"A Citizen"s Eye View"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Who Really Owns America (George Carlin)

Pay attention here fellow Canadians because Canada is well on the way the very same situation our prophetic friend Mr. Carlin (bless him) is talking about here. And now that Stephen the Reformist has complete and unfettered control of the Government, he will take us the rest of the way.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Turning Canada into a "Free Market Wild West"

So if I understand the theories and details correctly, we've all been "had" once again by the Harper-Cons and by Harpernomics.

Whether one believes that the great world-wide financial crisis of 2008 was real or manufactured , it was very timely for Stephen Harper. It served to shift the national debate away from the environment (where it rightfully belonged and where the Government of Harper was woefully inadequate) to saving Canada from financial Armageddon. And even though in his first two years in office, Harper effectively squandered the $16 billion surplus he inherited from Paul Martin, he was able to show himself to be the only REAL leader to guide us out of the darkness, having effectively neutered Stephan Dion in the minds of most Canadians through the use of vicious attack ads. 

So Harper had his crisis, real or imagined and he positioned himself to be the only person to be able to deal with it. So what did he do? He spent! He spent like a drunken sailor in a whore-house! He bailed out the Canadian branches of American automobile manufacturers. He spent on infrastructure that, while it put a few people to work, it put billions of dollars into the pockets of private enterprise. And most of the money was spent in Conservative ridings, not spread evenly throughout the country. 

So in the mean time, despite a plethora of ethical and undemocratic indiscretions, Harper continued to look like the "Candy Man". And he wanted the citizens of Canada to know about it through the posting of mammoth "Canadian Economic Action Plan" signs all around the country. And then,low and behold, Harper managed to ride the waves of the economic Tsunami, with himself portrayed as our Savior,  into a majority government. To this day, I believe Harper wanted the election in May of 2011. He probably wanted it earlier as he needed to continue to capitalize on the economic crisis, but he couldn't cajole the opposition into a vote of non confidence any sooner.

As an aside here, I also believe that Harper wanted the 2008 election when he did. If you'll remember, he made, and  then unfathomably broke, his own fixed-date election law. He likely had a sense of the coming economic crises, the "perfect capitalist storm" and had to position himself to be able to capitalize on it's effect.

But back to the beginning here. We now have an enemy within our midst, the monster known as the "debt". The huge unwieldy national debt that "had" to be assumed in order to save the country from economic collapse. And now, Harper armed with his unchallengeable majority government has begun the gutting of the Canadian social structure through cuts to programs and the laying off of thousands upon thousands of Government employees. And leave us not forget, these laid off employees will not be injecting money back into the economy. And as illustrated by his unprecedented back to work legislation of Canada Post, Harper means to break the back of Canadian unions. I say the legislation was unprecedented not because it was passed into law,but because Harper dictated the level of salary to be paid to the employees, a rate lower then was previously offered by Canada Post.

So again, if I understand the theories correctly, The first phase of the Mass Corporate Privatization of Canada was Harper using the economic crisis to catapult himself to victory. The second phase was the massive spending spree that created the huge national debt, and the third phase is now the austerity measures and is meant to punish us all for the economic crisis that was a result (again, artificial or not) of huge  corporate multinational manipulation. And ironically, Harper is rewarding these huge corporate entities with further tax breaks here in Canada.

The fourth phase should be a period of high unemployment, high inflation rates, increased poverty and a near if not complete collapse of our social safety net. The fifth and final phase (and if all goes according to Harper's plan, should arrive in time for him to ride the wave to a second majority government) should be the government funded replacement of these social services by  privatized services such as the private mega health-center that is being built adjacent to the new hospital in Julian Fantino's Vaughn riding.

As Harper promised in 2006, we won't know Canada by the time he's done changing it. Our Government will be much smaller, meaning there will be fewer eyes to watch the banks and businesses in Canada. The power of unions will be in serious decline, our social services will be farmed out to private entities, there will be less and less government regulation of banks and businesses and we will have a tax free trade zone with both Europe and the United states that will mean the whole-sale sell off of our natural resources and our national assets.

And to go hand in hand with this shift to a more pure "Free Market Wild West", the Constitution  and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms will be regarded as antiquated relics from the age of Liberal rhetoric. And look for the mass politicization of the Supreme Court into a more Conservative-friendly legal entity. All of these things have to occur so that individual citizens will have fewer rights and Corporate Canada will have a virtual carte-blanch to assume, consume, control and capitalize on all Canada has to offer.

So yes fellow citizens, it appears we have been sold a massive bill of goods and we, our children, our grandchildren and probably our great-grandchildren will be the ones paying for our being duped. Future generations will never know the kinder, gentler, all inclusive Canada that we have come to know and love. It will have all been sold off and the social "classes" will be even more distinct then ever before. By the time of our Grand Children, Canada may even have become part of a huge, unified economic zone that includes Mexico and has the United States as the driving force. Not like the North American Free Trade zone but more like the European Union. And all of this, will be to reduce and eliminate barriers and to create an environment for Free Market Capitalism to flourish at the expense of the majority and with the full support of Governments everywhere. And we will still have democracy, at least the illusion of democracy,  But real power will be in the hands of corporate Canada, not in the hands of governments or the people anymore. We will effectively, be living in an Oligarchy

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harper Declares War on the U.N.

It appears that the Government of Harper is going out of it's way to disrupt, discredit and to bring the normal functioning of the U.N. to it's knees. In the last week alone, Canada has thrown a monkey wrench into UN arms trade talks by insisting on unrestricted trade of "hunting and sporting rifles". It has withdrawn in protest from a committee that deals with Nuclear Arms restrictions because North Korea is currently the rotating committee chair and before that, the Canadian delegation at the UN refused to recognize Palestine's right to exist as a state despite more than 100 other UN delegates backing the move.

Previous to this week, Ottawa scuttled the UN Rotterdam convention to have asbestos listed as a hazardous substance. It has refused to change language in any Government Documents that uses the phrase "Visible Minority". The UN claims this infers that Canadian Society is normally "White Anglo Saxon Protestant" and the phrase Visible Minority refers to a person's "non-whiteness".

Upon winning his long coveted majority Government in May, Harper proudly proclaimed that HIS Government will make several unpopular  decisions regarding foreign policy and will "not bow to every petty dictator who has a vote in the UN"

The Government of Harper has gone to great lengths to defy the UN accord on Child Soldiers by refusing to repatriate Omar Khadr (not to mention denying Khadr his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms)

Of course, since he was first elected Prime Minister in 2006, Harper has done everything in his power to scuttle attempts by the UN led international community to establish meaningful limits on greenhouse gas emissions. And he has succeeded in spades, much to the delight of big oil and to the detriment of our mother earth.

 So Harper has decided to declare war on the UN. This may be a result of  being snubbed last fall when Canada lobbied for a seat at the UN security counsel. Harper's  vindictive war may  possibly be the result of a significant mental health disorder (either Paranoid Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder) that seriously effects his judgment. Then again, Harper may see himself as a champion for global Free Market Capitalism and see's the UN as being too Socialist and  a threat to the large corporate institutions that would benefit  from unbridled world wide Capitalism.  It may well be Harper's Narcissistic tendencies that allow him to believe he is championing the cause of Global Capitalism but in reality, all he has done is earn Canada the label of "Rogue State".

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Update on "Diagnosing Harper" - Stephen Harper's Mental Disorder.

My blog post about diagnosing Harper's mental illness has garnered a little attention the past 24 hours. I found this a little heartening after it's slow start. I took this post quite seriously. To me, it was a very disturbing revelation when I stopped looking at the trees and finally saw the forest and subsequently concluded that our Prime Minister may well be suffering from a significant mental illness.

Some of the reaction to the post was a little confusing. Some found it funny. I attributed this to my writing style. But one co-twitterphile seemed to take my observations to heart and in fact, did me one better. This person came up with a diagnosis which also might fit the "Harper profile":  Narcissistic Megalomania.

At first, this diagnosis didn't seem to fit for me. I had a hard time getting my head around the Narcissistic part. Harper is many things, but I felt he was more paranoid then self-absorbed. But I decided to investigate anyway. As stated earlier, I may be pretty good at recognizing deviant patterns of behaviour, but I'm no psychiatrist. So it had to be conceded that others might have a better read on this than me.

After consulting Wikipedia, this is what I found:

Narcissistic Megalomania is a term that was used to describe the condition that is now known as  Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The Personality disorder part seemed to make sense, but I still wasn't sold. But I read on to discovere that characteristics of this malady include:

"To the extent that people are pathologically narcissistic, they can be controlling, blaming, self-absorbed, intolerant of others’ views, unaware of others' needs and of the effects of their behavior on others, and insistent that others see them as they wish to be seen.
People who are overly narcissistic commonly feel rejected, humiliated and threatened when criticized. To protect themselves from these dangers, they often react with disdain, rage, and/or defiance to any slight criticism, real or imagined. To avoid such situations, some narcissistic people withdraw socially and may feign modesty or humility. In cases where the narcissistic personality-disordered individual feels a lack of admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation, he/she may also manifest wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply)".

"Although individuals with NPD are often ambitious and capable, the inability to tolerate setbacks, disagreements or criticism, along with lack of empathy, make it difficult for such individuals to work cooperatively with others or to maintain long-term professional achievements. 

With narcissistic personality disorder, the individual's self-perceived fantastic grandiosity, often coupled with a hypomanic mood, is typically not commensurate with his or her real accomplishments.

The exploitativeness, sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, disregard for others, and constant need for attention inherent in NPD adversely affect interpersonal relationships".

I think the "kicker" though regarding this diagnosis was the following paragraph on a behaviour that's known as "Splitting":

"People who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder use splitting (black and white thinking) as a central defense mechanism. They do this to preserve their self-esteem, by seeing the self as purely good and the others as purely bad. The use of splitting also implies the use of other defense mechanisms, namely devaluation, idealization and denial."

To me, this last paragraph accurately describes such things as Harper's stance on Israel, who can do no wrong, and The detainee issue, his assertion being that it's critics were un-Canadian.  In addition, the Prime Minister has gone to great lengths to discredit the U.N. since he lost the seat on the U.N security council. A seat that was ours to lose. This would be the "devaluation" or "denial" piece of the puzzle as described above. 

Again, I am not a mental health professional, but I take this notion of Harper being mentally ill quite seriously. Whether you consider his personality disorder to be Paranoid or Narcissistic makes little difference. (Personally, I still lean toward the Paranoid Personality Disorder, but you be the judge for yourself) It is effecting his judgment and it is taking our country down a dark and foreboding path that we will all come to regret for a very long time. I wish that the main stream media would pick up on this reality and that a psychiatrist or two would come forward and go on the record.

As with a ship at sea, when the captain appears to have lost his mental faculties, it is incumbent upon  the first officer to step forward and take control of the ship. It's not mutiny, it's duty. So who will step forward and do their duty I wonder? 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Diagnosing Harper

First of all, I need to say that I am neither a psychiatrist, a psychologist nor any kind of mental health clinician for that matter. But I have  been a Child and Youth Counsellor  for 30 years now, so I've become pretty good at identifying deviant and maladaptive patterns of behaviour. It's a big part of what I do. That being said, what ever I say from here on in is at best, a guess, based on my observations of our current Prime Minister. It can in no way be construed as any kind of clinical assessment or medical diagnosis. It is my opinion only. So.... onward and upward!

I know I'm not the only one who's raised an eyebrow at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's behaviour. I've heard him characterized in the mainstream media and in the online community as being: a megalomaniac, a tin-pot dictator, an autocrat, an ideologue, a control freak, a bully etc. Our country has been labeled as a "rogue state" by the European Union due to Mr. Harper's unfathomable stance on exporting asbestos to developing nations. These are all very powerful comments. But I think they are also indicators of something far more complicated going on with our friend Mr. Harper than just the appearance of being a "tough nut" (pun intended).

I've written about the Prime Minister a fair bit in the last year. It's pretty safe to say that I don't much like his politics and way of doing business. He is turning the clock back on Canadian Society to somewhere around 1950. I believe he is hurting our country. But recently, I started noticing some patterns in the way Harper does things. I say only recently because I never bothered to look for patterns of behaviour with The P.M. before. But they are now as plain as the nose on my face. And anyone who's ever seen my beak would say it's pretty hard to miss.

Let's start with the obvious, Harper's need to control. It's common knowledge that The P.M. controls his caucus with an iron fist. It's his way or the highway all of the time. He sets the tone, the talking points, the script, the policies. And heaven help any party member who deviates from the party line. There are precious few Ministers or MPs who he allows to speak. All others must consult with the PMO first. This was no where as apparent as in the last election. Harper forbade most of his candidates from participating in debates in their own ridings. So the vast majority of the campaign message came right from the top. Only Harper himself and his trusted lieutenants were allowed to speak. He  exercised complete control of his party's message.

Next lets look at Harper's unconditional support for Israel. Other Prime Ministers have stood firm regarding any of our fellow nations and allies who have transgressed in any way. Brian Mulroney and John Diefenbaker's opposition to apartheid in sister Commonwealth nation South Africa comes to mind.  Yet Harper seems wholly incapable of casting any kind of criticism on our international ally Israel. They can do no wrong to him. And what's worse, he has insinuated that anyone who says they do, is probably anti-Semitic. All or nothing for Mr. H. Just as with the Afghan detainee issue. When it first arose, he accused critics of Canada's detainee policy of being more concerned about the enemy than about our own soldiers. He called them "un Canadian". Again, all or nothing. This may well have been a bit of politicking on the P.M.s part, but I also believe it is part of a wider pattern of behaviour.

It is generally accepted that there are two kinds of people where Mr. Harper is concerned. Those who are with him and those who are against him. And those who are against him are enemies to be eradicated. It's no secret that Harper has made it a personal goal to completely destroy the Liberal Party. Results from the last election would indicate he's doing a pretty good job of that.

The Prime Minister has claimed that the mainstream media is biased against him. So much so that he limited the press to only 5 questions at each campaign stop in the last election. He also chose the questions he would be asked and by whom. He forgets how tough the media were on previous Liberal Governments, particularly former Prime Minister Jean Chretien. But Chretien didn't isolate himself or attempt to control the media. Just the opposite. He seemed to like a "good go of it" with an inquiring journalist. Mr. Harper though, is clearly paranoid about their intentions and has claimed that they are all left-leaning and not to be trusted. The media are his enemy now and he is raising funds to combat them.

Harper does not forgive a slight. It was a shameful failure of the Harper Government that Canada did not secure a seat on the U.N. Security Council last fall. This is something he has not forgotten, nor forgiven. He has subsequently thumbed his nose at numerous U.N. accords and committees, most recently, the U.N. Rotterdam convention to have asbestos declared a harmful substance. Canada single-handedly blocked this from happening. In addition, Harper is being called to task by the U.N. for his steadfast refusal to change the phrase "visible minorities" from any government document pertaining to any person or group of people who are of an  ethnic background. The use of this phrase, "visible minority" according to the U.N. infers that the "norm" is white Anglo Saxon Protestant and that it speaks to a person's "non-whiteness". Harper refuses to change this phraseology.

Upon receiving his long sought majority government, Mr. Harper declared that Canada will make several unpopular decisions regarding it's foreign policy in the future and will not "bow to every petty dictator who has a vote in the U.N." "Ouch"!

Then there is the Famous Harper aloofness. This is something his handlers have been struggling with for years.  How to transform a man who presents as cold and distant into warm an cuddly. The handlers don't seem to be doing a very good job in this regard though. He's the same cold, aloof politician as always, only with glasses and a persistent smarmy grin on his face now. He continues to be inaccessible and distant to all who are not a part of his inner circle.

So if we sum up the above behaviours as exhibited by our Prime Minister, we see:

- Need for control
- All or nothing, you're with me or against me. Friends can do no wrong, enemies can do no right
- Paranoia, enemies are everywhere and need to be eradicated.
- Never forgive a slight
- cold, aloof, inaccessible, open to only a small group of people in his inner circle.

So armed with these observations, I went searching for a possible cause for our Prime Minister's behaviour, his being a little beyond the ODD, ASD, ADHD and all those other "D's" that I work with on a daily basis. So after doing some research, this is what I've come up with: Paranoid Personality Disorder.

According to the World Health Organization, signs and symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder include:
  1. Excessive sensitivity to setbacks and rebuffs;
  2. Tendency to bear grudges persistently, i.e. refusal to forgive insults and injuries or slights;
  3. Suspiciousness and a pervasive tendency to distort experience by misconstruing the neutral or friendly actions of others as hostile or contemptuous;
  4. A combative and tenacious sense of personal rights out of keeping with the actual situation;
  5. Recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding sexual fidelity of spouse or sexual partner;
  6. Tendency to experience excessive self-importance, manifest in a persistent self-referential attitude;
  7. Preoccupation with unsubstantiated "conspiratorial" explanations of events both immediate to the patient and in the world at large. 
According to Wikipedia, people with Paranoid Personality Disorder are characterized by:

"Hypersensitivity, are easily slighted, and habitually relate to the world by vigilant scanning of the environment for clues or suggestions to validate their prejudicial ideas or biases. Paranoid individuals are eager observers. They think they are in danger and look for signs and threats of that danger, disregarding any facts. ( Waldinger, 1997). They tend to be guarded and suspicious and have quite constricted emotional lives. Their incapacity for meaningful emotional involvement and the general pattern of isolated withdrawal often lend a quality of schizoid isolation to their life experience".

In addition, the website www.psychcentral.com states that:

"Because individuals with Paranoid Personality Disorder lack trust in others, they have an excessive need to be self-sufficient and a strong sense of autonomy. They also need to have a high degree of control over those around them. They are often rigid, critical of others, and unable to collaborate, and they have great difficulty accepting criticism".

Well based on the information I discovered above and compared to the observations I've made, I think we have a diagnosis. I should add here that Paranoid Personality disorder is usually treated with antidepressant, antipsycotic and antanxiety medications.   Because of heightened levels of paranoia and reduced levels of trust, psychotherapy is difficult though not impossible.

So we have a Prime Minister who may well be suffering from a significant mental illness. Because of the field I'm in, I am a great believer in rehabilitation and reintegration, even though the subject in question is not. But even I, the die-hard, bleeding-heart Liberal, has to ask: is this a man who should be running our country, Or is this a man who should be made to step down immediately and be compelled to enter treatment?  Again, I'm not a mental health professional, but If asked to vote on the matter, I would opt for the latter.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Part Three. Why Harper-Con Values are Decidedly Un-Canadian

Reconciling Harper's Majority:

 My apologies for taking so long to produce the third installment in this series of blogs about why the Harper-Con values are so distinctly un-Canadian.

Truth be told. This has been the hardest of the three installments to write. After demonstrating why the Harper-Con values just don't jive with those of the average Canadian, I have had a hard time reconciling how and why they have succeeded in being elected to a minority government twice and to the majority government they currently enjoy.

I started writing about the Harper-Con's bullying tactics but found it was just one more example of how un-Canadian the Harper-Cons really are. The topic did nothing to help me explain how such an un-ethical party could have gained such a hold on government.

In one article I wrote in May , I theorized that the Harper-Cons simply did a better job of "marketing" themselves. It was my attempt at explaining what to me was unexplainable, the Harper majority. While  I still hold this theory to be true, I've continued to  struggle with how such a blatantly unethical party with such little regard for the Canadian Democratic process can have been elected to a majority government. Their almost daily malfeasance was well documented in the media during the campaign while the parties of the Left seemed to have been doing a good job of  identifying themselves with the voters of the middle class.

So it seems to me that two things had to have happened for a party with such an appalling record to have been handed a majority by the Canadian people: The effect of the mainstream media had to have been eradicated and reasonable doubt about the Harper-Cons poor track record had to be cast. Again, this was the bailiwick of the "Political Entrepreneurs", the political professionals produced by the Manning Institute.

Harper gave as good as he got from the media during the campaign. At each stop, he permitted only five questions from the press and was very selective of what the questions were and who would ask them. While this control of the media was absolutely unheard of and seems in itself, to be yet another example of Harper-Con  unethical behaviour, ie: restricting freedom of the press,  it proved to be quite successful in allowing Harper to have almost complete control of his "message" throughout the course of the campaign. This, and the fact that he forbade almost every candidate from participating in debates in their ridings.  The Lack of Tory presence at each of these debates was in the end, less damning to the Harper cause then the potential damage un-coached candidates could have caused by actually speaking. So better for them to say nothing at all and let the big-dogs in the Harper camp do all the talking.

The Harper camp also did a good job of casting the main stream media as being biased. Truth be told, there were probably more news papers in the country that supported the Harper-Cons then those that didn't. But he was quite effective at having the press gallery pigeon-holed as a bunch of left-leaning mudslingers and himself as their innocent victim. So much so, that by campaigns end, Harperites at various rallies were prone to shouting down and intimidating any real questions of accountability from the press. Hence, the media, who documented well the Harper-Con heavy-handed behaviours, were effectively neutered.

Secondly, "plausible deniability". Harper was able to cast sufficient enough doubt about each and every Con wrong doing as to make their impact negligible. The Contempt of Parliament issue for example. No other Government in the history or Parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world has ever been found to be in contempt of Parliament. Yet when asked about it, Harper and his prime lieutenants would casually cast the issue off as a bit of opposition chicanery that resulted in the Cons being out voted. He also pointed his boney finger at the fact that the Speaker of the House, who made the Contempt ruling, was a Liberal and obviously incapable of making a non-biased decision.  So casual and consistent was this message that despite the seriousness of the ruling, it's negative impact was completely negated.

In the end, the Harper-Cons did such a good job of casting dark shadows upon each and every one of their enemies, the media as well as the opposition parties, that EVERY one's credibility seemed to be in doubt. No one seemed to be believable anymore and the Harper-Cons - who are Conservative in name only, being nothing more than yet another twisted incarnation of the Reform Party - were able to convince the electorate that, since they ARE called the Conservatives, they simply must be the best ones to negotiate the economic mind-field that inevitably lays ahead. In short, they painted themselves as being the lesser of all other evils.

The Harper-Cons were so successful at making the electorate so cynical about Canadian Democracy and the political process seem so sleazy and hyper-partisan, that no matter what they did (and continue to do) nothing sticks to them. Canadians seem to now have the feeling that no politician of any stripe should be trusted. All politicians lie, cheat and steal. The Cons are quick to play the Sponsorship scandal card in that regard as if to say "see, it's not just us"!

So the mind-set now of Canadian voters in this confusing and disturbing political climate seems to be not so much to elect the best person for the job, but rather the one that will inflict the least damage. And as long as political parties rely on "Political entrepreneurs" and are allowed to bestow more power onto them then onto elected officials and election campaigns are a 365 day a year endeavor, this climate of political negativity won't change. In fact, it will only get worse and our politicians will ALL be seen as the worst possible examples of what Canadian values are all about.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Have a "One Fine" Canada Day Y'all

One of the all time Great Canadian bands playing an all time great Canadian Song.