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Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 40 – Another Cultist speaks up.

Greetings and Salutations….

Of course, the Biden administration has been under constant attack by the Right-Wing since Jan 20. Alas, unlike the previous administration, IT does not deserve all the crap that is being thrown at it. More on that later.

However, I was just engaged in an interesting dialogue that demonstrates, again, the cultist nature of the Republicants these days, and their willingness to believe lies over truth. I quote it below, with annotations.

JCA:
JW-L: you are entitled to your opinion. I happen to believe the current President is hurting my family and destroying our country. Guess we just have to disagree

KW:
JCA: just curious. In what way, in four months, has the current president hurt you and your family?

Dave Mundt:
KW:
I am betting you will not get an answer from Ms. ALba. I NEVER do when I ask them direct questions about their claims.

KW:
Dave Mundt:
I’m sure she has no answer. And destroying our country? Had she seen footage from January 6th?

JCA:
KW: did you see the footage from last summer?? Really? The open border concept- how is that going for you? Do you like the price of gas, groceries. How about foreign policy going down the toilet. Iran nuclear plan for one. Reengagement with the WHO which is dominated by China Sided with teachers unions over needs of families and especially women shall I go on?

Dave Mundt:
JCA: Well, an actual reply…one that is filled with questionable views, but a response. Let me take a shot at them.

  1. Are you talking about the BLM Protests? I assume so. This fails as an example for two major reasons.
  2. a) Were any of your family injured in the protests?
  3. b) They were, in general very peaceful. The reports from the cops showed that a vast majority of the violence and destruction was caused by Right-Wing infilltrators, who had nothing to do with BLM.
  4. And…as a bonus…the BLM Protests were against cops killing unarmed people of color. They were not an attempted coup and overthrow of the Constitution and government.
  5. The “Open Border” concept you talk about is nothing but a Republicant Lie, boiled up how of whole cloth, in a vain attempt to smear the current administration. From Day ONE, Pres. Biden has said “Do not come”. Did you miss VP Harris, speaking in Guatemala, and saying “Do Not Come”. There has been no movement towards open borders, no personnel cuts in Border patrol or ICE, no removal of barriers.
  6. The price of fuel recently has been affected by the terrible freeze in Texas that shut down refineries and pumping platforms. The hack of the Colonial Pipeline also had a huge effect on fuel availability, and price. Of course the cost of fuel ALWAYS leaps up around national holidays, as the Oil industry pumps up its profits.
  7. As for Grocery costs. In case you have not noticed, the previous administration slapped tariffs on many food imports. Add to that the reality of the pandemic that is burning through the world, causing farm workers to not be able to pick crops, and the supply drops. Under capitalism what happens when supplies get low and demand is high? Prices go up.
  8. Your comments about foreign policy simply demonstrate your lack of knowledge and your following the Right-Wing lies. Since Pres. Biden has taken office, America’s respect in the world has risen by leaps and bounds.
  9. As for the Iran Nuke agreement. #45 pulling out of that agreement simply meant that Iran would have nuclear weapons in 5 years, instead of 15. This is documented on line in reliable sources.
  10. Your comment about WHO is simply sad. It is not dominated by China, and it has done huge amounts of good in the world.
  11. Your comment about teachers unions is sketchy. Pres. Biden’s goal was to get schools reopened in his first 100 days. As a matter of fact he got blowback against that from the unions. the goal has since been modified. As was the original idea, schools should reopen at a pace that keeps both students and staff safe. This will be much easier since the Covid vaccines have been approved for use in younger kids.

However, the bottom line is that with your rant, you STILL did not answer Ms. Wright’s question – how have you or your family been DIRECTLY harmed by this administration. I will give you half a point for the increased costs being painful and a challenge, but, the rest of your comment loses you about 1000 points. Also, What do you believe President Biden has done to raise prices? Do you believe he controls private industry?

This, to me, is proof positive that the right wing conspiracy channels on Cable are propaganda outlets, spreading lies to support an agenda. It is a major reason I support adding the Fairness Doctrine to the LAW, making it far stronger than an FCC Regulation. It also speaks loudly about the state of mind of the Right-Wingers out there and the attitudes they have taken on over the past decade or so. This level of delusion and hate started when President Obama was elected, and has simply gotten more extreme over the years.

Now, How would I “fix” this? If I had the power, I would require all Americans to re-take some civics classes, since the ones they had did not stick with too many of them. I would require that people who express views based on lies as being the truth be required, at the bare minimum to pass a course in skeptical thinking, and at worst, be required to be deprogrammed and THEN sent to Skeptical Thinking class. In a more realistic vein though, I simply work to get as many liberals and Democrats to vote Blue as possible. If we can take solid control of the government, legislation can be run through that will deal with a bunch of these issues.

God Help Us All

Be Safe, social distance, wear your mask, get the vaccination shots.

Bee Man Dave.

Addendum.

The person skating on thin ice here, JCA, simply would not let go of her delusions. She just added the following comments (which include my reply) to the thread.

JCA:
Dave Mundt: peaceful!? You are really out there if you believe that!

JCA:
KW:
always goes back to Trump. You are never going to see the truth. Have a good day. I can’t deal with this and you

JCA:
Dave Mundt: have a good and blissful day. As they say ignorance is bliss

Dave Mundt:
JCA:
Bless your heart.. Let me explain something to you. The news is based on spectacle, to a huge extent. SO…the cameras go to where the excitment is, and bypass the hundreds of thousands of people who are marching in protest, peacefully. Now media outlets with a strong agenda, such as Fox Not-The-News, OANN and NewsMax will spin the images to make their viewers believe the violence is all over the place. in reality it is often a tiny area within a much broader protest.
I see you did not notice or are ignoring the links that I have provided in my reply to back up my opinions. Hard t argue with evidence, I know.
Bottom line is that your casual dismissal of us, and your claims that “Ignorance is bliss” simply demonstrate the lack of substance your comments have, and are more projections of your own issues on us

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

Covid 19 Thoughts, Part 05 – Mistakes from the past haunt us.

Greetings and Salutations.

Today, an very interesting article came to my attention. One of the major conflicts during the Covid-19 pandemic has been the subject of Masks. For some time, the scientific community was very divided about urging the population in general to wear a mask when in the company of others. There were some valid points on both sides, and the arguments were certainly impassioned! The down side to this process has been two fold. First off, it has allowed the politicians to turn mask wearing into a political issue. In these days of extremist positions, this has caused quite a divide between (in general), the Liberal community – who tend to wear the mask, and the Conservative community – which actively refuses to wear the mask.

As it turns out, much of the argument stems from some sloppy science done more than 50 years ago. The article, linked below, discusses at length, the issues, and their history. It is rather long, alas, but, it is worth reading…

The Teeny Tiny Scientific Screwup That Helped Covid Kill

God help us all.

Be safe…wear the mask, get the vaccine, wash hands and social distance!

Bee Man Dave

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

To Laugh, or To Cry…THAT is the question.

Greetings and Salutations;

As I was poking around on Facebook today, I ran across a thread about the ongoing Covid vaccinations. The Original Post was a question “Have you gotten one or both Vaccination jabs?” Well, the following thread, consisting of several hundred replies, seemed to shake out into three, basic, themes. There were the people who said “YES” and mentioned which vaccination they had gotten. There were the ones who said “Not yet…but I am getting it scheduled, or have not because I cannot find a place to get it done” The third category is the one I am going to address here. Those are the people who said “No, and I am not getting it for <reasons>”.

  • Some of the folks said they were not getting it because they did not believe in vaccines of ANY sort. Many of these folks say that they are very healthy, that they eat a healthy diet, and have not had any problems with the flu before. Others are convinced that the vaccines are filled with terrible, foul chemicals, parts of ground up, aborted babies, or something that will give them the disease.
  • These days, we have a LOT of people who seem to be refusing to get vaccinated because it is political thing. Apparently they believe that the politicians on the other side of the aisle are engaged in some sort of nefarious plot, and are using lies about how bad Covid is in order to push a Communist/Socialist agenda.
  • Some of the folks say they are not going to get the vaccination because they do not know what is in it, or, that it has been rushed out, and nobody knows about what effects it will have.
  • Some folks refused to get it because “They have heard” that many people die from it.
  • Some folks refuse to get it because it is a plot by Bill Gates to implant a microchip that will allow him to track them, and control their mind.

In the real world, NONE of these have any truth to them. They are the product of shadowy sources, conspiracy loony websites, and random rumors started on the Net – in SOME cases by Satirical Web Sites, whose humor goes over the head of the listeners and causes them to believe these are real things. I want to address them in reverse order…because I find the last one to be the most amazingly funny of the group.

So…What about that claim? These are the points I usually make to the people making these claims.

  • I ask them “what makes you believe that your life is so interesting that anyone, much less the government, is interested in tracking you?”
  • I point out that they already are carrying the perfect tracking device. Their smartphone allows them to be located within a circle about 60 feet across at worst, and with a foot or two of their location most of the time. I also point out that it provides more services in that it can be activated remotely to transmit sound and video without any indication it is happening.
  • I may point out that mind control is not a trivial thing. To work it would require significant power, and electrodes implanted throughout the brain. The Microchip they are talking about is a passive device. It is an RFID chip which only activates when hit with a specific frequency of radio waves. It uses the energy from those radio wave to wake up and broadcast a very short message…typically a long number. It has NO electrodes and sits under the skin. Also, if it were injected into the muscle, as vaccines are, it would fail to work at all, because the radio waves could not penetrate the flesh to get to it.
  • As for being included as part of the vaccination process. That is UNLIKELY to happen….Why? Well, the syringe and needle used for vaccinations is very different from that one used for the microchip. HERE is an image that compares the two. Anyone else notice a slight difference in the two? And, no, microchips do not come small enough to fit through the vaccination needle.

  • Do people die from a vaccine shot? Yes, but so rarely one is more likely to be hit by a golden meteor than for this to happen. As of this date, there is ONE vaccine that may have had issues. There was apparently an issue with blood clots in women. One woman did die from the clots. However, the remaining 6 were treated and recovered with no problems. The vaccinations with this version were halted for a while, as treating the clots should not be done with the usual medicines, and the government wanted to have time to get the information out to all medical facilities…so if they did see this problem they would understand what to screen for, and how to treat it. This, by the way was out of over 7 million doses of the vaccine given…. Overall, there have been a few thousand people who have died after receiving any of the vaccines available. Autopsies, though, showed no connection to the vaccination. All the people who died were either quite old (increasing the probability they would die at some point), or had unknown, underlying conditions that kicked in randomly. While each of these deaths is a personal tragedy for the person and their family and friends, they are a nearly invisible number compared to the 200 million doses of the vaccines that have been administered as of today.
  • I derive some amusement from the people complaining about the vaccines being ‘rushed out’, and that they do not know what is in them. For the former, I point out that Corona viruses have been around for a long time, and research on the best vaccines against them has been going on for at least 20 years. The Covid-19 vaccines we have today are simply the results of that research. It was possible to get them online quickly specifically because of those decades of research and development that has kept a large number of very intelligent and talented people busy for all these years. As for the complaint that they do not know what is in them…I usually ask “You eat Chicken McNuggets, hot dogs and bologna, and you are worried because you do not know what ingredients are in the vaccines?” As for long-term effects…this simply shows that they have no idea of how vaccinations work. The long-term effects of these vaccines are to ensure that the body is programmed to produce enough antibodies to wipe out any trace of Covid-19 when one is exposed to it. They will not affect one’s genetic structure, cause horn or tentacle growth (although that does sound kind of cool), or leave a person in a fragile state.
  • The political reason seems totally nuts to me. The reality is that Covid is real and JUST as bad as advertised…it is not a hoax or some plan to gain political points. The 565,000+ dead citizens and the millions left damaged and disabled by the after effects of the disease should make that clear.
  • Finally, the anti-vaxxers. These people are the classic example of the ignorant, prejudiced and unwilling to learn that have managed to slither through the American School system. Their arguments, as touched on above, are nonsense and driven by a gullible acceptance of the spews on Conspiracy Loony Web Sites and Media Outlets. What is worse, they cling to the lies they embraced, and refuse to consider or explore alternatives. It is, perhaps, some of the worst examples of intellectual dishonesty one can find. Oh yes…the points I mentioned upstream that are a few of their excuses are totally without merit. Not one is true now, and, for that matter either have never been true, or have not been true for 40 years or more.

A major reason I am so hard on the anti-vaxxers is that their decision to refrain from vaccinations do not just affect themselves. They refuse to let their children be vaccinated, thereby providing a fertile field for some really nasty diseases. Shucks, for that matter…I just interacted with a women who was looking for a kitten to take home, but did not want it Vaccinated. She lives in Florida, by the by, where there are a LOT of rabid animals who do bite humans and cats. Here is a page showing the statistics. Well, back to the point…another issue with the anti-vaxxers is that when they are infected, they not only are an unnecessary burden on the health care system, but, perhaps more importantly…The Only way a virus can mutate and become more virulent is to infect a host and grow. Until it gets into the cell of a living host, it is nothing more than an inert bundle of genetic material. SO, by providing hosts, the anti-vaxxers are likely to produce the mutation that will ensure that the current vaccines are no longer effective. The same process happens every year with the flu. It moves through an unvaccinated or poorly vaccinated population, evolving into a form that requires us to get a booster shot every year.

What can we do to address these issues? In the short term….If YOU are reluctant to get the vaccination…talk to your doctor. Do what he or she suggests. If you cannot trust your doctor, who can you trust? In the long term, we really need to address the educational system in America. This pandemic has brought to the forefront the reality that too many citizens do not have the tools, provided by a good education, to critically evaluate the flood of information the Net provides, sifting out the valid from the invalid data that sprays out of our screens. One down side of the Net is that the goofiest and least valid theories can LOOK as if they have equal footing with a peer-reviewed, long-term study from Mayo Clinic! The tools of skeptical thinking, and library skills taught by a good school system will allow the reader to find evidence to either support or disprove the data they are getting. Sadly, there are a lot of other changes that need to happen in America, many of which have been uncovered by the awful administration of the 45th president. However, those are a topic for other posts

God Help Us All!

GET your vaccination, Wear your mask, social distance and be careful out there.

Beemandave

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

Covid 19 Thoughts, Part 04, Anti-Vaxxers? WTF?

Greetings and Salutations!

Covid-19 Virus

Today is April 13th, 2021. The Covid pandemic has been a wildfire raging around the world for over 12 months now. While there are some successes, in that we already have four, very effective vaccines that are finally being rolled out in significant numbers, the crisis is not over by a long shot. Not only are there too many countries in the world that have yet to see their first Covid-19 vaccination shot, but here in America we have a dishearteningly large number of citizens who, for various reasons are refusing to get the vaccination, or, for that matter, take the tiny precautions to keep from getting, or spreading the virus, such as wearing a mask, extra and more complete hand washing, social distancing and the like.

That having been said, I am focusing on one issue here…that is the problem of vaccinations in America. I just dropped into a thread on Facebook, from a local page, where a large percentage of the people were railing against getting One of the vaccines we have available. I wrote the following comment to address their concerns, although I am rather sure that most of them will neither read it, nor believe it if they DO read it. However, if I can open the eyes of even one person, then I shall look upon the commentary as a success. Here, then, follows my argument as to why getting the vaccination jab is vital, and far better than the alternatives:

I got my second Pfizer jab over two weeks ago. Since I had covid in 2020, my first shot made me sick as a dog for two weeks. The second one I barely noticed. I did have a bit of fatigue, and a couple of smallish headaches in the week following, but that was it.
I STRONGLY recommend to everyone that if you can get the jab…get it. It does not matter if it is the two shot versions, such a Pfizer or Moderna, or the one and done, J&J jab. While there is much publicity when someone has a bad reaction, a lot of press does not mean there is actual danger there. Right now tens of millions of people have been vaccinated, and the number of people who have had serious issues is in the very low thousands. The reality is that you are many times more likely to be injured or killed in a car crash on your way to get the shot than you are to suffer injury from the vaccination itself.


Remember…the news media tends to focus close attention on whatever event will get them the most viewers…ignoring the entire picture. So, it is very easy to believe that the dangers are greater than they really are. Let me give you a specific example. Last Summer there were the VERY VISIBLE protests by BLM over the George Floyd murder. From the news coverage, one would think that all of Minneapolis/St. Paul was being burned to the ground. However, as this link shows, it was a tiny part of the city, and a very small number of buildings actually damaged.
yet, these events caused weapons sales to skyrocket in America, caused many to call for preemptive strikes to deal with a coming race war, and a general feeling of fear and hate that is still with us today.


NOT getting the vaccine is, in my opinion, a very selfish act. Why? Because…with out it, a person remains vulnerable to catching Covid, and distributing it to family and friends. The person who gets it up front might not die from it, or, for that matter, even feel ill…but they could kill or maim friends and family all around them.


Another reason is that Covid mutates, and is becoming better at infecting others. The ONLY time it can mutate like that, though, is when it enters a host and starts reproducing. The host’s immune system might knock out the weaker strains of the virus and allow only the stronger versions to survive. That is why we are now seeing spikes from a new version of Covid, that is better at infecting people, and as such is striking far more folks of a younger age.


Finally, there is the reality that while “only” a few percent of people that get Covid die…a huge percentage (I have seen estimates as high as 70%) of the people who get it and survive are left with permanent organ damage that will impact the length of their lives – shortening their life, increase the probability that they will be hit with other diseases, and, that they will end up needing far more, expensive, hospital care than they would have. And that, folks, is the BEST case. There are reports of significant numbers of folks who continue to suffer symptoms of Covid for months, and perhaps years after having had it – the so-called “Long Haulers”. There are reports of people who have had such damage from Covid that they have been permanently disabled because of the damage done to their bodies and brains.


Are these chances YOU are willing to take? Are these chances you are willing to inflict on your aging parents, grandparents or friends? Are these chances that you are willing to inflict on the members of your family that might be immune compromised? Remember, as of today, over 567,000 Citizens have died of this virus, and we have a long way to go before it is under control. Many of these people also were skeptical that Covid 19 was anything other than a bad flu, or, a hoax. There have been multiple reports of people saying, up to the moment of death, that they did not believe the virus was real.

I got the jab as soon as I possibly could because my answer to the previous questions was a resounding “no“. I hope that all who read this, who are still holding out for a “safer” vaccination, or believe that they are so healthy that they will NEVER get it, will seriously consider what I have said…understand that Covid does not care what you think, want or believe or how strong you think your immune system and healthy your life is. It WILL infect you if given the chance. It is becoming more and more likely every day that EVERY citizen is a target and there is no guard against it. I suggest a better course of action is to face your fears. Do not let them control your actions. Do the SMART thing and get the vaccination, if not for yourself, for the people you care for. The worst of the reactions to the vaccine, as reported so far is still orders of magnitude less difficult than dealing with getting Covid and all the ramifications that means..

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

Automation in today’s world! The Tsunami is coming…Our lifeboat may be the UBI

First off, I am going to link to a general overview of the advancement of automation in the world. When watching this Video, I suggest you pay attention to the factory floor in particular. Count the number of skilled and semi-skilled human workers you see…and then remember…this can and will spread throughout the world. Why? Because people are expensive, far from trouble free, and often unreliable. There is a much larger profit margin when machines do the work.
An overview of automation in industry

3d printing small, inexpensive homes.

In my first example, I am looking at the technology of 3d printing, which has leapt forwards in the past decade. In the 1990s, these printers were toys, expensive toys with limited abilities. Today, though, we see printers that are very affordable, that can produce items on demand that are surface ready to be used. The size of the printers has scaled up by huge amounts too. Today, it is possible to have a giant printer installed on your job site, and over the period of a day or two, print, out of concrete, the shell of a complete house. While this is still very new technology, it is already in use in a number of places. The result of this innovation? We go from a crew of a dozen or more skilled workers to one person at a computer screen. While it is true that this is still very new technology, it is already in use in a number of places. The costs are tiny, compared to conventional construction, also, as pointed out in the linked article. Here is an example of the growth of the industry.

Note, too, that, the same sort of automation is taking over the job of bricklayers and masons. The current bricklaying robots do a far faster and equally good job as the most skilled humans…and for a pittance of the cost.
The Bricklaying robot at work.

As another example…I had to have some blood tests done the other day. The lab has upgraded since the last time I was there, and, instead of talking with one or more office workers to get logged in, and update my insurance information, I stood at a touch screen on a pedestal, with a built in scanner, and tapped answers out to a series of questions. Upon being prompted, I placed my insurance cards under the scanner, and new images were captured and stored in their computers. I did notice that there were at least two fewer people in the office there, and I wondered…where did they go?

One final example…in many fast food restaurants, when one walks in, instead of several people behind the counter, taking orders, there is ONE person. Scattered around the entryway are a number of touch pads similar to the one I used at the Lab. We, the consumer, have to go tap in our order on these pads, then, the one person behind the counter does their single job…collects payment for the order. However, the work of automation is not limited to simply collecting orders. Already there is a thriving market for robots that will actually prepare the food. Here, for example, is a promotional video for a robot that takes batter at one end, and, spits out perfectly cooked doughnuts at the other! It is not just doughnuts, either.

Here is an article about “Flippy the Robot”, a machine that cooks hamburgers!

While all these technological advances are spectacular, and will change life, hopefully for the better, it is an undeniable issue that these and many other inroads to human-based tasks will cause many workers to be out of a job. What do we do about this? Do we ignore it, and let them starve, to eliminate the excess population? Or, do we take a lesson from the Preamble of the Constitution, where the Founding Fathers made it crystal clear that a responsibility of society is to ensure the welfare of all citizens. I do not mean by this that they should be on Government aid for their lives, but, rather, that it is the Government’s responsibility to make sure that every citizen is protected from some level of economic or food-related disaster. Because of this interpretation, I have come to the understanding that it is past time to implement a Universal Basic Income for Citizens. The details are fuzzy still, but, in general, it should be enough cash to ensure that every person receiving it is above the Poverty Line.

Now…how do we pay for this? I suggest there are several major sources of funding that are untapped at the moment.

  1. By implementing automation, every manufacturer sees a significant jump in profits. Right now, a majority of those monies tend to go to the owners and upper level management of the companies. It is, in a very real sense, a windfall profit. I suggest that these profits should be taxed and collected by the government as partial funding for the UBI.
  2. The Republicant administrations are famous for coming in and giving huge tax benefits to the very rich. This allows them to hoard money, and avoid paying a more equitable share of the expenses of the country. As an example, I point out the Occupier of the Oval Office from the previous administration. Over the past decade or so, his tax lawyers have used focused loopholes and shenanigans that were not really illegal, but were certainly shady, to ensure that this man, who claimed to be a multi-billionaire, paid either no taxes or a pittance. In two years of his administration he paid only around $750/year in taxes. This, in spite of income up in the millions. when I was working, I would pull in $20,000 a year…and have to write a check to the government for $2,000 of that off the top. Is that equitable? Or is it a perfect example of the powerful getting a free ride because of their influence? I am inclined to go with the free ride explanation. So, I strongly support the idea of rescinding the tax cuts for the very rich, and closing many of the loopholes currently used to avoid paying taxes. Even by doing this, the very rich will will still have more money than most of us can imagine, and their lifestyles will not suffer greatly.
  3. I would look at the Social Security funding. IF the UBI were to replace Social Security, then, those funds could be added to the funding for it. I suspect, from my conversations with many folks, that if this change were to happen, it would be a significant increase in income from current Social Security amounts.
  4. I would seriously look at military funding. Right now, America spends as much as the sum total of the next 10 countries on the descending list of expenditures. Are we truly safer for this huge expenditure? Are the funds being spent in an appropriate manner, and is there oversight and auditing? I suggest that the answers to these questions is a resounding “no”. America has been the policeman of the world for decades. While I think that is a valuable service, I do NOT think that we should be the major player here. I support both cutting back on the funding of the military as well as better oversight, AND, a closer relationship to the UN, so, we can let THEM be the policeman of the world.

Will these happen in a rational fashion? I expect not. I suspect that we, as a society, will let the sttus quo rumble along, until there are so many desperate, poverty stricken people who used to have a decent quality of life, that we see a “French Revolution” break out against the very rich. This would be a bad thing, and an unnecessary thing…so I hope that cooler heads will prevail.

God Help Us All!

Be Safe, wear your mask, wash your hands well, practice social distancing…and get your vaccination shots.

Bee Man Dave.

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

Sifting through the Ashes, part 39 – Economics

Greetings and Salutations;

I was just involved in an interesting discussion about taxes and thought I would expand a bit on my opinions here. A major issue in America is the income/wealth gap between the richest and poorest citizens. This is a topic that brings up much discussion when it arises, as the obvious solution is to lower that gap size. I address this in more detail later on in this essay. As such, I am going to address the question “Does great wealth/income disparity help or hurt society?” and, how can we fix the problem.

I argue that a wealth gap does hurt society as a whole. When it reaches a certain point, it no longer is an incentive for increased production, nor, does it reflect accurately, the contribution that the very wealthy make to society. I point you to this article as an interesting discussion of the issue.


I maintain that in today’s society, the economic leverage that the very rich have (and here I am including corporations, although they are a separate issue), allows them to exploit the workers. They are able to undercut the systems that workers fought for over the decades, such as unions, fair hiring practices, and regulations on work. This ends up with workers that are underpaid, but desperate to keep their job because the effects of losing that job are far greater than the enforced poverty and abuse they endure. It can result in employees forced to work in hazardous conditions. Is this erosion of compensation, benefits, and protection good for society, though? I maintain it is not. While it may result in far greater profits reaped by the rich, the money ends up tucked away in investments and offshore accounts, where it ceases to help society as a whole, and benefits ONLY the rich. These actions have the long term effect of damaging worker morale, causing productivity loss, and a degradation of their quality of life…It leads to the dystopian view presented by the situation of the Eloi and the Moorlocks in H. G. Well’s precautionary tale “The Time Machine”.


In the late 1800s/early 1900s as the Industrial Revolution was spinning up, we had such figures as J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, the Rockefellers, and the like, who were either “Robber Barons” or “Captains of Industry” depending on one’s point of view. They lived lives of unimaginable luxury. Carnegie, for example had so much money he was able to build and fund libraries and schools all across the United States. And yet, during that time, the wealth gap was in the vicinity of 70 times from the lower to the higher economic class. Today, it is up in the vicinity of 400 times…and, frankly, I see damn few of these current robber barons using their fortunes to improve America. Here is an interesting examination of that time in America.

Since that period, though, the wealth of the country has undergone a large shift, leaving the Middle Class behind, and losing ground. More and more of this tier of society are finding themselves slipping into poverty and going from some level of economic security, to living from paycheck to paycheck, and having to decide which bills get paid this month. Today, for example, there is not one state in the Union where a single person, holding a minimum wage job, can afford safe, secure housing. More and more it takes both partners in a relationship working full time to have sufficient income to have any level of economic security. Here is a more detailed look at how the wealth in America has migrated since 1900 and how it is affecting society. It is, alas, not a pretty picture. However, it does, fairly clearly, point out the negative impacts of an increasing wealth gap on society, and, how the money flow has changed in the past 120 years or so.

In the Bible, there is a saying “To them that much has been given, Of them much will be required”. This is not a concept that was created new by those writers, either. It has been around, perhaps, as long as homo sapiens has walked the Earth. If we go back to near prehistoric times, there is a tradition that the best hunters would share their kills with the entire tribe…and NOT keep all of the riches to themselves. This same attitude persists in some cultures today, thousands of years later. The end result is that the tribe, as a whole, prospers. No small group is hoarding wealth, nor are any in danger of dying from starvation… So, yes, I do think that the very rich should carry the lion’s share of the burden of keeping America a great place to live.


I remind us that up to the Reagan Administration, we had tax rates of up to 90%, and far fewer loopholes than exist today. There were two major features of that period of American history. 1) Most Americans had a level of financial security that allowed one person, working a 9 to 5 job, to own a home, and support a family, and STILL have money for luxuries, vacations and the like. 2) America’s growth in the area of industrialization and technology boomed and brought us to a point where we were the world’s leader in those fields. Granted there were issues galore to deal with, but, from an economic standpoint, America was in a very positive place for MOST citizens. Reagan’s “reforms” of the tax code though, cut the rates for the rich, made little changes for the rest of us, and left America slipping onto a slick, downhill slide that has resulted in economic problems of amazing magnitude.

So…how can we fix the problems? Do we become a “Communist State”, where the government owns everything, and doles out wealth on an “as needed” basis? Well, no…This rapidly becomes a dystopian nightmare, as history has shown us time and time again. The people in charge, having no serious limits to their power, ALWAYS pump money and power to their friends, and ignore the needs of the country as a whole. There are several other somewhat similar forms of government, that all boil down to a dictatorship with a few in charge of the power and wealth, and the rest being dependent on their largesse. The end result of this path is almost inevitably an armed revolution that brings a bloodbath, and overthrows the existing rulers, only to allow equally bad rulers to take their place. I point out the Russian Revolution against the Tzar, The French Revolution, and the the Cultural Revolution in China as three examples of this sort of failure. I, though, have come to appreciate and support the idea of Democratic Socialism, such as advocated by Bernie Sanders all these years. Here is a somewhat idealized goal of this form of government, laid out for our edification and education. While this link does lay out the ultimate goal, it is not terribly far off. I have seen a number of employee-owned businesses in my life, and, in general, they are far better for the workers than the more typical, pure capitalistic model. They create far fewer very rich folks, but, they do ensure that all workers are adequately compensated. In addition, they tend to improve productivity, because we ALL will work harder to make something we have skin in a success, than some job that is just a paycheck to us.

For me, the question is this: “How much money does one person need?”. Just off the top of my head, if someone were to write me a check for, say, $5 million, free and clear, it would not only take care of my wife and my needs for the rest of our lives, but, it would provide me with resources to improve the world in many ways. That sounds like a lot of money, I know…but, it is less than 6 minutes from the Military’s budget. It is less than Jeff Bezos is compensated in half an hour. It is about what Bill Gates increases his fortune at over a 4.3 hour period. It is somewhat less than Devos collects in 10 Days or less. And, I am talking about a one-time payment here. Just putting it in the bank would generate nearly enough income to take care of many of the bills. So how much money does one person NEED? I certainly understand that wants far outstrip needs. I might WANT $1 billion. but, would I NEED it?

Would this change fix all the problems of society? Of course not. No one is claiming that. But, those that have great wealth shouldering more of the costs of society will ensure that the vast income gap present today will shrink a bit, and fewer Americans will end up in economic insecurity. Even if tax rates on the very rich were raised to 50%, and many of the loopholes were closed, they would still have the resources at hand to ensure that their family would not have to work for several generations out from today. Add to that increased compensation for most Americans, and prosperity could return to some extent. As a part of these changes, though, I also support a Universal Basic Income, to be paid to all Americans, and to be paid for by increased tax revenues. I believe this is a vital part of an equitable society because automation is expanding into new fields, and as such, we are going to see far fewer jobs in the fairly near future. I have written a short essay on the effects of Automation, and why the UBI is a vital part of dealing with it. What will those people whose jobs disappear because software can do them more cheaply do to keep the wolf from the door? I have written another essay on automation and how it is affecting reality in a greater and greater way, so will not repeat that here. Sufficient to say, there are very few jobs that will be left that robots cannot perform more cheaply, and quicker than humans. I am not arguing that these changes are all bad. These changes can result in a more hassle free, and quicker experience. However, the question remains…what happened to the people that are no longer working? Are they forced on to welfare now? Are they living with relatives and scraping by as Uber or DoorDash drivers? Would their lives be improved with a UBI, and would they find it easier to walk away from work that exploits them? I maintain the answer to these questions is a solid Yes.

There are equitable ways to address the issues of wealth inequities in America. However, they face formidable opposition, based not on logic, or, rational thought, but, alas, rather such factors as ignorance, greed, and the indoctrination against the changes via massive propaganda campaigns. In spite of this, I remain firmly convinced that, without some significant changes in American Society to deal with the wealth gap, the future is dark. I do not want America to add another revolution, such as I touched on before, to the pages of history. They are always a bloody, unfair, and wasteful way to implement change. Rather I would like to see wisdom and compromise used to evolve us to a society that is more fair for all citizens…. In discussing these issues in social media, I run into a fair number of people who maintain that the Government has no call to engage in any of these actions…as it has no responsibility for its citizens. I find this premise specious, for several reasons.

  1. In the Constitution, the very root of this country and its laws, the founding fathers wrote this preamble..
    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Note, especially, the phrase “Promote the General Welfare”. This, in my view does not mean be a nanny state and put everyone on Federal Aid. Rather, it means to me that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that All citizens are protected from such poverty and need that it endangers their lives.
  2. There are some very valid arguments about certain responsibilities the Government has to its citizens…and these go far beyond being a military power, or a colonial power. Here is a well put discussion of three of those responsibilities.
  3. The words of the Preamble to the Constitution also call for the government to ensure that all citizens are equally treated by society and the law. Obviously this ideal has NEVER been reached in the area of ethic relations, or, for that matter in terms of economic stability and security. Perhaps it is past time that we, citizens, pick up that “Good Trouble” that generations past have raised, and push America forwards towards what it should be…not what it is.

Because of the attempts of the fascists to destroy America during the previous administration, the damage that administration did to both the economy and America’s standing in the world, the terrible costs of the Pandemic that struck the world in 2020, and the rise in extremism (which I have written about elsewhere) in America, we are in a very fragile moment in our history. The question right now is this: “What will we do about it?” Will we accept the status quo as the only possible path? Will we work to push America back to a path closer to what the Founding Fathers envisioned? Will we shrug our shoulders at the toll economic disaster and disease is taking on our citizens, even as it increases in coming years? Or will will work to elect Federal and local administrators that will take the Preamble of the Constitution to heart, and actually change our path to a more positive one?

A very wise man said “All that is required for Evil to succeed is for people of good will to do nothing”. If we do nothing, I weep for the future of America.

Pleasant Dreams.

God Help Us All!

Be Safe, wear your mask, wash hands properly, practice social distancing!

Bee Man Dave.

Posted in Cosmology, Ethics, Family, Food, General Thoughts, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Snake Oil, Vaccinations | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OUR Culture of Violence

Gallows built by Insurrectionists at the Capitol,  Jan 06, 2021
The Insurrection at the Capitol, January 06, 2021

Greetings and Salutations;

If, by the by, this essay seems a bit disjointed at times, I beg your patience. It is a complicated subject and one that I am still trying to condense into a graspable format, and, perhaps, come up with some actions that we, as a nation, can take to address the problem. Now…let us dive into the cesspool and see what we find.

The events of 2020 and so far in 2021 have focused my attention on a worrisome trend in American society that, I believe, will destroy us if we do nothing about it. That is, as the title of this essay indicates, the culture of violence that has been fostered and grown in America over the past decades. I believe that it is the root cause of many of the serious issues we are facing now, and, if we, as a society, do nothing about it, this country will become unrecognizable, and will be doomed to dissolution.

The concept of a “Culture of Violence” is not a new one by any means, and there is already a vast library of papers discussing the intricacies of the issue available online. A simple Search Engine query will turn up literally millions of papers and essays discussing aspects of this worrisome problem. I, though, want to focus on my experiences and observations as I have lived in the South for the past 65 years. During this time, I have seen dramatic changes in the way that we citizens view each other, and interact with each other.

First off…what do I define as the characteristics of a Culture of Violence? And Where do these characteristics come from?

  • As one might expect from the name…this culture is not oriented towards rational discussion, understanding and perhaps compromise. Rather, there is a tendency to use violence against anyone that does not think exactly as we do.
  • As a part of this, we tend to react to events emotionally rather than rationally. Those emotions often come out as they would in a 2 year old, not as they, perhaps, should be expressed by an adult many times older.
  • Tolerance is a distant pipe dream. Those engulfed in this culture do not like, nor do they accept, the idea that another person’s views and opinions can be as valid as their own.
  • Hate, and its sidekick Fear. Fear, whether founded in reality or not, generates hate for others. That hate makes it much easier to use violence against them when they disagree. That fear can range from fear of loss of power, prestige or position, to misogyny, to racism to a simple fear of the unknown.
  • A rather egotistical point of view that, to one extent or another, has us believing we are the only smart/talented/physically beautiful/physically powerful person in the room, and everyone else is a lesser being because there is no way anyone else could live up to our personal perfection.
  • A society engulfed in a culture of violence also loses empathy for others, whether they are truly different (ethnically, in gender, etc), or even part of the “tribe”. This is an odd extension of the old concept of The Other, which I have written about before… In a very real sense, they become a tribe of one…themselves…

Of course, several if not all of these are inter-related, and as such build on each other. And, because humans lie to themselves ALL the time, it is quite possible that one or more of these and various other facets I have not included, are being ignored…that we are willfully blind to them.

So, what happens when we have a nation with a significant number of citizens who are driven by and controlled by the above, emotional controlling factors?

  • We see interactions that go south because we are reacting emotionally, and not rationally. For example, a member of my extended family was murdered a few days ago, in what has been reported as a “road rage” incident. Something annoyed another person enough to pull out a gun and shoot him to death.
  • We see a mounting number of mass killings of strangers by people whose motivations are questionable. For example, in 2019, there were over 400 mass shootings (defined as three or more people shot and injured or killed by the same gunman, in a single incident). In recent such events, there have been causes listed ranging from no particular reason, to hate crimes where white supremacists are trying to wipe out as many people of color as possible on their own, to the same problem, but the white supremacists are trying to trigger a race war that will wipe out all people of color in America and turn it into the lily-white fantasy world they think of as their idea of perfection, to the fascists who have taken control of the Republicant party spending months spewing lies to trigger violence.
  • Just recently, as a result of the hate speech and incitement by public figures, pushing the idea that the Covid-19 pandemic that is sweeping the nation is a product of China, we have seen a huge spike in the number of attacks on Asian Americans.

I am going to note here that the examples I have listed here not only exhibit the characteristics I spoke of earlier, but in every case they highlight the cowardice of the attackers. In the case of the mass shootings, the murderers always choose soft targets that are unlikely to have a defense against them. In addition, a very common theme of the attacks on Asian Americans is that it is nearly ALWAYS a younger, white guy who attacks an older, more vulnerable, Asian American. Often these are sneak attacks, so the target never knows what is coming until they are struck. Even the events of January 6, 2021 have aspects of this cowardly behavior. As multiple videos of the events show us, the insurrectionists that breached the Capitol did so against a small force of lightly-armed officers who did the best they could in many cased, but had no chance of holding the mob back. The officers were not only outnumbered by 4 or 5 to one, but, it appears that some of them actually were supportive of the insurrection, and so both opened the gates to allow the mob in, but took no actions to keep any damage from happening. We have recordings of that same mob rampaging through the Capitol, looking for the Vice President – with the express goal of hanging him on the pictured gallows. They were also looking for any Democrats they could find, to kidnap them, give them a Kangaroo Court hearing, and then kill them. It was only by some significant luck, and the efforts of the Capitol Police, and the other LEOs there that we did not see televised images of our elected officials being murdered.

Speaking of which, the trial of the cop who murdered Mr Floyd started last week. The events of that day when Mr. Floyd was killed and his execution was recorded and broadcast to the Net – where it will live forever – are a perfect demonstration of several of my points about a culture of violence. Mr. Floyd was stereotyped as a big, black Monster, who was putting every cop’s life there in danger. In spite of the fact that the restraint hold that chauvin used on him, that caused his death, was not legal under the department’s guidelines, it did not change his attitude at all. The striking thing about that video is the reality that looking a chauvin, he had the emotional reaction of a person killing a cockroach, not at all that of a person taking the life of another person. He showed lack of empathy, intolerance, hate, and a willingness to use deadly force well beyond any sane limits.

We have had so many examples, I could go on for page after page relating them. However, again, they are preserved in the Net, and a search engine query will bring up reading material to cover days, if not months.

So, Let us move on to considering what we can do to fix the problem, and remove the septic infection that is killing us as a society.

  • Of course any time there is a mass killing, where, typically, a gun is used, there is a temporary burst of enthusiasm for increasing penalties for the use of guns in crimes, for making guns more difficult to get, or, for some people…removing guns from American society entirely. I, though, have come to a different conclusion. While guns are an issue, I do not think that focusing on them is going to solve the problem. Their use is a symptom, not a cause. When I was growing up, guns were quite a part of society, and yet, we had very few mass school shootings. Why? I think part of it was the fact that around 1960, there was still a respect for the lives of others…and while folks may have been annoyed by the beliefs of others, they did not consider them to be a lesser being. Also, for example, when I was in elementary and high school, there were often fights between students. Yet, in all my years in that environment, I do not recall a single time when a weapon was pulled out in those fights. We all carried knives, of course, and some of them were barely legal…yet, if we were in a conflict, we never even thought about pulling those knives out. Again…because there was both a respect for others and, the reality that if we had done so, we would have been publicly shamed for a LONG time thereafter, and likely would have been mobbed and disarmed by the onlookers. Now, I realize that this is anecdotal evidence, and not really data, but it is the reality I saw around me, and knew of from other schools in the area. No…the weapon is not the problem in my view. The issue is the culture of violence, and if we can move to solve that, the issue of weapons will become less of a problem.
  • Over the past 40 years or so, the level of truthfulness we require of our elected leaders has eroded away to the point that the previous administration produced somewhere in the vicinity of 30,000 lies (20,000 of those just from the Occupier of the Oval Office). It has been true since day one that politicians lie. However, until just recently, they were not so blatant about it, and when called out on it, with proof of their lies, they would walk away from that lie – either by deflecting, or claiming they were misunderstood, or, in a few cases, owning the lie, admitting they were wrong, and retracting their statements. Now, though, there is not even the faintest attempt to pretend the words are the truth. The previous administration is infamous for telling two different groups, two totally contradictory stories (which support those groups and their causes) on the same day, and then acting surprised when the news media would ask about these contradictions. I believe that it is past time to start holding our elected officials to a higher standard. This includes not only NOT accepting their claims at face value, but, if they build a history of lying, voting them out in the next election.
  • Right now, and for at least the past 20 years, we have had an increasingly vile demonazation of the other political party. This has to stop. After all, when one has spent an entire campaign claiming that one’s opponent is nothing more than a demon from Hell, intent of destroying everything you love, including your country, your life and your family, it is pretty damn difficult to sit down with them in Congress and negotiate deals where both side compromise and both gain a little of what they want, but the country as a whole benefits greatly. The current, Senate Minority Leader, Moscow Mitch, is a perfect example of this. He not only makes outrageously false claims against Democrats and their programs, but, he has, for at least the past dozen years or more, done his absolute best to roadblock ANY bills that come to the Senate with the name of a Democratic Legislator on them. As of the 2020 election he had a stack of around 400 bills that he had blocked…many of which had been voted for by both Democrats AND Republicants in the House. How can this change? Well, I suggest these actions. 1) Watch what bills are coming through the Congress, and contact your House and Senate representatives to support the ones that will help America become a better place for all. 2) Be sure to contact your elected representatives and let them know, politely but specifically, what they are doing well and what they are doing wrong. 3) Vote in every election. 4) Find out about the candidates being elected and seriously ask yourself – is the person in the office doing the best for us, or would one of these alternatives be better…If the answer is the latter…then vote for those candidates. Never just vote for the incumbent because, as one person said quite some years ago, “he might be an SOB. But he is OUR SOB”.
  • Be mindful. Be aware of how we look at the world, and the prejudices we bring to that view. If we find ourselves slipping into any of the characteristics of that culture of violence, then find a way to stop that. Walk away, instead of engaging with a negative situation. Speak not from pure emotion, but from intellect, fueled by emotion. Humans are supposed to be the most rational species on the planet. Having seen the behavior of so many of us over the past decade or two, I find it difficult to support that view. It is up to ALL of us to regain that title.
  • If you are a parent…taking my previous point into account, work to teach your children to be open minded…to be interested in, and empathetic of the plight of others. Work to NOT imprint them with the same prejudices WE might struggle against. Remember the old saying “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”.

It is not a quick process to wipe the culture of violence out in America…it has taken decades to build to this level, and will take at least as long to eliminate. However, it is vital for us, and for the country, to do the work…to start taking those steps of this Long March.

God Help Us All

Be Safe…Wear your mask, social distance, wash early and often…and most importantly, get vaccinated.

Bee Man Dave.

Posted in Cosmology, Ethics, General Thoughts, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Politics, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How Blind are Whites to the Systemic Racism in America?

Image courtesy of “The View

Greetings and Salutations.

Recently, the Right-Wing has found something far more interesting than the Pandemic, or the spike in attacks on Asians in America caused by racist rhetoric about the source of Covid-19 to get all hot and bothered over. What is this burning issue? Dr. Seuss books! Recently, the Estate, which, of course, owns all rights to the books, decided that five of the sixty plus books that Dr. Seuss created had ethnic and racial stereotypes that were hurtful to the people depicted, and, so, decided to take these books out of print. In the past week or three since this was announced there has been a firestorm of protests from the fanatics on the Right. They have been screaming “Cancel Culture”, Censorship, and claiming that the books are not that bad. Their rants rank right up there with the screams of agony over removing the monuments honoring Confederate Generals from the Public Square…and are JUST as valid.

Over the past day or two, I have dropped into a dialogue on a Thrifter’s Group on Facebook. The Original Post was by RR, who was proud of the good deal she had gotten in finding a complete set of the Dr. Seuss book. Well, the thread drifted, as can happen…starting with someone making a snide remark about the Dr. Seuss books being censored. I dropped into the conversation for a bit, because I saw some amazingly blind remarks posted, that I could not ignore. I have quoted a section of the dialogue below, as a perfect example of the sort of systemic racism that is so embedded in American Society that it is invisible to many folks. I should note that EVERY one of the people in this thread are White, middle aged and apparently doing OK economically. The level of cluelessness exhibited by many of them is an excellent example of the points I raise in the comments about systemic racism and the cultural blindness that supports it. Oh yes, and one other point, as I indicate in my comments to LM, she IS very Blonde.

I happen to have read the Dr. Seuss books in question, and, in the day did not even consider that the caricatures in the images and words would be hurtful to folks…but in the day, I was also ignorant of the history of non-white people in America. This screaming about “Cancel Culture” is, of course, sketchy at best, and is little more than deflection by the Right-Wing fanatics who do not WANT the oppression of non-white citizens to be looked at.

============================================

LD: Dr Seuss isn’t banned, just not being published anymore. Don’t spread fake news.

MB:
LD: eBay and Amazon are taking down the listings and not allowing new listings of the “out of print” Dr. Seuss books.

LT:
MB:
That doesn’t mean the books are banned, it means a private business decided you can’t use their platform to sell them. Businesses make policies all the time. Wedding cakes, for example.

MB:
LT:
I did not say they were banned, I was just sharing information based on my experience.

NB:
MB:
why are they out of print ??? Because the estate decided they were racist ..another cancel culture hit ..

MB:
NB:
yes, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the official manager of books published under the moniker Dr. Seuss, announced Tuesday that it will no longer be publishing six Dr. Seuss titles because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

Dave Mundt:
NB:
Have you even LOOKED at the books in question? Apparently not because they do have a number of racist, ethnic stereotypes scattered through them. Even Ted Geisel was embarrassed by them in later years.
Or are you OK with pushing racist stereotypes, and taking the control of the books away from the descendants of the man who created them?
We are also talking about 5 books out of more than 60.

CW:
LT:
equals new term: Digitally Banned

Dave Mundt
LM:
As I pointed out, there are racially insensitive caricatures in the five books that have been taken out of print. The family decided that, instead of editing the books to remove the images and words, and replace them with less questionable content, to stop publishing them.
Your comment demonstrates the white privilege and systemic racism that is a huge problem today.
To try and make this clearer…You are blonde. How would you feel if all you heard were blonde jokes about how stupid you were? That you could not take more than half an hour for lunch, because management knows that any longer and you would have to be retrained; that you heard people laughing about how they could tell what computer you had used to type up a document because of the white-out on the screen…and on, and on and on….
Imagine hearing that every day for your entire life? And then, the first time you said you were tired of it, someone said “Wow…people are just too sensitive these days!”

JA:
Dave Mundt
these books are not “pushing” anything. I get it, but let’s stop trying to change the past and worry about the future. People need to quit being so sensitive and use their “own” heads. I’m fine with the books being discontinued or whatever but I think there is a lot more hurtful racial things going on today that are overlooked than a few sentences out of hundred year old books.

LM:
Dave Mundt
: funny I’m not white privilege or have systemic racism. This is ridiculous. These are books and taken to far… this cancel culture is taken to far

RR: Author
Not sure how this fits into my post …

LL:
LM:
How many of the 6 books have you ever read? Many folks have never even read or heard of most of the six, but suddenly they are “SO important” now that the family has decided to stop publishing them. “Cancel Culture”– has nothing to do with these books being discontinued, it is a family business decision.

LM:
I have the whole series thank you and read them to my kids. They aren’t bad books

RR: Author
totally understand the sensitivities that some are feeling, but if we get rid of everything, we will have nothing. It’s super easy to find anything wrong with just about everything I think it’s important to keep in mind that kids use their imagination and they are not reading into things the way that many of us do when we get older. They are children. I really don’t like that my post is turning into a political or cultural issue. I’m merely sharing my find and my love for these old finds.

LL:
LM:
I am referring to the Dr. Seuss books that are no longer being published, as mentioned above,, not the great find that the OP posted.

Dave Mundt:
LM:
Thank you for proving my point by not addressing my entire comment.
This thread has drifted far enough. I see you are hopeless…so I pray that one day, reality will dawn on you.
Beyond that, I am done.

Dave Mundt:
JA:
Ok..well, tell you what. If you can find an Asian person or a person of color that will talk to you, ask THEM what they think about the stereotypes in the books, and what it says about society…Oh yes, and perhaps, about their experiences in today’s society.
You, as a white guy, have NO CLUE what these folks go through.

LM:
Dave Mundt: thanks but it already has. You are the hopeless one

=============================================

If y’all do not remember the books in question, here is a link to “If I Ran The Zoo” The racist content is minimal, true enough, and, if I had a choice, I would suggest to the Estate that they simply update the few, racist images and words to reflect a more inclusive world view. However, it is their decision to keep the books intact, apparently….

That having been said…the sort of societal blindness that some of the folks in the quoted thread exhibit demonstrates very clearly the roadblocks that non-whites have to overcome to be “equal” in this society. It is up to each of us to work to see those roadblocks are removed, as quickly as possible.

God Help Us All

Be safe, wear your mask, social distance, practice sanitation, and get your vaccination shot!

Bee Man Dave.

Posted in Ethics, General Thoughts, Humanity, Nuttiness, Questionable decisions, Ruminations, Vaccinations | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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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.

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

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

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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

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

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.

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