Thursday, May 16, 2019

ALARM BELLS ON IRAN

There is a concerted effort to paint Iran as the bad guy who might have to be taught a lesson.  Iran is far from perfect, but are they really the bad guy?

Much is made of their support for groups that are labeled terrorist.  Yes, that can certainly endanger some of our friends.  On the other hand it seems they are protecting fellow Shiites where they have been under attack in Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere much like Americans profess alarm over Christians being besieged.  Yes, Teheran uses very scary rhetoric, but has anybody listened to Mr Trump?  Has much notice been given to the ever increasing restrictions on the Palestinians which many consider criminal?

A huge mistake was when Trump decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.  He claimed it didn't go far enough and he would force them to bend to his will.  We all want this to be a nuclear free world where everybody co-operates but in fact there is too much distrust.  Trump treats North Korea with more care, perhaps because he has been made aware they have nuclear weapons.  Libya decided to demolish their nuclear weapons, but that didn't protect Moamar Gaddafi.  Do Americans pay attention to history?

My core contention is that the Iran nuclear agreement not only gave some temporary relief from nuclear fears, but also was an opportunity to build trust that would allow other western concerns to be dealt with.  No matter what agreement the Americans can force upon the Iranians do they really expect others to trust them now?

In 1953 the Iranians had a democratically elected leader who was trying to follow the example of an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Americans to share oil revenue.  The British resisted and requested help from the U.S.  After a successful coup, Mohammed was replaced by the Shah.  To consolidate his power he sought help from the C.I.A. to set up SAVAK, a secret police service.  One of the trainers was Norman Schwarzkopf ,later famous for the Iraq invasion.  They also involved the Israeli MOSSAD.  The purpose was to track and control enemies of the Pahlavi family.  The Americans left and SAVAK took a turn for more brutality including torture, executions, censorship.  The first director was repelled, eventually becoming a dissident and was assassinated in such a way to appear an accident.  Agents spied on Iranian citizens to uncover dissidents and as a by product promote distrust amongst neighbors.

With the election of Jimmy Carter the Iranians were coerced into alleviating torture and other abuses of power.  Ironically when the Iranian Revolution occurred in 1979, Carter also felt an obligation to support the Shah under siege.  This stirred resentment in Iran and led to the hostage crisis that helped undo Carter's re-election.  A few other ironies--during an oil boycott it was Carter who adopted a conservation strategy to make Americans less dependent on Mid-East oil.  This was ridiculed by Republicans who went onto ridicule climate change.  Another irony provided by the Republicans is that they spun an arms deal with the supposed enemy Iranians to finance an insurrection in Nicaragua.

The Iranian Revolution was sparked by civilian discontent.  As is often the case the people rallied behind fundamentalist clergy who in the end took control.  Similarly the Poles rebelled against the Soviets using the Catholic Church as a tool.  In another blog about corruption it was pointed out that when citizens have little room to protest they support fundamentalists.  see http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/07/thieves-of-state.html

After the Iranian Revolution Iraq thought it would take advantage of confusion in Iran to invade it starting in 1980.  Americans, concerned about the prospect of a prolonged war supported Saddam Hussein including providing expertise on chemical weapons that not only killed an estimated 100,000 Iranians but were also used on Kurdish civilians.  Iran was able to quickly repel the invaders, but the conflict dragged on until the United Nations brokered a ceasefire accepted by Iran in 1988.

In 1988 an Iranian passenger airline was shot done in Iranian territory by an American missile.  Americans claimed they mistook it for a military fighter.    All 290 people on board died. Ronald Reagan expressed regret in a diplomatic note.  United States did not admit legal liability or offer a formal apology but did agree to a financial settlement of $61.8 million.

After 9/11 the Bush administration labeled Iran as part of an "axis of evil," although they had provided some intelligence for the crisis.  I have to admit that phrase came from David Frum, a Canadian conservative writer who I have come to like a bit.

There was some concern that Iran would develop nuclear weapons.  They were of course pictured supporting terrorists, threatening Israel and repressive.   Obama judged the priority to be avoiding nuclear weapon proliferation in the Mid East.  Iran had been under an embargo for decades and wanted relief.  Using the talents of John Kerry and co-operation with the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and China an agreement was hammered out that restricted Iran's nuclear program and opened up relations a bit.  Many Americans were upset that the United States authorized a huge payment to Iran, overlooking the fact that it was money+interest that had been sequestered after the Iranian Revolution.  Monitoring adherence was part of the agreement and Iran was careful to keep their part of the deal.

I am not privy to intelligence that United States might possess and apparently neither are any other governments.  Iran is under provocation and there are political and social factions that are already quite upset with the Americans.  As the provocations step up and attitudes harden an accidental trigger could initiate a Mid-East war.  It is very likely to be larger than the Iraq War was and is also likely to be divisive among allies and citizens when the world should be prioritizing climate change and other global concerns.

It is not hard to speculate about motives.

At this particular moment Trump appears to be fishing for diversions.  The legal attack and perhaps even more the political attack appear to be making progress.  Another motivation might be to satisfy Saudi Arabia and Israel.  In the case of Israel they have some legitimate fears, although considering they already have nuclear weapons might be a little exaggerated for domestic politics.  Americans are perhaps too beholden to Israel who is making efforts to totally disenfranchise Palestinians.  Trump had some generous donations predicated on supporting Israeli goals.  In the case of Saudi Arabia Trump seems to have formed a relationship, one might say a business relationship. 

The agreement should have been a building block.  United States and Israel could relieve tension over time.  Like Ronald Reagan once said "Trust but verify." That philosophy had a chance until Trump butted in, like he has in so many other ways.

Some other blogs that might be relevant:

earlier thoughts on the agreement
http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/07/the-iran-nuclear-agreement.html 

hopes for an agreement
http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/04/will-we-waste-another-opportunity.html

if you enjoy movies, you might appreciate there are dissidents in Iran and there is also artistry.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/03/three-persian-directors.html 







Tuesday, May 7, 2019

CHINA'S SECRET STRATEGY TO REPLACE AMERICA AS THE GLOBAL SUPERPOWER

China is still a mystery to many of us, however a fascinating one.  Michael Pillsbury recounts his own involvement with China which pre-dates the famous Nixon trip to meet Mao Zedong.  In fact he played a small role for that trip, but now looking back almost fifty years of contact feels America was deceived.

He depicts China as deceptive, cheating foes and determined to be number one in the world.  His arguments are convincing, even more so in the years after publication.

China felt humiliation at the hands of Britain, America and Japan, but had a long range plan to reassert what they feel is their rightful place in the world.  After the 1949 Revolution China declaring itself a Communist nation and realized Russia was predominant in their sphere.  They were not without some fear over Soviet intentions.  America was seen as an enemy for many reasons (Taiwan for one example) but saw America as a counterpoint to Russia.  America also saw China as a counterpoint to Russia.  

Humiliation is I believe the core problem.  Not dealt with as thoroughly it deserved.  The Chinese had the oldest continuing tradition of civilization.  Opium forced on them because British wanted much from China, but China did not see enough they wanted to trade for.

One thing not mentioned in the text was that Pierre Trudeau had made overtures to China beforehand. It seems logical that a connection was made more acceptable by Canadian moves or even concern that Canada was getting a trade advantage denied to American farmers and businesses. 

China assessed that they could be temporary friends with U.S. and lull Americans into complacency.  Both sides aware of some sensitivity of the other.  The Chinese agreed to not make an issue of Taiwan and the Americans gave defensive reassurances regarding Russian aggression and even supplied information regarding Indian troop movements towards Pakistan who was being given support by China.  Each side thought they could use a new partner to deal with Russia.

Decades of Republican and Democratic administrations felt it was in their interest to help prop up China so they would join democracy and capitalism in a western sense.  Those in charge of China had a different agenda.  Develop trade, steal information, build up their strength without alarming the Americans.

It became clear after awhile that they had a few sensitive concerns.  The Dalai Lama was universally admired (very much personally), but represented a rebellious part of China.  Taiwan was considered an integral part of China, but eventually they developed a relationship, but one where China thought they could win Taiwan from the inside.

They promised to loosen up their economy and adopt western practices.   Not quite what happened as the state owned almost half of the businesses and were subsidized. Part of their strategy was to be non threatening and to grow their strength by deception and theft. 

The author gives an example of China's power with a popular American movie, "Gravity."  I saw it and am reminded of some components that seemed innocent at the time.  Sandra Bulloch was endangered because Russians had exploded one of their satellites which was causing debris and shock waves.  Later she was saved as she gained access to a Chinese space station.  The author points out that Russia has never shot down one of their satellites, but China without warning has done so (to test their anti-satellite capability) plus that Chinese space stations are not compatible with American technology.  These facts were obviously known to the producers, but they likely did not want to jeopardize the huge Chinese movie market.  

The book was copyrighted in 2015.  Have we learned much since then?  Today I heard commentators talk about the future dominance of G5 technology which is being led by China.  Read in a New York Times supplement that Chinese are using face recognition technology to track Uighars who they consider dangerous.  China in the past few years has stirred up tension by their actions in the China Sea where other nations (Vietnam, Philippines, Japan and Taiwan) have claims.  There is still demands to ostracize the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan freedom efforts.  Trump has talked very tough on China, but seems willing to have his family do business with Chinese businesses.  Hauwei with Canada forced to detain Chinese CEO by orders of the Trump administration.   China has made friends in Africa where they have identified needed resources and prospective friends.  The Chinese in general are making efforts to build their strength.  They still seem to feel they can conquer economically, but are gradually building up their military strength wasting less resources than Americans.

My own experiences with Chinese were mostly dealing with pet products.  One small company was offered a big sale if we would share the formula.  Another company that recruited me for pet beds and furniture had promised my boss exclusivity, but in the field I learned of a competitor. selling the same line.  When the Canadian owner unfortunately died I dealt directly with the Chinese manager for a brief time, but I think he figured out I didn't have the resources he wanted.  Also with still another company they learned to compete economically they had to accept Chinese manufacturing.  None of these deals worked to my advantage.

What should we do?  The first step might be to improve our understanding of China.  This can involve more intense intelligence efforts, but also academic study and personal contact.  Can we hope that they will change their views and join us as true partners or not?

Contact is important.  Most Chinese citizens know only what the government wants them to know about.  Some approved citizensare allowed to be tourists while many others have studied at universities in America and other western countries.

America beat off Russia during the Cold War with bi-partisan support. We need to support dissidents and demand release of political prisoners.  They need to know our relations hinge at least in part of human rights.  We need to not bend when we are requested to participate

Strengthen relations with Asian countries in particular, but also the rest of democratic countries.  The Pan Pacific Agreement would have been important to maintain economic alternatives to Chinese.  Taiwan is awkward as is the Dalai Lama .  U.S. forces on Okinawa--Japanese constitution re self defense  South Korea   North Korea can be expected to line up wth China

We have to set a better example recognizing that Chinese propaganda can find and distort aspects of our culture.  Credibility can only be manufactured so far.

The Chinese are oncerned over inflaming own population and now Uigar Muslims.  There are still protesters who are not always silent.     Terrorists are a minor concern, but one they share with the rest of the world.  

A good start is to read Michael Pillsbury's book and visit his website  http://michaelpillsbury.net/  He is described as a Chinese hawk and an advisor to Donald Trump, nonetheless he has a viewpoint that is well worth knowing.  His history with the Chinese is very instructive as he describes how he and the governments of both parties were deceived.

Monday, May 6, 2019

May 7th 2019 a Walk to Bayfront Park

Today is about 10 days after my official retirement and my first visit to Bayfront Park.  It is scarcely ten minutes from my front door and for awhile one can pretend they are not in an industrial city.

With kids off to school, the morning is seniors time.    Still early in the season, but one can sense Nature reasserting itself.



 The Sakura project was the planting of Japanese cherry trees.  I have watched them over the years at first little more than saplings.  In 2019 they are growing taller and blooming brighter.









As one goes down to the parking lot there is a split between a path to the CNR railway and the trail.









First time I have seen a turtle at this location.
















Seagulls are very common and I have seen many eating garbage once fascinated by seagulls feasting on french fries with vinegar.  This is the first time I have actually seen one about to eat a fish (from the Hamilton Harbour no less).











Along the trail greeted by Goose and Gander and some very young goslings.  At this time of year most of the goslings are kept safer in Cootes Paradise on the other side of the High Level Bridge.  They must be more trusting of trail walkers.






Cormorants are the most interesting birds.  Her is one on the left flapping his wings to dry off.  They can be tricky to photograph as they are apt to plunge under the water to chase a fish and emerge several meters away.  This island demonstrates a high water level.  It is similar or even the same as one I used for my Facebook background when the water was lower and more land visible.



A redwing blackbird.  They seem to love being near the water.








Two swans.  In a few weeks it is normal for them to nest right near where I earlier saw a turtle.

Somewhere near here I was spotted by an old friend, Barbara with a friend who had noticed beavers had busy gnawing at trees.  Several years ago I had watched with others while a beaver dragged a tree across the trail.






Gaze towards the east and one can the Skyway Bridge and ships in the harbour.







Turn away from the water and one can see trains whizzing by.












Just across from Bayfront Park is a corner that has been used for the Sunset Cultural Garden that had been set up by the Chinese community of Hamilton.  Many years ago I remember signing a petition to reserve this land for a garden.  People had been known to meditate here as it is so peaceful.  There are poems in stone in twelve different languages including Chinese, Korean, Gujarti and Arabic.





Flowers are blooming, but there will be more variety in a few weeks.  So something to look forward to.











I have enjoyed lots of interesting natural settings  in Canada and New Zealand more isolated from cities, but I am grateful that such a place a Bayfront Park exists for it gives me a sense of awe. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

LAS VEGAS MEMORIES NOT KEPT IN LAS VEGAS

Now that I am retired from OKD Marketing I look back at a lot of memories.  I worked there only because my brother-in-law Len Olynyk was kind enough to offer me a job when I was unemployed.  A lot of ups and downs, but through it all Len was good to me.  More importantly as one of the partners of OKD he was a great employer.  Phil King, the other partner at the time was also good to me, but beat me to retirement.

Basically I am just indulging with photos of people I am grateful to have worked with.  This trip was only one of many memorable moments at OKD.

One year, back in 2010 they had an especially good year.  At a lot of companies the owners would have just bought a bigger house or fancier car or gone on some sort of exotic vacation.  This time they wanted to share the excitement with those who helped make the success happened.  I got to tag along. At the top photo at Batista's I remember a speech by Daryl Cummins as he pointed out that this wasn't an an ordinary company that didn't really appreciate their staff.  A few years later Daryl's wife, Leanne became OKD's accountant and helpful to explain my tax situation.

 On the top are David Olynyk Brent Clifford. On the second row are Dan Miller, Michelle Bowman and Zsolt Palfry.  David joined us to help bring us into the digital age. Brent went on to replace Phil as junior partner. Dan had his own agency and brought a lot of contacts with him.  Michelle was the youngest employee when she joined our media department adding a lot of much appreciated sassiness.  She is still there.  Zsolt was there for a number of years and is now noted as a Hungarian dancer in his spare time.






Phil King, Rob Lardie and Len Olynyk  Phil was one of the founders.  Rob was our first web designer and is still there.  Len Olynyk was another of the founders and responsible for helping grow the business.








Mary Ditta, Robyn Hampson, Rob Lardie.  Mary was the head of our art department.  Robyn after a few years left us to go back to her home town Winnipeg, but came back to visit us once in awhile. Rob at one time had a vacation share in Las Vegas.








Greg Howard, Hilda Hinton,  Melody.  Greg's company merged with OKD--he liked my wife's cookies and retired a year before me.. Hilda worked next to me and we consulted each other on wine--she also retired before me.  Melody had come with the Howard Group, but found it difficult to commute from Etobicoke.






Mary Ditta, John Tait and Kate Albanese.  Mary had done lots of things for me at work, advised me on cats and drove me to work when my car was not available.  John Tait was also president of the Burlington Eagles for whom I did some sales work.  Kate started as a scheduler and ended up as an account executive and more than once steered me in the right direction and once rescued me from a serious problem.
 


3 of my favorite co-workers.  Steffi Gerke, Gabriella Garofalo and Mary Ditta.  Steffi  was in the art department.  Gabriella was an account executive who inter acted with me on a number of occasions and gave me some much loved Italian music.  Mary was with OKD from almost the beginning and has been a key reason for their success.






Michelle Bowman, once again and Adoree McClean--two women who brighten up the office and contributed to the success of OKD..
As I couldn't do justice to everyone here is a busload of us.  I would like to add few more individual comments. Brad Grant became our computer expert and personally saved me a lot of misery.  Ed Rogers was another computer expert who helped me on numerous occasions. Adoree McClean I have known most of my time at OKD and she has shown a lot of compassion.  All in all it was a great TEAM to work with.



 On the plane going back home as I was organizing my photos a woman beside me that had been included in our flight only because there weren't enough passengers for a flight to Cleveland saw Batista's accordion player/owner and recognized as one of her highlights.



A few years after this trip OKD did another one with the whole staff, this time to the Big Apple.
http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2012/04/short-trip-to-new-york.html  

Thursday, April 18, 2019

What Now?

The Mueller Report, redacted as it is, is pretty damning.  The media, many activists and the Democrats will certainly kick up a fuss.  The next move is really up to the Republicans.  They can fight being pushed out with legalities and using their control of the Senate and Presidency and now even the Supreme Court.  But eventually they will reckon against the 2020 election.

That must give many pause for reflection.  The Mueller report is only a part of what crimes and misdemeanors are yet to come.  Not only is Trump's past full of legal and public relations problems, but going back to the CIA/FBI revelations to key Congressional members there is more cause for concern.  Mitch McConnell threatened the Obama administration that he would accuse them of meddling in an election, thus creating a clear path aided by the Russians.  Now we learn the Kentucky Senator and Majority leader also had some dealings with the Russians.

Would the public overlook all this Russian inter actions and Trump's obvious attempts at obstruction?  Many would forgive Trump for various reasons.  I think much of the 1% are very grateful for their tax rebates plus loosening up constricting regulations.  Others are pleased at all the rhetoric and action against minorities.

Many were discouraged for their job prospects and lapped up many distortions against Hillary Clinton.  A few may be willing to examine their perceptions.  Others may realize that many policies were not in their interests.

Minorities are not the problem for job prospects.  Really it boils down to the greed of those with power and money.  They are looking for cheaper alternatives and finding them with automation (and artificial intelligence) and shifting increasingly job descriptions to low labour costs, less regulation overseas markets.  There are ways of dealing with these problems, but they aren't given much of a platform.  Although a bit outdated here is a blog from 2014 that illustrates the job future: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/08/rise-of-robots.html

The tax cut was really engineered by donations from the wealthy.  And although a token amount was given to encourage low income voters the wealthy supporters gained a bigger hunk of available wealth.  Some have invested in creating jobs and of course extra money being spent creates jobs.  However huge chunks of money were mainly used to consolidate wealth.  On the other side the government will be dealing with deficits which eventually all tax payers will suffer for.  But at the same time programs that benefit lower income people will be curtailed as the wealthy see them as harmful to their interests.  The many inter connections will increase inequality.

Trump has gone against the majority in many ways although admittedly his base likes much of his efforts and/or find him entertaining.  He has offended many allies and upset peace initiatives.  Meddling in the Mid East endangers us all.  Some of it was just to please his base, but some was for selfish unfathomable reasons.  The Iran Nuclear deal did not suit his allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia, but was critical. for wold peace  He took the side of Israel regarding Iran plus Palestine and also of the Saudi Arabians on Yemen.  Another group of voters will be threatened by these actions.

He has gone against American traditions regarding Russia.  Although no collusion  has been legally declared more Americans will wonder what the connection must be between Russian election aid and Trump's many favorable words and actions.

On the social front besides rhetoric and actions against visible minorities he also supported anti-LGBT efforts.  A touchy issue that is very key for many voters is abortion.  Most people are repulsed by abortion, but realized that effective ways to diminish it include sex education and access to contraception.  Some realize that it is difficult to judge women and their families when they find themselves in an unwelcome pregnancy--rape, incest, health issues, economic hardship are some factors. Sex is very hard to control and in a misogynous and sexually obsessive society, men are able to avoid responsibility.   Society seems to be evolving in their acceptance of new morality.

All of this must make the upcoming election frightful for many Republicans.  Even those in what have been considered safe seats  have to be worried how much power they will have if their Republican colleagues are not able to win.  If they refuse to take any responsibility how will their voters react?  They are already sliding.

Much of party actions are coordinated, but they have to realize real power  comes from being part of majority with control of Congress, the president and judicial.  If they punish the "bad apples" and show respect for bi partisan efforts inevitably some people will forgive them.  Impeachment is risky for both sides and at this stage unlikely to happen.  Renominating Donald Trump should also be a risky choice for the Republicans.  An association with Donald Trump could drag down many Republicans. 

Much of this mess will carry on.  The Republicans (giving a lot of credit to Mitch McConnell) managed to avoid a Democratic Supreme Court choice replace a conservative judge and then go on to add two more of their choices.  At the lower levels of the judiciary Republicans have been very active in assuring a conservative bent for at least another generation.  The electoral college will continue to distort the popular vote and states still have leeway to gerrymander.  (Dark) money will still be effective at subverting votes.

It may be a few years before the U.S. is back on track.  They have to earn trust from their allies and respect from others.  They need to tackle problems like climate change, future of jobs, inequality and campaign finance.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Ricardo Trogi Triology

Not all of us are able to put our autobiography in film format.  Most of us don't have the insights and talent to be as interesting a view as Ricardo Trogi.  Like many of us there are multiple factors in explaining how we reached our present status in life.

My interest in his story started by accident noticing a title "1991" (2018)  Sure enough the author wanted to remember a key year in his life.   He ended up in Perugia, Italy although his Italian linguistic skills were limited.  He presented more than one version of what really happened and most of us could identify one version as wishful thinking.  Kept me laughing with many human foibles exposed.


Going back to his earlier background  "1981" (2009) we see him as an 11 years old who had just moved to new school and is anxious to make friends.   He hooks up with 3 other boys and it turns out they all lied to make an impression  The foursome all exhibit, sexual curiosity, all try to manipulate parents and status conscious.  Ricardo is spoiled, but nagged by his parents.  This film contrasts a fantasy world with reality.  Going back to our youths most of us can sympathize with yearnings that sooner or later run up against harsher reality.  Ricardo's father was Italian married to a French Canadian was a tiny bit outsider which was displayed by the constant misprounciation of his last name.  There was also an assumption that he would be able to speak Italilan, but he couldn't.

The middle film "1987" (2014)  brings our subject to 17 years old with three friends.  In a fantasy Ricardo is shown talking to legislators complaining that he was being asked to make career choices at 17, while unable to legally drink alcohol until 18.  The four friends were intent upon sneaking into bars, but were mostly unsuccessful.   Sex is an obsession and one outlet is masturbation.  Jealous rears up strongly when driving a girl friend to the prom felt guilty enough to confess she has "frenched" with a college student at a bar.  Our hero has a hard dealing with this and it is not really resolved until the end of the film.  At one point determined to overcome his virgin status he takes out a girl with a reputation.  However it turns out she really wasn't a slut.  The four friends talk to each other about girl problems and try to help out, but not always successful.

In the meantime the four are involved stealing car radios.  His friends suggest that as an Italian he was the most natural. Finally running from the police and inevitably caught and identified.  To get some leverage he identifies a friend who had been seen with his girl friend.   Near the end he is seen cycling from Ste Foy towards Trois Rivieres over 100 kilmetres away as his girl friend has confessed she loves him and wants to lose her virginity.  As the movie ends we learn the outcome of the main characters.  In his case it turns out he was asked to make choices for college and as Italian class was full he elected cinema for fun

Ricardo Trogi  got an early break in 1994 when as participant on tv program he was given a chance to travel to make a short film.  When back home he made a series of short films two of which were chosen  for"La Longue Nuit des court-m├ętrang" (Long Night of Short films) at Cannes.  A few years later did his first feature film as a writer/director  "Quebec-Montreal" winning an award for comedy and also success at the box office and some festivals.  Not everyone gets to indulge in what amounts to film autobiography, but he certainly does it very entertainingly.  Maybe not finished.

Ricardo's wife, Anne-Karine Gauthier was the clothing co-ordinator for "1981"  for which she was nominated for a Genie award.  She also worked with "Quebec-Montreal."  She has her own independent career including television productions. 

Three actors carried through all three films, aging naturally.  Jean-Carl Boucher played Ricardo as an 11 year old, then a 17 year old and finally(?) as a 21 year old.  His father Claudio Colangelo played his father and Sandrine Bisson played his mother winning a Jutra award as best supporting actress for "1981" and nominated for a Canadian Screen award for "1987."  Rose Adam played his sister in "1981" and "1987."

I watched one other of his films "Le Mirage" (2015)  It was about a man caught up in trying to maintain his status despite turbulent financial stresses.  His relation with his wife and another couple underwent difficulties for which I became increasingly unconcerned. Sex was a big part of his attempts to maintain self respect, but very counter productive.  All through the film he was confronted by consumer and duty expectations from his wife and two children.  Unlike the triology  the ending did not leave much hope.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

WHO IS GOING TO BEAT TRUMP?

For many Americans getting rid of Trump is more important than policy details.  Some hope legal procedures can be used, but most think it more practical to vote him out of office.  Apparently that task seems easy enough that Democrats already have well over a dozen candidates.

The Republicans had a similar problem in the 2016 primaries with a dozen or so candidates.  From my perspective one problem was that they all felt they had to be tougher than their opponents to get attention. In the end Trump proved to be the most obnoxious.  The Democrats are each trying to be unique while trying to deal with certain litmus tests.

Trump has actually earned a lot of brutal respect (with the help of domestic and foreign enablers) that many Democrats fear him.  He did get in with less than a majority of voters and is concentrating on his base (the deployables).

Getting an early start can be helpful.  They can all expect to be scrutinized like they have never been before.  Their opponents of both parties are looking for dirt and the media is wanting to draw a crowd with sensational tidbits which could range from sex scandals to stumbling over words.  A lot of worthy people are scared off.  Others realize the effort requires a super human effort and after assessing the odds decide they are better off not running.  Sherrod Brown is one example.

Biden and Sanders are supposed to appeal to older voters who are more reliable at the ballot box.  Age is a factor.  Looking back we now realize that Ronald Reagan was in early stages of dementia and a case is being made that Trump is well advanced.  Also the younger generation has new ideas and enthusiasm.  A contrast with a 70+ Trump would be a plus.

Joe Biden should not be compared to Donald Trump's licentiousness, but that possibility has been opened.   Joe is being judged by much higher standards than Trump has been--not caught boasting or what would be considered sexual assault, but taking advantage of male privilege, something many male and even female voters can forgive, but one can imagine Trump will paint him as a hypocrite.
While Joe's career encouraged touching many now feel today such behaviour is overstepping personal space boundaries. 

Bernie Sanders my favorite from 2016 has drawn a lot of attention from progressives.  His age is against him and by declaring himself proudly as Democrat Socialist provides a bigger target.  Ironically a lot of his support comes from younger voters.  Although he has a history of involvement with civil rights he seemed too distant from blacks compared to Hilary Clinton.

My favorite candidate Elizabeth Warren is very conscious of Trump's racist attack which is really accusing her of dishonesty.  She has stood up for ordinary consumers better than others with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders.  She has spent a lot of effort developing policies but it seems voters' attention span doesn't permit too many details.  She is usually ranked in the top four or five and might do well in the debates, but might seem vulnerable to the Trump machine.

Kamala Harris makes a good impression.  Like many politicians she has a history of doing what she thought right and practical at a difficult time.  Some will think that can be used against her.  Her idea of boosting teachers fits in with what I consider a major priority.  Half black and half Indian could gain some support while at the same time be awkward, remembering that Obama was considered by many blacks to not be black enough.  It also reminds that Trump gained votes from racists.

Amy Klobuchar also made a good impression at the Kavanaugh judicial hearing   She has been criticized as being rough on her support staff.  Women are not supposed to be tough.

Beto O'Rourke even though he lost his Senate race in Texas created a lot of enthusiasm.  He is very open and expressive.  An example of changing dynamics was when established Republicans thought Beto's participation in a rock band would turn off voters it had a positive impact.

Cory Booker had made many media appearances and has a share of admirers.  Single men are frowned upon and suspected of being closet gays.  His new girl friend, activist and actress Rosario Dawson could be an asset.

Pete Buttigieg would not have been possible a decade or so ago.  A gay mayor of a fairly small city, but he has already aroused very positive attention.  His intelligence strikes many as outstanding and he has quick reaction to questions.

A lot of good people have been left out of my assessment which is more a reflection of the multitude than their individual value.  My focus is on the Trump question.  Name recognition is critical, after all most people base their decisions of what has filtered through to their attention.

The winner could turn out to be someone not mentioned.  The debates and fund raising will juggle perceptions of relative merit.  The Vice Presidential candidate could emerge from these candidates or not.  Balancing the duo ticket is considered important to the campaign.  The primary candidates in many cases will boost their popularity which can be transferred to the package.  Senators often have a national brand awareness, but Governors actually have more administrative experience.  Hopefully business experience won't be a priority.  Science awareness should be a factor.  Diversity of options could be a positive favor.

Mike Pence is an interesting case.  Apparently Paul Manafort realized that Donald's reputation would not encourage evangelicals to support him and manipulated events to get Mike Pence on as vice president.  It is a wonder that he would pair himself with such as obvious offensive candidate, but it is speculated he had his own ambitions.

The possibility of a female duo has been raised.  It could draw more female voters, but the Democrats are already strong in that area.  Aside from turning off misogynist males it could also have a negative impact with evangelical women who feel women's place is in the home.  Women like Jacinda Ardern draw admiration from both sexes  helping to create a better atmosphere.

In the last election Climate Change was seldom discussed.  Partly suspect that the media did not want to offend some of their big advertisers.  Unfortunately the danger has accelerated and it will be harder for denialists to be taken seriously.

Trump loves to cut down his opponents with a slick nickname and insults.  Everyone is vulnerable, but really he is also very vulnerable.  He seems very sensitive to criticism and is transparent in his hate for Obama who in reality was a far superior president.

I am inclined to believe almost any one of them could beat Trump.  More voters are conscious of third party dangers.  The demographics are moving favorably for the Democrats.  Trump has lost more voters than he has gained by his mercurial ways and policies. Turnout is critical.  Trump has a hard core of believers he can count on, but the more lethargic voters are more conscious they will definitely lose if they don't vote.

In addition to a concern about beating Trump, another danger the Democrats do face is a purity test.  No person is without fault.  I would like to think that intelligent caring people learn from their mistakes, but too many people are not willing to forgive.  Most of the candidates have already found it necessary to apologize for past behavior or choices made under unique circumstances.  A recent example inspired a blog on the topic:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/02/self-righteousness-and-forgiveness.html

PHOTO EXPLANATION:  Admittedly not my best, but Benjamin Franklin was a most admired American who never ran for President.  You can't run today without a lot of money and you really have to want it.  Perhaps suitable people would prefer a role like Benjamin Franklin's, after all he contributed to America's success and is recognized more than many of the subsequent presidents.