Friday, May 13, 2016

May 13: Christopher Plummer, Oscar Peterson, and me.

This may be a little short because I got bogged down at the library, reading the autobiography of Christopher Plummer. It caught me because Plummer and I were (almost) classmates in high school.

Plummer was from a VERY wealthy family, and went to high school at Montreal High. This was in the school's last days as the school for Montreal's anglo elite. Indeed, the unthinkable was already happening. One of Plummer's best friends at school was Oscar Peterson. (This was the time when blacks lived in a  ghetto not far from Montreal High; but few were permitted to enter its sacred halls.)

I was a few years behind Plummer and Peterson. They were already legends. But the school was well into social decline, reduced to accepting scruff like me from the north end. And my class,  the A stream, was already heavily Jewish. In fact, I would live most of my life in Jewish circles.

But on to the Irving press. On to p. A7. "Report says provincial schools lag behind on e-learning." This report comes from the Atlantic Insitute for Market Studies.

What is this institute? Does it give you a vision of high-minded, intellectually distinguished scholars?
Forget it. Its patrons have been Irvings and their buddies, going back to Kenneth Irving who first bankrolled it. It's a copy of the "think tanks" all over the western world. and almost all of them designed to kiss up to the interests of the weatlhy.
Typically, they are against anything publicly owned - like public schools and medicare. They are designed by people who do not think of human need but only of personal profit.Perhaps they can properly be called ideologically far, far right. That would be a nice way to say they represent greed in our society. Typically, they are backed by people like the Irvings, like big drug companies. Typically, they are dishonest because they their conclusions almost invariably are designed to benefit the wealthy.

Brain Lee Cowley, presently head honcho at AIMS also does work for a similar outfit called The Fraser Institute. And he's a member of an ideologically far, far right wing outfit called Cavitas with was founded by Stephen Harper's campaign manager.

Now, there's nothing wrong with being right wing if that is what you believe in. But no matter what wing you are, you should be honest. Most of these think tanks are not honest. In their reports, ideology trumps honesty and logic.
Journalists know what these outfits really are.  journalists know that their objective is to spread propaganda to make the rich richer. And newspapers publish it because the people who own these propaganda houses are the same ones who own newspapers.

Even at that, it would be all right to publish this stuff - if the newspapers told their readers exactly what kind of people these 'reports' are coming from. But the Irving press won't do that.

And that's damned bad journalism.

(I was reluctant to criticize this report because it was written by a person I know to be well-informed and honest. But I think he's keeping very bad company.)

And, as usual, there's another one of these propaganda pieces, this one from the Fraser Institute. on the commentary page. And, as usual, the Irving press does not tell us what kind of an outfit this is. This 'report' is harmless, though. They do that, occasionally, to look honest.

The opinion page has an excellent letter from a reader who has noticed something that the Irving press hotshots have not.  The Fort McMurray fire was caused by climate change - something that Fort McMurray has been a great contributor to.

Then, Alec Bruce has another booster shot for the 'events' centre. It's an old one that the centre will attract business to Main St. No. It won't. To even begin to think of reviving Main St., we have to remember why it died. And it wasn't because of the lack of an events centre.

A big item in Canada&World news is that the Quebec government is going to regulate the taxi and Uber industries. The irving press really knows how to spot the important stories in the world.

There's a story of the pending impeachment of the President of Brazil. But it gives very little sense of what this is all about.  It has a lot to do with the desire of corporations to make Brazil a more  profitable place to do business.
The Guardian has a report on government change in Brazil that explains much more than the Irving press does. Note the comment that, in a very mixed country, the new cabinet is all white. That's because most of the wealthy are white.
Here's another opinion on Brazil to counter the grade-school journalism we get from the Irving press.
Here's something the Irving press has never mentioned.

Our cruelty (yes, Canada's too) that has spun off into the even greater cruelty of creating millions of refugees, millions of starving, millions of destroyed families that we haven't done much to help with. Europe and Canada are doing as little as possible. Here, in New Brunswick, refugees are accepted 1. because there aren't many of them and 2. they're portrayed by our press and our political leaders as economic assets.

The U.S., the biggest killer, starver, home and family destroyer of them all, tries to accept none if possible. They're afraid it would dilute U.S. Christianity.
What U.S. Christianity?

Why did Canada send aircraft to take part in this destruction? Why has it now sent troops to Syria? Is it all to show solidarity with American oil billionaires? Or to show we're just as Christian as Americans are?
This next opinion is aimed largely at Britain. But it could as well have been aimed at the U.S. and Canada. Corruption is a world phenomenon. It doesn't just happen in poor countries. In fact, it almost certainly happens more in rich ones. It happens with government contracts, with special deals for the rich. It involve the very best families. (Well, of course, it does. The poor and most of the middle class can't afford to be corrupt.)

Too bad the Irving press has ignored this problem, especially after its very brief treatment of the Panama Papers, and the failure of its crusading knight, Sir Norbert, to write a column critical of corruption.
Speaking of corruption, we have the Clintons...
I find this next item more strongly worded than I like - perhaps because I have many friends who are both Jewish and Zionist. But its criticism of the Israel lobby in the U.S. is well-founded. It rang a bell for me because of my run-in with the Israeli lobby in Montreal.

For fourteen years, I had given monthly talks at a Jewish library in Montreal. It was usually a capacity audience of 300 or so. Then,  I retired - and gave my last talk.

Now, I had sometimes been critical of Israel - just as I was sometimes critical of the U.S. or Canada or Russia.... That caused no problems because my largely Jewish audience knew me. They knew I wasn't anti-Israel - and they often agreed with my criticism. However, the so-called Israel lobby in Montreal was not happy.

As it happened, the chief librarian retired shortly before I did. And, though I didn't know it at the time,  the Israel lobby pulled strings to get a librarian more to their liking.

When I went in to stand on the podium, the new librarian interrupted me. "Let me speak first."

Of course, I thought. She wants to thank me for fourteen years of talks. She rose to the podium, and took the mike.

"Just wait till you hear who your new speaker is. You're going to forget all about Graeme Decarie."
Yes, I know the next one is a Russian. But that's not why I chose him. I'm just back from a trip to Montreal, seeing old friends who, as many Montrealers do, commonly go to the U.S. for a day - usually to Vermont. I often used to, as well. That's why I was shocked at what I heard.

Poverty is openly on the rise. Drug use is both common and public. It's common in public washrooms to see druggies sleeping it off on the floor - or on the streets. Other friends who travel more widely in the US told me it's like that everywhere. They saw people shooting up in parks and on street corners.
The U.S. is sinking into hopelessness. This is why a Trump can attract the angry. This is why Sanders can call himself a socialist, and still be a contender.
We're heading into some very unstable times.
Finally, I was drawn to this one because I really cannot tolerate TV. It's brainless. It encourages brainlessness. It has played a huge role in destroying 'talk' radio, leaving radio listeners as detached from reality as TV watchers because all there is to hear is the babble of announcers, "Hey, gang. We're here with the music YOU like to hear... and we're going to starty with a golden oldie from last week."
You really have to wonder what has happened to the minds of people who watch poker or bingo on TV, and how it is possible for anyone above moron level to take pro wrestling seriously?

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