Scholar , Bernard Lewis , Passes

One of the most incisive writers on Islam , the Middle East and the Ottoman Period. His book ‘What Went Wrong’ is a must read to understand Modern Islam . Here is a an American Enterprise scholar on Mr. Lewis’s passing:

Obituary By Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute

‘The great, nay legendary, historian Bernard Lewis died on Saturday at the age of 101. He was born during the terrible throes of World War I, and his life would be shaped in so many ways around the lands of the Near East forever changed in the wake of that war. World War II brought him to the region for British intelligence, but before too long he found himself back in academia at London’s School of Oriental Studies (now SOAS), where he would quickly rise to chair the department of Near and Middle Eastern History. But in 1974, he broke away to head to Princeton and begin a period of amazing productivity in his work.

For those students of the Middle East like me and my colleagues educated after the 1970s, his work was a staple, and his name a byword. And an inspiration: Unlike so many who opine on the topic of the Arab, Persian, and Turkish worlds, Lewis knew it, saw it, and maintained contact with those who lived there all of his life.

Like so many who knew Bernard, I was overwhelmed by his charm. His erudition was an established fact, as was his beautiful writing; but the great historians have not always been known for their joie de vivre, their sheer love of their subject, or their ability, Gandalf-like, to weave the threads of history around you like a magical spell. To me, only one other such historian of the Middle East achieved such heights — my own teacher Fouad Ajami. His description, in a New York Times review of Lewis’ 1996 work, “The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2000 Years,” still sings:

‘Bernard Lewis turns 80 this month. He is peerless in his craft, his flame as vital as ever. His first book was published nearly six decades ago, in 1940, when he was in his early 20’s. He has given us a body of work that is destined to endure. We shall no doubt go on quarreling about Middle Eastern history and its wellsprings, but we shall for years to come be indebted to this historian.

He has retrieved and chronicled the histories and lives of men and women of a civilization that has been the closest neighbor to the civilization of the West, and the one fated to be its most difficult antagonist. We must begin with Mr. Lewis’s work if we are to understand those peculiar terms of engagement — the philosophical proximity, the shifting debt back and forth between giver and receiver, the political antagonism — across the border between Islam and the civilization of Europe.’

There will be no shortage of obituaries of this great man, with a better recitation of his work, and of course, the requisite sniping and politics without which we cannot seem to breathe in Washington. But at AEI, we remember our 2007 Irving Kristol Prize honoree, and his memorable address to the assembled crowd. As usual, he ended with a note of hope about the region and the people he appreciated and loved:

‘The Islamic tradition, in theory and, until the onset of modernization, to a large degree in practice, emphatically rejects despotic and arbitrary government. Living under justice is the nearest approach to what we would call freedom. But the idea of freedom in its Western interpretation is making headway. It is becoming more and more understood, more and more appreciated and more and more desired. It is perhaps in the long run our best hope, perhaps even our only hope, of surviving this developing struggle.’

As always, Professor Lewis, well said. Rest in peace, and our condolences to the indomitable Buntzie Churchill.’

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Lost Souls .

From the City Journal Website

EYE ON THE NEWS

Lost Souls

Reflections on the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, by way of Henry Luce

Lance Morrow

May 1, 2018 Politics and law

About 100 years ago, an adolescent Henry Luce wrote a letter to his parents, telling them of his desire to become a journalist. Journalism was the way, he said, by which “I can come closest to the heart of the world.” Luce, an earnest boy, was given sometimes to such little exaltations. Born in China, the son of Presbyterian missionaries, he spoke often of “the kingdom of God.” He believed that America was headed in the direction of the kingdom, and that journalism must play an indispensable role in his country’s evolving perfection. He went on to found a great empire of magazines (Time, Fortune, Life, and others) whose mission was to tell Americans who they were, what they were doing, and what they ought to be.

I think of this in connection with the business of Michelle Wolf and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The comedian—who has the avenging mind of a seventh-grader—delivered a 19-minute monologue much preoccupied with genitals. (The word “pussy” was repeated interminably, and even Paul Ryan’s gonads made an appearance. There was also a giddy endorsement of abortion—“Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.”) Wolf hoped to offend and, in that, she succeeded. She hoped to amuse, but there she failed. Comedy is supposed to be funny. Wolf was not funny.

So I thought, anyway. Others disagreed. I watched on television. There was laughter in the hall, but I did not think much of the people laughing. As I listened to Wolf’s savageries, I imagined that I was sitting with Mary McGrory (1918–2004), a brilliant fixture in the capital from the days of Joe McCarthy through the rest of the twentieth century. Mary was all things lovable and admirable and intelligent about Washington political journalism. I imagined her expressive face, passing, as she listened to Wolf, through stages of discomfort, embarrassment, astonishment, outrage, acceptance, resignation. When Wolf’s performance was over, Mary would have composed herself and said something dry and devastating.

The result of Wolf’s performance was a several-days’ uproar, which has included calls for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner to be abolished. Not a bad idea. People have been suggesting that for years now, ever since the correspondents’ employers started inviting their advertisers and friends-in-power to join the tables as guests, and—worse—embellished the lure with celebrities, Hollywood stars, and occasional freaks and oddments in the scandal du jour. The dinner and its lavish satellite parties became a celebration of the Bitch Goddess, and the Bitch God, too, and of lesser bitches and demons and novelties.

It became a tent show, the circus arriving every April in a hick town, bringing elephants. Journalism’s motto is supposed to be Truth; Washington journalism’s black-tie evening out came to be contaminated with quite a lot of falsehood. Conde-Nast’s Vanity Fair threw extravagant parties, perfectly though unconsciously modeled upon the empty original—John Bunyan’s Vanity Fair—where, as you will recall, people were mean and venal, and salvation was not to be found.

It seems to me that not only the White House Correspondents’ Association but also journalism itself needs to think about the state of its soul and needs, so to speak, to refresh its theology.

Henry (known as “Harry”) Luce, a religious man, believed that God works in history. Luce admired Reinhold Niebuhr and his ideas on immanence. The Creation did not end on the Sixth Day, after which He rested; rather, the world lives each day, each instant, in the exhilarating and terrifying process of the Ongoing Creation. (Luce believed in using capital letters for Big Ideas). If we live in the Ongoing Creation, then think of the importance—the indispensability—of Journalism: its sacred work is to observe the unfolding facts of the world, to report them accurately, and to help people think about them. Without good Journalism, democracy is impossible. That’s not merely a bromide; it is an urgent truth. (The Washington Post’s “Democracy Dies in Darkness” is essentially right, though it should drop the sanctimonious alliteration).

The problem in all this is a misunderstanding of freedom—what we might call the Kristofferson Error. (“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”—one of many fatal errors that the 1960s bequeathed us.) Freedom has nothing to do with individual license. Freedom—serious freedom, anyway—involves the obligation of individuals in a free society to be worthy of the responsibility of the choices that freedom gives them: the responsibility, among other things, to be well informed and to act decently. When individuals stop accepting the responsibility, then freedom dies.

Wolf’s transgressive performance, self-importantly indecent, did serve the purpose of provoking thought about a question: in the bizarre America that we inhabit, who is dragging down whom? People on the left entirely blame people on the right. People on the right entirely blame people on the left. In the physics of our dilemma, both points of view are correct. What’s at work in the Trump era is Balkan logic—blood feud (“I know what I’m doing is horrible, but you should see what they do to us”) and lex talionis. There is a good deal of sheer hysteria in the Left’s reaction to Trump. He knows it, and manipulates it; he plays his enemies’ hysteria like a calliope. The whirlwind is centrifugal.

Almost everyone who defended Wolf’s performance did so on the basis that Trump’s awfulness (lies, bad behavior, etc.) justifies any counter-awfulness; in essence, All is Permitted. That includes Wolf’s relentless, Jacobin, mirthless “comedy.” Trump’s enemies do not see that they have been led into a trap. They cannot see it because Americans’ minds have been geared for many years, since the sixties, to the confining and lesser and squalid realm of mere politics—race politics, gender politics, everything-else politics—and as a result, neglect larger and more interesting and more productive worlds of thought.

If God works in history and journalism, then Satan does as well. Luce told this story: at the end of his senior year at Yale, Amos Wilder, father of Luce’s classmate, the playwright Thornton Wilder, sat Luce down in a corner and, “with tears in his eyes,” told him: “Harry, don’t. Don’t go into journalism. It will turn you into a cynic. It will turn your wine into vinegar. You will lose your soul.”

It would be a struggle for Harry Luce to keep his soul during the next 45 years of his life, through times far more dire (Great Depression, World War, dawn of the nuclear age, Cold War) than the disruptive but transient age of Donald Trump. Whether Luce succeeded, I am not sure. But at least he remained at all times a grownup, and self-possessed, and entirely certain of the meaning of the word “uncouth.”

Lance Morrow, the Henry Grunwald Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, was an essayist at Time for many years.

Eastern US Offshore Wind Projects Risky and Expensive

Copied from website Watts Up With That

Several eastern US states are planning major investments in offshore wind. Wind turbines are touted as clean, green, and economically sound. But experience from around the world shows that offshore wind systems are both expensive and at high risk for early system degradation.

The governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia have signed executive orders or passed laws to procure offshore wind systems valued at billions of dollars. Officials are eager to win leadership in what is perceived to be a new growth industry. The US Department of Energy has funded over $200 million in offshore wind research since 2011.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a law in 2016 requiring utilities to purchase 1,600 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind systems over the next 10 years. The law requires that wind systems be “cost effective to electric ratepayers.” But history shows that costs are likely to be far above the New England wholesale market price of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Massachusetts paid solar generators a subsidy of 25 cents per kilowatt-hour during the state’s solar build-out in 2013. Rhode Island’s Block Island wind system, the first offshore system in the United States, now receives over 27 cents per kW-hr, with an annual guaranteed rate increase of an additional 3.5 cents per kW-hr. New England residents must enjoy paying renewable generators more than six times the market price for electricity.

In May of last year, Maryland’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approved electricity-rate increases to fund two wind projects east of the Ocean City shoreline. Maryland’s residents will pay an additional $2 billion over 20 years in increased electricity rates to support the projects. The Maryland PSC claims the systems will create jobs and spur economic growth, but analysis shows that rate payers will pay $200,000 for each of the estimated 9,700 jobs created.

Also in 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced approval of the South Fork Wind Farm off the coast of Long Island, stating “This project will not only provide a new reliable source of clean energy, but will also create high-paying jobs, continue our efforts to combat climate change and help preserve our environment for current and future generations of New Yorkers.”

But are offshore wind systems reliable? Ocean-located turbines face one of the harshest environments on Earth. Turbines are battered by wind and waves, struck by lightning, and need to endure salt spray that is very corrosive to man-made structures.

In February, it was reported that Danish wind operator Ørsted must repair more than 600 wind turbines due to early blade failure. The blades are to be disassembled and brought to shore for repair after only five years of operation, at a cost on the order of $100 million.

Then in March, it was announced that wind turbines at the 175-turbine London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind system, would also need major repairs after only five years of use. Few offshore systems have made it to the end their specified 25-year lifetimes without a major overhaul.

Wind turbines sited off the eastern US coast must survive brutal weather compared to offshore turbines in Europe. From March 1 to March 22 of this year, four powerful extratropical cyclones, called nor’easters, battered our east coast from Virginia to Maine. These storms produced ocean storm surges, large snowfalls, wind gusts of up to 100 miles per hour, and even 20 tornados.

Specifications call for wind systems to withstand gusts up to 156 miles per hour, but this isn’t good enough for some of our Atlantic hurricanes. Last September, hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico with Category 4-strength winds and destroyed many of the wind turbines on the island.

Strong hurricanes occasionally collide with our eastern coastal states. The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 brought Category 3 winds to New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 delivered Category 2 winds along the coast from North Carolina to Maine. Hurricane Carol in 1954 and Hurricane Gloria in 1985 brought Category 3 winds to the shores of the wind system-promoting states.

Finally, the Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane of 1821 passed through most of the proposed wind turbine sites with up to Category 4 wind strength. The expensive wind systems planned by Atlantic States could all be destroyed by a single well-placed hurricane.

Offshore wind turbines are expensive, prone to early degradation, and in the case of the US East Coast, at risk in the path of strong hurricanes. State officials should reconsider their plans for offshore wind systems.

Originally published in The Daily Caller, republished here at the request of the author.

Author: Steve Goreham, a speaker on the environment, business, and public policy and author of the book Outside the Green Box: Rethinking Sustainable Development.

A Blast of Truth On Gaza!

From Powerline Website —Scott Johnson

‘A BLAST OF TRUTH

The worse than worthless United National Human Rights Council delivered its ritual condemnation of Israel today in a special session on Gaza. Before the vote was taken, Gatestone Institute Distinguished Senior Fellow Colonel Richard Kemp spoke on behalf United Nations Watch. In light of the recent NBC News hit piece on Gatestone, I should add that Colonel Kemp’s statement is more informative than everything NBC News has on offer today. This was his statement:

‘I have the honour to take the floor on behalf of United Nations Watch.

I commanded British troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans and Northern Ireland, and served with NATO and the United Nations. I have come straight from the Gaza front line to share my assessment.

Based on what I observed, I can say that everything we just heard here is a complete distortion of the truth.

The truth is that Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel and murder of Jews everywhere, deliberately caused over 60 of its own people to get killed.

They sent thousands of civilians to the front line — as human shields for terrorists trying to break through the border.

Hamas’s goal, in their own words, was “blood… in the path of Jihad.”

I ask every country in this Council: You have all been telling us that Israel should have reacted differently. But how would you respond if a Jihadist terror group sent thousands to flood your borders, and gunmen to massacre your communities?

Your failure to admit that Hamas is responsible for every drop of blood spilt on the Gaza border encourages their violence and use of human shields. It makes you complicit in further bloodshed.

If Israel had allowed these mobs to break through the fence, the IDF would then have been forced to defend their own civilians from slaughter and many more Palestinians would have been killed.

Israel’s actions therefore saved lives of Gazans; and if this Council really cared about human rights, it should commend the Israel Defence Force for that, not condemn them on the basis of lies.’

Big Essay Number 20 —Thinking About Trump

THINKING ABOUT TRUMP

By: Charles R. Kesler

Charles Kesler is a Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute, Editor of the Claremont Review of Books, host of Claremont’s The American Mind video series, and the Dengler-Dykema Distinguished Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College.

Dr. Kesler also teaches in the Claremont Institute’s Publius Fellows Program and Lincoln Fellows Program. He received his B.A. in Social Studies and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University. From 1989 to 2008, Dr. Kesler was director of CMC’s Henry Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World.

He is the recipient of the prestigious 2018 Bradley Prize, a high honor bestowed upon distinguished individuals who have influenced American scholarship and debate.

From September 2000 to March 2001, he served as vice chairman of the Advisory Committee to the U.S. Congress’s James Madison Commemoration Commission.

He was selected in June 2000 as a member of the Scholars Commission on the Jefferson-Hemings Issue sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society.

Dr. Kesler is the author of I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism (Broadside Books); the editor of Saving the Revolution: The Federalist Papers and the American Founding (Free Press); co-editor, with John B. Kienker, of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: Ten Years of the Claremont Review of Books (Rowman & Littlefield); and co-editor, with William F. Buckley, Jr., of Keeping the Tablets: Modern American Conservative Thought (HarperCollins). He has written extensively on American constitutionalism and political thought, and his edition of The Federalist Papers (Signet Classics) is the best-selling edition in the country.

Posted: May 7, 2018

This article appeared in: Volume XVIII, Number 2, Spring 2018 —Claremont Review

Two months before the 2016 presidential election, the Claremont Review of Books published (in its digital pages) an essay that began: “2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die.” The author, Publius Decius Mus, a pseudonym for Michael Anton, who recently served as director of communications for the National Security Council, noted that “you may die anyway” because there were no guarantees except one: “if you don’t try, death is certain.”

He allowed that his metaphor might strike many readers as “histrionic.” It did; but it struck many more as galvanizing, especially when Rush Limbaugh devoted virtually an entire radio program to reading “The Flight 93 Election” excitedly to his listeners.

Not long after, a Never Trump friend took me aside to warn that the essay was “dangerous,” by which he meant irresponsible, “the kind of argument that could be used to justify….” He didn’t finish the thought, but I suppose he meant a calamity like a coup or the election of Donald J. Trump, assuming he could tell the difference. I pointed out the obvious, which is that the only non-metaphorical action the author urged Americans to consider was voting for the Republican presidential candidate. Nothing illegal about that, is there?

The broader point, of course, is that almost any spirited political appeal involves an element of exaggeration for effect. After all, in a democracy free speech often aims to awaken the public to a danger to which it is presently blind or complacent. A free people understands this and enjoys, in both senses of the term, the exuberance of political argument, which is its birthright.

During the Cold War, with the danger of nuclear annihilation hanging heavy in the air, fellow-traveling leftists often deployed a surrender slogan, “better Red than dead,” to which American conservatives liked to retort, jauntily, “better dead than Red!” That qualified as an exaggeration, inasmuch as they were not looking forward to Mutual Assured Destruction, nor counseling, say, mass suicide in the event of a Soviet victory. More carefully stated, the slogan meant it was better to face the possibility of being dead than the certainty of being Red: it was a rallying cry to resist the Communists. And by means of a vigorous, anti-Communist foreign policy, it would be possible, God willing, to end up being neither dead nor Red, which was indeed how the Cold War played out not only for us but, more remarkably, for the Russians, too.

Is such freewheeling speech allowed anymore? That is a question for the Trump years, as we shall see. How amusing, in the meantime, that it is the president’s opponents who now seem to be eyeing the cockpit, nervously. And not merely in anticipation of a heated 2020 get-out-the-vote campaign. Some of them fantasize, rather openly, about congressional “interventions,” “Amendment 25” putsches, and other desperate steps that could be taken to remove the constitutionally elected president before he crashes Air Force One into the special counsel’s office.

They are letting off steam, mostly. But what’s remarkable is how little light they have shed on the object of their ire. After almost three years, American progressives and the conservative Never Trumpers are no closer to understanding the man and the political situation he’s helped to create than they ever were. If we wish to make some progress in understanding him and the state of the country, we need to start from a different point of view.

Breaking Bad

Teddy Roosevelt once congratulated his countrymen for never having elected a bad man as president. More than a year into his presidency, the critics’ basic indictment of Donald Trump, delivered with several variations, is that he is a bad man, so bad as to be unfit for the presidential office. For most his badness bespeaks moral vice, others cry up what might be called temperamental or psychological failings, while a few insist the disorder is intellectual. Among the Never Trump oddsmakers, the theory that he aspires consciously to be a tyrant seems to have faded, to be replaced by a more workaday worry over his “authoritarian personality,” which might be said to combine all three complaints.

The structure of the Never Trump argument is worth examining. Bad men make bad presidents; Trump is a bad man; therefore, Trump is, or will be, a bad president. For the syllogism to hold, both the major and the minor premises must be true. Let us stipulate, for the moment, that his critics are right in their commitment to the minor premise: Trump is a bad man. Does it follow that he must be a bad president?

There is certainly a lot of truth in the major premise. As the ancient Greeks used to say, “ruling shows the man.” That is, a man’s virtues and vices are clarified and magnified by his public actions and words, especially in the case of a president. “Character is destiny,” as the saying goes.

Yet two doubts or qualifications arise immediately. First, it is possible for a bad person to do good accidentally, as it were, either without intending to, or by intending quite deliberately to do so but for the sake of another, further end that is immoral or amoral. As Machiavelli argued (he wasn’t the first), the prince may be persuaded to serve the people for the sake of his own personal glory. That isn’t virtue as Christian or classical ethics would define it. But it can be productive of much public good, not as an intention but as a byproduct.

As it happens, the U.S. Constitution famously set up a series of institutional checks and balances to encourage ambitious men to vie against other ambitious men to serve the public good. The framers intended to enable men of good character to have the powers and duties they needed in office to put their virtues and talents to work, consciously pursuing justice and the common good; and at the same time, the framers intended to compel bad men to serve the public even if they would prefer not to. When working properly, the Constitution’s incentives would, by repetition, help to make such service habitual, and thus improve the character of some, at least, of the imperfect human beings who would get elected in this democratic republic.

Second, as these considerations suggest, a lot depends on what “bad men” actually means. Let’s begin from the beginning, as it were. From the point of view of original sin, we are all bad, that is, fallen—deprived of the original justice and holiness God intended us to have. From this crooked wood of humanity—for there is no other—has come every so-called good, or even great, president. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that many old-fashioned readers of the Bible, and evangelical Christians in particular, have made their peace with President Trump more easily than outside observers might have expected. Christians are commanded to hate the sin but love the sinner. That doesn’t mean they have to support Donald Trump. But his religious friends find it instructive that in the Bible God repeatedly found ways to use even very flawed human beings for His purposes—from King David, who procured her husband’s death so he could enjoy adultery with Bathsheba, to Saint Peter, who fearfully lied about his association with Jesus.

Though commanded to strive for godliness, Jews and Christians do not expect to reach it, at least not in this world. But presumably that is not quite the point being raised by “bad men make bad presidents.” All men, and all presidents, are not equally bad, nor bad in the same way. Many of Trump’s most well-meaning critics are thinking “bad” not in the sense of falling short of God’s glory but of falling short, through turpitude or vice (e.g., vanity, untruthfulness), of attainable human morality. Along these lines one of the less well-meaning critics, James Comey, the former FBI director, has said over and over, Trump is “morally unfit to be president.” These critics are scandalized that Trump is not scandalized by his own misdeeds, especially involving women.

It’s not uncommon, however, for bad men in this and similar senses to do good by the public. Gouverneur Morris, “the rake who wrote the Constitution,” as Richard Brookhiser calls him in his excellent biography, felt a kind of calling to sleep with other men’s wives. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a serial adulterer, as the tireless public servants in the FBI of his day knew well. These sins, which were habitual enough to be called vices, did not prevent—and detracted from, if at all, only slightly—the enormous public good they did.

Andrew Jackson killed a man in a duel, and would have killed more if he could. Ulysses S. Grant was a drunkard, at least for long stretches of his life. Grover Cleveland, an out-of-wedlock father through a dalliance that was Clintonian in its impetuousness, entered the presidency with chants of “Ma, Ma, where’s my pa?” ringing in his ears, only to be defended by his fellow Democrats who chanted, “Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!”

Exhorting Americans to live up to the Declaration of Independence’s principles as far as they could, that is, as far as circumstances would allow, Abraham Lincoln liked to appeal to the verse, “Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” But in accepting political allies among Know-Nothings and other unsavory elements, Lincoln resisted counsels of perfection and appealed to another verse, “by their fruits ye shall know them.” That is, the test of practical good should be: will bad or flawed men cooperate in delivering sound public policy (as measured by his, not by their, standards), regardless of their moral and intellectual failings?

The leap from bad men to bad presidents is not easy or automatic. Particulars matter. Bad character may be merely a distraction, or it may amount to a fatal flaw. If we are talking tyranny, or treason, or bestial depths of viciousness, or psychological or mental incapacity—these and similar species of badness clearly make for bad rulers and bad presidents. But the inability of moral virtue to rule the world is an old discovery, understood by none more profoundly than by the truly magnanimous statesmen like Lincoln who were keenly aware of the rarity of their greatness and goodness.

Hard and Soft

Good character remains more desirable and honorable than bad character—even if bad character does not necessarily make for a bad president, nor good character for a good president. Based on his critics’ account of him, the question about Trump would seem to be, at least from the conservative point of view: how comes such a bad man to do so much good? That is, is it really the case, as the Never Trumpers’ minor premise asserts, that Trump is such a bad man? So bad that it was morally imperative to usher Hillary Clinton to the White House in his stead?

I’m reminded of Winston Churchill’s line about the socialist Stafford Cripps: “He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” The Never Trumpers see no virtues in Trump, and admire none of his vices. The resulting portrait is a caricature, a rough, unrevealing one. No one would ever call him a moral paragon—not even the president himself. But the Trump universe theorized by the Never Trumpers is all dark matter; it doesn’t acknowledge the traits we see with our own eyes, including some admirable vices, but also his distinctive virtues, whether we choose to dislike them or not. The critics seem to prefer an explanation of Trump that is, as the cosmologists say, non-luminous.

Michael Barone’s Hard America, Soft America: Competition vs. Coddling and the Battle for the Nation’s Future (2004) is a short book with a useful distinction that begins to illuminate the phenomenon of Trump. It describes two countries, as it were. “Hard America” is shaped by the marketplace forces of competition and accountability. “Soft America” is the realm of public schools, self-esteem, and government social programs. The latter, according to Barone, produces incompetent and unambitious 18-year-olds, the former hard-charging and adaptable 30-year-olds. Somehow, uneasily, modern America includes both.

Donald Trump considers himself a kind of ambassador from hard America to soft America. Many (not all) of the asperities of his character are related to his career path. He calls himself “a builder,” and America “a nation of builders.” He knows his way around a construction site, and his virtues and vices skew to that hard, brazen, masculine world of getting things built quickly, durably, beautifully if possible, and in any case profitably. He wants to revive hard America’s mines, factories, and building sites, in the face of what he knows is the growing power of its despisers in soft America.

Still, there are different districts in hard America. For example, Mitt Romney is a very successful businessman, too. But Trump comes from a different neighborhood. They divide along recognizable lines that until 2016 did not seem that interesting, because most commentators simply assumed that Romney’s neighborhood had forever displaced Trump’s. They pose sharp contrasts within the world of hard America: construction versus consulting, blue-collar versus white-collar, “deals” versus mergers and acquisitions.

For most of his life, Trump ran a prosperous and famous family business. Though he’s had clients, partners, and customers, he’s never had to report regularly to a board of directors or to public shareholders or to regular capital markets, and it shows. He’s used to being the boss, to following his intuition, to trying one thing and then another, to hiring and firing at will (and to hiring family members at will), to promoting himself and his companies shamelessly. Not every family entrepreneur is like this, but most could probably recognize a bit of themselves in Trump’s exaggerated portrait. Whereas Trump is a wildcatter at heart, Rex Tillerson, his first secretary of state, the former CEO of Exxon, was Big Oil; it wasn’t hard to predict they would clash.

As the quintessential Bain Capital private equity guy, Romney shunned big, old-line companies unless they were foundering. Like Trump, he practiced a kind of creative destruction, but one that was planned, modeled, and financed as taught in the business schools (Romney is a joint Harvard J.D.-MBA). It was this spirit of cool expertise and willingness to sacrifice factories and jobs that helped to make so damaging Romney’s leaked remark in 2012 about the “47%” who pay no income tax, whom he could never persuade “they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” The only thing missing in his assessment was “deplorables.”

Trump also knows his way around a television studio. The hard reality of being a builder and landlord is combined, in his case, with being a longstanding reality-TV star. If the preceding president cast himself in the role of “no-drama” Obama, the current one plays all-drama-all-the-time Trump. From the beginning his kind of real estate verged on show business. Branding and selling his name, which have constituted the largest part of his business for a while, represented for him another step in the direction of show business. Show business is a business, however, and Trump likes to interpret what might be considered the softer side of his career in the hardest possible terms. He emphasizes numbers—the ratings, the advertising dollars, the size of his crowds. He has survived in several cutthroat industries, and intends to add politics to the list.

Whether in business or in politics, Trump disliked the airs and claims of “experts,” detached from and above the subjects of their experiments. He distrusted their glibness, too. He identified with working men and women, and promised (at least) to add jobs, to boost economic growth, to “win” for pipe-fitters and waitresses, too. He defended their Social Security but blasted the fraud of Obamacare, whereas Romney had scorned the 47%’s “entitlements” but gave Obamacare (based, you may recall, on Romneycare) a pass. Romney lacked perhaps what Kanye West would call “dragon energy.” When in a primary election he had done well among voters without a high school degree, Trump memorably declared, “I love the poorly educated.” You’d never hear Romney, nor any other mainstream Republican, say that!

Romney is certainly not a bad man, but he was portrayed in the 2012 presidential campaign as cruel to animals, a bully, a liar, a religious fanatic, a sexist (“binders full of women”), a warmonger, and many other evil things by the campaigning Left. These days the Left is always campaigning; as is the Right. Under those conditions, moral criticisms shade quickly into aesthetic-political ones, and vice versa. It is not entirely clear whether his liberal and conservative critics disapprove of Trump because he violates moral law or because he is infra dig. The ease with which the one yields to the other might suggest that his conservative opponents in particular should take pains to specify their objections and check their own prejudices. Their favorite medium for getting these off their chest—Twitter—suggests that painstakingness is not the point.

At any rate, Trump was neither the first nor the last GOP presidential candidate to be caricatured as a very bad, very rich man. The ease with which businessmen of whatever precinct may be caricatured as immoralists shows that soft America is perhaps not as soft as Barone thought. Soft America, centered on our schools, is hard enough to have come up with political correctness, now the cutting edge of American progressivism. And hard America, at least its Fortune 500 slice, has proved soft enough to become the chief disseminator of political correctness to middle America.

In Search of Populism

Trump is often called a populist, though it isn’t a word he uses very often or to describe himself. Yet many of his alleged moral and political disqualifications are said to trace to his populism, whatever that means. In the age of big government or, more precisely, of administrative government, the word appears in country after country but always elusively. It responds to a need but never satisfies that need.

When the original American populists organized the People’s Party in time for the 1892 election, their rallying cry was the people versus “the interests,” meaning the railroads and large corporations that were squeezing farmers and small businessmen, and that allegedly dominated the two main political parties. So they started a new party calling for silver money and lots of it, nationalization of the railroads, a federal income tax, and other reforms including the initiative, referendum, and direct election of senators.

But in an age when the vast majority of federal laws are regulations passed by unelected bureaucrats, when state and federal courts freely strike down state initiatives they dislike, when the money supply is controlled by the unelected members of the Federal Reserve, when campaign finance laws make it difficult for new parties to form, and when there is already a federal program for almost every imaginable social problem—what is “populism” supposed to do?

The post-1960s bargain that Americans made with their government, not quite knowingly to be sure, was to exchange more and more aspects of popular control over government for a guarantee to the people of new, constantly updated rights, assigned by the government to economic, social, ethnic, racial, gender, and transgender groups. The exchange of power for rights has left us addicted to the rights but frustrated at the loss of power. The whole bargain seems increasingly hollow. And it could get worse if the next Democratic administration resumes President Obama’s efforts to use treaties and international organizations to upload more power to foreign courts and bureaucrats, even further removed from the American people.

As a result, there are fewer and fewer levers by which the governed can make its consent count, by which an indignant people can exert control over its own government. In the administrative state there is little room for populism because there is no room for an independent people. The “people” has been broken down into claimant groups, and every group has been organized, the better to mesh with the gears of the state. The only escape would be somehow to revive the older political system, which limited government enough so that the people could responsibly control the government, directly via elections and indirectly through the Constitution. The only populism that could make a difference, in other words, has at its heart a return to constitutionalism.

That’s a very daunting goal, not particularly clear in its ultimate demands. How to get there is just as daunting. In 2010 the Tea Party cheered the ends but remained baffled by the means, and then offered to let the Republican Party take over its thinking, which was a fatal mistake. The GOP never got beyond opposing Obamacare…without ever having thought, at least seriously, of a substitute.

Elections remain the people’s primary means to control the government, and it was through that door Trump entered our political life, at the head of a popular movement that gradually gathered to oppose the existing Republican establishment, the torpor of the conservative movement, and the politically correct, and increasingly anti-American, Left. Several times Trump has pointed out that the movement he led lacked a name, and lacks one still. This reflects probably the sheer confusion of the political moment, as the popular resistance to the consolidation and expansion of progressivism—to eight more years of Obama-style transformation—measured its lofty, desperate goals against the field of 17 contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. It reflects also, however, that Trump was not the origin of the discontent, however vital he was to its crystallization.

In the beginning it looked like a very impressive field, until Trump began to campaign against it. He announced his candidacy in June 2015, on the day after Jeb Bush did. Bush already had raised $120 million, collected binders full of endorsements, muscled Romney out of the way, and stood near the top of every poll. Within a month Trump had overtaken him. Trump stayed at the top the rest of the way, with the exception of a few weeks of jockeying with Ben Carson.

The story of Trump’s rise was also the story of Jeb’s fall—of the whole Bush establishment’s fall. Republican voters came gradually to realize that George W. Bush’s presidency, despite some glorious moments, looked more and more like a failure. The administration’s occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan had curdled into endless war and self-deluded democratization. Its domestic agenda of compassionate conservatism had proved underwhelming, leading to a bigger federal role in education, a new Medicare entitlement, and failed efforts to implement “comprehensive immigration reform,” meaning more immigration, multiculturalism, and Democrats. At the end of his tenure the economy collapsed into the Great Recession, prepared in part by his administration’s compassionate distribution of mortgages to uncreditworthy borrowers.

Trump awakened the Republican Party to how alienated it was from its own titular leaders and their agenda, which had been officially ratified by the Republican National Committee in its “postmortem” on Romney’s loss in the 2012 election. The RNC recommended—demanded—more of the same, and especially a healthy dose of immigration “reform,” for which Jeb, the former governor of Florida, was the perfect standard bearer. The only problem was that the party elites had completely misread the party base. They missed the huge popular (or was it populist?) wave that was building, the wave that Trump would ride to the White House.

Conservative Torpor

From George H.W. on, Bush family politicians had fancied themselves not only as post-Reagan Republicans, though their eagerness in that respect was revealing enough, but as supra-Reagan, a more public-spirited, morally grounded class of leadership. The story, probably apocryphal, has Nancy Reagan listening to H.W.’s acceptance speech, in which he vowed to seek a kinder, gentler America. Afterwards she asked Ronnie, “Kinder, gentler than who?” Exactly. The history of the GOP post-Reagan, through its presidential avatars Bush 41, Dole, Bush 43, McCain, and Romney, is a history of barely contained jealousy, disparagement, and imaginary transcendence of Reagan conservatism.

In terms of its public policy successes, the conservative movement peaked in the Reagan years, launching a generation-long rejuvenation of the economy and preparing the defeat of Soviet Communism. The Berlin Wall, and soon after the Soviet Union itself, fell during H.W.’s watch, though mostly as the result of his predecessor’s policies. After that, conservatives relaxed their vigilance, confident they were winning in a post-Soviet, post-socialist world. The GOP took the House of Representatives in 1994, for the first time in 40 years. Didn’t Bill Clinton declare that “the era of big government is over?”

Conservatives sunk into a self-satisfied contentment, confident that what, in his brief heyday, Newt Gingrich called “the third wave” would conduct them safely and inevitably to shore. When the emerging Republican realignment did not emerge, many conservatives adjusted their timelines but did not despair. In the long run, they reflected, the alternation in power of conservatives and chastened liberals would produce an orderly progress toward moderate conservatism—or moderate liberalism, but in any event toward moderation. The price of this bargain did not seem high: the Left insisted on dictating the moral rules of the road, including the complete rulebook of racial and gender etiquette. Affirmative action, in particular, was here to stay in college admissions and business hiring. Republicans hardly objected: what were Human Relations departments for, after all?

It was business as usual for the GOP and, to a lesser but still significant extent, for the conservative movement throughout the Bush era, from H.W. to Jeb. That era ended when Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy. It’s far from clear that the Trump Administration will end well, but it’s perfectly clear that the Bush era—one might almost say, the Bush-Clinton era—is over, for good or ill.

Perhaps only a genuine outsider could have smashed it. Although presidential candidates often present themselves as outsiders, Trump is the real thing: a complete novice in politics. Lacking experience or a deep acquaintance with history, he is forced to improvise. Sometimes that scrambling has the character of the best kind of entrepreneurial innovation, sometimes it seems like the worst kind of reality-TV blather, when the unscripted imperative is to say or do something—the more dramatic the better—and see what happens next.

His campaign was a case in point. It wasn’t an accident that his children filled so many key positions in the early going. That wasn’t nepotism, it was desperation. Trump didn’t know the experienced strategists, fundraisers, pollsters, and politicos that a normal presidential campaign requires to operate. Most of the outsiders who were attracted to him early were either complete unknowns or has-beens. (Everyone you’d ever heard of was working for one of the other 16 GOP contenders.) Steve Bannon was virtually unknown then, and certainly had no political experience. It’s possible to be a “populist” while being unknown by the people, but it isn’t exactly a recommendation. Through Bannon’s activities at Breitbart the term “alt-right,” also hitherto virtually unknown, began to circulate. This was a boon to the liberal press, who needed a MacGuffin to pursue for the rest of the campaign.

It was a mess, but competent people eventually were found, and amid the confusion Trump’s indictment of the torpid party leaders continued to be heard, and welcomed. He had two conspicuous virtues that his Republican opponents, and Hillary Clinton too, lacked. One was a sense of humor. To address rallies for an hour at a time off the cuff and keep them laughing is very hard to do. His humor was not gentlemanly or self-deprecating like Reagan’s; it was cutting, bold, outrageous, and usually at the expense of his opponents and the press. But Trump connected with his audience as Reagan did, because each spoke as a citizen to fellow citizens, without a trace of the policy expert’s condescension, cosmopolitanism, or crocodile tears. The press never got Trump’s humor.

His second virtue was a kind of courage in defense of one’s own. This was a courage never tested in war or physical emergency, to be sure, but it was a large, and impressive, political fact. He was prepared to stand up for his family, his company, his campaign, his country, and for his country’s jobs, workers, factories, and products. Courage never demands that one be perfect or morally pure, and he isn’t, so this virtue fit his rhetorical needs and strength. America does not have to be perfect for him to defend her wholeheartedly against her enemies. He does not have to be perfect to seek or to assert the privilege of defending her. Warts and all. It’s necessary only to love her.

Obama was constantly apologizing for America’s past, present, and future sins. Hillary promised more of the same, only more gratingly. Trump regards this duty as, at best, a very small slice of the presidential portfolio; when vastly overdone, it becomes a moral nullity and a political con game.

One effect of his courage in defense of our own was to neutralize the effects in the campaign of what used to be called “liberal guilt.” In truth, liberals long ago spread it to Republicans and conservatives. Part of the Bush dynasty’s high self-regard had to do with its presumed sensitivity on this question. Why Republicans should feel so guilty over historic Democratic policies like slavery and segregation is itself a good question, but the tactic has worked for decades to paralyze conservatives’ self-confidence and pride, and to induce them to take compensating positions on, say, immigration “reform” to prove their bona fides. Trump was the first GOP candidate and president in a long time to prove immune to this gambit. He appeared in public guilt-free.

In his confidence in America’s principles and in the ultimate justice of the people, and his refusal to indulge in racial and sexual guilt-mongering, Trump resembles those brave conservatives like Clarence Thomas, Shelby Steele, and Thomas Sowell, who have turned their face against the contemporary politics of liberal guilt, including its insistence on never-ending affirmative action. Like them he believes in equal opportunity, which means a chance for anyone, male or female, black or white, to prove up to the job. But that requires the same standards for everyone. Like these prominent black thinkers, he doesn’t mind that that makes him politically incorrect. In fact, he seems to enjoy it.

Great Again

“Make America Great Again,” Trump’s slogan, presupposes of course that America once was great, and might be again. His courage in defense of her is thus not entirely blind to her faults and her glories. (You can love someone and still see the warts.) He assumes that her citizens ought to be proud of America, that she is something noble or capable of being noble.

These notions, which used to be the common sense of American politics, are now highly controversial. They are politically incorrect, rejected as “offensive” on many college campuses and increasingly in American politics. Today’s freshmen, who are tomorrow’s voters, soon learn (if they hadn’t been taught already) to believe in the ubiquitous malevolence of “white supremacy” in American politics as earnestly as Protestants believe (or used to) in the depravity of human nature after Adam’s fall. Needless to say, it’s a very different thing to believe that human nature is inherently warped, and that white nature is. To disbelieve this racist canon is itself, in contemporary parlance, proof of racism.

Trump has his eye on the contemporary Left’s extremism, but this is not so much the statist Left that the libertarians oppose, nor the values-and-autonomy Left resisted by the religious Right, but the anti-American Left. This Left plunged its knife into our politics in the 1960s and has been twisting it ever since.

The Old Left had opposed American capitalism, the Progressives had condemned American plutocracy, but not until the ’50s and ’60s did a significant faction of the Left begin to blame the American masses, not the elite, for the country’s sins. The people became the problem. They were racist, materialist, imperialist, sexist, and sexually inhibited, according to the original catalogue of sins; later the phobias were discovered—homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, and so forth. Together these comprise pretty much the irredeemable sins Hillary had in mind when she condemned Trump’s voters as deplorable. His voters weren’t the whole country, but they were close enough. (And to be fair, she said she meant to denounce only about half his voters.)

Far from being Trump’s authoritarian fantasy, the Left’s growing alienation from middle America, and hence from America, has been remarked and resisted in a series of major liberal books in recent decades: Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s The Disuniting of America (1991), Richard Rorty’s Achieving Our Country (1998), and Mark Lilla’s The Once and Future Liberal (2017). What these estimable volumes also have in common, alas, is ineffectiveness. They didn’t stop or even slow the Left’s self-alienation.

Increasingly, therefore, the effect of higher education is to turn our own children into aliens, and hostile ones at that. In truth, the difficulties of assimilating today’s immigrants are due mainly to us, not to them; they are reluctant mostly because they are learning from us that America is not a country worth assimilating to. Trump alone among the 2016 candidates took an unflinching, a proud stand against the multicultural dissolution and loathing of America. In that sense he was, as he occasionally indicated, a pro-immigration politician: great again, America would be a country worth immigrating to. “To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely,” as Edmund Burke observed. To be citizens again, Americans of all sorts must rediscover their country’s loveliness.

That stand on behalf of America took not only courage but also a certain justice, which he expressed in very American terms. “When you open your heart to patriotism,” he said in his inaugural address, “there is no room for prejudice.” Donald Trump has gotten little credit for such virtues, but they are present amid the hurly-burly, the distractions, the mistakes, the tweets, the investigations, the exhaustion, and the shrewd public policy of the Trump Administration so far. His good qualities are the quietest part of his presidency.

Just Use The Rule Of Law in Kinder Morgan Pipeline !

Here is a great article by a Professor Of Law Carried in the Financial Post

‘Now Ottawa can finally stop playing along with B.C.’s Trans Mountain gong show

Opinion: A clarified legal landscape might avoid the need to buy a pipeline

The end-of-May deadline imposed by Kinder Morgan to get clarity on its proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is looming. Quite understandably, people have begun asking what has happened to the planned combination of legislative steps and negotiated financial support first proposed by the federal government in early April. Is this plan still going to happen? And can it?

Canada can still get this done. But it will require a larger role for legislation and robust federal government action than seems to have been on offer thus far. I want to describe a route forward, but we need first to understand the current context.

On May 15, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made some disjointed comments on the Trans Mountain pipeline, offering only vague assurances of progress. Within hours of negative media commentary commencing, a late-evening announcement was sent out that Minister of Finance Bill Morneau would answer questions the next morning.

On May 16, Morneau indicated a plan to compensate Kinder Morgan for any project delays resulting from British Columbia’s ongoing political interference. Negotiations are apparently continuing. Some journalists, such as Evan Solomon,
have cited anonymous government sources as saying that the subject may be turning to a government purchase of the project.

Morneau’s comments alluded to still using legislative steps, but only with an indication that government officials are considering options. Chantal Hébert in the Toronto Star questioned this week whether legislation could make it through Parliament on any reasonable timeline, mainly because of possible challenges in the Senate, and singled out Senator Murray Sinclair as being set to block the pipeline.

The suggestions about the Senate and Sinclair specifically illustrate just how far off-track some of the analysis has gotten. Unnoticed by much of the commentary, the Senate Transport and Communications Committee reported back on May 10 on a pertinent bill called Bill S-245: The Trans Mountain Pipeline Project Act. The committee recommended the third-reading vote that will adopt it and let it move to the House of Commons. And, contrary to a certain narrative, during committee proceedings Senator Sinclair, while seeking further assurance that the bill affects only federal/provincial issues and does not undermine Indigenous legal positions, indicated that he supports this bill.

Senator Doug Black of Alberta presciently first introduced Bill S-245 in February. It would declare the Trans Mountain project a work “for the general advantage of Canada.” For those that like legal details, that is special legal language that triggers section 92(10)(c) of the Constitution Act, 1867.

In simpler terms, it marks a constitutional declaration by the federal government of the exclusively federal authority over this particular project and that provides an ongoing framework for federal authority. Although not used as much recently, the underlying power has been used hundreds of times in Canadian history. It has been used at least dozens of times in the context of interprovincial and international projects to reinforce federal authority that would already have existed.

To be clear, it should not be necessary to adopt such legislation. In legal terms, the pipeline is already clearly in federal jurisdiction and provinces are not legally able to interfere with such a federal project.

But British Columbia has been exploiting some theories about the possibility of overlapping provincial regulation on environmental matters to create ongoing uncertainty. It set in course a multi-month procrastination exercise of sending a reference case to its provincial Court of Appeal that will now take much longer for a resolution. And the federal government has thus far played along, indicating it will be an intervenor in that case.

A more proactive federal route is possible. Adopting Bill S-245 in the House of Commons once it moves over from the Senate should be a no-brainer and can be done quickly on a bipartisan basis with Liberal and Conservative support. It will mark a clear reassertion of federal authority.

It is also open to the federal government to speed up judicial deliberations. Instead of intervening in a slow-moving provincial court action, it could refer the same questions over to the Supreme Court of Canada for an expedited hearing.

A clarified legal landscape might avoid the need to buy a pipeline. And standing up for legal clarity would also be a positive sign for future investors. Right now, it looks like Canada will just run a gong show en route to back-door nationalization. It’s time, instead, to get back to the rule of law and get Canada working again.

Dwight Newman is a Munk Senior Fellow with the Macdonald Laurier Institute and Professor of Law at the University of Saskatchewan.

Where Is NAFTA ?

Who knows?

The whole matter is confusing as the main parties make public statements that conflict . The US Trade Representative says there is a big gap and that the parties are no where close to a deal and then the same day Prime Minister Trudeau speaks of close to an agreement. I suppose each is trying to up the pressure .

It makes for confusing news stories and leaves The Financial markets in the dark, something that they detest.

In reading between the lines it looks like the US is playing hard ball on some of the other issues other than the auto file , i.e. agriculture and intellectual property and this may have caught the Canadians off guard.

Interesting few days.

A CBC report:

WASHINGTON — The United States declared the NAFTA countries were nowhere close to a deal in a statement Thursday designed to douse expectations that an agreement might be just a few minor adjustments away.

It rebuffed an effort from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, and several high-ranking staffers who were in the U.S. on Thursday urging a quick deal.

U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer rejected the idea that an agreement was within imminent reach. He cited big differences on intellectual property, agriculture, online purchases, energy, labour, rules of origin, and other issues.

“The NAFTA countries are nowhere near close to a deal…. There are gaping differences,” Lighthizer said in an evening statement.

“We of course will continue to engage in negotiations, and I look forward to working with my counterparts to secure the best possible deal for American farmers, ranchers, workers, and businesses.”

All three countries agreed that they would keep negotiating beyond Thursday, a date that had been presented as a procedural deadline for getting a deal to the U.S. Congress for a vote this year.

The reason Canada, Mexico and some in the U.S. want a deal wrapped up has to do with creating certainty — in terms of business confidence, and in order to settle the process before elections in Mexico and the U.S. stall progress until next year.

Some fear delay will add political unpredictability, since many of the politicians now involved will no longer be in politics next year: Mexico will have a new administration, the U.S. will have a new Congress after midterm elections, and several senior American lawmakers are retiring.

Trudeau had spent the day promoting the idea that an agreement was now within reach.

The prime minister received a call from U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday night in which they discussed the NAFTA negotiations, but a readout provided by Trudeau’s office did not include any details.

Canada’s case lay on a strand of seemingly linear logic. Canada’s argument went that if the U.S. claims to be reopening NAFTA specifically to deal with its trade deficit, and if the leading cause of that trade deficit with Mexico involves autos, and if the autos issue is almost solved, then the Americans could walk away right now with a win.

“We are close to a deal,” the prime minister said in New York. “We are down to a point where there is a good deal on the table.”

Trudeau admitted to being unsure whether a deal would take days, weeks, or be put off indefinitely. In any case, he said he was ready to keep negotiating: “We’ll keep working until they shut off the lights.”

Trudeau drew another public contradiction Thursday — this one from Mexico.

The Mexican government scolded the prime minister over an element of the sales pitch he delivered in New York: Trudeau argued that the autos changes would help the U.S. by bringing back some Mexican jobs.

In the midst of a presidential election campaign in that country, and facing its own political pressures at home, the Mexican government publicly challenged Canada’s prime minister.

“A clarification is necessary,” Mexico’s economy minister, Ildefonso Guajardo, tweeted. “Any renegotiated NAFTA that implies losses of existing Mexican jobs is unacceptable.”

Now it appears the U.S. is settling in for harder bargaining on issues like pharmaceuticals, dairy, and online duty-free purchases. Lighthizer’s statement did not mention a pair of other sticking points — dispute resolution and a so-called sunset clause.

In an appearance on the Fox Business Network, Trudeau had ridiculed the sunset-clause idea, which would see NAFTA automatically end in five years unless all countries agree to extend it.

Trudeau used an example designed to appeal to a certain former real-estate developer who is now the U.S. president; he compared the termination clause to building a skyscraper on a parcel of land you might lose in five years.

Lighthizer’s statement also did not mention the threat of steel and aluminum tariffs — which are, at this point, scheduled to take effect June 1.

Those impending tariffs, the July 1 Mexican election, and the U.S. congressional calendar, had all created pressure for an imminent deal.

Top U.S. lawmaker Paul Ryan had declared Thursday as the last date for meeting the procedural deadlines for a vote this year. On Thursday, he revised that slightly.

Ryan clarified that if the independent body in the U.S. tasked with analysing trade deals managed to assess the new NAFTA faster than legally required, then in theory an agreement could still get to the floor for a vote in this Congress.

Some in the Canadian government have mused about the potential strategic benefits of dragging out the talks. However that calculus has been tempered by Bank of Canada analysis that trade uncertainty is hurting the economy, reducing business investment by about two per cent and the overall GDP by about 0.2 per cent this year.

That uncertainty has been compounded by the tariff threats.