"The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." Orwell
"“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Plato
"The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant" Robespierre
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Fascism Defined. And Observed
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
In my surgery practice, I was a perfectionist. Not a bad thing for my patients, but it meant I was highly self-critical and rarely satisfied. On those occasions when I found myself feeling proud of how I handled a very difficult situation, it didn’t last long. I came to believe that if the gods of surgery discovered a surgeon feeling good, they’d send a case that erased it. Similarly, surgeons and surgical personnel know never to say, in the middle of an operation, “Gee, this is going well.”
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Not Even Mothers' Day?
Here are sentiments expressed by two recent presidents and a “president,” on Mothers’ Day (that’s the proper location for the apostrophe, IMO):
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Two Roads, Diverging
Joe’s running. It’s not his age that’s of concern; it’s concern about his age, the perfect distraction from what’s important. President Biden’s multiple years and Trump’s multiple indictments will be horserace headlines above much more crucial text. The 2024 election – no hyperbole – will decide, probably permanently, whether the remains of our republic can endure continued attempts by MAGA Republicans to finish it off. It’s not looking good.
In my medical career, I recognized the approach of death. But one needn’t be a doctor to note democracy’s agonal breathing, its thready pulse. Come 2024, it’s either a last-minute lifesaving operation or pull the plug.
Evidence is everywhere. Satisfied they’ve terminally poisoned elections in their favor, red state legislators feel no compunction in dismantling bedrock American principles. In Texas, their Senate just passed bills forcing every classroom in public schools to display the Ten Commandments and to set times for prayer and Bible study. They must believe the carefully-curated, Mitchified majority of religiously zealous legislators on the US Supreme Court will favor them when the inevitable lawsuit arrives, pre-decided, as those who bankrolled their nominations and vacations intended.
Aware that voting by educated young people threatens their antidemocratic agenda, Republicans are making it as difficult as possible. They’re not hiding it. Cleta Mitchell, a top GOP lawyer, abettor of Trump’s unlawful attempts to overturn a lawful election, is speaking to Republican state legislatures about the need to impede student voting. It’s Democrats that have done the rigging, she says, which is a perfect inversion of reality. She is, after all, addressing legislators in states so gerrymandered that Republican lawmakers far outnumber Democrats, despite their populations favoring the latter. They aim to keep it that way, not only by hindering students’ access to the ballot, but that of everyone who disfavors their monolithic plans.
2024 won’t be about choosing between an aged candidate who’s turned the economy around and overseen record-breaking job creation and the end of devasting pandemic mismanaged by his predecessor, running against a nearly as old mis-manager of pretty much everything else but the impenetrable wall he got Mexico to pay for. It’ll be about the dramatically divergent directions in which the parties they represent would take our country. It’ll be about which one voters prefer. Republicans know, and are desperate to keep people distracted. Democrats, less cynical at messaging, need to make the choice clear, as never before.
Which party is responsible for the Oklahoma woman bearing a devasting molar pregnancy, fatal for the fetus and potentially fatal for her, who was told she’d have to wait until her life was threatened before obtaining the necessary abortion she’d have already had in a rational state? Legislatures of which party are criminalizing transgender care, not just for children but, in some, for all ages? Which party’s candidates are fomenting hysteria over a non-existent threat from such people? Being gay or transgender isn’t communicable. They threaten no one. Pretending they do, to deceive and capture voters, is despicable. And, for decades, modus operandi.
Following President Biden’s announcement of running again, two videos were released; one a frightening view of a future based entirely on lies Republicans have been telling about his and Democrats’ accomplishments since the non-stolen, decisive election ; the other a positive vision for our country, calling for action on actual problems, in belief that, together, they can be solved.
Subtracting twenty percent credibility on general principles, the differences still couldn’t be more stark; nor could they say more about the right-wing messages with which we’ll be bombarded in the coming months, till we can’t stop screaming. Or about how each party sees its voters: gullible, bitter, and fearful; or clear-eyed, willing, and ready.
There’ll be many who believe the dishonest, distorted, disdainful Republican view. But, because they’re not enough to swing an election, even when promised more top-end tax cuts, punishing the poor, and being told that accepting differences among and offering help to fellow humans (God’s children) is abhorrently “woke,” Republicans will continue to resort, federal, state, and local, to totalitarian self-preservation.
They’ll ban more books, more topics of education, more speech. They’ll prevent more people from obtaining needed medical care. And voting rights. They’ll continue making America an un-Christian Christian theocracy. They’ll keep threatening economic mayhem. They’ll keep making you fear your neighbor, further loosen gun restrictions and child labor laws.
They’ll continue telling you drag shows are more dangerous than climate change. Their judges will continue to favor polluters. Bent on dismantling the singular threat to their agenda – democracy -- they’ll keep choosing election-deniers and anti-everyone-but-us Christian nationalists at all levels. That’s what 2024 is about. Not President Biden’s age. Not Trump’s criminality. It’s about cliffs or cures.
Also, Tucker will be fine. Once he learns to speak Russian.
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Standing On Shaky Ground
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Is The Tide Turning?
Few who know me would call me a political optimist. But it may be, might be, could possibly be within the realm of imagination, that something I’ve hoped for, written about, hallucinated, has become, to some extent, in moments unburdened by the signs and sounds of democracy’s death-knell, thinkable.
As Republicans have no positive agenda other than tax cuts, voter suppression, and vengeance, nothing to offer average Americans beyond a tsunami of lies and anger, I’ve thought it possible they’d eventually overplay their hand. They’d mistake the undying devotion of the Foxified thirty percent for a free pass. They’d loose upon us such outrageously undemocratic and repugnant behavior that reasonable people, formerly inclined in their direction, would awaken to the danger they represent to our teetering democracy. If there’s a glimmer of hope, we have the Tennessee legislature, Jim Jordan, Texas’ Federal Judge Kacsmaryk and Governor Abbott to thank. Among others.
In Tennessee, after what was then (no longer) the latest mass murder, school children and their parents marched on the capitol to demand action. From the floor of the legislature (how dare they?) three of the greatly outnumbered Democrats showed their approval, raising their fists Josh Hawley-J6-style and, worse, shouting. Given several less punitive options for reprimanding the besmirching of hallowed ground, Republicans unanimously expelled the two male Democrats whose skin color differed, darkly, from the female other and from their own.
Intra- and outré- state outrage was immediate. And, to all but those legislators, so sure of their God-given power to do whatever they wanted, predictable. Because even among today’s Republicans, there are some who favor democracy and at least minimal gun regulations. Then, improbably, their pro-gun governor announced support for background checks and red flag laws. It took the murder of a friend of his wife, but still...
No such epiphany has found Texas Governor Abbott. Almost before the courtroom was empty, he promised to pardon an off-duty cop convicted of murdering a BLM protestor. The officer’s “stand your ground” defense was considered and rejected, unanimously, by a jury. Among other things, the murderer had previously announced his intent to kill protestors and, accordingly, deliberately drove his car into a peaceful group of them.
The victim, though legally armed, had not reached for his gun. Which was unchambered. That the protestor shared melanin with the Tennessee Two goes without saying. So does the falsity of Abbott’s party’s claim to favor “law and order.” As in Tennessee, it’s blatant playing to the racism he assumes Texans share with him. Even there, it can’t stand forever.
Then there’s Trump-appointed, unqualified, rabid anti-abortion, anti-LGBT, specifically-chosen Judge Kascmaryk, who, based on unsupported and unscientific claims by a group of hand-picked “doctors” filing in just the right courtroom, ruled the FDA erred, twenty-three years ago, when it declared a medical abortion drug safe. In fact, time has shown it safer than Tylenol. Pending appeal, his ruling would make it unavailable nationwide, even in states where abortion is legal. The party which once railed against activist judges cheered their judge declaring decades of proven science invalid. His inclusion of religious language in his ruling, where it had no place, only made them happier.
In another example of religious-based rejection of science and appealing to the ignorance and fears of their base, Republican-led legislatures are criminalizing gender-affirming care for trans people; in most, but not all cases, for minors. Taking difficult family decisions away from parents and doctors, it’s the biggest of big-government interference, about which that party hypocricizes continually. Parents, they say, should be in charge of what their children learn about America and gender, but not, evidently, of what is among the most difficult parenting issues, ever.
As repellent as are the preceding examples, there’s no comparison, in terms of displaying contempt for norms, for his presumed supporters and for the Constitution, to Jim Jordan’s weaponization of government disguised as an investigation into weaponization of government. Or his making of Congress into a dedicated law firm for twice-impeached, twice-popular-vote-losing, indicted defendant Donald Trump. Demanding, from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, information to which he’s not entitled, blatantly interfering with a state’s lawful pursuit of presumed criminal activity, he’ll marsupialize hearings in NYC on “rampant crime” which he blames on Mr. Bragg. Surely he knows that NYC is safer than many red state cities, and that crime there has been steadily decreasing. Facts, though, are never his point.
Limited space requires ignoring Governor DeSantis and his “surgeon general” faking statistics to malign covid vaccines. And the cancel-culture hilarity of transphobic Trumpists blowing up cans of Bud Light (which is to beer as pea-shooters are to bazookas.)
There is space, however, to note that apples can, indeed, fall far from trees: cf. Robert Kennedy, Jr.
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Running On Emptiness
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Let's Be Immoderate
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Editorial demands being what they are, at the time of sending in this column it was unknown whether Trump had been/will be indicted for, as Trey “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi” Gowdy put it, “paying for sex.” So far, the only announcement has been from lifelong liar Trump, himself, who then proceeded to denounce “leaks.”
Thursday, March 16, 2023
Blood 'n Stuff
For reasons I’ll explain further down the page, blood has been on my mind. My career involved a lot of it, leaking out, pouring in. Surgical residency produced lots of memories; many colored red. On the heart surgery service, an abundant source of excellent stories, the chief resident once scrubbed out of a case to donate his own blood to the patient on whom he was operating, who wouldn’t stop bleeding after finishing the pump run. Fresh blood – his was a match, of course – has magical powers, in some circumstances, to stop bleeding. It worked. Joe scrubbed back in and finished the case.
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
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