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Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 38 – Thoughts on the Impeachment

Greetings and Salutations.


Democratic House impeachment managers stand before entering the Senate as they deliver the article of impeachment alleging incitement of insurrection against former President Donald Trump on January 25 © AP

Today, February 10, 2021, the Senate Trial of #3×2 started with the House Impeachment Managers presenting some very damning evidence and spirited explanations as to why #3×2 should be convicted, and banned from ever holding office in the United States again. As part of this presentation, we are seeing much new video of the event, from in the middle of it. This is, perhaps, the third or fourth cycle of the information being opened up, and every time, it becomes even more horrifying. It shows how close the coup came to succeeding. The question now is “Will 17 Republicants be convinced to vote to convict after the presentation by the Impeachment Managers?” Time will tell, I suppose, but I am not confident that they will do the right thing.

There has, of course, been much discussion online about the impeachment, and its results. The Cultists are coming out in force, of course, heartened by the fact that, at least, so far, they have suffered no consequences of their support for, and taking part in, the attempted coup of Jan. 6th. I have had to block many, many folks on FaceBook because of this, or because they are apparently out of country trolls. I have posted many replies pointing out the lies, and presenting the truth. However, most of the time I have simply flagged them with the hashtag “#FoundTheCultist“, blocked them and moved on. Sadly enough, the Republicants seem to be so fearful of losing their cushy jobs and being the target of the anger of the Insurrectionists, that they are going to be reluctant to vote to convict.

I just had a short interchange with a person in one of the Liberal Groups, I am a part of That I thought I would add to the record. I had made the following comment about the results that are very likely to come about if the cowardly Republicants fail to do the right thing and vote for the Constitution and Country, instead of their own self-interests:

Dave Mundt: BP: Perhaps the next time, when they are not so good at hiding from the insurrectionists, the sight of one or two of them hanging in front of the Capitol will remind them of the reality that they could have stopped this.

This lead to the following, short, interchange. I stand by my comments, as I am pretty sure that this dark vision COULD happen. I HOPE it does not…but we cannot know the future, alas. To see how Easily it CAN happen, though, I refer the reader to “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis. This chilling map of how America could easily become a fascist state is available in other formats too. Although it was written in the 1930s, it is very relevant to the events of November, 2020 through January, 2021.

L. S-A: Dave Mundt: what are you saying?

Dave Mundt: L. S-A: To clarify. IF #3×2 is not subject to sanctions, it will increase the chances that either he, or another, smarter, fascist will work to inflame the emotions of the gullible masses, and cause yet another violent storming of the Capitol. As is coming out in the information presented by the Impeachment Managers, many of the Congressional Members were within feet of being captured by a violent crowd driven by blood lust. They likely would have been zip-cuffed, dragged out to the Gallows and hung by their neck until dead. The Republicants, if they believe they would be immune to this treatment, are lying to themselves. Look at the videos of the Insurrectionists chanting “Hang Mike Pence”. Does anyone believe the mob would have found him, dragged him out, then, cut the cuffs loose, slapped him on the back, and yelled “Just joking, Bro…”? Do the Republicants believe that the mob had a list of “Good Guys” that would not be touched? They are bigger fools for it then.

So…in conclusion. What I am saying is that if justice is not done now…This insurrection violence will happen again. When it happens again, the Congressional Members MAY not be so lucky, and so will hang. If that happens, I hope that every Republicant there, either as a last thought, or as they cower in fear again, realizes that they are the authors of their own fate…Brought on by their actions of this week.

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Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 37 – Should the 2d Impeachment happen?

Greetings and Salutations;

Today, #3×2’s remaining lawyers spoke at length on the Senate Floor, arguing that the Senate Trial should not happen at all. They supposedly had two major points to demonstrate why this action was illegal.

  • They were planning to argue that it was not a Constitutionally valid action because it goes against the Language of the Constitution.
  • They were planning to speak at length about how #3×2 was simply exercising his First Amendment rights to free speech.
  • IN addition, because of these First Amendment Rights, his words were simply opinion, and, not inciting an insurrection.

Well, The House Impeachment Managers stepped up to the podium, and presented such a powerful, well prepared explanation of exactly why the actions and words of #3×2 leading up to the attempted coup warranted this trial, the defense was shaken, and apparently was forced at the last moment, to change their strategy.

The reality that the defense has almost nothing valid to base its objections on, and, their presentation was so disorganized and convoluted that a first year law student would be failed if they presented it. All of the speeches I mention are available online, of course, as the Internet Never Forgets. There are clips and discussion of the presentations by Coster and Schoen on Youtube that are worth watching, if one has not followed the sequence of events. In short, though, what follows are some of the arguments their pitiful presentation included. By the by, my characterization is shared by even Republicants out there….

  1. This trial is nothing more than a group of enraged people (I assume these are Democrats) who are seeking revenge.
  2. This trial is punishing #3×2 for using his First Amendment Rights.
  3. #3×2 has not been afforded “Due Process” rights guaranteed to all citizens.
  4. This trial is UnConstitutional because it is being applied to a citizen…not the President.
  5. The goal of this trial has already been reached…the offending person has already been removed from office (In this case, by a massive vote of the Citizens).

There were several other smallish points in the rambling presentations by Castor and Schoen in their attempt to get the Senate to vote NOT to allow the process to continue. However, there is not one true Premise in the list.

  1. While it is true that many Citizens are enraged by the events of Jan 6, this is hardly seeking revenge. If, for example, this were the case, I suspect that a group of Liberals would have already kidnapped #3×2, and, after forcing a video confession, strung him up from the Golden Gate Bridge. Since, though, Liberals do respect the rule of law and the Constitution, this is a valid trial being handled under the common rules applied to all such actions. While I, personally, will not like it if #3×2 is not convicted, I, and many others, are NOT going to engage in Vigilante Justice. I would be disappointed in anyone calling themselves a Citizen who is not enraged by the hateful and vitriolic speech that lead to the coup attempt on Jan. 6.
  2. The issue of First Amendment rights to free speech is without merit too. Just to remind anyone who might have forgotten, there are three aspects of this Amendment that are important. A) The First Amendment controls the interaction between the Government and the Citizens. It is there so Citizens can express opposition to the Government, without fear of retribution. B) The president, by virtue of the Office, does not have the same protections that the Citizens have. The fact that the president’s words have the power of the state behind them causes the issue of point “A” to kick in. C) The Rights of Free Speech are not unlimited. Specifically…such things as inciting insurrection, making viable threats against another person, Slander or Libel, and even the classic example of yelling “FIRE” in a crowded movie theatre when there IS no fire, are examples of speech that are NOT protected and can subject the person using them to penalties and consequences, either from fellow citizens, or the Government. This Link leads to a more complete list and discussion of the types of speech that are NOT protected.
  3. The argument about “Due Process” is appealing and sounds very valid. However, alas, it, too, is without merit. The concept of “Due Process” is limited to Criminal and Civil actions in a court of law. Impeachment is a political process, and the Constitution itself lays out the parameters, including whatever “Due Process” is required. Here is a somewhat more detailed explanation of this issue.
  4. This premise is so out in left field that it approaches being a complete joke. It stinks of desperation, though. To run over the facts…#3×2 was impeached by the House in December of 2020. He was, at the time, still occupying the Oval Office. The ONLY reason that the trial did not happen in December was because the Senate had adjourned, and Moscow Mitch dug his heels in, and refused to call any Senators back to consider the charges. The lawyers also tried to blame Nancy Pelosi for this delay…Again…a totally false premise, as she was quite eager to get the trial over with, and, since she is Speaker of the HOUSE, she has no control over the actions of the Senate.
  5. This wily argument certainly sounds reasonable at first. However, yet again…There are no merits to the premise. Why? The lawyer carefully ignored two major facts. A) There is precedent for impeaching and convicting elected officials after they have left office. Amusingly enough, in this article detailing the precedents, the very first one listed is of our own William Blount! (No…it did not turn out well for him.) B) The Trial by the Senate has to determine two things…not one. The first question, of course, is removal from office. The second question, which is still relevant, is “Should this person be banned from holding any public office again?” There is no question, in my mind that the answer to this second question is “Yes”. However, #3×2’s lawyers carefully ignored this second issue to be determined in their presentation.

I do not know if it is significant, but, Castor has one major mark of infamy to his name. He is the Prosecutor who refused to indict O. J. Simpson for the murders he committed. He has also represented at least one other high-profile sexual abuse case, and, he, himself was subject to accusations (which he settled out of court).

Schoen, while in his earlier years, did do some good work in the area of Civil Rights and such, his recent history has been less than stellar. He, for example, has represented both Roger Stone, and was scheduled to represent Jeffery Epstein before his untimely death. Were I looking for a lawyer, these two cases alone would cause me to walk away from him. In addition, he is yet another person caught up in the personality Cult. He has pushed sketchy, conspiracy theories, apparently putting the success of his friends and clients above his responsibilities to the Court and the Constitution. For example, he cast doubt on the Mueller Report and its findings. Here is an article looking at the history of Castor and Shoen in the law, and in connection with #3×2

In closing, I want to add my opinion about why it is vital not only to hold this trial, but, if at all possible, pressure enough Republicant’s to vote for conviction that it will become a done deal. If we do not prosecute the Impeachment indictment, it will send an unmistakable message to any other president who is totally unable to behave in an ethical, empathetic manner that (as some commentators are calling it) they will have a “January exemption” where they can do anything they want to in the last month or so of their term without fear of consequences. This is, obviously, a direct attack on the rule of law, and the concept built into the Constitution that NO one is above the law, and malfeasance will be dealt with under the law. In addition, the lack of consequences will show any coming fascists that they can get away with ignoring the law, and overthrowing the Constitution to put them in power forever. We were lucky this time. #3×2 certainly had the desire, but he lacked the IQ or ability to implement this coup successfully. I can almost guarantee that the next fascist will not have ANY of these failings. They are likely to have the ability to inflame the masses by pandering to their hate and fear. They will also be smart enough to understand where they need to build power in order to overthrow the Constitution. No matter the outcome, we must do two things. First – Push through this Impeachment trial to the end. Secondly, every Citizen has GOT to remain vigilant, watching for the signs of such an attempt happening again. As a part of this, we must each understand what the Candidates stand for; what their record is; and then vote for the Candidate that is best for the WHOLE country…not just our little tribe.

God Help Us All (Bee safe…wear your mask, social distance…wash hands…minimize trips out)

Bee Man Dave.

Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Political rants, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Snake Oil | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some thoughts on Truth…and how complicated it can be.

Greetings and Salutations.

A friend of mine posted the image to our right on Facebook today. It, upon first reading, seems nonsensical. Believers know that Christ says “Know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free”. People always talk about how important the Truth is, and how it will clarify things. Yet, this sign seems to contradict this. The conversation on Facebook explored this issue a bit, so, I thought I would quote some of it, and add my thoughts at the end.

My first comment on this image was, perhaps, too dismissive. I said “There are none so blind as those that will not see. A great sign, and most amusing…but, that is why I continually work to expand my knowledge. “TRUTH” always makes sense. If it does not make sense to me, than it is because I do not understand what I am seeing.

My friend’s reply made some very valid points, and encouraged me to think more deeply about the meaning of the sign. If nothing else, it motivated me to the point of moving from a Short Reply on Facebook to this, somewhat lengthy examination. She said “When I see the truth in nature as a butterfly’s wings or the symmetry of a flowers petals… I am at wits end… or when I see the truth of humanity in its need to repeat itself in war and fascism I am confused…Hence in those truths I am baffled…It doesn’t make sense to me that in nature everything is so symmetrical…Why isn’t it just thrown together?And as for human nature we repeat ourselves in giving pain to ourselves and others. This truth also seems complicated.

After reading these excellent and insightful observations I realized I was skimming the surface of the sign…and that it was worth a deeper dive. So, I thought I would, more or less, address the points she raised.

My mind is very Pattern oriented, so I noticed early on that Nature does rather like mathematical patterns…I point to the Fibonacci spiral pattern of the seeds and flowerlets of Dandelions, Sunflowers and other flowers. I point to the orbital mechanics of the planets, as they lumber along around their star…and, the fact that this same, local orbital patter which will scale up to the movement of the Galaxy around its core, and will continue on, as far as I know, to the Universe itself. In the Animal world (and I include insects here) there is the bilateral symmetry of the bodies of almost every living thing. All of these examples of non-random patterns are interpreted by different people in different ways.

For some people, this universal use of patterns is proof of Intelligent Design and a God-Creator. I have heard, so many times, the opinion expressed that the world is just too orderly for there NOT to be a God.

For other people, though, the patterns come about because there is either a physics based, or an evolutionary explanation that explains the patterns. In the world of the inanimate (mainly) the rules of physics state that any system will tend to seek the lowest energy state. This, for example is why we see a ball, thrown into the air, arc up and then down, landing on the ground, and not moving. The energy of our throw is converted to potential energy – as the ball rises up in the gravitational field of the planet, and, a small amount of heat from friction. At some point the kinetic energy of the ball is completely converted to potential energy. at that point, it stops rising, and falls to the ground. Amusingly enough, when it hits the ground the potential energy from the peak of the arc has been, again, converted to kinetic energy (and yet again, a little heat). When the ball hits the ground, let us say, on a chunk of a granite slab sticking out of the ground, essentially all the kinetic energy of the ball is transferred to the Earth…causing it to shake a bit…The ball, following the physics of Newton’s Laws, then, simply lays there. it had reached its lowest energy state. Without turning this into “The Gulag Archipelago”, this same process works on various levels of magnification, from the interaction of sub-atomic particles to, again, the Universe itself. And yes, if any of you physics majors are reading this and about to write a testy comment…I am fully aware of the fact that I am summarizing topics that fill entire libraries with a few, generalized lines… So let us move on.

Let us now, look at living creatures….for them, the Evolutionary Rules that have been developed boil down to the simple fact that Nature tends to try and use the minimal amount of energy needed to survive, and ensure survival. This leads to some pretty amazing, and apparently deliberate patterns.

In the examples of humans and other mobile creatures, the general details of symmetry are there because asymmetrical design causes much more effort to move, and can be fatal. Animals that are predators have sensory organs (Eyes, ears, heat sensors, etc) that are fairly close together on the skull, and pointed in the same direction. Binocular vision is very useful in determining distance and velocity. This also is vital for tree dwellers, as misjudging the distance to a branch can be fatal. Bats, using echo location, can tell to a fraction of an inch where their prey is located by processing the sound that bounces back from their chirps, and is collected by their ears. In humans, the same tools are available because of the location of eyes and ears on the head…although, we are nearly deaf and blind compared to other animals. IF, for example, it was vital for animals to locate prey and danger via smell, I am sure that we would see noses that are very different from what exists now. I postulate that they would be quite broad, and instead of two openings that allow airflow into a single sinus cavity, we would see two separated air channels, with many sensors in both channels.

To move on to Prey animals – They often have eyes that are widely separated, and may even be on opposite sides of the skull. They rarely work well for binocular vision. perhaps one of the most amusing examples of this evolution is the Flounder, and other flat-fish. They spend their lives laying on the floor of the ocean, watching for food. So, their eyes have ended up with both of them on ONE side of their skulls! They, and similar animals need a very broad view, because they have to find forage, but how far away it is is not that important.

Human beings are, in some ways very short-sighted. Almost all humans seem to work on the principle that reality has always been the way it has been during their lifetimes. This blinds them to the reality that the Earth has been around for billions of years – a number that is nearly impossible to grasp – and during that time the creatures on the Earth have undergone many changes…some, like reptiles, have seen relative small changes…others like warm blooded creatures have seen HUGE changes…changes so radical that were we to come face to face with an ancestor of, say, half a million years ago, we might not recognize them as “human” That, alas, gets into the concept of “The Other” which I have written about elsewhere, and is complicated enough that I am simply mentioning it in passing.

While I have avoided it so far, I am forced to examine the aspects of humanity mentioned in the above post. Alas, understanding on more than an intellectual level, of the minds of other humans is a terrible and nearly impossible task. The mind is so complex, and has so many twists and turns, that motivations, actions and attitudes can cause great puzzlement, to say the least. I have yet to truly understand much of it…although I am better at recognizing what is going on than I used to be. With the provision that anything I write here is going to only touch on the complicated workings of the human mind, I shall address some of the points brought up.

First off…I want to address the issue of inflicting pain – usually emotional – on ourselves and others. I have observed a number of factors here.

  • There is the issue of programming. In short, our parents often write indelible lessons on the blanks slate of our mind, when we are children that can control both our actions and our attitudes about ourselves for the rest of our lives. Too many people simply believe that this program is simply the way life is….They never dive into the complicated and difficult process of excavating that deeply hidden programming and fearlessly looking at them in the Sunlight. I am more than a little bit of a control freak, and, because of the dysfunctional family situation I grew up in, I have been seeking out and trying to excise that early programming for decades. It is, apparently a life-long task. However, as difficult and painful as that road may be, it gets easier, and knowing the truth does set one free. As one example, my parents were, in general, great folks. But they had very high standards of behavior in some areas. So, as I was growing up, I was bombarded with expressions of disappointment when I would screw up, and left with a lesson that I was a bad person because of my failings. It is one of those things that, while that might work with a teenager, telling it to a 3 year old child, over and over again, leaves scars and programming that continue to bring pain for decades. I was also blamed for things that I had nothing to do with…and no control over, so, that layered on more anger at myself, and the pain I felt from my existence.
  • Depending on our level of comfort with ourselves, the words of others can have exaggerated influence on our attitudes. If, for example, one is comfortable in one’s skin, then, the critical, insulting, or cutting remarks others throw at us can have far less of a painful response than if we are continually undercutting ourselves.
  • Speaking of which…for all of us, to some extent, the one voice we cannot block out easily is that little demon that lives in our head, and whispers lies to us. It tells us that we really are worthless. It will claim that our physical disabilities are causing problems for others, and they really hate us for that. It will continually tell us that if WE can do something, it must be something that ANYONE can do, and probably better than we do. It says we are bad people because we are disappointing other folks. It does not matter if that is because we are not getting everything done when they want it done, or whether we are so uppity to express annoyance when we think they are in the wrong about something, or that we are not living our life the way THEY think we should live it, or even that we are not available to their every beck and call. Because that demon is a manifestation of ourselves, it can be impossible at times to ignore it. By paying attention to that demon, we give it power, and accept what it is saying as to be truth. That is false, as the demon NEVER tells the truth.

These lies erode away our self image causing many issues that make life far more difficult for us. While it varies from person to person, I have observed such things as Giving other people the ability to push our buttons and trigger an over the top emotional reaction; Laying in bed at night, staring up into the darkness, and beating ourselves up as we focus on the supposed “infinite failures” of the day; Making terrible choices in people to have relationships with; Clinging to those relationships far too long…This includes hooking up to manipulators, abusers, “Father/Mother Figures” so we can assume the role of the child we were denied in the past and the like; Putting our lives on hold in order to serve the needs and wants of others; Allowing others to make life decisions for us; Being plagued with unreasonable fears that limit our ability to truly live life to the fullest. As discussed above, though, with help, it is possible to root out the programming that causes these issues, and, that Truth will set us free from them. Realistically, it will not make their control of us vanish, nor will it wipe the programming away from our Mind’s Slate. However, this Understanding WILL allow us to control the amount this programming can control us. More often than not, when we can see we are reacting in a given way, we can decide whether those reactions are appropriate, or, divert and NOT let our actions be dictated by the programming.

The issue of war has generated libraries full of writings. Before I get too far into an examination of this ugly subject, I will say that my personal belief has two main facets. Firstly, War is a terrible idea, and should be the last, extreme measure that one is forced to engage in. I am a strong believer in diplomacy and negotiation. Secondly, I never support firing the first shot. If I am attacked, either on a personal or a national level, I will do my best to ensure that I do what is necessary to END that war. However, here, I will mainly address the issue of groups, not individuals, going to war. I am pretty sure, though, that many of the reasons conflict arises between groups will apply to individual conflicts as well!

Now then… Why DO people go to war? I have seen several excuses for taking up arms against another group.

  1. First off, of course, is the whole concept of “The Other” which I touched on and linked to above. The suspicions and instinctive dislike of the stranger can put all parties on a “Fight or Flee” status, leaving them with a hair trigger. This also leads to looking at our opponents or the strangers as being less than human, and so, not worthy of that level of respect.
  2. There is the claim that the group going to war is simply doing so to help the other group escape oppressive situations, and find a better way to live.
  3. There is the claim of injustices by the the other group against one’s own group.
  4. There is the reality that the other group may have resources that one’s own group wants or believes they need.
  5. There is the unfortunate reality that humanity is a violent species. We sometimes LOOK for reasons to engage in conflict. On a small scale, look at bar fights. For no sane reason, one group will express contempt for another group, for no other reason than they want to beat someone up. On a larger scale, look at the events at the Capitol on Jan 6th.

Realistically, items 2 through 4 are little more than excuses for Colonial Overlords to take over a land. Look at the complex culture of the First Peoples in North America as a perfect example of this.

Items 1 and 5 are the genesis of so many of the hate crimes and racist actions and violence we see growing in America today. These are all very challenging issues to address, alas, and overcoming their influence will, I suspect NEVER be completely possible.

“Why do people turn to fascism?” I see several factors that contribute to this….

  1. Fear. The world today is very chaotic and moving amazingly rapidly all the time…The change in this reality, just in the past 50 years has been almost unimaginable. The progress of technology, from the steam engines of the 1800s to the technology of electronics and computers that took root and really grew in the 1940s was a large change, indeed. However, in my view, the invention of the World Wide Web was as huge a change for society is Gutenberg’s developing the printing press for the Western World. The influence of the Web has permeated our society and as such is fearsome for some folks. They do not understand it even if they can use it. There are other factors that are fear inducing, that I have written about elsewhere, at greater detail. This essay, by the by focuses on the Cultists that worship #3×2, but, to some level these apply to all of us.
  2. Because of that fear mentioned above, people want a solid rock to cling to in the storm. With all of its faults, a fascist government does offer a very simple, solid, and unchanging structure for folks.
  3. Hate. almost everyone has a group that they hate with a passion so great that they would celebrate their death, then, seek out their graves just so they can piss on them. Fascist leaders use this hate as a tool to build support, demonstrating to the followers that the Leader hates the same people they do, and will implement policies that will hurt or kill them.
  4. Ignorance. People who are poorly educated, do not understand much of the world. This loops us back to item 1, of course. It means that they are likely to be easily fooled, and will willingly believe the fascist leader who promises them the world. This ignorance also ensures that they do not really understand the various forms of government, and their facets, so, they are unable to recognize when they are being lead down the garden path to install a fascist dictator to have power over them. One of my “go to” sources, a vblogger who calls himself Beau of the Fifth Column, recently had a very interesting video blog wherein he demonstrates the dangers of this ignorance VERY clearly. It is well worth a watch! Another example of this is the screaming by the Republicants about how Democrats and Liberals are COMMUNISTS! While the programs of the Liberal world are somewhat socialist in nature, as they are oriented towards making sure that all citizens are treated equally, and have the same access to basic necessities…and working to ensure that a wealth gap such as exists today can be stopped, NONE of their attitudes or actions are Communist. Ignorance and manipulation in action on the part of the Right-Wing.
  5. Willing blindness or denial. Many folks may be attracted to fascism because they believe that the abuses documented are lies by the jealous; They believe that they will be part of the Ruling Class in such a society…or at least the privileged class; They believe that they will never suffer any negative aspects of the society.
  6. As with many aspects of reality, they have never actually lived in a fascist dictatorship…so they can idealize it…rather like so many folks watch the “Andy of Mayberry” re-runs and believe they are watching a documentary of how life was when they were young…not a moderately amusing Sit-Com.

This is, alas, another essay were I find it difficult to suggest fixes for the problems. They are not insurmountable, but, dealing with them will be a complex and slow process. The first thing, though, that springs to mind is that we must do some serious work on the school system. I have written a couple of essays on this, here is one where I address in some detail the issues I see, and offer some changes that might help address those issues. By working to educate the students from day one, to use the tools of skeptical thinking, and research, we can in a generation or two, get a population that is far less likely to be mislead by smoke and mirrors. Secondly, as I touch on in the linked essay, we have got to start working to fight against the massive contempt that too many Americans have for intellect and education. That attitude breeds ignorance, both in adults and children. it also undercuts any efforts the educational system makes to improve the education of the youth. Thirdly, after the past four years of having insults, and denigrating phrases thrown at anyone who questions the “Dear Leader”, I strongly advocate for those people who act as domestic terrorists, like the insurrectionists who waged war against the Constitution and government on Jan 6, to be given appropriate sentences, and NOT let go, or minimized. Fourthly, there are a number of changes that I think really need to happen to the political system to help bring up the quality of life of most Americans, and, keep some of the extremist outlets of disinformation under control. There are more, of course, but these are the high-lights that would be a good start. I have talked about some of these changes in other blog essays, which should be relatively easy to find with the search engine built into the site.

To finish up, and to finally return to the sign that started all of this…It does have some truth to it…and as I mentioned early on, sometimes all we can do is look at the ideas and opinions of others with, at best, an intellectual understanding of where they are coming from. We have to be mindful, when doing this, that far too often, the attitudes and mindsets of others can be based on lies, and not factual data…the Truth. That may not make it easier to deal with them, but, at least we know what is driving them, when interacting with them.

God Help Us All! Be Safe…Wear your mask, socially distance, minimize trips and wash your hands properly.

Bee Man Dave.

Posted in Cosmology, Ethics, Family, General Thoughts, Humanity, Improving Life, Nuttiness, Observations, Political rants, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Snake Oil | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 36 – A Warning to Democrats, Liberals and Progressives.

Greetings and Salutations;

The smoke has yet to clear over the events of the 6th of January. However, it is obscuring fewer truths. I want to address one issue that has been discussed in a number of venues over the past couple of days. That is the opinion that “The next time this happens, it will likely be a competent president doing it…and the resulting coup may well succeed. WHAT can we do to keep this from happening again?”

There are a number of changes that MUST be made to shore up our Democracy, and, I have addressed some of these in previous essays. Today, though, I want to take a moment to speak to the Democrats and Liberal/Progressives out there who sometimes are hangers-on.

The Democratic Party, which I am an outlier of, has, for decades been filled with good intentions. However, we have some MAJOR weaknesses, that the Republicans have taken advantage of through the years, to grab and maintain power. Let me take a moment to address some of these.

  1. We, as a group, have many, very positive goals. However, we often act like a bunch of kids on the playground. We get into big arguments about what goals are most important, then, when we do not “win”, we get mad, and do the equivalent of taking our ball and going home in a huff. We have to address this and come to a compromise that will allow the disparate groups to work together.
  2. Above, I say we are a group…it is more accurate to say the Democratic Party is a collection of groups…with each group having a slightly different agenda. At times we are almost fanatical in our devotion to those goals. Having empathetic goals that are designed to help out as many citizens as possible is not a bad thing. But, we cannot be blinded by our devotion to OUR agenda to the agenda of the other groups in the Party.
  3. We fall into what my brother in law rightly calls “The Liberal Fallacy”. That is the belief that if we explain a point enough times, rationally, then we will convince the person we are talking to that we are “Right”, and perhaps convince them to come to agree to our point.
  4. Over the past 30 years, the Democrats have been lured into using attack ads to attempt to beat the Republicants. This is a losing strategy, in my view. Look, for example, at the recent election of Ossoff in Georgia. Very quickly his campaign focused on two points…and pushed them without stopping. The first point was the undeniable corruption of his Republicant opponent. I would not call that an attack ad format, though, because it was not exaggerated, and from the examples I saw, Ossoff was pushing Perdue to answer him about the actions he had taken when in office. The second point was that he pushed the simple message of how he would avoid corruption and actually work FOR the people of Georgia if elected. Granted it was a close election, but, he still won by a significant margin. Diving into the cesspool of negative ads with the Republicants is like swimming with hungry sharks while bleeding. It is NOT going to turn out well.
  5. Because of the “Group of groups” aspect of the Democratic Party, we often do not vote as a solid block on Election Day. The Republicants, are like storm troopers…marching in step to the orders of their commanders…and, that is one of several reasons they may be the minority, but often take power. While I do not advocate the mindless way they vote as a pure model for the Democratic Party, I DO advocate that, when a candidate is selected by the primary process, instead of “standing on principle” and voting third party, or (as DID happen in 2016) voting for the Republicant alternative, we do the pragmatic thing and vote for the Party’s candidate.
  6. As a part of this process, at least try not to cut the throat of the Candidate. I cannot count the number of times that I saw Liberals/Progressives/Democrats in social media, crapping on Secretary Clinton for the fact that she was not an angel, or THEIR Paragon of Perfection. They also made some unfounded claims about where her loyalties lay. A lot of the commentary I saw also showed a deeply held streak of misogyny that was shameful to see in people claiming to be Democrats. So, instead of having four years of leadership from the most qualified President we could have had, we had four years of #3…and look where that has gotten us.
  7. We must continually ask ourselves “DOES this action/law benefit the country as a whole?” If the objective answer is “yes”, then, we should engage in it, and get it implemented.
  8. One of the massive failures I have seen of the Democratic Party over the decades is excessive modesty. I advocate that not only do the Democrats implement programs that help a majority of people, but, they also use the media wisely to push the message of WHY these actions/laws are important, and give concrete examples of how they help a majority of folks, not just the privileged few.
  9. Finally, too many of us shrug our shoulders and say “I live in a deep Red state, so my vote means nothing. Why SHOULD I bother?” I have railed against this before, but, once again. NOT VOTING IS ALLOWING THE STATUS QUO! I live in a State, Tennessee, That has been so deeply Red for years now, that it makes the Russian Flag look pink. I vote in every Election, and shall continue to do so for as long as I am able. Why do I do this? It helps other, like minded people to realize that they are not alone…and may motivate them to overcome that inertia, and go vote. It ensures that the Republicants running the state into the ground know that there is significant opposition to their actions. In some cases, it actually turns cities and counties in the state Blue. If this happens in enough places, the entire state will be back to the solid blue (or purple, at worst) that it was for years.

Be mindful of the world of politics. Do not believe anyone that tells you that your vote does not matter, or cannot create change. They are lying to you, probably because your voting is keeping their agenda from taking over. The attempted coup of last week is a Red Flag warning of what can, and likely WILL happen again if we do not remain active and work to keep America improving from year to year, and approaching that ideal of the Shining City on the Hill that has been invoked by previous Presidents. If we do NOT do this, the next coup will succeed, because the leader of it will not be the demented, incompetent fool that has been in office for the last four years.

God Help Us All. Stay safe…wear your mask, social distance, hand wash a lot!

Bee Man Dave

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Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 35 – INSURRECTION

Greetings and Salutations;

It is 2021/01/11 as I write this essay. It has taken me a few days to begin to digest the amazing events of 2021/01/06. I am not fully there yet, but, I have some things I want to get noted down while still fresh.

Insurrectionists on the steps of the Capitol

As, I am sure, everyone reading this knows,. On Wednesday the 6th, the normally boring, pro-forma task assigned to Congress to read the results of the Electoral College vote, and make sure that the addition was correct was interrupted and delayed for a time. We saw an event that most Americans never thought they would see. A group of Insurgents, egged on by Republicant members of Congress, and the current Occupier of the Oval Office, packed the streets of Washington, D. C. around the Capitol, and, in short order attacked the building with evil intent. It is fairly clear, from their actions and the planning that is surfacing on Social Media, that their goals were to overthrow the current Government and Install #3 as Dictator For Life;

Gallows Outside the Capitol

They also were looking for members of Congress with the intent of killing them. They not only stated this as a goal, calling anyone who stood against #3 a traitor, but they built a gallows outside the Capitol, reserved for the Vice President. HE had betrayed #3 by following the law, and refusing to throw the count of the Electoral College out and declare #3 president. Specifically, we have video of many Insurrectionists chanting “Hang Mike Pence” over and over again.

The investigation of the event is still ongoing, but, it seems to me that there were some deliberate attempts on the part of a few of the Capitol Police Force, and the administration to enable this coup. For example, the video of a Capitol Police officer calling the insurrectionists through the barriers, and apparently telling them to “go, go, go” to the building. There are images of these officers chatting with the attackers as if they were old friends. There are images of these officers taking selfies with the attackers. Perhaps the most damning fact is that, in spite of weeks of chatter on social media conspiring to plan the attack, and coordinating the insurrectionists, the security for the Capitol was woefully lacking. There were, at most, 2000 officers protecting the place…far too few to defend against 10s of thousands of attackers and supporters. The officers who did their job, and attempted to protect the legislators inside the building were overwhelmed, but did the best they could. Why, some are asking, was there not the police and national guard presence that met the BLM protests? Why did the authorities ignore the warnings from the FBI, who monitors these communications, about the high probability of violence in this attack? Why was it that the Maryland National Guard, which was assembled and ready to roll within a short time after the start of violence, was not called upon by the White House to aid in defending the Capitol? It took HOURS of trying to get through and get a request, before the Secretary of the Army finally called them in. Note that the Secretary of the Army is NOT one of the people who are supposed to take this action…but he was the only one with the good sense to do so.

In this attack, five people died. Four of them were Insurrectionists, who were shot, or died of other causes. One, was a Capitol Police Officer, who was beaten by the Seditionists with fists, and a fire extinguisher. This latter death, by the way, will ensure that every one of the Insurrectionists that face a trial will have murder added to the charges. it is the law that a death in the commission of a felony is the responsibility of everyone that is involved in that felony. However, did these Insurrectionists learn from this? No. There are videos of them saying “We will be back, and we will bring more guns next time”. This is the end result of four years of lies and conspiracy talk from #3. HE is the root of all this, and I hope will be held to account for it. He has blood on his hands.

There are so many imaged out there of events I never imagined I would ever see. Perhaps the most offensive to me is this one of the Confederate Flag carried through the Rotunda by a prideful Insurrectionist. It is a foul symbol of the Evil that was in the hearts of Americans that they would treat other humans as property, and less than equal. Even during the Civil War, that rag never made it into a Federal Building. Yet here we are, today… with this offensive cloth being paraded through the Capitol by a White Supremacist, and Insurrectionist. We must do what is necessary to ensure this never happens again.

There are a number of videos of these Insurrectionists saying that they will be back, and will bring more guns the next time. We must not think of this as an idle threat. For example, on Jan. 17th, there is a “Second Amendment Event” scheduled for D. C. To me, this sounds as if we are going to have a large number of gun nuts and extremists descending on the city. What, I wonder would keep them from repeating the events of the 6th, but with more firepower? I hope that from now on, the Washington Police meet such gatherings with at least as much firepower as they deployed for the very peaceful BLM protests in 2020. I also hope that the National Guard and Secret Service will be heavily armed and given the go for use of lethal force. Otherwise, we will see the same outcome as the 6th. I also call for a greatly increased military and police presence on the 20th, at the inauguration. I am perfectly OK with it going poorly for the Insurrectionists, leaving many dead in the streets.

I have had some folks defending their presence at this, claiming that they are innocent because they were “just there to protest”. I am trying to get my head around this…but it is difficult. EVERY #3 Cultist that was there had come to D.C. because they worship their Dear Leader, and accepted his lies that the election had been stolen from him without skepticism or fact checking. Does the fact that they did not actively engage in violence excuse them from this attempted coup? I submit that it does not. They made NO effort to leave the area and disassociate themselves from the violence when it began. Their words tell us that, had the coup succeeded, they would have celebrated their Dear Leader being installed as Dictator. While they might not be intelligent or thoughtful enough to understand what that would mean, that does not excuse them. Should they suffer the same penalties as those that smashed their way into the building, and actively engaged in destruction, theft, and searching for Congressmen and women to “arrest”? My inclination is to say no…but, I will leave this to the Judges who try their case.

In these Essays, when dealing with difficult issues, I try and end by offering some ways to help mitigate the problems, and bring America back to a path of Wisdom, and adult Leadership in the world. Right now, though, I cannot really do that. I am inclined to say that we should build a wall around Utah, or one of the other Red States in the West, collect all the rabid #3 supporters, and dump them all into the state. i realize this is difficult or impossible to do, though. A more approachable goal, I believe, would be for the FBI to continue to identify and arrest Insurrectionists who are a part of this attempted coup. They should then be charged with Sedition, and a variety of other charges, including, as I mentioned earlier, Murder. I include in this list the Senators anbd Representatives who actively engaged in Insurrection by attempting to derail the process of dealing with the electoral College Votes. As for #3, he is the instigator of these events and has spent years pouring gasoline on the fire that he lit himself. For this, he should go to prison and lose all assets for the rest of his life. I would suggest death by firing squad, but, I remain against the death penalty. Beyond this, ANY Insurrectionists arrested and proven to be part of the attempted coup, should be required to undergo deprogramming as part of their sentence. They have proven that they are part of a Cult, and as such are so brain-washed that without deprogramming, we will look forwards to years of attempts to overthrow the government.

This attempted coup was the culmination of 12 years of attacks on the foundations of American Society, by #3. His drumbeat of “Fake news” and racist birther conspiracy rants during pres. Obama’s administration and the escalating destruction of the basic structure of government, and society during his occupation of the Oval Office have watered the ground that grows white supremacy, racism, antisemitism, and violence against citizens and the government. His drumbeat of fraud in election, in spite of having NO valid evidence to support it, has fed the delusions of his Cultists. His continual rants about the media, and how they all lie constantly, and the only person that can be trusted is HIM, have resulted in a large number of Americans who are brain-washed and, as I have referred to earlier, nothing more that mindless, drone, Cult members.

It will likely take decades for the full damage done by #3 and his mad reign to be healed. However, over the next four years, along with all the other challenges of a crashed economy, and a pandemic that will not ease up, I hope that the new Administration can find time to mindfully consider changes to our legal structure to help ensure that this madness never again can take root in America again. My concern here is that the Politicians will, in a knee-jerk reaction to the events of this last week, swing the pendulum too far in the other direction…and create laws that are oppressive and draconian in and of themselves. I have discussed elsewhere changes I would like to see happen to our Election process and to the amount of time Elected officials can be in office, to bring it to a better state, so I shall not go over them again here. I am going to take up some other issues about the Government in a future post. The worst thing that we can do, though, is get distracted by the next shiny disaster, and forget the events of last week, and what caused them. If we do this, we will be doomed as a country. The reality is that the next fascist that wants to take over America will not be a blithering idiot and so will have a FAR greater chance of succeeding. Interestingly enough, Sinclair Lewis laid out the events of this political madness in a fine book he wrote in the 1930s. Titled, “It Can’t Happen Here”, it is a step by step demonstration of the reality that indeed, it CAN happen here. Its relevance to today’s political reality is chilling. If #3 and his Cultists were not so idiotic, mindlessly violent, and incompetent, we might well be seeing an ending such as Lewis showed in this book.

God Help Us All. Stay safe – Wear your mask, social distance, Wash your hands a lot.

Bee Man Dave.

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Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 34, More Election Reflections

Greetings and Salutations.

This is the Second collection of musings on the political situation in America. My first (somewhat lengthy) discussion is located Here.

What would I like to see changed in the political landscape of America?

First off, I am going to look at the way Voters are treated, gain access to, and cast ballots in today’s system. As I noted in the previous commentary, there are some issues…

  1. Voter registration should be automatic when the age voting being allowed is reached. It should be validated with driver’s license data, or other available information. As a side effect of this…the requirements for getting a valid, state ID should be eased, so that it does not require citizens to travel excessive amounts to get one. Too many voters are disenfranchised today because of the difficulties of getting the valid ID.
  2. The only reason a voter can be purged from the rolls is on confirmation of death, or, notification that they have moved out of the state.
  3. The State should provide sufficient drop boxes for ballots that no citizen is more than 30 minutes away from a drop box. In Texas, for example, the number of drop boxes was cut down to ONE per District…causing many voters to have to drive excessive lengths to leave their ballots.

Now then, what about the elected officials and the process of lawmaking? Note that I am focusing on the Federal Government here…as many local governments already implemented these changes. However, the proposed changes could apply to state Legislators and Governors, too.

  1. Term limits for Congress. I would suggest 6, 2 year terms for House members, and 3, 6 year terms for Senators.
  2. Bills, destined to become laws, should only deal with ONE topic. Any amendments to those bills should only apply directly to the subject of the bill itself.
  3. When a Bill is passed by the House, and sent to the Senate, it must be considered in a timely fashion. If it is not brought to the floor for consideration in a timely fashion, say, 60 days, it automatically becomes a Law.
  4. The role of the Senate of “Advice and consent” is a fairly important part of our government’s design. However, it has been abused recently, by the Republicants. I suggest that, as with bills from the House, if the Senate has refused to take up an appointment by the President in 30 days, then, that person will take office, with full authority, as if the Senate had voted on their appointment.

While it is a pipe dream…I would like to see all of the above Candidates for office subject to a “Three Strikes” rule. By this, I mean, IF in their campaign, they are found to have out and out lied, making statements that directly contradicted reality, three times. They would be banned from running for office for life.

Now, I want to look at the process of electing our Representatives and President..

I have come to the opinion, finally, that the Electoral College is a relic of a bygone age, and should be bypassed. part of my motivation here is the fact that the world has changed since it was written to the point that it would be unrecognizable to our Founding Fathers. The simple fact that today, almost anyone in America can communicate with a person on the other side of the world without delay or cost would be mind boggling to them. The days when it could take months for the results of individual elections to be gathered is gone for good. In addition, almost since its creation, the Electoral College has failed to live up to the standard set by Hamilton in Federalist Papers #68. Instead of being a deliberative body of objective, wise, elders, it has been a rubber stamp for the party in control of its Electors and of a few, very important states, almost since its creation. This is why Hillary Clinton and Al Gore, in spite of winning the Popular vote, were NOT installed in the Office of President.
The idea of a President, put into office simply by the popular vote is not without problems…. It would, in theory, allow a fast-talking con man to use smoke and mirrors to gull enough voters to allow them to take the office. However, I claim that the voting public is smarter than that these days. Take the 2016 election for example. In spite of several errors on the part of the Clinton Campaign, it was only through clever manipulation of the Electoral College by the #3 staff that wiped out the 3 million vote majority Clinton had, and installed the worst person to occupy the Oval Office in the history of the country.
I see three ways of dealing with this problem.
There is the option of either a Constitutional Convention, to remove the Electoral College from the process. This course is is fraught with danger right now, because it is very likely that the Republicants will fight to pack the Convention with their extremist views. Since it is not possible to limit what a Constitutional Convention can do to the Constitution…it is most likely that the resulting document would be far from what the Founding Fathers had in mind, and would likely support a lot of views that are anathema. For example, I can see the First Amendment being re-written to put extreme limits on freedom of speech. In addition I can see not only the Separation Clause that puts a wall between Religion and Government, not only demolished, but, a replacement that makes Fundamentalist Christianity the “Official” religion. I can see the Second Amendment being re-written to allow weapons ownership with out limits. I could see the twenty-second Amendment being wiped off the books, allowing the President to be returned to office for life.
The issue of an Amendment, though, is time. It can take decades for an Amendment to be ratified, depending on its support. The reality is that the Republicants would certainly fight any such amendment, as their taking power has depended on the insulation provided by the current Electoral College system. As an example, though of the issues with an amendment, I present the case of The Equal Rights Amendment. It was first put on the path of ratification in 1923, but did not receive the necessary 38th state vote for its acceptance until January of 2020. It still is not part of the Constitution, though, because of legal questions about whether states could rescind their vote, or force a date for a given vote to become null and void.
Another way to change the influence of the Electoral College is to remove the “Winner Take All” laws implemented by many states, and allocate the Electoral College Votes in proportion to the popular vote. I have written a discussion of this elsewhere.
Finally, there are several alternative ways of allocating the Electoral College votes. Here is an interactive tool to explore how the various ways of allocating the votes changes the results. Note, that this tool assumes the districts are as they are today, and would likely change if the above redistricting steps were taken.

As for electing members of Congress…redistricting to eliminate gerrymandering is a vital part of this change. Without this, as I have mentioned before, it will continue to be truth that the candidate will choose their voters, and not, as it should be, that the voters will choose their candidate.

One change I would like to see is a change in the number of representatives. We have grown to a point that we, as a country should increase the number of Representatives elected. In 1929, when the number was locked in at 439 House members, the population of America was just under 122 million people. As of the start of 2020 the population is 331 million people. This means that there is a wide range of voters represented by each House member. This range goes from about 530,000 people, to a high of 1.05 million people. this, in my opinion, dilutes the opinions of the voters represented by a given House member. This makes it easier for this House member to ignore his or her voters…neither of which is good for the country. The objection to this is that it would make the House more unwieldy. This may be true, but, I suspect that could be overcome. I would like to see the number represented by each Member back down to about 270,000. This would require the size of the house triple to 1317. Right off the bat I do not see a serious problem with this, although it might need more thought about the side effects.

There are some folks who believe that the basic method we use for voting is sketchy, and open to fraud. In spite of these claims, mostly pushed by #3, today, the reality is that after multiple audits, recounts and cross checks, NO significant fraud has been found. The system we use has multiple safety and validity checks built into it from day one…So, while the Republicants are screaming Fraud! The reality is that the current system works very well and very securely. So, other than a greater use of mail-in ballots, I see no reasons to change the basic system.

God Help us All
Stay Safe! Wear your Mask; Socially Distance all the time; wash your hands and use sanitizer.

Bee man Dave

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Ten years later…or how life can go Pear Shaped. Adventures with Hep C

Image Courtesy of Science Magazine

Some of the writing here may be uncomfortable to read…fair warning! I am, for the first time, going to discuss my travails with Hep C, and where I have gotten to on that complicated path. If any of you reading this are newly diagnosed with Hep C, I hope it will clarify some of the issues. If any of you are reading this are struggling with new disability, I hope that it will be a positive example of how to come through a challenging period and end up on a positive path.

I was diagnosed with Hep C a bit over 10 years ago… At the time, I had no idea I had been carrying the virus for several decades. I have always had a very strong immune system, and apparently it did a great job of suppressing the virus and keeping it hidden. Alas, like termites, though, simply because it was hiding in the dark did not mean it was not eroding my body away. The Virus managed to gain an upper hand because of stress. I had sold the family property, and my wife and I were working on moving to a better location, out in the country a bit. Alas, this required building a house, and since neither I, nor my wife, Lisa, are average, this turned into quite an interesting journey. More on that elsewhere…. The stress of finding a design that we both could live with, and getting the construction started was fairly major. Added to that was the reality that it was 2009 when the greedy bastards in the financial industry finally had inflated the housing market enough in their attempts to suck as much money as possible into their pockets, that the bubble burst. It was, to put it mildly, shocking to find that over a weekend, the investments we were planning to use to pay for the construction of the house had dropped in value by about 75%! We were in the middle of construction, and I was doing a LOT of work, with the crew I had hired from a local contractor. So, not only was I kind of vital to keeping costs down, we were at a point where we were too deeply invested to quit. All these stressful aspects of life worked together and built on each other, to lower my immune system to the point that the Virus began to win.

Over the 2009/2010 period, I had begun to feel increasingly bad. I did not have the endurance I used to. I did not realize it at the time, but, I was looking increasingly jaundiced. I hit a point where I had occasional vomiting spells, where I was ejecting fairly large amounts of blood. The first time or two this happened, I did not realize that was blood I was losing. Shortly before this started, I had made up a big batch of a very good fruit treat, called “Rote Grute“…which is made of ALL Red fruit! I thought I had a stomach bug, and the treat is what I was vomiting up. Of course, this loss of blood left me anemic, and so, I was also having issues with dizziness and an inability to concentrate.

Finally, one evening, I had a vomiting spell in the kitchen of the house we were renting…and I was dizzy enough afterwards that, although I did manage to clean most of it up, Lisa ended up putting me in the car, and transporting me to the Emergency Room. That was an interesting time, I have to say. I learned, that night, that if one wants to ensure that one will NOT be left sitting for hours in the waiting room, all that has to happen is to for one’s driver to walk into the ER and say “my passenger is vomiting up a lot of blood!” I was in a wheelchair, and rolled through there so quickly the skin on my face was pulled back a bit by the wind! (ok…slight exaggeration, but it was certainly immediate and very quick) They took me back to radiology, and asked me to stand with my back to a wall-mounted x-ray machine so they could get a picture. I was kind of unsteady, so when the tech asked me “Can you stand there for me?” I said “I will give it a whirl!” The last thing I remember was starting to tilt forwards, as I went unconscious. I have no idea if the tech and nurse managed to catch me or not.

Of course, because I kept insisting I was NOT an alcoholic, in spite of looking rather like I lived under a bridge, they tested me for Hep C. When I woke up the next afternoon, I found out that my issues came from the Hep C, and that I had a pretty heavy viral load. most of the current issues stemmed from the serious cirrhosis of the Liver that the Virus had caused. This damage caused blood pressure issues that popped up little blood blisters in my esophagus. It was these, bursting, that had generated the leakage that was the source of many of my problems. Well, the G.I. doctor who worked on me (a fellow named Rollhauser), had a way to fix these issues. Basically, they have a tool that expands a strong, rubber band and allows them to slip it over the varices. This clamps the base of the Esophageal varices causing the bleed, and in a fairly short period of time, the varices die, and the remaining wound heals over. It, though, is a short-term solution that simply stops the bleeding. Interestingly enough, I was familiar with this technique, as it happens to be the same process that bulls are castrated these days. Of course the tools are a bit larger for the cattle…but it is the same process. Dr. Rollhauser seemed a bit puzzled and amused when I mentioned this, as if he was wondering how in the world I knew about that!

While Dr. Rollhauser was there, he explained about the Hep C, of course, and asked some questions to see if he could figure out where I had gotten it. The general opinion, at the time, was that it was passed through contaminated needles shared by IV drug users. I never did that scene, though, but did recall that my dentist had, one day, shown up on the front of the newspaper, as being heavily involved in the drug scene in Knoxville. Apparently he had been using his abilities to prescribe to get various drugs for folks, and doing it in large enough quantities that it caught the notice of the locals. Thinking back, I recall him being a bit twitchy at times, so I had to wonder if he had not been a user also, had used his dentistry needles for drug use, and not cleaned them properly afterwards. The only other option was that I had been in hospital once for wisdom teeth being removed. There was a small chance I had been infected then, as I believe I got some blood products and the operation was fairly complicated. Either one was quite possible, as this was back in the late 1970s, and Hep C was not even identified before the early 90s.

As a side note, it turned out, once I started researching the disease, that a fairly huge percentage of people born between 1949 and 1965 had been infected. It is such a slow moving disease that most folks, like me, might never have an idea that they had it until decades after they were infected. Also, because of the fact it was unknown for so long, it turns out that IV Drug use was NOT an important factor in spreading this disease.

Dr. Rollhauser had pictures of the varices he had banded off, and, I have to say, they were interesting. They looked like little, pink, grapes, stuck to the wall of my gut, with a little arc of bright, red, blood spraying out the top. While it was a bit of a challenge to get information out of him (I suspect he was used to patients that did not understand, or want to know what was going on) we had an interesting conversation. It was during this chat that he was up front, and explained how serious this issue was. The diagnostic term was “Long term Hep C with end stage liver disease) Dr. Rollhauser was clear in explaining that a person at my point of the disease cycle had rather less than a 50/50 chance of living more than four years. Well, being Old and German/Lutheran, I thought to myself “Screw you buddy”…and as time progressed made some lifestyle changes to improve my chances.

Thanks to some medication issues, and the advanced state of my disease, I did end up in hospital a couple more times. The second trip was a re-run of the first, although not as messy. Lisa drove me to the ER, and, once again, I hit the floor in x-ray. I had more varices blow out, alas. To keep this from happening again (at this point in time I had no insurance, so, they were not happy to see me again), the surgeons installed a bypass between the major artery and vein in my liver, so about 70% of the blood flowing through it was diverted away from the liver and simply goes back into circulation. In time, all my blood gets filtered, but it takes longer. The reason for this is that this drops the blood pressure on the major arteries running directly from the liver to the esophagus, and cuts back on the chances of blow outs. This, by the by, has worked great, as I have had no more bleeding issues. Nothing is free, though… The fact that only 30% of my blood is being filtered through the liver at any time means that toxins, including ammonia, can build up in it. The ammonia is the worst problem, as it causes serious neurological issues, including severe tremors, and, in some cases black outs and other mental issues. One fellow I made contact with when I was researching my condition said that he had been fine one day, and then had wakened in a completely different city, several weeks later, with no idea how he had gotten there, or what he had been doing. While I did have some similar issues, I have never gotten that bad. This time in hospital had added interest, too, as I ended up on a respirator, in a coma for around 5 days. Dr. Rollhauser and his crew had a great deal of difficulty tracking down the places I was bleeding out from on this trip, and felt it was better to keep me asleep. It was also a time when my wife and family had to face the reality that the doctors were going to do the best they could, but, there was a very high chance that I would not make it.

Lisa said that she knew I was going to be ok, though, when, several days into this period, the nurse brought me closer to the surface, to make sure I was still there, and said “now we are going to wipe your tushy now.” I raised a hand a bit, and rotated my index finger in the air, as if I was saying “YEA!!!!” While I have never feared death, I have to say that this brush with it certainly has calmed my mind even more. I was aware of what was going on around me for much of the time, except when the doctors were actually working on me…and I remember thinking ” I am at a crossroads here. Do I want to take the branch that leads to my wakening and living on? Or do I want to take the path of rest?” It was an interesting state of mind to be in, and I suppose it was a good sign that I took the road of diving back into the Veil of Tears.

There is a medication, called Lactulose, a synthetic sugar, that is specifically designed to absorb the ammonia as it goes through the gut, keeping the levels down to a manageable point. So, of course, I was prescribed this stuff, and sent home. It certainly worked, but it was some of the worst tasting stuff I had ever ingested. The suggestion was to drink a glass of orange juice after taking it to get the taste out of my mouth. That did help, but, not entirely. Fortunately, over the years, the pharmacist has found flavorings that, while not great, help a lot. In spite of the Lactulose, though, this episode of surgery and the new medication had an interesting side effect…that put me in hospital yet again. I did not have an ambulance ride on my bucket list, but at least I can add it, and mark it “done” now.

The prescribed dosage of Lactulose, as it turned out was far too small. So, about 3 weeks after the last trip, I started slipping into an altered mental state. Lisa had headed out a couple of days before to go see (and take pictures at) an ice skating event some distance away, so I was alone in the house. When she left, I was fine. However, because of the low dose of Lactulose, I crashed rather suddenly. I was in the chair in the living room, and was pretty non-responsive when my landlord, and neighbor checked on me. So after some complications, the cops, the fire department, and the ambulance showed up. My state of mind was very odd, in that it was as if I was looking at reality from a very great difference. I could not, for example, say my landlord’s name, although I knew it. I was not all that good at moving on my own, as I was very, very unsteady. I was just disconnected from reality, and found it difficult to take ANY action. I, for example, had realized the Lactulose I had taken was moving me to get to the bathroom ( it does have that effect), I made it in there, but, I had forgotten to pull down my pants. I am not at all sure how long I had been sitting there when the firemen popped a window, gained entry to the house, and walked me out to the front porch, where I was laid out on a gurney. Not only were the EMT’s not happy about my having soiled myself ( I got to listen to them grousing about having to wash down the bus after transporting me), but, I got stripped, scrubbed and sprayed with a hose of warm water when I got to the ER. It took two days of showers to get the smell off me. Well, the good news was that with a sufficiently increased dose of Lactulose I was fine, and only spent a couple of days in hospital.

After I got stabilized, though, I had to start looking for options to prolong my life (or not, as the case might be). It was a pretty low time for me, I am sorry to say. I have always struggled with Depression and suicidal thoughts, and this setback had really kicked up the volume on them. I did manage to make it through though, but it was a challenge for a while.

On the positive side, I was amazingly lucky in my timing of being diagnosed and having the disease rear its ugly head. While I was sick, I was far from being without hope as I was apparently a LOT healthier than most of the people that are found to have Hep C. There is an index, whose name I cannot bring to mind right now, that measures how close one is to dying. It runs from something like 45 to 5. The smaller the number the smaller one’s chances of living another month. At this point in time – around 2012 – my number was 35 or so. Not good, but WAY better than it could be.

One of the options I looked into was treatment with the classic, Interferon based medications. Dr. Rollhauser told me it would be a waste of time for several reasons.

  1. Hep C, it turns out, has three, distinct strains. They had run tests and found that the genotype of the infection I had was, of course, the one that rarely responded at ALL to the Interferon treatment.
  2. The treatment requires weekly shots for a year, as well as daily pills. The major side effect of this chemical mixture is that I would have the symptoms of the worst head cold I had ever had in my life…for the entire year. In my condition, he felt it would be unlikely that I would even be able to finish the treatment.
  3. Of course, there is the money issue. Since, at the time, I was still without insurance, there was no way I could pay for this fairly expensive cycle of drugs.

Although I was rather disheartened about this, and had just about decided to live as long as I could with whatever drugs would improve the time, my wife and family talked me into exploring the option of getting a liver transplant. While that would not eliminate the virus, it would improve my quality of life for my remaining time, and, would, perhaps, lengthen that period a bit. We happen to have one of the premier transplant hospitals in America here in Tennessee, so, with the help of my younger sister, we arranged an evaluation. The major down side to this, up front, was that (upon the pressure from Lisa and my sister), I got my hair cut to a conservative length, and my beard shaved off. They made the fairly valid point that if I showed up looking like a street person, it would likely hurt my chances of being put on the transplant list as most of the doctors in the area are rather Conservative. It was kind of strange, though, to look in the mirror in the morning, and see my older brother looking out at me. We not only sound VERY much alike (which was always useful for jerking around his kids), but we look a LOT alike.

Hep C, Giant Plush Microbe

As it turned out, though, I could have saved my efforts. We made the trip to Vanderbilt one day and had an interesting and educational consult with one of the doctors on the transplant evaluation team there. The bottom line was that they were turning me down for a liver transplant. There were two, major reasons for this. On the positive side, the doctor explained that I was simply WAY too healthy to qualify. They do not even begin to consider a candidate until their index gets down to the low 20s. On the negative side, as the doctor put it “I had a sociological problem”. The total cost of the transplant and follow up care was in the vicinity of $500,000.00, and I had neither cash nor insurance to pay for it. This was ironical, since I have been an advocate for Universal health care, as every other industrialized country in the world has, for decades now. So, we thanked him for his honesty and the time and education he provided, and hit the road. I chose to focus on the “too healthy” part of the diagnosis, as that was something I might be able to control. The drive down, with my sister, Cathy and her husband Dave, was quite pleasant, as it was good to visit. Also, when we were in the waiting room at Vanderbilt, Cathy pulled out a great, little gift to commemorate the challenges. There is a company, called Giant Microbes, that makes plush replicas of a wide variety of micro-organisms. I already had the Streptococcus and Yeast cells that reminded me of Dad’s fields of research…so I was most amused when she handed over a “Hep C” plush. Alas, the doctor there did not seem that impressed, but he was trying to be very serious.

Dr. Rollhauser, in my first discussion with him in hospital had been blunt about the reality that I would not be able to work again. He recommended that I start the process of applying for Social Security Disability. Being a skeptic, I tried to push on for a bit, but, after several months of less than satisfactory results, admitted the truth of what he had told me. So, after shutting down the business, I moved on to struggle with Social Security. That journey turned out to be slow, complicated, and very frustrating at times. I, foolishly, thought that since “Long term Hep C, with end stage liver disease” was around the third thing on the list they had on the Social Security Website, that was an automatic qualification for Disability, that it would be a straight foreward process. It was not. It took me over two years of interactions with Social Security, and, Finally, getting one of my Senator’s staff involved to get the process moving in a positive direction. (Thanks, Keith Alexander…still appreciate your hard work and care). Finally, after getting yet another stack of forms asking me the same questions I had answered at least three times before, I called Keith up, and said that while I hated to do this, but, it seemed to me that it was time for me to get a lawyer involved… He did ask me to hold off for a little bit, so he could see what he could do. I am SURE it is a coincidence, but less than two weeks later, I got an approval letter from Social Security. I was just glad to have some support as the cost of medications was hurting, and I needed them to stay functional. I have to say that during that period of struggling with Social Security, I came to believe that they were trying to delay long enough for me to die, and stop being their problem.

Interestingly enough, not more than a month or so after I was approved for Disability, the news came out that Medicare (which I was still griping about because of the hoops I had to jump through get approved), lost a lawsuit to a guy in California, over covering the cost of the new, cutting edge anti-virals designed to treat Hep C. For me, this was important because it forced Medicare to cover the cost of treatment with the newly released, Sovosbur based anti-virals (Sovaldi/Harvoni are two of the brand names). They were WELL out of my reach, in America, as Gilead Labs charged $1000/pill for the treatment. This, by the by, was kind of obscene profiteering, as it cost them about $75 to make the pills. Also I had a great advocate at my doctor’s office, who managed to get me on the list of people in Tennessee to be treated with these drugs (Turns out that only 30% of the people applying were being approved in this state). So, after $200,000 worth of medications, and 6 months of daily pills, I ended up virus free. My total cost? a $300 co-pay!)

The Sovaldi treatment had done a great job of wiping out the virus in my body. So, at least, the continuing damage was halted. The down side though, was that I was still left with serious cirrhosis of the Liver, neurological issues, and a couple of other complications, all of which made it impossible for me to go back to working. Most employers are not interested in hiring a 55 year old guy, in the first place, and add to that the reality that at the time I was good for an hour or two a day, and some days, not at all…made my marketability fairly low. Luckily, between the Social Security Disability checks, and Lisa’s job, we had enough coming in to keep the wolf from the door.

I had mentioned, early on, that we had started building a house when all these challenges hit. Well, no surprise, I am sure, the plan of that house changed radically thanks to my illness and subsequent loss of income, combined with the financial shenanigans going on and the almost totally crashed economy that it produced. The original plan is memorialized in a set of architectural drawings I have tucked away. I had designed and built most of a large shop, though, before the Hep C knocked me out, so, we reworked the plan for that, and added a bit to it, leaving us with a good place that was interesting, but, certainly much more limited than we had planned.

Since my exciting times in hospital, I have seen some liver regeneration, but, the neurological issues (some holes in my memory, and permanent tremors) have remained. I still am taking the medications I needed for support, as without them, I DO deteriorate quite a bit. However, with many breaks to catch my breath, I can do a lot more than I could in the early days of my disease. The tremors are probably the most annoying aspect though, as I am a bit of an artist (here are some examples of my recent work) and the tremors make it a challenge to paint as I did before. There are days when the best thing I can do is put the brush down and walk away, as fine details are beyond me. The neurological issues tend to manifest themselves in difficulties typing (I do not always spell as well as I would like), and forgetfulness. As an example of the forgetfulness issue…up to this year, I had never failed to get all the groceries from the cart into the car. This year, twice, I have walked off and left a gallon of milk on the bottom shelf of the cart. SOME of this may have to do with the stress and chaos of the past four years, though, and the stress I am dealing with right now, wondering what shenanigans the current occupant of the Oval Office may pull in his attempts to trigger a coup and turn America into a fascist dictatorship.

If it had not been for the Hep C issues, I would have really enjoyed my time in hospital. I met a wide range of very interesting, caring people who, all treated me as a human, not a broken piece of machinery to be patched up. I had some great interactions with the nursing staff and doctors there. I am a bit different then most, so, I was focused on interacting with them as people, not just service providers. I also surprised them a bit. Every time I was in hospital, I bounced back from my difficulties with amazing speed. For example, a few hours after I woke from the coma and the nurses finished taking all the tubes out (NOT by the by, something I would recommend as an adventure), I had to hit the bathroom. So, since the nurses had threatened me with putting the tubes back in if I did not call them to help me do this, I pushed the call button and explained my situation. Shortly thereafter, a young man showed up. He was going to be hands on, but, I told him to hang loose, and pick me up if I hit the floor. I was a bit slow getting moving, it being the first trip out of bed on my own in five or six days, but, I made it vertical and got walking. About my third step, he looked at me, and said “you REALLY do not need help…but call me if you do” and left. They were really not used to having a guy come in looking like death warmed over, and within a day or two, be ready to roll again.

Why was I able to spring back so rapidly from being on the edge of death (or so it seemed) one day, to walking around on my own the next? At that point I had been doing Tai Chi for about 10 years. I know that this made a huge difference in my ability to focus mind, body, and energy, to walk a healing path. I am going to take a moment here to add a shout out to my multiple instructors who moved me, patiently, on the Path, and my good friend and Elder Brother from another mother, Jim Perdue, who is very encouraging and patient in keeping me focused. I strongly recommend taking up Taoist Tai Chi to everyone that holds still long enough, as it is a huge mental and physical benefit, and, can be done by anyone, no matter what their issues.

Another factor that I have to point out as improving my recovery has been the support from family, spouse and friends. I would be in a far worse place without that unrequested help. I am still not good at asking for help…but, I have come to accept that other people get the same positive feelings that I get when I help others…so, while I am not as good as I should be at accepting their help, I certainly appreciate it. Part of that help was being willing to sit down with me, and have some tough discussions about the future. I have always valued truth, and, Lord Knows, my support network is VERY willing to give it to me! EVEN if I may not want to hear it. So, y’all reading this…realize that accepting help is not a sign of weakness. It is honoring the gift that your friends and family are giving you.

Today, some 11 years later, I am much better than I was. I still have bad days, and those can be very, very bad. but even with the disability left from the ravages of the disease, my good days are far more common. There is hope, but, as I had to learn and accept…”normal” may be different from the way we remember it. It can be as good as we can make it, but, our abilities and limitations may change.

God Protect Us…be safe, wear your mask, practice social distancing and extra hand-washing…

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Advances in Healthcare, Art, Ethics, Family, General Thoughts, Heath, Humanity, Observations, Ruminations, Watercolor | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is “Cancel Culture” a bad thing?

Greetings and Salutations!

As I was poking around on Facebook, one of the folks I follow posted this meme for consideration and discussion. I found it interesting enough to discuss here…at least a little bit.

This meme is, in my opinion, flawed. It is pushing the agenda that certain groups shun others for no reason other than that group’s words might make them uncomfortable. It is the writer’s opinion that, in some way, this damages Society.

The reality, though is very different. As this article shows, the people being shunned are having it happen for a very valid reason, as their words and actions are reprehensible at best. In spite of this s-called “shunning” though, few suffer economic damages from it. Now, as to the author’s claim that “cancel culture” affects art, and crushes creativity. I submit that this has no merit, as creativity will, in time, almost always succeed. For example, Stravinsky’s “The Rite Of Spring”, premiered in 1913 cause an uproar, and quite a bit of condemnation. However, now, 117 years later, it is looked upon as one of the great moments in Ballet! I am a painter, currently working mainly in watercolors. I do not create for others…I create because I have to…and if others find value in it, that is fine. (Here are some examples of my work…)There are artisans who do focus on what will be accepted by the public and will sell (Thomas Kinkade, I am looking at you), however is what they produce, most of the time, called “Creative?” I submit it is not. Bob Ross, whose shows I love watching, had a wonderful eye, and a great talent..but, he was a “one trick pony” when it came to painting. I do realize, in Bob’s case, that painting was the TOOL he used, not the goal he was reaching for…but that is a topic for a completely different essay!


It is true, alas, that in some cases, the actions have been uncalled for – I point to Al Franken as a perfect example of this. While the photograph that caused him to leave Congress was certainly unwise…his action was taken too quickly. Well after he left office, questions arose about the photograph, and the motives of the woman in it.


The idea that people are shunned for having valid, if uncomfortable ideas, though lacks merit. What does it say about us if we give homophobic/hate-filled/prejudiced speech equal value with that if civil discourse? I am reminded of the words of Edmund Burke – “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It has been my observation that Liberals/Progressives/Democrats are far more likely to accept and consider alternative views than the Right-Wing conservatives. I have engaged in some very active debate on both sides of the spectrum. In the Right-Wing side, I am quickly shut down, with insults and ad hominem attacks being sprayed in my direction. On the Left-Wing side, I end up in a lengthy thread that includes opinions, and factual evidence. I have run into very few attempts in these arguments to insult me, and when I do, it is usually because it is the opinion of the writer that I am less than well educated about the subject.


So…is “cancel culture” a bad thing? I am not really that sure it is a real thing…other than being a cute label pumped out by the Right-Wing, for an action that has been a basic part of reality since Primordial times. However, allowing that it does exist, I argue it is not in general, a bad thing. Giving such twisted views as misogyny, white supremacy, prejudice and hate against particular social or ethnic groups, and the like validation by pretending they are no different than tolerance, empathy, ethics and the like, causes our society to become less open, and diminishes all of us.

God Help Us All – Stay safe, Wear your mask!

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Improving Life, Nuttiness, Observations, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sifting through the Ashes, Part 33 – Election Reflections.

Greetings and Salutations…

Now that the smoke is clearing a bit, and the dust settling from the 2020 Presidential Election, I decided to take a look at the event, and explore some of the problems and successes of the event. I saw events which horrified me, and made me question, again, if America as a democracy would survive. I saw events which helped me believe that the structure of the electoral process is flexible enough and strong enough to withstand even some mighty forces against it.

This election was (I hope) unique in the ongoing story of America. It was, in my view, not so much a contest between political beliefs – Conservative vs. Liberal – but, in a real sense a struggle between Good and Evil for the soul of the country. I have written another essay, looking at this in more detail, if one is interested in delving a bit deeper into this subject. At this point in time, though, it looks as if Good has taken the field. The results of the election were a clear victory for Joe Biden, in both the Electoral College, and the popular vote. #3 has spent every day since then filing lawsuits, attempting to get the election overturned, either by lower courts, or, by a case making it to the SCOTUS. This latter course is no surprise to a majority of Americans, though, as, in the past few years, while packing the Supreme Court with Justices that were of questionable qualifications for the seat, #3 made it clear he was doing this to ensure that the SCOTUS would give the presidency to him. However, as of today, only one of the 25+ suits filed has been a victory..and even that one was hardly significant. Every other suit has been nothing but a collection of lies, unsubstantiated rumors, and speculation…all without evidence to back them up. The end result is that Judges in lower courts (both Republican and Democratic) have dismissed the actions as being without merit. This makes it very very unlikely that the SCOTUS will be involved in the Electoral decisions, as they were in the Gore V. Bush case.

Another very positive aspect of this election was that the voter turnout was higher than it has been in 120 years or so. In spite of the Pandemic, threats of violence by the Right-Wing, and generally unsuccessful attempts to limit access to voting by mail, over 160 million citizens cast a vote in this election. I vaguely recall that this works out to about 66% of the eligible voters. That may suck in comparison to other countries, but, as noted it is in the top three or four elections America has held, at least as regards turnout.

A striking image of this election was the contrast between #3 and Joe Biden in the couple of “debates” held on National TV. In both of them, #3 acted more like a petulant child and Biden was very adult. Biden addressed the topics at hand, and generally remained calm throughout #3 kept interrupting him, talking over him, and even arguing with the moderator. He also lied so many times that it took the fact checking sites some time to get all them analyzed and posted. This was in striking contrast to Biden, who, while not without some sketchy statements, did not out and out lie. His dings from the fact checkers were almost entirely issues with the accuracy of numbers, and attributions of statements.

Perhaps, though, the most disturbing aspect of this election was the burst of extreme polarization, and the level of hate for the other side, fueled by the inflammatory statements over the past four years by #3 and, the bat-shit crazy spewings of QAnon. For much of #3’s administration, he has spent more time campaigning for re-election than actually governing. He has embraced the Nazi concept of “The Big Lie” – repeat a lie enough times and it becomes the truth. #3’s lie is that the only way he could lose the coming election was if there was massive voter fraud. This, by the way, is a delusional statement he is still clinging to, today. QAnon, which grew by leaps and bounds during the #3 administration has been claiming that the Democrats are pure Evil. That they drink the blood of babies to rejuvenate themselves, and are in control of a world wide, pedophile ring that swaps millions of children around. And that is just one of their more rational theories! And yet, a painfully large number of Americans take these spews as the Gospel Truth!

Leading up to the election day, there were threats of violence – to the extent that a number of Republicans and Cultists were calling for Democrats to be murdered. There were recorded incidents of the Right-Wing threatening voters who might have voted for Biden and other Democratic candidates. Several Red States took huge, blatant steps to disenfranchise as many voters as is possible. Texas, for example, knowing that the Democrats were far more likely to vote via mail than in person, installed ONE collection box in each county, even through in times past the number of boxes had been based on the population, leading to some counties having a dozen or more collection points. The Post Master General, Louis DeJoy, appointed by #3 because of the size of his contributions and his willingness to do what he was told without question, took actions to remove and destroy hundreds of high-speed sorting machines from large counties around the country. The Social Media platforms, such as Facebook, dropped the ball by allowing conspiracy theory pages and hate group pages unfettered access to the platform for far too long. This allowed them to spread wild lies, and hate speech for too long indeed. All of these actions inflamed the emotions of the fanatical Cultists, the hangers-on, and the like to come out in droves to vote for #3.

Fortunately, the number of Americans who looked at what has been going on, was rather larger than these others, and they came out to defeat #3 successfully.

Now, though, after the votes are mostly counted, and it is clear that Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States, we still have a divide in the country. I recently heard that 75% of the Republicans firmly believe that this election was some how “stolen” by the Democrats. This, in spite of election officials all over the country – both Republican and Democratic, telling them that there was no significant voter fraud and that this was one of the most secure elections held in modern times. The Right Wing is so brain-washed that they refuse to believe anything except what #3 says…a classic symptom of cult behavior.

All that having been said…I want to answer the question “What would I do to fix some of these problems?”

  1. I would legislate the Fairness Doctrine into law. Before Reagan killed it, the rule was simply an FCC Guideline. Of course at the time, the FCC actually had some teeth, so this guideline was treated like Gospel and followed. These are different times, though, and so the change is necessary.
  2. I would wipe all “Citizen’s United” laws from the books. This legislation, pushed through by big business and oligarchs, has done more damage to the American political system than one would have imagined. It has opened the door to an unchecked flood of campaign contributions that approach bribes in their influence on elected politicians.
  3. We must restructure the rules under which PACs operate. For example, right now, it is very easy for a PAC to collect money from anonymous sources for a candidate. This is fraught with danger, as it opens the door not only to the ultra-rich in America gaining undue influence over the structure and makeup of the government, but, also allows foreign powers to pump laundered money into the Candidate’s pocket. Part of this issue would be dealt with if Citizens United were swept from the books.
  4. The IRS should focus more on the churches. It is my opinion that ANY church which pushes a specific candidate, or actually campaigns for them is no longer a church, but rather a PAC, and so should be dealt with under those laws and regulations. Christ calls the Church to be In the world, but not OF the world. Being an active voice in trying to put a ruler in place is very much “Of the world”.
  5. The issue of Gerrymandering is a serious problem in both state and National elections. We must take action to ensure that we get back to the model of the voters selecting their candidate, instead of today’s reality of the candidate selecting their voters. There are a number of articles out there explaining how all that works, so I shall not repeat it here. However, there are many excellent computer mapping programs that can redraw the districts in a more even-handed way. The end result of this would be a far more responsive government, as the Representatives would know that they did not have a guaranteed seat for as long as they wanted, but actually had to please a majority of the people to keep it.
  6. ANY candidate for high office should be required to release full, unredacted copies of their income taxes from the current year, going back 20 years. If this is not forthcoming, they should be removed from running.
  7. The length of the campaigns should be cut down a LOT. #3 started campaigning for the 2020 election the day after he took the Oath of Office, in 2017. I would like to see it be no longer than 120 days before the election. If a candidate cannot lay out their positions in that time, in a clear fashion that demonstrates they are the best for the office, then, more than likely they are blowing smoke up one’s skirt, and attempting a scam.
  8. The issue of debates should be addressed too. The Second Presidential debate was rather less of a train wreck, because the committee that runs them decreed that the candidate’s microphones would be muted at times, to allow the other candidate to speak without interruption. I am sorry to say that upon watching the debate, I rather thought the mute was not used often enough. There were TOO many times when #3 would interrupt Biden, or talk over him, or make interjections about what he was saying that made it a challenge to hear and understand the point being addressed. Of course, if we had two adults, with training in college debating style up there, this would have been less of a problem. Biden, for example, never interrupted #3, and when he wanted to respond he did it through the moderator. There were a couple of moments when Biden exclaimed at a point where #3 was lying his head off, but, in general, they were rare indeed.
  9. I would like to see the candidates evaluated for both mental and physical health by an independent team of doctors, pulled from the top hospitals in America. The Results of these examinations should become part of the public record. Should a person be excluded from running for extreme mental or physical health reasons? I am not entirely comfortable with that, although, after the past four years, I could certainly see the validity of the argument.
  10. We must get back to a place where the standard of discourse is truth. This administration has run on lies, and too many of them have been swallowed by the public. I do touch on this issue, and some other important things in this essay The fact that #3 has spoken over 22,000 lies over the past four years has shaken the trust that is vital for a government to function. If we are to survive as a nation, we must get back to a truth-based government. I know that there will still be lies, ranging from “Pants on fire” to moderate spin, but, the constant barrage of contradictory lies has got to go away and never return.
  11. I believe that for Presidential elections (at least), paper ballots and voting by mail should be a preferred option. The results of the 2020 Presidential election demonstrated the value of both of these changes. Mail in voting, even in non-pandemic days, would certainly increase voter participation..and for a Democracy of ANY stripe to work properly more, rather than fewer, people should have access to easy methods of casting a vote.

There are so many twisted aspects to the current administration that I am sure that there will be a library shelf, if not entire book case, filled with analysis of the successes and failures, and, the damage these did to America as a society and as a country.

God Help Us All Wear the mask…and be safe.

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Sifting through the Ashes, Part 32 – Good Vs. Evil

This Image is available as a poster on Ebay

Greetings and Salutations;

We are reaching the end of a very long and chaotic time. The numbers are in, and without some shenanigans, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the President and Vice-President Elect. I will probably discuss the election a bit more else where, but right now, I want to address an issue that has been a point of contention from family out to the entire country.

I have seen a lot of people (mostly Republicans) claiming that the vote went against #3 because the Democrats hate the Republican platform. They are saying it is all politics.

I beg to differ.
This election was unique in the history of the country in that politics had very little to do with the results. Rather, it was a fairly clear choice between good and evil.

This administration has, from day one, engaged in what I call Evil acts. Granted, they were clothed in lies to look more attractive, but they were Evil. Let me touch on a few of the most egregious of them.

  1. Starting off with the announcement on the Golden Escalator, #3 characterized ALL Refugees coming in on the southern border as rapists, murders and felons. He damned them with faint praise by saying “and a few of them are, I am sure, good people”.
  2. The administration implemented a massive program to remove children, some as young as 6 months old, from their parents when they entered the country as refugees. These children were locked up in concentration camps, with no serious supervision or care…given a mylar blanket to keep them warm. In the mean time, in many cases, their parents were deported to Mexico, without their children. In the several years since this program has been implemented more children have died in governmental custody than in the eight years of the Obama administration. In addition, there are many reports of sexual abuse. To top it off, today, we have over 500 kids who cannot be returned to their parents because the administration was so incompetent they had no plan for keeping data on where those parents are at.
  3. I never thought that in my life time I would see Nazis parading through the streets, chanting antiSemitic slogans. Along with this, the president said “there were good people on both sides” at the event where this happened. No matter how one slices it, there are NO good people who are Nazis.
  4. We are struggling with a Pandemic, which has killed almost a quarter of a million citizens so far, and infected 10 million of us. #3 knew about this back before March, and chose to downplay and lie about how serious the situation was, for no good reason other than to make himself look good.
  5. As Covid-19 has swept across the countryside, not just killing citizens but leaving many of them with long-term damage to their organs that will affect them for the rest of their lives, #3 did NOTHING to support the states, or use the massive purchasing powers and laws of the Federal government to ensure that sufficient supplies were available to the medical profession and citizens to cut back on infections and help the helpers stay alive. Rather he put it off on the states, and then started bidding against them in the marketplace for ventilators and other supplies.
  6. The Pandemic has had a huge economic impact on the country, resulting in more people out of work since the Great Depression in 1929. He, and the Republicans, have worked as diligently as they could to block stimulus bills to help many of these citizens keep their home, put food on the table, and generally survive. Other countries have provided a monthly stipend to all citizens of a couple thousand dollars. WE, supposedly the richest nation in the world, have had ONE check for $1200.00. In addition, when this one stimulus payment was sent out, a huge percent of it went to large companies that needed it the least – but were big donors to the Republican party. Why? The #3 and the Republicans removed the independent Inspector General who was supposed to distribute the funds to the citizens and small businesses that needed it the most. Because of this, about 40% of the small businesses that have closed will not re-open, thanks to these actions, and America will be poorer for it.
  7. Throughout #3’s administration, the rhetoric against diversity has been a constant drone. His comments supporting White Supremacy, and hate for people of color and the lgbtq community have resulted in a huge increase in hate crimes in the past four years. He has put a Supreme Court Justice in place that has a view of reality more suited to the 1950s, and is quite likely to reverse the advances that the LGBTQ community and women have made in the past 70 years.

I could go on, as the list is almost endless, but, shall halt here.
On the other hand, we have have the President Elect, Joe Biden, and the Democratic Party. They are not angels, by any means, but rather fallible humans. However, look at what the platform they support includes.

  1. It supports diversity, and accepting the broad range of people who inhabit the United States
  2. Over the years, the Democrats have pushed for EQUAL rights for all. Right now, America is a White Nation, with embedded White Privilege. We, who are white are not stopped several times a week because we “do not belong there”, or are driving a car that is too nice. We are almost never killed in traffic stops when we are not presenting a threat. We do not look upon cops as a scary predator that is likely to be a danger. We do not have to have a talk with our kids about exactly what they HAVE to do in order to minimize the probability of being killed. NONE of us have had a cross burned in our yard, nor, have we been told that we had best be out of town by sundown. The Democrats fight against this daily, and call out such hate when it sticks its ugly head up.
  3. The Democrats work to ensure that ALL citizens have the best life they can, including affordable health care, freedom from food insecurity, and adequate housing.
  4. The Democrats fight to make sure that every American job pays a living wage. Right now, a person making the minimum wage, working 40 hours a week cannot afford housing ANYWHERE in the country.
  5. A serious issue in the country is the wealth gap. It used to run around 7000%. Now, though, it is closer to 40,000%. Why? Because the rich have benefited from massive tax cuts, and, exemptions that have allowed them to keep billions of dollars in their pockets, to the detriment of the country and its citizens. The Bible says “To them that much has been given; Of them much will be required”. So far, the rich in America have benefited as in the first part, but avoided the second. The Democrats want to make the tax burden in America be more fairly distributed, so the rich carry the major burden and ease the burden on the poor and middle classes.
  6. Over the past decade, we have seen an increase in murder with guns. The Democrats stand for, and urge, that America take a long, hard look at its gun control laws, and find ways to improve them, to cut down on the number of weapons available to the people who are likely to be killers. They are not calling for confiscation, or anything close to it. Simply a reworking to make the laws more workable.

Can anyone truly say that the examples I have given are wrong? or that they are invalid? I would say “no”. America is a very complicated place…one of the few countries where it IS possible for a person with difficult upbringing can achieve the highest offices in the land. This reality is confusing for many countries, where the system tends to ensure that if your grandfather and daddy were sheep herders, YOU will be a sheep herder too, as will your children. It is one of the great strengths of America that this is true. For that to happen, though, there have got to be programs in place to encourage and support that path. I say that any group that stands against this, and clings to the other beliefs I have laid out as regards the Republican Party, is, simply, clinging to Evil.

I chose to vote for hope; for programs that help all citizens, not just the few.

Here I stand, I can do no other.

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave

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Charter Schools – Boon? Or Bane?

Greetings and Salutations;

Last year, I wrote an essay on the issue of education in America. I covered many topics there, but, left off the difficult challenge of Charter Schools. Since it has been brought to my attention again, I am going to rectify that mistake.

Today, I want to examine the issue of Charter Schools in America. First off, what is a Charter School? The definition is “a publicly funded independent school established by teachers, parents, or community groups under the terms of a charter with a local or national authority.” This has evolved into Charter Schools going from small organizations, run by the people mentioned to being huge corporations. The situation is complicated, too, by the reality that not all Charter School actions are bad for students. Supposedly, not all Charter Schools are for-profit enterprises. However, a vast majority of them are (more on this later). The history of Charter Schools is online, and is an interesting read (some other time!) Now that they have been around for close to 30 years, though, my suspicions that their benefits are far outweighed by their costs has been proven to be true. let me lay out some issues I have with this educational model.

  1. They do drain money away from the Public school system…which has always been under-funded.
  2. The profit issue is a serious one. There are limited ways that a given business can increase profits. a) Lowering costs; b) Increasing charges. Lowering costs includes not providing the quality of equipment needed for education, including computers, textbooks, and the consumables used in the classroom. It includes paying teachers even less, and, cutting benefits that would help keep the good teachers in the system. Increasing the costs is fairly clear, and, is typical of ALL businesses.
  3. It has been my observation that ANY business that is for-profit is also a hot bed for corruption and malfeasance. The Charter Schools are no exemption. A Recent Article in Forbe’s points up these problems.
  4. I have also observed that, when a business becomes a “For Profit” enterprise with investors of any sort, its focus moves from providing a service or product, to finding as many ways as possible to suck as much money as possible from customer’s pockets and into the pockets of the investors as is possible, with as little cost and effort as possible.
  5. While, in theory, they are supposed to take any student that applies, the reality is that they can cherry pick which students they keep in the system. This allows them to artificially inflate the apparent quality of the job they are doing, and, also hurts the public school system by removing the students that are likely to be helpful as tutors and such. It also means that the students that wash out of the Charter Schools end up back in the Public School system…which causes their success rate to be artificially low.
  6. In most cases, the regulations that control the quality of education and policies of charter school systems are far less rigorous than those that govern the Public school system. This reality allows them to slide by while doing a sloppier job of education, and likely allows them to graduate students that are inadequately prepared for life today.
  7. I am of the opinion that, in too many cases, people use Charter Schools as they used to use Private Schools…as a way to ensure that their children will NOT be exposed to an integrated environment. The past few years have brought the level of racism in America to the surface, and forced us to admit that there is a LOT more systemic racism, and general hatred for people of color in the hearts of White America than we had been willing to see.

Now, what should we do to rectify this issue? While it is unlikely that any of these would happen, I would like to see the following changes made.

  1. I would like to see ALL public funding of Charter schools to halt. If they want to act as private schools, then, they are welcome to do so…just not on the taxpayer’s dime.
  2. The Public School system should be given increased funding, with a focus on under performing schools. Equalizing funding within a school system should improve the quality of the poorly performing schools, and not do serious damage to the ones in richer areas. My goal is to ensure that any student can go to any school in an area, and graduate from High School with the same quality of education, no matter which buildings they sat in.
  3. ALL Schools should be integrated. As the link I included above indicates, parents tend to want their children to go to school with other kids that look like them. While there were great strides towards integrating the systems in the 1950s and 1960s, since then, progress has slowed to a point that the strides forwards are being wiped out by slipping back into the bad old days. The reality, though, is that studies have found that an integrated environment is a great benefit to students, and gives them skills that will help them enormously during the rest of their life. I am convinced that much of the rise of Right-Wing, white supremacist groups, bigoted militia groups, and the neo-nazi organizations stem from the lack of integration and the ease with which parents can avoid an integrated environment for their children.
  4. If a school is not performing well, as evidenced by high teacher turnover and lowered graduation rates, the result should not be cutting their funding. Rather, I would like to see a team of auditors and problem solvers created that could go into the school, and work with the teachers and administration to see what can be done to improve the situation. Too often, these changes are very adversarial, because the “fixit” folks come in with the attitude that they are the Gods of Perfection and, the staff and administration are idiots. THat formula is almost a perfect storm of failure. However, by going in, and listening to what the staff and administration has to say, then, working WITH them to solve the problems, the relationship can be a positive one and will be productive.
  5. I would like to see school administration cut back a bit. I suspect that, like most bureaucracies, the School systems around the country have become bloated. As an example, when I was in Elementary School, there were several hundred students on campus. We had on Principal, who had a couple of assistants. They did a good job of keeping the place running efficiently, and dealing with issues that might arise. Now, though, the numbers of administrators has multiplied, but the number of teachers has not.
  6. I would like to see some of the funding for schools go to not only increasing the number of teachers, but, as I discuss in the other essay, a continued integration of computer assisted instruction in the classrooms.
  7. As I have mentioned elsewhere, It is vital that we, as a society, work to eliminate the contempt for education and intelligence that has grown over the past 30 years. The current administration, with its constant disrespect for experts and well educated workers has done serious damage to the country, and, as soon as possible we have to start fighting against this self-destructive trend.

God Help Us All!

Bee Man Dave

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Sifting through the Ashes – Part 31. The SCOTUS and the Congress

Greetings and Salutations.

The events of these past few years have caused me to rethink some aspects of Government. I have, over the years, felt that the Court, and the Congress, while sometimes staggering around the path of wisdom like a drunk after hitting his fifth bar, tended to average out, and overall at least did not destroy the country or the progress we have made towards Civilization in the past couple hundred years. America is a babe-in-arms, when compared to most of the rest of the world, and growing pains can be difficult. However I had some optimism we were moving forwards.

Well, I am sorry to say the current administration has demonstrated the weaknesses in our Democratic system. Over the past 40 years, the Republicans have quietly moved to ensure that they were unbeatable, in spite of being a minority party in America. Their efforts at gerrymandering, and voter suppression/disenfranchising have been continual, and have eroded away the foundations of our society. In a properly functioning Democracy (and even the Democratic Republic, such as we live in), ALL Citizens must be able to vote, and pick the candidate they believe will represent them in Congress/the Presidency. However, the Republicans have worked to ensure that now, in most cases, the Candidate chooses the constituents. This has caused a terrible shift of attitude on the part of the Government. It has forgotten that it is the Servant of the People…and now believes it is the Ruler of the People. We fought a war over this that created this country, specifically to KEEP America from becoming a Dictatorship, Monarchy, or similar types of top-down power structures.

I have come to believe that, if America is to survive as a country, and a free society, the next administration must take on the task of making significant changes to both the structure of the Supreme Court, and the Congress. I shall deal with Congress first, as it is somewhat simpler.

I have, for decades gone back and forth on the idea of term limits for Congress. I have, for much of that time, been against them. However, having seen what that has brought us to, I have changed my stance. Right now, Congress is controlled by a few, old, white guys who are dinosaurs. They are doing their best to push America back into the past by at least 100 years. They have the power to do this because they have been in office for Decades. I believe that part of their motivation is an attitude that the Republican Party is more important than the country and Constitution. Part of their motivation is that they are feeling their mortality, and are deathly afraid of losing the power they hold. NONE of these are good reasons to allow them to hold their seats, especially since they have demonstrated that they are quite happy to hold no ethical standards, and will destroy the country in order to cling to power.

Because of this, I would like to see some specific laws applied to Congress.

  1. Term limits instituted. I would like to see limits of three terms for Senators, and six terms for House members. These limits would give both arms plenty of time to become competent and institute legislation that, hopefully, will move the country forwards. This would also mean that a person who was elected to the house, and moved to the Senate, would be in government for close to 30 years…which is a career for most of us. Most importantly, though, it would ensure that the 97% return rate for incumbents would be broken. It is painfully difficult to get new blood into Congress these days but it is only through new points of view that the country can truly move forwards. In addition, this would make it far more likely that Congress would actually reflect the demographics of the country. As I mentioned before, much of Congress consists of Old, White Guys…and yet the country is far from looking like that.
  2. I would also like to see the standards for Congress people be tightened up a bit. The Ethics committee should be given more power to sanction. Congress, as a whole, should be more likely to sanction Members who engage in blatant lying and rabble-rousing to push their agenda. Our Representatives, both in the House and Senate, should be the best of the best…not the childish, agenda driven reactionaries that are a feature of it now.
  3. I would like to see an improved method of creating Congressional Districts be implemented. Specifically, I would like to see the task turned over to a Bi-Partisan committee. This committee would hash out the parameters of what a District should look like. Then, one of several, very good, computer controlled, mapping programs out there should be used to draw the districts. The committee should only become involved in this process when the software hits a situation it cannot handle. This, by the by, would generate HUGE support for the Census, as the more data available about an area, the better the job of drawing the boundaries could be. This would, if done properly and with attention, eliminate the disgusting gerrymandering that has gone on for too many years.
  4. I have to say, also, that the idea of a vote of No Confidence is looking better and better all the time. If a decent percentage of the citizens in a district could sign a petition to recall and replace a Representative/Senator, that would also go a LONG way towards keeping them attentive to the needs of the constituents, and not so likely to focus on their own agenda.

Now, as for the Supreme Court. The Court has consisted of 9 Justices for over 100 years. Yet, the world today has changed radically from then. Because of this, I would like to see the Court changed in the following ways:

  1. I would like to see the number of Justices increased by quite a bit…say, to 25 or so members. The Court has a huge backlog of cases that have been pending for years now. The number of these cases is pretty much guaranteed to increase, as the population of the country grows, and more laws are instituted. This backlog could be attacked by setting up sub-courts of, say, 5 Justices, who would look at the cases and come to a ruling. Those Rulings could be, then, brought before the entire Court, and affirmed before becoming the Law of the land.
  2. The composition of the Court should not be controlled by the Party currently in power. Rather, I suggest that there should be equal number of Right-wing, Left-wing, and alternative views represented on the Court. This limits would be permanent, and NOT open to change. America has always been a diverse society, and when a Party packs the Court with Justices that only support their agenda, the concept of blind justice goes out the window. There was a time, decades ago, when the Justices could, to an extent, go beyond their personal affiliations, and work to objectively interpret the Law, as based on the Constitution. This administration has destroyed this I fear, and so we must make sure that extreme partisanship cannot infect the Court again.
  3. I would like to see requirements for some competency for Justices, both in the Supreme Court, AND other Federal Justices. In the history of the country, we have never seen Justices appointed that the American Bar Association has rated “Not Qualified”. Yet, this administration has done this many times. Nominees should not be seated unless they have spent some years actually hearing cases in the court system. Again, QUITE a few of the Federal Judge nominees do not have ANY courtroom experience.
  4. The idea of life-time appointments was written in at a time when the average life span was 35 years. Now, it is not unusual to see people living into their late 80s/early 90s. I am an old, white, guy myself, but I look upon people holding power for that long, without consideration for the changes that old age brings on us with some horror. I suggest that a Nominee for the Supreme Court be older than 35, and that they have to retire from the Court at the age of 75.

Of course, I would insist on these changes being implemented as Laws, with no Sunset rule attached.

While everyone has specific objects for these changes, the reality is that a HUGE part of the problems we are having today stem from these issues. We have to struggle through today, but, by making these changes, we may help keep America from, ever again, ending up on the self-destructive path it has been on thanks to the insanity of the current administration.

God Help Us All.

Be safe…wear your mask, wash hands well, and socially distance.

Bee Man Dave.

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Ruth Bader Ginsberg – A Giant Leaves Us.

Greetings and Salutations;

This last Friday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, of metastatic pancreatic cancer. The fact that she held on so long is a testament to her strength of will, and her determination. The airwaves have been flooded with details on the amazing path she followed to becoming a Supreme Court Justice, and there are many video clips on Youtube remembering her many accomplishments. She may have been small in stature, but her impact on America was, indeed, Gigantic, and brought equal protection and rights to many groups that had been locked out by the “Establishment”.

Alas, her death leaves an open seat on the Supreme Court, and removes a strong, liberal voice from the court. The current administration wants to pack another American Taliban Right-Winger into the seat, as quickly as possible. Considering that #3 is planning to use the Supreme Court to give him the Presidency, if the vote does not go his way, it makes sense that he is so enthusiastic about getting another unqualified minion onto the court.

I though, have several objections to this, so am going to discuss them a bit.

  1. The major issue I have is the hypocritical words of the Republicans. In 2016, they raised a big stink over President Obama nominating Merrick Garland to a recently vacated Seat on the Court. Mitch McConnell said that a Court seat should not be filled in an election year, because the People should have a voice…and the new President should choose a nominee. Of course the good, little, soldiers in the Republican Party chanted his words and made them theirs. Because of this, the Supreme Court had an open seat for over 11 months. NOW, though, in spite of the fact that it is only 43 days to the Election, That same Mitch McConnell is saying it is the Constitutional duty of the President and Senate to fill the vacant seat as quickly as possible…and totally walking away from their hard and fast stance in 2016. This is a task which should be consistently handled, and so the precedent set by the Republicans in 2016 should be honored today. As President Obama said “When Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in, a basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment.”
  2. The shortest time it has taken to confirm a Nominee has been 46 days from the time they were named. On the average, it takes closer to 70 days. It is my opinion that attempting to push through an ultra-conservative Justice will not allow adequate time for the hearings to determine their positions and attitudes.
  3. The Supreme Court should, in theory, reflect the makeup of the country, and, consist of the wisest and most thoughtful Jurists available. Looking at the history of appointments rammed through by this administration, it is painfully obvious that the criteria mentioned mean nothing to this administration. Rather, the only important factors are a fanatical partisanship; a Reactionary view of America; and either the willingness to suck up to the Occupier of the Oval Office, or, hand over large amounts of money to him. I have not done an exhaustive search, but of all the administrations I have looked into, not ONE put a Judge on the bench that the American Bar Association rated as “Not Qualified”. This administration has pushed through several of these people to the Federal Bench, and, appears to be preparing to do the same thing with the SCOTUS. Remember…the people put on the bench today will be making decisions that affect all of us for decades to come.
  4. By ignoring the rule of precedence, The Republicans have instituted an Arms Race in the Supreme Court. When the Democrats take the Senate and Presidency, it is essentially a done deal that they will expand the size of the Supreme Court…and will likely ensure that the new seats are filled with Strongly Liberal Justices. Now, this is kind of a mixed blessing, alas. When the Republicans take power again, it is likely they will want to add more Conservative Justices. That is the arms race aspect. On the other hand, increasing the size of the Supreme Court is very appealing. Right now, there is a huge backlog of cases before the Court. Adding Justices would allow them to get more of these pending cases dealt with.
  5. The reality of the world is that America is, in terms of population, country that leans Left-Center. As of the last poll I could find, about 58% of Americans are either Liberal or Left-leaning Centerists. I am of the opinion that the Supreme Court should reflect this. Right now it is a majority Conservative court, and another Conservative will make the Liberal/Centerist point of view meaningless. Right now, there are no limits on how Supreme Court Justices are chosen, and I have to wonder…is this something that should change? I am inclined to change the rules so that the Supreme Court is basically an equal balance of Conservative, Rightest Justices, Centerest Justices, and Liberal, Leftist Justices. If this were to be the rule, it would better reflect the country, and ensure that decisions were likely to benefit both sides equally.

For me, the bottom line is that pushing through a new Justice, in a rush to beat the Election is nothing more than a political hack, and will do a great disservice to the country. We are likely to get a nominee that is unqualified for the Bench, and is motivated more by partisan politics, than an active desire to find the best interpretation of the Law of the Land.

God Help Us All

Be Safe…Wear your mask, and practice good sanitation and social distancing.

Bee Man Dave.

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Some thoughts on 09/11: Are we driven by fear?

Greetings and Salutations;

Today is the 19th anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Towers by fanatics that had taken over airliners. Even today, the images I saw on television that morning are as sharp as they were on that day. It was a pivotal moment in American society, and woke a lot of people up to some important issues, including the reality that our actions around the world can have local consequences, and, the fact that we have a really big moat around the country and are bordered by quite friendly countries does not insulate us from the consequences of those actions.

Sadly, our reaction to the destruction of the the Towers was fear, not courage. Instead of standing strong, and working to improve our interactions with the world, we created such monstrosities as the Patriot Act; “Homeland Security”; and started a war in the Middle East that still is being waged…with damn little to show for it. We also started a trend towards a very Nationalist view of ourselves…discounting the rest of the world, starting to make everyone but us “The Other” that is dangerous and cannot be trusted.

This sad trend culminated almost four years ago when the current administration was put into power. #3 (The title I use for D. Trump, because he is only the third president in the history of America to be impeached) from the start of his campaign used division – an “Us against Them” attitude – to split the country and barely take the Oval Office. Since then, he has, every day, continued to play to the emotions of his followers, in order to drive them here and there, where ever he believes they will do the most good for him.

One of the major emotions that he appeals to, and, the emotion I believe was the strong one that caused many to vote for him, was fear. His supporters fear many things, it seems…

  • They are horrified by, and fear, the changes in society. In the past 30 years or so, the pace of change in life has accelerated to high rates. One aspect of the widespread use of computers in everything, is that the technology changes, almost on a daily basis. The 24/7 news cycle has created a situation where a story is reported in its initial form, then a few hours later may change radically, as more information is uncovered. This rapid rate of change causes people to be unsettled and feel that they are on the ocean, in a storm, in a leaky boat…leaving them tossed here and there, with no control.
  • They fear the loss of their comfortable, familiar life. The changes of society that started in the 1960s, went fallow for a while, and are starting to grow now, are changing the role of each of us in life. White Guys used to be the touchstone that represented American Society. Now, though, that position at the top of the pyramid is slipping, as people of color gain more power and voice in politics. Many people do not react well to this, hence, I believe, the growth of White Supremacist groups in America, and the jump in hate crimes against people of color. It is nothing more than a wounded dinosaur, striking out blindly at what it takes to be its enemy. Sadly, these groups will not succeed in taking us back, or keeping us, as a White Country, with them in charge. Overall I have to say, that is a good thing in my book, though.
  • This year, 2020, has brought a pandemic the likes of which have not been seen since 1916. the infectious abilities, and the wide-spread damage by the virus has left many people shaken. It is nearly impossible to deal with an invisible enemy that can kill a person in a short period of time. Some people respond with strong measures to protect themselves. This includes wearing a mask, and avoiding people who do not; Keeping oneself away from large gatherings of people; Minimizing trips out from the house; and increased hand washing and other sanitary measures. Others, for a variety of reasons, pretend it does not exist, or that they have special protections from it. Too many have discovered, too late, that they were not protected by the Divine, and that Covid-19 is a very real thing.
  • As I mentioned above, the current administration thrives on fear. From day one, #3 fired the flames of hate for other groups. His very first speech discussed a mythical horde of folks from South America pushing towards our borders, trying to over run the country. His followers, because they feared people who do not look like them, bought this lie, hook, line, and sinker. Since then, he has pushed a number of similar, divisive and hate-filled attitudes. In his current speeches he is trying to drum up fear in the suburbs, by claiming that the Democrats are going to build Section 8 housing throughout those neighborhoods, and in the process will bring increased drug use, crime, and violence along with them. This is, of course a complete lie…
  • Partially due to the pandemic, and mostly due to the incompetence of #3 in handling it, as of today, 197,000 citizens have died from the effects of covid-19, and, some six million have fallen ill. As a part of his administration, though, he has said, time and time again, that the news media are all liars, and never tell the truth. He has questioned scientists and medical experts, claiming they did not know what they were talking about…and then presenting some treatment that he heard about on Right-Wing media as the cure for covid..even though that treatment is either ineffective, or, has the probability that it will do serious damage to people that take it. This continual waterfall of lies has caused some citizens to fear the media and scientists…causing them to discard any good suggestions these people might have.

All of this fear has had many negative effects on our society today. It has caused a huge growth in hate for others, which has resulted in a large increase in hate crimes and terrorist acts. Most of these, by the by, have been perpetuated by Right Wing groups of fanatics….

There has been a huge increase in reporting of incidents between police and people of color, where the POC were injured or killed, in spite of being no danger to the police, and not armed. The reasons for this are, allegedly, because the policeman was “In fear for his life”. While this is not likely, the reality is that the cops have an image of people of color being monsters who are likely to strike out with deadly force at any moment. This generates a mindless fear that causes a LOT of needless deaths.

After 400 years of oppression, POC in America have said “ENOUGH!” which has generated the Black Lives Matter movement. the reaction of white folks to this is sad, indeed, because we see, time and time again, acts of violence against peaceful protestors. I ascribe this to a basic fear that, if people of color get power over them, they will treat the white folks the way the white folks have treated them. Now, while that is possible, if it happens it will likely be in very small blocks. Most people of color I have come in contact with simply want equal protection under the Constitution. One program that is very worth while, and examines the complicated reality of people of color in America is United Shades Of America, hosted by W. Kamau Bell. I strongly urge anyone reading this that has not watched it, to seek it out and watch the shows. They are worth the effort.

Now having wandered about a bit, I have to address what I think would be ways to fix this problem and get America back on the path it started on in the 1960s.

  1. I wish there was another way to say this…but, I do not know of one. We have got to turn the Republican Party into a small, minority party in government. Over the past 20 years, they have become more and more reactionary, and more interested in supporting Party over Country. Some of this issue stems from the fact that a significant number of the Republican leaders are worshipers of the twisted philosophies of Ayn Rand. Some of the issues stem from the reality that a vast majority of them are old, white guys, who do not want to give up power, because they suffer from the same fears I listed above.
  2. The Democrats, while no angels, have demonstrated time and time again that America, under their control, becomes a MUCH better place to live for all citizens, not just the enormously rich. So, vote Democratic until a better alternative rears its head.
  3. We, as a society, have got to listen to, and address the issues raised by BLM, and other groups. The only way we, as a society, can move forwards is if all of us are rowing in the same direction. Right now, that is not happening.
  4. We have got to look at election reform… For example, this should include all states having a mail in ballot option. We have got to eliminate gerrymandering, and make it impossible to return to. Perhaps using one of the many computer programs out there that have been designed to create districts, and, require any committee that controls this be equally divided between the two, major parties. There should never be a time when a candidate can choose their voters, and the voters cannot choose their candidate…a situation that is far from rare today.
  5. We must look at the educational system. Since too many children are obviously not being taught tolerance and acceptance at home, it should be up to the school system to teach them ethics, tolerance for their fellow citizens, and information that humanizes everyone. It is trivial to hate a stereotype…we do it all the time. It is far more difficult to hate a person that you know on some basis…that you have been shown has the same fears, thoughts, desires and hopes that you do.

The effort to change the course of the country will likely take decades…but if we do not take a step to make it happen, it will never happen.

God Help us all.

Bee Safe

Bee Man Dave.

Posted in Ethics, Family, Humanity, Improving Life, Misc, Nuttiness, Observations, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Vietnam War – An American View

Greetings and Salutations;

I was going to get this post written in April of this year, as a meditation on the 45th anniversary of America’s exit from the conflict.

The raw history of the War is easily found online, as the Net is, perhaps, the most comprehensive source of information ever created…putting even the Great Library at Alexandria to shame. So, I am not going to spend a great deal of time walking the same path of history. Rather, my goal here is to touch on some seminal moments that truly changed American society in general, and impacted me, personally. However, for an excellent overview of the path America walked there is this source.

I was born in 1955, so America’s involvement in Vietnam was a well-established part of reality. How did this affect America? Well, one of the aspects that has never been taught in the history classes when I was working my way through the system was the effect that the War had on the Civil Rights movement that grew in the 1950s and 1960s. Here is an interesting article that examines the role of the Civil Rights movement on the people of color who were taken into the military. Not only was military service the way out of oppression and poverty for both whites and people of color, but, the goals the Civil Rights movement preached changed the attitudes of many of the people of color in the military. At that time, thanks to President Truman, the military was desegregated.

https://rchs.us/sundown-towns-rock-county/

This was in a time when much of American society was still openly segregated with “Sundown towns” all over the place, “Whites only” signs on bathrooms, separate water fountains for whites and people of color, and lunch counters that would close rather than serve a person of color that had the audacity to try and get a bite to eat. This dichotomy, I think, helped fuel the push for Civil Rights in the country. After all, how would any of us feel if we worked on a campus, where everyone was equal, and yet when we went home to visit Mom and Dad, we could not get a hamburger at Woolworth’s, or ran the danger of getting a beating for daring to use the wrong bathroom? This social pressure was a significant fuel for the “This has to end” mindset, and the actions that grew from it.

The earliest thing I remember about the Vietnam War was having dinner, with the radio on top of the refrigerator turned on, and listening to the nightly body counts from the war. Even at the age of 10 years, I did not understand what was going on, and why it was so important that so many people were dying to get temporary control of a hill in a country on the other side of the world. My parents tried to explain the “Domino Theory” to me, I suppose, but, I never really felt that their hearts were in it. While we were a strongly Republican family, my parents were very much against war, so, they simply did not have the heart to try and push nonsense on me. Most of the time, after the age of about 5, though, they would say “Go look it up yourself”…which meant that the library was my second home for many years.

The Vietnam War also did a lot to erode what little respect I had for “Authority”. I recall, when I was 12 or so, I took some time, and looked at the body counts that had been reported for years from Vietnam. I noticed two things…first off, the number of dead and wounded Americans was minimized, and they were always pumped up as heroes, being disrespected and spat on my the Commie protestors against the war. Secondly, If the numbers reported were accurate, America had killed the entire population of Vietnam at least twice! I have always been uncomfortable with lying and faking statistics, so this really eroded my trust in the government.

While we did not have a television in the house for many years, when my grandfather moved in, he brought his along. So, between that, and the few folks I visited who did have a TV, I was able to see a lot of the video that came out of the War. What I was seeing horrified me. It did have the same effect on many Americans, too… Vietnam was the first War that had been televised, and so there were very few limits on what the news cameras were able to collect and display. The still photographers also captured some moments that chilled us…including this one of General Loan casually killing a suspected Vietcong soldier This image still sits in my head, and, caused me to both take part in the Anti-War protests it created, and, solidified my hatred of the waste of War.

The increasing gap between the reality of what was happening in Vietnam, and the propaganda put out by the government went a long way towards destroying what trust and respect the citizens had for it. Alas, this, I think, is one of the seeds that put us where we are today…as the grifter in chief was able to use that crack to drive a greater wedge between the government and the people…Ignoring the reality that the government IS the people…

Because of the essentially uncensored access the reporters had to the action there, we also learned that Americans and our Military were not the angels of virtue that we might have believed they were. Mai Lia and the whole, disgusting collection of murders and destruction by Lt. Calley, rubbed our nose in the reality that war is Hell, and too many times the soldiers being chewed up by it become demons. It is also the generation of the philosophy of “We had to destroy the village in order to save it”. This, to me, echoes the madness of the Salem Witch Trials and the Inquisition, and, has persisted in the minds of the Right-Wing as a valid plan of attack even today!

Finally, though, shortly after my birthday in 1975, Nixon announced that America’s involvement in the war was at an end. In yet another example of a reality distortion bubble, he declared victory and pulled out. Did this cause all of South East Asia to become Russian states, as the Domino Theory swore would happen? No, to the surprise of almost no one, that did not happen. What did happen was, perhaps, worse. The Khmer Rouge were unleashed and swept through South Vietnam, killing in terrible ways, anyone that was suspected of collaborating with the Americans. These, by the by included people who wore glasses, or, were highly educated. Many of the South Vietnamese that had, bravely, stepped up to work with the Americans…and had been promised asylum and protection in return, were left in the lurch…their last image of America was the accompanying image. HERE is an article from one of the last Marines off the tower. The bottom line, though is that America got its ass whipped because we were fighting the wrong war. This war was, in a way, like the Revolutionary war in America…but this time, WE were the Redcoats, and the Vietnamese were the insurgents.

While some Vietnamese were pulled out along with the Americans, many more, in desperation, took boats out to try and find asylum elsewhere.

America has continued to reap the poison fruit from the Vietnam War, even until today. When the troops returned to America, they were treated as bastard stepchildren not only by many citizens, but, the military. For decades, Vietnam Vets were not welcome at many VFW posts. They have (as the article I linked to above points out) had serious issues with PTSD, depression and more mental issues that have been ignored by the support system the military had. This, in spite of the fact that these were exactly the sort of issues the military should be focusing on, and helping these brave men and women work through these issues and heal. So many Vets I have met, even decades later, are so jumpy that sudden noises can cause a huge over-reaction. Quite a few of them have sleeping issues that keep them permanently fatigued, and often sitting up in a recliner through the wee hours of the morning, trying to push back the darkness in their minds with television.

I am a fixer, so I have to think..what could be done to help these folks finally get past the trauma. I would like to see a cut in the military budget, first off. Right now, we spend as much on the Military as the next 10 countries in the world. Does this make us safer? I argue that it does not. It does, though, keep the military-industrial complex living high on the hog. Say we cut the funding back to the point that we are only spending the sum of what the next FOUR countries are spending? Would that make us less safe? I would say, no it would not. Then, I would allocate that money to rebuilding the mental health care industry in America…with a focus on inexpensive, easily accessed care. This would allow anyone with mental health issues to get the help they need to heal.

I would like to see a change in attitude of the Government. We are obscenely war-like, and have been since the founding of America. This is, in my opinion, the mental state of a child…not an adult. I would like to see America grow up a bit, and stop interfering in situations all over the world. I ESPECIALLY want to see our covert activities to overthrow governments come to a halt. After a life-time of observation, I find that the end result of these actions never seem to turn out well, either for the country we are interfering in, or, for America. I point to the Shah of Iran as a classic example of this incompetence. Had we not overthrown the elected government of Iran, and installed the Shah, Iran would not only be a very different place, it would likely be far more of an ally for America. We screwed the pooch on that one though. Of course, Vietnam is another perfect example of our screwing up.

We are, with 90 days of a Presidential election…our choice in the coming election is fairly clear. The current administration has demonstrated that it desires to destroy the country we know, and turn it into a facist dictatorship. The passel of Republicans who have supported these actions over the past 3.5 years have demonstrated that the Party itself has been corrupted to a point that my parents would not recognize it. The Democrats are not angels by any means, but, the platform they support will return power to the citizens, and, hopefully, will address some of the issues I discussed above. Why is this important? The only way America can heal the festering would that Vietnam left in our hearts is to take actions to move to a healing mindset. The Democrats have that mindset…

God help us All

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Results we get from a crappy educational system.

Greetings and Salutations;

I had the following dialogue with a very young lady (who started reproducing very early in life) on a local FB Page. It demonstrates the level of mindfulness that we struggle with in Tennessee, mostly as a result of the fact that it is a very Red state. This means, of course that racism is rampant, and, the educational system puts us in the bottom half of the school ratings.

As a bit of background, there is a meme going around right now, with a tear-jerker about a young, white boy that was shot by a black kid only a bit older than him, and killed. The theme is “why is this not being reported, and why are there no riots about this event. My reply and the conversation it generated follows:

Dave Mundt: : Why no riots? Perhaps because this is one murder out of over 1500 a year that happens between citizens. the punk that did this is a nobody, and, I will be interested to see if we ever hear why he did this.

In the case of Mr. Floyd, he was pulled out of his car and murdered slowly by the people we give authority to, in order to keep the peace, serve and protect. he was murdered with no more care than one feels when squashing a bug.

Do YOU want the police to be judge, jury and executioner? I suggest not, because even white privilege will not protect any of us if we hit the wrong cop on the wrong day.

of course, there is the reality that people of color live in an America that we, white folks, cannot even imagine. Every day, every time they leave their house, they go with the fear that they will not return… How many of us white folks had our parents go over exactly how one needs to act when interacting with the police…calling them “sir”, no matter what; Not moving unless we make it clear what we are doing; and a variety of other techniques needed to increase the probability that we will not be killed because a cop “Feared for his life”

PS: Dave Mundt: dont break the law u have nothing to worry about but I find it a lot easier to believe that an officer half a guys size would be afraid for his life then that that pos who killed an innocent lil give yr old feared for his and u trying to justify it makes you an even bigger pos get over urself this isn’t a black vs white matter this is a grow man against an innocent child problem and u cant justify that

Dave Mundt: PS: Did you read my comment and understand what I said? I said NOTHING about race as regards the punk that killed the kid. However, I did forget to point out that perhaps it would be a good idea to address the problems in our society that make life so cheap that 1500 plus kids are killed each year by being shot.

As for your first comment, that is simply a kneejerk reaction. Mr. Floyd was not breaking any law. If you are ok with the cops murdering someone who broke the law in the past, perhaps you would be OK with DCS coming in and taking your kids away because 5 years ago, you got a traffic ticket for reckless driving? Mr Floyd made some bad decisions, and was put in jail for a period of time for it. He served his time…but does that not matter?

PS: Dave Mundt: if he had cooperated with police they would not have needed to use that force no I’m not ok with anyone killing anyone but I dont get to make that call he died and that is a tragedy but to say it is anywhere near the same thing is rediculous dcs has been involved with my kids and has determined I am a damn good mother so leave them out of ur pety argument it doesnt help u it angers me my point sir is not all black people are in danger just bc they r black so stop playing the race card with everything it makes u look desperate

Dave Mundt: Have you watched ANY of the body cam video? It is true, Mr. Floyd did attempt to keep from being stuffed in the back of the confined cruiser. However, NO cops were injured…and he was not that violent. The rest of the time he was very compliant. The video clearly shows that the cops were escalating the situation.

I see you have no answers to my questions…just defensive deflections. I would remove the beam from thine own eye before attempting to remove the mote from my eye. I said NOTHING about what kind of a mother you were. I asked if you would be OK for a misdemeanor you committed several years ago be a reason for DCS to come in and take your children. To make it as clear as I can, I do not think this is a good thing, and I would be upset even if it happened to you!

As for your claim about people of color…Your opinion is not supported by the actual, life experiences of them in today’s world. As for “Playing the race card” that is without merit. The reality is that people of color have at least a 4 times greater chance of an interaction between police and them going south. That is reality, and no deflection on your part can change that.

I can see that your world view is cast in stone though, so, I am done.

It is this sort of lack of mindfulness, and the prejudiced attitudes expressed by PS that causes me to wonder…should humanity continue?

God Help Us All!

Be safe…wear your mask…wash your hands.

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Nuttiness, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 30, The Postal Service

Greetings and Salutations…

The closer we get to November, the more insane the actions of the administration become. Over the past week or so, it has become obvious that #3 (or at least, one of his advisors) understands how allowing voting by mail is the worst possible action to allow. Because of this, the partisan hack that is in charge of the Postal Service has taken some seriously illegal actions to ensure that voting by mail will be a disaster. I suspect, too, that this is part of the long-time plan of the Republicans to destroy the Postal Service as a governmental agency, and privatize it, to turn it into a cash cow for the very rich. Well, today, I spent a few minutes writing a note to my two Senators. I have included it below, so will not bother to reiterate it here.

I know, though for a fact that my words will be noted by some intern in the offices, and then ignored. Lamar Alexander, who did do some good things for Tennessee when he was Governor is retiring this year, have sucked all the cash he could out of the office. So, if possible, he gives even less of a fuck than he has for most of his career as a Senator.

(Marsha, Marsha, Marsha) Blackburn is an embarrassment to Tennessee, or at least to those of us that are not part of the Cult Of Personality that #3 has created. She is sucked up to #3 tighter than a spandex swimsuit, and would no more do anything to help her Constituents than she would vote for ANYTHING proposed by a Democrat.

However, I still cling to the belief that “All Evil needs to succeed is for people of good will to do nothing”. So, I will continue to communicate my opinions to the Senators until either I am dead, or, a Republican who actually puts Country ahead of Party is elected. I have to say that I anticipate that the former will happen before the latter. Now…as for the missive I sent to the Senators…here it is:

“The actions taken by the current administration, to destroy the effective functioning of the Postal Service are a direct attack on the basic laws we live by. The Postal Service is mentioned in the Constitution as a vital part of government services. By removing funding for it, and, appointing a highly partisan supporter, who has blatant conflicts of interest with its mission, the administration is taking unlawful actions to destroy it.

Not only has funding been cut, larger numbers of the automated sorting machines have been taken out of service and removed from the buildings. This means that mail has to be sorted by hand, which takes far, far longer than using the specialized machines which have worked so well for decades. This is causing mail to pile up in Post Offices, undelivered.

Why is this bad, you may ask?
1) many Americans, including YOUR constituents, receive medications through the mail that are vital for their continued health. These changes are causing those medications to either not arrive, or arrive with great delays…causing serious health issues for many people.
2) The normal flow of bills and payments is interrupted. I am sure that this is going to cause many Americans to suffer economic damage because of the delay in getting bills, and the receiving of payments. This may be a shock, but many Americans do not use the Net or credit cards over the phone to pay bills. While these may be minor issues for the rich in America, most of us are counting pennies and sticking to a strict budge, because we have to in order to avoid disaster.
3) Perhaps worst of all…the timing of these actions appear to be a purely political ploy to ensure that voting by mail will be so difficult that many voters will be disenfranchised. This is not a normal year…the pandemic is a very real thing, and is sickening and killing Tennesseans by the dozens, and Americans in general by the hundreds of thousands and millions. By making voting by mail difficult or impossible, the administration is forcing many Americans to put themselves in harm’s way in order to perform their civic duty. On top of all this, the reasons given by the White House for this game-playing are based on lies… NO country or state that depends solely on voting by mail has found any significant malfeasance or fraud… The frightening reality of voting by mail is that it increases voter participation….and the current administration knows that the more people that vote, the larger the percentage he will lose by…and that is unacceptable.
4) One final point. The actions taken by the director of the Postal Service likely are illegal and would subject him, and the people controlling him to criminal penalties. You can look up the law dealing with obstruction of the Postal Service as well as anyone.

I STRONGLY urge you, if you have any desire to actually represent your constituents, to refuse to cut funding to the post office, and do what is necessary to force the damage done to it be repaired as quickly as possible.”

God Help Us All!

Stay Safe! (And Wear your mask!)

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Political rants, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Talking about Mental Health…And America

Greetings and Salutations;

As I have touched on a number of times on this blog, mental health issues are a serious problem that Americans deal with about as well as they deal with nudity and death..Not well at all. I think that this is a situation that must change if we are to avoid falling into the pitfalls of society, such as the cesspool of madness we are trying to swim out of now. Just a warning…this is a complicated issue, so this is a fairly lengthy essay!

It seems to me that mental health is one of those subjects that is the Elephant in the living room, that no one wants to talk about. This has been true throughout most of my life, and, when I look back into American History, I see more avoidance, and misunderstanding about the topic, that almost always turns out poorly for the person with the issues. Look, for example, at how, for most of America’s history, the attitudes towards mental health issues punished those having challenges. My parents grew up in the early part of the 1900s, so, their life was a challenge… In no particular order, they had to deal with the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, which must have made them believe the entire world was crashing down, and there was no saving it. They had to deal with the Civil Rights Movement where the people of color really started actively pushing to gain the equality they started getting in the 1800s. Part of this Civil Rights movement was the growth of women being acknowledged as equal humans too, perhaps best marked by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1919 and ratified in 1920, that enshrined the woman’s right to vote. They had to deal with the technological changes of the world…going from Steam engines for trains, and horse-drawn buggies, to Atomic Energy, Computers, internal combustion engines, and the automobiles that used them. They were on the slide of American society going from a mainly agrarian society, to a more industrialized model that persists today. Their world was turned upside down by two World Wars that not only caused a huge jump in technological progress, but, brought more fear and uncertainty and a direct connection with death to every family in the country.

How did Americans, in general, react to this? They suppressed the fears, anxieties, nervousness and uncertainty that these radical changes brought, and pretended that everything was “OK!” I was born in 1955, and the lessons I was taught as an infant, were “big boys don’t cry”, “Suck it up and be a man”, “Never reveal your emotions. Emotions are a weakness, and weakness will be used against you”, “Buckle down and do what you need to do”, “Do NOT expect help from anyone else. Do it yourself!”. These, and similar rules for living were deeply ingrained in my mind, as they were very early programming. Even today, 65 years later, I have not fully managed to get away from them controlling my reactions to reality. That having been said, I am also moved to point out that these are not necessarily the worst rules to live by. Self-sufficiency is a good thing, for example. Being able to set aside an emotion reaction and deal with a bad situation is a good thing. After all, doctors and nurses do it EVERY day as they care for us when we are having the worst day of our lives. The problem I see, though, is that these rules must be applied in moderation, not taken as the absolute ONLY way to deal with reality. In my case, the self-sufficiency rule was continually repeated and emphasized to me by my father. This ended up with me being a tad extreme in my dealings with other folks. For years, I was never able to ask for help, and often would refuse it if offered. Yet, I would also go out of my way to help other folks with tasks they were having difficulties with. Today, I have improved, I think, at least a little. I still go out of my way to help others, but, I recognize, to some level, that I cannot do it all alone, and am less reluctant to ask for help. I also have gotten it through my head that other people derive the sort of pleasure I do when I can help ease another persons life by helping them deal with issues.

Well…now…back to the original topic…

Through out my life, I have been dismayed by the way that Americans in general put a stigma on “mental health”. Anyone with “mental health issues”, no matter what they are, is looked upon as a broken person, who should be viewed with suspicion and not trusted. Because of this, people fear to seek out help when they are having issues. This avoidance reaction ranges from a firmly held belief that they do not need therapy, because they are not “crazy”, to fear that someone will find out, and it will weaken them at work or in their community, to fear that if they seek out mental health help, the doctors will have them picked up at their office, and they will be swept away to an asylum somewhere, or put in a locked ward…a virtual prisoner. Even in those cases where (reluctantly) a person is convinced to seek out help, they will do things like travel to a nearby city, that is off the beaten track for them, so they will not run a chance of meeting someone they know on the street, and have to explain why they are coming out of a therapist’s office.

We have 200+ years of America ignoring the elephant in the living room, and stigmatizing folks for seeking mental health help, in spite of the reality that this course of action does NO good for anyone. Ignoring a problem is like leaving a package of chicken breasts out on the counter for a few weeks, and pretending one does not smell rotting meat. The only way to deal with the problem and help folks get their mojo back is to accept their reality, in a non-judgmental fashion, and, do what one can, when asked, to help them deal with it.

I do, of course, realize that “mental health issues” is such a broad collection of issues that there is no “one size fits all” answer. The solution that a person who is suffering from mild depression due to the immediate stresses of life is different from that needed by a person who has struggled with clinical depression their entire life which is different from the solution needed for a person with schizophrenia, and so on. As I touched on before, though, the stigma Americans place on these issues is almost the same…

Back in Reagan’s day, there was a real push by the Republicans to close mental health care facilities, and, he did a lot to defund and force the closings of these institutions. The attitude was pretty much the reactionary attitudes I have spoken of earlier, to “it is not the Government’s job to take care of these people…it is the church’s/private corporations that should be doing it”. This was, to put it mildly, misguided. Part of the design of our society by the Founding Fathers was that the government should be responsible for “the common good”. I, and many others, interpret this to mean that part of the government’s job is to take the responsibility of providing care and help for the least fortunate in our society. America was not set up to be an Oligarchy, or an Aristocracy. Its design goal was to be an egalitarian society, where all people have equal respect, and there IS no “Royal Class”. Hence, the idea of the government being responsible for helping the downtrodden and challenged. It is certainly an admirable goal to have churches shouldering that burden, as that IS sort of the message of Christ. However, from a realistic point of view, it is a pipe dream. The mega churches who might be able to do serious good there are so far away from being the good citizens that Christ calls them to be, it is like getting AT&T to drop money into the bucket. They have turned into “for profit” enterprises that benefit the leaders…and there is little taste to change that. The smaller churches sometimes can do a bit, but they are economically limited, so rarely can help more than one family at a time. Some of the mid-range churches can help more people, but, they too, have limits on funding, and the larger they get, the more focused on buildings and making more money come in they seem to get.

I have spent quite a few words pointing out the failures in the system today…so let me move on to discuss some changes I think would improve the situation a lot.

  1. We must change our focus back to providing adequate funding for mental health care in America. I would like to see a massive increase in support from the Government (from Federal all the way down to local), providing both high quality facilities for providing whatever level of care is needed, AND increasing the number of professionals, well educated in the field, to meet the demand.
  2. As part of this funding change, we must make access to quality mental health care affordable and accessible. The former can be a problem today, because many insurance programs still do not cover the cost of mental health care. Few of us can afford the $75 and up per hour that a good therapist charges..so, there is a huge roadblock there. Far too often, the insurance that covers such aid is limited to the number of visits allowed, which can be a serious problem. As for the accessible part…over and above the cost issue, there is the simple fact that it can be a challenge to find a qualified, mental health care professional that one can build a relationship with. There are far too few out there, and so they tend to be a little overwhelmed by the demand.
  3. The most difficult step I see is removing the stigma of admitting to mental health issues. One of the very good aspects of the radical social changes of the 1960s and 1970s is that people are far more open to admitting when they are having challenges, over the past 20-30 years I have seen a disappointing backsliding in the area. The old programming of swallowing our emotions, anger, etc, and not admitting to them is coming back. I believe that this is one of the factors that is twisting society into the extremist, intolerant and prone to violence state it is in now. We tend to forget that changes like this – involving some of the most basic and oldest programming we are given – are not a sprint. They are a marathon. It can take a lifetime of work to change one person’s view of reality, so, by extension, it will take lifetimes of work to change enough of society that a new “normal” takes charge. However, while the journey is long, and challenging, we must all work to complete it…single step by single step.
  4. I hope that in the near time-frame, parents will understand the need for removing the stigma, and even if they are uncomfortable with it, will work to teach their children to not add that to their prejudices.

I know that there are objections to these changes, some of which are valid, and some of which, in my opinion, are not. For example let us look at funding, both for trained personnel and affordable access. I have heard people say “this will cost $Billions! We cannot afford it!”. I have a couple of things to point out here. The current administration gave the richest members of society a tax cut a few years ago that was a $TRILLION windfall for them…that, is $1000 BILLION. Were these folks on the verge of bankruptcy and nearly destitute? Far from it! The tax cut was supposed to be used to allow these “job makers” to increase benefits and salary for their workers. What happened in real life? Damn little for the workers. All but a pittance of the money was used to invest in the stock market, in order to make them richer. This leads to the obvious conclusion that rescinding that tax cut would provide much funding needed by the government to take care of all citizens, and would not materially hurt the ultra-rich that benefited from it. At least in my world, either not being able to buy a second yacht, or, having to buy one that is only 150 feet long, instead of 200 feet, is not exactly “hurt”.

I would like to see the Federal Government actually move to a single payer healthcare system. People object to this, because they say “my taxes will go up!” However, they ignore the reality that the taxes that go up will end up being much smaller than the healthcare premiums they are paying now (for a net gain in money in their pocket). This change would also eliminate or cut drastically, other expenses, such as co-pays, prescription costs and the like. The Republicans (mainly) scream bloody murder over this for a variety of reasons ranging from their delusions that they are fiscal conservatives, to wanting to cut the overreach of government, to their false belief that lower taxes are a huge benefit for all. I often ask people who are standing against this idea “Why, if it is so difficult to have a successful single payer healthcare system, have only 33 of the 34 heavily industrialized countries in the world managed to make a great success of it??” I NEVER get a civil answer to this.

In the long run, I would like to see serious reform of the tax codes in America. Right now, they are massively swayed to support the very rich. There are thousands if not millions, of loopholes that are inaccessible to most citizens, but ensure that the very rich pay NO taxes. For example, there is a provision in the tax code that allows Real Estate developers to use business losses to offset personal income. This allowed Real Estate Developers, such as #3, to avoid personal income taxes for decades while they raked in the cash. It allows landlords, making millions off rental properties, to use any rental losses to offset income… I am not a tax expert by any means, but, it seems to me that claiming the protections of a corporation, which these folks do, and then being able to deduct corporate losses from personal income is, to put it mildly, a bit sketchy.

I am not in any way, shape or form an advocate of a flat tax, or a VAT, specifically because such a scheme hurts the less well off far more than the very rich. I would like to see a progressive tax system that ensures that the very rich pay a fair share of the dues to be American. I sometimes get blow-back about those words “Fair share” I am reminded that the upper 10% or so pay 90% of the taxes collected (or some number like that). I argue that the persons making this claim are looking at the wrong numbers. I advocate that we ignore the amount paid, and focus on the percentage of income only. As I have said elsewhere, a 70% tax on a person making $5 million a year has far less impact than a 70% tax on a person making $40,000 a year.

I will not get into corporate taxes or hiding income over seas just now, but, that is part of the reforms that have to happen. Before Reagan, the maximum tax rate was 70%. In a couple of rounds, he cut the throat of America’s budget by reducing that maximum to 28%. The income tax was implemented in 1861, and over the years, gradually grew as the Federal Government, and the tasks it took on grew. Here is a good history of the path. During the 1920s, when the income tax really grew, the wealth disparity between the richest and poorest in America was fairly huge. Over the years, it did drop to a far more reasonable level, but, in the past few decades has started a precipitous rise again. Here is an excellent analysis of how the wealth disparity has changed since 1900, and where it is going. At one time, it was around 50 to 1. Now it is upwards of 500 to 1. Now, if the tax rates were returned to pre-Reagan levels, and some blatant loopholes removed, it would make a huge difference in the American economy. not only would it address the issue of the overwhelming deficit, but, it would provide funding for many projects that would restore the strength of the middle class. This, by the by, is important, because in the 1940s and 1950s, when the Middle Class was strongest, America saw the most growth and progressive steps taken in its history.

Another step that we, as a society must take is to elect representatives that promote these views, and will work to implement them. This eliminates the Republican party these days, and for some unknown time into the future. The Democratic party platform does push these ideals…but, as a part of this change, we, citizens, must be proactive. We have GOT to not only vote in every election, from local on up to Federal, but, keep an eye on what the people we elect are doing. We should take time to give them feedback, both positive or negative, depending on their actions. If we do not do this, they will trot along their merry way, doing whatever they want, with the unquestioned assumption that everyone agrees with them. There are many tools out there to find how to contact elected officials. I tend to use the “Contact Me” page that every member of Congress has. A Google search for “contact congressman <state name>” will pop up the link immediately. Use Email, write post cards, call them…just be polite, calm, deal with one issue at a time, and move on.

I also call, once again, for the money that lobbyists can pour into the pockets of Representatives to be either limited, or publicly visible and audited. There is way too much bribery going on in the Federal, State and Local governments to ensure that a majority of citizens, instead of the privileged few, will benefit.

I am sure there are folks out there who are far more qualified than I to discuss why it is that Americans deal so poorly with mental health issues. If any of y’all run across this essay and care to comment on it, I welcome your input!

Stay safe.

God Help Us ALL

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Advances in Healthcare, Ethics, Heath, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 29 – predicting the future???

Greetings and Salutations;

I wanted to take a minute here, to look at the path the Republican Party is on. It is, alas, a pretty self destructive one, it seems to me. Every day the powers in the Senate allow #3 to increase his fascist attitudes and actions is another day that they saw deeper into their own throats.

I look at today’s “Republican Party”, think back to what it was in the 1970s, and shake my head at how it has evolved. When I started voting, in that time frame, I was voting Republican myself, mainly because my parents were solidly Republican, and, I thought that if they supported the Party and its goals, how bad could it be? Well, Nixon answered that question for me, and, his election was the last time I voted as a Republican. In spite of disillusionment with the Party, though, I had some respect for many of the members in Congress, because they could, and would, horse-trade with the Democrats, and finally agree on a compromise that either helped a majority of the country, or, at least, did not screw people over too badly. John Duncan Sr, for example, was REAL Republican…but, he would talk with everyone with respect, and when a constituent came to him with a problem, he did not ask “Did you vote for me”. He asked “What do we need to do to fix this problem”. He had a lot of respect from both sides in the House, and for good reason.

Over the years, though, through the 90s and into the 2000s, the face of the Party changed, perhaps reflecting the rot that was permeating all of society. It become less tolerant of alternative views, and more hide-bound in its desire to take us back to the early 1900s when the White Man was King, and people of color knew their place. Up to about 2009, though, this trend was held back a bit by a number of brakes. Alas, in 2009, the Tea Party was created, and, in the next few years made huge inroads into the political power structure. They, alas, were an extremist group, quite intolerant of differing views, and pushing an extreme version of the fantasy of “small government, no taxes” that the Republicans have always paid lip service to. They, in spite of being only about 10% of the population, were loud enough and good enough at propaganda to take over far more seats in Congress than, perhaps, they should have controlled. Their “pie in the sky” message, combined with the prescious image of their tri-horn hats, with a tea bag hanging from the rim distracted enough people from their platform that, I believe, they got far more support than they should have.

The final straw, though, was the growth of the Cult of Personality that trump (who I refer to as #3 because he is only the third president to be impeached) is the Dear Leader of. When president Obama started his campaign in 2006, #3 began pushing his racist and hateful rhetoric…all based on questioning President Obama’s citizenship, and lies about his birth certificate. He continued to pound that dead horse for all eight years of President Obama’s administration, and, in the process started building a real, political base. Granted even in 2016, when he was elected to the Office, his base was a small minority of the voting public…but they were fanatically loyal to him. Why? That is not a simple question to answer, but, some factors were

  • He claimed to be a very wealthy guy, who could not be influenced by donations. There is a rumbling of discontent among many voters who believe the conspiracy theories that a few, very rich people, control the world.
  • He casually dropped racist words and actions, and suffered no consequences from this…no blowback.
  • He claimed to be very smart, and have the way to fix all the problems of the country.
  • He is a grifter, and has been his entire life, so he is expert at whipping up the emotions of the crowds, by offering them goodies to come, and, playing on their hate and fears of “The Other” and, losing their position in society.
  • As a part of his grift, he could, and would, promise anything to any group, and for some reason, he was never called on it…even when he walked away and did nothing.
  • He appealed to the small percentage of Americans who are so filled with hate and fear that they wanted to burn down the entire establishment. They did not have any plans on how to replace it, they were, essentially, arsonists…they wanted to see the flames. For some of them, too many of them, the realization that they are locked in a cage in the living room as the building is burning down around them has not dawned on them…they cling to the destruction.

This uneasy partnership has co-existed for a number of years now, but, I believe that the Republican Party is like a locked room full of rabid dogs. They are all on hair trigger and growling at each other, and the slightest provocation will set off a free-for-all that will end up being a blood bath for the Party.

I am also of the opinion that the recent actions taken by #3, in sending in violence minded, undisciplined, storm troopers to Portland Washington may be box falling off the shelf that ignites the melee. The fact that these heavily costumed agents are only being sent to Democratic Areas that are seeing Black Lives Matter protests, and, when they get there, they are the instigators of violence, not the protestors, is red meat for some of the Republicans, and, a sudden realization of how far the party has fallen for others. In addition, #3 is now starting to attack the Republicans who gave him support in the past, from the Governors who, foolishly, pushed re-opening their states, to members of Congress that dare imply they do not kiss his ass any longer.

The Red State Governors are beginning to panic, because they are seeing huge spikes in covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths, so they are trying to find a way to pull back and shut things down again. This is proven to be taken by #3 as a personal attack, so he punishes them.

The Republicans in Congress are realizing that their sucking up to #3 may well have doomed their chances of being re-elected. All across the country there are Democratic candidates who are even with or ahead of Republican incumbents. Amy McGrath, for example, who opposes one of the true dinosaurs of the Senate – Mitch McConnell, is out-polling him across Kentucky, and, more importantly WAY ahead on contributions. So, in a last ditch effort to save their cushy jobs and power, some of the Republicans are pushing back against #3. He, of course, is chopping their heads off…

Now, what do I see for the future? Nothing is guaranteed, of course, which is why we still run horse-races. However, I see a real chance that in November, a LOT of Republicans in Congress will lose their seats, turning the entire Congress Blue. With the increasingly demented actions of #3, there is a very, very good chance that Joe Biden will take the Presidency. If this happens, I am pretty sure that we will see the Republican party break into three, separate and competing groups.

  1. There will be the “Lincoln Project” faction. This consists of Republicans who are more like the Republicans of the 70s. They may be misguided in their programs, but, they are likely to put the good of the Country ahead of the good of the Party.
  2. There will be the “Tea party” faction. This group, while more extremist than the Lincoln Project Republicans MIGHT be sane enough to negotiate with. However, I suspect, considering what I have seen over the past couple of decades, they will be pretty set in their ways.
  3. Finally, there is the “#3 Cultist” faction. These folks are, I fear, so lost that it may not be possible to redeem them. They are a collection of fanatics, who include a lot of white supremacist groups…and are mindlessly loyal to #3. They are the ones who never complain about the fact that #3 has been sucking up to the worst dictators and human right’s violators in the world, for the entire administration. They accept his willingness to believe Putin over our own Intelligence Agencies. They are fine with cops murdering people of color as they are as racist as #3, and look upon anyone who is not a White Boy, to be subhuman. They are also the ones most likely to resort to violence at the drop of a hat. So far, every injury or killing at protests, that has not been done by the police, has been done by a #3 cultist. They are also the most likely group to actually take up arms if #3 does not win the 2020 election…

These three groups may have a power base that keeps them in the Government, but, the one positive thing here is that they are so fractured, it is likely that for years to come, they will be a minority group, with minimal power.

Will this come to pass? I look forwards to the November Elections to see how close I am to reality. I could be dead wrong, and the Republicans will come out of this stronger than ever. However, if that happens, and #3 is re-elected, America, which is already considered a Plague State, thanks to the incompetent handling of the covid-19 crisis, and banned from traveling to many countries, will likely become a third world, banana republic dictatorship. I will derive some amusement if this happens, though, because the greatest probability is that the fools that support the Party are the most likely to be “disappeared” by such a regime.

God Help Us All

Stay safe!

Bee Man Dave.

Posted in Ethics, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Political rants, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Snake Oil | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Covid-19 Thoughts, Part 04…The FULL costs

Greetings and Salutations;

Time has progressed since the first bunch of cases of this pandemic showed up in America. As the news shows us, it is not improving. For example, as of today, Tennessee has over 61,000 confirmed cases, and several hundred deaths. The latter is an important number, and is the subject of this essay…

When this infection started to spread through the country, it appeared that it was mainly a respiratory issue. This is bad enough, but, was something that could be dealt with. Well, since then, more data has been gathered about covid-19 and its myriad effects on the body. It truly is a “novel” virus, as it has much broader effects than originally thought. It attacks not only the lungs, but all major organs in the body, including the brain, leaving long-term damage.

I still see people refusing to wear masks to cut back on spreading the infection, because they claim it is “nothing more than a bad flu”, or is a Democratic Hoax, or “They will not have their freedoms infringed by the government!” They also minimize the danger of the infections by saying “Well, on 1% of the people that get it, die”. I just found an excellent explanation of what that means, and how it really affects all of us. So, I am quoting it here:

“How can a disease with 1% mortality shut down the United States?

There are two problems with this question.

It neglects the law of large numbers; and

It assumes that one of two things happen: you die or you’re 100% fine.

The US has a population of 328,200,000. If one percent of the population dies, that’s 3,282,000 people dead.

Three million people dead would monkey wrench the economy no matter what. That more than doubles the number of annual deaths all at once.

The second bit is people keep talking about deaths. Deaths, deaths, deaths. Only one percent die! Just one percent! One is a small number! No big deal, right?

What about the people who survive?

For every one person who dies:

  1. 19 more require hospitalization.
  2. 18 of those will have permanent heart damage for the rest of their lives.
  3. 10 will have permanent lung damage.
  4. 3 will have strokes.
  5. 2 will have neurological damage that leads to chronic weakness and loss of coordination.
  6. 2 will have neurological damage that leads to loss of cognitive function..

So now all of a sudden, that “but it’s only 1% fatal!” becomes:

  • 3,282,000 people dead.
  • 62,358,000 hospitalized.
  • 59,076,000 people with permanent heart damage.
  • 32,820,000 people with permanent lung damage.
  • 9,846,000 people with strokes.
  • 6,564,000 people with muscle weakness.
  • 6,564,000 people with loss of cognitive function

That’s the thing that the folks who keep going on about “only 1% dead, what’s the big deal?” don’t get. The choice is not “ruin the economy to save 1%.” If we reopen the economy, it will be destroyed anyway. The US economy cannot survive everyone getting COVID-19.

The proceeding analysis is courtesy of Franklin Veaux

This pandemic does have the capabilities of destroying societies. While we should not panic, by any means…we should not blow it off either. Many governors, urged by #3 have re-opened their states…as if the virus is gone. It is not. So, the result has been that America is showing such a spike in infections that many countries in the world have banned travel from the worst hit states…and even then, in most cases, Americans are required to quarantine for 14+ days when arriving.

A big issue here is the response of the Federal Government. the “leadership” there has gone from denial, to mocking, to lies about it, to discounting it, to arbitrarily deciding it is over. They do not seem to understand that the virus does not care what they think. It will do what it is here to do…and unless serious changes are made than huge numbers of Americans will die, or be disabled by it. The reality is that American have reacted with such ignorance and pig-headedness to the issues of this virus, that, instead of a single mountain peak, and a tapering off, OUR infection curve looks like this:

Unless we change the path we are on very soon, this country will be no more. How do we do this? it is not really complicated.

  1. Wear a face mask when near other people. Recent studies have shown that the simple fact of wearing a mask can cut the likelihood of infecting others by 75%. And remember…no matter what the current administration says, wearing a mask is NOT a political statement.
  2. Wash your hands well…remember that 20 second rule? That is a minimum time. In addition, practice the simple hygiene our Parents likely taught us as children.
  3. Avoid proximity with strangers…and anyone you DO know that might be exposed and a carrier. Yes, this DOES mean we cannot have big parties in our back yard. It does mean we might have to avoid eating out, or even small dinners with friends.
  4. Minimize trips out to shop, and when shopping do not hang out for hours in the store, looking at stuff. Get what you need and get out.

These are not complicated, and, considering the alternative is increasing the chances that a person you love will suffer the effects of the virus listed above…is it really an infringement on your rights to ask you to follow these rules for a while? This situation will not last forever, unless we are stupid, and ensure that it can. While THIS ARTICLE is a worst case scenario, it is also NOT so off the wall that it cannot happen. Be Mindful and caring of our fellow citizens, and ourselves, and we can make it through this…

God Help Us All!

Bee Man Dave

Posted in Advances in Healthcare, Ethics, Heath, Humanity, Improving Life, Nuttiness, Observations, Political rants, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Snake Oil | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment