Category Archives: Politics

Can the United States be Fixed?

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Image by shawn1 from Pixabay

By Marvin Ross

The other day, we posted a blog by Susan Inman critiquing Bernie Sander’s mental health platform but there is a bigger picture when it comes to the US. So much is wrong with that country that I am not sure it can be fixed without some very drastic changes.

I’m just reading Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by New York Times writer Nicholas Kristoff and journalist Sheryl Wudunn.

They begin by pointing out that the US, compared to other countries, ranks at:

#40 for child mortality

#50 for personal safety

#61 for high school enrollment

#25 in the overall well-being of its citizens

The US is one of only a very few countries that has regressed based on the Social Progress Index. The US spends more on health care than any other country but its outcomes are comparable to that of Ecuador. The school system is on par with Uzbekistan. The US working class has collapsed into unemployment, broken families, drugs, obesity and early death. Not a pretty picture.

Kristoff looks at some of the kids he grew up with in rural Oregon who died early from chronic medical conditions whose illnesses he says would have been well managed in Europe and Canada where there is universal health care.

And yet, many of these people support Trump. A woman in Oklahoma he interviewed had been saved from a very abusive husband by a social agency. She became a kindergarten teacher and was living happily with her son and voted for Trump. She was not pleased when the funding to her social agency was slashed but felt that maybe Trump was right to save tax money and plans to vote for him again.

Another was an old friend who had endured seven bouts of homelessness, voted for Trump and will vote for him again. He is opposed to any social safety net as he feels that recipients are irresponsible. His main love of Trump, however, is guns. He goes nowhere without a revolver on his hip and will not give that up.

I just watched the episode on Netflix’s documentary Dirty Money on Jared Kushner. A working class family in Baltimore being squeezed for every penny by their landlord (a Kushner company) with escalating dubious late fees and court costs. revealed they had voted Trump. They did look a little sheepish when told their landlord was Kushner but will they vote Trump again in 2020?

One of the most compelling comparisons between the US and Canada mentioned in the book was a study done on the reaction to the layoffs in the auto industry in 2008-09 between Detroit and Windsor. The two cities are across the river from each other and have large auto plants. Detroit workers were worse off partly because of a lack of a social safety net such as that in Canada. But in Windsor the Canadian government jumped in within 24 hours to try to ameliorate the impact of layoffs.

An action centre was established to help with job searches, retraining and obtaining benefits. A number of laid off workers wanted to enroll in nursing training but the program at the local college was full. The government encouraged the college to add more spaces so workers could train.

The attitude in the US is that outcomes are a reflection of the persons personal responsibility. If you lose your job and become poor, destitute and/or homeless, its your fault. There is little that society can or should do to help.

Reversing what is happening in the US is a gargantuan task and I doubt we will see any changes in the near future. The only candidate of the two still standing who puts forth a true reformist policy (mental health aside) is Sanders. His policies are similar to that of the NDP in Canada or leftish social democrat parties in Europe but to many Americans, he is scary and a threat. From what I’ve read, he is most popular among the young who are not frightened by the concept of social democracy and who realize they have little future in the new America. Should Biden win the nomination which is likely, they may not even bother to vote thus assuring the world of 4 more years of Trump.

 

Guest Blog -US Democrat in Canada Opposes Sander’s Mental Health Platform

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Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

By Susan Inman

American-Canadians like me can vote in American elections, and also in the primaries that select nominees. Now that Bernie Sanders has released his disability platform  I’m hoping he doesn’t end up being the Democrats’ choice to run against Trump.

As the mother of a daughter living with schizophrenia,  I’ve learned over the past twenty years how much Canada is influenced by American trends in mental health care. The controversial positions that Sanders has recently endorsed reflect beliefs that have become increasingly influential in Canada. These positions harm the people they are meant to help.

People new to thinking about the most responsible, socially just positions regarding mental health care might be very impressed by the language in Sanders’ platform. The platform teems with references to human rights and offers an array of services that would be available in a Sanders administration for people able to voluntarily make use of them. However, readers need to dig deeper into the controversial positions he’s adopted to understand why my American community of family caregivers are alarmed. Underlying these positions is minimization of the severity and nature of psychotic disorders like schizophrenia for most people who live with them.

Here are Sanders’ stances on three crucial issues:

1. Sanders believes that treatment must be voluntary.

Psychotic disorders at some points involve psychosis, which is an inability to distinguish between what is real and what isn’t. A common feature of psychosis is anosognosia,  a brain-based inability of many people in psychosis to understand that they are ill. This is the main reason these people refuse treatment.

Too many human rights advocates refuse to acknowledge the existence of this condition. Policies ignoring anosognosia have had catastrophic consequences for people with psychotic disorders; people with untreated mental illnesses have increasingly ended up homeless, victimized, and in jails and prisons.

Sanders’ disability plan does reference the fact that 1 in 5 inmates has a serious mental illness. However, he insists that just providing more voluntary services will fix the problem: “As president, Bernie will fight to end the criminalization of disability, while also defending the rights of people with disabilities to make their own choices about treatment.”

Sanders narrowly limited the kinds of advocacy groups he listened to. He hasn’t listened to the many people, like writer Julie Fast, who are living with psychotic illnesses and don’t want to be left untreated under the banner of protecting human rights. Fast writes, “The concept of individual rights doesn’t apply to someone who is not in his or her right mind. We are not in our right minds when we are sick.”

Canada has been influenced by the same kinds of advocacy groups that have advised Sanders. Currently, access to both inpatient and outpatient involuntary care, available through British Columbia’s strong Mental Health Act, is being legally challenged. The plaintiffs are the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. Proponents of the court challenge argue that the use of involuntary treatment promotes the idea that people with mental illness lack capacity; it seems it is unacceptable to acknowledge that some people have illnesses that, at times, can interfere with capacity.

2. Sanders opposes reforms that would create desperately needed acute psychiatric beds.

The US has a statute, the Olmstead decision, which prohibits hospitals from accessing Medicaid funding if they have more than 16 psychiatric beds. Sanders supports the Olmstead restriction which has resulted in a massive shortage of acute psychiatric beds.

Canada also has too few psychiatric beds. Complaints from patients, family caregivers and mental health providers about the shortage of beds led the BC Psychiatric Association and the BC Schizophrenia Society to investigate the problem and issue a joint report  with recommendations to address the shortage.

3. Sanders will continue to block family caregivers’ access to crucial information.

Sanders opposes the reform of legislation (called HIPPAA) governing privacy of information. This legislation means that families can’t find out if their family member is in a hospital, what plans there may for discharge (even if the person lives with them) and what follow-up care is needed. Research  demonstrates that family involvement during inpatient care is key in helping patients access outpatient treatment.

Canadian families also struggle with privacy rules that hurt their family member. However, BC’s Mental Health Act  allows clinicians to share information when it’s necessary for families to provide continuity of care.

I am part of a group of American families working to bring about a mental health system that offers the best support for people living with psychotic disorders. These families are much more organized and outspoken than similar groups that I am involved with in Canada. They have repeatedly shown me that it’s essential to educate political leaders about policies that offer the best help.

Over the past year, the Democratic primaries have provided opportunities to help candidates learn essential information about psychotic disorders and the many changes that could improve outcomes for this marginalized population. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Kobuchar and other Democratic candidates have offered strong support for these sensible approaches. Members of our group found it impossible to engage Bernie Sanders who repeatedly ended conversations by proclaiming that a single payer medical system would solve the problems they tried to describe.

One member of our group is prominent writer Ron Powers whose memoirNo One Cares About Crazy People, describes the harrowing ordeals of both of his sons who developed schizophrenia. Ron lives in Vermont, Sanders’ home state, and wrote an open letter  trying to persuade him to reconsider the policies he’s supporting. So far, we aren’t seeing changes in his platform.

If Sanders becomes the nominee, I will vote for him. I’ll hope that family caregivers can eventually get him to see that just spending more money won’t provide the help that’s needed. At least we now have other Democratic leaders who are willing to support a more informed and complex view of human rights.

Susan Inman is a Bridgeross author of the best selling book After Her Brain Broke:Helping My Daughter Recover her Sanity. She lives in Vancouver, BC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US Founding Father’s Blew it with their Constitution

By Marvin Ross

 

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Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay
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Image by festivio from Pixabay

I recently watched a discussion between Samantha Bee (a Canadian) and Stephen Colbert on the Daily Show around the time of the Kangaroo Court Impeachment. Colbert asked about impeachment in Canada which Samantha tried to answer before they went back to exchanging quips.

She did say it does not exist in Canada and while Canada is not immune from a Trump (as Ontario has in the Trump wannabee, Doug Ford), I do not think that what is happening in the US could happen with the British Parliamentary System we have. Let me explain.

The US Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) are tasked with the job of passing legislation which must them be signed by the president. Unfortunately, the president can veto any law he does not like or approve of and it can only be passed by a 2/3 of both houses defeat the veto. The president may also unilaterally sign treaties with foreign powers subject to approval by 2/3 of the Senate. The president also appoints his cabinet but those cabinet members are not elected but rather approved by the Senate.

And here we have the problem. The president is elected separately from the members of Congress by the Electoral College and he acts separately from the Congress. He is not held accountable to the Congress and his appointments to cabinet (while needing to be ratified) are not elected by the citizens and are only accountable to the president.

The result is lame presidents like Obama who had no support in Congress because the Republicans had a majority or Trump who does his own thing without being accountable to Congress.

Under the British system, each political party elects a leader and elected not by those in parliament but by all members of the party. The leader is a politician who has to run for office in his/her constituency and be elected. If that party wins a majority in the elected House of Commons, then the leader of the party becomes Prime Minister. The Prime Minister sits in the Commons and is subject to daily question period where members fire questions at him and hold him accountable for what is happening. These can become quite rowdy as we’ve seen in Britain over Brexit. Can anyone imagine Trump having to show up daily in Congress to be questioned?

The Prime Minister must satisfy two groups – his own constituency which he/she represents and his party which can call a leadership review if they are sufficiently angry with his behaviour. After the current election in Canada in 2019, the losing Conservative Party became fed up with their leader and he has been turfed.

As for the cabinet, that is another significant difference. Members of the cabinet are chosen from the pool of elected members of the House of Commons. Again, they are responsible and accountable to their constituents at home and to the members of their party and to the House of Commons.

The other aspect of the Parliamentary system involves majority and minority governments. The party winning the most seats can have a clear majority holding more than 50% of the total seats or a simple majority where they have more seats than anyone else but fewer than 50%. In the latter case (called a minority government and mentioned by Samantha Bee) the government can be defeated by a vote of non confidence and be forced to call another election before their four year mandate is up.

All of this, in my opinion, makes the British Parliamentary system far more responsive to the interests of the people and less likely that we would see a Trump.

Now I did mention Ontario’s Doug Ford (brother of later mayor of Toronto Rob well known in the US) who acts like Trump and did win a majority. His election was more of a non confidence vote in the previous government which had ruled too long and with whim people were getting fed up.

Doug set out to undo many of the policies accepted as necessary by the voters. He immediately tried to change funding for kids with autism and was forced to backtrack when parents descended upon the legislature. He went after the educational system to freeze wages, increase class sizes and make certain numbers of courses into e-learning. Teachers are involved in work to rule, rotating strikes and have the support of the majority of the citizens. This youtube clip of Question Period in Ontario after the budget is actually quite funny. The premier praises his finance minister for his brilliant budget but shortly after this (with attacks from all over) he fired the guy.

A number of his early policies are before the courts and those cases that have been decided have not been in his favour. His popularity across the country is about the worst of any politician ever and he is often booed when he shows up to public events like the celebration for the Toronto Raptors win.

Given the fragmentation of the US constitutional system, I can’t see any of this every happening there. Hatred of Britain clouded the vision of the Founding Fathers and gave the US what I consider to be a deficient system of government.

Post Democracy US

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Below is a column from David that we published in January, 2017. Who knew just how bad the US political system would get under the leadership of the American Ayatollah but it has become worse. With his impeachment acquittal, he is now being accused of another quid pro quo with New York State trying to stop investigations into his prior tax fraud. And of course, he is going after the dedicated public servants who blew the whistle and testified. As the Toronto Star Washington correspondent wrote Donald Trump is a law unto himself.

And, to remind all, there is a collection of  our posts on his mental state called Two Years of Trump on the Psychiatrist’s Couch with 5 stars on Amazon and available everywhere in print and various e-book formats.

By Dr David Laing Dawson

My optimism was short lived. After watching Trump’s speech at the CIA headquarters and Sean Spicer’s first press conference I wondered how one goes about dismantling a democracy. I assume there is no manual for this. So I thought I would create a Coles Notes version so we can all follow along:

1. Make frequent reference to the utter failure of all previous administrations. Take credit for anything good that happened during the most recent administration.

2. Promote a cult of personality. Suggest the new leader has God-like powers, such as controlling the rain, and solving complex and intractable problems with forceful statements.

3. Paint a bleak picture of the current state of affairs and grossly exaggerate the risk, the dangers posed by outsiders and nonbelievers.

4. Promote law and order and military power as the only forces that can keep us safe.

5. Incrementally reduce voting rights by insisting on regulations that favor your supporters and disenfranchise others. Do this by claiming you are controlling corruption and fraud.

6. Choose an enemy or two, give them names, and promise to eradicate them. Use emotionally inspiring words such as evil, kill, wipe them out, get rid of them once and for all.

7. Exaggerate the size of your support and the crowds attending your rallies. Refer to this as a movement.

8. Lie frequently and often. Use big, bold lies. This is a form of desensitization. More and more will believe your lies. The remaining citizens will stop caring.

9. Undermine the Fourth Estate. Seed distrust of news and information. Call all reporters and truth tellers liars. It will be difficult to fully control the media (this is not Russia) but consider using licensing bodies, libel laws and the courts to tie their hands.

10. Promote the idea that the people of your nation, your followers, are superior human beings, exceptional, and deserve to live better than others. American Exceptionalism. Or is that “Uber Alles”?

11. You will need the armed forces and intelligence agencies so flatter them frequently, while you replace their leaders with your own men.

12. You will need cabinet members and spokespeople who will unabashedly promote you and your statements and policies no matter how unpalatable or ludicrous they become. Some will be willing to do this for money, others for power and glory of their own, and others because of their own anger and resentment from earlier grievances. Unfortunately such people abound. But remember, it is not loyalty that binds them to you, but self-interest. Reward them generously; always be prepared to kill them.

13. Quickly disparage and render impotent any leader who opposes you. Memorable name calling and disinformation will suffice.

14. Create a language of code words for anything that remains unacceptable for most citizens. For example: “alternative facts” for lies, “violence in the inner cities” for racial profiling.

15. Use hyperbole at all times. A person or event is either “great”, “fantastic”, “amazing”, or “a disaster”, “evil”, “total failure”. This fosters a dichotomous view of the world and will help dehumanize victims when the time comes to purge.

16. Find some allies in other countries by directly or tacitly supporting their extreme views. Examples might include Putin, Duterte, Boris Johnson, Marie Penn and Netanyahu. Be unpredictable for the others. Keep them on edge.

17. Finally, incrementally increase your power and authority until you can accurately call yourself “president-for-life” or “Supreme Leader”. This will take time. At some point you will need a crisis at home (Terrorist attack for e.g.) or you will need to provoke a crisis abroad and at home (Palestinian response to moving embassy to Jerusalem for e.g.). This will justify your transfer of a specific power from a democratic body (congress/senate/parliament) to your own office. This can be done on the grounds that only you know all the facts, and quick decisions are required. It is also more acceptable if the democratic bodies are perceived as ineffective or too partisan. Your people can ensure the latter condition is met.

18. In the meantime cater to the dominant political force in the democratic body by quickly implementing all their pet projects (e.g anti-abortion legislation), and by cancelling all the social and health initiatives of that upstart negro president.

19. Build monuments to yourself. Oops. I forgot. You already have. Good. Build more. Start with the Trump Great Southern Wall.

20. Throughout this process continue to emphasize that you are working for the people. Use the words “people”, “working people” and “democracy” frequently. As you usurp power explain that you are protecting democracy.

21. Have patience. Others may deliver you the crisis and fear that will allow an incremental or bold increase in power. When you assume new powers present yourself as reluctant to do so.

22. Use as much pomp and circumstance as possible. People love ceremonies. Emphasize the sacred trust your office embodies.

23. Visit a religious leader (televised of course). Ensure him and the American Public that you understand the enormity of your office and the need for God’s guidance. Try not to sneer or chuckle doing this. It is not wise to compare yourself to God, but you can hint that He favors you in some way.

24. Don’t worry about the physical quirks the cartoonists seize upon, the little black mustache for example, or the blonde comb over. Ultimately these will confer upon you icon status.

25. There will be protests and marches against you. Be gracious in your response to those that remain peaceful. Come down very hard on those that become violent. Emphasize these, and use them to accrue more power. But, be assured that any large gathering of people can become violent with a little help from your friends.

26. Toady up to the leaders of organized religion, the church.  With few exceptions these religious leaders will see you as a means of helping them achieve their long term goals. They will not stand against you for fear of losing their own power.

27. Allow others to live vicariously through you. This is a fine balance. While allowing the people to view your sumptuous life style use colloquial language, talk as they do. Remind them you work tirelessly for them. Pretend that one day they can all live as you do.

28. Women are tricky. Have one or two around you but not many. They tend to have empathy for others, children, small animals. They tend to prefer compromise and cooperation. Reference your own dear mother frequently, and say how much you respect women. But subtly denigrate them by your own actions, and limit their voices and rights through reproductive and child-care legislation.

29. Gain increasing control of your population. You can start this by controlling all immigration and visitation to your country. Then pick the minority group most feared or misunderstood by your followers and order a registration process. This will appear harmless, like getting a driver’s license. Then incrementally increase the strength of this process, include more identifiable groupings, until all citizens must carry “papers” with them and submit to police checks. This will instill fear.

Feb 16, 2020   Donald has been quite masterful making the Republican Party his own cult, and making truth a relative commodity. I thought undermining the independent judiciary would be difficult. (In Canada a politician publicly opining about any case before the court can cost their job). But it is now happening and happening quickly in the US, with Trump, emboldened by his acquittal,  stating publicly he “has every right to intervene”.

We are now in the top of the ninth with two runners on. Political control of the courts is the death knell of democracy.

 

Fascism of the Left

By Marvin Ross

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Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

Freedom of speech/free expression is a bed rock of democracy but it is being eroded by those on the left. There are, of course, limits to expression such as not inciting to violence or spewing hate crime which are covered in the Canadian Criminal Code, and not defaming people which can be remedied by civil action. Other than those examples, we are all entitled to express our opinions and no one should be blocked for doing so.

Three recent events I find very concerning because they do not seem isolated but appear to be a growing trend. The first took place in Hamilton just prior to the federal election. Maxime Bernier, the former Conservative member of parliament founded a new political party called the People’s Party – a right wing group that is anti-immigration (although he denies that). They have official party status, fielded candidates in all or most constituencies in Canada and participated in the TV debates.

Bernier is a controversial character. He was kicked out of the cabinet when the Conservatives were in power for leaving a briefcase full of classified documents at his girlfriend’s place. His girlfriend had ties to organized crime characters. As part of his campaign, he spoke at Mohawk College in Hamilton but not only did protesters show up (which is legitimate) but some of them wore masks to cover their faces and blocked people from entering the auditorium. One of those blocked was an elderly lady pushing a walker.

Those individuals were eventually found and arrested and, during the election, the People’s Party did not elect a single person and only got 1.64% of the popular vote. In my opinion, a testament to the intelligence of the electorate who heard what he had to say and rejected it. There was no need to prevent people from hearing him talk. People can decide and did decide.

Next up was a talk by a feminist writer (Megan Murphy) at a Toronto library branch who happens to hold contrary views on transgenders. Her talk was entitled “Gender Identity: What Does It Mean For Society, The Law and Women?” It was hosted by Radical Feminists Unite. She believes that allowing men to identify as women endangers women’s rights. OK. So what? She is entitled to her opinion and to argue that. She is entitled to speak.

Not so according to LGBTQ activists, a writers group and even the mayor of Toronto. All of them implored the library to cancel her talk and not allow her to use of the library. Writers should know better particularly given the history of authoritarian regimes that have banned books and burned them. The mayor of Toronto also disappointed but the librarians held their ground and refused to budge. The demonstration against her the night she spoke was peaceful but the constabulary was out in force to ensure it remained so. Police did have to escort those in attendance out of the building.

Finally, York University in Toronto where a talk put on by a Jewish group was violently disrupted by protesters shouting pro-intifada slogans. The speakers were Israeli Defence Force Reservists and the protesters pounded on the doors of the meeting room. Violence was kept to a minimum by a large contingent of Toronto police and university security staff.

A recent Syrian refugee to Canada (Aboud Danachi) attended the event and was so shocked by what he saw that he wrote an op ed in the Canadian Jewish News. His words should be taken to heart by those who oppose free speech. He wrote:

“I was always interested in meeting former soldiers of the IDF. Back in Syria, socializing with any Israeli whatsoever was the ultimate taboo. But I was in Canada now, browsing through the York University student cafeteria. Syrian President Bashar Assad could take his taboos and shove it. In Toronto, I was like anyone else. I could go where I pleased, when I pleased. And meet whom I pleased.

Or so I thought”

A Pakistani Canadian Muslim journalist also expressed disgust of how the Jewish group was treated at York. Raheel Raza, speaking on the Roy Green Show, was not surprised by what happened at York as she stated that it has a long history of anti-semitism and intolerance. She said her niece went to York and had threatening notes put on her door because she did not cover her hair.

We cannot afford to lose freedom of speech in this country but I am heartened by the fact that those who are new to this country are stepping up to defend it.

 

Donald Trump and Marshal McLuhan

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Marshall McLuhan’s phrase “The medium is the message.” is often quoted glibly. I am sure I have done this myself. It means, I think, that the medium through which we receive messages alters, itself, the way we view the world, the way we receive these messages and understand them.

I think we quote Marshall glibly because as white rats in the experimental lab we are not often able to see how the medium, or media, are changing our perceptions. And Marshall said this before the internet arrived, and certainly before Twitter.

I have never thought of Donald Trump as a clever man, a man of deep thought and consideration, but damned if he doesn’t appear to understand Marshall better than the rest of us. I assume this understanding comes from being a creature of the media, a man without an inner life of doubt and shame and empathy and consideration.

And within all the noise in the past few weeks and months about Trump, Zelensky, the phone call, the quid pro quo, one minor point seemed to go unnoticed. Trump asked Zelensky to open an investigation into the Bidens, father and son, and to announce this “in a public box”. He didn’t say “invent some dirt on the Bidens”, or “charge them with something”, he asked that an investigation be announced in a public forum. He knew that such an announcement on TV, cable news, Facebook, Google, and Twitter can, in and of itself, blossom into a fixed perception of guilt. It is the world we live in today.

Trump has also intuitively understood that the medium of Twitter and its daily onslaught can make the unacceptable acceptable, can deodorize something putrid, can make the irrational seem rational, and a lie seem plausible, through copy, assertion, and repetition.

Evidence that he intuits this rather than fully grasping it lies in the letter he sent Erdogan. As a series of tweets this might have passed. As a letter, the ignorance, grandiosity, and adolescence of the message was clear.

Then Trump goes back to his favourite medium and he tweets a bizarre accusation and clear intimidation while the witness, Yovanovich, is testifying in the impeachment hearing. And we find ourselves again pondering Marshall’s words.

Written on paper and delivered as a letter, or overheard and recorded on a wire tap, Trump’s words would be perceived and understood as clear evidence of witness tampering. The same message in the medium of a Tweet? Is it just Trump being Trump?

And where on earth are Twitter, Snap Chat, Whatsapp, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, internet forums, texting, and blogging for that matter, taking us?

Musings on the Canadian Federal Election

By Dr David Laing Dawson

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Image by Alain Audet from Pixabay

Using the three step program (reach for remote, click on guide, click channel 1502) I tore myself away from Donald Trump and American politics to watch a couple of hours of CBC election night, and it was oh so boring and lovely. No one ominously intoning “breaking news” every 15 minutes, a wide collection of thoughtful and polite people, all ages, a variety of racial and ethnic origins, each offering gentle and sometimes humorous musings, no one defending the indefensible, clever but not intrusive graphics, and many women, real women (I have to be careful how I put this) chosen for their knowledge and not their sex appeal, a couple of them completely sans make up. Not once was I distracted by cleavage, flame coloured lipstick and flowing blonde curls. Not once was I dismayed by an overfed bald neck-less undereducated white male in a suit.

During the few breaks, instead of being convinced I had to talk to my doctor about a wonderful new pharmaceutical product that could kill me, I was presented with a short video montage of Canada, from sea to sea to sea, reminding me of what we have and what we are.

And then the results: Bernier and populism is sent packing, left of centre, or progressive parties, win more than 50% of the vote, the Liberals retain power but as a minority government, as long as they can hold onto NDP support. The BQ gains seats, raising the spectre of Quebec Separation again, but only as a small haunting I hope, and Alberta expresses its disdain of the east once more.

But as a friend once pointed out, “My God, in Toronto they speak 50 different languages and they are not killing one another.”

It will always take work to keep this very big multicultural experiment together.

Trudeau, I think, has had a little slap on the wrist, and been told to cease and desist his Kum ba ya apology tour and get down to work. No more dress up. Neither Hindu garb, white cowboy hat nor blackface. Understand where Quebecois and Albertans are coming from and work with it. Work with it as you develop real action for the major issues of the day:

  • Climate Change
  • Wealth inequality
  • Affordable Education
  • Housing for all
  • Pharmacare
  • Electoral Reform
  • A voice of sanity, peace and compromise on the world stage
  • Preparing for the tectonic changes already upon us thanks to automation, the digital and media revolution, over population, climate change, and this country of ours becoming one of the few places on earth everyone would prefer to live.

Donald Trump and the Cornered Narcissist

By Dr David Laing Dawson

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“Projection” within psychoanalytic circles is defined as a defense mechanism that entails attributing your own unconscious impulses to others. Of course in real life the division between unconscious and conscious is a wide grey field, as is the division between willful and impulsive.

And projection is a rather common defense used by children and teenagers when caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing: “He/she (sibs, friends, other kids in the class) did far worse things than me.” More accurately, I suppose, when fully conscious it is deflection, when unconscious it is projection. (with a lot of grey between)

When used by adults it is often more of a fully conscious justification, a salve for the conscience, to point out, or claim, that others have done worse.

For Donald Trump, his projections have frequently been, as those of an adolescent might be, directed at his younger sister, Hillary, and his High School rival, the better looking and more admired Barack.

And now as his circle of enemies widens so do Donald’s projections: to Pelosi, General Mattis, and Joe Biden, for example, ascribing his instability to Pelosi, his weakness to Mattis, and his corruption to Biden. To name just three of many.

One year ago I wrote a piece entitled “A Cornered Narcissist is not a Pretty Sight.” Well, Donald was not quite cornered then. He slipped out from under Mueller, who arrived at the hearing as a forgetful, tired old man who did not want this moment in history.

But now the walls are closing in again on Donald J. Trump and it may be worth publishing that piece once more:

Here is what to expect:

Increasing displays of petulance, irrational accusations, self-pity, rage, and depression, while he continues to seek out adoring crowds and fawning world leaders wherever he can find them.

This depression will take the form of blunt affect, self-imposed isolation, and paranoia.

I was struck by Trump’s demeanor right after the midterms. The news channels referred to it as upbeat, positive. His words (the actual words) started out upbeat, declaring the midterms a Republican “victory”, calling it “great”, before taking pot shots at all his favourite enemies and hinting at a democratic/deep state conspiracy against him, but his affect throughout this was flat, his pronunciation dull, his face blunted. even when using the words “great” and “victory” – at least until his petulant rage at Jim Acosta.

With the democrats now having the majority in the House, the republicans weakened in many State legislatures, the firing of Jeff Sessions, we are now into the endgame.

I don’t profess to feel any certainty how this will unfold. The possibilities include everything from impeachment to endless investigations to a thin gruel of feigned bipartisanship to more unrest, polarization, and violence.

But Donald Trump’s responses are predictable, and highly visible in his five tweets today attacking the press and the Mueller Investigation with even more recklessness and less attention to reality than we have seen before.

There was a time when a mad king could be isolated and the kingdom protected from his madness. Unfortunately we now have twitter and more than a few sycophants surrounding this president. And many more commentators still trying to shine a kind light on his outrageous words and notions.

Perhaps the world’s frightening march back to 1913 with the rise of nationalism, the erection of fences, the dissolution of agreements, and the rebirth of oligarchs will proceed without Trump. Or, or, or America might return to an improved version of itself as the beacon of successful liberal democracy, perhaps even with universal health care, gun control, less racism and a major role to play addressing climate change. I hope they try. Whatever poison flows below the 49th parallel tends to seep into Canada.

So, my American friends, it is now time for damage control and careful planning. If only you could promise him a statue bigger than Lincoln’s and the rating of “best president ever” in the history books in return for his retirement to Mar-a-Lago, quietly and permanently.

Disasters

By Dr David Laing Dawson

In most unfolding human disasters, in my lifetime and historically, it is difficult to ascertain a time, a moment, a place, when the actions of one person could have made a difference, could have changed the course of an unfolding disaster.

But this is one of those rare moments. Simply put as a request:

“President Trump, please call President Erdogan and tell him to stop. Say it simply and firmly. Do it now before it is too late. Then quickly return two hundred or two thousand  American advisors, experts, medical personnel and soldiers to the border towns, encampments, prison camps of Northern Syria.”

You made a mistake giving Erdogan the green light, for reasons only you and Erdogan might understand. You can rectify this with a phone call.

Trump and the Kurds

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Western powers meddling in, invading, colonizing, any of the middle east Nations has seldom if ever resulted in something good. I must leave this as “seldom if ever” because the history of such meddling, colonization, invasion, corruption is too long and complicated to review. Even the fact there is no Kurdistan but rather populations of Kurds in three adjacent countries is the product of Western meddling, of arbitrary boundaries drawn up after European wars.

But then we arrive rather suddenly in the last months of 2019 and even though, albeit through much tragedy and failed foreign policies, we are at a point of relative peace and success (defeating ISIS), and an opportunity for Western powers, this time mostly the US, at a relatively small cost, to stay with just enough presence to prevent more war and genocide, to provide the Kurds with some defacto autonomy, to prevent Erdogan’s Turkey from exercising its genocidal impulses, to prevent a resurgence of ISIS…. and now, with a rare chance of doing great good with minimal cost the US cuts and runs.

Not the US actually, but Donald Trump. Supposedly after a little quid pro quo phone call with Erdogan.

Such an irony. The most foolish inept corrupt president the US has ever suffered is given an opportunity to have success, and to save lives, and preserve peace by simply doing nothing and he blows it. Over the next few weeks and months we can all watch how this unfolds, causing more suffering and more de stabilization of the region.

But why is this happening? Even Trump’s acolytes know it is a bad move and are speaking out.

I think we are hostage now to Donald Trump’s rather severe personality flaw. As bombastic and ruthless as he appears to be with ordinary mortals he lapses into a craven sycophant seeking approval whenever one on one with a man who holds true life and death power over his own tribe.

As the drums of impeachment beat louder he will seek and need this kind of approval more and more, from both chanting crowds and one on one from those he perceives as powerful men.