Thursday, 28 February 2019

Jody Wilson-Raybould and Michael Cohen deliver their story February 27, 2019

February 27, 2019 was a big day for Politics in the USA and in Canada. Michael Cohen and Jody Wilson-Raybould issued their side of their story to the interested, truth-seeking citizens of Canada and the USA. The fur was flying, as has been said, on both sides of the border.
In Canada the former Attorney General Ms Wilson-Raybould had recently been demoted to Veteran Affairs and subsequently resigned her position from this Cabinet Post claiming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his executive staff had attempted to pressure her into changing her official position regarding a judicial opinion on SNC Lavalin. She stated all of this on National television and in session of an official Parliamentary Committee. The Globe and Mail had run an article two weeks earlier alleging that this pressure (without acceding) preceded her removal from office to a lesser position in government. Shortly after the News report by The Globe she resigned from this position and would remain as an MP without Cabinet status. For us, we saw and heard a competent, intelligent and thoughtful public servant stating specific information regarding dates and individuals present when these alleged indiscretions took place. She was impressive, and appeared to receive the support of a majority of listeners including the press. Virginia Woolf with 500 pounds a year and a room of her own would have great things to write about this woman, indeed.
The official Opposition Mr. Sheer, in a ten minute address called for the Prime Minister's resignation because he didn't have the confidence of the people to rule any longer. The second minority party leader Mr. Singh demanded a Public Inquiry into this alleged wrong doing. The Prime Minister followed with his fifteen minute address asserting  her characterization of past events were untrue, while his were perfectly correct and within his elected jurisdiction; he also stated that only after a review of her complete testimony would he pronounce her standing within the Liberal Party. (She is potentially going to be dumped.) The following morning news reports regurgitated all of the above and we await Mr. Trudeau's action regarding Ms. Wilson-Raybould's place in the Liberal Party.
Recently Mr. Trudeau's work and demeanour has been heavily denounced for his handling of the $4.5 Billion Pipeline purchase, the Canadian Oil Industry and of course the SNC Lavalin affair with Ms. Wilson-Raybould; this indiscretion, if it proves to be true could be the end of his government.
I believe that no matter what takes place from here forward that the status quo will remain until the next election in October 2019, and then we'll have Mr. Sheer and the Conservative party in power once again.
On March 4, 2019 Jane Philpott resigned from her cabinet position, that of President of Treasury Board in support of Ms. Wilson-Raybould. Mr. Justin Trudeau our Prime Minister, stated, in a very short message on national television that this was her right and privilege in our system of Democracy.
Let's just say that the rest of the story is yet to be revealed.
On April 2, 2019 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expelled Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus.
Trudeau delivered the news to the national Liberal caucus in Ottawa Tuesday night, saying the trust had been broken with both former cabinet ministers.
"It's become clear that Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Philpott can no longer remain part of our Liberal team," Trudeau said.
[Ms. Wilson-Raybould had secretly taped a telephone conversation with the Clerk of the Privy council. She then released it to the public two weeks ago. Trudeau has used this act to expel her from the Liberal Party. She claims she will run as an independent in the October 2019 General Election.]
On April 3, 2019 as reported in The Globe and Mail Ms. Philpott stated: “Rather than acknowledge the obvious – that a range of individuals had inappropriately attempted to pressure the former attorney-general in relation to a prosecutorial decision – and apologize for what had occurred, a decision was made to deny the obvious – to attack Jody Wilson-Raybould’s credibility and attempt to blame her.”

Mr. Cohen said of his President under oath, "President Donald J Trump is a racist, he is a conman, he is a cheat." That was just the beginning of his testimony, he a convicted criminal that faces three years in prison (beginning in May of 2019) for tax evasion, campaign finance violations, lying to a bank and lying to Congress. For the record he pleaded guilty on all counts. And why did he plead guilty? He had been Trump's fixer of matters that could have embarrassing results and that could have cost Trump money. Cohen set up complicated financial and business instruments furthering Trump's empire and brand. Cohen had threatened hundreds of Trump's opponents with litigation and other nasty outcomes to get what Trump wanted. He claimed in times long gone that he would have taken a bullet for Mr. Trump. That was his expressed loyalty, until his epiphany struck home. Now he stated under oath that he couldn't lie, cheat or con for Trump any longer because doing so has cost him everything he now holds dear: his family and friends and his integrity.
Since the Stormy Daniels' payoff from Cohen's account and subsequent documented reimbursement by Trump, Cohen (on invitation from Congress) has come forward to confess his wrongdoing regarding Trump's affairs and business dealings. Basically he didn't want to do Trump's dirty work any longer, and, he wanted redemption for the mistakes he had made during the ten years that he worked for Trump. He wanted to confess his sins directly to the American people. Congress was trying to get to the truth for the American people. Just one of these wrongdoings was the sordid Stormy Daniels' affair that has been newsworthy for more than twelve months. [Most of us are tired of it except the media who are like a dog with a bone.]
Why should he be believed now? That is the battle cry from the Republican side of the House of Representatives and some of these questioners are aggressive as well as demeaning toward the witness. "Don't believe me, look at the evidence." was Cohen's response on several occasions while pointing to the documents he had placed on the record during his statement. The Democrats continually state that all they want from him is the truth. Indeed if they didn't get it Mr. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee, would personally "Nail him to the cross." 
Mr. Cummings' closing statement on the well-being of their Democracy was brilliant. "Frankly, we are better than this, we can do better for our children and better for our nation." [His fist was shaking while he spoke.][Sadly in November 2019 Mr, Cummings passed away after a short but terminal illness.]
I fear, as do others, that nothing will change while Mr. Trump is in power; he will continue to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to anyone who differs from him on policy and procedure; he will continue to blame others for any ensuing negative aftermath; he will try to win---at least appear to win---any thing at all costs even if it is to the detriment of the American people at home or abroad. And if he should get to the Presidential Election in 2020, and if he should lose, the USA may not have a smooth transition of power. Are the people who favour him that crazy that they would forsake their Constitutional Democracy and leave their nation in chaos? Who can say? Some say it's quite likely.
Meanwhile the Democrats (and some Republicans) will do what they can to get Trump's finger away from the buttons that are diminishing the value of the American Dream, and most importantly, off the Nuclear button that was never intended to be re-activated by every US President since Harry Truman in 1945.
History may make Michael Dean Cohen a quasi hero even though he was a long way from it before  facing Congress on February 27, 2019.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Donald Trump: A President Like No Other, by Conrad Black (February 2018)

They, (the learned political pundits) claimed Trump could not win the 2016 Presidential Election.  They thought that Hillary Clinton had it all wrapped up prior to Trump's nomination as the Republican Party's candidate.
Mr. Black,  or should I call him Lord Black, thought differently. Why? He writes about American's place in world affairs and its status with the lower and middle class of American citizenry. Did Barack Obama raise the bar on either issue? He thought not. Most importantly he knew that Trump had the pulse of the people who had lost their jobs due to Globalization and Free Trade issues wherein millions of jobs had migrated to Asia and Mexico where hourly rates for routine labour was well below the minimum hourly rate for North Americans. With this mantra he led his charge, "Make America Great Again." Trump claimed he would toss out the Trade Agreements with most countries who have been "ripping off Americans for years." He claimed that Immigration from the souther border was creating chaos for America in Education and Jobs for the legitimate citizens with the continuous chant, "I will build a wall and the Mexicans will pay for it." He claimed that many of the Institutions like the FBI, Department of Justice and Environment to name a few where run by incompetent and even corrupt individuals, and he was going to clean house if elected. The lead in the constant poles continued to decrease when Trump declared that he was going to win without a doubt.  
He was right; the Electoral College made the difference for Trump when the popular vote went in favour of "Crooked Clinton" (a familiar name coined by Trump and used every day), but the one that mattered put him into the Presidency.
Trump is clumsy and erratic and not what most Americans traditionally expect from their President. He has selected social media's Twitter to rile up his followers and keep them in an argumentative state of mind. The traditional media, disseminators of 'Fake News' and the 'Enemy of the People,"  are phrases continually uttered by Trump. The CNN's of the America news media pull out all the stops to belittle him, but Trump seems to revel in these body slams and bounces back with more of the same.
Black writes that, "His successors will emulate these tactics if he succeeds. Donald Trump is not a blundering reactionary but a battle-hardened veteran of difficult businesses filled with unethical personalties." Black goes on relating positive attributes about the man that the haters hate more than any other who made it to the top in business or politics.
Like so much of Black's work he has coined some wonderful sentences describing his targets. The one I liked above all others is when he is describing Hollywood heavy-weights who deign to speak on Moral issues to the public from a non-professional non-acting scenario. Black writes, "Hollywood is a moral and intellectual pigsty, an asylum for the stupid, the corrupt and the vocally shallow who possess Thespian aptitude or a saleable appearance and manner."
I gave this book four out of five stars, but then, I give all of Black's work big numbers because his eloquence is unmatched.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

There is Simply Too Much to Think About by Saul Bellow 1915--2005

"...When it came to wondrous lucidity in the service of an uncanny literary empathy– to a steady downpour of intelligence–to a direct contact with reality– to sensibility attuned to the contradictions and incongruities–he was unrivaled. The book of Bellow's correspondence collected several years back by Benjamin Taylor–the same intrepid editor who is the harvester here – there is simply too much to think about further extend their sense of Bellow's extremely humane way of experiencing books, people, events and places. One witnesses his excited mind, in a molten state, running over." --Philip Roth

This author was highlighted in a question corralling America's greatest writers--he was not included much to the writer's dismay. I read on about the excellence of Bellow's style, content and depth of thought in his work in fiction. I've been focused on non-fiction for the best part of a year now; so  I looked in the Port Credit library for subjects Mr. Bellow had included in a non-fiction category. Up popped this book. 
The titles of the essays contained therein to name a few: Written in the Fifties--Laughter in The Getto, Hemingway and the Image of Man, The Writer and The Audience, A Talk with the Yellow Kid [this one is about a conman, a swindler, a crook who only swindled the bad guys who deserved it.] and several others. And in the Sixties he wrote more, and more in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties and After.
Mr. Bellow was born right at the end of WW1. For the purposes of this blog I'm going to skip to the obituary written by Mel Gluscow and Charles McGrath on April 6, 2005. "Saul Bellow the Nobel  Laureate and self-proclaimed historian of society whose fictional heroes and whose scathing unrelenting and darkly comic examination of their struggle for meaning, gave new immediacy to the American novel in the second half of the 20th Century, died yesterday at his home in Brookline Massachusetts at 89."
Mr. Bellow said, "I cannot exceed what I see. I am bound, in other words, as the historian is bound by the period he writes about, by the situation I live in." But his was a history of a particular and idiosyncratic sort.
I say, "I've read several essays and appreciate the art form which is his usage of the English language describing his loves and experiences." More will follow at a later date.
Mr. Bellow writes about the author Abraham Cahan who wrote The Rise of David Lewinsky from the poorest of the poor Jewish families in Russia where a crust of bread was a meal; where school was a charity, or at best for young David, a school that cost his mother the equivalent of twenty-five cents a month which would give young David a better education along with daily beatings at the hands of some of his teachers as well as learning basic self defence from the richer kids in his class.
I've read 50% of the material in his collection of essays, enjoyed most of them, and quietly put it aside to reacquaint with Conrad Black's Backward Glances. (This being a favourite of mine that I returned to the Library, reordered it and then put an additional hold on it.)
Bellow is a great American writer acclaimed by many, critic of other writers acknowledged and admired in this collection, but most importantly a master of his art. I learned a lot here. Thank you Mr. Bellow

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Wayne Walker, Ann (Ames) Kay, Owen McBride,

FaceBook has brought another former AJ employee into my life after only 27 years this time. Somehow Wayne Walker's posts found their way to my Newsfeed and I was reading about his travels,  but mostly about his absolute love of family. He was emphatic in his love and attachment to his grandchildren, wife and sons. His vacations have been filled with world wide experiences whereby his family has been a large part of their success and enjoyment. All of this, and my memory of a young man working in AJ's bindery, a young man who wanted to be a salesman, led to his start in sales because Duncan and I liked his chances for success.
We texted a few messages back and forth and set a date of February 7, 2019 for a luncheon at Cactus Club Cafe.
I was twenty minutes early and Wayne was ten minutes early. One of the first things he said was that, "One must always be early, or at the very worst, on time for an appointment."
We exchanged greetings with a man hug and he asked the waitress for a bigger table (not the two seater they had given me). We got comfortable and Wayne jumped in and told me what had been his focus such as vacations, family and the printing business that had brought success and financial gains that he was very proud of. [I was thrilled to hear that he hit his stride in sales after a ten year period at AJ.] I was almost silent as he spun his story: a fascinating one to be sure. He thanked Duncan and myself for paying the fee for the "Dale Carnegie Course." I'd forgotten that, and other aspects of his time at AJ. We (I) talked about my current lifestyle and then we talked about our time at AJ. Of course Wayne wanted to know about the Clark Litho aspect regarding the final closing of Arthurs-Jones Lithographing; that was after Duncan and I had been out and in retirement for several years. Some of this information he had known, and some he didn't. There were good and bad times, as there always is, and we parted after two hours and promised to meet again. Wayne would like it to be with his wife, Terryl and me the next time.

Ann Ames and I met in business; she a designer and me a printer. We helped launch Roots, a retailer of clothing on to the Canadian market with a beautifully produced catalogue. I am going to write it here, perhaps I shouldn't but I must. When the invoice to Roots was overdue I called and was told that they planned on paying us the full amount, but only in twelve equal payments over the next twelve months. Somehow that wasn't part of the original negotiation, and I've never forgot or forgiven the oversight. Moreover, I've never purchased a thing from Roots in fourty years. They have done exceedingly well without printing or purchases from AJ or me.
Ann and I enjoyed working together for many years. If memory serves I introduced her to Grant McDiarmaid of Fiberglas Canada. That union was exemplary and many good things happened over the years that followed. (I am not entirely certain of who introduced whom; perhaps Ann's recollections will help.)
Again, on Facebook, a mutual friend brought us together (Willie Gomez). I have an invitation for coffee on the table for the week of February 18, 2019. I look forward to seeing her again.
[We're having lunch this week on Thursday in Cabbagetown just down the street where my buddy John Culliton used to live.]
George and Ann met me at the door and guided me into the kitchen where we coffee'd and talked for two hours. She had the same experience with Roots as did we at AJ (12 equal payments over 12 months to settle an account receivable) which rankled me then and still does to this very day. But, the rest of our time was spent talking about the demise of our industry into Who can do it the fastest, Who can do it the cheapest, but never who can do it the best (which was the difference AJ and Ann Ames Design was built on). Most importantly, we talked about the characters we had met and worked with, thoroughly enjoyed, and lived with in our time.
Ann and George are happily retired and sailing away during Ontario's wonderful summertime.
This was a fabulous visit and one we hope to repeat this summer at Heather Cooper's museum and home in Southern Ontario.
On August 17, 2019 Terryl, Willie Gomez and I spent the most pleasant of days at Heather Cooper's Studio in Baltimore Ontario. Beside seeing some of Canada's magnificent art, all created by Heather Cooper, Ann Ames and other notable artists, we were treated to wine, delightful food and lively conversation to our great pleasure for several hours.

Owen McBride called me with bad news that I had earlier heard from Len Hughes; it was the tragic news of Grant McDiarmaid's untimely death. Owen was one of our close knit group that included Dean, Ann, Len and Herb, all suppliers to Fiberglas Canada, all directed by Grant with the exception of Len who was the CFO for Fiberglas. We gave our time, talent, energy and expertise with gusto to meet his pursuits in managing the Advertising and Marketing departments at Fiberglas. And he rewarded us with plenty of assignments: Dean, Ann and Owen divided the creative artwork and AJ printed it.
Owen is the epitome of the Irishman that always has a new joke, and spoken with an accent that one could never tire. We met in his two-man studio on Church Street south of Bloor. It was called the Vector Groups; it had two employees, Owen and Brian Salter. They had a project for Tasco requiring printed brochures. They had spoken to Mr. Bill Adams who handed me the assignment. First off they needed a quote for the job. I thanked them without embellishment other than to say that I'd get the pricing done quickly. In two days I was in their office with a typed proposal and the details on how we would do the job to their complete satisfaction...guaranteed. I believe they had other printers' prices at the time because Brian said to me, "Can't you do any better than that?" I was as green as grass in negotiating circumstances and replied quickly and assertively, "No I can't." We exchanged a few more thoughts and I was walking to the door when Owen said, "There goes Gary McFxxxhead."
Owen and I with several of our team enjoyed many 'jars' after a hot game of squash. We didn't golf together because they wouldn't allow a bag of full of the sheleighly on the course.
Fourty years have passed and Owen still addresses me accordingly; he said it as soon as I answered  the phone with an 'I can't believe it's you Owen.' He lives in Collingwood with his wife Ingrid and has raised two sons. He'd like us to visit his ideal surroundings in happy retirement, and we will.
I sent this column to Owen whereby he made several comments regarding my memory of the facts: the company was called Index Studio; Brian Salter came along later; the other dude in the studio was Joh McConnell. So far I guess I'm batting pretty low. Whose counting? Not me.
On April 16, 2019 Owen met me at O&B in Bayview Village for the first time in twenty years or more. He hasn't changed at all - of course he looks his age but who doesn't - and he hit me with a huge man-hug and hand shake as we walked together and ordered a beer. We talked for two hours about all manner of issues that brought back old likeable memories, as well as the unfortunate ones that all of us make in our lives. Sometimes we get over them and they fall into the never regions of our minds, but one that Owen will always recall is his final recall of partner Michael Crunkhorn who did him in just before the typesetting business went down the drain. That's an old story that we dwelled over for some length: a time in Owen's life that if given the chance he would string Mike up and cut something off for sure.
Owen will be inducted in the Mariposa Music Festival this July for his lifetime of contributions to the Irish way of life through song and storytelling that will be his legacy, and I was there while he was making his name in entertainment. The studio, art and type business had been good for Owen until it all fell apart and there he was standing alone when the creditors came calling. Fortunately Ingrid was there with her name on their lovely house. They're in Collingwood now and enjoying their time and space to the fullest. Owen was and is a great guy never to be forgotten.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

February 3, 2019 Ignite TV, Internet and Home Phone

February 3, 2019
A Rogers' technician will be here between noon and 14:00 to do the installation. We have been promised reception and quality performance beyond anything experienced to date, and, at a savings of $40 per month. This will be something to write about at a later date.

February 8, 2019
The technician arrived 2.30 hours late on February 3. He apologized and got into the task and in no time three sets were wireless and ready to go; all with only one different remote for each of three tv's, as per our request. He gave us a demo and we were totally onside with the new technology. When he left everything was GO.
Because we wanted to subscribe to the App called CRAVE that has 'Game Of Thrones' we called Rogers to add this and the Comedy channel to our account. In the middle of the conversation the set in the bedroom froze up. The operator we were speaking with could not help; she added the new stuff and passed us to another department.
They suggested several things (replug this, unplug that, press this and that button) to no avail, all the while I kept saying, "How come everything worked perfectly until the technician left our front door and building?" They had no answer and suggested we get another technician in with these words following, "If he finds that there is something wrong with the TV--not the installation--then there would be a $50.00 charge." I was livid but controlled.
The new man arrived two days later and attaches the cable to HDMI 3 instead of HDMI 1 and uses the TV remote (not the brand new Rogers' remote) to turn on the TV. I said, "What's this, we only want the Wireless remote that the first technician said everything works from one only, just like the other two TV's?" The second man insists that the Insignia TV is obviously different from the Toshiba and the Samsung. I put it to him four times also to no avail. He left and that's the way it is.
The reception is marvellous; the PVR is exceptional at no extra cost; the fast forward and backward is perfect; yes, and so are the rest of the Ignite systems. All at $40.00 less than our existing contract. After a month or so the first technician said that the cables that run all over the apartment can be tossed out. Maybe we will.

Dubai people, camels and things December 13, 2019

UAE was nothing but rolling sand dunes.  "Forty-seven years after its establishment in 1972, the UAE has become a shining country...