Justin Fields Quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes

The Power of LOVE

The new year began with me finding a new hero.  He happens to be a marvelously gifted athlete, but that is not my reason for choosing to honor this young man. His name is Justin Fields. It is true that I am proud of his exploits on the football field, and in particular his thrashing of the enemies of my treasured Ohio State buckeyes, but it was a single comment made following his sustaining of a potentially very serious and obviously painful injury on the field which I deemed heroic.

During the recent New Year’s Day game with Clemson, when sliding to the ground at the end of a run, my hero, Justin, was struck in the right lateral rib cage by the helmet of a 24-pound linebacker who dove into him as they both were running all out.  The force of the blow doubled him over and left him writhing in pain.  The force applied and location of his injuries left me concerned that the damage could be life threatening.  Although quarterbacks usually wear padding on their torsos, I couldn’t imagine him surviving this trauma without sustaining a few broken ribs or lacerating his kidney. Consequently, I was amazed to see him walk back on the field after sitting out one play, throw a touchdown pass, and be escorted into the treatment tent (more about that later) shortly before the first half ended. 

This game had received more than the usual amount of hype. It was the semi-final game in the quest for a national championship, but also was a repeat appearance of both contestants in identical circumstances.  The prior year’s game was won by Clemson with a last-minute score, and my Buckeyes had been forced to look at a poster showing the final score of that game every time they entered their practice facility.  If that were not enough motivation, there was also the fact that Ohio State was considered the underdog, and best of all, there was a recorded quote from the Clemson coach that they should not have been ranked high enough to be selected to play in the tournament as there were at least 10 other teams better than Ohio State.  He would be widely criticized (especially by the Clemson fans) for motivating an opponent, especially after losing by 21 points.

At half-time the OSU coach, Ryan Day, when asked as to the condition of his quarterback responded with the following non-answer: “He’s got the heart of a lion, and he’s gotta play for 30 more minutes.”  I would have been more comfortable with reassurances that he had been examined thoroughly by the team doctor who determined that it was safe for him to play.  I was shocked to learn that there were no X-rays taken, or what, if any, procedures were done to determine his fitness to play.  It seems to me that such an injury warranted rib films at the minimum.  I dare say that in most any other situation an X-ray would be routine, and the neglect to do so would be considered malpractice. 

At his post-game interview Justin was a model of humility. Link to YouTube Video and Link to Google Search of all Interview Results.  When asked the inane question as to how he felt about the win, he responded that he felt blessed.  He heaped praise upon his teammates, his God, and his coach, whom he said treated him like a son.  When asked how he felt about the Clemson coach’s disparaging comments, he simply replied he didn’t want to talk about that. 

However, it was the answer to the question about motivation leading to his setting sugar bowl records, that got my attention.  He mentioned that his team had been beset by disappointments throughout the season due to the pandemic, and that he was happy for them because “I love those guys.”

Deeds of valor have been favorite subjects for authors and poets throughout history.  There have been instances when soldiers have thrown themselves on hand grenades in order to save the lives of their comrades.  Soldiers who request return to combat following injuries usually do so out of concern for their buddies.  As a matter of fact, nearly all episodes of heroism arise out of concern for other people.  Psychiatrists, psychologists, philosophers, and self-endowed experts of all kinds have discussed, analyzed, and categorized the phenomenon of love ad nauseum, which usually means that they don’t have a clue.  When I was a kid, I was taught that love was a word that should be reserved for use when describing a human relationship with the possible exception of feelings for the family dog or God, but now we profess love for food, music, cars, clothing, and all kinds of inanimate objects.  We were taught to love our country, certain ideals and core values all of which had something to do with mankind.  Although love had not the exalted status of the F word or the N word, it was treated with respect. I now find the definition in the Google dictionary to include “affection for someone or something.”

My favorite definition of love is: caring for another as much or more than for oneself, but then I am a person who likes to simplify.  There is little doubt that there were multiple factors which contributed to Mr. Fields’ remarkable performance, but I was struck by his demeanor and his use of the word love.  As with most emotions, love is a word that defies description.  It can cause euphoria and unbridled pain when taken away, but is an effective antidote to hatred.  Love heals and hatred destroys.  We have all heard testimonials of people who have suffered grievous injuries at the hands of others relate how they could only find peace by forgiving those who had harmed them or their loved ones. 

My Favorite Definition of LOVE

The power of love has been recognized by the ancients, even before Jesus Christ, whose philosophy of love was first learned about by me in perhaps the most quoted of the scriptures ………THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.  It was enhanced by a quote from of all people, an ancient Taoist philosopher, Lao Tzu, who long before Christ is alleged to have said:

TO BE LOVED DEEPLY GIVES YOU STRENGTH, TO DEEPLY LOVE GIVES YOU COURAGE”

Lao Tzu

He also said: “LOVE OF ALL THE PASSIONS IS THE STRONGEST, FOR IT ATTACKS THE HEAD, THE HEART, AND THE SENSES.”

Can the power of love be misused in unscrupulous ways?

Ironically, it was while writing this little essay that I heard about the assault on the Capitol.  Perhaps that is more timely than one might think, for it illustrates a thought that had occurred to me about how the use of love is often used as an unscrupulous way to influence others to do bad things.   Although these insurrectionists were involving themselves in a hateful enterprise, most of them would undoubtedly report they were doing it out of love for their country and in many cases for their revered leader who had directed them.  Their thought processes have been so distorted by the lies of Trump and his sycophants that they refer to themselves as patriots.   After all, they were simply following the instructions of the commander in chief.  Such strategies have long been the bread and butter of charismatic cult leaders. 

Indeed, Trump misused the sentiment of love in his taped message during the siege on the Capitol.

“Go home. We love you, you’re very special,” he said as the rioters attacked the legislative branch of our government, our sacred institution of democracy, and the “thin blue line” that loyal Trump followers had previously and consistently supported without question–even when police blatantly killed citizens of color without cause.

These rioters were willing to check all of their principles and values at the door for one man. Fortunately, for us, our founders knew the danger of allegiance to one man, to a king, and set up our Republic to keep that in check. Therefore, each public servant, swears an oath to The Constitution of the United States of America, not the President. Democracy is messy, often inefficient (by design in some respects) and while ours is not a perfect system of government, it is exceptional and has always been the model for countries around the world who fight for the rights these rioters obviously have taken for granted.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no anarchists or militia groups operating in this small midwestern town of mine. Nevertheless, our local paper reported a busload of 67 of our citizens heeded Trump’s call and traveled to Washington to join in the “demonstration.”

These followers heard their Dear Leader encourage them to walk down to the Capitol and fight. Unfortunately, some of Trump’s followers take him at his word….led by one man who has tapped into their anger, their need to feel important, their need to find an excuse for all of their problems, their hatred…all for “the love of Trump” which they translate to their love of country.

Link to 3-minutes of video from Trump’s Address to his followers at pre-riot rally January 6th. [Video in full is at the bottom of this post]

Who Could Have Imagined the Danger A Narcissistic Power-Driven Trump Could Cause as POTUS?

It has been a little over 3 years since I used this blog to express my opinion about what I considered to be the serious mental problems of our President when I posted the blog entitled Trump’s Mental Health. I was not alone for I was joined by approximately 80,000 other mental health professionals who shared my concerns, and published an open letter on the subject.  There had been blowback from our parent organization, The American Psychiatric Association, that decided following a lawsuit many years ago, by Barry Goldwater, that to express such opinions without a one-on-one evaluation was “unethical.”  I had predicted that when cornered, Trump was apt to decompensate and become psychotic, which indeed seems to have occurred since losing the election, as rumor has it that there are a number of indictments that await him once he leaves office. There is also the fracture of that fragile ego as he watches his cadre of sycophants abandon him.    

The assessment from those who have met him recently that he has become “unhinged” is borne out by his incitement of riotous and what some say is treasonous behavior in a direct assault on his own government.  Dr. Lee, the psychiatrist who wrote the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder in the diagnostic manual insisted that Trump did not fit that diagnosis because he suffered no distress as a result from his aberrant behaviors.  I wonder what he would think now, and does he still believe that as psychiatrists we have no “duty to warn” when we see the so-called “leader of the free world” is dangerously deranged with a high probability of becoming psychotic.  (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist doing an “ I told you so thing”).

In addition to the serious damage done to this country which may take decades to overcome, there is also the loss of 5 lives at last count.  (By the way why have we not heard who they are other than the murdered policeman or of anything about the circumstances of their deaths).  Trump’s brainwashed followers are not likely to be deterred at least for a long time, the experience of this assault is likely to whet the appetites of the really bad actors of this bunch.

Can We Heal?

In spite of all this doom gloom and despair, I was able to grab onto a glimmer of hope this morning as I tuned into my favorite guy on CNN, Fareed Zakaria.  He did an in-depth interview with Colin Powell, the guy who was conned into delivering false information about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction which led to the Iraq war.  In spite of the long list of problems caused by Donald Doofus and his assault on democracy he was hopeful.  Although a lifelong Republican, he was convinced that Joe Biden was the right man for the job of pulling us out of the messes created by Trump.  As for the divisiveness we now experience, his answer was simple.  “always tell the truth and love each other.”

To finish where we started…O-H…

I-O…GO BUCKS!

Editor’s Note: The italicized text was written by me when the author suggested I add information about Trump’s declaration of love to his followers during the siege on the Capitol.

Links of Note:

Eshrink’s Blog Post December 2020; It’s Not Over Yet: The Last Days of Trump

Eshrink’s Blog Post September 2020: An Attempt to Understand Trump Fans (Cult Followers)

Eshrink’s Blog Post: April 2018 | Trump Fatigue

Eshrink’s Blog Post: Feb 2017 | Trump’s Label

Eshrink’s Blog Post: August 2020 Is Our Republic in Danger?

Eshrink’s Blog Post: Let’s Learn from Our Past | The Most Dangerous Man on Earlth

WORDS MATTER. Transcript of Trump’s Speech at Rally that Preceded the Assault on the Capitol

Members of Hate Groups Identified at the Capitol Riot. Article by Frontline and PBS

Link to Video of Trump Speech at Rally Prior to Capitol Riot

Link to Entire RALLY held prior to Trump Speaking is below.

Floyd the dog

The Annual Christmas Letter

Editor’s Note: The holidays are typically so busy, I intentionally decided to post Eshrink’s Christmas letter AFTER Christmas. Yes. That’s it! I didn’t forget to post it. I’m not suffering from menopausal A.D.D. or anything like that. I decided Eshrink readers deserved a good laugh to end this crazy year of 2020.

Dear Friends, Family and Christmas letter afficionados,

We are living in another one of those times which “try men’s souls”.  In our case both our souls survive in spite of the isolation imposed by this damnable virus, and we remain in possession of all necessary body parts.   Our efforts to avoid the bug have included cancellation of the annual Smith vacation, and Thanksgiving by Zoom.  It is not looking good for Christmas either.  The kids did conspire to throw a big outdoor family party for the old man’s 90th B-day complete with balloons and posters, but lacking in hugs.  When I am not hobbling around the house with my cane complaining about my aches and pains in fruitless attempts to elicit sympathy, I can usually be found at my desk writing a blog, a stupid Christmas letter, updating my obituary, or dealing with Floyd the devil dog. 

That latter activity has become a full-time job.  Those of you who have visited us have undoubtedly met Floyd whom we rescued from our local dog pound 3 years ago, for he is a very gregarious outgoing mut of undistinguished lineage.  As a matter of fact, his welcomes can be overwhelming at times, as it was for a rather staid elderly widow who after seating herself on our couch was enthusiastically greeted by Floyd via his leaping over the coffee table to land directly in her lap (did I mention he is very athletic?).  His other favored method of greeting a visitor can be even more problematic.  Some who read this may have been conned into helping Floyd exercise his fetish of having his belly rubbed without realizing that when he enters into that state of ecstasy his bladder sphincter also relaxes and the one who rubs will find themselves in the direct line of fire.   

In a previous letter, I believe I mentioned some of Floyd’s past exploits.  I could tolerate his digging up a well-manicured lawn, constant barking, burying our newspapers, and even the embarrassment of his leaping into the mail truck, but those behaviors are minor compared to his more recent attempts to kill me.  He is quite capable of feigning affection while possessing the heart of a cat killer (another story).   He has even attempted to break up my marriage by refusing to allow me to even come into contact with Barb.

Floyd’s bona fides as a devil dog were confirmed by his ability to make Barb and I the neighborhood pariahs.  Although he is in many ways very gregarious and welcoming to other dogs, he has decided that they are not to be allowed to walk on our street, and he routinely stands guard barking at the many dogs that are walked past our front yard.  Until last Memorial Day he was contained by an underground electric fence but on that day which will live in infamy he decided to brave the shock to run through it and launch a vicious attack on a neighbor’s dogs.  Needless to say, our neighbor was not happy.  A week later, in spite of my cranking the fence shock level up to the max, he again attacked the same dogs – this time drawing blood.  I learned that the middle of a dog fight is not a good place to be nevertheless; I managed to pull Floyd away from his victims but ended up flat on my skinney butt holding onto his collar.  I barely had time to get up off the ground when an ambulance arrived followed minutes later by two cop cars and the dog warden.  The ambulance guys seemed disappointed that I was not hurt, the sheriff deputies were amused, the neighbor was only mildly homicidal, and the dog warden gave me a serious lecture and a ticket to appear in county court.  All the players in this little drama were unmasked, by the way. 

Peter, always the good son, insisted on accompanying me to the court appearance even though I assured him I would be allowed a phone call before they locked me up.  The court appearance was an illuminating experience.  The room was packed with fellow criminals, but I decided to play the gimpy  old geezer card and made sure my cane was on full display as I hobbled up to the podium to plead guilty.  I was surprised to learn the judge had a rather comprehensive description of the events leading up to my appearance, and was impressed that I had paid my neighbor’s vet bill ($242.90).  I assured him that we were lo longer depending on the underground fence and were in the process of hiring a dog walker.  He seemed impressed and suspended my sentence and told me I would only pay court costs of $50.00, but when I checked out I was told I owed $98.00.  I didn’t complain out of fear that I might be charged with contempt of court or something equally disgraceful.

Floyd’s absolute favorite activity is riding in a car, and a recent episode in which he attempted to engineer my death explains why.  With the covid thing, Barb and I have spent time exploring some of the less traveled back roads of the county.  Though he feigns ignorance when convenient, Floyd seems to be electronically gifted for he learned some time ago that he could lower the car window by tramping on the button.  On this one particular trip I neglected to set the window lock button, and when I slowed to turn off the road, he was instantly out the window and racing down the middle of a heavily traveled 2 lane country road.   As soon as I could turn around, I succumbed to Barb’s pleas by going after him, but when I caught up, he turned and ran in the opposite direction.  I turned again, and this time he had stopped to investigate something in the middle of the road.  With deep ditches on each side of the road, I was forced to stop in the traffic lane.  Barb got out to retrieve the scoundrel, but found we did not have his leash.  It was obvious that a gimpy old fart like me would be of little help, but as I attempted to extricate myself from the car, I was saved by a guardian angel.  This person was not your stereotypical angel.  He had no wings, but of course you can only know an angel by what he does, not by how he looks.   He stopped his pickup truck in the lane opposite mine, and stepped out – a man mountain with biceps the circumference of my thighs.  Meanwhile, cars were backed up in both directions, but amazingly no one was rear-ended.  I knew this angel must be heaven sent when he got his female boxer dog out of his truck,  Floyd found her irresistible.  When the devil dog approached to check her out, my angel scooped him up, dumped him in my car and drove away before I could even thank him.

The angels who look after my family have also done a good job.  Barb is still a delightful companion (most days) and everyone has escaped the ravages of the covid virus except for Emma whose case was mild.  Caroline’s roommate has contracted the disease and Caroline is in quarantine but so far remains negative.  Everyone is gainfully employed in spite of the pandemic.  Barb and I remain perplexed as to how we managed to end our lives surrounded by such a marvelous group of people, and what I have done to deserve the longevity with which I have been blessed.  We can only assume divine intervention was involved.  Therefore; with love for all and in the spirit of the season Barb and I  WISH FOR YOU THAT YOUR ANGELS WILL KEEP YOU SAFE AND BLESS YOU WITH THE MERRIEST OF CHRISTMASES AND THE HAPPIEST OF NEW YEARS.

It’s Not Over Yet! The Last Days of Trump.

Those of you who have read any of these blogs may recall that I have had a lot to say about the mental health of our President, or more specifically the lack thereof. I described him as being quite fragile, and at risk of decompensating into psychosis with the right triggers. Unfortunately, there are signs, that prophecy may now be coming true, and we may be stuck with a crazy President for the next month or so. There is little doubt that his behavior has been even more erratic than usual, leaving the pundits to spend a great deal of time attempting to discern his strategy.

It was no surprise that he would insist the election was fraudulent for he has been telling us for months that if he lost, it would be because the election was fixed. Of course, he only complained about the states won by Biden. He has maintained a surprisingly low profile since the election and info leaked from the White House paints a picture of an angry brooding person subject to fits of rage directed at anyone who suggests it is time to concede. One of his earliest and most faithful supporters has characterized his quest to have the election overturned as “an embarrassment.” He has apparently been shocked to discover that even those federal judges whom he nominated have chosen to follow the law rather than the dictates of our dear leader. Some have even shown the temerity to chastise his attorneys for alleging fraud without evidence to support the charges.

Theories Regarding Trump’s Behavior in “Defeat”

There have been a variety of theories raised in an attempt to explain what is often seen as self-defeating behavior as he excoriates those who have been his most staunch supporters. Some see the parade of lawsuits alleging fraud as merely a fundraising ploy ($207 million dollars so far) as he sets the stage to start campaigning for the 2024 election, or as a means to finance his own propaganda machine a la Fox News, and there is the problem of the $300 Million bucks he is said to owe to a mysterious benefactor, yet his retreat from the public eye is beginning to erode the support of dyed-in-the-wool Trumpers. There are even a few frightened senators who are whispering disapproval of his conspiracy theories.


There seems to be general agreement among the more expert Trump watchers that except for his continuing fund-raising efforts, his behavior doesn’t make much sense. Many of us in the field have concluded that his mental state is precarious, and that when under stress he is at risk of decompensating into psychosis. As a matter of fact, a few thousand of us signed a letter attesting to that opinion some time ago. Although diagnostic labels in psychiatry are not precise (more about that in a subsequent blog) most agree that the diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder with Sociopathic features best describes Mr. Trump. He has spent his entire life attempting to prove to himself that he is a superior human being in order to shield himself from deep seated feelings of insecurity and inferiority, which explains his bullying, lying, bragging, self-aggrandizement, and continual need for praise. It is the latter quality which has led him to surround himself with a group of sycophants and has appeared to influence even his foreign policy decisions as other world leaders learn how to use that vulnerability. His preoccupation with protecting his fragile ego leaves no room for empathy or concern for others, and those who threaten to expose his deficiencies are subject to his rage and punishment.

The Truth Will Set You Free but The Lies Fan the Flames of the Discontented Sheep

Much has been made of Trump’s lies with the Washington Post reporting thousands (I couldn’t find the current number). EDITOR’S NOTE: This link goes to the Trump Lies Database (as of Oct. 16, the tally was over 26,000). Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, is quoted as saying that if you tell a lie often enough people will accept it as true, which a recent study covered in Scientific American tends to confirm. However, I am not aware of any research which focuses on the effect of such repetitive falsehoods on the one who delivers them, i.e. does the chronic liar come to believe his own lies if he repeats them frequently over a long period of time? This brings up an interesting philosophical point – is one who has convinced himself that his lies are true still a liar?

However, in the case of one whose entire being is dominated by a need to convince himself of his superiority to other humans, truth is irrelevant for the ultimate goal is to convince himself that falsehoods are truths. When one begins with a lie the only proof that can be offered is another lie which is how conspiracy theories are born. In Trump’s case, he has been unwilling to even consider the possibility of fallibility in any aspect of his life. He always uses superlatives to describe himself or his performance, never just good but always the best as in the “best economy ever” or “the biggest crowds ever.” He took pains to insure his loss of the election would be due to fraud rather than admit that he wasn’t the greatest President since Lincoln or maybe even before. He continues to insist in spite of evidence to the contrary that the election was stolen from him and that lie has been repeated by him hundreds of times in the past month.

Could it be that he actually believes those lies he constantly mouths as do many of his followers. A recent Reuters poll concluded that 52% of Republicans believe the election was rigged while other polls show the percentage to be even higher. Thus, it seems Trump’s admonitions to his followers that they should only believe him and not the “fake news” purveyors has been effective even though there has not been a shred of evidence of significant fraud. In a recent blog (LOYAL TRUMP FANS) I quoted Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, who described the Trump organization as a cult. I thought comparison of Trump to a cult leader seemed an exaggeration until I read this article in Psychology Today by Joe Navarro, a retired FBI agent. who wrote in his article about about dangerous cult leaders:

“ Having studied at length the life, teachings, and behaviors of Jim Jones (Jonestown Guyana), David Koresh (Branch Davidians), Stewart Traill (The Church of Bible Understanding), Charles Manson, Shoko Asahara (Aum Shinrikyo), Joseph Di Mambro (The Order of the Solar Temple a.k.a. Ordre du Temple Solaire), Marshall Heff Applewhit (Heaven’s Gate), Bhagwan Rajneesh (Rajneesh Movement), and Warren Jeffs (polygamist leader), I can say that what stands out about these individuals is that they were or are all pathologically narcissistic. They all have or had an over-abundant belief that they were special, that they and they alone had the answers to problems, and that they had to be revered. They demanded perfect loyalty from followers, they overvalued themselves and devalued those around them, they were intolerant of criticism, and above all they did not like being questioned or challenged. And yet, in spite of these less than charming traits, they had no trouble attracting those who were willing to overlook these features.”

By Joe Navarro, Psychology Today, Dangerous Cult Leaders Dangerous Cult Leaders: Clues to what makes for a pathological cult leader

Sound familiar?

Cults and The Company We Keep | Hate Groups. Domestic Terrorists. White Supremacists.

If those thousands of attendees at His rallies are members of a cult, it is a large one, yet not unprecedented for many consider Scientology for example to be a cult. My experience with cults has been in treating family members of those recruited into cults. What I have read indicates there are varied reasons some are vulnerable to being recruited, and that there are a surprising number of apparently well-adjusted people who are willing to surrender their beliefs to a charismatic figure in spite of his obvious flaws.

It appears Trump is running out of legal challenges designed to steal the election for himself which begs the question as to what is next for Trump and his followers, the vast majority of whom believe whatever he says. Unfortunately; there are also many who support him out of fear for their political future. His son in law, Kushner, said in an interview that Trump had succeeded in executing “a hostile takeover” of the Republican party. Indeed, we have seen a continuous string of supports by elected officials for, or pathological tolerance of, his nefarious activities out of fear they will be primaried. Consequently; he continues to spit on The Constitution with impunity, most recently by filing suit in the Supreme court to nullify the votes of millions of people.


Meanwhile more drama appears to be forming as Trump’s buddies, The Proud Boys are no longer adhering to the order to “stand back and stand by” as ordered by Trump during the Presidential debate. As a matter of fact, they have been an active presence during the current demonstrations for Trump in Washington. Their leader, a gun toting dude by the name of Enrique Tarrio, was seen visiting or maybe casing the White House, but the administration assures us that this was not at the invitation of the President, and we know we can always trust every word we hear from that source. Nevertheless, during a lull in the attempts to foment rioting Mr. Tarrio later addressed the troops and said: “We have come a long way”. Another hero to speak was recently pardoned General Mike Flynn who extoled the virtues of his benefactor for keeping him out of the slammer. All in all, it was just another day in the swamp.


There has been a great deal of speculation as to what Trump will do in order to attempt to save face or better yet to mete out punishment for those who refused to praise him. Some have suggested that his recent replacement of key personnel at the Pentagon with know nothing sycophants is a backup plan to use the military to engineer a coup d’etat since his hand-picked supreme court was disloyal to him and decided instead to follow the constitution. There was also the trial balloon arranged by Bill Barr during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations when he raised a secret militia composed mostly of federal prison guards, but that didn’t work out so well.

It has been assumed that the torch if passed would be flame first, and that Trump likely will not attend the inauguration. There are lots of possibilities as to how the swearing in could be disrupted. One rumor has it that Trump will arrange for a giant rally and use the occasion to announce his intent to run again in 2024. It seems nearly certain that he will not be able to tolerate watching Biden get all the attention. It is expected that there will be many pardons passed out which will get him noticed along with various other gimmicks designed to make governing difficult. With a little help from the Donald it may be possible for some of those wacked out militia groups to infiltrate the inaugural crowd and stir up trouble, but hopefully the COVID thing will keep crowds to a minimum.

Top Reasons for Trump Would Refuse to Cede Power

There are several reasons Trump may be more reluctant than the average guy to cede power to another:

  • It is a dream job for the pathological narcissist who lives to be the center of attention.
  • It presents multiple opportunities to cash in, e.g. the $175,000 a day charged to the inauguration committee for the use of Trump’s DC hotel ballroom.
  • The title of President lends credence to whatever con job one wishes to pull off, which is the greatest joy for any sociopath.
  • The power to make or break individuals helps to validate the self- imposed myth of infallibility.
  • The office offers some protection from indictments, and rumor has it that Trump may be facing serious legal problems as a civilian. Here’s a link to the list of current law suits Trump will likely face as a civilian when the office of the President of the United States can’t protect him anymore..

Today, Biden was certified as President elect, but I was happy to hear that Trump said he would not give up on overturning the election. Yes, I was pleased because I thought as long as he is occupied with such activities, he is unlikely to engage in even crazier behaviors. Hopefully, even when hope is lost, the lure of all those donations to his “legal “funds will keep him going for a while.

However, as the end of his fun time draws nearer, I am concerned that his paranoia may progress to the point that he might do something really crazy. His support for or simply lack of commentary about the proud boy agitators’ recent activities could be seen as a go-ahead signal which could rapidly escalate into a major crisis – his parting gift to Biden. In the event that Trump does come to believe some of those conspiracy theories which he espouses, there is no limit to the crazy behaviors which could make sense to him, and even on his best days his legendary fits of rage seem to overwhelm judgement.

The Proud Boys claim they aren’t a hate group. This T-Shirt was recently removed from Amazon. The term is well-known term proliferated about the Holocaust and stands for “6 Million Weren’t Enough”

The 25th amendment to the constitution provides a mechanism to remove a sitting President who is disabled, but according to my reading, section 4 states the President has a right to appeal such decisions in which case Congress must be convened with 48hours to debate the issue. The most powerful man in the world can do a lot of damage in 48 hours. As a matter of fact, if he is angry with the world, he has it within his power to destroy it. But that is even too horrible for an old cynic like me to contemplate.

There is hope however as today the long awaited vaccine is being distributed at the same time a new administration is voted in to office. I am reminded of my long ago departed Father-In-Law who, although he was a registered Republican, admitted that he always voted against the incumbent because he figured the best thing you could do for the country was to “keep turning them over.”























How to Survive Loss

Life can be defined as a finite period of time characterized by continual change. Consequently, since nothing is permanent, we all experience losses. Some are trivial, others are devastating. We are now living in a time of great turmoil with millions of people subject to losses beyond their control. Thousands of homes and businesses have been destroyed by the effects of climate change with fires, floods and storms throughout the world. Many more have been displaced by wars and political upheavals with thousands having lost their homes, possessions and way of life, but the most immediate and tangible threats are due to the COVID-19 pandemic where in addition to the loss of over a quarter million lives, several million remain unemployed, and self-imposed isolation has taken a toll on mental health.

According to the CDC, 8 out of 10 deaths from the virus have been in those over age 65, but they noted even those in their 40s and 50s are at higher risk than younger folks. Many studies have documented that widowhood carries with it a mortality rate of well over 30% during the 1st 90 days of bereavement and 15% thereafter, powerful evidence that loss of loved ones has serious consequences for survivors. The pandemic has limited traditional mechanisms of dealing with grief since last goodbyes are often denied due to isolation policies, and funerals, wakes, and life celebrations are limited. Time will tell if their lack will result in an increased prevalence of unresolved grief.

Grief | Loss due to death vs Loss due to breakup

Meanwhile, we are still subjected to the ordinary losses associated with the process of living. Much of my time as a psychiatrist was devoted to helping those afflicted with the pain of losses, as I am sure is true for most clergy, counselors, social workers, psychologists and bartenders, etc., but it is only recently that the Board of directors of the American Psychiatric Association has recommended that unresolved grief be considered a diagnostic category. Although death of a loved one may seem the ultimate loss, in some ways it is easier get over than the termination of a relationship via other means, such as divorce or breakup of an important personal relationship. The finality of death encourages one to move on, but when the object of one’s affections is alive a relationship real or imagined will persist. Thus, Don Jackson, a renowned family therapist said there is no such thing as divorce. Or as I have often said: divorce is like a death in the family, but you can’t bury the corpse.

Our nature requires relationships. Relationships help to define our identity, i.e., who and what we are. For example, I am often introduced as Barb’s husband which provides considerable information about me. Our identities are also shaped by those with whom we associate even the organizations to which we belong or those we choose to lead us. Long term relationships invade one’s personal space to the extent that we often absorb some of the involved person’s personal characteristics to the extent that they become part of who and what we are. Consequently, their loss may result in what I call a psychological amputation. Thus, in the face of such losses, one is left with the feeling that a part of one’s self has been taken away.

As with the loss of a physical body part, a psychological amputation can result in myriad feelings and reactions in addition to sadness. There may be anger, at times even rage, directed to whomever one blames even him/herself. Instances in which rejected suitors have stalked, assaulted, or even murdered, are unfortunately not rare, which naturally leads one to question the nature of such alleged love. There may be feelings of betrayal at the deceased for being abandoned or for behaviors thought to have hastened his/her death. God is often a target for anger, especially in deaths, and in such instances the Biblical quote: “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” rarely provides solace. Although I have found that referral to the patient’s pastor or Rabbi is frequently helpful.

GUILT

Anger may also be self-directed resulting in guilt. In such cases, the patient may spend endless hours ruminating over what he might have done to prevent the loss or even worse how he could have caused it. A close friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, continues to have pangs of guilt over her Grandmother’s death nearly 80 years ago because as a child she had “sassed Grandma” shortly before her sudden death.

There are instances in which survivors may feel guilty for not grieving enough. One case from many years ago, which has stayed in my mind, involved an elderly lady who was referred to me by her family doctor with the complaint that she had lost the strength in her right leg. An extensive workup had not yielded a diagnosis and the referral appeared to be a hail Mary. She walked into the office unassisted. Although using a cane, she appeared to walk quite well. Her story was that her husband of many years had recently died following years of a debilitating illness for which she had been his primary caregiver. She reported that she rarely left the house during all that time, having obviously taken seriously the vow about “in sickness and in health.” Shortly after her husband’s death, she was excited to visit a friend in a neighboring village whom she hadn’t seen since her husband became ill. After starting her car, she was unable to move her leg to the accelerator in order to drive away -a classic case of conversion reaction, resulting from the guilt she felt over enjoying her new found freedom.


The Affect of Death on Children’s Development and Attachment Theory

It has long been noted that children who become orphaned are at risk for significant relationship or mental health problems later in life. (This is a relevant post from Psychology Today). Konrad Lorenz’s studies of imprinting demonstrated the importance of relationships in young animals, and Bowlby, with his Attachment Theory, came to similar conclusions regarding humans. When the process of attachment is interrupted prematurely it may leave the child lacking in skills necessary to develop healthy relationships, and leave them impaired for life.

Much has been written about the stages of grief. However, I have not found that concept particularly helpful, for in my experience people do not always follow a particular pattern of behavior when they have lost something or someone, though I have found that denial is frequently present especially when the loss involves another human life. Although at a conscious level there is realization that a person is gone, a survivor may behave as if expecting them to return. In such cases there are frequent slips in which the deceased person will be described in the present rather than the past tense. There is resistance to disposing of clothing and other personal effects, or to removing the voicemail greeting from the family phone. Frequent trips to the cemetery are common and may involve imaginary conversations with the deceased. The survivor may be said to have “held up” surprisingly well during the burial proceedings.

Perhaps, the most painful loss of all is the death of a child, and in my experience the most likely to result in denial. Although at a conscious level the parent knows their child is dead, they may continue to insist that their room will remain untouched as if they are waiting for him/her to return. Deaths by suicide usually introduce a series of unanswered questions which further complicate the healing process, often leaving survivors blaming themselves.

It goes without saying that it is very difficult to resolve a problem without acknowledgement that it exists, and in my experience, denial following the death of a loved one is quite common. It is usually the first hurdle that must be overcome in order to find resolution of grief. There are numerous exercises which may be ordered to help one achieve acceptance. My favorite is to arrange a visit to the graveyard with a close friend or pastor, simply say goodbye, and have a good cry. For those in denial, there is usually a great deal of resistance to using that word, and the mere suggestion to carry out those instructions is often met with tears.

Loss of Relationship by means other than death can be even more complicated.

The break-up of young lovers, especially first loves, is complicated not only by the level of passion involved, but their lack of experience in dealing with loss. They should be taken seriously as such losses can result in serious suicided attempts especially in teenagers. But for anyone the loss of a love object can be devastating for with it go dreams of an idyllic life with the hope of loving and being loved. It may result in sadness, depression, anger, or even violence.

How to Survive Loss

Hope is invaluable with the loss of things which are replaceable for it inspires one to action. The streets of our big cities are littered with homeless people most of whom have lost hope, while those who have lost their homes in fires or other calamities, although saddened and depressed by the loss of all their possessions, need hope if they are to replace that which has been lost. However, with abandonment by a loved one hope can hinder resolution. It goes without saying that one cannot live in the moment if they are stuck in the past, which happens when we continue to dwell on recovering something which is beyond reach.

Recovery from loss is simple but not easy.

We must “let go” if we are to “move on.”

We let go by grieving. Grieving is the process by which we allow ourselves to grapple with and purge intense disabling emotions following a loss. Grief can be initiated by the loss of anyone or anything to which a person has a personal attachment.

Cultures have developed various traditions which seem designed to promote resolution of grief following deaths. In a previous blog I have written about those I experienced in a rural midwestern village 75 or 80 years ago, but my favorite funeral celebration is the traditional New Orleans jazz funerals in which the funeral procession is led by a brass band to the graveyard while playing a funeral dirge, then following interment the band marches back toward the decedent’s home playing a lively Dixieland tune. The message could not be more evident. There is acknowledgement of the sadness of death followed by the celebration of life, a perfect example of letting go and moving on.

Other Types of Loss

In addition to the loss of loved ones, since the word pandemic entered our lexicon, we have been subjected to losses of some of our most precious possessions. It has been said that you don’t fully appreciate the importance of something until it is gone. Granted, it has been catastrophic for those who have lost jobs, housing, or businesses, but the isolation and cumulative effect of the loss of activities which we previously would have considered mundane have also taken a toll.

On a positive note, if there is one, perhaps we have learned to know the value of some of those things we previously took for granted. There is also hope that constriction of our social activities may result in more family cohesion. Who knows? Maybe kids and parents will even start talking to each other. Losses of all kinds are bound to get our attention, and there is often a lot we can learn from them, especially those we create by our own mistakes for failure is the great educator.


CATHARSIS

Although in rare instances, loss may result in a sense of relief, in nearly all cases, there will be strong feelings elicited as previously mentioned. Such emotions are disabling and must find expression, a process which we call catharsis. It is not a good time to do the strong silent thing when consumed by grief.

As I have mentioned many times, we are herd creatures, which is hardly a new concept having been the subject of John Donne’s poem, “NO MAN IS AN ISLAND” written in 1624. As such, we are dependent upon others whether we like it or not. In the face of intense emotions we can become overwhelmed and confused. In such times more than ever, we need validation, i.e., someone who we trust to listen, be supportive, and reassure us that our feelings are rational. Indeed, the process of attempting to communicate those feelings verbally helps to organize one’s thoughts, and a recent study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, has confirmed what we already knew, which is that confiding in others helps prevent depression. After all, that is how I made a living.

Surviving Loss is a PROCESS

Usually catharsis is not a one-time thing and there will be triggers that will resurrect some of those feelings in milder form from time to time, but most will learn to let go of past traumas by focusing on the road ahead. Hopefully, they will come to understand that to look back over their shoulder will likely cause a stumble, and that they must let go of the past in order to move ahead.

With millions all over the world facing serious losses, we are not only “all in this together,” but we are also very much in need of each other and there has never been a better time for us to be our “brother’s keeper.”

YOU CAN’T FOOL MOTHER NATURE

90 years on this big chunk of dirt has allowed me to witness a plethora of amazing things. The following blog points out that we’ve screwed up our share of things, and there is lots of bad stuff going on as we speak, but we have also done a lot of good stuff. I have consistently underestimated the ability of my fellow men and women to do amazing things, but I am even more impressed with this latest generation. They seem eager to involve themselves in politics and environmental activism, which leaves me hopeful that they may do a better job of listening to what Mother Nature tells us.

Thousands of scientists worldwide devote their lives in search of such understanding. There certainly will be more pandemics and other crises to come, and an understanding of nature is our only hope for defense or prevention. My hope is that these bright young souls will learn from our mistakes, for we truly are all in this together. We have been honored guests on this planet for only a short time, and lack of respect for our earth mother could further shorten our stay. To have “dominion” over all these wondrous living things carries with it an awesome responsibility. We ignore it at our own risk. In this post, I hope to illustrate examples of how we humans have attempted to control Mother Nature and the consequences I’ve observed.

The Big Fox Hunt

My first exposure to humans trying to control Mother Nature was when I was 12 years old. Once upon a time (as the saying goes) , I was excited to be asked to participate in a fox hunt. This was not to be replete with trumpets, and people dressed in red jackets on horseback, but rather a bunch of serious good old boys in blue denim bib overalls and wampuses. The hunt was to be composed of a combination of fox and rabbit hunters. Granted, there were some who fit into both categories, but the strategies were very different and required different canine talents. The beagle was the breed of choice for rabbit hunters while fox hounds were much larger.

The idea of a fox hunt had originated with the rabbit hunters after a several year decline in the rabbit population of the county which they blamed on the red fox, the rabbit’s chief predator. The fox hunters were all for the operation. WWII was in full swing, the depression was over, there was full employment and much of clothing manufacturing capacity was used by the military, all of which conspired to make fur coats desirable. Consequently, fox pelt prices were at an all-time high. The strategy for this hunt was to recruit large numbers of bodies (even kids) to walk behind a long line of dogs with the thought that the foxes would be driven towards a line of hunters with guns. Since a large portion of the male population was off fighting the war, many of us kids were recruited for the big hunt.

The plan was never implemented. Not surprising, since due to the war, gasoline was rationed and ammunition for hunting was not available. Nevertheless, the plan was a small example of man’s attempt to intervene into the much more comprehensive plan which had been devised by nature, or God if you will, long before Adam and Eve arrived on the scene.

Mother Nature fixed the Rabbit Problem

However, in this instance without human intervention, it did not take too many years for the rabbit population to rebound and the fox hunters to complain that their dogs couldn’t even “catch a scent.” Apparently, since the fox’s natural predators in our area had long since been deposed by the world’s top predator (humans), the fox population grew rapidly, soon overwhelming the rabbits. With their favorite meal no longer available, the foxes either moved on, or starved, and the rabbits rebounded without our help. Now that fur coats are no longer fashionable, rabbits are scarce, and foxes which were formerly rarely seen, are active scavengers in urban areas.

It seems as if the predator system worked well for a few million years until the new top dog came along, and set out to screw it up.

The Apex Predator

About 200,000 years ago humans evolved to become the new apex predator, and the system of checks and balances was upended. This new kid on the block was not nearly so athletic, as his competitors, nor did he possess the acute sense of smell, vision or hearing as did most of his competitors, but his huge brain coupled with his upright posture allowed him to develop the manual dexterity necessary to make tools and weapons.


Those skills were honed to an extent beyond the imagining of our distant ancestors, and also allowed us to totally dominate the planet as per the Biblical injunction: Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

There is little doubt that we have been compliant with the fruitful and multiply part, but negligent about “replenishing.” The World Wildlife Federation reports that in just the last 50 years we humans have been responsible for the extinction of 60% of the world’s population of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles. [Source: https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/living-planet-report-2018 ] If the scripture is referring to the replenishment of the human population, no doubt we have done a good job and then some. Just during my time on this planet the population of the world has nearly quadrupled, standing now at nearly 8 billion. It is estimated to have been a paltry 5 million souls in 5.000 BC. [Source: www.worldometers.info/world-population/world-population-by-year/.]


Earth’s Population | Malthusians vs Cornucopians

In 1798, Thomas Malthus, an English economist and clergyman, warned that overpopulation would lead to world-wide starvation due to the limited ability of the earth to provide enough food [Link to “An Essay on the Principle of Population”]. Of course, his theory was later discarded by most as he failed to take into account the development of more efficient farming methods. Since his time, the population has increased 5 fold, 20% of the food grown in the U.S. is wasted, and although food shortages exist in some parts of the world, they are largely due to problems of distribution, wars, or climate change, yet there still remains debate between the so called “Malthusions” and the “Cornucopians” (futurists who believe progress and provision of material items for mankind can be met by similarly continued advances in technology) as to the limits of the planet’s ability to support life as we know it. With the mechanization of much of agriculture, farming has become much less labor intensive, and large families, which were a cheap source of labor, have become expensive.


There are also now widely available and effective means of birth control which at first glance would lead one to believe the world’s population was declining, but increased longevity and a decrease in infant mortality have resulted in an explosive increase. Yet, the Cornucopians believe in a future in which we will see a decrease in the world’s population and that technology will triumph to keep our planet sustainable. Currently, the world population continues to increase but at a slower rate than previously. The UN predicts it will stabilize at around 11 billion by 2050, but such predictions have proved inaccurate in the past.


Some governments continue to take note of Malthusian principles and have attempted to regulate population growth by either encouraging or limiting it, usually with disastrous results. The most recent example is China where a one-child policy was adopted in the 1960s after a period of famines was felt to have been caused by overpopulation. Enforcement procedures were sometimes drastic with enforced sterilizations as a penalty for non-compliance. The policy proved to be too successful as the slowed birth rate coupled with increased longevity has resulted in too many retirees, and a shortage of workers to support them. The country has now initiated policies designed to increase the birthrate, which so far, have not been successful. Contrasting, but equally draconian efforts by the communist dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceausesca, to increase the population of his country in 1966, resulted in thousands of orphaned children that overwhelmed the orphanages of the country. Consequently, a generation of children were neglected as I described in a previous blog.

Malthus blamed much of the poverty and associated hunger of his day on hereditary factors setting the stage for development of eugenics in which governments initiated policies designed to limit population growth. In 1927, the Supreme Court led by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who famously said: “three generations of imbeciles is enough” approved forced sterilizations of the mentally disadvantaged, not our nation’s finest hour. A few years later, Hitler in his attempt to purify the “Aryan Race” decided it was much more efficient to simply execute those deemed “defective” and his gas chambers proved to be quite efficient in that regard. Although Malthus writings awakened awareness of potential problems in our environment, they also have demonstrated the dangers associated with social engineering gone awry.

Overpopulation and Pandemics

Scientists suggest that the overall human impact on the environment, due to overpopulation, with its accompanying overconsumption, pollution, and proliferation of technology, has pushed the planet into a new geological epoch known as the Anthropocene. A case can be made for overpopulation as a factor in many of the world’s geopolitical problems including wars, migrations, civil unrest, famine, and climate change to name a few, yet even in this global pandemic which threatens every life on the planet, little note is taken of how population density factors into this COVID-19 thing.


Pandemics have been around throughout recorded history. One study that analyzed the origins of 1415 diseases which infect humans, found that 62% originated via contact with animals. [Source: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2001.0888]. Indeed, the spate of epidemics we have experienced over the past few years, such as Ebola, SARS, Swine Flu, and COVID-19, etc., as well as the oft mentioned Spanish Flu of 1918, and bubonic plague are all said to be zoonotic diseases (meaning those that jump from animal to man). Even smallpox, the scourge that had figured in wars and other upheavals throughout history, and decimated native populations in the Americas, is felt to have jumped from a rodent flea to humans in Egypt 10,000 years ago. There are multiple factors that can lead to increased contact of wild animals with humans.

Humans & Wildlife

For example, I spent my early years hunting, fishing and roaming the hills where I now live without ever seeing a deer, but as I write this, there are five white tail deer grazing in my back yard and I live in a populated area. Deer are now considered a pest by many, especially farmers, who see their corn fields decimated. Naturalists are concerned about over population with its concomitant increase in Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), an illness that infects the brains of deer, moose, and elk, and is closely related to Mad Cow Disease. In an attempt to reduce the numbers, the legal limit per hunter was increased resulting in 184,465 legally killed deer in Ohio last year with little apparent effect. So far, there are no reports of CWD having jumped to humans, although we know of many examples of mutations in other microbes resulting in cross species vulnerabilities.


The increase in our local deer population is fueled largely by deforestation rather than what we see with most species, for deer are grazing animals and consequently do much better in open rather than densely wooded areas while with other species logging can totally destroy their habitat. There are multiple factors that put us in closer contact with wild animals due to infringement or destruction of their habitat or upsetting the normal balance of nature. We now see instances in which the reintroduction of predator species results in a healthier ecosystem, a practice which a few short years ago would have been seen as counterproductive. It has now become obvious that we humans did not possess the wisdom required for us to have: “dominion over…every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Learning by our Mistakes

It is only by having screwed things up badly that we have begun to learn a little about how the whole thing works, but in putting this paper together I have been amazed to learn a bit about how it all fit together before we took charge, and began the process of exterminating species, and contaminating our soil, air, and water. We even managed to make the earth less hospitable to ourselves and all living things by messing up the climate. It required a lot of people to accomplish all that and as I mentioned previously, there are a lot of us. Ignorance is no longer an excuse, for we now know what needs to be done, and the only way for us to atone for our sins would be for all of us to work on putting it back together.

In the past, livestock farmers were well aware of the amount of pasture required for their herd and “culling the herd” via sending the less healthy or vigorous to the slaughter house was a regular practice. They are also aware of the increased susceptibility to disease that can result from over-crowding. The developers of factory farms find it more efficient to raise livestock in extremely crowded situations, and photos of hog farms show animals packed so tight they can barely move. This increases the risk of epidemic, yet these gallant entrepreneurs are not to be denied. They routinely add antibiotics to the feed, which many infectious disease experts suspect is a major cause of antibiotic disease resistance in humans, a good example of how our attempts to bypass nature’s rules cause even worse problems,

To date our only defense against the COVID-19 virus is so-called social distancing which could be more accurately referred to as asocial distancing and the use of a mask which also limits our non-verbal communications. Does that not speak to the possibility that our dense human habitats may contribute to our vulnerability to viruses? We humans have evolved into instinctually social or herd animals if you will, and herds of humans may now number into the millions.


We Are All In This Together

My research for this essay has shown me that we really are “all in this together” and I don’t mean just concerning the current pandemic. We are not only connected to our environment, we are an integral part of it. We are so interdependent that whatever happens to one species effects many others, and I am heartened to see that much research now focuses on ecosystems rather than individual plants animals or microorganisms. For example, such studies have resulted in a greater understanding of our symbiotic relationships that extends even to bacteria. Last evening, I watched a documentary on PBS about the rehabilitation of Yellowstone Park by the reintroduction of wolves. Their step by step exhibition of how the entire area benefited including animals, fish, birds and vegetation was remarkable. Other such experimental programs currently implemented in other areas of the world are reaching similar conclusions.


The question as to what is the optimum world population remains a subject of debate. It is clear that there is an inverse relationship between standards of living and population growth for we have witnessed populations decrease in those countries whose people become more affluent. Cornucopians present this as truth that overpopulation, if it exists, will be self-correcting while Malthusians point out that with affluence there is an increase in utilization of resources and acceleration of global warming, another damned if you do or damned if you don’t conundrum.


With the upper level predators such as wolves, coyotes, bears, bobcats, and eagles, etc., long gone via the efforts of the apex predator (us), the balance has been upset and many species have proliferated leaving them vulnerable to disease, as apparently happened with our deer population. With urbanization has come an increased interest in wild animals and urban sprawl has encroached on habitats. Many of the zoonotic illnesses are transmitted by bites of vectors, i.e., usually arthropods, such as fleas, ticks, or mosquitoes, or by direct contact with the body fluids of infected animals, as was the case with Ebola. Of course, such animals can be avoided, but bacteria and viruses have a genetic code that can spontaneously change. Such mutations may alter them in such a way that they may find a way to move from one human body to another, and when it does, an epidemic is on its way. The Center for Disease Control reports that 3 out of 4 emerging diseases happen this way as has the current pandemic. [Source: https://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/basics/zoonotic-diseases.html ]

Measles & COVID-19

Back in the dark ages, when I was practicing family medicine, measles was an accepted part of life. Antibiotics, which had recently appeared on the scene, had proven to be worthless against viruses, and measles was largely accepted as the most communicable of all the infectious illnesses. Viruses were mysterious little buggers and as a matter of fact we had no idea as to what they looked like until the invention of the electron microscope in 1931. When this covid thing reared its ugly head, I was struck by its similarities to the measles virus. They both are spread by respiratory droplets, and are infectious before symptoms appear, two factors which conspire to make them highly communicable and very difficult to control, although, the covid 19 virus is obviously the more serious of the two.


If there is anything good about measles, it is the fact that people who contract it develop a lifetime immunity. Since nearly every old person like myself had it in childhood, it is classified as a childhood disease. It has been shown that if 70 to 80% of the population is immune to a communicable disease, its spread is limited. This phenomenon is referred to as herd immunity and is the latest very bad idea to come from the White House’s latest false prophet sycophant, a guy whose day job is reading x-rays. His plan is to allow the virus to infect everyone except for the elderly (I like that part) and immune compromised. One person predicted this would lead to 1.2 million deaths and totally overwhelm our hospitals’ ability to care for the sick. Sweden did initiate such a policy, which was disastrous, resulting in 10 times more deaths than had occurred in neighboring Denmark. In addition to those problems, it is not even clear how long immunity lasts after recovery, if at all.


Science Is Simply A Search for the Truth

As has occurred at other times in history this pandemic has brought the world to its knees although some countries have definitely done a better job at handling it than we have. For more that a half century we have been warned by the scientific community that pandemics were inevitable, and by not heeding them we now pay a price, yet we seem to have learned little for anti-science views persist. As previously mentioned in other blogs, science is simply a search for truth. It is a discipline that seeks to understand the marvelously complex mechanisms which operate our universe. It is not a religion, but the knowledge it provides can and should enhance the reverence of the faithful.


The Questions We Need to Ask

As is usually the case with studies of natural phenomena, this covid pandemic leaves us with more questions than answers. Are we really the apex predator or does this invisible particle which infects us deserve that title? Is this pandemic nature’s way of culling the herd? Is there an optimum level of population above which the system cannot function? Does our technology possess the power to undue the damage we have done to the world or perhaps a better question is do we have the will to do it? My Grandmother said: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. For years epidemiologists have warned us of the inevitability of pandemics. We have turned a blind eye to research on preventive efforts and now suffer the consequences. Let’s hope this one will be a wake up call.

USA Tops COVID-19 Cases and Deaths Map from Johns Hopkins

The Speech I Wish President Trump Would Have Delivered at the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic

INTRODUCTION by EshrinkBlog.com Author, Darell J Smith, M.D.

It was not until the death of my parents many years ago that I realized how little I knew about their childhood, and set out to write some vignettes for my grandchildren (and children) about what growing up was like for me.  These stories morphed into one story about a year in my life as a 12-year-old during WWII.  Imagine my surprise when I was presented with a book [link to Reflections for the Future book. Free download. On-demand printing of hard cover book] with my name on it containing a bunch of the stuff I had written.  This was the doings of daughter number four, Maggie, the journalist.  I was so pumped at the sight of my name on a dust jacket that when Maggie signed me up for a blog, I jumped right in, convinced that I was to become the Grandma Moses of essayists.  She has remained involved as my editor, but rarely makes any changes in the copy always insisting that it is good even when it sucks.  

Now you have the opportunity of reading Maggie’s marvelously comprehensive and detailed treatise as to how the COVID-19 pandemic should and could have been handled.  It begs the question as to how many lives might have been saved and how much suffering could have been averted by the exercise of such leadership.  The format, as the speech which should have been made, is a very creative means by which to deliver the message, and is a very typical Maggie approach. 

Although this type of critical thinking should not have surprised me, I still have difficulty at times reconciling myself to the realization of the talents exhibited by this once skinny shy little redhaired girl.  Since we now have less than a month until the election, it is too late to mount a write in campaign to elect Maggie, but I am certain that after reading her speech, you will agree that she should be sitting behind that big desk in the oval office.  


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—The speech I wish the President of the United States of America would have given in February. As the leader of the free world, the President of the United States had the opportunity and the responsibility to inform Americans. Time and again throughout history, great leaders have emerged due to their unselfish sacrifice, character, compassion, strength, and communications skills during a time of crisis. Americans don’t panic, as Trump said regarding his rationale for not telling us the real score. I wrote this speech in an hour after hearing the tapes of President Trump being interviewed in early February by Bob Woodward.  This is the speech I wish the President of the United States, Donald Trump, would have given in February. The USA accounts for 4.5% of the world’s population, but has 20% of the world’s cases of COVID-19 and 20% of the world’s deaths from COVID-19.

Words matter. Leadership matters. We, as Americans, deserve more than a president who hides information because he thinks we are a bunch of panic-stricken cowards who can’t handle the truth. We deserve a president who cares more about the country, all Americans, and the future and well-being of our Republic than he does himself, politics, his image, and celebrity status. Please read the following and see if it you think our country would be in a better place today if we had a president who would have been willing to put his ego aside and give us the following information. I’m just a normal American, with a normal job, two children, who loves this country and the opportunity it represents. We’re not perfect. No human is perfect. No government is perfect. No system is perfect, but our founders certainly built an exceptional form of government for the people and by the people. It’s our job to do our best each day to build upon that foundation to learn, improve, and get better. It’s our responsibility to make sure we build upon that foundation and elect people in all branches of government that showcase the best attributes and characteristics we possess as Americans.

THANKS FOR READING:
Maggie Smith

The SPEECH I WISH OUR PRESIDENT WOULD HAVE GIVEN at the ONSET of the CORONAVIRUS

Fellow Americans:

We have a challenge in front of us that is unlike any other we’ve faced in our lifetime. COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is an invisible threat to our health and welfare. Together, we will find the best way forward and we will prevail. We will remain calm but also vigilant.  As Americans, we have overcome crises before and we will use that same dedication to hard work, sacrifice, ingenuity, focus, and teamwork to overcome this crisis.

Today, I will outline what we know, the steps we have taken. What you can expect from this administration, resources you can use, and what you can do to help.

Now, is the time to put politics aside. Now, is the time to put divisiveness aside. Now is the time to rely on the brilliant scientists who are dedicated to learning about this new virus and finding the best ways to treat it with the ultimate goal of developing a safe and effective vaccine.

We must work together as Americans and citizens of the world to navigate this viral threat in order to minimize the damage and stop the spread as quickly as we can. This will require vigilance from all of us. We want to contain this virus and stop the spread in order to save lives.

Here is what we know:

As of today, we know that a new coronavirus has infected Wuhan, China. I have Dr. Faucci, who is one of our nation’s top epidemiologists with me and he will share medical information about the virus when I’m finished, but in broad terms, coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that cause diseases in animals and humans. They often circulate among camels, cats, and bats, and can sometimes evolve and infect people. You might remember SARS that affected many in Asia back in 2004 and there was MERS, the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, that affected many countries in 2012. Both of these were coronaviruses. The origin of this coronavirus is still being investigated. As I mentioned, we know the first recorded case was in WuHan, China, but again we will learn more as scientific investigators amass information. You’ll also hear the term COVID-19, where the CO stands for corona and the VI stands for Virus, the D stands for Disease and 19 is the year this particular virus was identified when China reported it to the World Health Organization on December 31, 2019). The World Health Organization has provided the following information about testing, symptoms from the people infected so far, and how the virus spreads. [LIST ALL THE INFORMATION THAT WE KNOW WITH EACH SOURCE OF THE INFORMATION LISTED. (How many people infected worldwide, how many in the USA- for instance, in early February, we only had 12 cases and they were people who had returned to the US from China but some had not been in the Wuhan province, the CDC’s guidance that was published February that urged all people who had travelled to the US from mainland China since January 19th to self-quarantine and report their status to health officials, etc., just the facts and who is providing the information. Who What When Where and Why. Back to the speech

What the U.S. Government has done so far to prepare:

Here are the steps our administration has taken to combat the pandemic as of today.

We’ve set up a governor’s task force to help each state get the information and resources they need. Each member of the task force has been assigned 5 governors. They start their day with a meeting with each governor and then again at the end of the day to identify progress on action items established during the morning meeting. I am briefed at the end of each day by the task force members. We know that each state will have different needs and different levels of outbreak. The best way to minimize the spread of COVID-19 right now is for us to stay ahead of it and minimize contact with one another.

I have daily meetings with the leadership of both parties in Congress in conjunction with the Surgeon General, CDC director, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, FDA, and FEMA. This is a time for transparency, not politics. This is a time for scientists and epidemiologists, not conspiracy theories or snake oil cures. Please be especially careful of sharing inaccurate information. We know we will learn more each day, each hour about this virus. Therefore, truth and transparency is critical, but an understanding that information may change as doctors, epidemiologists, and scientists learn more about how the virus spreads, what treatments are the most helpful, and how it affects different populations.

The World

That brings us to the world. This pandemic doesn’t know any boundaries of country. We’ve organized a global COVID-19 task force that is comprised of each branch of government here in the United States and key members of my cabinet that will be in constant contact with the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and our allies to get key updates. This is a time when it’s helpful to have relationships around the world, especially the 80 years we’ve partnered with NATO. This Global Coronavirus Task Force is working to find the source of this novel coronavirus, COVID-19, to gain as much information as possible about the virus in order for us to understand it so we can combat it effectively. Again, information sharing and coordinated research efforts will help us be more effective to stop the spread of this virus, find the most effective treatments, and to identify the most accurate tests to diagnose coronavirus.

Accurate and reliable tests to know who has been infected with coronavirus is step 1 right now. The World Health Organization has provided testing information. Obviously, since this is a new virus, tests are limited. Therefore, we will work with the private sector and our government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control to find the most efficient way to increase the number of accurate tests. We will need to triage based on real data that shows where contagion is the greatest. Just as manufacturing ramped up during World War II, converting factories of all kinds to make much needed supplies such as tanks, airplanes, etc., that were critical to our success during the early war effort, our brilliant and dedicated scientists and doctors are critical to our success during this early part of the pandemic. Together, they will find the best path forward to get accurate and reliable tests while also working on treatment for this who are sick and also working with the world health community to find a safe and effective vaccine. But you are a critical part of our success to mitigate the spread of this virus, too. We all must do our part and there might be some short-term sacrifice involved, but as Americans, we play the long game and are willing to make sacrifices today to create a better tomorrow.

ACCURATE INFORMATION IS KEY

When crises are unfolding, it’s easy for inaccurate information to be distributed. Sometimes, it’s because the information appears correct but later is proven to be incorrect as we learn more. That’s why I encourage you to be extremely careful about your information sources and be responsible in what information you share. In short, always cite your sources. You should know where you are getting your information and let people know where you read it, heard it, or saw it.

One good source of information is the Johns Hopkins Hospital website. They have created a COVID-19 tracker that the entire world is using to track the virus. Their statistics and data input have been vetted by my administration and those in the scientific and medical community.

IMPORTANCE OF THE MEDIA

In talking to you about information, I must include the media. I know I have talked about FAKE NEWS and ALTERNATIVE FACTS in the past. However, this type of rhetoric is not useful during a time of crisis. Responsible reporting and distribution of the facts by the journalists in the media is imperative. While I’ve continuously called out reporters and news outlets during specific examples of what I think is an inherent bias during my term as president, the majority of reporters are dedicated to truth and responsible reporting. My personal opinions and popularity are not important during a crisis of this scale. Therefore, I implore each American to follow the truth, follow the facts, and I pledge that my administration will lead by example and be transparent with the media and with you. With that said, please know that information and data will most certainly change as WE LEARN MORE. This administration will work very hard to release information that has been properly vetted through reliable sources. All of us must work together to stay safe, stay healthy, and take care of each other.

I pledge that our administration will address the American people each night at 7 pm with the latest information. My team will provide access through every available channel, whether it be online, social media, streaming, network TV, or radio.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

So, what can you do as an American in the face of this crisis. First, remain calm. Secondly, do the normal things to stay as healthy as possible, including good hygiene and hand washing, getting enough sleep, watching for the symptoms we know are part of this virus (especially loss of smell and taste). If you have a fever, please call your doctor. Tests are limited and you want to minimize exposure to other people, but you don’t want to ignore symptoms. Please contact your doctor’s office and have them help you figure out the best option for your situation. Finally, accurate information is important. Please know that we are doing everything possible to find the right answers, minimize the negative impact of this virus, fight this pandemic with all of our resources. You can help by making sure you are responsible and careful with the information you share. This is a time for us to work together as Americans. We have faced challenges before and as a country we have succeeded by working together and bringing out the best in each other. I pledge to make sure I lead by example. I will not allow politics, rhetoric, and conspiracy theories to take center stage during a pandemic. We need everyone right now to be at the top of their game and that means you. Republicans, democrats, independents, and everything in between…party doesn’t matter, politics don’t matter…we are all in this together! All of our energy must be focused on minimizing the impact of coronavirus on the lives and health of Americans.

Please tune in for updates each day. If you have specific questions, you can contact the coronavirus hotline (it is a partnership between the federal government, state governments, and the private sector). You can call 1-800-555-1600, email info@cornonavirus.org, and get information at that website www.coronavirus.org.

Finally, please thank the nurses and doctors and all the healthcare workers. They stand ready to take on this virus. We appreciate their service and sacrifice. Obviously, we hope the protocols and planning we are putting into place now won’t be needed, but we must hope for the best while we prepare for the worst.

Please stay strong. Stay safe. God bless you and God bless the United States of America and the world.”

Final Note from Eshrink Editor and Daughter of Eshrink
When I wrote this speech, I wasn’t trying to Monday morning quarterback as they say…I was trying to illustrate how leadership makes a difference, especially in a crisis. Below are some resources I hope you find interesting and informative.

First Case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the United States

What Is Coronavirus from Johns Hopkins University

The World Coronavirus Tracker by Johns Hopkins University

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases – a non-profit founded in 1973 to provide dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the burden, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases across the lifespan.

Daily Updates for the Month of February to MIT staff regarding COVID-19

List of Deaths Per Capita (the USA is – Click here for the full list

  • Peru
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Spain
  • Ecuador
  • Mexico
  • USA

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Brain of Trump Voter

An Attempt to Understand Trump Fans (a.k.a. Trumpsters | Trumpers)

LOYAL TRUMP FANS

An enduring puzzle for we anti-trumpers is why the President’s support never wavers in spite of his behaviors or the direction of the political winds at any given time.  Rarely have we seen in this country such loyalty to a political figure.   It seems as if weekly we see another book published with more information about this man, any one of which would scuttle or at least diminish the stature of any other political figure, yet he remains unscathed.  The fact that he was elected with the help of women voters in spite of a widely distributed video of him bragging about his position providing him with license to sexually molest women is unfathomable.  There was also the issue of his fraudulent Trump University, history of multiple bankruptcies, along with unethical and dishonest business practices.  His so-called charitable foundation was closed down due to its illegal dispensing of funds, and the list goes on.

Since Trump’s election, the new cottage industry of fact checking has sprung up, and his record of lies has eclipsed by thousands that of any other politician past or present. While I don’t have the time to provide a comprehensive list of all the unethical, sometimes illegal, and often immoral things Trump has done (afterall, I just turned 90), I’ve listed some of the highlights as a reminder:

  • He has used his power as President to free or lessen the sentences of colleagues, and refuses to hold himself accountable for his actions by ignoring lawfully executed subpoenas.
  • He has taken extreme measures to keep secret the contents of his meetings and phone calls with Putin, his favorite dictatorial leader, and is chummy with most of the others.
  • He admits to never having broached the subject with Putin of his bounties on U.S. soldiers.
  • He gives a wink and a nod to the Saudi Prince who ordered the assassination of a U.S. resident friendly to us (a reporter who wrote articles about the Saudi government that were unflattering).
  • He rewarded the Kurds, who fought beside us and played a major role in defeating Isis, by abandoning them to be slaughtered by another of his fascist buddies – Erdogan.
  • He regularly insults our friends and sucks up to our enemies around the world.
  • He seems determined to destroy NATO, the longest lasting successful peace maintenance organization in the history of the world.
  • His policies are also on track to promote more pollution and enhance climate change.
  • He denies facts and the expertise of scientists on a routine basis.

But his most recent outrageous ploy is to only provide the Congressional Intelligence Committee with written reports in order to prevent them from asking questions…and allow him to keep more secrets from Congress and therefore keep more secrets from us: the people (remember that “government for the people, by the people” deal?).  But this is only a very small part of the lists of my complaints about this guy for a more complete one would fill several books and it has! Nevertheless, when I get on a roll I find it hard to stop!

Why Do Intelligent People Continue to Support this Flawed Individual?

Back to the question at hand – why do intelligent people continue to offer unwavering support for this flawed individual?  According to the latest Gallup poll, his approval rating has not budged from 42%.   Although this has troubled me for some time, it was brought to the fore recently when a fellow anti-trumper brought up the question by mentioning a disagreement he had with one of our mutual friends.  We agreed that this person was extremely intelligent, nevertheless, he was quoted by my friend as saying regarding Trump: “While I would not choose Trump for a friend, I will vote for him again”.  He also saw Trump as a victim and praised Barr for defending him.  It was not clear why he felt Trump was worthy of a job as the most powerful man in the world, yet not as a friend, but I assume this attitude may reflect the thinking of many people.

Does Character Count for Anything?

It would appear that to our friend, issues of character were not very important in a leader.  Likewise, we have the incongruous situation in which evangelical Christians are said to be in general very supportive of Trump.  Regarding his moral deficiencies, they respond that their faith requires them to be forgiving. However, my understanding of scripture leads me to believe that in order to be forgiven, one must show contrition, and ask for forgiveness…not exactly the style of the Donald.

As I watched Trump give his address on that desecrated White House lawn to this group of unmasked people sitting shoulder to shoulder obviously ignoring any policies designed to prevent infection with a potentially fatal virus, I wondered how such a group of very intelligent people could do such a stupid thing, and put themselves and their families at risk.  Trump’s strategy was of course obvious in that with a death occurring from COVID every 80 seconds, and the world’s worst record in containing the virus, perhaps it was wise to ignore the facts and emphasize the minor efforts he had put forth to contain the illness no matter their ineffectiveness.  Granted, many in that audience may benefit in a personal way from such a relationship with the President, yet these people have not been living under a rock, which makes it hard to believe they don’t question some of Trump’s rhetoric.

The Road to The White House via Reality TV | The Greatest Con Ever

Much has been written about the psychological make-up of Trump, even by people like me, but perhaps it would be more helpful to understand the thinking of those who are loyal to him.   Trump spent several years honing his skills as a reality TV host.  Of course, most reality TV has little to do with reality, but a lot to do with feigning reality.  Undoubtedly, this was very helpful in the development of a certain amount of charisma.  Acting is all about pretending to be something you are not.  The professional actor is able to step out of his role and display his real self when the show is over, but the antisocial personality presents his act to be who he really is, which is the secret to the success of any con man.  Since he lacks a superego, the anti-social Trump is unencumbered by the feelings of guilt or concern for others and is therefore, very believable and ingratiating.  Add to this, the pseudo-confidence of the narcissist and the con is complete.

Personal Freedom? 

We humans insist that we treasure our freedom, yet the idea of personal freedom has only been prevalent for  200 to 300 years.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs, we are by nature tribal or herd animals, and a herd must have leadership to function.  Our founders are said to have been concerned as to the susceptibility of their citizens to a charismatic leader with nefarious intent, which is one of the reasons they are said to have settled on the bizarre system of an electoral college. On the other hand, a certain amount of charisma is necessary in order to become a leader.

The First Act

Trump’s entrance into the run for president in 2016 was largely seen as a publicity scheme, and the pundits mostly treated it as a joke.  As he descended the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy, he was cheered on cue by a group of recruits who had been paid to participate in the production.  We will probably never know if he actually felt he had a chance to be president, but to most people’s surprise his “unconventional” approach to campaigning provided him with a great deal of free publicity. That part was not surprising since his career, indeed his whole being, had been devoted to being noticed.  His outrageous behavior and utter contempt for the traditional decorum of the Republican debates left his adversaries helplessly babbling, and a large group of voters who were fed up with Congress began to take him seriously.

The Second Act

With his nomination, Trump’s message to middle class Americans who had felt neglected by their government for 30 years was that he could fix it.  With Congress’s approval in the teens and on occasion even below 10%, his tough guy persona definitely appealed. Consequently; his “make America Great Again” slogan resonated and his entertaining rallies were met with a great deal of enthusiasm.  As a matter of fact, his core supporters became rabid in their belief that he alone could and would “drain the Swamp” even if that’s not the way the founders designed our system of government.

Trump thrives on mass political gatherings and his disciples crowd into them with the enthusiasm of fans attending a rock band concert.  He offers little in the way of policy commitments, but directs them as to who they should blame for whatever problems trouble them.  There are also lessons as to who they should fear and why.  He arrives on stage with his signature baseball cap assuring them he is just one of the guys while at the same time convincing them that he is the only one tough enough to solve their problems.  His continuous use of twitter keeps that theme alive along with the continual drum beat as to whom they should beware.

He makes liberal use of projection, i.e., accuse others of whatever wrong doing you are guilty of, and when caught in a lie, deny, distract, divert, or double down repeatedly since persistent repetition eventually mimics truth.

Michael Cohen Trump's Fixer Pleads guilty

 

Loyalty or Brainwashing?

In a recent interview, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer turned informer, indicated that the Trump organization was like a cult.  Indeed, Cohen had once said that he would “take a bullet for him (Trump)”.  The apparent fanaticism of many of his followers, their unwavering loyalty in spite of his lies and irreverent behavior, along with their refusal to even hear negative comments about their hero are cult-like qualities, but it would be a stretch to consider Trump devotees as cult members.

 

Fear and Anger Trump the Day

It appears to me that the glue which unites his followers is the combination of fear and anger.  Trump has exploited their anger with his own tirades.  The message in his speeches are not nearly as important as the way in which they are communicated.  The sarcastic, belittling, and insulting characterizations are particularly effective against those belonging to what Trump refers to as the “liberal elite.”

This led the so-called common man to believe that Trump understood their feelings of disrespect by those of a higher socioeconomic standing – quite an accomplishment since those of a liberal persuasion have always seen themselves as champions of the working class while Trump’s career is replete with examples of his scamming them.  He also validated their conviction that their needs and opinions were ignored by their government.  He espoused his own brand of patriotism with outrage that our government has allowed ourselves to be disrespected and cheated by other countries, and that the U.S. has been signatories to a variety of bad deals.  There was also anger over the movement of industries off shore and subsequent loss of jobs, and as a matter of fact about anything that was wrong real or imagined.  Nothing unites a people like a common enemy and the raucous cheers of “lock her up” that erupted with his campaign rallies were effective in stirring up the crowd.  They went wild when Trump dealt with hecklers by promising to pay the fines of anyone who would “punch them in the nose.”

The following email, allegedly sent by Steve Harvey, explains the reasoning of my Trump supporting friend in addition to the anger. It also explains why disclosures of Trump’s character defects have no effect on his supporters.  They already know that he is a jerk, a liar, and grossly lacking in integrity.  They not only don’t care, but actually admire his obnoxious behavior.

HOW I FEEL ABOUT TRUMP: By Steve Harvey

Editors Note: The following communication was NOT by Steve Harvey, the comedian and host of Family Feud…just another lie. Every single fact checking organization has debunked it as well as Steve Harvey himself.   FactCheck.org | Snopes.com | PoliticiFact.com

You’ve been on vacation for two weeks, you come home, and your basement is infested with raccoons.. Hundreds of rabid, messy, mean raccoons have overtaken your basement.. You want them gone immediately!.. You call the city and 4 different exterminators, but nobody can handle the job.. But there is this one guy, and he guarantees to get rid of them, so you hire him.. You don’t care if the guy swears, you don’t care how many times he’s been married, you don’t care if he has a plumber’s crack, you simply want those raccoons gone!..

You want your problem fixed!.. He’s the guy.. He’s the best!

Here’s why we want Trump: Yes, he’s a bit of a jerk; Yes, he’s an egomaniac; but we don’t care!..

The country is a mess because politicians suck, the Republicans and Democrats can be two-faced and gutless, and illegals are everywhere.. We want it all fixed!.. We don’t care that Trump is crude, we don’t care that he insults people, we don’t care that he’s been married 3 times, we don’t care that he fights with Megyn Kelly and Rosie O’Donnell, we don’t care that he doesn’t know the name of some Muslim terrorist.. This country became weak and bankrupt, our enemies were making fun of us, we are being invaded by illegals, we are becoming a nation of victims where every Tom, Ricardo, and Hasid is a special group with special rights to a point where we don’t even recognize the country we were born and raised in; “AND WE JUST WANT IT FIXED”..

And Trump is the only guy who seems to understand what the people want..

We’re sick of politicians, sick of the Democratic Party, sick of the Republican Party, and sick of illegals!.. We just want this thing fixed.. Trump may not be a Saint, but we didn’t vote for a Pope.. We voted for a man who doesn’t have lobbyist money holding him back, a man who doesn’t have political correctness restraining him.. We all know that he has been very successful, he’s a good negotiator, he has built a lot of things, and he’s also NOT a politician, NOT a cowardly politician.!..

And he says he’ll fix it.. And we believe him because he is too much of an egotist to be proven wrong, or looked at and called a liar.. Also, we don’t care if the guy has bad hair.. We just want those raccoons gone, out of our house, NOW!!!

You are welcome to copy/paste/share this.. Thousands of people who haven’t voted in 25 years seem to be getting involved.. And the more people get this message, the more that will understand why Trump was elected.. The raccoons have got to go!!!

Willful Ignorance

It appears that some people are not so worldly and choose to believe what the President says. For example, I recently saw an interview with an unmasked Trumper at a rally in which he was asked whether he was concerned about the virus.  He replied that there was nothing to worry about because “that whole pandemic thing” was a hoax, and that all those alleged casualties from the virus were actually people who were dying from causes unrelated to COVID.  Trump had given up the use of the word “hoax” to describe the pandemic several months ago, but this guy had apparently heard nothing more on the subject after Trump’s original pronouncement.   This is a feature which I call willful ignorance, i.e., when a person accepts something as fact, then closes their mind to consider any information that might debunk or contradict their belief.  This effect is maximized when as is the case of Republicans, they have their own personal propaganda machine, Fox News, or the democrats with their left leaning MSNBC.  (This is why I occasionally hold my nose and tune into Fox in order to reassure myself that I am not totally in the grip of confirmation bias.) Unfortunately, we all have a tendency to search for confirmation of our beliefs, which of course contributes further to our divisiveness.

Fear Mongering

The incitement of fear has been a consistent strategy throughout the Trump campaign and his time in office.  His initial focus was on immigration, in which he assured us that hordes of thugs, criminals, rapists, murderers, foreign agents, and other undesirables were invading our country, and must be stopped at all costs.  One of Trump’s strategies that some find appealing is his ability to simplify complex problems.  Consequently, his solution to the immigration problem ignored those knotty issues like murder of innocent citizens, mayhem, and mob rule against immigrants (legal or illegal), which were the norm in the countries of origin for those seeking asylum.  His solution was simple – build a fence, and better yet, have Mexico pay for it.  Studies have demonstrated that the vast majority of those seeking asylum are law abiding people who fear for their lives and the lives of their families, but Trump pulls out the fear mongering tactic with stories about MS13, a vicious gang, which he falsely attributes to having infiltrated the ranks of those seeking asylum.

With the the COVID-19 pandemic and the word out that immigrant kids were being separated from parents and kept in cages, border crossings were down and a new boogie man was needed.  The George Floyd murder with the resulting demonstrations arrived just in time.  Soon rioters arrived on the scene, and Trump’s right-hand person, Kelly Ann Conway, confirmed that she thought the broken windows, fires and looting would be good for the reelection campaign.  Always alert to a new opportunity, our President immediately went into law and order mode.  He championed the couple who were pictured guarding their home in a high-end gated community with an AR15 and hand gun.   He promised to straighten things out in minutes by sending in troops, although local mayors and governors insisted this made things worse.  Just in case those suburban “housewives” who voted for him the last time around missed it, he reminded them in a speech that he was protecting them by preventing any subsidized housing from being built in their neighborhoods so they would need not fear any invasions from the rif-raf.  Meanwhile, he was telling them they had nothing to fear from the one thing which deserved their fear: COVID-19.

Now that Biden appears to be leading in the polls, it appears Trump strategists are back to milking conspiracy theories.  Trump is once again referring to the “deep state” as a group of conspirators who operate within the government to undermine the democratic process and perpetrate all kinds of dastardly deeds.  The more recent version is that Biden is a closet socialist – this one designed to court the Cuban Latinos who fled Cuba’s Castro a generation ago, but all the dark state theories are designed to stoke fear of all democrats, and to undermine confidence in institutions.  However; if one looks at how the administration uses the awesome power of government to flout our laws, politicize our institutions, punish Trump’s adversaries, and reward his friends, one might easily conclude the “deep state” actually resides within the bowels of the White House.  Remember that thing I said about projection?

EDITOR’S NOTE:

As I talked with my 20-year-old daughter during a road trip to her grandparents’ house, I wondered if it was coincidence or genetics when she declared, “I’ve been trying to figure out how the Trump people think.” After all, she does possess some eshrink genetics! She said something like: “It seems like their thought process starts and ends with specific beliefs instead of processing information by evaluating the facts.” They think all democrats want to have abortions, are socialists, want to take their guns away, are unpatriotic and want a bloated government that is inefficient. 

For my part, I go back to the revisionist history and the bizarre inability to accept or process REAL EVENTS (videos of Trump; Trump Tweets) that show the hypocrisy that these people profess to hate about Washington. While Trump had been talking about the rigged system ramping up to the election when polls showed he would most likely lose, he kept denigrating the Electoral College (which was never meant to be a perfect system, but a compromise: read About a week before the 2016 election when Trump thought he was going to lose, his rhetoric was about the idiocy of the founders Electoral College process. Once he won the election via the Electoral College, but lost the popular vote, all the sudden it wasn’t such a bad idea ???

Now, as we get ready for another election, he starts again: the system is rigged (maybe he was right…maybe it is rigged and that’s why he won). What just baffles me is that these Trump supporters don’t see a problem with his type of bizarre thinking. If he professes our elections are rigged and he won, then he shouldn’t be our president. If he doesn’t think the election was rigged, then he was lying “playing them” and is doing the same thing now. If he does think the 2016 election was rigged, then he’s had four years to do something about it…so how can this one be rigged? How in the hell is this con man running as if he hasn’t been the guy in charge for four years? It is so bizarre, it baffles my brain. But I think it’s supposed to be that way. I’m supposed to be so confused that I think I’m the one that’s crazy…they call it gaslighting and I think the entire country is suffering at some level.

Below, are articles I found that might be of interest.

NOTE: Five times a candidate has won the popular vote and lost the election. Andrew Jackson in 1824 (to John Quincy Adams); Samuel Tilden in 1876 (to Rutherford B. Hayes); Grover Cleveland in 1888 (to Benjamin Harrison); Al Gore in 2000 (to George W. Bush); Hillary Clinton in 2016 (to Donald J. Trump).

Here’s what Trump said to Lesley Stahl about the Electoral College and a national popular vote for President on Sixty Minutes on November 13, 2016:

Link to full article

Stahl: Now for months you were running around saying the system is rigged.  The whole thing was rigged.  You tweeted once that the Electoral College is a “disaster for democracy.”

Trump: I do.

Stahl: So do you still think it’s rigged?

Trump: Well, I think the Electoral College.  Look I won with the Electoral College.

Stahl: Exactly.  But do you think it’s rigged?

Trump: Yes. Some of the election locations are. Some of the system is. Ah.

Stahl: Even though you won, you’re saying that.

Trump: Well, I mean, I’m not going to change my mind just because I won.  But I would rather see it, where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes, and somebody else gets 90 million votes, and you win.  There’s a reason for doing this.  Because it brings all the states into play. The Electoral College. And there’s something very good about that.  But this is a different system.  But I respect it.  I do respect the system.

Although Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton rarely agree, Clinton said in 2000,

“I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people … and move to the popular election of our president.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37673797

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-calls-electoral-college-a-disaster-during-2012-tweetstorm/

https://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/donald-trump-100-days-226850

https://www.history.com/news/electoral-college-founding-fathers-constitutional-convention

Article by Psychology Today
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mind-in-the-machine/201812/complete-psychological-analysis-trumps-support

Opinion Piece by The Street

https://www.thestreet.com/opinion/what-it-looks-like-inside-the-brain-of-a-donald-trump-voter-13554000

 

A Republic. If You Can Keep It.

Is Our Republic in Jeopardy?

During the recent impeachment hearings, frequent reference was made to the quote by Benjamin Franklin when he was asked when leaving the Continental Congress in 1787 what type of government had been devised: a monarchy or a republic. He is alleged to have answered “A republic if you can keep it.”

We are once again in a time when many feel our ability to “Keep It” is in jeopardy. For over 200 years, such a thought would have seemed ludicrous, but recent events lead many of us to believe that our government is now at risk.

Politicians talk a great deal about public service, but the nature of that service involves the need for power. In a democratic republic such as ours, we elect people to do our bidding, and cede power commensurate with what is needed for them to do the jobs we hired them to do.

Unfortunately, power is intoxicating, and can be addicting. As with all forms of addiction, such a lust for power can overwhelm moral and ethical prohibitions and result in corruption – thus the oft quoted saying: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”


As is commonplace with all addictions, once power is conveyed, it is never enough. A taste merely whets the appetite for more. History is replete with examples of elected heads of governments progressing from employee to ruler, sometimes accomplished by means of violent overthrow, but in more recent times by the subversion of institutions designed to limit power. In order to stay in power, it is necessary to maintain control over those governed, thus information, the most powerful freedom of all, must be controlled. Since secrecy is important, terms such as “national security and executive privilege” are often used to prevent the masses from becoming well informed.


Truth. Facts. Confusion.

With the advent of what has been called the “information age” secrecy has been difficult to sustain leading to the use of misinformation as a tool to keep the masses confused and/or unaware. Unfavorable news can be effectively buried by diverting attention to something more dramatic…either real or imagined. Our news media has become as biased as our political parties, which makes truth ever more elusive. There seems little attempt to separate fact from opinion especially now that we see more people getting their news from TV or online. Trust in our institutions is faltering. Conspiracy theories abound and effectively obliterate truth.


The Rise of the Executive Branch

Presidents have become progressively more powerful since the beginning of our nation. This has culminated in our witness to a President who not only evades oversight, but whose power so completely dominates his party that he has been able to trample long-held traditions and the Constitution itself without a whisper of dissent from a Republican controlled senate. It appears that his failed impeachment has resulted in an extension of his reach for power.

Trump and the RNC Convention

I did suffer through his acceptance speech last night although I cringed at the sight of his continued violation of the Hatch Act while presenting himself as the purveyor of law and order. Mark Meadows when questioned about this responded that: “No one cares about that (the Hatch Act)”, and sadly that seems to be true for many if not for everyone as it is for most of the administration’s other transgressions. Nevertheless, I was sickened by the desecration of that hallowed residence as I watched it being used as a backdrop for a political carnival.


Fact checkers have apparently given up on their usual chore, the distortions partial omissions, half-truths, and downright lies presented in his acceptance speech are well beyond the scope of this little ditty, but the one I found most disconcerting was the realization that during the 70 minutes he was pontificating about how well he has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, 47 Americans were dying. In ICUs across the country, wires were removed, tubes were extracted, oxygen valves were closed, bodies were covered, and transferred from beds to gurneys. 47 families would receive the dreaded phone call, denied the option of that final kiss or squeeze of a hand. Yes, over 1,000 people still die of this scourge in our country daily while Nero Trump fiddles and pretends it is “under control.” Whatever happened to the term: negligent homicide?

 

A Brief History of Campaigning and Elections

With Trump’s survival of impeachment, the only recourse left for those of us who are convinced that he is unfit for office is to replace him by voting him out. It didn’t take long after the birth of this republic for people to start looking for ways to game the system. The founders were a bit skittish themselves about who they should trust with the power to hire people to run things. Half the population was eliminated from the start for everyone recognized that women were much too emotional and illogical to be allowed such awesome power. However, it is interesting to note that there were already signs that rebellion was afoot, for Abigail Adams wrote her husband to suggest to him that it was time for women to have their say. John of course realized this was ridiculous (sorry Maggie). Native Americans and slaves were among other groups who were automatically denied voting privileges.


Although there was general agreement among the founders that self-government was the ideal, there was no precedent as to how this could be accomplished as monarchies and theocracies had been the rule for centuries. There was concern as to the ability of the masses to make informed decisions due to their lack of literacy and their perceived naivete leaving them more vulnerable to charismatic leaders. I found it interesting to note that many, John Adams in particular, were also concerned about the formation of political parties which he felt could lead to divisiveness. There was prolonged debate as to how elections could be done, but they finally arrived at the compromise we call the electoral college.

 

Initially it was considered unseemly for one to campaign for the Presidency for it was felt to be an honor to be chosen and not solicited. It was not long however until campaigns, especially for the highest office, became competitive and efforts to cheat began. Buying votes with money, booze, food, or privilege was common. Following the Civil War with masses of former slaves having won the right to vote emphasis shifted to finding ways to prevent voting with poll taxes, literacy tests, vagrancy laws, requirements to own property, or threats of bodily harm, largely initiated by democrats who were a majority in the south. With the civil rights movement headed by a democrat, the south rapidly switched parties and took over the voter suppression business.


In 1965 the voting rights act became law consequently; efforts to suppress voting have become much more sophisticated. There has been gerrymandering, shortened hours to vote, fewer polls in selected districts, increased difficulties in registering, purging of rolls, and more complex ID requirements. Since nationwide, democrats outnumber republicans, and a larger percentage of republicans usually vote, a lower vote total usually favors the republicans. Now we have a unique problem in that we are facing the challenge of conducting a national election in the midst of a serious pandemic.


Voting Today

In the midst of a time when it is advisable to minimize human contact, the most obvious solution would be to enhance voting by mail. Several states have had very favorable experiences with such plans including a significant increase in voter turnout which from the republican point of view may not be such a good thing. Fortunately for Republicans our genius President has implemented a plan. He appointed a buddy to run the postal department with instructions to dismantle or at least disable the entire system in order to prevent a millions of ballots from being counted. He has also promised a backup plan to intimidate disadvantaged voters by dispatching police or armed troops at polling places throughout the country (guess which ones?).

Trump using White House as prop and military saluting at the RNC political event held at the White House. Right: Putin

RED FLAGS Anyone? | Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You! 

For the first time in our country’s history a sitting president has suggested delaying a national election. He has also refused to agree to abide by the results of the upcoming election, and appears to be setting the stage to invalidate it by predicting that there will be lots of fraudulent votes and that it is “rigged.” He characterizes the press as “the enemy” and has set an all time record regarding the number of associates and staff members who have been found guilty of felonies. He meddles in court decisions and constantly finds ways to subvert constitutional oversight. He has congratulated and expressed envy of those world leaders who have been given lifetime terms in office. He alienates our nation’s friends and coddles our enemies. I have written in previous blogs as to how I believe his insatiable ego needs prevent him from experiencing any concern about right, wrong, or the effects his behaviors might have on others. In ordinary circumstances Trump’s braggadocio, bullying, lying, impulsiveness, and impaired judgement would be laughable, and indeed it was before he became president, but now that he has become the most powerful man in the world these qualities make him the most dangerous man in the world.


Trump and I Agree on One Thing

There is one statement made by Trump in which I am in total agreement: this is indeed the most important election in my long memory and perhaps the most important in the entire history of this nation. We must spare no effort to assure this election is not stolen and that every vote is counted. That includes making a lot of noise about this attempt to cripple the postal service.
Meanwhile, be alert, stay healthy and vote early.

DOES ANYONE GIVE A DAMN?

Monday I tuned into the cable news to watch the John Lewis festivities.  I always thought the Bard had it wrong when he said: “The evil that men do lives after them,” for it seems to me that when people die, we usually give them a pass and tend to focus on all the good stuff they have done.  For example, it is unusual for an obituary or eulogy to say much about the deceased’s less endearing qualities.  In Lewis’s case there seems little doubt that he was a genuine American hero and that his stature as such is warranted.  Even his adversaries don’t question the worthiness of those accolades, although I am expecting a tweet from on high before the week is over!

I spent the day flipping between CNN and MSNBC hoping to see something other than a hearse either parked or proceeding at 2 miles per hour through the streets of DC while various anchor people tried to fill in the time.  I was so engrossed in the anticipation that something worth watching would happen that I forgot to check in with Fox News.  It would be interesting to know if they felt any of it newsworthy.

When I checked late that afternoon the temperature in Washington DC was 95 degrees, and as is usually the case in DC, the humidity level was high.  There had been a heat advisory issued earlier in the day.  I initially became concerned about that while I watched the honor guard at the airport standing at attention in their full-dress uniforms waiting to carry the casket from the plane to the hearse, but that phase was uneventful (although I was surprised they had survived standing motionless on the concrete at the mercy of an unrelenting sun).

Having spent some time in the military, I was aware of how standing rigidly motionless for long periods of time can result in a temporary loss of consciousness due to orthostatic hypotension which is usually caused by prolonged immobility or a decreased blood volume such as dehydration.  In this case, it seemed likely that both scenarios were in play, so that when the hearse finally arrived at the Capitol, the same or similar honor guard was standing at attention at the bottom of the steps of the Capitol building.  It was composed of 2 marines, 2 army, 2 navy, and 2 air force enlisted men along with a squad leader.

With the arrival of the hearse at the capital, I was hopeful that those guys would not be forced to stand there as long as they had at the airport, but as the commentators dragged on my hopes were dashed.  I commented to Barb that although those guys are trained to remain motionless in these kinds of ceremonial missions, there are limits to human tolerance, and I did not imagine they would be able to tolerate much more time standing at attention in that intolerable heat.

Those words had barely escaped when one of the sailors collapsed.  This was not one of those faints in which one gradually sinks to their knees and slides to the ground, but the sailor fell flat on his back much like a tree being felled.  The other members of the squad did not so much as twitch, and a capital policeman walked over to attend to the fallen one.  I was concerned as to the possibility of a head injury since he had fallen so hard with the point of impact appearing to be the back of his head.   To my surprise he was eventually able to walk away with some assistance, and finally the remaining 7 guys were able to carry the casket up the steps into the rotunda.

US Sailor collapses in heat during honor guard service Rep John Lewis funeral ceremony

Click here to watch video

When the sailor passed out, I was watching MSNBC.  They briefly followed the incident but with no follow-up.  When I toggled to CNN, they made no mention of it, and had panned away from the honor guard.  Through it all they continued their commentary as if nothing had happened.  I was appalled at the disregard exhibited by the media for an accident which could have or maybe did result in a fractured skull.  We will never know the extent if any of his injuries since the media giants did not deem it important enough to follow-up.

An even more important question is: why in the world were those poor guys left to suffer in what could in other situations be described as torture with risk of serious injury or illness.  I recall one of the broadcasters saying that the ceremony was running 20 minutes behind schedule, but I am certain those guys were out there longer than 20 minutes.  Even so, why would anyone order them out there knowing there was a delay.  Was anyone in charge?  Were they aware of the risk to the honor guard, If not, why not, and if they did know, did they care?

Did anyone give a damn?

 

Editor’s Note: Here is link to how the military press covered the sailor’s crash with concrete: Link to Article

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Image about Aging Disgracefully

AGING GRACEFULLY

The idea of aging gracefully is an admirable trait. It is also an ideal that I have failed miserably to achieve. Although Barb has forbidden me to use that dreaded three-letter word, denial is no longer possible. It is time to admit that I am O-L-D.

Of course, it is also true that I am not only old but I am getting older, which is the good news for as has oft been said, the alternative has little appeal. As a matter of fact, that alternative looms larger with each passing day as my circle of friends dwindles. This was brought home to me recently when a person who had been a friend of mine for more than 60 years died. I could count on him to call at least once a week just to chat, discuss politics, or whatever else was on his mind. He was a champion story teller, but as his memories faded (which happens with tired old brains) the stories were becoming repetitious and I sometimes complained to Barb, especially when those calls came as we were having dinner. She admonished me by reminding me that I should be grateful to have such a friend. She was right because I now miss those phone calls and the those stories.


PLAYING THE “OLD GEEZER” CARD

Old age is a mixed bag. It does allow one to get away with stuff. For example, one can be insulting with little risk of physical retaliation. I have learned to take full advantage of people’s tendency to be deferential or even patronizing to an old geezer like me. A prop of some kind is helpful in perpetrating this kind of fraud, and the use of a cane will frequently get you a free ticket to go to the front of the line. Another advantage of aging? Permission to fail…all kinds of screw-ups are typically forgiven as a sign of impending senility.

RESPECT YOUR ELDERS?

When I was a kid I was taught to “respect my elders.” I never did understand this axiom, but suspect it was a hold-over from the days when ours was an agrarian society where vital information was passed down through generations…which is in marked contrast to today where we old folks can’t even program our TV remotes. Today, society seems ambivalent towards old people. On the one hand we venerate those who reach certain milestones yet when they become a burden they are frequently dumped in an institution.

Much of the blame for this conundrum lies at the foot of the medical profession for it is clear that we are now living much longer, but at considerable cost. In a previous blog I have written about the exponential increases in medical costs as we age. We take a lot out of the economy, but don’t put much back. It could be said that we are living too long. If that is true, I hope they will make an exception for old bloggers.


IT’S A SUPPLY and DEMAND SITUATION

In the U.S., there are a lot more widows than widowers, partly because women live 5 years longer than men on average, while in Canada (a socialized medicine country by the way) both sexes live nearly 4 years longer than in the good old U.S. of A – go figure. (Click here for source link) Consequently, old guys can take some comfort in the availability of replacement chicks if the need arises. This only seems fair since we men contribute to our early demise with risky behaviors designed to attract and impress our mates. Throughout the animal kingdom, men must do stuff to be noticed while women only need to look good (sorry Maggie). 

 

AFTER 40 IT’S JUST PATCH PATCH PATCH | AGING AIN’T for SISSIES

It seems clear that time does take a toll on the human body. There are undoubtedly multiple factors which conspire to damage organs only some of which are self-inflicted. In my case 50 years of tobacco use added a couple of cancers among other things to my medical record. But even you who have had the good sense to take care of your bodies and are looking forward to retirement should realize that there is some truth in the adage that “getting old ain’t for sissies”. You will find that in spite of your best efforts, organs will not work as well as they once did. A pain free bowel movement becomes a cause for celebration.


Other excretory functions will likely also become impaired. Prostate glands loom large in old men’s lives both literally and figuratively resulting in difficulty eliminating urine while women experience the opposite problem. Diminished bladder capacity means prolonged road trips must be calibrated carefully to include proper pit stop planning. Old folks who, like me, are prone to flatulence, may find themselves at risk of becoming social pariahs for such explosions may occur spontaneously without warning. This can become a particularly acute problem as you find yourself attending more funerals where a strategic exit is not possible. You can only hope that it will not occur during a moment of silent prayer.


With the exception of a few very emotionally disturbed people, everyone dislikes pain, and as you enter the “golden” years you will likely become well acquainted with that sensation. Athletes say that the legs are the first to go, and indeed since they get the most work, they do go quickly and the knees are the most vulnerable part of the lower extremities. When you see a gimpy old fart like me hobbling along with his cane it is usually a safe bet that he has a bad knee or knees. Not to worry, for you can get a new one for the paltry sum of $57,000 on average. It is not clear if you get a quantity discount for doing both at once.  


But the knees are merely the introduction to what is to come. You soon learn to appreciate the wide spread density of pain fibers throughout your body, and come to a greater understanding of the term chronic. Archaeologists tell us that a major factor which led to man’s dominance was his learning bipedal locomotion, yet with age walking upright becomes a liability. The National Institute of Aging reports that falls by those over 65 result in 2.8 million Emergency Room visits, 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths each year. The latter statistic is personal for me as I have lost two friends from falls. The loss of lower extremity muscle mass also limits agility. Thus, to fall when alone even though not injured can be serious if you can’t get up. The agility factor also affects some of the simplest of activities. For example, before senility set in, I sneered at those who went to a Podiatrist to get their toenails trimmed. I now understand.


Funny Image about Aging Disgracefully

RETIREMENT?

As one gets a few years behind them, the retirement thing becomes an issue. It may seem like a godsend, but for some it can be a death knell if you believe that well warn maxim about how indolence will hasten a person’s demise. Conventional wisdom is that one should prepare for retirement by planning activities of some kind – travel, hobbies, volunteering, or even a second career. I initially retired at age 70 however; I was one of those people lucky enough to like what I was doing for a living, consequently, I decided to go back to work.
Although it is true that shortly after I retired for the first time Barb said: “I don’t get anything done when you are around here all day”, the real reason I went back to work was that I missed my patients and colleagues. Besides, there was a serious shortage of psychiatrists and all those people who were recruiting me to come work for them made me feel important. Barb did have some plans for our retirement, but I assured her I would only work for a year or two until they found a replacement. A replacement could not be found, and time goes fast not only when you are having fun, but when you are old consequently; I had hit the trifecta. I finally hung it up for good 12 years later.

Travel?

A desire to travel is a common theme I have heard from those planning retirement. I have not traveled a great deal, but what I have done has left me feeling that it is overrated. My few trips to Europe have not been as exhilarating as have those of PBS’s Rick Steves. The idea of spending long hours squashed into plane seats which would have been marginally comfortable when I was 10 years old in order to stand in long lines to catch a glimpse of some famous object or place has even less appeal. For a guy who can remember a time when getting there was almost as much fun as being there, the idea of such a trip sits right up there along-side waterboarding as one of my least favorite pastimes.


This retirement protocol is upside down anyway. If retirement is to give one the time and wherewithal to have fun, then it makes little sense to bestow it on us when we barely have the energy to make it from our lift chair to the bathroom. Why not retire first and go to work later? On second thought that would present a number of problems. For example, after having all that fun would we ever be interested in work? There does seem to be some inherent need in most humans to be productive, or is it simply a learned behavior (perhaps a good topic for a blog).


YOUTH WORSHIP (AND I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT CHURCH CAMP)

The opposite of old is young and the latter seems to be the most highly valued time of life. The myth of a fountain of youth has been around for thousands of years. Herodotus wrote about it in the 5th century BC, and the search continues. In 2018 Americans spent $16.5 billion dollars on cosmetic surgery and $49.2 billion on cosmetics alone. Most, if not all these efforts, seem to be designed to promote a more youthful appearance, and are not confined to women alone.


The worship of youthfulness is not the exclusive province of those with idyllic childhoods, for many of my patients who had endured horrific experiences as kids also did what they could to present a youthful appearance. People who choose healthy lifestyles in order to promote longevity are to be admired, but I daresay there is a much larger group who are more preoccupied with how they look, and in particular with all those drooping and wrinkling tell tale signs they are getting old. The question arises as to whether they are trying to fool the world or themselves. After all, an appointment with the grim reaper looms larger each day, as the walls of denial crumble.

90 on the HORIZON

When my age is revealed I often get the response: “You don’t look that old.” I don’t know if I should thank them, apologize, or be insulted. In a couple of months, I expect to have completed 9 decades of residence on this planet and get ready to start my 10th, and the kids are already planning to make a big deal of it. For no particular reason other than we have used the decimal system for a few thousand years, we tend to make a big deal out of any figure which ends with a zero. Birthdays have always been a mixed blessing for me because my son has the same birthday, and I have always felt that my birthday took something away from his celebration. It has never seemed that he should have to share a cake.

Although 90 years seems like a long time, in my case it is not nearly enough, and I would like a bit more. I first became interested in this phenomenon we call life about 75 years ago and it became my life’s work. In spite of the monumental discoveries of the past century, it remains a wondrous mystery, and I am convinced that a total understanding of its complexities is beyond our ability to comprehend. No doubt, I will continue to complain about the vicissitudes of old age (how else could I get any sympathy) in spite of having witnessed first-hand suffering far beyond what I can even comprehend, not to mention the horrors endured by millions of others around the world.  Indeed, it is clear that I can no longer deny that I am O-L-D, but it has caught me by surprise for it happened overnight.  Little did I know when I first saw light on that autumn day in the midst of the Great Depression that I had hit the mother lode and was destined to be blessed with the most wonderful life imaginable.

By the way, does anyone know how to blow out candles while wearing a mask?