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

Greetings and Salutations;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Help us all.

Bee Safe

Bee Man Dave.

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

The Vietnam War – An American View

Greetings and Salutations;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God help us All

Bee Man Dave

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The Results we get from a crappy educational system.

Greetings and Salutations;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Help Us All!

Be safe…wear your mask…wash your hands.

Bee Man Dave

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Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 30, The Postal Service

Greetings and Salutations…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Help Us All!

Stay Safe! (And Wear your mask!)

Bee Man Dave

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

Talking about Mental Health…And America

Greetings and Salutations;

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

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

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

Well…now…back to the original topic…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe.

God Help Us ALL

Bee Man Dave

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

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

Greetings and Salutations;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Help Us All

Stay safe!

Bee Man Dave.

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

Covid-19 Thoughts, Part 04…The FULL costs

Greetings and Salutations;

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

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

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

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

There are two problems with this question.

It neglects the law of large numbers; and

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

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

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

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

What about the people who survive?

For every one person who dies:

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

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

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

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

The proceeding analysis is courtesy of Franklin Veaux

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

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

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

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

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

God Help Us All!

Bee Man Dave

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

Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 28, One More Cultist…

Greetings and Salutations;

The other day, I posted an update about the Covid-19 issues to the FB Page devoted to news and discussion local to the Hamlet I live in. For the area, the thread blew up with 50+ “likes” (of various types) and quite a few comments…some of which drifted away from the original topic.

I have posted an excerpt here, more as an example of why it is America is crashing and burning than anything else. I admit that I did throw some gasoline on the fire, with the following reply to another small thread…

…Simply because Republicans are dumber than a bag of old hair, does not mean that you, I, or anyone else has to be.

This comment apparently hit a nerve with another reader, who got her panties in a wad over it…causing us to have the following conversation:

AMO: Dave Mundt: why are republicans dumber than a bag of old hair?

Dave Mundt: AMO:
1) THe current administration – run by Republicans – willfully ignored the danger of the world-wide pandemic (Remember #3 saying that when hot weather showed up, it would disappear as if by magic?)
2) Instead of facing the issue and admitting it was bad, they have down-played it, and pretending everything was hunky-dory ( did you see Pence’s statement yesterday that there was nothing to worry about, as we have it under control)
3) The Federal Government not only ran away from taking a leadership role in ensuring that few Americans were impacted, they refused to work with the states, saying it was all THEIR responsibility. THEN when the states started reaching out for medical supplies, including ventilators, the Feds started bidding against them…driving the cost up by 10x or more.
4) When several states managed to get large shipments of masks and other protective equipment, the Feds swooped in, and grabbed them out of the hands of the states…without, by the by, reimbursing the states for the items.
5) The Feds have sent millions of dollars of PPE and ventilators to Russia, to help them with THEIR Covid-19 crisis. And…they are stupid enough to believe that no one would notice or care.
6) 99% or more of the people claiming covid-19 is just the flu; we don’t need to wear masks; closing businesses; or are going out and mingling with other people in close proximity, with out care, are Republican.

I could go on for some time, but these are the high points.
Bottom line is that they have not only ignored the danger and refused to do anything about it, condemning millions of Americans to a serious disease, with long-term effects on life, and killing hundreds of thousands of Americans. All this, and they expect the citizens to either be so stupid and willfully blind that they either will not find out about their mistakes, or will dismiss them, because they are obviously lies by Democrats, or because they have not been personally affected by the virus…yet.

AMO: Dave Mundt: I couldn’t even finish reading that mess. All I know to tell you is

  1. “by the by” is what sounds stupid as a bag Of old hair.
  2. I’d like to know where you got the information that the feds came in and took any medical supplies and from which state and proff that anything was sent to Russia or wherever
  3. each state wanted to set their own guidelines because all were not impacted at the same time the same way. I guess the democratic way would be to shut down the entire nation even if that area hadn’t been impacted yet?
  4. you’re the person that yells dont tread on me then yells the feds won’t help me. Hurricanes coming get out…I’m not leaving my home…why won’t they come help me?
  5. I’m a republic and I AM NOT “dumber than a bag of old hair”. Everyone doesn’t have to have the same opinion as you or the same beliefs to be intelligent. You can BLAME anyone and everyone who don’t agree with your political philosophy for covid and the weather and whatever #3 was that you referred to. Maybe you’ll get your hair sniffer, finger licking president that you want someday but that don’t make you smarter than a bag of farts but your attitude sure makes you smell like one. Don’t ever refer to me as dumb again.

AMO: Dave Mundt: Also I have not stopped wearing masks and I take protective measures against covid. It has nothing to do with being republican or Democrat

Dave Mundt: AMO: Ok…How about this…”All Republicans who deny the reality of the bad things happening in the world today, and refuse to take actions to protect their fellow citizens are dumber than a bag of old hair”

Dave Mundt: AMO: Good for you…keep being smart and wearing the mask. After all the life you save will be someone else’s. As for “#3″…that is my label for the occupier of the Oval Office. He is, after all, only the 3d president in the history of this country to be impeached.

As for taking supplies…
Governors saying FEMA is outbidding them for medical Supplies

Or if you prefer…
Fact-Check: Trump Administration Seizing medical supplies from States

This, by the by, is from the BBC
War For Medical Supplies

As for shipping covid-19 supplies to Russia.
US Ready To Send Medical Supplies to Russia

As for the states setting guidelines…that is true. HOWEVER, the Feds are supposed to support the states, no walk away from them…A given state, generally, does not have the financial power that the Federal Government has…which is ANOTHER reason why the cost of ventilators went from $5000 or so to $50,000 or more.

Oh yes…about your #4 point? I suggest you read a bit more extensively…the ONLY people who scream “Don’t Tread On Me” are Republicans and even more extreme Right-Wingers.

AMO: Dave Mundt: I understand how masks work. I am human. I am intelligent. I understand sarcasm. I also know that some people on this world are just mean to anyone and everyone who has a different point of view. I have friends and family members that I do not agree with but I don’t treat them like they are my underling because I feel like they are wrong. You go ahead, of it makes you feel better to ridicule and insult anyone who is different than you. Being ugly to others because they aren’t just like you is what’s wrong with this country.

Dave Mundt: AMO: I am both on the autism spectrum, AND have German roots…so, I am blunt. I am sorry if I offended you. I work very diligently to present facts that are evidence based, but these days, that triggers a lot of people.

I will not argue that I generalized about Republicans being dumber than a bag of old hair. I am insulted daily on the Net, and have learned to evaluate the insult, and ignore it if it is not valid. I forget that is not true with all. I hope my modification to narrow the description shows that I am aware of my error.

And all this from a person who allegedly went to, at least, a Community College! The thread would likely have continued for some time, but, I turned off commenting, as I felt there was nothing else worth saying in it.

Of course, in this same thread, there were a couple of folks that said Covid-19 was no worse than the flu, and, called me an idiot, so, it was fairly typical for Facebook. The Hamlet I live in is so Republican that there are typically NO Democratic candidates for office, as no one feels that the half a dozen votes out of a thousand they would get would be worth the expense and effort. It is this level of mindfulness that the country faces in November…and I fear that, unless Democrats overcome the apathy they have expressed in the past several elections we will see a continuation of the Republicans holding control…and destroying this country.

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave

Posted in General, Humanity, Nuttiness, Observations, Political rants, Politics, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WHY is it that so many folks think education is crap in America?

Greetings and Salutations;

Today, I had a short interaction with a local woman on FaceBook. I have quoted it below. However, I wanted to say a couple of things up front. This woman has a high-school education, and, from her time line, is a #3 Cultist. She lives in the backwater community where she was born, and, glorifies the Confederate Flag on her timeline. The really sad thing is that she probably votes…

So…here is our conversation. I am pretty sure that it demonstrates the reality of the title of this essay.

Elijah Lawson: The COVID Death Count is Inflated
| Change My Mind | Louder with Crowder
Hah

Dave Mundt This {video} is nonsense. According to ALL medical folks the number of covid19 related deaths is actually very UNDER REPORTED! When I say under reported, I have seen reports that the actual number may well be 10x the number reported.

SH: Dave Mundt bullshit lmbo
SH: Dave Mundt and its not as bad as the flu

Dave Mundt SH: Bless your heart…talk to some folks that have survived it…or even better, get infected yourself. THEN come back here and tell me it is not as bad as the flu! Dave Mundt: SH: You say bullshit…Scientific American disagrees with you
How COVID-19 Deaths Are Counted

SH: Dave Mundt i still call bullshit its the common cold fool
SH: Dave Mundt there arnt any body if u die of a heart attack its still listed as crona
lysol killed the germs in the 70s

Dave Mundt SH:
1) The death certificate has several lines on it for causes of death. The primary cause is listed first…However, other conditions, such as a covid19 infection are listed as secondary causes. In the example you give, the heart attack might well be the cause of death…so it would be listed first. However, if the person has a bad case of covid-19 and there are no other issues, it is very likely that the infection had damaged the heart enough to cause the fatal heart attack.

It is a lie, spread by Right-Wingers and others with an agenda, that covid-19 is the only cause of death listed.

2) Yes, Lysol kills germs…it is toxic to living organisms. It also can break down the structure of some viruses. However, it is unproven it works against covid-19.
Can Lysol and Clorox products kill the novel coronavirus? The answer is … complicated

SH: Dave Mundt i never got oast the communists news network cnn i trust nothing they say FAKE NEWS

Dave Mundt SH: you can call bullshit all you want. However, your opinion vs the findings of science ends up with your opinion losing by a huge length.
Dave Mundt SH: Ok…I see your mind is closed…and you are unwilling to believe anything outside your narrow world. We are done.

SH: Dave Mundt not from cnn ROTFLMAO
SH: Dave Mundt i think for my self dont need ur lies from cnn lmbo really

God Help Us All!

Bee Man Dave

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

I buried a cat today…

Greetings and Salutations.

Today was a difficult day, I am sorry to report. While it had positive aspects, it also had a big, dark, cloud of sadness to it. Because of this, I want to remind everyone why it is that letting one’s companion animal roam free is a bad idea.

I buried a cat today.
He was a lovely, stubby tailed cat,
who looked healthy and cared for.
He had powerful, green eyes,
His long gray fur was touched with White

He was laying, still and lifeless, in the road
When I passed him as I had to run out this morning.
When I came back, an hour later, he was still there.

I am a Guardian, so I could not leave him there.
I stopped, and collected his body,
Respectfully laying it in the back of the car.

I took him back to our land,
To find a lovely place,
under the branches of a cedar tree,
For his final resting place.

I dug him a bed of Earth, for his eternal sleep,
and carefully laid him in it,
to return to the Earth,
from whence he came.

I wept for him, and blessed his spirit
In its journey over the Rainbow Bridge.
I prayed that he found peace and happiness there.

I buried a cat today.
He was a stranger to me,
but he deserved a decent Place to Sleep
and some dignity in death.

Please…Keep your cats inside…build them a catio to enjoy Nature, in a restricted way. The cat I buried today did not even make the average 6 years that a free roaming animal usually lives…but he could easily have lived to the age of 18 or 20.

Posted in Ethics, General, Humanity, Observations, Questionable decisions, Ruminations | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 27 – A Real Revolution?

I thought, when the ground-swell of protest after Mr. Floyd’s murder began, that this event might be the straw that broke the camel’s back. That it is the blatant act of Evil that will waken the majority to realize what a terrible place we are in now, and, to FINALLY do something about it. I, for one, had really hoped that the Civil Rights movement and those battles, fought in the in the 1950s and 1960s was that moment. I have come to realize that I was misguided and, perhaps, too optimistic. Over the years since then, I have come to realize that they were an important step, but they were not the Sea Change that America needed to truly move towards a society where race was not a factor.

In the short time since we watched Mr. Floyd die on the street, there have been a LOT of changes that have moved not only America, but the world towards a more tolerant path. These include:

  • In America:
  • Minneapolis bans use of choke holds.
  • Charges are upgraded against Officer Chauvin, and his accomplices are arrested and charged.
  • Dallas adopts a “duty to intervene” rule that requires officers to stop other cops who are engaging in inappropriate use of force.
  • New Jersey’s attorney general said the state will update its use-of-force guidelines for the first time in two decades.
  • In Maryland, a bipartisan work group of state lawmakers announced a police reform work group.
  • The Louisville, KY, Metro Council has voted unanimously to ban no-knock warrants.
  • Los Angeles City Council introduces motion to reduce LAPD’s $1.8 billion operating budget.
  • MBTA in Boston agrees to stop using public buses to transport police officers to protests.
  • Police brutality captured on cameras leads to near-immediate suspensions and firings of officers in several cities (i.e., Buffalo, Ft. Lauderdale).
  • Monuments celebrating confederates are removed in cities in Virginia, Alabama, and other states.
  • NASCAR bans Confederate “battle flag” from its events.
  • Street in front of the White House is renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
  • Military forces begin to withdraw from D.C.

  • The attitudes of people, and their focus and mindfulness are changing.
  • The really difficult public and private conversations that are happening about race and privilege.
  • The realizations some white people are coming to about racism and the role of policing in this country.
  • The self-reflection, where many people (perhaps for the first time) are focusing on their attitudes towards race, and how those attitudes change the decisions we make.
  • The internal battles exploding within organizations over issues that have been simmering or ignored for a long time. Some organizations will end as a result, others will be forever changed or replaced with something stronger and fairer.
  • Too many people have accepted the violence perpetuated by the police, without question. The flood of video of these incidents is causing people to reconsider their automatic support of the actions of the LEOs.

  • Globally:
  • Protests against racial inequality sparked by the police killing of George Floyd are taking place all over the world.
  • Rallies and memorials have been held in cities across Europe, as well as in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • As the US contends with its second week of protests, issues of racism, police brutality, and oppression have been brought to light across the globe.
  • People all over the world understand that their own fights for human rights, for equality and fairness, will become so much more difficult to win if we are going to lose America as the place where ‘I have a dream’ is a real and universal political program,” Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the US, told the New Yorker.
  • In France, protesters marched holding signs that said “I can’t breathe” to signify both the words of Floyd, and the last words of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man who was subdued by police officers and gasped the sentence before he died outside Paris in 2016.
  • Cities across Europe have come together after the death of George Floyd:
  • In Amsterdam, an estimated 10,000 people filled the Dam square on Monday, holding signs and shouting popular chants like “Black lives matter,” and “No justice, no peace.”
  • In Germany, people gathered in multiple locations throughout Berlin, with 15,000 at Alexanderplatz, to demand justice for Floyd and fight against police brutality.
  • In Cologne, on Saturday at least 10,000 protesters gathered under the motto, “America we see you”, to demonstrate against racism.
  • In Brussels, on Sunday another 10,000 protesters marched.
  • A mural dedicated to Floyd was also spray-painted on a stretch of wall in Berlin that once divided the German capital during the Cold War.
  • In Ireland, protesters held a peaceful demonstration outside of Belfast City Hall, and others gathered outside of the US embassy in Dublin.
  • The Scottish Parliament has called for the immediate suspension of exports of riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets to the US.
  • In Italy, protesters gathered and marched with signs that said “Stop killing black people,” “Say his name,” and “We will not be silent.”
  • In Spain, people gathered to march and hold up signs throughout Barcelona and Madrid.
  • In Athens, Greece, protesters took to the streets to collectively hold up a sign that read “I can’t breathe.”
  • In Denmark, protesters were heard chanting “No justice, no peace!” throughout the streets of Copenhagen, while others gathered outside the US embassy.
  • In Canada, protesters were also grieving for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old black woman who died on Wednesday after falling from her balcony during a police investigation at her building.
  • And in New Zealand, roughly 2,000 people marched to the US embassy in Auckland, chanting and carrying signs demanding justice.
  • Memorials have been built for Floyd around the world, too. In Mexico City, portraits of him were hung outside the US embassy with roses, candles, and signs.
  • In Poland, candles and flowers were laid out next to photos of Floyd outside the US consulate.
  • And in Syria, two artists created a mural depicting Floyd in the northwestern town of Binnish, “on a wall destroyed by military planes.”
  • The Scottish Parliament has called for the immediate suspension of exports of riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets to the US
  • Changes that are happening, or starting to happen
  • ALL of the huge protests that have been happening daily since the murder have been both peaceful, and, included people of all races.
  • There has been at least one instance where a cop was separated from his squad, and all alone, surrounded by angry protestors. The protestors formed a circle around him, and protected him while getting back to the other cops.
  • We are seeing very clearly why the militarization of the police force is such a bad idea. Time and time again, we have seen groups of peaceful protestors attacked by heavily armored police, shot with less than lethal ammunition, and gassed with tear gas banned by the world for use on the battlefield.
  • We are seeing a movement to radically reform police departments, to fix the issue that they are woefully incompetent at dealing with a vast majority of the situations they are called upon to intervene in.
  • We are seeing a serious movement to remove the military equipment that the police have been gifted with over the past 30 years or so. This is a vital step for reasons I lay out in this recent essay

The question I have, though, is this: Will we, as humans, push on, persist, and use these changes as the roots of a thriving tree of change that will help bring the entire World to a better, more tolerant, and more nurturing path? Or, will we, as has happened before, blaze in outrage for a few weeks or months, then, forget this, and move on to the NEXT emotional issue? I hope that this will truly be a Sea Change, and will both persist and grow over the coming years.

Mr. Floyd was murdered by a man who looked upon him as no more important than a cockroach. IF his death is to have meaning, it must be a catalyst to bring real change to society. I pray it will.

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave

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

What does “Defunding the Police” mean?

George Floyd

Greetings and Salutations;

America is going through a terrible time just now, with huge protests all across the country (and even spreading out into the world) over the senseless murder of George Floyd. One of the major themes that has arisen is the slogan “Defund the Police”. Alas, there seems to be a LOT of ignorance, and confusion about what this means.

The Right-Wing is framing this as proof that the Liberals/Conservatives want to destroy the rule of law in society, by eliminating the guardians of that law. They are beating that dead horse into a pulp, of course, and using this ignorance to inflame the emotions of their base.

So..what are a broad spectrum of people in America actually wanting to see happen? The LEOs (Law Enforcement Organizations) in America have evolved over the years in very negative directions. It used to be that a large percentage of the police were residents of the area they patrolled. They were looking at people they knew, by first name, their neighbors. So, while there were still instances of abuse, they were far less common. It is more of a challenge to abuse people you live with, know personally, and see in the grocery store! Over time though, in more and more cases, the police became an outside force, being bused into an area to maintain “Law and Order”. It was no longer their neighbors, but, faceless strangers they were working with. It is far easier to dehumanize people one does not know…

In addition, the military, for reasons of its own, started distributing, for free, the equipment they had on hand to the local police departments. This resulting in the local police ending up with a lot of really cool toys. Since they had this equipment, they really wanted to use it…so, we saw the growth of heavily armored, masked people, carrying heavy weapons, and driving around in military vehicles. Think of what this does to the mindset of the average person… When all dressed up in the gear, they WILL start thinking of themselves as soldiers. This attitude is reenforced by the constant references to the “War on Crime”, the “War on Drugs”, the “War on Terrorism”. Why is this a problem? Think about what the job of the soldier is. In general, it is to go onto a battlefield, find the enemy, kill them, and destroy the resources they use to support their fight. Too many police have become “Wannabe Rambos”, and look upon the Streets as a battle ground and everyone who is not a cop is an enemy… Adding to this attitude is the fact that the training of police officers these days in America is pitiful. They go to an academy to train them to be officers for anywhere from one to six months. Then, they are dumped on the street, sometimes without even the probationary period supervised by a senior officer. Finally, that training is flawed, in that for far too long, thanks to the work of one man, the training of LEOs all over the country taught them that the way to resolve a conflict situation was with deadly force…not deescalation.

Another issue that has affected the entire force is that for the past 15 years or more, there has been a real push by White Supremacist groups to get their members on the police force. The proceeding link is to an excellent article about this, and the FBI warnings of the dangers of this trend. We, as a society, hope that the police will be objective, and even-handed in applying the law. However, as statistics show, this is not the case. In spite of statistics showing that people of color are far less likely to be involved in crime the percentages of the community of color stopped as suspects, and imprisoned is rather higher than that of whites. Even worse, we have seen a huge number of people of color killed by police, in spite of being no threat, and unarmed. The straw that is generating these protests is, indeed, personified by the murder of Mr. Floyd. Whether or not a given officer is an openly racist White Supremacist, though, there seems to be a disturbingly widespread image of people of color being bigger, more dangerous, and more likely to be armed that whites. As for this point…look at the killing of Tamir Rice Here was a 12 year old boy, with a toy gun, who was shot down within seconds of the cops showing up. Time and time again, we see situations where people of color are shot down by the cops, even when unarmed and following directions, and, white shooters who have just murdered many people are talked down, escorted to jail, and treated with respect.

Over time, Society has dumped more and more responsibilities on the LEOs without providing either consideration if they are the best organization to deal with these issues, or, providing adequate funding and training to give them a chance to deal with the situation in a reasonable manner. For example, in the day, the police were charged with the duty to uphold the law. NOW, they are expected to deal with domestic disputes, mental health issues, homelessness, and a number of other issues that have almost NO connection with law enforcement. It seems that in most cases, the result is “Arrest everyone and let the system sort it out”. Unfortunately too many of the mental health calls result in a dead civilian, whose only crime was that his mind was out of kilter.

Now, all that having been said…let me get to the point of this article. What are the goals of the “Defund Police” movement?

  • Remove ALL military gear from the LEOs. They should be limited to vests only, and not allowed to dress like storm troopers on the way to destroy a rebel base.
  • Add organizations within the Law Enforcement organizations that have the specialized training to deal with conflict resolution, either in domestic situations, or mental health issues. These folks should be using deescalation and not simply conflict and fear to deal with the situation.
  • America spends far more on LEOs than on social programs and such that would help eliminate the stresses that bring on violence, criminal behavior, etc. So, the budgets should be audited by an independent, forensic auditor, and some of the flow of cash should be diverted to programs such as I have mentioned above.
  • More attention should be paid to making sure that LEOs come from the neighborhoods they will patrol. The reasons for this have been touched on above.
  • The police departments MUST work to purge themselves of the bigoted, racist, white supremacist members of the force.
  • Here is an excellent article that touches on some other aspects of the call to “Defund”.
  • Get police back to the mind-set that they exist to “Protect and Serve”, and are NOT an occupying military force.

No one, short of a small percentage of very radicalized people, is calling for the LEOs to be disbanded and eliminated. However, most Americans realize that it is past time to implement some real changes, and, keep an eye out to make sure that the LEOs do not slip back into the old, bad habits.

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave

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

Care and Feeding of Cast Iron Cookware

Greetings and Salutations;

Cast Iron Skillet

I have seen several posts about cast iron cookware recently, some of which have expressed difficulties with keeping it working properly. I decided to take a few minutes from the madness of reality, and discuss what I have learned over the years. Cast iron has been a “go to” material for cooking for hundreds of years…it is strong, does a GREAT job of holding and distributing the heat, and can be formed into a multitude of shapes, from the simple pan we all think of, to deep pots, to ornate molds.

How to Prepare Cast Iron for cooking.

Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Note…these comments ONLY apply to bare metal cast iron. The Enamel coated cast iron can be treated as any other cooking tool…wash in the dish washer, etc…the enamel substitutes for the seasoning discussed here.

Many folks have heard about “seasoning their cast iron”, but have no real idea of what that means. It is the process of adding a layer of polymerized fats to the metal, using heat. This is a vital step for a couple of reasons.

  1. 1. Cast iron, without protection rusts so quickly one can see it forming! This is actually a protective coating for the metal, as it stabilizes the surface a certain amount. However, it sucks for cooking purposes, because the rust will come off into the food, producing aesthetic issues, both from an appearance and flavor’s sake.
  2. The rust that forms tends to ensure that anything one cooks in the pan will glue to it as if it were welded..which makes cleaning a royal pain.

So…how do we go about seasoning a piece of cast iron? Here is my technique, which works well for me. This, by the by, is for cast iron cookware that is old, and, possibly neglected. Lodge, at least, sells their cast iron pans and such “pre-seasoned”. This is done, at the factory, with roughly the same steps I use, and produces a decent starting point.

  1. Start the oven heating to about 375F. Put either a layer of aluminum foil on the shelf under where the pan will go, or, a metal cookie sheet. This will catch any drippings that come off the pan.
  2. Clean the cast iron pan up, with very hot water and a Brillo pad, or a stainless steel scrubbing pad, to get rid of any rust or old seasoning on the pan.
  3. Dry the pan well with a towel. I will also set it on the cooktop, at a low temperature for a few minutes to get the moisture evaporated and warm it up. IF you have rinsed it with water at 140F or hotter, though, that step should not be necessary.
  4. Put a little fat on a folded paper towel, and wipe over the entire pan with it. Then, take a clean paper towel, and wipe off almost all of the thin layer of fat you have added to the surface. I have used a number of products for this step, and found that, in general, they all work well. I have used Lard, Bacon fat, Vegetable shortening, liquid cooking oil, and walnut oil.
  5. Put the pan, upside down, in the oven, and let it bake in there for several hours. The longer it goes, the better. I usually leave it in there for six hours. This heat treatment ensures that the oil is absorbed into the pores of the cast iron, and then polymerizes to a solid.
  6. When the baking time is finished, turn the oven off, and let it, and the pan cool down at their own rate. Depending on the oven, this may take a couple of hours.
  7. Repeat the above process up to 5 times. If doing it all at once, re-coat the pan when it reaches a temperature of 100F or so…warm, but not too hot to hold. I have, though, re-coated at up to 200F, but that requires care.

I suggest five cycles of this to build up a good, strong coating on the pan. However, one cycle is enough to protect it. The more cycles one uses, though, the more “non-stick” the cast iron will be. The minimum number I do is two cycles.

How to Care for your Cast Iron

Cast iron, once properly seasoned, is amazingly easy to care for. However, there are some actions that can kill it quickly.

Ornate, Cast Iron, Muffin Mold

Sometimes folks will spray their cast iron with cooking spray, before using it. This is typically NOT necessary. I am reluctant to do this, myself, because I am not convinced that the solvents and propellants in the spray will not damage the hard-won seasoning on the pan.

There is only one proper way to clean cast iron. That is with a clean brush/sponge/cloth, and very hot water. Never, ever put it in the dishwasher, or use any soap on it. You may believe using soapy, hot water will clean it better, but, it will not. ALL that will do is strip off the seasoning, and put you back to step one. A well-seasoned cast iron pan is less sticky than Teflon!

After wiping down the cast iron with the cloth and very hot water, dry it off and you are done. Again, I will at times, set it on the cooktop and heat it a bit to drive the moisture away more quickly.

One great benefit of cooking with cast iron is that many foods contain a fair amount of fats and oils. When those get onto the existing seasoning, they bond with it, and over time, improve the amount of seasoning in the cookware.

These hints will ensure that you will have a kitchen tool that will last lifetimes, and provide excellent service every day. Enjoy using them!

God Help Us All!

Bee Man Dave

Posted in General, Humanity, Improving Life, Nuttiness, Observations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Scams on the Net

Greetings and Salutations;

Last week, I had a very interesting interaction with a person who, I believe, is a scammer. I thought I would post about it, in the hopes that folks will recognize the signs before a chunk of change vanishes from their pocket.

“Nita Mcclung”

Back at the first of last week, a person by the name of Nita Mcclung “liked” several of my posts. This was only notable because she also sent me a friend request, AND contacted me on Messenger, as she wanted to chat. Here is her picture. Now, I want to say right off the bat that alarms went off because of her eager desire to make contact. While youth tends to be stupid at times, I found it unlikely that a young, “hip” woman like this would be jumping on friending an old, grumpy guy with an independent Comic figure as his avatar (I DO like the Cerebus series by Dave Sim).

Cerebus, the Killer Aardvark!

However, I went ahead and friended her, to see what her scam was.

I have added our conversation below, and as you can tell from it, her story had more holes that a boat made from window-screen. I think that the conversation itself is fairly self-explanatory. I do want to make a comment or two about how I handled the conversation. These are good tools for dealing with scammers.

  1. Let them do most of the talking. Note that my responses are, overall either minimal, or, only include publicly available information.
  2. Ask questions that are fairly specific in nature. Also, as a part of that, look at the responses you get. Note, that in this conversation I ask fairly specific questions, and am either ignored, or, get vague generalities.
  3. The scammer always comes up with a plausible story as to why they desperately need what they see to be a tiny amount of money to help them with a disaster.
  4. They will sound very, very convincing…or at least, try to do so. Really listen to what they are saying, and use common sense. Does it sound as if they are really asking for help for a legitimate reason? Or does it sound more like an appeal to sympathy and emotion? If the latter, of course, DO NOT send them a penny.
  5. For that matter, in any case, unless you actually know the person asking in real life…do not send them money.
  6. Another warning sign is giving them your banking information. Give that to them and you have opened the door to the treasury. When I send cash to anyone, I use a service like Venmo, or Paypal, to provide another wall of protection against disaster.
  7. Not that Nita is happy to change her destination from California, to the area, just to meet me face to face. This is another red flag.

Now then, let us get on to the actual interaction. Read it, considering the points I made above, and see why the unwary might be hooked, but, being mindful can save a huge amount of trouble.

******** Day #1 ********

DCM: Hello
Good day! How goes your reality? I see you “liked” several of my comments on FB. Thank you for that…it is always good to get feedback that helps me figure out how far off reality I am!

Nita McClung: Yes,that is the reason why I send you a request to know more about you

DCM: Always good to make contact with new folks. I am, among other things, an artist of sorts… Here is a link to my Instagram Page, with some of my paintings.

I am Liberal/Progressive, and, not shy at letting my opinion be known.

I will talk with anyone as an equal, and, will engage in civil debate about any point a person cares to discuss. I do not tolerate lies, hate speech including white supremacist crap, misogyny, and any speech not supported with evidence.

I am also 65 years old AND on the autism spectrum, when one looks upon the fields where I grow my “Fucks”, lo, they will be seen to be barren!

Nita McClung: Well I’ll tell you a little about me, “am a Model by Profession but am presently in Ukraine for a modeling seminar that’s gonna be concluded in 3 days time but i will be back home in hopefully in the same day or next. Today makes my 7th day here in Ukraine. I am very creative”, “outgoing and multi talented. Always joking around and trying to make people laugh 🙂 🙂 🙂 . I also love photography! I have been modeling for a few years and would love to do more of it! Your turn i guess
👍1

DCM: Yes, I was, in another life, a semi-professional photographer. I did a few weddings with a real pro, and have some published work…which I really need to dig up and put on Instagram! Do you have any images online? I would love to see some of it.

That sounds like an interesting and challenging path you are on. I did some photography for the profession but, it was mostly fairly simple images, to be included in portfolios.

What all is being covered in the seminar? I suspect that using social media for marketing is ONE of the topics!😉😇

That having been said…my best wishes for your success. From the information on your timeline, I think you have a good chance of success. I am, by the by, MOST amused by your avatar image! It betrays a bit of attitude, and that, these days, is a good thing.

I hate to chat and run, but, I am in cat rescue, and, it is about time to check on the 17 cats living here, and get food, water, and clean litter for them!

Be safe…wear the mask…

Nita McClung: I am just very down emotionally and mentally drain a lot is going on with my life but I am gonna share with you when you really wanna chat I am gonna share with you! Can you tell me about your family background? Concerning my family it’s a long story that made me shed tears whenever I remember the past , well it’s really something i don’t usually wish to talk about especially someone i just met and really wish to nurture a friendship with My Mom from Australia while Dad originally from the states ,so I grew up on Australia before we relocated to the states some years back I am the only child of my parents. My mother was a major alcoholic when I was in high school especially. She raised so much Hell with me you can’t even imagine As she got older and way after I got out of the house she quit drinking and became a much better person but passed with a heart attack when she was 47.She Smoked like a freight train My dad later got in a terrible accident and died with an estate valued at around $4m made up of properties,gold, shares and savings in different places in the states,also Turkey,Australia and few more places. i’m my father’s only executor (next of kin) and beneficiary now i am eagerly waiting for the probate to be granted by the court. the granting of probate is the first step in the legal process of administering the shares and property of my deceased father. the probate is the legal instrument that i will use in the law courts if necessary,which I have been waiting for and keeping me this un settled till it sorted it,but hopefully anytime from now
I’ll like to hear back from you

DCM: That is a very challenging situation, and I am sure it left you with scars.

Good luck with probate…once you have dealt with that, you should have a much better shot at achieving your dreams. Independent wealth DOES make life easier.
Have you sought out therapy to help with the healing process? I strongly recommend it, as a good therapist can do a great deal to help a person through the process.

Nita McClung: I am looking for a man that will be able to listen to me ,communicate his feelings to me,make me laugh,hold and comfort me in need Stand by my side, respect me,passionate lover in every way, support me in everyday,love me and only me,make me smile, protect me when needed Romantic time to time,constantly creative, and treat me right. in me a Man is going to find a woman that was blessed with an over abundance of passion to give to the ones I share my heart and soul with. For you to really know me you will have to experience me as the love that makes up my heart is like a waterfall, where the water never stops flowing down. In this case my heart is the waterfall, and the love and passion that flows endlessly is representing the water. I am a very unique person for many reason

DCM: An admirable goal. I wish you the best of luck with that. Alas, it can be a challenge to find such a relationship.

Nita McClung: Thanks
Well I have to be on bed now because time the time here is 2:03am
May you sleep well, and dream pleasant dreams. Stay safe!
Hope we can continue our conversation on Hangout

DCM: I am sure we shall chat again…

Nita McClung: Yes
But let continue on Hangout
Send me your Gmail address I’ll send you a message there
Are you gonna send me your Gmail address

DCM:Why Hangouts, instead of here?


Nita McClung: I don’t chat here that much
Not evertime am always here

DCM: I shall consider it…

******** Day #2 ********

Nita McClung: Cool
12:28 AM
Hello
How are. You doing

DCM: Hello…heading to bed, actually, as it has been a long day, and it is midnight here. Enjoy reality!

Nita McClung: Thanks for getting back to me
I’ll like to hear back from you in the morning

******** Day #3 ********


10:14 AM
Nita McClung: Good morning
7:18 PM
Hello
How are you doing today

DCM: Hello…other than the fact that reality is chaotic, I am hanging in there.

How did the seminar go today? Anything interesting in the topics covered?

Nita McClung: the seminar ended well with the Lord’s grace, full of joy and am very happy, Ya, “its good to go. I’m right head down to the ticketing agent’s office to book my flight ticket. I’ll email you with the flight itinerary as soon as i get booked. I don’t know if you would be able to pick me up at the Airport and if so I’ll tell you my dress code for you to recognize me. I will putting on suit with black jacket”, “So what’s your phone number so I can ring you when I land. Looking forward to converse in person

DCM: Where are you flying into?

Nita McClung: California
Only if you want me to come to meet you

DCM: Bless your heart…Since I live 2000 miles away from there, not a chance. But thanks for the thought!

Nita McClung: Good
I can just book the flight ticket from Ukraine down straight to your place and you can pick me up at your airport
What is the nearest airport to pick me up

DCM: Why, may I ask, should you want to do that?

Nita McClung: Nothing much but I see you in person
But nevermind if you don’t want

DCM: While it is sweet that you are so enthusiastic to travel to the sticks, and meet someone that you have spent 45 minutes chatting with…

Does that sound like a good idea?

Nita McClung: Not really
But just because I have a plain Heart
Yes
Nita McClung: “today is such a terrible one. i couldn’t book my flight back home due to no fault of mine. what really happened was when my credit card was accessed by the booking office here in Ukraine to effect payment to procure my flight it was denied on the account of lack of funds in the card!naturally”, i was surprised as I knew that a’int true b’cos I loaded the card full of money as i knew i was gonna make an oversea travel, so I called the credit card company demanding to know whats up with my money, “home only to be told that I made some purchases at eBay!certainly not me. I was then told that my credit card has been hacked. I was promised full investigation on the matter and if the company is found to be culpable they will be liable to refund my money. but this can only commence whenever I return to States. worst case scenario”, I am cash trapped at the moment as I have already given the airline agent part of the money for the flight ticket, settled my hotel bills, “all these left me depleted.”,

DCM: That does sound like a terrible day. Luckily, the credit card companies typically move very quickly on challenged purchases.

Nita McClung: Have call the bank manager to complain but he’s told me to get back home to do some bank verification before I can have access to my money

DCM: Overall, it is a good thing that the banks are careful with our money…although it can be a challenge at times.

Nita McClung: Now I need to get back home to do the bank verification so that I can get money back
But I need some funds to book my flight

DCM: I take it your bank does not have a representative in the Ukraine?

Nita McClung: Yes,they told me to come back home before they can do anything

DCM: What bank are you with?

Nita McClung: Please can you help me to the remaining money to balance up my flight

DCM: And…THERE it is!
Surely you have friends that know you better than I, that can help you.

Nita Mcclung: It’s commercial bank
Yes,but have message her but she said it’s only $200 that she have to help me that she just pay her bills
But the $200 is not gonna be enough for the flight ticket
At list if I can be able to see $350 I’ll make the payment of the flight ticket and get back home ASAP
Please help me out and safe my money,I don’t wanna lose my money
I promise never to disappoint you

DCM: Ha! trust me, you have yet to disappoint me.

Nita McClung: I don’t mind paying you back the money with interest
Just please try to safe my life and my money

DCM: Let me explain something to you.
You are presenting the face of a scammer, not a young, damsel in distress. So, there is not a chance I am going to send a penny.

1) Commercial bank has reciprocal agreements with several banks in the Ukraine. THEY could verify your identity easily.
2) You should have already had your return flight booked. It is standard practice to sell ROUND TRIP tickets to passengers.
3) You have friended a total stranger on the Net, and within a few dozen lines of chat, gone from a woman with MILLIONS in assets that the bank would verify…(as the executor of your father’s estate, you have full access to those funds) to begging for $350 to pay for a flight that, if you are booking it today, costs close to double that.
4) Your screen name may be “Nita McClung” but your FB id is tshewang.rinzin
5) For a young lady who claims to be from New York, your English is poor…and apparently you do not realize that NO ONE from New York says “New York, New York”.

Why should I believe you? And, by the by, I may be an old hillbilly, but that does not mean I am ignorant.

I suggest you find a comfortable place in the Airport, and talk with the airline’s managers and such tomorrow when things are open.

Bye. It has been interesting chatting with you.

It is not out of the question that I have made a foolish, but honest young lady sad. However, NOTHING in this conversation makes me think that this is the case.

After the concluding remarks above, I reported this ID to Facebook as a scammer, and blocked it. IF you get into a similar situation, I strongly suggest that you take similar steps.

God Help Us All

Wear your mask, and Stay Safe!

Bee Man Dave

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

Covid-19 Thoughts, Part 03 Conspiracy Loonies.

Greetings and Salutations;

I am seeing more and more truly nutty theories being pushed as the Covid-19 crisis continues. The Conspiracy Loonies are out in force, pushing nonsense ranging from the virus being a biological weapon attack by China, to it being an overblown hoax by the Democrats to tear down the administration (Guess who likes this idea the most???) to it being a way for Bill Gates to inject tracking/mind control chips into everybody in the world.

I was just hooked into a thread that involves the “doctor” that the following essay mentions, so when I ran across this well written, and accurate discussion of why conspiracy loonies are a waste of time it jumped out at me. The biographical information given by the author checks out, by the way, so this is legitimate.

Stefan Richter Yesterday at 1:54 PM

Yo I’m not going to watch your 25-minute YouTube conspiracy video. I’m not even going to watch your 5-minute conspiracy video. This isn’t because I don’t have an open mind. This is because video is a shitty way to transmit information, specifically geared towards emotional manipulation, and I hate it. I can read probably about five times as fast as people speak, so if you want me to look at a write-up, I’ll try to find a time when I have the emotional energy for it. One of my friends was nice enough to summarize parts of it for me, which I respond to below. This is another long one.

I want to address, specifically, the first thirteen seconds of the “Plandemic Documentary” conspiracy video, because that’s all I watched. It starts by saying Dr. Judy Mikovits “has been called one of the most accomplished scientists of her generation”. Snopes did a good article on who she is: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/scientist-vaccine-jailed/
Basically she had done some reasonable science at some point, some of it on HIV, and then published a paper in Science about XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome. The paper was retracted because nobody could replicate the findings, and it was concluded that the XMRV came entirely from laboratory contamination. Someone else wrote a poorly-sourced paper about how XMRV could have gotten into humans via vaccines, and the anti-vax/plague-enthusiast community jumped on this as a possible way that vaccines hurt people. Mikovits also ran into some troubles with the law for allegedly stealing lab equipment after being fired. She’s now basically off the deep end and popular in the anti-vax community. I would say that pretty much anything she says should be taken with SERIOUS skepticism.

The problem with a lot of conspiracy theories/videos usually comes down to this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gish_gallop
It takes a lot more effort to refute and argue against false claims than it does to make them. I’m sure that somebody at some point will come up with a comprehensive point-by-point refutation of this video, it just takes a while. One of the bigger mistakes we’ve made as a scientific community (and keep making) is that we let shit like this go unchecked for too long. It can be pretty obvious to someone with a scientific background (like the Bakersfield doctors bullshit) and still spread widely in the population.

-From what I can tell, a big claim in this video is that the pandemic isn’t that dangerous, and that the measures we’re taking are an overreaction. First off, I’d like to say that I have a very legitimate concern about the potential authoritarian consequences of what it’s going to take to track and treat patients. I have very serious concerns about the economic impact of what’s going on. I don’t think there’s a good way out of this, and I don’t think there are any completely good options. This shit sucks a LOT and it makes me really sad. What I don’t have time for is the infantile fantasy that those choices somehow don’t exist and that there’s some reason that this situation doesn’t actually suck as badly as it does. It’s possible that we’re overreacting as a society! It just really doesn’t seem likely. As I’ve said before, anyone claiming certainty about what to do here is somewhere between being overconfident and just plain lying. What I can say is that the overwhelming evidence so far indicates that the measures we’re taking are going to mean the American death toll of this disease being hundreds of thousands instead of millions.

SARS-CoV-2 wasn’t engineered in a lab:
People have been studying viruses for a long time. Part of that study involves manipulating them. There was a whole controversy a while back about making more lethal flu strains. That doesn’t mean SARS-CoV-2 wasn’t naturally occurring. It may seem suspicious that this pandemic is happening, but we as a scientific community have talked about this possibility for DECADES. SARS-CoV-1, MERS, recent flu pandemics, etc. weren’t this big just because we were lucky. Nobody is talking about how we made those in a lab (they weren’t) because nobody cares about them.

-I generally agree that nobody should profit off a vaccine. That’s a problem with capitalism, and the US specifically, and is true of everything in the medical community.

-About MDs being incentivized to report coronavirus cases (from a prior comment of mine):
This is a common conspiracy theory. People who claim physicians are over-reporting deaths typically point to the (true) fact that hospitals get paid a bonus for Covid patients, so there’s a financial incentive for claiming that a person died from Covid. This has a few major holes in it:

  1. Falsifying a medical record is illegal, hospitals get audited by CMS (Medicare) all the time to make sure the charts are accurate, and there are huge fines for lying.
  2. Hospitals do get paid extra, but physicians don’t, which is something people seem not to understand. This theory assumes that physicians are willing to put themselves at legal risk for the sake of a hospital (we almost always aren’t).
  3. There’s a huge list of conditions that allow hospitals to get paid more for admissions – low sodium, malnutrition, diabetes, etc. We don’t lie about these conditions either, because of 1 and 2 above.
  4. The extra money for Covid patients is for medical notes, not death certificates. This is a subtle distinction to people outside the medical field, but putting a cause of death on a certificate is a separate process from documenting in a note, and falsifying those is ALSO illegal.

The other thing that I would say is that if you have Covid, it exacerbates underlying conditions. Literally almost any other cause of death would be worsened by having an infection that lowers your blood oxygen levels. It can trigger heart attacks, COPD exacerbations, asthma exacerbations, set your lungs up for pneumonia, and (yes actually) make you more likely to die from a trauma. If you have an infection and die from almost anything else, you died in part from Covid. Just like if you have a pneumonia and die from almost anything else, you died in part from pneumonia. That’s how medical causes of death work, and they always have.

If people are coming at this from the perspective that physicians are willing to lie, cheat, and steal to get more money, it feeds into their pre-existing biases, so it’s easy to see how that get amplified. I don’t know of any respectable scientists working on this project who think deaths are being over-counted – I’ve only seen it pushed by people who are already engaging in motivated reasoning to come to the conclusion that this epidemic isn’t as bad as we’ve been led to believe.

-Hydroxychloroquine probably doesn’t work, no matter how much anyone wants to believe it does. It’s still being studied, but preliminary data aren’t positive. Not sure what to say about that except that we do studies on these things for a reason – the plural of anecdote is not data.

-Apparently there’s a claim that people are holding off on developing effective therapies because they want to vaccinate everybody. The only way this thought begins to make sense is if you’re coming from a world view in which vaccination or the avoidance of a vaccination is a goal in and of itself. So again, anti-vax bullshit.

There’s some confusing claims in there about animals and the way vaccines are made. I’m going to chalk that up to crazy anti-vax bullshit and move on. If anyone has a better response, please feel free to jump in.

-There’s some stuff in there about how masks don’t work, how we develop immune responses from exposure to our environment, that sheltering from the rest of the world will hurt our immune systems, etc. This is, again, standard anti-vaxxer bullshit and does not comport with reality. Staying inside for a few months isn’t going to nuke our immune systems.

Like I said before, as far as I can tell this video is a tsunami of unrelated conspiracy theories and anti-vax talking points. Nobody is going to be able to address all of them satisfactorily. But if your position is “well 80% of this is clearly refutable but I wonder about that 20%”, at some point you’re going to have to realize that the most likely explanation for this entire video is that it’s politically motivated, written by anti-vaxxers, and that your baseline assumption should be that none of this is scientifically sensical. For example, there are no “good microbes” on beaches that we’re somehow specifically keeping people away from.

Conspiracy theories don’t take hold if they don’t appeal to people. Since a lot of the claims being made can’t possibly be falsified in a way that people will listen to, the question is whether or not this fits into the listener’s worldview. And the truth is, as far as I can tell, that it’s more comforting for many people to believe that someone is in charge (even with malignant intentions) than it is to see the world as an essentially chaotic system in which horrible things happen for no good reason.

Except there’s an actual reason this happened the way it did, at least in the US. It’s because we have the worst administration this country has ever seen, our president disbanded all the early warning systems, ignored everybody with relevant expertise, and as far as I can do has done very little on a national level besides steal hospital supplies from states.

Just a few quick things to add since this blew up a bit:
– I have a PhD in public health, I do research on antimicrobial resistance among bacteria. I’m not a virologist or epidemiologist, although I’ve taken classes in these disciplines.
– I’m an ICU doctor, and I see people dying from this disease every day I’m at work these days.
– I’m usually not interested in debating you or your friends on Facebook. This is a line I’ve set for my mental health.
– If we don’t have any mutual friends, I almost definitely won’t accept your friend request.

Thanks for being reasonable!

God Help Us All. Stay Safe!

Bee Man Dave

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

Covid-19 Thoughts, Part 02. Truth can be ugly and painful

Greetings and Salutations.

Ran across the post on facebook just now. It is a long read, and a painful one…but, this is the reality of what is happening in hospitals every day. THIS is why we are shut down, and sheltering at home. I wish that everyone whining about the shut down would read this mindfully, and think about this…What if that patient was YOUR mother/father/brother/sister/best friend?

Julianne Nicole April 24 at 9:49 PM

I am a Covid ICU nurse in New York City, and yesterday, like many other days lately, I couldn’t fix my patient. Sure, that happens all the time in the ICU. It definitely wasn’t the first time. It certainly won’t be the last. What makes this patient noteworthy? A few things, actually. He was infected with Covid 19, and he will lose his battle with Covid 19. He is only 23 years old.

I was destroyed by his clinical course in a way that has only happened a few times in my nursing career. It wasn’t his presentation. I’ve seen that before. It wasn’t his complications. I’ve seen that too.

It was the grief. It was his parents. The grief I witnessed yesterday, was grief that I haven’t allowed myself to recognize since this runaway train got rolling here in early March. I could sense it. It was lingering in the periphery of my mind, but yesterday something in me gave way, and that grief rushed in.

I think I was struck by a lot of emotions and realities yesterday. Emotions that have been brewing for weeks, and realities that I have been stifling because I had to in order to do my job effectively. My therapist tells me weekly via facetime that it’s impossible to process trauma when the trauma is still occurring. It just keeps building.

I get home from work, take my trusty companion Apollo immediately out to pee, he’s been home for 14 hours at a time. I have to keep my dog walker safe. No one can come into my apartment.

I’ve already been very sick from my work exposure, and I’m heavily exposed every day that I work since I returned after being 72 hours afebrile, the new standard for healthcare workers. That was after a week of running a fever of 104 even with Tylenol around the clock, but thankfully without respiratory symptoms. I was lucky.

Like every other healthcare worker on the planet right now, I strip inside the door, throw all the scrubs in the wash, bleach wipe all of my every day carry supplies, shoes and work bag stay at the bottom of the stairs.

You see, there’s a descending level of Covid contamination as you ascend the stairs just inside my apartment door. Work bag and shoes stay at the bottom. Dog walking shoes next step up, then dog leash, then running shoes.

I dodge my excited and doofy German shepherd, who is bringing me every toy he has to play with, and I go and scald myself for 20 minutes in a hot shower. Washing off the germs, metaphorically washing off the weight of the day.

We play fetch after the shower. Once he’s tired, I lay on the floor with him, holding him tight, until I’m ready to get up and eat, but sometimes I just go straight to bed.

Quite honestly, I’m so tired of the death. With three days off from what has been two months of literal hell on earth as a Covid ICU nurse in NYC, I’m having an evening glass of wine, and munching on the twizzlers my dear aunt sent me from Upstate NY, while my dog is bouncing off the walls because I still don’t have the energy to run every day with him.

Is it the residual effects of the virus? Is it just general exhaustion from working three days in a row? Regardless, the thoughts are finally bleeding out of my mind and into a medium that I’m not sure could possibly convey the reality of this experience.

There’s been a significant change in how we approach the critically ill covid-infected patients on a number of different levels over the last two months. We’re learning about the virus. We’re following trends and patterns. We are researching as we are treating.

The reality is, the people who get sick later in this pandemic will have a better chance for survival. Yet, every day working feels like Groundhog Day. All of the patients have developed the same issues. This 23-year-old kid walked around for a week silently hypoxic and silently dying. By the time he got to us, it was already far too late.

First pneumonia, then Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), essentially lung failure. Then kidney failure from global hypoxia and the medications we were giving in the beginning, desperately trying to find something that works. Then learning that it doesn’t work, it’s doing more harm than good in the critical care Covid population.

Dialysis for the kidneys. They are so sick that your normal three-times weekly dialysis schedule is too harsh on their body. They’re too unstable. So, we, the ICU nurses, run the dialysis slowly and continuously.

They are all obstructing their bowels from the ever-changing array of medications, as we ran out of some medications completely during our surge. We had to substitute alternatives, narcotics, sedatives, and paralytics, medications we’re heavily sedating and treating their pain with, in an effort to help them tolerate barbaric ventilator settings.

Barbaric ventilator settings while lying them on their bellies because their lungs are so damaged that we have to flip them onto their bellies in an effort to perfuse the functioning lung tissue and ventilate the damaged lung tissue.

Lungs that are perfused with blood that doesn’t even have adequate oxygen carrying capacity because of how this virus attacks.

Blood that clots. And bleeds. And clots. And bleeds. Everything in their bodies is deranged. Treat the clots with continuous anticoagulation. Stop the anticoagulation when they bleed.

GI bleeds, brain bleeds, pulmonary emboli, strokes. The brain bleeds will likely die. The GI bleeds get blood transfusions and interventions.

Restart the anticoagulation when they clot their continuous or intermittent dialysis filters, rendering them unusable, because we’re trying not to let them die slowly from renal failure. We are constantly making impossible treatment decisions in the critical care pandemic population.

A lot of people have asked me what it’s like here. I truly don’t have adequate descriptors in my vocabulary, try as I might, so I’ll defer to the metaphor of fire.

We are attempting to put out one fire, while three more are cropping up. Then we find out a week or two later that we unknowingly threw gasoline on one fire, because there’s still so much we don’t know about this virus.

Then suddenly there’s no water to fight the fire with. We’re running around holding ice cubes in an effort to put out an inferno. Oh yeah, and the entire time you’ve been in this burning building, you barely have what you need to protect yourself.

The protection you’re using, the guidelines governing that protection, evolved with the surge. One-time use N95? That’s the prior standard, and after what we’ve been through, that’s honestly hysterical. As we were surging here, the CDC revised their guidelines, because the PPE shortage was so critical.

Use anything, they said. Use whatever you have for as long as you can, and improvise what you don’t have.

As we’re discussing medication and viral research, starting clinical trials, talking treatment options in morning rounds for your patient with the team of doctors and clinical pharmacists, suddenly, surprise! Your patient developed a mucous plug in his breathing tube.

Yes, that vital, precious tube that’s connected to the ventilator that’s breathing for them. It’s completely plugged. Blocked. No oxygen or carbon dioxide in or out. It’s a critical emergency.

Even with nebulizer treatments, once we finally had the closed-delivery systems we needed to administer these medications and keep ourselves safe, they’re still plugging. We cannot even routinely suction unless we absolutely have to because suctioning steals all of the positive pressure that’s keeping them alive from the ventilator circuit. One routine suction pass down the breathing tube could kill someone, or leave their body and vital organs hypoxic for hours after.

Well, now they’re plugged. We are then faced with a choice. Both choices place the respiratory therapists, nurses, and doctors at extremely high risk for aerosolized exposure.

We could exchange the breathing tube, but that could take too long, the patient may die in the 2-3 minutes we need to assemble the supplies and manpower needed, and it’s one of the highest-risk procedures for our providers that we could possibly carry out.

Or we could use the clamps that have been the best addition to my every day carry nursing arsenal. You yell for help, you’re alone in the room. Your friends and coworkers, respiratory therapists, doctors, are all rushing to get their PPE on and get into the room to help.

You move around the room cluttered with machines and life sustaining therapies to set up what you need to stave off death. You move deliberately, and you move FAST. The patient is decompensating in the now-familiar and coordinated effort to intervene.

Attach the ambu bag to wall oxygen. Turn it all the way up. Where’s the PEEP valve? God, someone go grab me the PEEP valve off the ambu bag in room 11 next door. We ran out of those a month ago, too. It’s all covid anyway, all of it is covid. Risk cross-contamination or risk imminent death for your patient, risk extreme viral load exposure for you and your coworkers, and most certain death for your patient if you intervene without a PEEP valve.

You clamp the breathing tube, tight. The respiratory therapist shuts off the ventilator, because that side of the circuit can aerosolize and spray virus too if you leave it blasting air after you disconnect. Open the circuit. Respiratory therapy attaches the ambu bag. You unclamp. Bag, bag, bag. Clear the plug. The patient’s oxygen saturation is 23%. Their heart rate is slowing. Their blood pressure is tanking. Max all your drips, then watch and wait while this patient takes 3 hours to recover to a measly oxygen saturation of 82%, the best you’ll get from them all shift. These patients have no pulmonary reserve.

All of our choices to intervene in this situation risk our own health and safety. In the beginning we were more cautious with ourselves. We don’t want to get sick. We don’t want to be a patient in our own ICU. We’ve cared for our own staff in our ICUs. We don’t want to die. Now? I’ve already been sick. I am so, so tired of the constant death that is the ICU, that personally, I will do anything as long as I have my weeks old N95 and face shield on, just to keep someone alive.

I’ve realized that for many of these patients in the ICU, it won’t matter what I do. It won’t matter how hard I work, though I’ll still work like a crazy person all day, aggressively advocate for my patients in the same way.

My coworkers will go without meals, even though they’re being donated and delivered by people who love and support you. Generous people are helping to keep local restaurants afloat. We can always take the meal home for dinner, or I can devour a slice of pizza as I walk out to my truck parked on the pier, a walk I look forward to every day, because it gives me about eight minutes of silence. To process. To reflect.

I’ll chug a Gatorade when I start feeling lightheaded and I’m seeing stars, immediately after I just pushed an amp of bicarb on a patient and I know I have at least five minutes of a stable blood pressure to step out of the unit, take off my mask and actually breathe.

Every dedicated staff member is working tirelessly to help. The now-closed dental clinic staff has been trained to work in the respiratory lab to run our arterial blood gases, so that the absolutely incredible respiratory therapists who we so desperately need can take care of the patients with us.

Nurses in procedural areas that were closed have been repurposed to work as runners. To run for supplies while the primary nurse is in an isolation room trying to stabilize a patient without the supplies they need, runners to run for blood transfusions.

Physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists being repurposed to be part of the proning teams that helps the nurses turn patients onto their backs and bellies amidst a tangled web of critical lines and tubes, where one small error could mean death for the patient, and exposure for all staff.

Anesthesiologists and residents are managing airways and lines when carrying out these massive patient position changes. Surgical residents are all over the hospital just to put in the critical invasive lines we need in all of our patients.

The travel nurses who rushed into this burning building to help us are easing a healthcare system. The first travel nurse I met came all the way from Texas. Others terminated their steady employment to enlist with a travel agency to help us. Every day there are more travelers arriving.

A nurse from LA came to me after she found out I was part of the home staff, in my home unit, where this all first started in my hospital what feels like a lifetime ago, and said, “I came here for you. For all of the nurses. Because I couldn’t imagine working the way you guys were working for how long you were working like that”. During our surge and peak in the ICU, we were 1:3 ratios with three patients who normally would be a 1:1 assignment. And they were all trying to die at the same time. We were having to choose which patients we were rushing to because we couldn’t help them all at the same time.

The overhead pages for emergencies throughout the hospital rang out and echoed endlessly. Every minute, another rapid response call. Another anesthesia page for an intubation. Another cardiopulmonary arrest. A hospital bursting at the seams with death. Refrigerated trailers being filled.

First it was our normal white body bags. Then orange disaster bags. Then blue tarp bags. We ran out of those too. Now, black bags.

The heartbreakingly unique part of this pandemic, is that these patients are so alone. We are here, but they are suffering alone, with no familiar face or voice. They are dying alone, surrounded by strangers crying into their own masks, trying not to let our precious N95 get wet, trying not to touch our faces with contaminated hands.

Their families are home, waiting for the phone call with their daily update. Some of their loved ones are also sick and quarantined at home.

Can you even IMAGINE? Your husband or wife, mother or father. Sibling. Your child. You drop your loved one off at the emergency department entrance, and you never, ever see them alive again.

Families are home, getting phone calls every day that they’re getting worse. Or maybe they’re getting better. Unfortunately, the ICU in what has quickly become the global epicenter for this pandemic is not a happy place. We are mostly purgatory where I work, so this snapshot may be more morbid than most.

These people are saying goodbye to their loved ones, while they’re still walking and talking, and then maybe a week or two later, they’re just gone. It’s like they disappeared into thin air.

That level of grief is absolutely astounding to me, and that’s coming from a person who knows grief. I was there at the bedside, I held my young husband’s hand when I watched his heart stop beating. I was there. That grief changes you immeasurably.

But this grief? This pandemic grief? It’s inconceivable. These families will suffer horribly, every day for the rest of their lives. They might not even be able to bury their loved one. God, if they can’t afford a funeral with an economic shut-down, their loved one will be buried in a mass grave on Hart Island with thousands of others like them. What grave will they have to visit on birthdays and holidays?

Yesterday, I was preparing for a bedside endoscopy procedure to secure a catastrophic GI bleed in this 23-year-old patient.

It was a bleed that required a massive transfusion protocol where the blood bank releases coolers of uncrossmatched O negative blood in an emergency, an overhead page that, ironically, I heard as I was getting into the elevator to head to the fourth floor for my shift yesterday morning; a massive transfusion protocol that I found out I would own as a primary nurse, as I desperately squeezed liters of IV fluids into this patient until we got the cooler full of blood products, and then pumped this patient full of units of blood until we could intervene with endoscopy.

Before the procedure, I stopped everything I was doing that wasn’t life-sustaining. I stopped gathering supplies to start and assist with the procedure.

I told the doctors that I would not do a required “time-out” procedure until I got my phone out, and I facetimed this kid’s mom because I didn’t think he would survive the bedside procedure.

She cried. She wailed. She begged her son to open his eyes, to breathe. She begged me to help her. Ayudame. Ayudame. She begged me to help him. She sang to him. She told him he was strong. She told him how much she loved him. I listened to her heart breaking in real time while she talked to her son, while she saw his swollen face, her baby boy, dying before her eyes through a phone.

Later in the day, after the procedure, his mom and dad came to the hospital. He survived the securement of the bleed, but he was still getting worse no matter what we did. He’s going to die. And against policy, we fought to get them up to see their son.

We found them masks and gowns that we’re still rationing in the hospital, and we let his parents see him, hold him. We let them be with their son.

Like every other nurse would do in the ICU here, I bounced around the room, moving mom from one side of the bed to the other and back again, so I could do what I needed to do, setting up my continuous dialysis machine, with the ONE filter that supply sent up for my use to initiate dialysis therapy. This spaceship-like machine, finicky as all hell, and I had one shot to prime this machine successfully to start dialysis therapy to try to slowly correct the metabolic acidosis that was just ONE of the problems that was killing him as his systolic blood pressure lingered in the 70s, despite maxing all of my blood pressure mediations.

Continuous dialysis started. You press start and hold your breath. You’re not removing any fluid, just filtering the blood, but even the tiniest of fluid shifts in this patient could kill him. But you have no choice.

His vital signs started to look concerning. I could feel the dread in the pit of my stomach, this was going south very quickly. Another nurse and the patient’s father had to physically drag this mother out of the room so we could fill the room with the brains and eyes and hands that would keep this boy alive for another hour.

She wailed in the hallway. Nurses in the next unit down the hall heard her cries through two sets of closed fire doors. We worked furiously to stabilize him for the next four hours.

Twenty minutes before the end of my shift last night, I sat with the attending physician and the parents in a quiet and deserted family waiting room outside the unit. I told his mother that no matter what I do, I cannot fix this. I have maximized everything I have, every tool and medicine at my disposal to save her son. I can’t save her son.

The doctor explained that no matter what we do, his body is failing him. No matter what we do, her son will die. They realized that no matter how hard they pray, no matter how much they want to tear down walls, no matter how many times his mother begs and pleads, “take me instead, I would rather die myself than lose my son”, we cannot save him.

We stayed while she screamed. We stayed until she finally let go of her vice grip on my hands, her body trembling uncontrollably, as she dissolved into her grief, in the arms of her husband.

This is ONE patient. One patient, in one ICU, in one hospital, in one city, in one country, on a planet being ravaged by a virus.

This is the tiniest, devastating snapshot of one patient and one family and their unimaginable grief. Yet, the weight is enormous.

The world should feel that weight too. Because this grief, this heartbreak is everywhere in many forms. Every person on this planet is grieving the loss of something.

Whether that’s freedom or autonomy sacrificed for the greater good. Whether that’s a paycheck or a business, or their livelihood, or maybe they’re grieving the loss of a loved one while still fighting to earn a paycheck, or waiting for government financial relief that they don’t know for certain will come. Maybe they’re a high school senior who will never get to have the graduation they dreamed of. Maybe they’re a college senior, who won’t get to have their senior game they so looked forward to. Maybe they’re afraid that the government is encroaching on their constitutional rights. Maybe it’s their first pregnancy, and it’s nothing like they imagined because of the terrifying world surrounding them.

Or maybe they lost a loved one, maybe someone they love is sick, and they can’t go see them, because there are no visitors allowed and they’re an essential worker. Maybe all they can see of someone they love is a random facetime call in the middle of the day from an area code and a number they don’t know.

Everyone is grieving. We’ve heard plenty of the public’s grief.

I don’t blame anyone for how they’re coping with that grief, even if it frustrates the ever-living hell out of me as I drown in death every day at work. It’s all valid. Everyone’s grief is different, but it doesn’t change the discomfort, the despair on various levels. We are at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Basic survival, physiological and safety needs. I’ve been here before. I know this feeling. How we survive is how we survive.

Now that I’ve had the time to reflect and write, now that I’ve let the walls down in my mind to let the grief flood in, now that I’ve seen this grief for what feels like the thousandth time since the first week of March as a nurse in a Covid ICU in New York City, it’s time you heard our side. This is devastating. This is our reality. This is our grief

The healthcare professionals are attempting to bail out the ocean with a teaspoon.. They are doing the best they can, with inadequate resources and idiots who are too stupid or too agenda driven to realize the evil they are doing. We all need to take up arms, as it were, and become activists. How can we do this?

  • First off, FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES. Stay at home. Wash your hands often. Wear a mask when going out. Avoid excess trips out. Avoid people when out in the world. BE SAFE!
  • The quoted story is what is happening every day to our nurses and doctors…the people on the front lines against this pandemic. Actions on this list are, perhaps, the only way we can directly help them, and ease their stress. I have said for years…the best way to honor our fallen soldiers is to do everything we can to not make any more of them. The same rules apply to our medical personnel. The best way to help and honor them is to do everything we can to NOT make any more patients for them.
  • Reach out to friends and family regularly to make contact, and, check on how they are doing.
  • Remember that this crisis has added huge amounts of stress to everyone’s life, even if we are not physically ill. Calls to suicide prevention lines have leaped by 900% in the past couple of months.
  • Be mindful of hour YOUR government is handling the resources to fight this pandemic. On a federal and state level, there have been amazingly stupid actions, based on greed and ignorance, and not any rational scientific evidence. Think about that…and contact your state Governor and representatives to let them know if you think re-opening to “back to normal” is a terrible idea. Contact your Federal Representatives, and make it clear to them that the incompetence and foot dragging by the current administration is killing Americans now, and, will kill many, many more, unless the politicians, who have NO knowledge of dealing with a pandemic, and are driving by Party Agenda and greed only, must step asaide and put the Scientists and medical professionals in charge of the situation.
  • The elections are coming in a few months. The Republicans have proven time and time again that they do not care about a vast majority of Americans… NOW they are proving that they are perfectly OK with the majority of us dying off, in horrible fashion, if it allows them to push their agenda. They have lost any rights to hold the offices they are in, as they are no longer leaders but are grifters enriching themselves at the cost of our lives. Vote BLUE and sweep the majority of the remaining Republicans out of office, and keep them out for at least a decade.
  • Remember…once this crisis eases, America will be a smoking ruin of what it was. It will take at least a decade to begin to reach the levels of prosperity we enjoyed. The history shows that the ONLY party that makes that happen is the Democratic Party. If you are a Republican, and cannot bring yourself to vote for a Democrat, then, stay at home. Do not vote for the current crop of Republicans because you are a party member…

God help us all!

Bee Man Dave

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

Covid-19 Thoughts, Part 01

The current pandemic has had a striking effect on the world in general and America in particular. Along with the horrifying volumes of infections confirmed, and deaths recorded that mount up every day, there are some (shall we say) sketchy opinions being spread around the Net. I thought I would address one such post here…both to show the level of misinformation available, and my attempts to combat this nonsense with truth and facts. I have tweaked my comments a bit from what was originally posted, to expand and clarify some points. The posts from the other participants are verbatim.

Enjoy the ride…for what it is worth.

LM: Ahhh, not everyone takes the influenza vaccine. Not everyone should be required to vaccinate for covid. Doctors are finding this to be very similar to the common flu we are all accustom too. Spread your fear, run and hide and live in tyranny for your safety…
bored of misinformation on this shite now.

SF:

LM: SF: what’s the context to those stats.

Do they also account for comorbidity?

Or simply the fact that someone had covid present in their system at the time of death?

SF: LM: It shows that COVID is 10 times deadlier and twice as infectious.

Dave Mundt: Since most of the folks that are blowing off the dangers of covid-19 are Rabid Right-Wingers, I am all for them not getting vaccinated when one appears. If nothing else, it will improve the gene pool by leaps and bounds as they die off either directly from the effects of the disease on the lungs, or, within a year or so from the damage it appears to do to many other internal organs.

LM: SF: infectious maybe, deadlier… eh. It just shows that they slap covid as the cause of each death, rather than the true cause. Yet it is becoming increasingly apparent doctors are mis diagnosing autopsy’s to increase statistics.

Article: We Are Underestimating The Death Rate for Covid-19

Here are doctors (Dr Erickson) who tested over 5000 patients

Dave Mundt: LM: I agree that fear is dangerous and toxic…in many cases. In some cases it is a useful tool, enhancing our perceptions, and warning us, even on a subconscious level, that we are in a sketchy situation and need to USE those enhanced senses.

While the opinion piece from weforum.org is quite measured, and makes some excellent points, it is dated 04/April, which in terms of the activity of this virus is an eternity ago. I also have a small issue with the headline…because it really should read “Why we MAY BE overestimating the mortality rate…” The article is clearer about this, but, alas, too many people only read headlines these days.
Since 2020/04/04, when the article you link to was written, there have been some significant changes not addressed in it.

  1. Analysis has found that covid-19 not only damages the lungs, but, can damage other organs, leaving long-term effects. In general, the more severe the case, the greater the resulting damage that may happen. The end result of this is that we are likely to see a spike in health related issues, and early deaths over the next 50 years or so. However, how big a spike is unknown, until the statistics start coming in.
  2. There are increasing concerns from researchers that the antibodies created from an infection are not sufficiently strong to keep the infection from happening again. IF this is true, and, the isolation rules are being discarded, we could easily see a cyclical pattern of people becoming ill, infecting others, and then, possibly recovering. Then, those people become ill, and infect yet another circle of people…and perhaps part of that circle will be the person that was the source of the original infection.
  3. I suspect, too, that if this happens, the illness will likely become worse with each cycle, and so, increase the possible organ damage, the likelihood of lengthy hospitalization, and death.
  4. The article focuses on the point that we may be under counting the number of infections, but, ignores the fact that we may very well have a significant number of deaths that are not reported. As of today, not all deaths are being tested by the coroner for covid-19. So, there is a decent chance that they are being under counted. How does this affect the numbers? impossible to say without better data…and as of now there is not a lot of political will on the part of the administration to increase the number of tests run.
  5. Your offhanded remark that causes of death are being manipulated is sketchy at best.
  6. As for the video you mention from YouTube, Dr. Erickson, and his co-presenter, seem to have both an agenda, AND an inability to use statistics properly. Simply wearing scrubs, and sounding rational (at least on the surface) does not indicate wisdom, or a working understanding of the situation. As the following article points out, he may be correct enough, for his tiny area. However, there appears to be some serious issues with their data and the analysis which invalidates its use for the larger picture.

This pandemic has grown so rapidly, aided by the incompetent actions of the administration, including the massive cuts to funding for research, that we are struggling to play catch up, and understand how this virus works. In the coming months, I am sure we will find much more excellent data that adds to our understanding. The sad thing is that, today, we are playing catch-up. Because of this, we have at least 957,875 confirmed infections, and 53,922 deaths. The last time America had a crisis like this, that was the most widespread in the country, and has impacted, on a personal basis, the reality of Americans as a society, was the Vietnam War. For a comparison…it took 20 years for that war to wound 150,000, and kill over 58,000 citizens. We have left the number of injured in a cloud of dust, and, are on schedule to beat the War’s death toll by the first of May. Consider that this is barely 90 days into this cycle of the spread of covid-19.

My attention was originally caught by the casual way that LM: blew off covid-19 as being nothing more than the flu…There is so much data demonstrating how wrong this attitude is, the fact that someone could hang onto it is kind of amazing and sad. This questionable opinion is one that I have seen time and time again over the past couple of months, since the upwards curve of the infection graph started. His conspiracy loony comments that end off his original comment demonstrate the lack of substance his thoughts have.

I must say that, sometimes I wonder which is the worst plague on the face of America today. Is it the Covid-19 that is spreading like wildfire through the citizens, injuring or killing so many of them? Or, is it the willful ignorance that too many of these same citizens cling to…as exemplified by this thread.

God Help Us All!

Be Safe!

Bee Man Dave

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

Is Democracy Broken?

Greetings and Salutations…

The title of this essay is a short version of a question asked in a philosophy group today. I thought about it for a few minutes, and after replying to it in the thread, decided to add a blog essay…

The question in the title turns out to not be a simple question. It was asked in the context of America’s society and form of government, so, I ended up discussing it from that viewpoint…. Technically, America has never been a democratic nation. We are a democratic Republic, where the citizens are given the final responsibility for Government.

I do not quite know what “Is democracy broken” means, but, will take a stab at examining the question.
In the context of America…Democracy itself is not broken. However, right now, our Democracy is in a struggle against a burst of tyranny that has gotten into office. We are, alas, reaping the whirlwind from seeds we have been planting and nurturing for 40 years. This conflict is so basic and has gotten so extreme, I believe the future of the Nation is at stake. IF the citizens rise up and Vote in November, to remove the scourge of the Republican wannabe-dictatorship from the government, America has a chance of returning to a far more positive path. If people allow fear, stupidity or apathy to allow the current administration to be reinstated, i fear for the country and its future. In the past, short, three years, the current administration has completed the task of taking America from a respected, world power, to a joke that is the laughingstock of the world. It has mistreated and offended long-time Allies, causing them to withdraw from connection to us. It has withdrawn from vital treaties and programs addressing the very clear and present danger of climate change. It has created trade wars and inflicted tariffs on friend and foe alike, with the delusional belief that this is not costing America anything, and is actually costing THEM huge amounts of money. It has treated the entire world as an enemy, and as a result, caused Allies to walk away, and find their own way in the world, instead of looking to America for protection and leadership. They realize that there is no trustworthy leader of the country right now. To increase the feeling of instability, it has sucked up to some of the worst of the worst dictators and tyrants in the world…panting for their attention like a puppy who is lonely. It has, with no hint of regret, implemented some of the worst examples of human rights violations we have ever seen in this country…just like those tyrants I mentioned earlier.

It is a perilous time for the country, with many opportunities for complete, self destruction. However, IF, all Americans who still believe in the validity of the Constitution, and support the Rule of Law, over the whims of Mankind, will step up, persist and resist the evil that in engulfing us, I believe there is a good chance that the threat to the country’s long term survival can be fought down and defeated.

The covid-19 crisis is providing us with a real opportunity to implement positive change. The suspension of much of the commercial and private activity in the country, has provided us all the time to sit back, and really look at the path we, as a Nation, are on. We can decide if we like and are comfortable with this path…or if we have doubts that we cannot quiet about where we are headed. Sometime, between now, and November 3d, the reality of life will kick back in. We will be able to go to restaurants for a sit-down meal; we will be able to go to sports events; we will be able to go back to work and earn our way again. We will, then, have the chance to take action on our thoughts during the suspension.

I HOPE that most Americans have been forced to look at the dark and self destructive path that America is on. They will realize that many of us have been railing against this path for years, and, they will join together with all of us to say “No More!” I would like to see the number of Republicans “representing” us change to a tiny minority party. All the surveys taken over the past decades have shown that the more Liberal/Progressives in America outnumber the RIght-Wing, reactionaries who have held power for too long. It is, I believe, about time that our “Representatives” start to reflect the real state of the country…with its diverse demographics, rather than being the bastion of old, rich, white guys we have let it become.

History shows us that plagues like this can be the trigger for great change in our society. I hope this trend repeats itself, and Motivates Americans to get America back on a more positive path…to return to becoming that shining city on the hill that was the idyllic vision of many in our history.

Right now…to help this happen, the only path is to vote Blue on November 3d. Do not be dissuaded from this. Do not believe the lies that say your vote does not count. IF you have problems voting, reach out to friends for help. They will be glad to help anyone negotiate the issues of updating registration information, or getting transported to the polls. This year, though may be another sea change in voting. Because of the covid-19 crisis, there is a growing demand for mail-in balloting. If this is a question in your state…take a minute to communicate with your federal and state officials to let them know that you support this option. If your state offers mail-in voting…be SURE and send the ballot back in…

All that Evil needs to succeed is for people of good will to do nothing. DO SOMETHING!

God Help Us All

Stay Safe…and in homes until the scientists and medical folks say it is ok…not the politicians.

Bee Man Dave.

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

Sifting Through The Ashes, Part 26 – Humanity’s Future?

Greetings and Salutations…

Today, on Facebook, a fellow asked an interesting question “Is there a future for Humanity?”

When I got to thinking about it, this question ended up being far more complicated than I had originally thought. So, instead of a reply on FaceBook, I decided to create an essay on my Blog. Following are my musings on the issues, and some possible ways to ensure that humanity both persists and ends up on a far more positive path, after this shut-down caused by Covid-19 ends.

I believe that, if we allow the reactionary, Right-Wing to regain power after this crisis, as they had before…The sojourn of humanity on this planet will end soon. By soon, I mean within the next thousand years. ALL around the world, we are seeing these folks grabbing power, and exploiting nature for profit, with no thought for the damage to the ecology they are doing…and certainly no consideration of how that will affect all of us in the future. This is NOT a sustainable path. In addition, we are seeing more and more people driven by hate, and intolerance, not love and tolerance. This can only re-enforce the Culture of Violence that humanity slips into, and will not end well for us.

If, though, the oppressed and disadvantaged people in the world take this period as a time to really look at how reality has changed, and, in the process ask the vital question “Is this the world we want to live in?” perhaps there is a chance that we will band together to radically change the path we are on.

I cannot speak for anyone but myself, as an American. However, I would like to see some significant changes happen in this country over the next couple of decades. I would like to see such programs as a living wage, universal healthcare, and the UBI implemented. While these programs were decried by the Republicans and other right-wing reactionaries as being insane and destructive, this crisis has shown us that they are, rather, both an achievable goal, and a vital part of America moving back to a path to rebuild that strong, middle class that allowed us to become a Superpower in the world.

I want to see the issue of the massive and increasing wealth gap between the richest and poorest Americans addressed. In the 1900s, the Robber Barons had about a 50 to 1 advantage, and they lived lives of such unimaginable wealth and privilege that it is amazing to see. However, while they were often thieving, oppressive bastards, exploiting the workers, they also USED their wealth to improve the country. Andrew Carnegie, for example, took his wealth, and built fully stocked libraries all over the United States. He also funded universities. Carnegie knew that the best workers were the ones that could focus on a task, and follow complex instructions accurately. Where does that come from? Education. He knew that for America to succeed, we needed innovation and an increase in technology. Again…without education, that will not happen. Henry Ford paid his workers an unimaginably high salary for the time. Why? First off, he knew that he could be the best car manufacturer in the world, but with no one able to buy his product, it was a waste of time, so, not only did he build cars, he built a population that could afford those cars. Secondly, he knew that a well paid employee is a happy, dedicated employee who does a better job. This cut down on a LOT of expenses and kicked up quality production. The actions of these men are an example of why America, nearly unique in the world, developed a huge, prosperous, middle class. I recall, vaguely, a French philosopher saying that what makes America so strong is its middle class…and that was an accurate observation. If we look at history, we see that the most prosperous time for a majority of Americans was that period when the middle class was large, and, the income of a single wage-earner was enough to provide financial, housing and food security. The income was sufficient to support a savings account, and even allow for the occasional luxury. I believe that it was this financial security that helped support the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Having that security allowed whites to really look at the plight of people of color in America, and slowly, start to join them in their struggle for equality. (This is a complex enough topic that it likely should be another essay, though)

Why did the Robber Barons, such as, Carnegie and Ford, as well as others like them, share the wealth with all Americans? They were investing in the future. They, while far from perfect, had the view that a bigger, better, stronger America was a very good thing.

Today, the reality is very different. The wealth gap is upwards of 400 to 1. A tiny subset of people hold more wealth than 90% of Americans. What happens to that money the very wealthy accumulate? It generally goes into stocks and bonds, which produce nothing but more wealth for the very well off. It is almost never used to improve the plight of the majority of citizens. Currently, by the way, at most, 25% of the stocks in the market are held by individual investors. A vast majority of them are held by funds, investment corporations, and the like. There are a few exceptions to the rule that the wealthy do not use their money to improve the world…Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are two notable members of a small club of the very rich that are using their wealth to make the lives of people all around the world better. The Gates foundation has a history of supporting such causes as universal vaccination. However, today, there are trillions of dollars tied up in the hands of a few people.

The result of this accumulation of wealth by the few? Workers today have not seen a significant wage increase in years. The typical 2% or 3% they might get barely covers increased costs from Inflation. Employers are cutting benefits, such as health insurance, often either removing it completely, or, at best, deducting part of the costs from the employee’s paycheck. When companies get tax windfalls, such as the Republicans love handing out, they do not use that money to pay their employees a higher wage, or give them bonuses. Rather they use the money to buy back their own stocks…thereby enriching the owner, stockholders, and upper level management.

America’s middle class is shrinking. A small percentage of the members of the class are achieving the lofty heights of great wealth. A vast majority are sinking down into poverty, though. This is a terrible path, for it leads to despair, and barriers to escaping that pit of poverty, that can make it impossible to achieve their previous economic status.

What could we do about this? Well, Senator Elizabeth Warren, during her recent campaign for the Presidency, had a plan for that. She would have implemented a flat, 2% tax on ALL assets owned by the very rich – and by that, she meant people with a yearly income of more than several million dollars. This small percentage would have produced billions of dollars in revenue, which could be distributed to such programs as improving the quality of schools in America, increasing Teacher’s salaries, helping get the homeless into living quarters, and the like. Today, I recall that the top tax bracket is 37%. Of course the people that would hit that have bought lawyers and politicians, to provide loopholes, to avoid paying any taxes at all! Look at the current Occupier of the Oval Office, who bragged that he had not paid a penny in income tax in a decade, and that proved he was smarter than anyone else! Up to the Reagan era, the top tax rate varied up to 90%, and even then, the very rich lived lives of luxury (partially because they still had so much money, and partially because of those damn loopholes). I would go further than Sen Warren. I would call for a flat tax rate on the upper 0.01% of 50%, with no loopholes or special benefits allowed. I do not think that is unfair, or excessive, as it would still leave them with enough money that they, and several generations of their spawn could live in extreme comfort without lifting a finger. I would like to see that money go to a couple of major causes.
1) I would like to see it used to provide a Universal Basic Income for all Americans who make less than $1 million a year, of the current, Middle Class income. This should allow many of the people living in poverty to improve their situation, and give them the freedom to improve their skill-set, and get into even better paying jobs.
2) Hopefully, this would be enough cash to move us to a surplus budget, instead of a deficit budget. I would like to see this happen, and the debt start to shrink.

I would like to see some changes to the political game in America. For example, such changes as automatic voter registration, mail in ballots, a revamping of the Electoral College (which I may speak about elsewhere), term limits for Federal representatives, the restoring of the Fairness Doctrine as legislation, not simply a rule by the FCC, and a requirement that at least 15 years of complete tax information be made public by any candidates. On a state and local level, I want to see the process of laying out districts removed from the party in power. I would prefer that these districts be laid out by computer mapping programs, and approved by a vote. The current system is ripe for abuse…allowing candidates to choose their voters…instead of the voters choosing their candidate.

As for society, I would like to see parents becoming a more active part of their kid’s education. I think that this shelter at home period is going to ensure that many more parents come to realize how difficult the role of the teacher is. Perhaps that will cause them to be more supportive of those teachers…and less contemptuous of the idea of education. I would like to see those parents also teaching their kids the rules of tolerance, patience and empathy for others (however, that may be a pipe dream for most, it seems)

On an ecological front…we have seen how resilient Nature is. Once the unending dump of waste gasses into the atmosphere stopped, we have seen the air clear amazingly quickly. I was reading an article just the other day, that was reporting, with some surprise, that after a month or so of shut down, Mt. Fuji was visible from Tokyo for the first time in 30 plus years. In Tibet, the Himalaya Mountains are visible from 100 miles away, again for the first time in decades. I hope that seeing what a clean environment is like, will encourage more people to support a program of generating power from renewable sources, instead of fouling the air with burning coal and natural gas. I would even support the idea of increasing the amount of power generated from nuclear energy. However, I would not want American plants and designers to be in control of that. They have proven, over the past half century, that they have no clue how to design and build smaller, safer reactors and deal with radioactive waste in a better fashion. The last time I checked, the Canadians had an excellent design, that was almost bullet proof, and used pelleted fuel, instead of the huge, difficult to create, and fragile fuel rods favored by American designers.

In the long run, I believe that humanity has GOT to make these and other changes, or that thousand year lifetime will be gone in a flash. Perhaps, if America, with actual leadership (instead of an administration focused on pandering to the lowest common denominator) makes these changes, and demonstrates they do work to improve the lot of all, we can act as a catalyst for world change. We are far behind right now, as many European countries have implemented many of these changes…but even if we just catch up, that will improve the chances for everyone in the world. America does not HAVE to be “#1″…it is just as valid to walk, shoulder to shoulder, with the other, free nations in the world.

God Help Us All

Stay safe

Bee Man Dave

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

A Short Look at a Grifter’s Journey

This just showed up in one of the threads on my timeline, and I thought it worth spreading a bit more broadly.


By Lucian K. Truscott IV:

“Donald Trump has tested positive — for the bullshit virus. He’s bluffed his way through his entire career and into the White House. But the coronavirus finally took him out.”


“There was a brief moment, back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when I was on fire in New York City. I had a novel on the New York Times bestseller list. I had a new wife, and we had been dubbed a “literary power couple” in the tabloids. I had a movie deal in Hollywood, and Gore Vidal had been signed to adapt my novel for the big screen. I was invited to Upper East Side dinner parties, at one of which I found myself seated next to Henry Kissinger and across the table from Norman Mailer. But I knew I had really reached the top when my phone rang one morning, and the famous New York Post gossip columnist Steve Dunleavy was on the line, asking if it would be all right to publish on Page Six in the next day’s newspaper that Donald Trump’s latest starlet girlfriend had been my date the night before at Elizabeth Taylor’s birthday party at Studio 54. See all the star power in that sentence? And most of it was true! I had been at Elizabeth Taylor’s birthday party at Studio 54, the night when she rode into the place on a white stallion with the famous Studio image of the man in the moon sniffing from a teaspoon of cocaine behind her. But I hadn’t been with Trump’s new girlfriend, although I had spotted him at the party, standing in a gaggle that included the infamous red-baiting lawyer Roy Cohn and the designer Halston. It seemed that Trump’s then wife, Ivana, had learned he had been at the party with the starlet, and Trump had called Dunleavy with a favor to ask. Could he print a rumor that the girlfriend was with someone else, to get Ivana off his back? Dunleavy had seen me at the party, and for some reason selected me as the beard for Trump’s girlfriend. I said no, he couldn’t put me in his column as escort to Trump’s bimbo, and that was that.


Except it wasn’t, because of what my brief brush with the Trump penumbra of fame says about those days in New York in general, and Trump in particular. That wasn’t the only time I ran into Trump during my brief foray into the Manhattan stratosphere. I saw him at a boite called Le Club on the Upper East Side one night, ogling the young lovelies who teetered around the place in skyscraper heels and micro-skirts, their enormous cantilevered chests held aloft by power-bras seemly constructed by U.S. Steel.
I saw him at an East Side supper club one night promoting the Miss Universe Pageant, which he had recently purchased, apparently to audition “dates” for parties at Studio 54 and other popular nightspots. And of course I saw his then-boyish visage almost daily in the tabloids, grinning for the flashbulbs at nightclubs, prize fights, and ribbon cuttings for his collection of garish buildings that popped up around uptown Manhattan like some new species of deadly mushroom.


Trump was everywhere in those days in New York. You couldn’t avoid him if you dug a cave under one of those gigantic rocks in Central Park and buried yourself. Somehow you knew he would find you there in your underground hiding place, dig you up and force you to get back out there on the sidewalks and walk past another mirrored masterpiece with his name emblazoned in gigantic ugly letters. TRUMP. You couldn’t avoid him. He was like … what was he anyway? Oh, I’ve got it! He was like a plague! And New York City had caught it! It’s kind of funny looking back at those days in New York, when he was so ubiquitous that even my phone rang with cheapo-Aussie gossip-mongers asking favors for Trump.
Except it wasn’t funny when you think of the fact, and it is a fact, that those were the days when Trump honed his entire shtick, the same shtick he went on to ride all the way into the White House. Trump’s shtick as a celebrity in New York was the same one he used in his business. He bluffed his way into and through everything. His buildings were the tallest and the grandest and the most expensive and the most prestigious, even though they were none of those things. None at all. He added stories onto Trump Tower, seemingly just because he could. He told the world everything he had was the most expensive, even as he shopped his condos and cheap Trump vodka and cardboard Trump steaks at a discount to anyone with a buck. He bought the Eastern Airlines Shuttle for $365 million and renamed it the Trump Shuttle. It was an expensive flop that lasted only three years before he had to let it go in bankruptcy. Same with the prestigious Plaza Hotel, which he bought for more than $400 million and ran into the ground in less than three years, also lost in bankruptcy. Same with the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, which cost him $1 billion to build, another gaudy, grand, overpriced monstrosity he lost in bankruptcy. In all, Trump took out more than $3 billion in loans, $900 million of which he personally guaranteed.


His entire teetering gold-leafed mirrored empire fell, the whole lot of it, in 1992 at a big meeting with more than 50 lawyers in a big conference room in the law offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, the firm that represented Trump’s largest lender, Citibank. Trump sat down and signed over most of his buildings, his jet, his yacht, his airline and his casinos, all of it in one afternoon, in exchange for more favorable terms on his personally guaranteed loans. The banks could have easily called Trump’s loans and left him penniless, “but we all agreed that he’d be better alive than dead,” explained Alan Pomerantz, then head of the real estate department at Weil.”

God Help Us All

Bee Man Dave

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