Wednesday, August 14, 2019


The title is based on a comment by a critic of proportional representation.  While many of us complain about first past the post elections our critic pointed out we were only upset because "your guy didn't get in."  Admittedly there is some truth to that. "it" refers to the first past the post system.

On the other hand there is a tendency for parties to alternate winning and often each wins with less than 50% of the vote, although they can still gain majority control.  They each know that they just have to get a little edge and don't have to win over 50% of the voters.  Of course this is only true when there are more than 2 political parties.

In Canada two conservative parties split votes until they decided to merge.  This improved their election prospects, but Canadians lost a choice.  There was a difference as one of the two parties was more socially progressive so those who liked fiscal conservatism, but were open to progressive social policies and for that matter those who preferred opposite policies found they had to deal with compromise.  Compromising is not a bad thing, but when it limits the voters choices not such a good thing.  And of course different people inspire different levels of trust.

With a diverse population there are many different individual priorities and voters would emphasize different factors.  We of course need to come up with a reasonable consensus, but it would be better if it was an honest consensus hence the desirability of more than two choices.

Often because of fear we do often face only two choices.  We dread a party with what we consider dangerous notions.  We fear splitting the opposition to that  dangerous party and choose usually the most likely.  In effect we have forfeited our true preference.

From personal experience in Canadian elections I became conscious that in Canada for many the Liberal party is the default party whether you wish to avoid the Conservatives or the NDP.  Perhaps that is why Justin Trudeau preferred a ranking system and vetoed the proportional system where his party's chances would be at greater risk.  He is not alone as most politicians seem to prefer the status quo as that what allowed them to win. 

We should also bear in mind that vested interests try to attach themselves to something with more popularity than themselves.  What are vested interests? Some examples include financial interests, oil interests, pharmaceuticals..  There are few choices that do not involve corporate wanting to effect legislation.

Lists can publicized in advance ranking candidates as to which would be given priority dependent on how many seats a party is allowed.  Assuming my idea of lists before the election each party has a problem of how to delegate their candidates.   They need to boost confidence that they have good decision makers so those who have that reputation need to be high on the list.  Geography ie. local concerns is a key factor to spread support over as wide an area as practical.  Different, but essentially agreeable viewpoints need to be available to make sure voter nuance concerns are encouraged.  Gender has been a focal point for advocates that more women gain political power.  The list is critical for a party's platform assuring as many voters as feasible that their interests will be taken care of.  Decisions made after the election are subject to political manipulation which

Below is an example of how proportional voting could help a party in power.

Stephen Harper's party in 2006 won the majority of seats, but were lacking members from Vancouver and Montreal that traditionally would be represented with a cabinet minister.  Harper likes to present himself as a man of principle, but broke two of his principles.  He didn't approve of enticing opposition members (it had been done to him) to switch sides, but decided in one case that was his best option.  He enticed David Emerson the Liberal member for Vancouver Kingsway with a cabinet post--Minster of International Trade.  He also didn't like how the Canadian Senate was filled with appointees, but again bent his principle to take a Senator for a Cabinet position.  Actually he took a Conservative campaign organizer, Michael Fortier from the Montreal area and after appointing him to the Senate made him the Minister of Public Works and Government Services. This could have been avoided with a proportional system by listing Cabinet potential candidates to a higher ranking.  Some voters claim they vote for the "man" and not the party, but they still can vote for a slate of specific people under proportional voting.

Credibility is important to have a true mandate.  Winning 39% of the votes, but also 50%+ of the seats gives power under the first past the post system, but is the country really behind you?  More can get done when true legitimacy is confirmed by the electorate.

Sunday, August 11, 2019


Irshad Mangi appeared on my television fairly regularly a few decades ago and was admired for her cutting logic and her views.  She has evolved as have I, partly after reading this book.  "Everyone" includes those idiots who don't agree with you (or me).  We live in a polarized world that could end in disaster, but we could go in a more positive direction if we would heed Irshad's advice.

Irshad Manji has a long history of arguing.  She has opted to present her latest thinking in the form of a dialogue with a dog.  That hit a nerve as the Muslims I know think dogs as pets are unholy.  However as a salesmen for pet products I did learn from a Muslim pet store retailer that dogs are acceptable as work animals, most commonly as guard dogs, but they are not kept in the house as other pets would be.  A Muslim niece loves cats and once interpreted or me at a Quebec cat show.

Irshad explains that dogs are not proscribed in the Qur'an, but have been part of Muslim culture and also that good Muslims can question.  I had read years ago that in some war zones Muslims had come to realize that dogs were life savers for among other things detecting bombs.

Irshad's dog, Lily is a pet that she has come to love and respect although both blind and old.  Maybe this is projection, but most pet owners do in fact talk to their dogs and cats and they in reality provide a useful sounding board.  I believe that in sorting out the difficulties in this philosophy she probably did sound off to her dog Lily.   It is also possible to use a familiar sounding board no matter what.

Labels can provide necessary information, but are not reality.  Everyone is unique and have many identities.  Labels are not only used for physical descriptions, but also for viewpoints.    Irshad's goal is to develop honest diversity where each individual can be independent, i.e. not tied to any one label.  The American motto, "e pluribus unum"--from many one.

Some of her focus is on Donald Trump, but is careful to realize that Trump supporters are not at all the same.  Some may have deplorable characteristics, but there is something behind their motivations that we all should try to understand and even respect. The man who introduced her to the woman who became her spouse and encouraged her to love dogs was an adamant Trump supporter but definitely not a homophobe.

Living in Ontario I was surprised to learn she includes Rob and Doug Ford, but notes some significant differences that reinforce her message.  Rob Ford appealed to the suburbs against downtown.  More on Doug Ford

It seems to me that conservatives are dogmatic and uncaring, but I felt a comeuppance after watching Jonathan Haidt on tv and reading his book. It prepared me to realize those jerks are not thinking that way just to annoy me.  More at:

Instead of attacking someone with what seems like illogical beliefs, do not.   Irshad suggests you might ask "Could you help me understand what I am missing about your perspective?"  It won't work unless you are sincere and follow up.  Not every one will respond but some would welcome an opportunity to explain themselves.  This is not a time to attack their logic, but to delve further.  When people feel degraded it lights a fuse that can lead to a lot of harm.

Another personal jolt came when Irshad explained part of her Canadian history--a part that I had accepted and she twisted it (and shifted my thinking).  As a university student I had adopted Trudeaumania and went onto to help Pierre Trudeau (actually I helped elect Ed Broadbent--you can read about that  at    

I attended a high school in Oshawa with a lot of ethnic diversity and came to admire it.  I had an understanding of the French Canadian concerns similar to Irshad's and thought it a good thing to adopt bilingual policies for the whole nation and further to adopt multiculturalism as government policy.  I did from time to time question that not everything brought over from other cultures was good, but it seemed part of the package.  Later with one job I was shocked to realize western Canadians were very resentful of bilingualism when I sold a promotional product and was told not to bother with the legally required French labeling.  Multiculturalism helped encourage white supremacy.

Obama had urged African Americans to emphasize with white Americans and not label them just as misguided as that would boomerang.  I remember  reading that his white grandmother cringed when confronted with a black person in an unfamiliar setting.  White males are recognizing that their culture and their power is diminishing.  Naturally there is some resentment.

White privilege can be a blessing if it puts one in a position to do good.  Dr Martin Luther King is recalled having admitted that he grew up in a loving and educated family with helpful neighbors. 

Cultural appropriation is given some coverage.  Irshad suggests that many cultural items have a mixed history.  One example given was that modern jazz required European instruments and African polyrhythms.  The Statue of Liberty was originally designed with an Arab theme intended to herald the Suez Canal.

A quote from Benjamin Franklin:  "I do not entirely approve of this Constitution at present, but Sir I am not sure I shall ever approve it.  For having lived long I have experienced man instances of being oblig'd by better Information or fuller consideration, to change Opinions even on important Subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise."

This relatively short review is only meant to encourage you to rad the book, "Don't Label Me" and get a deeper understanding of the thinking and some practical advice on how to change your life and help change the world.  She is well worth learning more about.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Werner Herzog

My first awareness of Werner Herzog was through documentaries, but that is only part of what he has offered the world.  Man of eclectic and eccentric interests.  Some very deep thinking once one is willing to deviate from the mainstream.  He made an impression with movie critic Roger Ebert who felt film criticism should be more than celebrity news.

"Cave of Forgotten Dreams" (2010) was the first film that I consciously became aware of Werner Herzog.  A very difficult location to show caveman art from 30,000 years ago.  Hard to imagine what would drive men to live in such an inaccessible hiding shelter.  Also what sparked one of our ancestors to express themselves in early art. A real challenge for cinematography by Peter Zeitlinger.  Although Werner did not like 3-D he filmed this one in 3-D as he felt it added to the perception of the art on curved cave rock.

Peter Zeitlinger got Werner's attention by his skill with a hand held camera.  He had been born in Prague, but raised in Austria.  Once hired by Werner, the two worked on many films, including dramas and documentaries.  Zeitlinger once commented that "Werner is a director who thinks in terms of inner vision."

Werner, born in Germany formed his own film company in 1963, but always found financing films precarious. He gained experience with short films.  His first feature was "Signs of Life" in 1968.  It won an award at the Berlin Film Festival.and another German award.  Some accounts of notable movies, some of which I saw.

"The Enigma of Kaspar Hausar" (1974) was about a mysterious appearance in 1828 in Nuremberg who seemed almost mute and in poor condition, but suspected might have royal connections.

"Fitzcarraldo" (1982)  demonstrates Herzog's striving for realism.    Based on a true story where a man intent on bringing opera to the Amazon jungle switched a boat over a hill by dismantling and then reassembling, only Herzog insisted on moving the boat intact.   He could have taken an easy location near a city, but opted to go deep into the jungle.  Werner believed location was essential not only for visual effect, but to put actors and crew voodoo of location.

A separate movie directed by Les Bank,  "Burden of Dreams" recorded much of the extraordinary obstacles Herzog dealt with boiling down to time and money.  The movie was originally scheduled during the rainy season to avoid a boat being grounded in shallow water.  The lead actor Jason Robards became ill and left and soon after Mick Jagger also had to leave for an album commitment.  Claudia Cardinale had been hired.  These delays led to other delays and some boredom and tension among crew and native extras and helpers.  At one point at the urging of a Catholic priest he hired some prostitute to avoid trouble with rival tribes.  All this in turn led to financial stress.  Watching this Werner spoke German, English and Spanish.  Won best director award at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Joe Bini teamed up as editor for "Little Dieter Needs to Fly in 1997 .  He went onto work on several movies, both documentaries and dramas with Werner. Werner did not want editor on set as he felt they had to be independent.    An interesting short seen as a special feature was about the music selections for "The Grizzly Man."  As editor Joe appeared as edits had to be matched up to music.  Werner, was not musical, but had definite ideas and for this film had brought in musician/composer Richard Thompson and some other musicians to develop a score from the ground.   He feels that cinema lines up with music better than any other art.  Bini was noted for "We Need To Talk About Kevin," "You Were Never Really Here," and "Manhunt:  The Inside Story of the Hunt for Bin Ladin."

"My Best Fiend" (1999) related Werner's experience with Klaus Kinski who was a very difficult actor to work with.  Physical threats were part of their relationships, but at the same time Werner felt Kinski gave a unique feel to the 5 movies he appeared in.  Kinski had died beforehand and Werner wanted to remember him and their relationship.

"The White Diamond" (2004) was a documentary on exploring the rain forest using a unique airship that provided some drama of its own.  Won a New York Film Critics Circle Award (tied with "Grizzly Man").

 "Grizzly Man" (2005) was filmed from videos by Timothy Treadwell after his death and supplemented with interviews with friends and relatives.  Timothy comes off maniacal, but did make friends with wild grizzlies and try to communicate their role in nature.  Unfortunately Timothy and a girl friend were killed and eaten by an unfamiliar bear, part of which was recorded. 

"Encounters at the end of the world" (2007) no penguins (actually a brief reference with a penguin expert)--focuses on humans that came to McMurdo--quite a wide range of eccentric people--one thought that scared me a bit was a linguist who commented that it was likely that 90% of languages would disappear in his lifetime--comparing to species extinction-- a great loss.  Nominated for an Oscar.

"Bad Lieutenant:  Port of Call New Orleans" (2009)  was about depravity and madness with Nicolas Cage portraying (to really good reviews) a corrupt and addicted cop.  His girl friend was played by Eva Mendes.

"Into the Abyss" (2011) about really about the death penalty.  In this film Werner is exploring what makes killers kill and others want to kill the killer.  He had one interview with a condemned inmate just a few days before his scheduled execution.  Some details of the original crime were discussed, but the focus was on why the killing for both the individual and the state.  My understanding was that Werner was against the death penalty not so much because the accused may deserve it, but that someone had to do it. 

"Red Army"(2014) used Werner as executive producer.  An interesting movie for both hockey and non-hockey fans.  Filmed in North America and Russia.  One of my more popular blogs:

"Queen of the Desert" (2015)  was about part of the life of Gertrude Bell and her her efforts in the Mid East.  Nicole Kidman played the title lead role.   Although she did influence events, much of her advice was ignored.

Werner Herzog narrates most of his documentaries and often appears as an interviewer or presenter with a gentle accented voice that compels listening.

A Werner Herzog quote picked up from Facebook:  "Dear America:  You are waking up as Germany once did to the awareness that 1/3 of your people would kill another 1/3 while 1/3 watches."

Another quote that hit me was by Roger Ebert during a review of a Herzog film, "...feel I am lucky to be old because there may not be another lifetime's length of happiness left for most people on earth." After he died I wrote a blog that if you don't know him will give some insights:   The fact that he admired Werner Herzog enough to write a book of reviews and interviews "Herzog by Ebert" is enough to warrant more explorations.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Guilty Pleasure: Lisa Salander and Mikael Blomkvist

On principle I didn't want to tackle this book--I thoroughly enjoyed the three Stieg Larsson's books and felt his common law wife, Eva Gabrielsson deserved a chance to carry on his legacy (which she was already a part of).  When Larsson died at age 50 his triology had not been published, but has since gone on to sell over 80 million copies worldwide.  Unfortunately despite a 32 year relationship there was no will and all rights were claimed by his father and brother.  There must have been some hard feelings in the family, but rather than recognizing her rights (having contributed to the three books and having custody of notes for future books) they ended up hiring another writer.

David Lagercrantz was an established crime reporter, but his main claim to fame was as the ghost writer for soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  There was some sniping about his qualifications and the sequel, "The Girl in the Spider's Web" was written under a great deal of secrecy with concern that hacker's might get a preview.

"The Girl in the Spider's Web" kept showing up on displays at the library and I recalled the enjoyment of reading about Lisa Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.  The books were complex and also covered into motivations of multiple characters.  Mostly I have been reading non fiction, but approaching my retirement I resolved to read more fiction books, but now that I am retired have made little headway

A year or so ago  "The Hypnotist" showed up in a pickup bin at work and got my attention as I had been intrigued by a movie trailer of the book.   The movie got a bad review, but the topic seemed interesting and the book turned out to be a page turner.  Scandinavian mystery writers have been prominent in my fiction reading lists including Henning Markell and Jo Nesbo.

All that is my rationale.  It was like being tempted by ice cream, a weakness of mine. If Eva Gabrielson does come up with either a novel or non fiction account I will be eager to read it.

Like the earlier editions, this book is at first difficult to get into as a lot of snippets start off innocently, but interest picks up as they start to link and/or suggest there will be more links  Conspiracies involve most of the world, but mostly Scandinavian countries, Russia and United States.

There is an interesting discussion on autism.  We tend to focus on the genius side and the quirky side without dealing with the social mismatch.  But the book is more interesting because the autistic character is also a unique savant which plays a key role in the plot. 

Another topic that is central is artificial intelligence.  Extreme research is the key secret that various factions are manoeuvring to uncover or protect.  The author with scant reference to Isaac Asimov's, "I, Robot" contends a great danger is that the machine will inevitably be able to out think humans.

The main characters are extended in a consistent pattern with what we already know.  We do learn more family history of Lisa Salander.  Most lovers of the series will find themselves adjusting fairly easily.

I have relieved myself of a small portion of guilt.  Ideas are fragile and it is slippery to retain ownership over a period of time although there are legal efforts to do so.  Eva Gabrielsson deserved better and I still feel like I have let her down.  I hope she gets something out so I can relieve more of my guilt feelings.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Election Interference is serious problem

One thing that came out of the Mueller Report was that the Russians were very active at trying to effect the outcome of the American election.  At the top there is denial which may in part be due to an over sensitive ego.  Others are happy with the result.  Some of us aren't happy with the results and perhaps we can be accused of seeking an excuse for our poor performance or predictions.

Is this healthy?  As a possible excuse seeker, my opinion might be suspect, but I ask that even those happy with the results take a longer view.

The Russians have a history of interfering in elections (for that matter so does the U.S.)  They are supposed to have interfered in the Brexit election and in Ukraine.  Even if some in the U.S. are happy, perhaps they should consider the motivations of the Russians.  Do they really worry about abortions or gay rights or immigration?  Perhaps, but more obviously they are interested in relieving sanctions, freedom to pursue their goals, particularly with what they consider their sphere of influence. Perhaps Putin has his own sensitivities and was offended by Hilary Clinton who bluntly criticized him.

The point is Russia had goals that were not necessarily in the best interest of Americans.  Russia appears to want to upset alliances such as NATO and the EU. Trump played a small role in these efforts.

But Russia is only one country and there are many with capabilities of interfering and some of them might be interested in upsetting Trump or the Republicans.  China and Iran have conflicts.  Other nations would have different goals such as North Korea, Israel and Saudi Arabia.  Many other nations might feel they have vested interests that need to be steered.

With the U.S. political system sometimes offering a party to gain power with minority support the losers can be resistant to the results.  When there is any suspicion that the election itself was unfair there is always danger of rebellion in one form or another.

Personally I would like to add that any party that actually needed foreign help to win might not have the best interest of their voters in mind.  For instance the recent tax cut benefited the wealthiest the most in absolute dollars, but more importantly is already generating an increased deficit.  De-regulations that enable greater profit for business also remove financial and environmental protections that will do great harm over a period of time.  Budget cuts for education and health care can not only hurt individuals, but are bad for society.

Solutions are known, but the political will of the American Senate is suspect.   Some senators such as Mitch McConnell have a vested interest in the status quo.

Any time the will of the people is thwarted it hurts.  Even if it happens in another country.  In addition we need to be concerned that the will of the people is subject to manipulation.

Thursday, July 25, 2019


The American voter is making me feel naive.  It is hard to understand how they could support a man who lies, who brags, who displays ignorance, who denigrates in every direction and in my opinion has policies that hurt almost everyone.  The best explanation seems to be that the Republicans and Mr Trump have consolidated a lot of one issue voters who do not analyze much beyond that one issue.

The 1% and those aspiring to it are focused on economic issues such as lower tax rates and de-regulation.  Both of these issues if they had their way are very likely to hurt everyone else.  They understand this as well as anyone.  To maintain their status they have to offer something in order to gain control.  The spin doctors have developed at least three categories that are reinforced by a few superficial issues.  The main categories are gun rights, bigotry and abortion.  There is a natural overlapping, but for many they are focused on their one issue. The Republicans have added in patriotism reflected in superficial aspects such as respect for the flag and other symbols and more critically military power.

Gun rights are supposedly based on the second amendment, but in truth it can be interpreted quite differently than the NRA has chosen.  Aside from constitutional justification (some might say twisting) they rely on fear.  Fear feeds on bigotry.  The reality is that Americans have put themselves in great danger from accidents, suicides, impulsive responses, abusive power that in fact they have a scary rate of deaths by guns.  Gun rights garner so much emotional support that its advocates are not swayed by policies on other issues.

Bigotry is really just prejudice taken to more extremes.  We all make pre-judgments as part of our heredity.  We do not readily understand the other.  We tend to congregate around those we feel most comfortable with.  Demographic trends  are that the establishment white race is losing power.  Traditionally older straight white males have had the most power and they can see that power is diminishing.  We live in a global society whether we leave our neighborhood or not.  Former colonies are asserting their rights.  Women, homosexuals, ethnic minorities and even youth are much more assertive and disrespectful.  When jobs are hard to come by it is easy to blame the "others."  We are stronger as a group when everyone gets an equal chance to contribute. Bigotry is very often counter-productive--check

Abortion is very emotional.  Life is sacred and abortion is literally murder.  But we have to acknowledge that when faced with an unwanted pregnancy people (men as well as women) it is seen as a life threatening situation.  If legal abortion is not available many (including conservatives and even Christians) would seek illegal abortions, even crude versions.  Women die, other lives are "ruined."  One study demonstrated that a significant reason for a decline in crime rates was that after abortion was legalized fewer potential criminals were born, i.e. for the most part those born in poverty and dysfunctional parenting.

One obvious solution is sex education coupled with easier access to contraception.   Also make parenting easier with supportive economic policies and more tolerance.  It seems that many of those opposed to abortion are also concerned about promiscuity and thus are also against anything that enables more sex.  Some feel the only justification for sex is procreation.  Many feel promiscuity must be punished (stated by Trump himself) and frown on those who are guilty.  In reality promiscuity is often harmful to both individuals and society, but sex is also perhaps the most effective bonding agent which can lead to strong family relations.

How does all this relate to Mueller's report?  America is polarized.  Outside political realities people are unique, but the political structure Americans live in force most of them into one of two parties.  Sure other parties do receive votes, but if you are really determined to affect the outcome it is logical to choose one or the other party.

What I believe has happened is that government has developed to be very complicated and very distant that few really analyze the choice.  Loyalties among relatives and friends are common and social pressures to stick with the team are underlying.  Big money and ever developing modern technology are used to manipulate us.   Check

What that boils down to is most Americans are committed to one of the parties and do not pay much attention to the other party except to find criticism.

I guess the slick lawyers would say the case against Donald Trump is circumstantial at best and likely rigged by the Deep State.  But when circumstances were being attributed to the Democrats facts were twisted and spun and I must admit seemed extremely false.  The Benghazi attack was a very unfortunate occurance, but not particularly unexpected.  A dangerous place in which those directly involved realized was risky.  The Obama administration had its role by opting to get involved in Libyan rebellion, but Republicans were very quick to attack and tenacious when they felt they could spin it into something evil.

What is visible to anyone who read the report or even just followed the news from a reliable source is the evidence casts strong suspicions.  Multiple contacts between Trump's team and the Russians tied to actual policies and public statements.  Trump rejected government intelligence resources in favor of Putin.  Trump made many public obstruction efforts which by themselves would indicate he is hiding something.  He is the first presidential candidate to refuse to reveal his tax returns.  On top of all that the Mueller report is obviously reminding us of the many instances of obstruction and contact that Russians made determined and systematic efforts to turn the election to Trump's favor.  One must wonder why and note that Russia has indeed attained some of its goals.

A good hunk of Trump's supporters are indifferent or even adamant the whole process is rigged against a man who has done commendable things they feel are worth whatever it took.

The commendable things include a very harsh campaign against desperate refugees both from south of their border and from the Mid East.  De-regulating has progressed, but without too close a look in fact are removing financial and environmental protections for everyone.  Budget cuts to education and health care stand to have long term disastrous results.  Withdrawing from the Paris and Iran Nuclear agreements are having potentially catastrophic results.  Bending the Supreme Court and lower courts to conservative (Trumpian) outcomes which will drag on for decades with likely unhealthy consequences.  To top all that off, security measures to protect their election integrity are being sidelined.

To me an underlying problem is inequality.  It has always been that those who have power are able to set the rules and build increasing wealth and power.  The only thing that breaks this trend is a revolution.  Revolutions are stigmatized by those in power and for most of us they are frightening because they upset our comfortable status quo.

The wealthy and powerful are able to draw in enough of the masses to defend the status quo sometimes, as now by diverting attention from the real problems.  In a recent blog about "Amusing ourselves to death" it was assumed we are headed for a dystopia, but that there are two contrasting versions of the vehicle.  "1984" represents a harsh path with censorship, a police state, etc.  "Brave New World" by contrast suggests the path may involve pleasurable things (diversions) like drugs and sex.  One can see both trends. check out

On one hand we can see censorship and police state trends globally.  On the other hand the world seems relatively sexually liberated and literally millions even perhaps billions are using drugs to deal with life's unfairness.  Entertainment permeates our lives, even to imbibing news.  In education one can see trends towards money making while the arts and philosophy take a back seat.

What can be done?  The Democrats are at present opting for a slow walk feeling they can win big in the next election.  The Republicans are using their resources to stomp down on the truth and divert attention.  The Democrat presidential candidates smelling an opportunity are bringing up policies that appeal to progressives, but scare many moderates.  One can imagine the Republicans will welcome a top heavy progressive Democrat candidate, yet the Democrats seem to want to outdo one another.

The testimony did in fact reinforce a lot of damning evidence that may overcome the Republican attacks and Trump's vociferous claims of vindication.  There are also several ongoing investigations that may prove to be more damaging, but time can also diminish their impact.  The Democrats need to voice the evidence more loudly.  The Republicans were continually rebuffed on their Benghazi attacks, but continued and it probably was a factor in Hilary Clinton's defeat.  We can be certain the Republican spin machine will be loud and over whelming.

Naomi Klein noted that progressives have many separate causes, but they are not united as the Republicans are.  Some deep thinking needs to be done.  For example Naomi points out the alliance between native groups and environmentalists have given each more power towards their goals.  Many groups are devoted to overcoming discrimination against homosexuals, females, the disabled, racial and religious entities.  Climate change has energized many activists.  Others are trying to use gun controls to make a safer country.  Still others are concerned about inequality.  There is a little overlap in these concerns, but if each group realizes they have more power working together great things can be accomplished.  Compromises will need to be made, but respecting the concerns of other people can enable a much better result.  The sooner these compatible causes work together the sooner they can assert themselves.  Check

As many of you know I am Canadian and we have our share of problems, but we have more than two parties and the "extra" parties do have some power, so we have more choices.  I also believe proportional voting would give even more choices that would give better government.  As Canadians we are small and we know it--what happens in United States has a profound effect on us. What are you going to do about it?


John Ford is considered by many to have been one of the best directors America has ever produced.  One such claim came from Orson Welles.  Born in 1894 in Maine as John Feeney he followed an older brother who had changed his name to Francis Ford, to Hollywood.  Francis had taken the plunge into acting eventually taking part in close to 500 films and also doing some directing.  John, now Jack Ford started as an actor, but in 1923 deciding to be a director changed his name to John Ford.

One of his attractive qualities was his ability to tell a compelling story.  He was fond of a number of actors that he felt comfortable with allowing him to shoot scenes with only one or two takes.  Preparation was key. He once said "never let them talk unless they have something to say."

He was noted to have spoken French, German, Gaelic and even Chinese in the course of his work.  

As he was best known for westerns where Indians were usually portrayed  as the antagonists, there was curiosity as to what he really thought of the Indians.  One quote dug up, "We've treated them badly, it's a blot on our shield.  we've robbed, cheated, murdered and massacred them, but if they kill one white man and God out come the troops."  Mostly Indians were stereo typed in his films.

Just watched one interview in which he appeared arrogant while at the same time self-deprecating--he said he only did movies for the money. 

His first success was "The Iron Horse" in 1924.  The subject was a trans continental railroad that had been authorized by Abraham Lincoln.  This film represented at the time the greatest migration from Hollywood for an  location.  Location was preferred by John and he spent a lot of time trying to get the right one.  There were thousands of extras, including many Chinese who had been some of the workers on the railroad.  Ford depicted a cattle drive and battle scenes that were realistic..  The plot revolved around a short cut that would cut time and expense, but not desired by other financial interests.

Did 3 films with Will Rogers, one of America's favorite humourist.  In 1933 Ford directed "Doctor Bull," in 1934 directed "Judge Priest" and 1935 directed "Steamboat Round the Bend."

In 1931 he won his first Oscar for "The Informer"  a psychological drama starring Victor McLagen who won the best actor Oscar.  With a limited budged Ford used cinematography to enhance psychological tension.

"Drums along the Mohawk"  (1939) was Ford's only film regarding the American Revolution and it focuses on upstate New York.  Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert play a young married couple and the viewer watches how they change over the course of about two years during the early Revolution.  We see the conflicts between the Americans and the Tories supported by Indians from Six Nations that were eventually brought to Canada less than an hour from where I live.  In the movie they are depicted as cruel savages who are sedated by the end leaving out that they were victimized by a scorched earth policy.

"Mary of Scotland" (1936) was an early movie for Katherine Hepburn.  Lots of bagpipes and drums to heighten tension for battles  Fredric March also starred.

"Wee Willie Winkie" (1937) with Shirley Temple and Victor McLagen.

"Young Mr. Lincoln" (1939) showed the character building days of Lincoln.  Ford talked Henry Fonda into role.  Highlights an early criminal trial that helped establish Lincoln's reputation.

"Stagecoach" (1939) was his first film with John Wayne.   It won two Oscars (for music and Thomas Michell as best supporting actor.  The movie itself and Ford were nominated. A more realistic western that helped solidify Ford's reputation in that genre.

"The Grapes of Wrath" (1940) based on the John Steinbeck novel was a social protest.   Ford won an Oscar as did supporting actress Jane Darnell.  Five other nominations including for Henry Fonda and for best picture. 

"How Green was My Valley" (1941)  with Maureen O'Hara and Walter Pidgeon.  Filmed in California to look like Wales.

"The Battle of Midway" (1942) won an Oscar  18 minute--endangered just like sailors and airmen.  Did 7? one of which was used in Nuremberg Trials.   Propaganda

In World War II he enlisted and was assigned to make documentary films.  He was awarded an Oscar for a short and another for documentary.  Interesting one of his documentaries, "Nazi Concentation and Prison Camps" was submitted as evidence in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

"Pinky" (1949) not credited with director, but did assist Elia Kazan--racially sensitive--Oscar nominations

"The Quiet Man" (1952) was an obsession of Ford's, but no one was willing to help finance it--Maureen O'Hara was on board--a deal was finally made that Ford would direct some profitable westerns to justify the expense.  The last of three three westerns, "Rio Grande" (1950) brought Maureen together with John Wayne which worked out very well.  The film won two Oscars, one for John Ford and one for cinematographer Winton C. Hoch who also won Oscars for two other films directed by John Ford.  "The Quiet Man"  not only did well with awards, but also did much better at the box office than expected.

From Rio Grande (1950 )I was able to see some special feature.   A man who filmed so many westerns must have thoughts on horses and riders.  For Rio Grande he decided a demonstration of Roman riding- (standing on two horses in motion).  Ben Johnson had been a stunt man who happened to rescue some actors and was promoted to an acting role as a reward and became Ford'smost reliable rider

"Wagon Master" (1950) with Ben Johnson and some other familiar Ford actors, Jane Darwell, Harry Carey Jr. and his  brother Francis Ford.  James Arness who later made it big with "Gunsmoke,"  a tv show I watched with my father.

"The Long Gray Line"  (1955) more comedy, but set at West Point   Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara.  Ford received an Oscar nomination.

"The Horse Soldiers" (1959) was another John Wayne vehicle with William Holden. and old time silent star Hoot Gibson.  Another Oscar nomination for Ford.

"The Man who Shot Liberty Valance"(1962)  with John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles and Lee Marvin.  A few familiar faces with Andy Devine and John Carradine.  The only one of all these movies and a rarity for all my blogs that I actually saw at a movie theatre.  Must have been 14 and using my paper route earnings.

Movies are just a way of telling stories and John Ford provided a stream of enjoyable movies.   He was rewarded with 4 Oscars, the most for any director to date.

John died in California in 1993.  The only one to win 4 Oscars as a director.