Monthly Archives: November 2016

Why We Need the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation More than Ever

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Hungary is swinging to the right, on the verge of fascism. Far right parties are gaining in much of Europe. Trump is the next president of the USA. The pendulum has been prodded in the direction of tribalism by a wave of migrants and, I would venture to guess, the Internet.

I wondered how it would appear in Canada. And it seems to have arrived in the form of Kellie Leitch with her proposed test for “Canadian Values”, and now her wish to dismantle the CBC.

The CBC. What timing. We have suddenly arrived in an age some are calling “post-truth”. False news can be disseminated as quickly and widely as real news. The New York Times is competing with a kid in Moldavia on his I Mac. And his news is always more interesting, more sensational. To compete with this kid, the National Enquirer, Fox and Breitbart, CNN had to give prodigious air time to Donald Trump and his surrogates.

Today, more than ever we need a news service that is not beholden to advertising, corporate interests, or ratings. We need a news service not afraid to bore us with details and background. We need a news service willing to fact check our politicians. All of them. Rigorously and fearlessly. We need a media service that will tell us all our stories. We need this news and discussion service watched by a substantial number of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

We have just been taught a lesson. We need to pay attention to it. Without rigorous and fearless fact checking, a politician can, by repetition and exaggeration, convince a large chunk of the public to believe the most outrageous fictions. And in this digital world, with targeted and automated advertising, a splashy story about Hillary having a secret love-child with Bruce Willis will earn more money than a story about her work with the Children’s Defense Fund.

Our only defense against this is a News service that does not depend on advertising or ratings. A news service that does not need to sensationalize, that does not need to give equal time to outrageous opinion. A news service that can broadcast a documentary about evolution without feeling the need to give equal time to creationists, a news service that actually checks facts before airing them. The CBC does this. They check stats and they interview experts after reporting the words coming from a politician’s mouth. They jump on every stated, implied, or suggested bit of sexism, racism, inanity and stupidity. They provide in depth and civilized discussion of serious matters. They also go to great lengths to be inclusive.

CBC stands between us and a Donald Trump, a Marie LePen, a Mussolini, a Boris Johnson. It is a true Fourth Estate.

Now I must admit I tire at times of the CBC being so precious and politically correct. And I tire of them making me feel guilty at least once per week, reminding me of the head tax I put on Chinese Immigrants, the time I rounded up Japanese Canadians, the quota I imposed on Jewish Immigrants, my refusal to accept them when they were fleeing Germany, my breaking of treaties with first nations people, the shoddy housing I provide for them, the terrible idea of forced residential schools, how little I am doing to help addicts, and children living in poverty, how I’m contributing to global warming, running a nasty prison system, not fixing the plumbing in subsidized housing, eating too much, drinking too much, and exercising too little……

Little Mosque on the Prairie was too precious for my taste but certainly provided better life lessons than Criminal Minds or Breaking Bad.

I will suffer the guilt CBC imposes on me. In fact, it may be good for the soul. It is certainly good to be reminded of our history, and to have a healthy Fourth Estate beholden only to truth and the welfare of all.

This is absolutely the wrong time to consider privatizing the CBC.

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Predictions for the Trump Presidency

By Dr David Laing Dawson

The good news:

Donald Trump has neither the knowledge nor patience to figure out how to repeal parts of Obamacare, renegotiate NAFTA, build a great wall, prosecute Hillary, create the mechanisms to actually find and deport 3 million immigrants, or even change the tax system.

He won’t interfere much with climate change accords, because he doesn’t really care one way or the other and this is also a very complicated endeavor. He will continue to contradict himself from day to day, responding to his immediate impulses and his (I must admit) well honed intuitions about his public.

He can interfere with the TPP because all he has to say is, “Not gonna do it.” China can take the lead and a trade deal will be struck with all countries on the Pacific excluding the USA. I have no idea what that means for the USA or Canada.

Anything that requires a great deal of work, attention to detail, building a consensus, formulating a complex plan, he will not do.

The bad news:

Within a few weeks of his presidency Donald Trump will manage to mix his business dealings, his self-aggrandizement, and his petty peeves with his presidency, with his representation of the people of the United States, to such a degree that the democrats and a few republicans will start an impeachment process. In the ensuing hearings his business dealings around the world and at home will be exposed. He will respond with anger and outrageous accusations. This will convince others to support the impeachment.

As it becomes clear that Donald J. Trump will be successfully impeached he will become a raging bull. He will not simply announce, “I am not a crook.” and board the helicopter in disgrace. He will rage. He will suffer an extreme blow to his narcissism. He will rage and lash out.

This will fuel the racist fires at home and cause great anxiety abroad. He could well bring the temple down.

Sane American leaders need to be thinking about a contingency plan.

Perhaps the fully sane leaders of the rest of the world could form a club and plan a contingency of their own. What to do when King Donald goes mad.

Anxiety and the Trump Presidency

By Dr David Laing Dawson

I must admit that every time I experience a small surge of optimism following the Trump win, it is quickly dashed by news of how little he understands about the job he will soon have, his indifference to the suffering of others, (“They can go to another state for an abortion”), his choice of an alt-right racist, misogynist provocateur as his advisor, and the fact that by American rules he does not have to distance himself from Trump Enterprises. It is a tradition, it is a necessity of democracy, but not required by law. I had assumed he would have to keep arms length at the very least.

American democracy is even more fragile than I imagined.

Now we have news that there has been an immense and sudden increase in mental health crisis calls across the United States from people who feel threatened and vulnerable.

The other day a Jewish colleague smiled. He was more relaxed now about the Trump win, he told me. Trump’s son-in-law, he had heard through Jewish sources, would be playing an important role, perhaps even Chief of Staff, in Trump’s white house. And this man, Jared Kushner, is sane, educated, decent and a Jew. My colleague was optimistic in a conspiratorial manner.

And I wondered at the time, I must admit, if the anxiety of the Jews of Germany had been similarly assuaged in the early 1930’s.

Which leads me to three pieces of advice or caution:

All democracies are fragile. They are cultural artifacts, products of social, not biological, evolution. They can be dismantled quickly. Be vigilant. In Hitler’s Germany the Jews suffered 400 incremental restrictions of their rights between 1934 and 1939, each taking away a facet of their social and personal lives until all that was left was being. And we know what happened next.

We humans are not far from the jungle. Our instincts are not democratic. Nor are they primarily altruistic. We are easily led to act against our own real (long-term) interests. We absorb the fear and hate of the crowd. We can revert quickly to tribalism. We can be easily fooled. We are vulnerable to wishful thinking. Our religious books mislead us by suggesting that at the core of each and every man or woman there is a decent being. No. They also mislead us by telling us that there is a God looking after us, who has a plan. Don’t be ridiculous. Inclusiveness, caring beyond family and tribe, kindness to all, empathy for all, especially caring what happens to the entire planet – these are very recent value-added human traits. They are easily stripped from us by fear and loathing, both real or imagined and/or promoted by a demagogue. Each and every one of us is capable of sinking to a level of depravity that allows us to do unthinkable things. Perhaps 5 to 10 percent will resist this until death, but another 5 to 10 percent, I’m afraid, will revel in it. The rest will continue the water boarding if ordered to do so. You know in which of these groups Donald Trump resides.

Anxiety is a response to threat, or perceived threat. It is contained or dissipates when we feel we have some control. So take whatever control you can. Join groups, join protests, write, speak, vote, participate. Be vigilant. Do not allow the first of those 400 incremental steps to the unthinkable.

p.s I wrote the above before Mike Pence attended “Hamilton”.  There are times in our lives when even the most self-centered and ego-threatened of us can be generous of spirit. It is easier, as we writers know, to congratulate a fellow writer on the publication of her novel if ours has been published as well. It is easier for the winner of a race to hug his opponents. If there were any time in the life of Donald J. Trump when he could afford to be generous of spirit it is now, while the triumph rings in his ears and the hard work is yet to begin. No matter how fragile his ego, this should be a time he can listen. But no. He tweets out demands for apologies and petty remarks.

Beneath that mop of blonde narcissism lies the mind of an insecure teenager.

My friends, your anxiety is justified.

 

Racism – A Tale of Two Nations

By Marvin Ross

My intention is not to come across as smug which many Canadians can be when talking about the US. I am hoping to point out some fundamental differences between Canada and the US that, I think, deserve some analysis – and that is racism.

Despite the great similarities between the two countries, racism has evolved differently. I am not so naive as to suggest that racism is not a problem in Canada but it is much less so than in the US and certainly,  first Nations still have a long way to go. However, numerous people have commented that the support for Trump was motivated by racism given what he emphasized in the campaign and I totally agree. Actually, the great American satirist and commentator, H.L. Mencken, predicted the Trump win. He said:

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

And so, maybe the inner soul of many Americans is in agreement with what Trump said.

One study that is being quoted to explain what appears to be a racist backlash is research suggesting that having demonstrated that they are not prejudiced by electing a Black president, people feel they have license to demonstrate their discriminatory views.

I’ve attended numerous medical conferences in the US and was stunned to see the divide between Black and White. The first conference I attended was the American College of Cardiology in Atlanta in the late 1990s. There was a parallel meeting of the Black Cardiology Association within it. There is also a Black psychiatry association founded in 1969 in part to address the barriers that Black psychiatrists encountered.. Then there is a Black caucus of the American Library Association to help recruit African American Librarians. In one hotel I was at in Houston, there was a meeting of the Hispanic MBA Association which was developed to open doors for Hispanics with MBAs.

I have American friends who tell me that a deep seated racism still exists but that it is (or has been till now) kept in check. Trump has let the genie out of the bottle as demonstrated by the reports of racist incidents all over the US since the election. And while this review of a book that I publish on the trauma of growing up as the child of Holocaust survivors denying the existence of the Holocaust was posted on Amazon just before the election, I suspect Trump’s rhetoric gave the reviewer license to come out of the woodwork.  When confronted with these racist incidents  in his interview on 60 Minutes, Trump thought much of it was generated by the media but did tell his followers to stop. What was disappointing was that the interviewer did not ask him what he expected when he inflamed his followers with anti-Hispanic and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Toronto is one of the most racially diverse cities in the world and home to 230 different nationalities. It is home to a large annual Caribbean Festival, Greek and Italian Festivals, a number of China Towns, Korea Town, East Indian areas, and people who, for the most part, get along well as this example of multi-ethnic co-operation demonstrates. It was not always like that. Growing up in the 1950’s, Toronto was white, Anglo Saxon and Protestant run by the Loyal Orange Order. The big event was the July 12 Orange Parade which celebrated the Protestant defeat of the Catholics at the River Boyne by King William in 1690.

In 1875, Orangemen rioted because they took offense at a Catholic procession and thousands rocked the core of the city. Well into the 20th Century, Orangemen were the centre of partisan politics in Toronto. In 1933, Toronto, experienced the Christie Pits riot when a gang of youths unfurled Nazi flags after a predominantly Jewish baseball team won a semi final game. Jews, assisted by Italians, battled the flag bearers and their followers for hours all over the downtown in what was called the worst riot in Toronto history. Years later, that was the park where I played baseball and went swimming.

In my school days, there were very few Blacks other than the small numbers who mostly came via the underground railway, few South Asians, Chinese, and others. The main ethnics were Jews and Italians and we Jews new enough that certain parts of the city were dangerous for us to go to. The Danforth was one area (now Greektown) and the Beaches where the Nazi group allegedly came from. We also knew that there were quota systems in universities, bans against hiring Jews by hospitals, law firms, banks, etc,  neighbourhoods that would not sell to Jews, resorts that would not rent to them, and the list went on.

In my early teens, our Jewish family doctor referred me to a medical specialist for a problem. When my mother asked if he was any good, the doctor said, he is one of us at the Toronto General so he must be very good to be on staff. I later read that that specialist was specifically hired to break the ban of Jews at the hospital. My dentist of many years back then once told me that the only way he could get into dentistry was because he played on a national championship teen basketball team. He went to the director of recreation for the City of Toronto and told him of his desire to study dentistry but he couldn’t because he was Jewish. “Leave it to me” the official who was probably an Orangeman told him. He was accepted.

Similar problems existed for the few Blacks at the time and I have no doubt they still experience problems today but it is improving (I hope). Historian, Irving Abella, gave a very good history and reasons for change in an address in 2000 called Jews, Human Rights, and the Making of a New Canada.  Abella’s wife, a refugee who was born in a displaced persons camp post Holocaust, sits on the Supreme Court of Canada. Abella mentions that Bora Laskin could not get a job in law when he returned to Canada from Harvard Law School. His wife, a trained cosmetician, could not get hired at Eatons (the large department store). Laskin eventually became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. In 1961 when Louis Rasminski (who graduated from the high school that I went to) was named Governor of the Bank of Canada, Ottawa ceased being what former British High Commissioner Joe Garner called the most “anti-Jewish capital city” he had ever encountered.

How people actually managed to accept a less racist society in Canada is a mystery. Bringing in anti-discrimination legislation cannot change attitudes but it did. We may still have a long way to go but we have come very far in my lifetime.

The problem of licensing as mentioned by psychologists in the US has not happened here either. We have had a female Chinese Governor General, a Black Haitian female Francophone Governor General and a Black Lieutenant Governor in Ontario. As representatives of the Queen, they are really only ceremonial but they were out there for all to see. And the Lieutenant Governor, Lincoln Alexander, was voted in 2006 as the greatest Hamiltonian of all time by readers of the Hamilton Spectator. Steel City Hamilton is often referred to as a rust belt city. Alexander was the first Black Member of the House of Commons elected four times and has a highway named after him.

After all this, my question remains, how did Canada evolve into a more tolerant society willing to take in thousands of Syrian refugees when the US refuses most refugees and does not seem to have evolved much? Someone suggested that the violence of slavery and the violence of its ending in the Civil War marked the American psyche forever. I don’t know but I do think it is worth exploring the reasons for the difference between our two countries.

Meanwhile, let us hope that the Donald has enough sense to put a halt to the activities of his followers.

On the Death of Leonard Cohen and the Election of the Donald

By Dr David Laing Dawson

My son and my stepdaughter sent me condolences on the loss of Leonard Cohen. I had not realized that my life-long affection for his songs and poetry had been so obvious.

Perhaps they noticed that his lyrics were the only ones I could sing beyond the first line. Perhaps they noticed he was always playing in my studio. Perhaps they noticed I listened to little else but Leonard.

I was just recovering, somewhat, from the Donald Trump win when Google told me Leonard had died. I did not want it darker. But darker it became.

It is hard to imagine a greater contrast.

Leonard examined, struggled with, wrote songs about, all that makes us human. When he experienced desire he worried it, examined it, thought about it, considered it. His struggle to find meaning was fodder for his lyrics. His yearning and the consequences of yearning were examined with a poet’s heart. He considered his fame and fortune, his loves and his losses. He considered his relationship to a possible God, or a meaningful universe. He struggled with depression and he told us about it. Through his poetry he found ways to tell us of truths, paradoxes, and of social fictions.

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

“Democracy is coming to the U. S. A.”

“Old black Joe’s still picking cotton. For your ribbons and bows.”

He was earth bound but reached for the stars. “But you don’t really care for music, do ya?”

His was a life examined and shared. His lyrics often surprise and they d0 let the light in. Like many songwriters he started with first love, but then he examined the rest of his life as he lived it, all the way to impending death. He created fresh poetic images that linger in the mind. “Suzanne takes you down to her place by the river.” “Like a bird on a wire…” “So long, Marianne..”

His voice got better with age, deeper, richer, more resonant.

Donald Trump examines little but his own image in the mirror. He recognizes no complexity to human life. He confuses love and hate. His desires go unchecked and unexamined. He pursues his yearnings without thought for the effects they might have on others.

His speech and manner are the antithesis of poetry.

I will continue to listen to Leonard. Thank you, Leonard, for all you have given us.

Unfortunately I will have to pay attention to Donald over the next four years. But when he becomes too much to bear, I will listen to Leonard.

President Donald Trump

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Is the election of Donald Trump a sign of the human race once again slipping into a very dark and destructive period?

History tells us it is. We humans have an uncanny ability to set in motion a series of unstoppable events that lead to mass extinction and common misery on a regular basis. And then we emerge and flourish once again, and for a while we tell ourselves that this must never happen again. And then many of us forget and focus on our immediate needs, and wishes, and desires, our disappointments, our hurt and outrage.

Old instincts kick in, the ones that served us well when we lived in small villages and tribes competing for limited hunting grounds. And then it happens all over again, a series of events that leads to a mass destruction, each time a little differently, but each time unleashing immense misery upon ourselves. As human history goes, we are at the tail end of a long period of relative peace.

Is this one of those moments? A chain of events without a definitive starting point, but including the invasion of Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, ISIS, Syria, Brexit, the rise of far-right leaders and dictators and would-be dictators in Europe and Russia, and then America.

I see on my Google news today the smiling face of Kellie Leitch espousing Trumpisms, and then that of the ridiculous Don Cherry telling us those pinko left-leaning weirdo Americans are not welcome in Canada.

Here is what I hope:

I hope we can keep this regressive craziness out of Canada. Don Cherry has evolved into a buffoon entertainer. Let us leave him in that role. Kellie Leitch is a more serious threat and she has been energized by Trump’s victory, so we need to be vigilant.

I think at least much of the success of Donald Trump is a backlash, or “Whitelash”. A reaction by a certain white demographic that has, for 8 years, seethed under the leadership of an African American. They were not ready for a black president, especially one so thoughtful, articulate, so obviously popular, calm, even-handed and fair. For eight years he has been an affront to their congenital views of the other race. That part is specifically, I hope, an American development, and this Trump win might energize the sane, non-racist, inclusive elements of America.

And then we have Donald. Many of the narcissistic, sociopathic charismatic leaders who have seized power in other historical moments had the same psychological profile as Donald J. Trump, but they did not grow up with his degree of luxury, and for years they harbored and nursed specific ideological and xenophobic beliefs. Donald, as far as we can tell, never served any idea beyond his own self-aggrandizement. He has really found himself in that office without any ideological baggage, nothing he fervently believes in anyway.

Perhaps his narcissism will be satiated with people, every day throughout the day, deferentially calling him Mr. President, with his photo in every public office, with sufficient moments on television and on the front page of newspapers, magazines, and being the number one search on Google – perhaps his narcissism will be sufficiently satiated so that he can quietly let other people (who may actually understand the complexities of the world and have some empathy) govern while he primps for the next photo op, and gives good speeches someone else wrote for him. He wants to be loved after all.

That is what I hope.

But I know better. A healthy narcissism is satisfied with a few positive comments about one’s blog, a partner who says she loves you, the improvement in the health of one’s patients,  children who tell you that they want their children to know you, and a smattering of applause for a job well done.

But Donald’s narcissism is not a healthy level of self-regard. Nor is it scrutinized, considered, or judged by Donald’s brain.

It will not be so easily satiated. For this level of narcissism there is no endpoint, no level of stasis and balance. It requires larger and larger doses of adulation. And for this he needs to face a crisis, walk across a battlefield of dismembered bodies, make life and death decisions, stand atop the pile of misery, face increasing threat (even if of his own making) and conquer it and be rewarded with unflinching adulation and adoration.

Such hunger could lead, eventually, to his destruction, and a great deal of suffering for the rest of us.

I hope I am wrong. Perhaps having achieved far more than his father, Donald can now rest on his laurels, cocooned from his critics by White House staff, and let competent others make sensible decisions. Perhaps his pragmatism may be a bulwark against the ideologues of the Republican party. Perhaps.

Anti-Psychiatry

By Marvin Ross

I really don’t get it – anti-psychiatry that is. I can understand that if someone has had a bad experience with a psychiatrist, they might be wary and hostile. After all, not all doctors are good and I have no doubt that most of us have run into a bad one over the course of our lives. I certainly have seen my share of rude, arrogant and stupid doctors from family practitioners to cardiologists but I do not condemn them all. I do not devote my energy to attacking emergency medicine because of a bad ER doc I’ve encountered.

A lot of the anti-psychiatrists I’ve encountered fall into this category. They’ve had a bad experience and generalize to all. But a lot of the others aren’t in this group. They are people who have decided that their time should be devoted to attacking psychiatry as their contribution to freedom of the individual or to the good of mankind. And, for the most part, they know very little of neuroscience, medicine or mental illness. If they truly want to make a difference, they should devote their time to advocating for better care and treatment for the seriously mentally ill or to help with the growing problem of refugees, world peace, homelessness, child poverty, and the list goes on.

For the most part, they are mistaken in their views of psychiatry as Mark Roseman pointed out so brilliantly in his review Deconstructing Psychiatry. I highly recommend that people read that. His analysis is far more detailed than mine but I would like to comment on a few of the common myths that he covers in more detail.

The one complaint that is common among the anti-psychiatry mob is that psychiatrists are controlling people who give an instant diagnosis and then force their patients to take toxic drugs.

People do not go to see psychiatrists by calling one up or walking into their offices. They need to be referred by a general practitioner or via a hospital like an emergency room. And they would only be referred to a psychiatrist if they had psychiatric problems that were beyond the expertise of the general practitioner. That referral would only be made after the general practitioner had ruled out non-psychiatric causes of the symptoms and behaviour.

Like all doctors, the psychiatrist will take a detailed history from the patient, consider possible diagnoses and recommend appropriate treatment. The treatment recommended is based on the professional guidelines outlining evidence based strategies. These are the practice guidelines used by the American Psychiatric Association. Similar guidelines are used in different countries. The cornerstones of any medical practice are to do no harm and to relieve suffering.

I often hear comments and criticisms that a psychiatrist put someone on toxic drugs that they were then forced to take for eternity. A comment to my blog on the anti-psychiatry scholarship at the University of Toronto stated “based on the results of a positive diagnosis (from a 15 minute questionnaire score) a patient (including young children) may receive powerful psychoactive drugs for years, the long term effects of which are not yet known.”

As I said above, the diagnosis is not based on a 15 minute questionnaire but on an extensive evaluation. And, regardless of the medical area, drugs are always (or should be) prescribed in the lowest dose for a short period of time and the patient brought back in for evaluation of efficacy and side effects. The goal is to find the lowest dose that is effective with minimal side effects. This is a process called drug titration.

If the drug is not effective or if it causes too many unwanted side effects, it will be changed. No one is forced to take a drug that does them little good in any discipline of medicine. Surely, the patient does have choice to continue with that doctor or not and to take the advice that is offered. People who see psychiatrists are not held captive.

When it comes to children, they are not seen in isolation as the anti-psych criticism I quoted above implied. They are seen with their families who, understandably, do not want their kids on powerful drugs. There are long discussions with the psychiatrist where all less invasive means are explored. When pharmaceuticals are prescribed, the parents are at complete liberty to stop them if they do not work or if they cause troublesome side effects. The children are not held captive by the psychiatrist and force fed pills against the wishes of the parents.

When a child does continue to take the medication it is because it is having a benefit and there are no troublesome side effects. I remember a mother who resisted Ritalin for her hyperactive child for years telling me how well it worked once she decided to give it a try. “I wish I had tried it much earlier”, she told me. “It would have saved so much grief.”

The anti-psychiatry bunch also assert that mental illnesses do not exist and cite the lack of any one definitive test to prove bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other afflictions. Quite true but the same can be said for many other maladies. How about Parkinson’s as but one example. Doctors cannot measure the amount of dopamine in the brain (which is depleted in Parkinson’s) to definitively say that the person has the condition. They determine the presence of this condition based upon observing the person and his or her movements.

Alzheimer’s is another. Like with schizophrenia, it is diagnosed by eliminating all possible other reasons for the observed dementia and when none can be found, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is made. On autopsy, there will be found specific markers but no one ever gets an autopsy to prove that the doctor was correct. And rarely is anyone with schizophrenia autopsied on death but this is a lengthy list of the abnormalities that demonstrate that it is a disorder of the brain.

The anti-psychiatry group should be looked upon with the same disdain that sensible people look upon the anti-vax faction.

Adolf and Donald, the Parallels are Growing

By Dr David Laing Dawson

The Weimar Republic, a new democracy, was only 14 years old when Adolf seized power and dismantled it. The republic was young; there were insufficient safeguards; and it was actually an old and ailing Paul von Hindenburg who, as president, appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor, and then suspended many civil liberties with the Reichstag Fire Decree.

The rest unfolded quickly as we know, and cost humanity a great deal.

Adolf and Donald use(d) the same techniques: Outrageous accusations and name calling without any regard for truth. Adolf spoke of this practice long before branding experts and internet trolls discovered memes. Both men assault(ed) the rules of civil discourse, the civil discourse, a social contract, absolutely necessary for democracy to flourish.

Adolf was clearly the better orator, but Trump has the alt-right bloggers and internet trolls to do his work for him.

Both have the ability to tap into the infantile rage that lingers in our brains from childhood. “Things are just not fair; someone is to blame; they took away my toys; it’s a disaster; they are (stealing, killing, controlling, raping, bombing) us; why can’t things always go my way; lock her up.”

Both men instill a terrible fear of impending doom, and then they say they have a solution. They don’t specify the solution. Trump probably has no ideas beyond walls, deportation, bombs, and torture. Hitler, as we know, had in mind a final solution.

Neither man was/is interested in governance. Neither man had any experience in governance. None whatsoever. Each is acting out a vision of himself: – a ten foot portrait on the wall of every public building, a statue in every square. Each wants to be the central character in an heroic myth.

It is easier to see why so many Germans were angry. They were living in relative poverty and disgrace following the First World War and the imposed reparations by the side that “won” that war. And the alternative to the Nazis Party was a true socialist future, possibly a communist future.

The angry alt-right Americans? Well, they are not living in poverty or disgrace, but they have been fed a diet of privilege or expected privilege for so long that it must come as a shock that to be a white, male, uneducated American no longer gives you the keys to a Harley, the open road, and the envious respect of the rest of the world. And it no longer guarantees them subservient females and black porters.

To be useful to a demagogue, anger needs a focus. We know Hitler pointed his followers toward Jews, but also Gypsies, communists, homosexuals, even the infirm and mentally ill. Donald points to Hispanics, Moslems, immigrants, “criminals”. You know he wants to point at other groups as well, but in 2016, he has to use code for liberated women, African-Americans, at least until he vanquishes political correctness (as some would call it) or civilized sensitive discourse.

In the Germany of 1933 the sane but conservative members of society, the privileged, the elite, the titled, the bankers, the businessmen, the officers, allowed the rise of Hitler. They believed he would be better for them than socialism; they believed he was, for them, a useful tool. Adolf would let them keep their privilege and power, they thought.

The same is happening in the US today. Many otherwise sane conservatives, republicans, believe Donald is a safe alternative to …..to what? “Crooked” Hillary, a woman in power, the Washington Elites; higher taxes on their wealth, restrictions on gun ownership, government regulation, and, I think, a truly integrated diverse population. But Donald will not serve their interests any more than Adolf served the interests of conservative Germans.

I do not understand the rules of American democracy well enough to conjure up any predictions should Donald become president.

A terrorist attack, a mass shooting, a Russian provocation could be the equivalent of the Reichstag Fire.

It was really not difficult for Adolf to dismantle German democracy, inflame his people, build up his armed forces and start a war. Apparently being saluted by adoring crowds screaming his name, having his portrait in every public building, having absolute power over one large country was not enough for him. (The hero in myth and comic books must overcome his fear, go to war and vanquish a foe, before receiving the adulation of his people.)

We can only hope that there are sufficient safeguards built into American Democracy to prevent Donald from dismantling it. But I fear enough power resides in the office of the President of the United States of America for Donald to do great harm to humanity should he be elected.

And, even if he loses, Mr. Trump has already opened wounds that will take a long time to heal.

Hillary Clinton’s Emails, Anthony Weiner’s computer and the Orange Buffoon.

By Dr David Laing Dawson

The other day one of the granddaughters was looking at photos on her mother’s I Phone. As children do these days, she was deftly handling the electronic device, not the least amazed at the touch screen, flipping one photo to the side to view the next. I asked her where she thought the photos went when she “slid” them to the side. Without hesitation she pointed to the side of the device as if there were a tiny drawer available. “Down there,” she said.

I asked an adult the same question, and she stumbled out an answer about going back to the hard drive, but was clearly unsure what was actually happening on that little screen.

And then I watched some news reports about the Clinton emails found on Weiner’s computer which may or may not be significant. CNN reported that the FBI was using some special FBI software to examine the emails, and that it could take weeks. And then people wondered how those emails could have gotten on his computer, “thousands” of them apparently. It was or may have been a laptop shared by Weiner and his then wife, Hillary’s assistant.

And off we go. Listening to the panels discuss this made me think of my granddaughter’s concept of those pictures sliding back into a drawer. Very few adults seem to have any real understanding of modern digital electronics.

Hillary communicated via email with her assistant daily. Having passed through a couple of servers, this digital code would arrive on whatever computer had or contained the recipient’s address, account, and password. The program being used would translate this back to the original English. Either Weiner and his wife shared the laptop, or he added her email account to his computer without her knowing.

Then we have the Special FBI equipment that will take weeks to sort through the emails.

Good Grief.

Type in the word “classified” and click on Search. Add a few other key words if you want.

Then quickly tell us what you find before this orange buffoon called Donald J. Trump manages to sneak past the finish line.