Compounding COVID-19

Fulfilling mandates to ensure the “common good” and promote “the general Welfare,” America’s federal, state, and local governments formulate statutes which curtail or ban certain individual behaviors.  Some indict these jurisdictions with “taking away our freedom.”  The push and pull between group and personal rights energizes a major dynamic of governmental debate and policies.

The charge of curtailing or taking away personal freedom is valid.  Without a license I am not free to catch a fish or perform brain surgery.  Drivers and passengers are not free to wear or not to wear seatbelts.  Drivers are not free to ignore speed limits, traffic signs, and traffic lights.  Unlicensed pilots, lawyers, teachers, bus drivers, doctors, and dentists are not free to hazard “the general welfare.”  I am not free to take another’s property or life.  Americans are free to own and use firearms.  We see where that got us! 

We wrestle over our personal right to wear or not to wear a mask and to be vaccinated or not be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Research shows masks significantly limit aerial transmission of virus.  Ninety-five percent of those vaccinated against COVID-19 will not develop the disease, a handful will be hospitalized, a negligible number of these will die from the virus.  Today Americans unvaccinated against COVID-19 overwhelm ERs, ICUs and CCUs, drive doctors and nurses to Herculean efforts, and fill hospital beds, preempting treatment of less “urgent” but no less critical patients. 

Arguments against COVID-19 vaccination range from arguable to wacky.  Some believe the rush to develop vaccines leaves room for future negative consequences.  How long should we wait to be vaccinated?  One year, five, ten while, like a phalanx of combines on a Kansas wheat field, the pandemic mows us down?

On TV, a nurse said, “I’m careful what I put in my body.”  At the same time, based on hype and sketchy claims—Aunt Agnes’s neighbor cured her husband’s cancer with dandelion soup—many who scorn allopathic medicine lay down hundreds of dollars for untested, unproven diet “Supplements.”  What daily or weekly potions, does our nurse allow in her precious body?  How might parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who, sacrificed, sucked it up, and died “for the common good,” view some Americans cavalier, self-centered sense of entitlement?

A last-ditch rationale—which it’s not—argues that some “Deep State Conspiracy” plots to control and manipulate Americans.  Proponents present no scrap of credible evidence: no document, witness, testimony, supporting their draconian hypothesis. Who, how, why?  Someone, please explain. 

Since Edward Jenner, immunization has eliminated from human life scourges of Smallpox, Tetanus, Measles, Influenza, Hepatitis A and B, Rubella, Hib, Whooping Cough, Polio, Pneumococcal Disease, Rotavirus, Mumps, Chickenpox, HPV, and Diphtheria.

Threequarters of a century back ol’ Doctor Easley would descend on Ferron Elementary School to stab a two-inch-long needle, the diameter of pencil lead—Maybe he wiped it with alcohol between stabs—into cowering, frightened, crying first- through sixth-graders’ arms.  For a week the refrain was, “You bumped my sore or arm!”

Replete vaccinations ensure the health of Armed Service personnel.  They carry immunization certificates.  At the Oakland Army terminal, waiting transport to Korea, a Cholera shot left me aching and fevered for a week.   A year later, processing to come stateside, within ten minutes medics jabbed me three times in each arm!     

I am disappointed and alarmed by a seemingly increasing number of wimps and whiners who scorn rigorous medical research and clinical trials of vaccines proved 95% safe and effective.  Accepting the future suffering of tens-of-millions and deaths of hundreds-of-thousands of American because a tragically misguided, whining minority denies irrefutable facts and asserts “individual rights” over “the common good” is indefensible.

Do the right thing.  Wear the damn mask!  Get the damn shot!  

Bravery

StoryWorth asks, “What was one of the bravest things you’ve ever done, and what was the outcome?”

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “brave” as: “1 (of a person) willing to do things that are difficult, dangerous or painful; not afraid  .  .  .  2 (of an action) requiring or showing courage.“  (My emphasis.)

Human Life is difficult, dangerous, and painfulHuman Life demands courage!  I’m brave!  So are you!  Each day, each of us exercises extraordinary bravery!  Unfortunately, doing so since birth, we don’t notice.  We fail to give ourselves painfully earned credit!

Most would be hard-pressed to deny that human life involves suffering.  How we manage suffering is crucial to ameliorating the pain in what Grandma Leslie called this, “veil of tears.”

Each morning, from the moment our eyes open and our feet hit the floor, we’re hoisted into a wheelchair, or remain amid an array of wires, tubes, monitors, and life-supporting gadgets, we exercise the bravery of a Warrior confronting hostile spears and arrows.

Switching metaphors, like a captain navigating her or his vessel over an uncharted sea, we trim the sails and grip the wheel.  We skirt sandbars and treacherous reefs, weather hurricanes, and keep constant watch for Sea Serpents.  With courage, luck, and masterful seamanship, most make it a safe harbor.  Less favored but lucky sailors are rescued.  Others watch the poop swallowed by the sea.  A few give up and drown.

Survivors of capsized ships cling to broken-off spars.  In homes, hospitals, and hospice, flotsam and jetsam of medical science keeps noses above water.  Despite physical agony and terminal diagnoses, they fight for one more breath, one more heartbeat.

No Shame

Congressional Republicans scratched from the Infrastructure Bill a proposed increase in IRS funding to ferret out the $100 billion deficit between income tax wealthy individual and corporations owe and pay.  In other words, allow the cheating to continue.

Their greed is insatiable.  Have they no shame?

It Was Treason!

January 6, 2021, President Donald J. Trump called-up and commanded MAGA Minions to assault our Capitol, preempting Congress’s Constitutional mandate to certify the states’ electors.  Thankfully, hazarding physical injury and death, vastly outnumbered Capitol and D.C. police quelled the mob.

Upward of 140 were injured in the melee.  Four assailants and, the following day, one police officer died.  Three of those who defended the Capitol and Congress have died by suicide

Clearly, the failed coup was a “crime of doing something that would cause danger to your country  .  .  .”*  It was Treason!

An incomprehensible irony is, the folks who, on January 6, attempted violently to overthrow the Government of The United States of America call themselves Patriots!  By August 4, 2021, our Justice Department had indicted 555 insurrectionists.  Twenty-four have plead guilty.  Two are incarcerated.

I am astonished and bewildered that the man who ordered the attack, like a loose cannon, remains free to spread his seditious rants and lies.  Why, in the name of sanity and justice, is Donald J. Trump not sporting an orange jumpsuit, at the very least indicted for Treason? 

*Oxford English Dictionary

All The Love

I vow to let it go.  Then, when I think I’ve heard it all, he casts a fresh worm on a hook.  Like a dumb catfish, I glom onto the bait.

In March Donald Trump advised Fox’s Laura Ingram he saw January 6 insurrectionists, “hugging and kissing the police and guards.”  In I Alone Can Fix It, reporters Carol Leonning and Philip Rucher quote America’s forty-fifth president as seeing “a lot of love” that ignominious day.

To my knowledge, no one else on planet Earth saw hugging, kissing, and love in America’s January 6 debacle.  How did Donald see what we didn’t?  How can this be?  Does Fox maintain a proprietary Oval Office channel?  I think not. 

It’s obvious.  All things Donald arise from deep-rooted Narcissism, a Monster Ego with an all-consuming demand to be recognized, praised, adored, in a word Loved!  How better could his “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) Minions demonstrate their Love than, on the Leader’s command, “be willing to march into Hell for a Heavenly cause,” attack the Capitol, Congress, and Constitution? 

Human history is punctuated with tribal leaders, warlords, Caesars, kings, emperors, monarchs, and dictators exhibiting egomaniacal hunger for praise and exaltation, for Love!  Across-the-board, such leaders exhibit a Sociopath’s lack of compassion, an absolute incapacity to appreciate human suffering and life.  In service to his egomaniacal need for praise and glory, for Love, Adolf Hitler tortured and murdered millions.  While the nature of Benito Mussolini’s demise suggests all Italians did not Love Il Duce, his bluster and Narcissism were flagrant.  In North Korea, over seven decades Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un established and perpetuated a brainwashed, mind-numbed, culture, marching in lockstep, extolling, and worshiping the “Glorious Leader!”

Closer to home, in 1978, having ordered the murder of California U.S. Representative Leo Ryan and four associates, James Warren Jones coerced 614 adults and 304 children to demonstrate Love for their Leader by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid.  August, 1969, acolytes proved their Love of Charles Milles Manson by murdering seven innocent victims and attempting to assassinate President Gerald R. Ford.  In 1997, assured they would transport onto Comet Hale-Bopp, in a communal suicide 39 “Heaven’s Gate” believers exhibited their Love for Marshall Applewhite.  January 6, 2021, President Donald J. Trump saw Love in his True Believers’ assault on our Capitol, Congress, and Constitution.    

All of which, for me, raises the specter of “cults.“  Miriam Webster defines “cult” as a group of people, exhibiting “great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work  .  .  .  the object of such devotion.”  Cults, the root of cult-ure, suffer an undeserved bad rep.  Religions, political parties, civic groups, cities, states, and nations are, to greater or lesser degrees, cults.

A cult becomes misguided when followers act from unswerving, mindless devotion to a Leader.  In run amok cults, language and acts of adoration and service, in a word Love, feed the Leader’s hunger for power and bond the group.  Followers yearn for a Messiah, a Savior, on whose command they willfully commit morally and legally indefensible acts including murder and for whom, in the ultimate case, would die. 

The means and degree to which any Leader’s agenda serves the common good or his or her own ego distinguishes a Humanitarian from a Sociopath. “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) is a dangerously run amok, misguided cult.  A certified Narcissist and Sociopath, Donald J. Trump is its leader.

My Fondest Childhood Memory

Marty set me up with “StoryWorth.” They offer a topic to write on. At the end of a year they compile them into a book. I did not intend to blog this. Karen suggested I do.

_______________________________

My fondest childhood memory?  My initial impression was, from Daddy’s death, Friday, April 13, 1945, until I found Psychiatrist Dr. Eugene Chernel in late winter 1969, I have no fond memories.  I ran this by Karen.  Playing her Devil’s Advocate role, my partner pointed out I might be mistaken.  As usual, she’s right.

Convinced life was idyllic before losing my dad, I’m puzzled that I have scant memory of those eight years.  In my bog, “The Poachers” is a fictionalized “fond” memory.  Another time I helped Daddy drive sheep out of a pasture.  They ran around me back into the field, I cried.  Daddy knelt, put an arm around my shoulders, and reminded me of the picture show that evening.  We’d see Gene Autry or Roy Rogers, maybe both!

Five years later, for fifty cents a day, I was Uncle Grant’s “hired man.”  Like the escaping sheep, I let charging horses escape the corral.  My Boss threw a fit, cursed, and shouted at me.  I was terrified.  My first, but far from last, exposure to Uncle Grant’s rants.  I vowed then, I can take care of myself; whatever the sacrifice, I must keep other people happy.  In this mindset, I decide the only way I could help Mama was, “Be a good boy and don’t cause problems.”  This motto has served me well.

Karen reminded me of, not “fond,” but good-enough memories after we moved to Ferron in 1947.  April 3, 1937, I drew breath in Grandpa Leslie’s bedroom.  Four days later, catty-cornered across the street in Grandpa Nielsen’s bedroom, Stewart made his first wail.  A Major League center fielder could have thrown a baseball out my grandpa’s bedroom window into Stewart’s.  For over a decade Stewart and I were closest of friends.

At the mouth of Ferron canyon, desperados on horseback, bandannas over our noses, brandishing cap pistols, we attempted to holdup vehicles.  Our would-be victims honked, waved, and laughed.  No booty.

In the same vicinity, someone found a fallen-apart box of TNT bricks.  Left and forgotten, I assume, when they built the road.  Over following weeks, the explosives jostled in a gunny sack in bicycle baskets.  Someone, maybe Clifford, swiped a blasting cap, fuse, and half stick of dynamite.  With this detonator, we blew up the end of a bridge on a long-abandoned road near Moore.  A huge “boom” and column of black smoke! 

In summer, on the rare days I somehow escaped Uncle Grant’s iron grip, at “McKenzie’s” on the Molen ditch we swam in water with bacteria and pollution levels barely not much above sewage.  Which was not significant since the Molen ditch originated near the “settling pond” for Ferron’s drinking water.  Often tap water was barely clearer that ditch water.   

Fond childhood memories revolve around family and friends.  Forty at Mama’s house at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  On Ferron reservoir, fishing in a leaky WWII surplus rubber raft, one man rowing another manning the air pump to keep us afloat.  In Molen hunting pheasants with Uncle Seeley, Don, and Keith.  On the south side of Big Mountain, in the “Doctor’s Cabin” hunting deer with a dozen men.  And a lot more.

I can’t say when my “childhood” ended.  It just faded into “growing up.”  Very fond memories then became life with Karen, Bryan, Dawn, and Marty.   

They Told Us So

Michel Wolff’s Landslide; Michael C. Bender’s Frankly, We Did Win The Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost; and Carol Leonning and Philip Rucher’s I Alone Can Fix It offer fresh examinations of Donald J. Trump’s presidency and lunacy.  On the internet I read a piece—which I cannot now locate—pointing out a common takeaway from these exposés: America’s forty-fifth president exhibits an obsessive, egomaniacal sense of self-importance and insatiable need to be extolled, if not venerated.

For those baffled by Donald’s exorbitant need for aggrandizement, it is essential to understand he really does believe “I Alone Can Fix It”!  I am, “The King of Israel  .  .  .  the chosen one.”!

This is not breaking news folks!  The fall of 2017, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump laid it out in precise detail.  Three dozen mental health professionals and others with firsthand experience agree that our erstwhile Man in the Oval Office exhibits classis symptoms of a “Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”  Donald’s niece and Clinical Psychologist Mary Trump’s Too Much and Never Enough How My Family Crated the World’s Most Dangerous Man confirms this diagnosis.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5) defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as, “a persistent manner of grandiosity, a continuous desire for admiration, along with a lack of empathy. It starts in early adulthood and occurs in a range of situations, as signified by the existence of any 5 of the next 9 standards,

  • A grandiose logic of self-importance
  • A fixation with fantasies of infinite success, control, brilliance, beauty or idyllic love
  • A credence that he or she is extraordinary and exceptional and can only be understood by, or should connect with, other extraordinary or important people or institutions
  • A desire for unwarranted admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Interpersonal oppressive behavior
  • No form of empathy
  • Resentment of others or a conviction that others are resentful of him or her
  • A display of egotistical and conceited behavior or attitudes”

That’s 9 for 9!

What a poor, frightened, tortured soul.

Biking Across America Without Leaving Home

A year and a half ago, I mounted my trusty Stamina stationary bike in Oregon City and peddled north on Interstate 205.  At Parkrose Heights I turned east on Interstate 84, crossing central and eastern Oregon and Idaho into Utah.  At Salt Lake City I took Interstate 80 east through Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

On or about July 8, 2021, at 2,673 miles my navigator, Karen, advised me I had crossed the George Washington bridge into New York City!  Whew!

Where now?  North on Interstate 87 to Canada and back toward home?