Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The cost of doing the right thing.......


   This is a subject that has held my attention for the last half-century.  I graduated in 1970 from Penn State, with a degree in the philosophy of ethics, as a result of needing to know how a code of ethics can be a life-long guide as we make decisions that affect not only ourselves, but our loved ones and all those people we interact with as we make our way along the path of life.  If we become a member of a wide variety of professions, our ethics will also play a pivotal role in determining how we treat people and how we are regarded by others. 

  Take, for example, a person setting out to practice law. There will be daily situations that arise and are asking us to make a decision based not merely on the letter of the law, but on what we 'know' to be right and wrong.  This is true for any medical practioner as well.  In fact, when you get right down to it, almost every occupational path I can think of has moments when a person is split between doing the right thing, and choosing to do something that smacks of being unethical.

And.....Say, are his pants on backwards?

     Here's an imaginary example of a conflict that demands the practioner make a difficult decision:  you are an oncologist.  You come across a mammogram that somehow dropped through the cracks of the information flow in your practice.  There it is, glaring back at you as you realize that this is a major problem....for the patient as well as for you. The results clearly indicate that the patient has virulent breast cancer and that it needs attention as soon as possible. But, you realize that somebody...not clear who...has dropped the ball. If you now contact the patient and explain to her that this was a terrible mistake and that you need to see her right now and plan a course of treatment....it will, almost certainly,  come back to bite you in the ass.  A mistake was made and somebody needs to be held accountable.  Malpractice insurance rates...already sky-high....will shoot up.  But, more than any of these consequences....it could mean this woman will lose her battle with the disease.

  The clear temptation is to bury the mammogram and pretend nothing happened. Done in a sneaky and clever way it could get you off the hook. In this case, as is so often true, doing the 'right thing' means putting yourself in jeopardy, on multiple levels.  It could be a disaster.  But, putting the patient first and accepting the risks that come out of it, is clearly what needs to happen. So, you bite the bullet and do everything in your power to see that this woman gets the treatment she needs and hope that the delay is not a disaster for her.

  Okay, this is a rather dramatic example, but, opportunities of this kind arise all the time as we go through our lives.  It can be a daunting challenge to accept that doing the right thing is going to have painful consequences.  But, consider the cost of doing what you know is the 'wrong' thing.  Unless you are one of those poor souls....like so many in politics these days....who has managed to thoroughly subdue their conscience, you are going to do the right thing, suffer the penalties, and avoid spending the rest of your life regretting that you did not.

  The most obvious ethical arena in our lives is one in which decisions are being made daily that shape how we live, work, manage (or not) to have the necessities, i.e. medical care, food, shelter and all that life demands of us as we live each day. If you haven't guessed already, it is government.  And, we send people to Washington, or to our state capitals, hopeful that they will do 'the right thing'.  Their responsibility is to the people, not to corporations, the uber-rich or to some political philosophy that has plans to take over and run everything according to self-serving principles that always serve GREED in one form or another.  They are not there to line their own pockets, or to build a dynasty and be there long after they should have gone home.  They are there to make life in America more livable, not to make it a more difficult struggle, especially for the impoverished and the less advantaged.

  But, yes, it's pie-in-the-sky idealism to suppose that most congressional representatives are there for the right reasons.  The very nature of our political system pushes a person to make bad choices.  In order to survive and even thrive, a politician needs MONEY....lots of it.  Pols need to raise millions upon millions in order to stay competitive in elections.  So, they need to pander to the lobbyists and the special interests and beg for large donations for their political 'war chest'.  In return, as human nature seems to dictate, the lobbyists and other donors expect the politician to do their bidding when bills come up for a vote.  And, with only a few exceptions, THEY DO.  And, despite the fact that we complain bitterly that this system is broken, and even crooked...nothing happens that has the power to really bring about changes.  

  Big money calls the shots.  And, it has been that way for a very long time.  This might not be such a problem if big money, i.e. corporate America, had an active conscience.  But, in most cases, they dismiss any such suggestions as 'unproductive' and remind us that their first...and apparently ONLY....obligation is to make money for their shareholders.  They remind us that they have a mandate to do so and nothing should get in the way of that.  For their part, investors seem to agree with this mindless and unconscionable position.

  So, in a world where most people do still recognize right from wrong....we are facing a time of transition.  We will either learn how to prioritize doing what is 'right', or we will continue on down the road that the Idiot has so clearly laid out:  doing what serves our own needs and to hell with everybody else.  He models this approach amazingly well.  His sychophantic followers do not mind at all...apparently.....that he lies--almost every time he opens his piggish little yap--that he is sadistic, utterly without shame and willing to violate all the norms of society in order to get what he wants, i.e. more POWER,  and to have it for the foreseeable future.  He is a beast, utterly without redeeming human features...and, that's all just fine for those who have elevated him to Fuhrer status.


Monday, June 28, 2021

On Wisdom...


   It is a word we use frequently: wisdom.  Much of the time we are plugging it into sentences where it has a more or less warped meaning, i.e. "Don't be such a wise guy." Or some such phrase that alludes to the quality of wisdom, but in a peripheral manner.

  So, let's take a look at Wisdom.  What is it, really?  And, why is it mis-used or intentionally perverted  so often? 

  The working definition of wisdom relies entirely on the word 'wise'.  Okay, so what does that mean?  Well, the dictionary I use gives the following: "having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgement, or discretion". And that immediately puts us in search of what it really means instead of settling for a bunch of synonyms.  

  'Wisdom', is a quality that some human beings naturally exhibit, while others seem totally devoid of it. It is one of those things in life that you know better by experiencing it than by any verbal description.  Yes, "...you know it when you see it."  But, let's take a closer look at it and at least try to pin it down for those who don't feel they have ever directly been in the presence of great wisdom.

  In my own life, I have been extremely fortunate to have been in the presence of multiple individuals who exhibit wisdom in many different ways. There is one thing, however, that these various forms of wisdom all have in common: they all incorporate compassion in one way or another.  Compassion, as I have expressed here previously--but not for some while, it seems--is a sensitivity to the pain and suffering of others.  A truly compassionate person feels the pain despite the fact that it is not their own. On some level, they are volunteering to help carry another's load.  A compassionate person has little tolerance for people who are intent on inflicting pain on others, whether it is mental, emotional, or physical pain.  The stark opposite of this is a form of dysfunction in which the person has no ability to feel, or even sympathize with, another's pain.  Perhaps the word 'dispassionate' can be applied here. They may see the suffering that is happening, but because it doesn't directly affect them, they dismiss it as irrelevant.  Trump does this all the time.  He asked Gen. Milley why he couldn't just use the military to shoot the BLM protestors after George Floyd was murdered.  Now, that's harsh, eh.

  It is said that Frederic Nietzsche came across a carriage driver who was whipping one of his horses savagely.  It apparently was more than he could bear and instigated a break-down that landed him in an institution.  I have no way of knowing if this is true or not, but it is meant to illustrate that the man who wrote extensively about the superiority of the Ubermensch was not merely a cold and unfeeling philosopher. 

  Among the truly wise souls that I have known, one thing that they all share is this abundance of compassion. They are able to understand what other people are feeling at any particular moment in time, and this allows them to offer support and even comfort to a person who is struggling with a challenge or just life in general.   A wise person sees both sides of a situation in a glance.  Their only agenda is to ease the suffering of people who come to them for advice and encouragement.  Such souls don't seem to have a personal agenda.  They are secure in themselves to a degree that liberates them to have opinions based on facts, observed realities and other peoples' feelings.

  This is much different than a person who filters every little thing through the perverse inclinations of their ego.  I hate to bring the Idiot into the discussion repeatedly, but he's too perfect as an example of what happens when a person is the opposite of wise.  Amazingly, Donald J. Trump is considered wise...I imagine...by the Kool Aids who are not at all bothered by his bald-faced dishonesty, selfishness, avarice, sadism and the crude and rude package that is the man at the tip of the spear that now threatens the further existence of American democracy.  No doubt this says as much about these people as it does the Idiot himself.  If you sign-on to give your vociferous support to an asshole....you are almost certainly a card-carrying one yourself.  Are you listening out there in Trumpland?  You become what you give your fealty to.

a bully at work.....wisdom nowhere in sight

  It does little to point out what a miserable excuse for a human being he is.  Either you can clearly see that he is a stunning collection of human shortcomings....all wrapped in a vain and arrogant man who is actually proud of being so despicable....or you cannot.  The other dominant quality that wise people seem to have in abundance is a willingness to put themselves last.  There is a built-in service ethic that makes them want to help even people they are not personally acquainted with.  A common descriptor, at least here in New England, goes: "Old Bob was a good man....give ya the shirt off his back if he saw that you needed it."  

  People who go through life pursuing selfish goals are almost never also wise people, and very often they are unkind and even cruel to those whom they perceive as standing in their way.  It rarely happens that a wise and kind person becomes a national leader. The qualities needed in the political arena are more those of a gladiator than a saint, so it would be hugely unlikely that such a person would have the ability to practice compassion and a general sense of equanimity in the face of trying times.  Fortunately, we seem to have found a person who is at a time in his life when personal ambition revolves around trying to make the lives of ordinary Americans at least a little easier.  Old Joe may not be perfect, but, alongside the selfish and rude asshole that he replaced he's looking mighty good.

  Another primary quality that is present in wise people, is 'discernment'.  They can tell right from wrong, something that appears to remain elusive in many on the right in politics.  People like Tucker Carlson, Shaun Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and on and on, seem remarkably unable to know that what they are saying is simply wrong.  In fact, quite the opposite: they are more than happy to make up pseudo-facts and add them to their argument--for example--that voter suppression is addressing a genuine problem...which is just another lie. Many of these 'pundits', far from being wise, are so dedicated to the cause of keeping the old, rich, white men in control, that lying is just another very useful tool in their toolboxes.  

  People who can and do discern right from wrong and use this to make decisions about how to conduct their lives, perform their jobs and avoid doing harm to others.  In any given situation, what is 'right' is not hard to discern, but, you have to have the gift of an active conscience to do so.  If you have...as so many right-wingers have....found ways to de-activate your moral compass, all bets are off.  A person who cannot tell right from wrong is a rudderless ship, bound to meet an unfriendly shoreline at some point. 


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

In the Garden......


     In 1970 a movie was made in Italy, based on a book: "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis". It was the story of a northern Italian family and a circle of their friends who met every Sunday in the family's garden to play tennis and discuss life and the world.  The Finzi-Continis were Jewish and the movie picks up their story sometime in the late-30s...I do not recall the year specifically, but it was long after Hitler came to power and the world was waiting to see what he would do next, so maybe '37 or '38. Below is a link to a summary of the film.  It actually won an Academy Award for 'best foreign language film' in 1972.


   The dominant opinion among the members of this circle was that Nazism and Hitler would not amount to much, that they would perhaps create jobs and improve the economy of Germany and thereby the rest of Europe, but, essentially, none of them really felt that Hitler and his party constituted a direct threat to them and their comfortable lives.  There was one young man who differed, and he harangued and cajoled the rest, but never seemed to penetrate their apathy toward the Nazis.  Of course, they were already living in Fascist Italy under Mussolini, but there was not much antipathy directed toward Jews in Italy and at least Il Duce had improved some conditions...and was famous for making the trains run on time.

 As time passes, the Nazis invade and occupy Italy, and ultimately many members of the family are swept up and shipped off to concentration camps.  There is a feeling that they might have avoided this fate if they had believed early on that Hitler and the Nazis were as evil and as lethal as history eventually made clear.

  I sometimes recall this movie because it seems to be a harbinger of what is happening in America right now.  Forces are gathering and there is a sizeable percentage of Americans who are ready to follow them, apparently, into a second Civil War.  I know that sounds hyperbolic.  On some level, I wish it was.  

   But.....it is not.

  It is way too easy to minimize and dismiss the people who invaded the Capitol on January 6th as the lunatic fringe, incapable of doing more than just smashing windows and beating up cops who were completely unprepared for the ferocity that was directed at them on that day. Naturally, the GOPs want to pretend the whole thing never amounted to anything serious at all.  There has been a steady stream of attempts to re-make it into something benign.  Some of the 'brighter lights' in the GOP have insisted that the rioters were just really tourists and were there to complain to their representatives about the stolen election.  

  Apparently about half of all Republicans still think the election WAS stolen.  Despite over SIXTY court cases that were all (but one that was of no consequence) dismissed and the litigants sent packing, often with a scolding for bringing such ludicrous allegations before the courts.

  This is going to be looked back on by historians in the distant future as a time of astonishing lies and brazen efforts to destroy the planet's oldest functioning democracy.  Functioning.....only for now.

  They will be incredulous that people fell in large numbers for such fatuous lies and such clearly insane conspiracies.  Yes, QAnon, but there is no paucity of other lunatic narratives out there either.

  So, here we are, sitting in our very own garden, sipping iced tea and marveling at how weird things have gotten in America.  It's almost too much to take in.  And, it's certainly way too much to accept as a looming reality.  The Civil War ended 156 years ago this year.  Current scholars believe it cost approximately 750,000 lives.  Anybody who still insists that it was fought over 'states' rights' is just playing at history.  It was fought to end slavery and to preserve the union.  Period.  

  Now, we have citizens who feel it is within their rights to destroy democracy.  If a true democracy survives, there will be full participation by Americans of all faiths, races, gender prefs, gender itself....and the GOPs know that spells the end of their white supremecist reign. There will be no way for the approximately 40% of the population to keep calling the shots.  When Americans of all varieties have the ability to participate in voting....without interference....the old, rich white guys will lose the strangle-hold they have had on power for many generations.

They aren't having it. 

  The idea that America will become a truly fair and compassionate democracy is just not on their list of what is acceptable.  The United States has been run by old, rich white guys for all these generations, and despite the infrequent lapses in which the government actually became a liberal force for fairness and caring....i..e during FDRs terms, then JFK's , Jimmy Carter's and finally Obama's time in office.....it remains in the greedy and cold hands of people like Mitch McConnell.  Compassion is out of fashion while these people are calling the shots. 

  And, as you must already know, tax cuts for corporations and the rich are very much in fashion.  Medical care, social safety nets for the lower echelons of society are, well, out of fashion. And, now, this minority of greed merchants are conspiring to keep Americans of color and of different religious and social segments....from being able to vote.

  They are showing every sign of succeeding in putting in laws that constitute modern era Jim Crow laws....perfectly aimed at keeping the minority of conservative and racist whites in power...regardless of what kind of machinations, dishonesty or any means at all, are required to do it.

  Those who believe honesty, transparency in government, and a clear sense that the government is still a functioning democracy,  there to serve all Americans...are going to be very distressed when they realize that the GOPs have managed to set-up a system that cannot be over-turned.  And, they are well on their way to doing this. Don't take my word for it.  Watch clear and accurate explanations of how this is happening by such wise and intelligent souls as Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, and so many more.  

  We are, effectively speaking, on the cusp of a sea-change.  It will either turn into a nightmare for all who value fairness and compassion in government....or it will veer away from that fate, ONY IF WE GET OUT AND GET INVOLVED.

  If we remain comfortably sipping our iced-tea as we distract ourselves with such concerns as the housing bubble, the cost of food and other vitals....we will wake-up the day after the mid-terms in 2022 and be both horrified and astonished that the concept of a functioning democracy is now DEAD

...as a fucking door-nail.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Ideals conflicting with Reality.....


    It's not easy to live one's life in strict conformity to one's ideals.  Ideals, after all, are just that; they're a kind of 'pie in the sky' aspect of our personal philosophy, a way of reaching for what one perceives as the best way to live and to treat other people.

    Ideals should be set by each individual person as a lofty set of goals that one realizes are, on some level, unreachable.  Then, why bother?  That is a fair question and the answer is very straight-forward: just the act of reaching upward, the very attempt to live by one's ideals is of great value. Just by reaching towards what one considers to be a level of perfection, one advances toward it.  It's of little consequence and pretty much a given that we'll fall short.  It's the trying, the striving, that counts.

   So, here we are in the political conundrum of our moment: Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are members of the Democratic Party.  And, both of them, for reasons that don't really seem clear and above board, are acting like Republicans.  Why?  The voters in West Virginia and Arizona who put them back in Washington for another term have every right to expect them to work as a part of the Democratic caucus to accomplish the Biden administration's agenda.  But, instead of doing that, they are balking at using the parliamentary options that could allow the Dems to move ahead, despite the monkey-wrenching that Moscow Mitch continues to do, and has done since the beginning of Obama's first term.


They're either crooked or stupid....you decide.

  When you are receiving praise from Donald J. Idiot for your work in congress, you are not behaving as any self-respecting Democrat would behave. In fact, you are behaving like the famous aviator who flew to Ireland when his 'flight plan' had said he was going to California.  He became known as 'Wrong way Corrigan' and never admitted that he'd done it on purpose....though it was highly suspected that he did.

  Joe Manchin has repeatedly maintained that he is an idealist who believes that bi-partisanship is the way things must get done in Washington.  He claims that without that, the work the government does is not truly representing all Americans.  Of course, he is simply blowing smoke out of his ass.  

  I am not willing to take him at his word for one simple reason:  bi-partisanship under McConnell's leadership in the senate is impossible.  The GOPs simply want it to be their way and no compromises will be considered....so, their idea of 'negotiating' is to insist that it go all their way, and they will just keep on throwing up obstacles until it does.  Nice, huh?  As long as Manchin and Sinema keep betraying the trust of their constituencies and garnering the praises of the Idiot and Moscow Mitch, nothing will get done, which suits the GOPs just fine as they prepare to steal the mid-term elections via voter suppression all across the country.

  I hope you're not still in doubt that this is precisely their plan.  It couldn't be more obvious that Republicans in primarily red states have put in place all the laws, restrictions and stumbling blocks that will keep the people who led the Blue Wave in 2020 home and make voting by them so fraught with difficulty that many will simply feel overwhelmed.  And, then, the GOPs soar to a new era of unlimited power because they will have an iron grip on the electoral process and have already proven that they are willing to pervert, or destroy, any ability by the Dems to re-achieve full and fair elections.  That will be GONE.....legislated away and manipulated by people who only care about having the power to run our society, and who are unrestrained by any considerations of legality, honesty, transparency, fairness or integrity.

  It's perfectly clear at this point that their intent is to destroy anything resembling a working democracy.  That is no longer in doubt or even worthy of discussion.  The GOPs have already moved beyond philosophical, and legal discussion....and gone straight to the fascist playbook.  

   The Idiot's 'Big Lie' is a primary fascist strategy.  Don't think so?  Then you don't know squat about how Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power.  Donny Boy may be an idiot and a nut-job, but he's also a very adept and sneaky strategist.  You get a critical portion of the populace to believe a major lie (i.e. that you won the election despite the fact that you lost it by 7 million votes) and you are on your way to having them believe any damn thing you want them to.....including the idea that you will be miraculously re-instated to the Oval Office in August, despite the fact that there is zero possibility that can happen.  Just the fact that he can get his Kool-Aids to believe that is a flashing red-light on the instrument panel of American politics that no conscious American should ignore. 

  He wants his sycophants to keep believing fervently in his destiny to rule, and to become the Uber Leader that the Germans gave the name 'Fuhrer' to.  Der Fuhrer was not merely a title it was an elevated state of perfection.  Look at the Dear Leader cult in North Korea for a more contemporary version of the same totalitarian state.  Once the Leader has established that his word is law and that his version of unreality is actually the only thing that is real.....all else falls into place.  People learn that there is a high price for remaining defiant or even uncompliant.  The final straw would be complete government control of all information.  Once that is in place, it's a downhill slide into the full 1984 nightmare scenario.  

  There was an interview posted this morning on Salon.com:  https://www.salon.com/2021/06/14/former-harvard-psychiatrist-lance-dodes-trumps-psychosis-is-still-an-enormous-danger/

  Dr. Lance Dodes, a highly respected psychiatrist and professor of same at Harvard, recently retired.  The above linked interview describes his assessment of Donald J. Trump, and it is dire.  He has been saying all along that the Idiot is a mentally-ill disaster waiting to happen.  Well, he did already happen, but now he's intent on continuing the mayhem and foolishness that he merely started.  The list of transgressions is impressive....and very long.  

  And, one can only imagine what Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are thinking as they assist the Idiot in bringing his toxic agenda back to American politics.  This is neither a case of clinging to 'ideals' as Manchin keeps insisting it is, nor a case of 'doing the right thing'.  Both Manchin and Sinema are performing as if they were GOP operatives, and they are either faking this aspect of it, or they are just straight-up LIARS.  What they are NOT, is realistic and honest.

  Again: when you are getting praised by the Idiot, you are sure as hell not doing what your Democratic fellow representatives and senators need you to do.  


So, how 'bout it:  WAKE UP!  Smell the damn coffee and get back to some semblance of reality.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Seventy-seven years ago this day.....


    June 6th, 1944, Allied forces fought their way onto and across the beaches of Normandy, France. Said beaches were carefully prepared by their Nazi defenders and were, effective and broad killing zones.  When defenders have years to prepare, what happens is exactly what the Allies encountered:  there were pre-ranged artillery coordinates, so the big guns behind the coast would know exactly where to aim their deadly salvos.  On the bluffs overlooking the beaches, German pillboxes and trench positions had laid out fields of fire for their much vaunted and feared MG-34 and 42 machineguns.  Not ordinary mgs by the standards of the time, both of these guns, but particularly the MG42, had very high rates of fire, almost three times that of a typical Allied mg, the Browning M1919 or the British Bren gun.

  The German plan was to turn the beaches red with Allied blood and drive them back into the sea before they could get a foothold established.  There were layers of resources that were intended to be called in where the need was greatest.  This included some very capable SS Panzer forces that were supposed to remain flexible and were highly mobile.  In a miraculous stroke of good luck, it so happened that Hitler had retained the sole right to order reinforcements into the battle....and he was asleep when aides needed to tell him the invasion had started. Nobody had the guts to wake the dictator and so the panzers that could have possibly pushed the Allies off the beach, were not deployed until far too late.

  Well, the beaches did run red with the blood of Allied soldiers, but they weren't willing to be pushed back and they persisted.  In various parts of the five beaches small groups of Brits, Yanks and Canucks all pushed forward, often demonstrating a level of heroism and sacrifice that we should not only never forget, but that we should also make an effort to understand...from their perspective.

  There have actually been films made that are helpful in this respect.  In the early 60s, "The Longest Day" was a sincere attempt to show viewers what that nightmarish day was like for the men who were there.  It was pretty successful at avoiding the Hollywood pitfalls, but is also not really what one could refer to as a 'documentary'.  The most recent effort at this was Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan", and it is a gritty and very heart-wrenching film, although the Germans all looked like forty-something hardened criminals, when, in reality, they were just as likely to be baby-faced Hitler Jugend fanatics.  In point of fact, the SS division named for the HJ and largely populated by former HJ boys was present and fought fiercely.  When I have seen film of German troops headed for the front, or hunkered down as Allied fighter-bombers whine overhead, there is an array of ages and levels of hardness that is present.  They were human beings, just like we were.

  Once the Allies did establish a beach-head and knew it was solid, they poured astonishing quantities of resources ashore.  LST ships, with the yawning clamshell bows, puked tanks, trucks, artillery pieces and the first of what would soon become an avalanche of supplies came ashore, and the long march to Berlin and final victory in Europe had begun. 

  In our family, this day is more special than it might be in most American families, because my father-in-law, Donald Downs went ashore on D-1 as a platoon sergeant in Co. G, 175th Inf. Brigade, 29th Inf. Division, and fought his way into the hedgerows behind the beachhead. Known as the 'bocage', these hedgerows were a murderous maze of ten to fifteen foot high, at least ten foot thick walls of rocks, soil and plants.  The Germans had prepared these too for fighting a gradual withdrawal.  They did this by cutting firing slits in the front of a hedge and laying out fields of fire that Allied forces would have to penetrate at great cost in blood.

  Donald was awarded two Bronze Stars and one Silver Star in the next 30 days and then had his arm shot off by a German sniper.  He was sent home and remained a wounded and angry man until he died of cirrhosis in his fifties. My wife, Abigail, says he was treated atrociously by the VA.  My impression is that the VA has improved in present times....but, I believe we could do much better with how we treat our vets.....when an average of 22 of them commit suicide, EVERY DAY.


This is the cost of freedom.  Never forget it.

The 'Other' pandemic......


     It seems like forever since things were anything approaching 'normal' in our society.  But, it also feels like we're on the backside of the curve as numbers of new cases and hospitalizations have plummeted to levels not seen since the first half of 2020.  Of course, it's too early to proclaim 'victory' and it would be simple-minded to think we're completely out of the woods with this thing.  If the people who have told themselves that neither vaccines nor the government are to be trusted....so, therefore, it is their decision to not get vaccinated....would just wake-up and smell the coffee.  Well, we know better than that, right?

  Science is a scam, perpetrated by quacks who just want to lie to us about pretty much every-fucking-thing.  Facts are what you make them.  If you don't like the actual, factual truth that is in front of you, well, hell, you can just make-up your preferred version and now that will be the truth....,because you say so, eh.

  Tony Faucci is a brigand whose purpose in life is to deceive us all.  The Chinese engineered Covid-19 so that it could be used as a weapon against us.  Donald J. Idiot is an intelligent and rational person. Elections are so crooked in the hands of state election commissions that they need to have a body of laws preventing fraud.....except that there is almost ZERO fraud, as established by many, many court cases now.  The Brown Wave is coming to your community and your life will never be the same.  The government's secret agenda is to bleed the middle-class dry with taxes and fees and give it all away to the 'little people, who just happen to be largely of other than white ethnicity.

  The capital insurrection of January 6th was merely a harmless gathering of patriots who were very upset because the election was stolen from their Dear Leader.  Some of them were just there to tour the capital; others were there to simply register their discontent with our congressional representatives and senators.   

  There is an international cabal of liberals who worship Satan and are pedophiles.  So, Tom Hanks, Oprah, Hillary (of course) Adam Schiff, and a long list of despicable liberals.....gather in the basement of a DC pizzeria and molest infants, then kill them, extract a life-extending compound from their adrenal glands...and then EAT THEM, the babies that is.  

  If you sense a pattern emerging here, you are correct.  And, that pattern is created by about one third of Americans who believe all of the above.  

  Consider this: the lies and deceptions being practiced wholesale by the GOPs have taken on a life of their own.  They are not seen as falsehoods by about 40% of the country.  In other words, a little less than half of Americans are choosing to adopt beliefs that are not only factually incorrect, but are morally bankrupt.

  Dear Leader has them eating out of the palm of his hand and kissing his ring.  He is making sounds about running for office again, either congress in 2022, or the White House again in '24.  He's certifiably unbalanced, clinically insane, and yet this is what his followers now identify as the Great Savior of America.  In truth, he's devoted to becoming a leader with immense power over his followers and who will create a fascist political system that will have power over people so locked-up that it will be almost impossible to over-turn it.  Any despot does all he/she can to cement their hold on power right out of the gate.  Trump spent the last four years doing just that and were it not for the liberals recognizing, then getting ready and countering his efforts...we would already be in a second term for a man who dreams of being our president for life, i.e. a dictator.

Stark contrast between the Founders and the mob who would 
destroy what the Founders envisioned

Think America is dangerous for people of color now?  Just you wait.  And, just in case you are not crystal clear about what fascism is, here is a dictionary definition: a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce etc. and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.

  Referring back to the title of this commentary, I offer you the thought that what we are experiencing is another pandemic....but, this is one created by a sickness of the mind that manifests as a willingness, even an eagerness, to hate.  Hatred is not difficult.  In fact, it's as easy as falling off a log. There are people here in Maine who avowedly despise people of color, despite the fact that there are hardly any of them in the state.  Maine is about as white as a state can be....and, yet, there are Billy Joe Bobs here who proudly fly the Idiot's banners and the Gadsden flag, i.e. "Don't Tread on Me" from the beds of their pick-'em-ups. I have seen multiple pick-up back windows with the largest possible graphics saying, "Fuck Mills", who is, of course, our democratically elected governor. She's actually doing a good job, but that is also the reason that the far-right and your average infected sicko Kool Aid identifies her as their target for hatred.

  Evidence of how fast and far this infection has spread across the land is everywhere you look. People in the news who are public servants who happen to disagree with the Idiot...receive an unending stream of email, messages and even phone calls threatening death.  There is no limit on the depths of depravity to which the Kool Aids will sink. And, one must assume, that they think spewing hatred and threats of violence are somehow 'normal', or why else would they be doing this?  They think it is okay.

  The question that is rising up before us, growing bigger and more acute every day, is whether or not this second pandemic can be stopped before it has completely overtaken our country. 

  The only way that will happen is if all people who care and who understand the gravity of the threat that is looming over us....are able to overcome all of the impediments that the GOPs are throwing in front of the voting booth.  If we cannot stop them in 2022, it's very likely going to be impossible to do so in 2024, because they will have hardened the obstacles to exercising our right to vote so well that we'll never get back to a full and fair election......not ever.  

  Game over, America.  The crazies can and will win, if we back down now.