It couldn’t have happened to a nicer website

Turns out a site dedicated to encouraging people to have affairs was a total scam.  Who would have guessed?

The parent company of infidelity dating site Ashley Madison, hit by a devastating hack last year, is now the target of a U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigation, the new executives seeking to revive its credibility told Reuters.


The two executives, hired in April, said the closely held company is spending millions to improve security and looking at payment options that offer more privacy.

But it faces a mountain of problems, including U.S. and Canadian class action lawsuits filed on behalf of customers whose personal information was posted online, and allegations that it used fake profiles to manipulate some customers. The site’s male-to-female user ratio is five to one, the executives said.

An Ernst & Young report commissioned by Avid and shared with Reuters confirmed that Avid used computer programs, dubbed fembots, that impersonated real women, striking up conversations with paying male customers.

Avid shut down the fake profiles in the United States, Canada and Australia in 2014, and by late 2015 in the rest of the world, but some U.S. users had message exchanges with foreign fembots until late in 2015, according to the report.

The Lee Harvey Oswald-ization of Omar Mateen

Some cold, hard facts: even as gay rights have become more widely accepted in the United States, and even after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, many conservative Christian Republicans continue to resort blatantly homophobic scaremongering and promote anti-GLBT policies – especially “bathroom bills” aimed at transgender people, a harsh solution to a problem that does not exist – as a wedge issue to fire up their base.

Another cold, hard fact: Omar Mateen, who brutally murdered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, was not a conservative Christian Republican.

Mateen was a Muslim who told a 911 operator he was acting in the name of the Islamic State, and there are reports that he cheered on the September 11 attacks back when he was in high school.  Needless to say, his actions should not be used to tar all Muslims as terrorists, but Mateen was a self-professed Islamist.  Simple as that.

You’d never know that from reading this New York Times editorial, though, which denounces the GOP (not undeservedly) for its anti-gay politics while not mentioning Mateen’s own motivations.  Or from this widely shared political cartoon, which makes it look like some NRA-supporting white redneck  carried out the massacre.  Or from the twitter lefties trying to smack down any suggestion that Mateen’s belief system had someing to do with his actions.  (Sarah Palin’s map was directly responsible for the Gabby Giffords shooting, though!)

After President Kennedy was murdered, his widow allegedly said, “He didn’t even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights. it had to be some silly little Communist.”  And before long, a cottage industry of JFK assassination conspiracy theories sprung up, alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald was completely innocent or was a patsy for radical-right wing conspirators who wanted Kennedy gone.  Notably, very few of the conspiracy theories alleged that, say, Fidel Castro had a hand in the assassination – it was all about businessmen, the mafia and possibly Lyndon Johnson.

That’s how vaccine conspiracy lunatic Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. can still declare that a climate of “right-wing hate” caused the death of his uncle, even though the guy who did it actually attempted to assassinate extreme-right activist Gen. Edwin Walker with the very same gun eventually used to kill the President.

(By the way, if you continue to believe Oswald did not kill JFK, read Case Closed and get back to me.)

Lee Harvey Oswald’s actual politics have been airbrushed out of history, and we’re already starting to see the same thing with Mateen’s actual beliefs.  That doesn’t mean anti-gay conservatives and Christians shouldn’t be called out on their often-hateful rhetoric.  This shooter wasn’t one of them; the next one might very well be.

There were likely many factors contributing to Mateen’s murderous rampage, including easy access to high-powered weaponry (a subject that is to American conservatives what Islamism is to American liberals) and even his own conflicted sexuality.  But if he had professed to be a disciple of the Westboro Baptist Church, no one would be running interference for his religious extremism.

Identity politics Trumps all

On Twitter I’ve said almost everything I want to say about Donald Trump’s against the “Mexican” judge handling the Trump University fraud case.  (Did I mention that the Republican Party nominee for the most important job on earth is in the middle of a multi-million dollar fraud case?) But there are two more points to be made, which principled conservatives – if any can still be found – should take to heart:

First, it proves that Trump is lying (surprise!) when he says he’ll hire and listen to “the best people” when he becomes President, and his supporters are deluding themselves into thinking he’d even listen to their advice.

After Donald Trump makes his ignorant, factually incorrect comment of the day, his supporters rush to say that in office he’ll surround himself with smart people who will set him straight.   Trump himself keeps saying he’ll hire “good people” to work for him.

Well, either his presumably well-paid lawyers are hopelessly incompetent or he just isn’t listening to them, because there is no way any lawyer would advise his client to launch a public-relations war  – much less a blatantly racist public-relations war – against the judge presiding over his case.  I’ve had clients who’ve threatened to go to the local media to complain about the judge and the court system, and I’ve told them in no uncertain terms that they can go find a new lawyer after they do something like that.

None of my clients, to the best of my knowledge, have followed up on these threats.  This proves that my small solo legal practice in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, attracts a clientele smarter than Donald Trump.

Second, it shows that many Republicans actually believe what they’ve criticized the extreme left for believing: that your ethnicity is your destiny.

While I disagree with many of Justice Clarence Thomas’ opinions, I cringe when I hear people saying his judicial philosophy makes him some kind of race traitor.  I think it is grossly insulting to suggest that people of a certain race have to hold a particular set of opinions and way of looking at the world, and I tend to agree with conservatives when they fight against such divisive identity politics.

And along comes their standard-bearer for President of the United States, saying Judge Gonzalo Curiel (who put his own life in danger by prosecuting cases involving Mexican drug cartels) cannot rule fairly on his case because his parents were Mexican.  And a Muslim judge probably can’t be trusted, either.  So far he hasn’t ruled on which other ethnic groups are unfit to serve on the Bench, but I suspect it’s just a matter of time.

It is not just a gross insult to the American judicial system (which certainly has its problems, but an over-representation of minority judges is not one of them) but it shows that Trump supports and promotes identity politics of the worst kind.  And the Vichy Republicans rushing to support him are proving that maybe they were never serious about their own rhetoric, either.  Not when Team Elephant taking the White House is at stake.

In response they’ll say Hillary Clinton will be a bad President.  Maybe she will.  But there is no moral equivalence between her flaws and the way Trump is poisoning everything he touches.  Not even close.


Steele Injustice

Without taking a position on the Steele Auto Group’s plans to bulldoze houses to expand their Honda dealership, let me say that I’ll keep this loathsome bullying in mind when the time comes for me to buy a new car:

A Halifax man who runs a satire website has received a cease and desist letter from a lawyer representing a car dealership he mocked for their expansion plans.

Matt Brand — who writes at — posted a piece this week about Halifax Honda, which has come under fire recently for expansion plans in the city’s north end that involve demolishing several residential properties.

Steele Group  Launches Hondas Not Homes Campaign was the tongue-in-cheek headline on the story. “In direct response to the Homes Not Hondas Campaign, the Steele Auto Group has countered by launching a campaign of their own: Hondas not Homes.”

Brand has since removed the story from his site.


The cease and desist missive, penned by Halifax lawyer Nancy Rubin, says that a small hashtag at the bottom of the article labelling it satire does not make it defensible.

“While you are free to express your opinions on matters of public interest, so long as they are based on true facts, the creation of an entirely false group page and fake quotes is indefensible,” Rubin said.

“Even if considered ‘satire,’ satire is not protected speech in and of itself.”

Rubin insisted Brand “disable any public representation that the Steele Group launched or in any way was affiliated with the ‘Hondas not Homes campaign.’ Further, the false quotes must be removed and links to the defamatory postings disabled.”

I practice family and criminal law, not libel and slander cases, but I doubt this relatively mild, obvious satire is really defamatory.  Anyone who thinks it’s a real story probably believes Marilyn Manson is going door to door trying to shock people, too.  But it doesn’t have to be: Steele is a large company pushing around one man because it can.  The process is the punishment.

But as McDonald’s and Barbra Streisand found out, you can win a battle like this but lose the public-opinion war badly.  I hadn’t heard of nor the Homes Not Hondas Campaign before, but I certainly have now.  And I bet I’m not alone.

The libertarian case for Trump (doesn’t exist)

The Volokh Conspiracy’s Ilya Somin is no fan of Hillary, but argues that she’s by far the lesser of two evils:

Unlike Trump, Hillary Clinton probably will not try to deport millions of immigrants, including hundreds of thousands of children who have never known any other home. Immigrants will not be the only victims of such draconian policies. The liberties of native-born Americans will be undermined as well. Unlike Trump, she will not build a wall on the Mexican border that threatens the freedom of migrants and the property rights of large numbers of Americans.

Unlike Trump, she will not engage in massive discrimination on the basis of religion. Unlike Trump, she does not plan to order US troops to massacre innocent civilians, an proposal that is not only evil in itself, but could cause a dangerous crisis in civil-military relations. Unlike Trump, she is unlikely to adopt a foreign policy that will earn praise from the regime of Ex-KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin.

Free trade is another relative strength for Hillary. Her record here is admittedly inconsistent. On the campaign trail, she has tilted toward protectionism. But, when in power as First Lady and Secretary of State, she has generally supported free trade. The latter is probably a better guide to her intentions than the former, as was also true of Barack Obama, who advocated protectionism during the 2008 campaign but then generally supported free trade while in office.


Over and above specific issues, Trump is a greater menace to freedom than Hillary Clinton because his ascendancy threatens to Europeanize American politics by transforming the GOP into a a US version of neo-Fascist European parties, such as France’s National Front, whose policies are very similar to Trumpism. Like Trump’s agenda, they combine big government welfare statism with protectionism and xenophobia. If Trump is elected president on such a platform, that ideological transformation is likely to proceed apace. Parties tend to rally around the policies of their president. That means the GOP is unlikely to ever be a force for limited government for a long time to come. We might then be faced with a political system where the only major-party options are left-liberal statism and the neo-fascist kind.

Imagine being a supporter of limited government in 1994, or 2004, or 2014, being told that someday Hillary Clinton would be the “libertarian” candidate compared to the Republican.  But here we are.

Update: This year, man…


Worse than Trump (and that’s saying something)

The GOP candidate for President is the most uncouth, ignorant, unprepared major-party Presidential candidate in my lifetime, but I’ll give him this much: at least he purports to be on our side.  So much that he endorses war crimes, but at least they’re against radical Islamists.  Ahem.

The leader of Britain’s Labour Party, by contrast, is on the other side:

… This is the whole “friends” speech in March 2009. It is nothing but a salute to Hamas and Hezbollah. At one point Corbyn even talks dreamily of Hamas having “tea with the Queen”. There is some disapproval, but it is reserved for the British government, Israel, Zionism tout court, and people concerned about the antisemitism on display in Corbyn’s circles.


Now a peace process in a protracted and bitter conflict does require meetings with people who are unpleasant, to say the least.

But who appointed Mr Corbyn, a backbencher at the time, as a one man Foreign Office?

Moreover, where does he grit his teeth and warmly salute “friends” who are, oh, violent religious settlers? Go on, show me.

Actually, when it comes to Israelis, for many years Corbyn backed “universal jurisdiction” for alleged war crimes, the tactic used by his thuggish friends to hassle Israeli leaders visiting this country. They want the likes of Tzipi Livni arrested on sight at Heathrow. No tea for her.


“Out of context!” is a familiar diversion when the far left and Islamists are held to account.

The context for the “friends” talk only makes it worse. Corbyn was attending a meeting organised by the so-called “Stop the War Coalition”, an alliance of far leftists and Islamists which actually backs the other side.

They chose the key title for this meeting. It was “Meet the Resistance”. The prize was not peace. No, they wanted to build stronger left wing support for jihadis.

The British love nothing more than mocking their American cousins’ politicians, and under any other circumstances I’d say they have good reason to.

But not while this guy is Leader of the Opposition.

What’s with all the Holocaust deniers flocking to Canada?

First there’s Ken O’Keefe speaking in Toronto tomorrow, and now French “comedian” Dieudonné M’bala M’bala is playing Montreal in May:

The comedian, who routinely makes jokes about gas chambers and has denied the holocaust publicly, was found guilty last year in France of condoning terrorism after posting a joke on his Facebook page about the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

Espace Mushagalusa, a small art gallery in downtown Montreal, has booked Dieudonné to play ten shows in a room that accommodates 200 people from May 11 to 16.

Gallery owner Mushagalusa Chigoho told CBC the shows sold out quickly, despite little publicity.

Chigoho said he was aware that Dieudonné is controversial, and so he asked to review the script of this particular show before agreeing to the booking.

“There was nothing insulting, nothing degrading, nothing racist. I can’t be responsible for what he’s said in the past,” Chigoho said.

Dieudonné has several previous convictions under hate speech laws in France and Belgium. He has been widely criticized in Quebec and has seen previous runs of shows booked here cancelled due to his controversial remarks.

We’re not obligated to let human garbage into our country, so the federal government would be justified in denying entry to Dieudonné (or O’Keefe, for that matter). But I think it would be a better idea to let him in and see which Canadians are willing to pay money to watch him perform.