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Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9 describes . . . the horror . . . the horror


As if we weren’t frightened enough already by what’s happening south of the border, Michael Moore just added the finishing touches with his current documentary Fahrenheit 11/9 which is now showing in movie theatres. (Coincidently, I’m also currently reading FEAR by Bob Woodward.) Call me a masochist but watching the fall of the United States of America is fascinating and tragically sad at the same time. We knew when we went to see Fahrenheit 11/9, written, produced and directed by Moore, that it would be an unsettling experience and our worst fears were realized.

The breakdown of American society and the corruption of their democratic system are sad to witness. Most of the movie’s content is predictable—how on earth did someone like Donald Trump ever get elected and what does the future hold? Moore spares no one in his condemnation of politicians. Both the Republican and Democrat parties are rotten within, to the extent that Democratic party big-wigs cheated Bernie Saunders out of winning certain states by falsifying the voting results to put third-place Hillary in the lead.

Understandably, a great of time is devoted to the tragedy of the water system in Flint, Michigan, Moore’s home town. It’s a metaphor for greater social problems. Citizens are being exposed to permanent, irreversible health problems as a result of drinking polluted water with a high lead content, something that was totally preventable, fixable and still remains unfixed. Even President Obama was complicit. When he visited Flint, a largely black community, the locals thought that finally they would get their water source rerouted from the Flint River to its original safe source, Lake Huron. They were expecting acknowledgement of their problem, help from FEMA and a return to clean water. Obama even pretended to drink the water, smiled, shook hands with the locals, flew off in Airforce 1—and nothing changed. That lack of action and casting aside of their concerns left the people of Flint feeling defeated. As a result, they realize their legitimate concerns fell on deaf ears and their votes are meaningless.

Undervalued teachers in the United States make less than half what Canadian teachers make. Many live below the poverty line. They had to break with their union and strike for health insurance.

The explanation of the teachers’ strike in various states starting with West Virginia was particularly enlightening. Teachers’ wages are below the poverty level in many American states (very different from Canada) and when they were on strike the teachers still had food drives and delivered meals to children at home who receive their breakfast and lunch every day through the schools. Otherwise, those children would go hungry. In order for teachers to receive any kind of health insurance, they were required by contract to wear FitBits to confirm they were getting in 10,000 steps a day. This punitive decree was signed into law through the collaboration of a weak union and a fat, old, white-guy governor who probably has never walked 10,000 steps in his life.

Fahrenheit 11/9 is a followup to Moore’s earlier Fahrenheit 9/11 and a riff on November 9th, the day Trump was elected. Moore equates that day with a disaster for America right up there with 9/11. He takes a lot of criticism for his extremism and sensationalism but we need people to draw attention to what’s going on. It’s a disturbing movie but an absolute must-see. No one benefits when everyone looks away and assumes good will prevail. Just ask any German who lived through the 1930s and 1940s.

On the bright side, the surge of indignation and anger over the state of democracy in the United States has prompted many formerly passive, intelligent side liners—a great many of them women—to become involved in the nasty business of politics in an effort to get things back on track. It worked in Iceland where the women took over and got the country sorted out. Hopefully they can put an end to this horror show before it’s too late and the apocalypse occurs.

We caught a matinée and it was reassuring to see so many single boomers in the theatre. The subject matter obviously resonates and they took the time to go see and support Michael Moore’s documentary. I hope you do too.


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Michael Moore brings home the bacon – but not Canadian-style


moore1Why did it take me so long to finally get around to watching Michael Moore’s documentary film titled “Where To Invade Next”? I’ve long been a fan of his insightful and hard-hitting films exposing what many Americans fail or more likely just refuse to see as truths. His tenacity and honesty challenges the myth that the United States is the greatest country in the world (when, in fact, statistics say it’s Denmark). Moore’s latest mission takes him to various countries around the globe to source and bring home practices not yet recognized in the United States as being “a better way”.

Moore begins his hypothetical invasion by visiting Finland where the quality of education was once tied with the United States at an abysmal twenty-ninth place in the world. By making education enjoyable and encompassing concepts beyond readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic, the Finns have elevated their outcomes to highest in the world. High school students interviewed by Moore were fluent in several languages and spoke English easily and articulately. Two of the cornerstones in the turnaround involved NO homework and more play time from the early years in school. Children are encouraged to be creative with their free time and enjoy their childhood. Holy shit. What a concept. And it’s definitely working for the Finns.

Perhaps that's why French children are so well-behaved in restaurants. Learning proper manners in the home is reinforced by being served healthy meals with .... in school cafeterias.

School cafeterias in France include not only healthy meals but lessons on manners, sharing and nutrition. Perhaps that’s why French children are so mannerly in restaurants.

Socialist France regularly provides four-course student lunches that would compete with any four-star restaurant. These lunches are not the fries and Mac n’Cheese fare washed down with a Coke offered at most North American school cafeterias. The French have chefs at each school and the menus are submitted to and approved ahead of time by local authorities to ensure they are healthy and prepared with fresh produce daily. Several varieties of cheese are offered as well as lamb, pork, beef and poultry with sides of fresh vegetables, fruit and a dessert. And the beverage? Plain, old, not-loaded-with-sugar-and-preservatives water, served in glasses, not plastic cups. The food is also served on real dishes and cutlery (not disposable plastic) using the opportunity to teach students other skills like table manners, sharing and the art of conversation.

Norway's correctional system is designed to instill a value system of cooperation, respect for others, fair treatment and dignity.

Norway’s correctional system is designed to develop and instill a positive value system of mutual cooperation, respect for others, fair treatment and dignity for inmates during their incarceration.

Norway’s maximum security prison has private rooms for inmates who possess their own door keys providing a level of personal dignity that is often missing in the “outside world”. The emphasis is on supporting and teaching inmates a value system based on respect, consideration and decency, concepts far removed from North American institutions. Prison guards are not armed and none of the inmates interviewed had suffered brutality, rape or other abuses rampant in North American prisons.

Obviously, these countries are not utopia. They have their share of problems and are not perfect. Moore admits this in his documentary but the point he’s making is that there is so much wrong with America’s approach to education, crime, drugs, welfare and social issues that they should take off the blinders and look beyond their own borders to see how the rest of the world functions and perhaps learn. If you’ve ever traveled to the United States you know that television news there is focused totally within their borders, as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Most Americans have no idea what is going on in Germany, Muslim Tunisia, Iceland or Asia. In fact, they could learn from Iceland where male corporate bankers who bankrupted the country were put in jail in a remote area isolated from family and society. The country was then turned over to women who got the economy back on track. Compare that to the United States who indicted only one banker after the 2008 fiasco.

When is Michael Moore going to invade Canada?

Strangely, though, there was nothing in this documentary from Canada worth hijacking. We know Americans love our bacon but we have much more than that to offer. Let’s assume he’s planning an all-out attack on Canada—a full-on invasion worthy of a documentary all its own. Now that would be something fascinating to see. Imagine Michael Moore looking into our universal health care system, minority rights, our prisons, the ethics of our government, our educational institutions, or even the relative health and social merits of Tim Horton’s. Would our immigration policies pass muster? What about the treatment of our indigenous people trying to survive on isolated, poorly-serviced reserves, our propensity for politeness (hockey games excluded)? We’re not all igloos and cold fronts and Michael Moore’s perspective could provide some interesting perspective.

There’s plenty more to appreciate in Where To Invade Next. Pour yourself a glass of wine or make a BLT, sit back in your LaZ-Girl chair and watch it on Netflix or pay-per-view. You’ll be educated, informed, entertained and rewarded. Once again, Moore brings home his message masterfully.

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