO looks at eleven recent Toronto-themed books, from fiction to children's literature.

  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of using waste heat to detect extraterrestrial civilizations.

  • Far Outliers reports on how German East Africa substituted for foreign imports during the blockade of the First World War.

  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the fall of Rome may have been due to the failure to reconquer North Africa.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at the exuberant art of Jazz Age Florence Stettheimer.

  • The Planetary Society Blog shares a stunning portrait of Jupiter from the New Horizons probe.

  • Window on Eurasia considers the idea of containment in the post-Cold War world.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at the British election.

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  • blogTO notes that yesterday was a temperature record here in Toronto, reaching 12 degrees Celsius in the middle of February.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about the pleasure of using old things.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the death of Roe v Wade plaintiff Norma McCorvey.

  • Language Hat notes that, apparently, dictionaries are hot again because their definitions are truthful.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers if the Trump Administration is but a mechanism for delivering Pence into power following an impeachment.

  • Steve Munro notes that Exhibition Loop has reopened for streetcars.

  • The NYRB Daily considers painter Elliott Green.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that North Carolina's slippage towards one-party state status is at least accompanied by less violence than the similar slippage following Reconstruction.

  • Window on Eurasia warns that Belarus is a prime candidate for Russian invasion if Lukashenko fails to keep control and notes the potential of the GUAM alliance to counter Russia.

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  • blogTO tries to pit the west side of Toronto against the east side.

  • Centauri Dreams describes an inventive plan to launch a probe to rendezvous with Proxima Centauri.

  • Crooked Timber looks at the idea of civil society in the age of Trump.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper that aims to explore why Neptune-class exoplanets are so common.

  • Marginal Revolution notes an interesting history of Singapore.

  • The New APPS Blog links to a report suggesting that big data may have created President Trump.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the latest plans for exploring Ceres.

  • Towleroad notes a rumoured plan to legalize anti-LGBT discrimination under Trump.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy has one take on Supreme Court obstructionism.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russians may accept pension reforms which will place the minimum age for qualifying for a pension for men above the average male life expectancy, and reports from St. Petersburg about a dispute over the ownership of a church.

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CBC News' Aaron Wherry reports on the Liberal federal government's abandonment of the idea of electoral reform. In an era of Brexit and Trump, I certainly see ways this could rebound badly on enthusiasm for conventional politics.

A new mandate letter issued to Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould, released publicly on Wednesday, says "changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate."

[. . .]

​"There has been tremendous work by the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform, outreach by Members of Parliament by all parties, and engagement of 360,000 individuals in Canada through mydemocracy.ca," Trudeau writes in his letter to Gould.

"A clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged. Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada's interest. Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate."

Gould was appointed minister last month, replacing Maryam Monsef.

"Our view has always been clear. Major reforms to the electoral system, changes of this magnitude should not be made if they lack the broad support of Canadians," Gould told reporters at a news conference convened to comment on her new mandate letter.

"It has become evident that the broad support needed among Canadians for a change of this magnitude does not exist."
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In Spacing, John Lorinc warns his readers to beware of Trump-like politicians in Canada, and rightly so.

What kinds of thoughts, I wonder, were skittering through the minds of Conservative leadership hopefuls Kellie Leitch and Kevin O’Leary when they tuned in to the astonishing scenes of protest from around the world on Saturday?

When considering the tens of thousands of Canadians who marched in big cities (here, here, here, here and here) across the country, including those in Alberta, as well as the thousands more who flew down to Washington, did these two candidates think, “Hmm, perhaps I should proceed with caution?”

Or did they say to themselves, “Yes, I do believe this Donald Trump fellow is on to something…?”

As #45 embarks on his first days of, uh, work, it seems to me that the Tories should be reflecting carefully about whether he’s the wagon to which they want to hitch their fortunes. After all, what the world witnessed on Saturday was a gigantic, pink-hot ball of political energy that clearly doesn’t care about borders, mobilizes rapidly and won’t dissipate any time soon.

Leitch, really, barely belongs in this analysis: she is a fool — a sitting member of an electorally-successful government that was only defeated when it decided to abandon its assiduous courtship of suburban newcomer communities and instead embrace the sort of dog-whistle nativism that she’s decided to use as her brand.

O’Leary, who threw his fur-lined coat into the ring the day before Trump’s inauguration, bears more scrutiny because on the surface, his electoral appeal — a posturing reality TV star willing to call ‘em as he sees ‘em — is an attempt to repackage Trump’s celebrity for Canadian audiences.
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Sammy Leonard's angry essay on Medium condemning the temptation of too many people on the American left to opt for purity instead of practical politics has been widely circulating on my Facebook friends list. This is a good thing, since Leonard's analysis is entirely correct. Condemning those politicians on the left who compromise as traitors and instead opting for politicians who cannot manage anything more than niche support is, far from a way to get people on the left elected, actually a very good way to get the right ensconced. Many of the fans of Bernie Sanders are particularly responsible for this, with their unfounded talk about the corruption of Hillary Clinton probably doing quite a lot to help this candidate lose in the Midwest and elsewhere. That the people who are immune from this criticism happen to be white men is, of course, not a coincidence.

For three months now I’ve been hearing people talk about resistance against Donald Trump. Time and again I’ve seen and heard people say that we should not normalize Trump or the putrid cabinet he’s assembling. I keep hearing that resistance would take bold and assertive action and I’ve heard people demand that the Democrats in Congress be at the forefront of the resistance.

Yet when Booker does just that in order to stop Sessions from having the power to set legal policy that will severely harm everyone who isn’t a white, heterosexual, Christian man he gets shat on for voting against a separate amendment that a) wasn’t going to pass b) was non-binding and c) would have undermined some of the drug provisions of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) that the Republicans are hell bent on destroying anyway. I’ve seen several people say that his vote on this one amendment completely invalidated his effort to stop Sessions and by extension resist Trump.

A lot of people have framed it as Booker rejecting Bernie Sanders (I-VT) amendment. Only the amendment was actually the work of Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) — Sanders was only a co-sponsor. Surprise, an old white man is taking all the credit for the work done by a woman. Not to mention that Booker and the other 12 Democratic Senators that voted against Klobuchar’s amendment voted in favor of a very similar amendment proposed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). Wyden’s amendment covered the same ground as Klobuchar’s, only there were greater safety provisions and fewer strings attached in his amendment than hers, and his amendment was also co-sponsored by Sanders (Wyden’s amendment was not passed either and the 51–47 vote was a direct partisan split). Speaking of Sanders, the man exposes himself as fraud and an absolute hypocrite every time he opens his mouth these days, and his large cult of rabid worshippers are the slimiest and most deceitful pieces of shit on this earth (and the ones most deserving of getting their heads bashed in). Notice that I wrote “cult of rabid worshippers” and NOT “supporters” because his supporters were at least willing to accept that Hillary Clinton won the Dem nomination, support her in the general election, and in many cases did the work necessary to make sure she would be elected.

But the large Bernie Bro/Zealot/Never Hillary cult made it clear that anyone who didn’t worship at the altar of Saint Bernie Sanders wasn’t a “real progressive” and therefore wasn’t worthy of their support unless they cleared an impossibly high bar. And they joined forces with an already established wing of far left purists for whom any Dem politician who rates less than 100% in their purity scale of select issues is a “neoliberal” and therefore justifies them to throw away their votes on crackpot third-party candidates so they can preen to everyone how “radical” or “revolutionary” they supposedly are and to try and shame people who consistently vote Democrat as ignorant and brainwashed sheeple. Yeah, I’m brainwashed for realizing that a system that often requires some level of compromise to move things forward renders 100% ideological purity useless and subsequently voting for whichever candidate in best positioned to effectively advance the issues I care about in a given election is the most prudent option. Yeah, I’m ignorant for realizing that this is a two-party system, no third party is going to magically rise overnight to save us, and the Democratic party is presently the only viable electoral vehicle for effective progressive action in America. Both parties ARE NOT THE SAME. Every politician takes corporate money because that’s the cost of doing business in American politics — even Bernie does — but only ONE Senator stood up to confront his colleague for the rights and safety of all Americans this week, and it WASN’T BERNIE SANDERS, IT WAS CORY BOOKER.
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  • Centauri Dreams looks at the advanced microelectronics that might last a space probe the two decades it would take to get to Proxima Centauri.

  • Dangerous Minds links to a 1980 filmed concert performance by Queen.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on the discovery of potassium in the atmosphere of WASP-17b.

  • Language Hat looks at the Carmina of Optatianus, an interesting piece of Latin literature.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the shameless anti-democratic maneuvering of the Republicans in North Carolina.

  • The LRB Blog reflects on the shamelessness of the perpetrators of the Aleppo massacres.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at what Charles Darwin's reading habits have to say about the man's process of research.

  • North!'s Justin Petrone looks at the elves of Estonia.

  • The NYRB Daily praises the new movie Manchester by the Sea.

  • The Planetary Society Blog shares a recent photo of Phobos.

  • Peter Rukavina argues that the Island's low PISA scores do not necessarily reflect on what Islanders have learned.

  • Savage Minds shares an essay by someone who combines academic work with library work.

  • Torontoist notes the city's subsidies to some major water polluters.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the anniversary of some important riots in Kazakhstan.

  • Arnold Zwicky reflects on the penguin-related caption of a photo on Wikipedia that has made the world laugh.

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Bloomberg View's Leonid Bershidsky argues that, owing to the greater resilience of German politics and a more honest media environment among other things, any Russian involvement in Germany's elections would have more limited results. Here's hoping.

Merkel's Achilles heel in this election is the refugee crisis of 2015. I doubt, however, that much unpublished kompromat exists on that: Merkel's mistakes in handling the crisis were extensively covered by the German press. And unlike Americans, whose trust in the media is at a historic low, Germans still trust traditional media.

There's a notable difference between the ways relatively conservative Germans and tech-crazy Americans get their news. Only 20 percent of Americans find it in newspapers; 57 percent of Germans still read a newspaper or a magazine every day. That means the effectiveness of fake news campaigns and social network echo chambers won't be as high in Germany as it was in the U.S.

Besides, Germans are far more amenable to speech restrictions than Americans. Germany has hate speech laws that would be impossible under the First Amendment. Calls to outlaw fake news or prosecute those who spread it are coming from many quarters, especially from Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union, and the other centrist political force -- its coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party. Unlike in the U.S., the government in Germany has the ability to go after those who knowingly publish disinformation. A Russian TV journalist who reported on the fake rape earlier this year was briefly under investigation, though he wasn't convicted.

On Tuesday, the leader of the Social Democrats, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, posted a photo of a handwritten message on Twitter: "A fair fight! That's how we must fight the 2017 election -- not like in the U.S.! No fake news, no bashing, no insults." Gabriel wrote "fake news" and "bashing" in English. Germany doesn't even have the kind of echo chambers of anti-establishment opinion that amplified the anti-Clinton line in the U.S., where a propaganda effort could just use the existing channel that gorged on the additional content. In Germany, the channel itself would need to be built.
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Scott Gilmore in MacLean's describes how Americans are starting to respond to confirmation of Russian interference in the recent presidential elections.

Some of the most important moments in history happen fast, like a flash of lightning. A tank crosses a border or a prince is assassinated and everyone knows the world has changed, even before the sound of thunder rolls over them.

Other epochal shifts are more subtle and incremental. In 18th-century England, very few people would have known what a Spinning Jenny was, and fewer still would recognize what the automation of weaving meant for the world.

For the last two years we have been living through one of those less obvious historic transformations. It didn’t happen all at once, it’s still not over, and even now we can’t say how deep or far it will go. But it happened, moment by moment, until we woke up in a cold day in December and realized that Moscow had effectively installed the next president of the United States.

That sounds hyperbolic, doesn’t it? Even writing it I have to pause and stare at that sentence. But these are the facts: The CIA and over a dozen other U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Russia hacked into both the Republican and Democratic party computers. Senior Russian officials have admitted that they leaked the Democratic data to WikiLeaks. Those emails were then strategically published over the course of the presidential campaign. Why? A member of the House Intelligence Committee states there is “overwhelming evidence” Russia’s goal was to elect Donald Trump.

The result of Putin’s intervention in the American election cannot be downplayed. If Hillary Clinton had garnered just 107,000 more votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, this would have given her the Electoral College and the White House. According to pollster Nate Silver, the Russian intervention contributed to eroding up to three per cent of the swing-state vote from Clinton. That small margin was all it took to decide the election.
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The Guardian of Charlottetown's editorial looking at the recent slide in Liberal numbers, following the government's decision to not be bound by the results of the referendum on proportional representation, is accurate.

The numbers must be alarming for the government. Support for the Liberal Party plummeted from 64 per cent to 46 per cent in the past four months. It’s the most precipitous drop in recent memory.

The Progressive Conservatives have an interim leader but their support increased six points. The Green Party has one MLA and its support leapt 13 points. The NDP remains hamstrung without its leader in the legislature but managed to maintain its numbers.

[. . .]

Consider the plebiscite on democratic renewal which many Islanders hoped would reform our antiquated electoral process. The plebiscite concluded Monday, Nov. 7. The premier immediately discounted the result endorsing proportional representation because the turnout was low. As the storm of protest gained momentum, Premier MacLauchlan promised a “binding referendum” to be held in conjunction with the next provincial election. It would offer the electorate a choice between the plebiscite winner (Mixed Member Proportional Representation) and an as-yet-to-be-determined option.

Islanders were outraged. The flood of letters and opinion articles opposing the decision was unprecedented. It was obvious that many Islanders wanted the government to honour the plebiscite result.

A democratic vote was being ignored.

Now, note the dates of the CRA polling period which began Nov. 7 - when the plebiscite concluded - and wrapped up Nov. 29 as the government was fumbling the issue in the legislature. The full fury of Islanders was being felt as polling took place.
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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about the importance of truth in journalism.

  • Crooked Timber looks at the example of Trump and wonders why that kind of charismatic authoritarianism is popular.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a model of the inner debris disk of HR 8799.

  • Far Outliers looks at the cultural divergences between North and South Koreans.

  • Language Hat looks at the complexities of translating the obscenities of the Marquis de Sade.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the collapse of unions and makes a limited defense of Castro.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a plan in the United States to make social science research more productive.

  • The NYRB Daily shares Masha Gessen's article talking about the hard choices she had to make in Putin's Russia and their relevance to the United States.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia's Ukrainian policy may be self-destructive.

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NOW Toronto's Michael Coren writes about how the election of Sam Oosterhoff, at 19 the youngest MPP ever elected, bodes ill for the coherence of the Progressive Conservatives.

Social conservatives in Ontario PC party ranks are rejoicing.

Long convinced that powerful special interests have conspired to silence them, they now have a miniature saviour in 19-year-old Sam Oosterhoff, the new PC MPP for Niagara West-Glanbrook in Ontario’s Bible belt.

The university student shocked the party establishment when he defeated PC party president Rick Dykstra, a good friend and chosen candidate of Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, to win the nomination last month amid blowback over Brown's flip-flop on the province's ex-ed curriculum. Now he has won the seat vacated by former PC leader Tim Hudak in a one of two by-elections held Thursday, November 17. (The governing Liberals held onto Ottawa-Vanier.)

While Brown sang the young man’s praises shortly after his victory was announced last night – Brown described Oosterhoff's win as "impressive" – the truth is the last thing the PC leader wants is another social conservative in his caucus. Those closest to Brown confide they're deeply concerned the new boy will not remain on message and cause the party more embarrassment over sex-ed, abortion and gay rights as the leader tries to tack a more mainstream political course for the PCs. As one Liberal insider told me, “It’s only a matter of time before Sam Oosterhoff or one of his supporters says something extreme.”

To be sure, Oosterhoff's nomination win is part of a greater, deeper division in the Ontario PC party between the mainstream and the Christian right.

Oosterhoff is himself firmly entrenched in the latter. A member of the Spring Creek Canadian Reformed Church in Vineland, he embraces a strict Calvinist theology that is far to the right of most other Reformed Christians in Canada. That’s his absolute right, of course, but his refusal to work on Sundays could be an issue, as could his resolute stance against abortion for any reason and vehement opposition to the new sex ed curriculum, which has already brought him into direct conflict with his leader.
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  • blogTO notes that retail space on Bloor Street in Yorkville is not only the priciest in Canada, but among the priciest in the world.

  • Centauri Dreams notes how fast radio bursts, a natural phenomenon, can be used to understand the universe.

  • Dangerous Minds looks at a Kate Bush music performance on Dutch television in 1978.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to an analysis of the asteroids disintegrating in orbit of WD 1145+017.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes evidence from meteorites that Mars has been dry and inhospitable for eons.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the way we construct time.

  • Language Log highlights a 1943 phrasebook for English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Hokkien.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the resistance of the Tohono O'odham, a border people of Arizona and Sonora, to a wall.

  • The LRB Blog looks at a curious painting claiming to depict the cause of England's greatness.

  • Marginal Revolution notes the sheer scale of mass tourism in Iceland.

  • Strange Maps shares an interesting map depicting support for Clinton and Trump, showing one as a continental landmass and the other as an archipelago.

  • Towleroad praises the musical Falsettos
  • for its LGBT content (among other things).
  • Window on Eurasia looks at controversy over ethnonyms in Russian, and argues Putinism is a bigger threat to the West than Communism.

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  • Bad Astronomy notes the weird polar hexagonal wind systems of Saturn.

  • blogTO notes that Presto is now in fifty TTC stations.

  • The Broadside Blog talks about ways to be a good guest.

  • Centauri Dreams notes efforts to image planets orbiting Alpha Centauri A and/or B.

  • Crooked Timber takes a first look at the origins of Trumpism.

  • Dangerous Minds notes that the Jesus and Mary Chain are set to release a new studio album.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at the testing of the James Webb Space Telescope mirror.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that HIV is now recognized in the US as a carcinogen.

  • Language Hat looks at principles for naming in different languages.

  • Language Log notes that Trumps' granddaughter did a good job of reading Tang China poems.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the TPP is dead.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the continued threat of tuberculosis.

  • Steve Munro looks at 504 King travel times.

  • The NYRB Daily notes the likely future degeneration of Turkey.

  • Seriously Science notes that the most one posts comments on Reddit (and other forums?) the worse they become.

  • Transit Toronto looks at TTC bus route changes planned in light of subway expansion.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at ethnic conflict in Archangelsk, in multi-ethnic Stavropol and among Circassians in Krasnodar, even with Belarusian activists in Smolensk.

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  • blgoTO notes how the Guild Inn was once a popular resort.

  • Centauri Dreams notes the import of real scientists in Arrival.

  • Crooked Timber notes that anti-Trump Republicans did not seem to matter in the election.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at cutting-edge options for studying exoplanets.

  • False Steps notes a proposed American spacecraft that would have landed on water.

  • Far Outliers notes the pointless internment of foreign domestics in Second World War Britain.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the potential impact of a Michael Bloomberg presidential run.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the development of apps which aim to find out the preferred songs of birds.

  • Steve Munro and Transit Toronto look at ongoing controversy over the 514 Cherry streetcar line's noise, including upcoming public meetings.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests the election of Trump could lead to the election of a similar populist to the presidency of Mexico.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy deals with the odd and seemingly meaningless distinction made by Americans between "republic" and "democracy".

  • Window on Eurasia wonders if Trump's negotiating style might lead to worse Russian-American relations and looks at his business history in Russia.
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Masha Gessen, veteran of Putin's Russia, offers good advice in the NYR Daily to people in Trump's America.

Clinton’s and Obama’s very civil passages, which ended in applause lines, seemed to close off alternative responses to his minority victory. (It was hard not to be reminded of Neville Chamberlain’s statement, that “We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will.”) Both Clinton’s and Obama’s phrases about the peaceful transfer of power concealed the omission of a call to action. The protesters who took to the streets of New York, Los Angeles, and other American cities on Wednesday night did so not because of Clinton’s speech but in spite of it. One of the falsehoods in the Clinton speech was the implied equivalency between civil resistance and insurgency. This is an autocrat’s favorite con, the explanation for the violent suppression of peaceful protests the world over.

The second falsehood is the pretense that America is starting from scratch and its president-elect is a tabula rasa. Or we are: “we owe him an open mind.” It was as though Donald Trump had not, in the course of his campaign, promised to deport US citizens, promised to create a system of surveillance targeted specifically at Muslim Americans, promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico, advocated war crimes, endorsed torture, and repeatedly threatened to jail Hillary Clinton herself. It was as though those statements and many more could be written off as so much campaign hyperbole and now that the campaign was over, Trump would be eager to become a regular, rule-abiding politician of the pre-Trump era.

But Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election. Trump will be only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.
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The LRB's Adam Shatz proclaims that the ascension of Trump marks the brutal end to American exceptionalism.

Donald Trump’s quasi-apocalyptic victory marks the end of American exceptionalism: a certain idea of America, as a model of democracy and freedom, is dead. Trump didn’t kill it; he declared it dead with a campaign that was as surreal as it was reactionary. ‘It’s a nightmare,’ a French friend wrote to me in an email. ‘It’s worse than a nightmare,’ I replied. ‘It’s reality.’

But how to explain this reality? How did Trump – the least qualified candidate in American history, a narcissistic, desensitised bully who could not put together a complete sentence, much less an argument – seduce the American electorate? Some see his victory as a misdirected working-class rebellion, staged by resentful middle-class whites who were effectively proletarianised by neoliberal policies promoted by both of America’s major political parties. Others see it as a racist, xenophobic uprising, led by a vanguard of white nationalists who have rallied around Trump as their figurehead.

Both explanations have a kernel of truth. Trump is inconceivable without the 2008 financial crisis, and Obama’s reliance on Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers and the other ‘Harvard boys’ reinforced the impression that American liberalism was an elite ideology, and globalisation a luxury that working people could no longer afford. Popular resentment against elites has increasingly been deflected towards vulnerable minorities, especially immigrants and undocumented workers supposedly coddled by liberals.

But neither explanation captures the profoundly nostalgic dimensions of Trump’s appeal, or his animal magnetism among his supporters. Looking at Trump, American liberals see a barroom lout, a pig who boasts about grabbing women ‘by the pussy’ and threatens to jail his opponent. But Trump taps into an ideological fantasy among voters who would like to return to a world in which borders counted for something, white men were the ‘natural leaders’, and women and minorities knew their place. A black man in the White House, for them, was an intolerable insult. That he was the son of a Kenyan with a Muslim name, raised in Indonesia, only rubbed salt in the wound.
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There has been not a little discussion among my Facebook friends about the results of this month's electoral reform referendum on Prince Edward Island returned a majority of votes in favour of reform on the basis of only a minority of voters participating.

MacLean's shared the Canadian Press report on the outcome of the vote.

A non-binding plebiscite on electoral reform in Prince Edward Island has shown voters support a switch to a form of proportional representation.

[. . .]

Islanders were given five options to chose from, including an option to keep the current first-past-the-post system. Voters were asked to rank some or all of the options on a one-to-five scale.

If no electoral system received more than half the votes, the option with the fewest votes was eliminated and those ballots redistributed to their second-choice option.

That process was repeated until one option passed the 50 per cent threshold to achieve majority support.

On the fifth round of counting, mixed member proportional representation obtained 19,418 votes, or more than 52 per cent of the 37,040 valid votes. The existing system received close to 43 per cent of votes in the final round.


CBC, meanwhile, noted that the low turnout may be encouraging the government to disregard the outcome.

The low turnout for Prince Edward Island's plebiscite on electoral reform — 36 per cent — means it's debatable whether the results can be considered a clear expression of the will of Islanders, Premier Wade MacLauchlan said Tuesday.

The premier said the results confirmed the need for the legislature to "enhance our democracy," but he did not commit to making any changes to the existing first-past-the-post system, even though it was rejected as the best option after 10 days of online and telephone voting wrapped up late Monday.

"We certainly won't ignore (the plebiscite)," MacLauchlan said in an interview. "This has been a major exercise in democracy for our province ... The ongoing dialogue is a continuing process. We are absolutely taking to heart the plebiscite and the results."

[. . .]

In the end, the mixed-member proportional representation system garnered more than 52 per cent of the votes, once the votes for the other options were redistributed according to the rules of preferential voting. The first-past-the-post system received close to 43 per cent of votes in the final round.


We will see what happens. Myself, I think it would be worth going ahead. This proposal could easily improve the quality of democracy on the Island, perhaps even elsewhere if this example catches on.

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