Monthly Archives: June 2018

More to Justin Trudeau – MAGA vs. the Planet and all its peoples

By Dr David laing Dawson

And further more, Justin:

There are two impulses within each of us. The “I” and the “We”. Sometimes compatible, often in conflict, these impulses are played out in the bedrooms, the boardrooms, the courtrooms, and the Government assemblies of our nations. Between WWII and a few years ago the world saw a remarkable surge of “we-ness”, of cooperation, of global alliances, of consideration for the other, of peace keeping, of disaster response. Each year saw fewer people die of starvation and preventable illness. Each year saw fewer people die from murder, genocide, and war. (Despite each of these now being visible in our living rooms, and thus occupying more of our mental real estate)

Apart from international and world concerns “We-ness” also produces good public education for all, health care for all, opportunity for all, and a solid social safety net.

It was the short sighted “I-ness” of many nations that inexorably drifted into WWI (with a special boost from Kaiser Wilhelm who was the Donald Trump of an earlier time), and then, with the unresolved grievances of WWI, into WWII.

But American culture has always promoted the “I” over the “We” and at its best this can produce the Edisons, Fords, and Jobs of this world, and economic, scientific, entrepreneurial progress, and enough money to help the other while sacrificing little.

It is the existence within ourselves of these two often conflicting impulses that has taken us to the top of the food chain, the dominance of our planet, our overpopulation, and our ability to destroy it all.

But we have reached a tipping point. In America a cartoon of “I-ness” was elected president. Briefly we watched “We-ness” as embodied in Bernie Sanders go up against the “I-ness” of Trump and we had hope for America.

Whatever the nuances of MAGA it does not bode well for this world as a whole. The America that led much of the “We-ness” between WWII and a few years ago is dormant or deceased.

Now here is the rub. The “I-ness” of current America will provoke an “I-ness” in the rest of us. And thus we could slip back into the inexorable dialogue of Wilhelm, Nicolas, Clemenceau, Lloyd George, Wilson and Franz Josef.

So, Justin, it is imperative that leaders like yourself fill the vacuum of “We-ness” on the world stage. Time to be Mike Pearson. Speak at the UN. Form alliances, free trade pacts, promote disaster relief, peace keeping, the end of land mines, the denuclearization of all, peaceful solutions to conflicts, a two state solution for Palestine, open arms for refugees, women’s health and education, birth control and abortion……… as well as my earlier proposal for carbon capture.

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Open Letter to Justin Trudeau, New Oil Pipeline Owner.

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Dear Justin,

Donald Trump took the USA out of the Paris Accord, you are now an Oil magnate, Elizabeth May linked arms with the anti pipeline crowd and was convicted of contempt of court, Europe depends on Russian gas and oil, oil keeps the Sultans of the Mid East in power, the hurricane season is about to start before the damage from last year is repaired, BC is already burning, reports from Greenland, the Arctic, and the Antarctic are all a bit spooky.

It is time we accepted the fact that we humans will not give up our reliance on coal, oil, gas, or our taste for meat, in time to save the planet.

But there is an opportunity here and you are just the leader to seize it.

Convene a meeting of international scientists to discuss carbon capture. Make it a goal of this convention to settle on the most promising technologies and theories. Then meet with the leaders of China, Japan, California, and Western Europe to develop a spectacularly well funded international consortium tasked with making carbon capture a reality. Invite American scientists to participate. Do this before 2020. The clock is ticking.

Reading about these technologies I was discouraged by the problems of sequestration, the energy required to take carbon from the air and convert it into usable graphene, and the problem of scale. But then it occurred to me that in only a few short years we have erected sufficient towers to ensure my cell phone works almost anywhere in the world.

It is not within our nature to give up our reliance on oil soon enough. But it is in our nature to build a pipeline through the Rocky Mountains, lay cable across the Atlantic Ocean, have highways crisscrossing our lands and build sufficient communication towers for me to be writing this almost anywhere in the world.

So do this now Justin. Play to our human strength of innovation and industry. Let Canada take the lead. We are major polluters yet late on the list of nations that will be rendered uninhabitable by climate change.

Predictions for the Singapore Summit

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Donald Trump’s post G7 speech was vintage Trump: sprinkled with nonsense, silliness, hyperbole, lies, non-sequiturs, semi-literate unfinished phrases, teen-speak, and unbridled narcissism.

Now he is off to Singapore.

I am writing this to see if I can guess what will happen, or put another way, how Trump will be able to declare the meeting a triumph of his doing, or a failure caused by Kim.

No doubt Kim is smarter than Donald. And Kim would be strategically foolish to actually give up nuclear weapons.

So I think Donald must praise himself and Kim throughout the meeting and for a few weeks afterwards, claiming success. (This does not in Trump’s world have to do with anything that really happens).

Later, at any time, he can claim that Kim did not live up to his agreement at the meeting, and can go back to calling him little Rocket Man.

But this might make him seemed duped by Kim.

On the other hand he has already prepared the ground for that by saying he might have to walk away.

Kim wins by simply having the photo op and getting the US to foot the bill.

Kim can promise anything in general terms and come off well. And Trump can keep saying he got farther than all the other presidents before him, especially Obama.

So that is probably what will happen: A photo op. Both sides promising grand things, Trump using his teenage language of general hyperbole. Nothing need actually happen. Trump can keep saying he accomplished what no other president ever managed.

Quietly North and South Korea can continue to talk. Because Trump can say this has been a success he can avoid applying further sanctions on his allies China and Russia, and get back to his trade war with his other allies, Canada, Mexico and Europe.

Meanwhile Putin in his frequent phone calls can reassure Trump that he will not release the Golden shower video, nor call the loans to Trump International.

Iran can enrich more and more Uranium and rebuild its nuclear facilities. Israel can settle more and more of the occupied territories. More populist far right leaders will erect walls in and around Europe.

And Justin, you now have an opportunity to paraphrase your father: “I have been called worse things by much, much better people.”

Oh, and one other thing, Kim will permit Ivana to trademark her brand in North Korea.

Anthony Bourdain and Suicide

By Dr David Laing Dawson

We are Borgs, if you will pardon the Sci Fi reference.

At our best we carry in our heads a sense of the thoughts and feelings and wellness of others as well as our own. I am not talking about empathy here but rather that a piece of our consciousness is devoted to the existence of others; that an awareness of others, even when they are not present, is an important part of consciousness.

This ability allows us to experience empathy but it is wider than that. When conscious, at our best, we are aware of not just what we see and hear and of ourselves, but of the people in our lives and our connections to them. And that circle of people can include a few family members or stretch to the refugees of South Sudan.

At our best.

In a psychotic illness that awareness can become strangely distorted, with one or many of these relationships over interpreted, imbued with magical power or ominous threat. This is easy to observe, from a stated conclusion that the people on television talk to me or the police are watching me and putting drugs in my orange juice.

What is not so easy to observe is the effect of clinical depression. But depression, the illness depression, diminishes and eventually eliminates that social form of consciousness; the awareness of others, our connections to them, the presence they maintain in our minds, is lost in depression. Consciousness, in depression, is reduced to simply the self, and the self in depression is a malfunctioning body of limited worth and a sense of dread. Others are gone from our shrinking cloud of consciousness.

Anthony Bourdain killed himself in a hotel room in Paris and I watched CNN last night. He left grieving friends, colleagues, fans, and an eleven year-old daughter. Oddly, with what I have written above, Anthony made a career out of connecting with, engaging with others and sharing their lives and cuisines.

Apart from remembering, paying tribute to Anthony Bourdain last night, much of the focus was on suicide. The number of a suicide hot line was displayed throughout. But we have had these help lines available for 30 years and, as CNN reported, the suicide rate continues to climb. And as I recounted in a previous blog, the numbers of people brought to emergency rooms for assessment of “suicide ideation” has been growing by 14 percent year after year. Yet actual numbers of completed suicides persist and grow.

The focus on suicide itself is wrong. This focus, this de-stigmatization and “talk about it” approach obviously has not helped and may even be a contributing factor.

Suicide is the product of despair, dread, pain, anxiety coupled with the cognitive impairment of depression I have described above. It is this cognitive impairment that allows the severely depressed person to not realize the damage his death by suicide will do to his daughter or son, sister, brother.

We are often bewildered by seemingly successful people with loving partners and family who kill themselves. But depression, the illness depression, renders success hollow, and gradually eliminates loved ones from consciousness. In depression one’s sphere of consciousness has deflated to the agony of self. And at that point we seldom call a hot line or seek out help.

For prevention of suicide we need to focus on depression. The recognition of depression and the cognitive deficit that develops with depression, and the treatment of depression.

The Erosion of American Democracy.

By Dr David Laing Dawson

From 1934 until the end of WWII the Nazi party passed over 40 incremental laws restricting Jewish presence and participation, leading inexorably to “the final solution”. This is a desensitization process; each seemingly benign step leading to the next slightly less benign step.

In a previous blog, somewhat flippantly, I wrote out a do-it-yourself manual for the erosion and destruction of an established democracy. To a surprising degree much has already come about in the USA under Trump and the Republican Party in a mere 18 months.

Several recent events have pushed this timeline dramatically along.

Trump has quite unnecessarily pardoned Dinesh D’Souza as a message to Comey, Mueller and Rosenstein, and undoubtedly to Flynn and Cohen, demonstrating his power to the men who prosecuted D’Souza in the first place, and his support to those currently charged.

Then in a tweet he threw Manafort under the bus in a clear statement to the others that there are conditions attached to his promise of support and future pardon.

In the midst of this his lawyers sent a letter to Mueller suggesting or stating that The President cannot be charged and indicted for anything because ultimately this same man can decide what is illegal and what is not.

(I gather the idea that the President is not above the law is not that clearly spelled out in the constitution).

This notion should be shocking, but instead I hear it discussed, argued over, with talk of precedence and norms rather than disbelief, horror and immediate action.

Each of these steps are akin to the  Nazi rulings. Desensitization is occurring.

I suggested a war with Iran or Korea would be necessary for Trump to enact some emergency measures in his waddle to dictatorship, but his instincts may be more clever than mine. For he seems to be ignoring Iran now, and cozying up to North Korea, while starting a trade war with his allies. His use of “national security” as a pretext for the imposition of tariffs is telling. Maybe he does not need a real war. Perhaps he only needs a trade war with Europe, Canada and Mexico, with each of these allies retaliating in a way that hurts his base. In such a trade war  the American people will feel more and more surrounded by enemies, a fortress besieged, alone in this fight with the world.

And that is when people are willing to turn to a charismatic leader who promises them everything – safety, security, prosperity, greatness – in return for a little blindness.

The clock is ticking my American friends.

A Caution For the June 7 Ontario Election

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Doug Ford wants the municipal governments of Ontario to adopt the American model. U.S. mayors, like the US president, have executive powers. They decide things. They award contracts. They don’t have to contend with a fractious group of councillors. They have power. And with power residing in one person we can have efficiency, quick decisions, a single vision, the rapid enactment of a plan. And we can also have corruption.

“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

We have all grown up hearing this adage over and over again. But I suspect we each hear it as “Power corrupts – others, not me.”

I know of an astonishing number of US state governors and state representatives being convicted felons but this proposal by Doug Ford made me wonder about U.S. city Mayors. So I looked it up. I stopped counting at 50.

Power corrupts. A pot of public money attracts crooks faster than yellow jackets to syrup. Municipalities, cities, with so many lucrative contracts to dish out, need all the safeguards we can possibly apply. We need to accept the slowness of change, the tangles of red tape and the constant bickering of municipal politics.

We do not need to copy the American model at any level of governance. We suffer sufficient folly (and undoubtedly bits of corruption) as it is. We do not need to add an American scale of corruption to our poor, struggling Ontario cities.