Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Three Persian Directors

"Offside" was perhaps the first Iranian film that got my attention--a major soccer game was played in Teheran and women were forbidden to attend, but several women pretended to be men so they could watch.  A group were found out and segregated without seeing the game.  Jafar Panahi, the director and writer was undoubtedly trying to draw attention to the unfairness of it all.  Apparently one of his daughters had earlier snuck into a soccer stadium after being refused admittance.  A lot of subterfuge was used to make the film including submitting a false script to authorities, using a small digital camera, substituting false name for the director.  Released in 2006 it won a Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and an audience award at the Tokyo FILMeX.

In general Panahi has the most legal problems of the three directors as he pushes the limit.  He has been detained numerous times and many of his films have been banned in Iran.  He loves doing films that criticize the government or stick up for a minority.

Back in 1995 he won a major award with his first feature, "The White Balloon"  at Cannes which was the first for an Iranian.  Not seen.

Two other of his films I have seen are "The Mirror" and "This is not a film."   "The Mirror" followed a very young girl who got lost in Teheran and at one point the actress expresses distaste and refuses to co-operate.  Panahi's crew decides to follow her anyway and capture the plight of young girl lost.  "This is not a film" might bore those who do not understand the circumstances and perhaps that is what makes it so interesting.  He had been confined to house arrest in 2010 awaiting a trial and forbidden to do a film.  Using a telephone camera he involves the confines of his apartment including a lizard  and a dog.  We would not know of the film if he had been unable to smuggle it out on an USB stick buried in a cake.

His next film, "Taxi" has done the film festival circuit and I saw a trailer at the Hamilton AGH International Film Festival.  Apparently working around more restrictions on his freedom he is working as taxi driver and talks to his customers using a small camera inside the cab.  It will be a few weeks more before I can see it, but am looking forward to it.

Jafar, besides writing and directing has been an editor and as such was involved with "Border Cafe."  A widow is pressured to marry her brother in law (who already has a wife) and give up her husband's business.  She defies tradition, refusing marriage and renovating her husband's restaurant and cooking in a back kitchen so customers won't know a women is cooking.  Her cafe becomes popular, but still the pressure to give it up continues.  Kambazia Partovi was a well known script writer doing the directing.  We view Muslim countries as suppressing women and these two men remind the outside world and try to raise consciousness.

Jafar Panahi's next movie, "Flowers" will be directed by his son Panah after Jafar's written script won a grant.  It is about discrimination against handicapped people in Iran based on real events.

"A Separation" got my and the world's attention a few years later.  Roger Ebert rated it not only as the best foreign film of 2011, but also the best picture, period.  What I got out of it was the normality of the people.  Except for the hijabs worn even indoors the scenery and dialogue was not all that different from what we in the west are used to.  Asghar's daughter played a critical role  The movie gets your interest and there are a number of twists along the way with a very ambiguous ending.

With some special features on another DVD (with "About Elly") I found the back story very interesting.  Asghar said that getting a permit was critical and in some doubt.  As the film was nominated for awards it generated a lot of response both in and outside Iran.  There was controversy over things I didn't understand, but it broke a few barriers which were admired by some, but not all.  A concern was when they learned that Madonna was to award the Golden Globe award for their category.  They did win the award.  They were also nominated for the best foreign film Oscar as well as best original script.

This was a tense time as Israel was threatening to bomb Iran over its nuclear developments.  Another nomination for the Oscar was "Footnote" from Israel (an interesting film in itself).  Ex patriots were shown in Canada, the U.S. and Germany following the procedures enthusiastically.  Again they did win the award  which this time was presented by Sandra Bullock, but due to Iranian protocol no hands were shaken.   Asghar spoke in both English and Farsi speaking of Iranians as peace lovers.

Asghar spoke of hindrances to himself and other Iranian filmmakers.  He returned home with a bare notice wanting to avoid the government shaping the event.  Crowds were frantic with authorties wanting to make as little fuss as possible, but he insisted on going back to the airport after being whisked away to share the honour with his fellow Iranians.

After these two movies  it took awhile to become aware of other Iranian movies

"Fireworks Wednesday"  was released in 2006 and was a story involving infidelity and showing Iranian society as much like our own for drama and comedy.

Peyman Mohaadi, a prominent actor had been born in US but raised in Iran. He was the male lead in "A Separation" and accepted the Oscar with Asghar   He appeared in another Farhadi production, "About Elly" released in 2009.  Peyman played a supporting role in this one which was another masterpiece with suspense right through to the end.  He starred in "Camp X-Ray" with Kristen Stewart.  Set in Guantanamo he was supposedly an Arab.

In 2013 Asghar directed a French film, "The Past" with Tahir Rahim and Berenice Bejo.  The movie was a success winning a Cannes award for Berenice as well as himself.

His next movie will star Penelope Cruz, but with few details made public.

Abbas Kiarostami was well established in Iranian film before the other two spanning before and after the Iranian Revolution.  He decided to remain in Iran after the Revolution, although other movie people fled.  His one Iranian film I saw was "Taste of Cherry" about a man who plans a suicide.  I then saw two other films not realizing his connections  one Japanese language set in Tokyo, "Like Someone in Love" and another in Italy,  in French, English and Italian, "Certified Copy" with Juliette Binoche.   Both he and Juliette won awards at Cannes for that one.  He served as a mentor to Jafar Panahi, co-writing "The White Balloon," but his own Cannes awards came two years after Panahi's.

What I got out of watching these Iranian movies is that Iran has a few problems that merit fixing, but we are not quite perfect either.  The other thing I get is that the people are not a whole lot different than we are and Iran has a lot to offer the rest of the world.  Some earlier thoughts on the Persian culture:  http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2012/10/my-three-persian-experiences.html

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

After the Sands


Many of us Canadians are embarrassed about the Alberta Tar Sands, but the whole issue is more complex as described in "After the Sands" by Gordon Laxer.  Elsewhere I have written about the central role it has played in the Canadian economy.  As the price of oil takes a downward swing it causes a different set of concerns.

These days unless you are a climate change denier you are focused on developing renewables and for the time being conservation, when you are forced to use fossil fuels.  Canada is at a very awkward point in that recently our economy was very dependent on the Tar Sands and now that the price of oil has declined severely our economy is hurting, at least in terms of importing goods.

I should have known that while western Canada is exporting to the U.S., eastern Canada has to import much of its oil which means we are not as oil secure as many thought.  Laxer goes into a history of how we arrived at this situation, but it boils down to the Americans have negotiated that buying Canadian oil gives them oil security.  This the author asserts should be re-negotiated and points out that Mexico had successfully rejected American demands that would have impacted their energy security.  Canadians are one of the few industrialized countries without a Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Laxer refers to Jeff Rubin who has thought higher prices for oil would force more manufacturers to locate closer to their customers.  Labour costs are also rising in some developing nations such as China, but it seems global countries are always looking for cheaper labour from more desperate countries.

Norway has set a model for the rest of the world setting aside oil revenues for the benefit of their citizens and with transition plans.  They asserted their national rights to natural resources and held out for higher royalties.  They have been careful that local manufacturing not be harmed by the oil business.  Alberta in contrast has lowest taxes in Canada and argued against higher royalties.  Oil extraction equipment for the most part is purchased in the United States.  Caterpillar supplied much equipment, but has pulled out of Canada.

Laxer points out situations that could cause a problem.  Strikes in Britain at one time jeopardized oil supplies.  Something like 11% of oil to eastern Canada passes the Strait o Hormuz which is only 3 kilometres wide at one point between Saudi Arabia and Iran and subject to Middle Eastern politics.

Although an Albertan, Laxer has long seen the importance of dealing with climate change, but sees that at present the Americans have a stranglehold on conventional oil from western Canada as well as Newfoundland.  He also believes in renewables, but thinks a more important strategy would be conservation.  There is not as much energy in renewables as in fossil fuels and we can never achieve as much efficiency as from the original source.  He points out that much of the rest of the world has learned to live with limited supplies.  During World War II we all lived with rationing.   BC Hydro (where a good friend of mine worked) has a strategy to save capital costs by encouraging conservation.

Laxer would gradually cut down the Sands Oil, and thinks Canada should assert its right to provide energy security with conventional oil.  Pipelines from west to east go through the United States, but he would like to see more all Canadian routes.  He points out that Bitumen corrodes pipes more than conventional oil.  Residents along pipelines are naturally concerned about leaks.  Harper tried to change laws so that natives could not stop pipelines and environmentalists have increasingly aligned their efforts with indigenous groups.

Jobs are a concern and Laxer sees education as critical and for re-training.  Intensive farming and improved transit are key strategies.

For me a key thought was that we should strive for sufficiency as much as  efficiency.  He quotes Gandhi:  "The world has enough for everyone's needs, but not enough for everyone's greed."  Another quote used by George Monbiot:  "It is a campaign not for more freedom, but for less.  Strangest of all it is a campaign not just against other people, but against ourselves."  As always it seems most crises come from greed--someone wanting a bigger share.

Gordon Laxer has another big idea that you can read about.  Tradeable energy quotas he believes would have more impact than cap and trade or taxing fossil fuels.

For up to date views of Gordon Laxer go to:  http://www.gordonlaxer.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

the Media and the American Election

Some of you may be sick of another political article from me.  I apologize as I had not intended to blog about the American election quite this closely, but the results from last night's primaries have really narrowed the opportunities and I think very counter productive to the best interests of everyone.

Everyone knows that money makes a difference in an election.  But another element is communications that sometimes can overcome money.  When you combine big money and the main stream media it is hard to battle.

A few elections ago I became conscious of the power of the media.  The Democrat Howard Dean got off to a roaring start by being an early adopter of social media and raising money without relying on traditional big donors.  His platform appealed to a lot of people who paid attention.  However there were other contenders some of whom had greater name recognition and were able to tap into big money and he started to lose some of his lustre.  What really did him in was a screaming rant that was not intended for media exposure that nevertheless was caught on tape.  It was played it seemed almost every time his candidacy was discussed in the media.  He never recovered.

Undoubtedly the media has played a role in many elections, but I didn't notice because the issues weren't of big concern or my favourites got in anyway.  I worked in newspapers for about twenty years at a time when people were becoming conscious that newspaper ownership was becoming more concentrated.  Here in Canada one consequence was that fewer towns had a correspondent in Ottawa for their local paper and that seemed to affect voter turnout.   To get more details on newspapers and Canadian politics:  http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2015/04/kill-messengers.html

The same process was well underway for television and radio.  In the U.S. it was discovered that profits could be made off news if it was packaged in a more entertaining way.  That meant sensationalism, short clips and punditry.  At the same time Americans have loosened laws regarding election spending to the point that many politicians have found fund raising a critical part of their re-election efforts leaving less time to actually do their job.

Big money is influential in countless ways.  Data analysis, transportation to hopscotch around the electoral districts, and advertising all cost money.  Much of that money comes with obligations and almost all of it with expectations.

In the last two decades alternatives have developed through social media.  This is where alternative ideas can reach the public, but even here big money has intruded.  Social media has become a platform for all sorts of ideas, some of hate.

All this to say is that I think the American public has been given a raw deal by the media.  There certainly is cause for anger amongst most people, but big money has had a lot of success in steering that anger.  In the not so distant past the media played a more significant role in informing voters.

After Obama won his historic victory back in 2008, many hoped he would be able to deal with the problems inherited such as the Iraq war and a major recession.  But others were upset that their world was changing in frightening ways.  Part of it was undeniably racist with Mexicans taking low level jobs away from Americans and of course a black man in charge.  A bigger problem was increasing inequality.  The truth is that some at the very top benefited from outsourcing jobs to other countries, from hiring cheap Mexican labour under the table and from laws that enabled them to keep more of their "hard earned" money.  As I understand it the Tea Party was at least partially motivated by the fact that most of the ones responsible for the financial disaster escaped with virtually no punishment.  Somehow that natural anger got diverted  to the awfulness of Obamacare, environmentalists and regulations hurting jobs plus terrorism.

The real cause of unhappiness is inequality.  An enabler of that is campaign finance laws (courtesy of big money influences).  Three realities we all have to face are automation, climate change and too much hate.  A lot of intelligent and educated people have an understanding of that, but they aren't enough to win elections.

Donald Trump has hosted a reality show and drawn a lot of fans.  People think he is tough and smart and to some degree I agree.  But I would add that it is all self serving.  I don't think that he really believes (or cares) that Obama was born in Kenya, but realized that that suggestion drew him a lot of attention and reinforced some negative views of many Americans.  He is very strong on some notions such as building a wall that will be paid for by Mexicans, slamming the door on Muslims and reviving torture, but is very vague about practical details.  Many of us don't really care about the details.  Lately his antics have been alarming, resulting in actual violence.  Many of his facts are unproven.  For my views of the consequences of torture:  http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2014/12/torture.html

Mostly unseen by the media has been Bernie Sanders.  He doesn't fit in.  He is proud to call himself a "democratic socialist" which scares a lot of people (especially the 1%).  When he was drawing bigger audiences than most politicians he got very little media attention.  His explanations got even less coverage.  Those who heard his message really liked it, but more attention was given to the outrageous.  Donald Trump got more free media attention than all the other candidates put together, but yet he was seldom, if ever pinned down to a serious explanation.  Networks all prefer Trump's boisterousness to Bernie's explanations.

Bernie points out that the "corporate media" as he characterizes it, is most interested in the criticisms of his opponents (Donald Trump is famous for that) and social gossip.  They do not really get involved in important issues.  They benefit from an interest in the horse race aspects of an election.

Bernie is pointed out as a radical, but here in Canada many of his ideas are already taken for granted.  We already have and would fight to maintain a single payer healthcare system.  Our campaign finance laws could use some improvement (and more enforcement) but they are ahead of America.  Free tuition for qualified students to university has been done in other countries and could make a real difference to global competitiveness.  Climate change, although denied by special interests is gaining public acceptance and by refusing fossil fuels funds Bernie has credibility like no one else.  He has a long time record of human rights including some jail time.  He is not against military action, but was one of the few to vote against the Iraq War.  Having said all that he is also too boring for the networks.

Bernie does see the real problems Americans should be concerned about and has proved over a long period of time he is sincere.  Pretty much everyone else is very careful what they say to avoid offending their donors or their base.  He has mostly exercised good judgment sorting through what he thinks is best for everyone.  He is not just an idealist as he has quietly improved much legislation through amendments.

What is in the media's best interest is high ratings so they can charge more for advertising.  What is not in their best interests is challenging the 1%. The rest of us are losers.

The joy of half a cookie

Our society is obsessed with food, but also with dieting.  Most of us wrestle with temptation and our body shape.  There are all sorts of diets, but we humans find it difficult to stick it out for very long.  There is a lot of commercial interests probing our psyches to tempt us to eat unhealthy (but profitable) foods.  There are countless books dealing with this situation and the best ones deal with the psychology.  The problem is not what you decide to eat, but how you approach this most natural activity.  You really need to integrate a life style.

Jean Kristeller suggests both inner wisdom and outer wisdom should be cultivated.  There are three types of signals that your inner wisdom can learn that you have eaten enough.  The first is taste and this leads to one of the critical strategies.  If you taste your food mindfully you will enjoy it more and also notice that the taste you enjoy starts to fade.  The second signal is fullness which might escape you if you are not paying attention, especially if you eat fast.  You can learn to feel your stomach distending.  The third signal is satiety which refers to blood sugar telling you your body has taken enough nourishment.

Outer wisdom  is compiled as you learn about food values such as calories.  Complex foods take longer to digest, releasing energy over a greater period of time.

She draws upon research for both mindless eating and mindful eating.  Awhile back I read two books back to back and I notice Kristeller has encompassed much of their points.  Read my earlier views at
http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2011/09/mindless-eating-cf-mindful-eating.html  covering books by Brian Wansink and Jan Chozen-Bays.  We have been studied and corporations have figured out how to get us to eat more without thinking about it.  Jean takes a simple test I had read and expand it.  One strategy suggested in an earlier book was to put down your knife and fork between bites to slow down.  She thinks that is unnecessary and perhaps too obsessive.  Personally I found it one way I could slow down my own gulping mindlessly.  Nonetheless Jean has widened my view.

One of the strengths of her book is that it is not too rigid.  Jean freely admits that most of us will sooner or later have a small transgression and then rationalize that "I've blown it" and go back to our old habits.  She wants us to focus on becoming more mindful over time and discusses many common difficulties such as buffets, family, friends, fast food, emotions and distractions.

A personal problem I have not uncovered in the book, but have read about elsewhere is the effect of tiredness (from lack of sleep).  It is easy for me to mistake the feeling of tiredness for that of hunger and I tend to eat for a quick pick up.  Ironically it seems I eat too much late in the evening and that aggravates my sleeping which in turn assures that I will feel weak the next day.  I can appreciate how the concepts of mindfulness and meditation can help break the cycle.

"What will I regret more?  Will I regret not having this splurge/treats/special time?  Or will I regret feeling uncomfortably full for a few hours?"  Every one's answer is different, but you should ask the question more often.  You can read more at:  http://www.mb-eat.com

An earlier book I think would be helpful (as outer wisdom) is "Vb6" and you can read about it here: http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2013/11/vb6-vegan-before-6.html  The author, Mark Bittman also acknowledges that rigid rules usually undermine efforts to change eating habits. " Vb6" translates to Vegan before 6, but please don't let that scare you--it is very practical and motivating.

Friday, March 11, 2016

THE RIGHT WAY TO LOSE A WAR


With the American election looming lots of people have something to say about American military ventures.  Since World War II Americans have had a lot of frustrating experiences.  Dominic Tierney suggests there will be more wars of the type that have ended poorly for Americans.  By examining the past he suggests better strategies.  This book was recommended by Fareed Zakaria, always a good indicator.

The author starts with a personal history to explain the often peculiar consequences of war.  His Great-Grandmother after having two children was widowed after her husband had spent several years fighting in WW I and died near the end.  The author feels there were several logical points to end the war, but unfortunately it went on too long for literally hundreds of thousands of casualties.  But for him his Great- Grandmother remarried and gave birth to his grandfather.  History is full of similar adjustments to military conflicts.

The book is loaded with historical examples from Ancient Rome right up to current Mid-East conflicts.

Americans after WW II had changed.  They felt capable of dealing militarily with remote places and a sense of responsibility.  Most of their allies suffered a lot more from the war and those they conquered, Japan and Germany had military ambitions knocked out of them.  Americans got involved with places they didn't really understand:  Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq.  Assumptions were made and all too often action was commenced without really sorting out the consequences.

The outcome of war is not binary, ie. it is not all successful or all failure.  To optimize your chances, a state that is considering an attack, should not first  think of the first strike, but needs to plan the end game and work backwards.  He uses example of Cuban chess master, Capablanca who always thought how he wanted a match to end and worked backwards to achieve that result.  War is admittedly different, but the same principles can apply.  The author's strategy is surge, talk, leave.

A surge is a quick well thought out effort to consolidate your position.  Talking should start at the first practical opportunity.  Leaving requires some delicate manoeuvring.

Almost all wars discussed could have been ended sooner with less expense and loss of life.  They could have ended much more to mutual benefit,

The War of 1812 was a good example.  One could argue the Americans were lucky to avoid the full resources of the British Empire, but they were smart to realize Britain had higher priorities thanks to Napoleon.  The Treaty of Ghent, negotiated by John Quincey Adams and Henry Clay served the Americans well.

There are a number of factors that inhibit leaders from negotiating peace.  The concern for reputation-as a nation, as an individual, or as a political party.  Democrats are often accused of being weak.  Once committed in war the military feel they have much to lose.  Sunk costs seem like a waste unless redeemed by victory.   It is especially hard to end a war you started as the Kennedy/Johnson presidency and later George W. Bush can attest.

Prisoners are a concern to both sides and can be an early issue.  During the Korean War, President Truman wanted to give North Korean and Chinese prisoners a chance to defect if that is what they wanted, but of course the other side wanted to avoid that.  Both sides want to save face and that should be taken into account early.

After an army has left a country there are still concerns.  Too often the returning soldiers are not taken proper care of.  We are now aware of PTSD in a way we never were before, but it still has an impact. How the soldiers are treated has ripple effects and can make the rest of the population doubt that the cost was worth the effort.

The aftermath can be diverse.  The Americans fought the Vietnamese under the mistaken assumption it was necessary to avoid giving the Chinese more power and ironically the Americans are now working together with the Vietnamese to offset the Chinese.  Trade is more effective than aid, in resetting relationships.  Afghanistan is the world's leader in illegal opium, but they do have other assets that could be traded including pomegranates, gold, copper and lithium.

This brief summary doesn't cover all the concerns warring nations have, but the author has devoted much thought and research to finding better solutions.  He predicts that there will be many civil wars in far distant lands that can affect us, but do not need to be quagmires.

I would like to close with a few words found in the text quoting Dwight Eisenhower.  "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed and those who are cold and are not clothed."

You can read more of Domenic Tierney's opinions at http://www.fpri.org/contributor/dominic-tierney/

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Information and the American Voter

Super Tuesday has come and gone, tightening up the primary season.  It will be difficult to change trends that have been set in motion.  For some of us self appointed analysts it is difficult to understand how so many people can ignore their own best interests.  For some of us who follow differences of policy the choices are almost obvious, but the vast majority of actual choices do not seem to reflect careful thought.  Perhaps I am being self-righteous.  Feel free to judge.

The truth is the average person, even more than the average voter doesn't have the time or inclination to examine the many different policies that would affect them in one way or another.  Maybe they shouldn't have to, after all life can be a struggle and there are many more things to enjoy.  The problem comes in where people with vested interests are able to take advantage of apathy and stir up emotions for their own benefit.

How many of you had heard of Bernie Sanders two years ago?  How about John Kasich or Jon Huntsman?    Or switching gears how about Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump?  Of course my readers are ahead of the curve on these names, but we should also consider that there are many capable conscientious people who do not have the resources or name recognition and give up the battle before any voter realizes they have already lost a choice.

For those who don't really care very much, the media is their resource for identifying people they should pay attention to.  Hilary Clinton has earned a lot of attention and in fact has done or at least tried to do some worthy things.  Donald Trump inherited wealth and some business smarts and built his name with real estate and reality tv.  Hilary has been able to attract significant amounts of money from people who share at least some of her aims and Donald has been able to attract a big amount of notoriety partly through his television involvement.  Along the way he has learned what gets attention.

My choice would be Bernie Sanders and I have admired him for at least two or three years.  My knowledge comes from watching him speak on tv shows with relatively low ratings.  He made a lot of sense and when checking his background his character commanded a lot of respect.  Unfortunately his speaking platform is not as impressive as his policy platform.  He deliberately avoids attacking personalities and rejects financial donations that will tie his hands.  His biggest concerns seem to be inequality and campaign finance.  He has a solid background of supporting human rights for racial minorities, Muslims, women and gays.  He recognizes climate change needs urgent attention, but sees the first two priorities (inequality and campaign finance) as obstacles.

You may have noticed that Donald Trump dwarfs all other candidates in media attention, amounting to a lot of free advertising.  Bernie, despite drawing the biggest crowds gets very little media attention.  There are at least two reasons for that.  Donald is great to build ratings.  The more outrageous he is the more people tune in to get more.  Offending people, even war heroes and making huge exaggerations just draw more attention.  Bernie tries to avoid attacking people, preferring to explain his police accurately.  In other words he is boring.

The second reason is more serious.  Bernie's policies are not what big money donators want to be heard.  He is easily dismissed as a whining socialist of little consequence.  As critically, he is not what the media owners want either.  Aside from wanting to tax wealth at higher rates Bernie's ideas on campaign finance mean that the media would not get as much revenue from political campaigns.

I admit sometimes the candour of Trump has astounded me.  His criticisms of George W Bush not keeping us safe were right on.  The whole presidency of the younger Bush has been sugar coated and at least some Republicans were happy to get over that hump and pleased to criticize the establishment that has failed to deliver what they wanted.

Donald Trump often spouts things that are true and revealing.  "I love the poorly educated."  If someone is allowed to vote it should be our collective responsibility to encourage them to think as clearly as possible about the responsibility.  Education is just another budget item subject to cutting, except when emotions can be stirred up.  Anti union rhetoric is one tool used.  Another is the influence of religion.  For some, religious education means promoting what they believe and in many cases it means distorting the curriculum to reflect their beliefs.  Bernie seems radical for advocating free university education, but in fact university education in the job market is the equivalent of high school education a few decades ago.  Besides in a competitive global marketplace education is vital.  And to top it off education is what a responsible voter needs.   Some earlier thoughts on education: http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2014/02/reign-of-error-what-direction-should.html

For those whose highest goal is the pursuit of wealth they gravitate towards policies and rationale to support their greediness.  But they are smart enough to realize many of these policies are counter to the interests of the average person, so they have to find away to disguise their goals.

Emotional factors sway voting choices.  Many people vote against their economic self interest and often knowingly.  The best example might be abortion.  Almost everyone would agree that abortion is a horrible practice.  Other sub groups feel that promiscuity is also unacceptable.  Emotions are stirred up and they become the primary criteria for a voting choice.  Hopefully some people can take a practical view and look at the consequences of making abortion totally illegal.  Like drinking alcohol, when forbidden abortion will go underground.  This means rich people or those with connections can resort to it when they feel threatened by an unwanted pregnancy.  But others either do something desperate sometimes with fatal results and others end up with unwanted children and a change in their life projectory.

If the bad consequences don't make them re-think, perhaps these one issue voters might consider what policies could help avoid or at least minimize abortions.  Two things spring to mind.  The first is sex education that gives information to help prevent pregnancies and also promote the idea of consent.  The second is to make contraception more accessible.  The problem with both of these ideas is that they promote promiscuity which is also unacceptable.  The discussion of these factors is difficult, but part of the information needed to be shared.

An undercurrent in America (and the rest of the world for that matter) is racism.  We all identify with our ethnic background, but for some people merely preferring your own kind is not enough--they hate  and fear the "other."  Many rational politicians have tapped into this.  Everyone has some idea of political correctness boundaries, but a few subtly cross them and Donald Trump not so subtly.  Recently he received an endorsement from a former prominent Klu Klux Klan member and after some "confusion" disavowed it.  Racists have a good idea who favours their view of the world.

The real issues that impact the average person (the 99% in other words) are not very prominent in the mass media.  The horse race aspects are emphasized and provocative personal taunts or gaffes are more often headlined.  The media, once called the Fifth Estate is supposed to protect the public from the hidden doings of the powerful, but instead are advancing their own concerns.

The reaction of the media to Super Tuesday is of course mixed.  One blog commentator pointed out that according to the media Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have a chance to upset Trump, but that Bernie is all finished, although the numbers are not dissimilar.  To me that promotes heavy advertising from the Republican race and hoping to dampen a candidate they don't want.