From History

Revolutions and Enlightenment

The American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and so many more followed the “Rebirth.” And with it came the progress of new knowledge. Louis the XIV, the Sun King, led a life at the height of opulence and glory. He lived in luxury at Versailles, surrounded by art, beauty, culture, and wealth.  Were it not for a pain in his buttocks, things would have been perfect. He had a “fistula in ano,” an abnormal connection from the inside of the rectum to the skin outside. It frequently got infected causing swelling, pain, and pus to discharge. He consulted his physician and surgeon, Charles-François Felix. Unfortunately, his learned adviser didn’t have the slightest idea what to do for this humbling and agonizing problem. So, he did what doctors often do, stall. He told Louis that he must do sitz baths for a year before he could treat him. In the meantime, he went to the Bastille, the central prison in Paris, and found 72 prisoners who had the same condition. For the next year, he experimented with different treatment options to see what worked best. Felix found that unroofing the fistula, just slicing it open worked well. Finally, the year was up, and it was time to treat the King. The King reluctantly agreed to have the surgery Felix advised, as he saw no improvement, and had no other choice. No anesthesia was available. The King assumed the undignified position for the surgeon to approach the fistula, and Felix went to work. The records at Versailles indicate that the operation was a three-hour ordeal, but the King did not scream once. He did say, “Oh, Mon Dieu” twice, roughly translated as OMG. Felix crafted a knife that had a leading blunt probe that was inserted through the fistula track, and had a sharp portion that was then used to transect the fistula, and overlying anal sphincter. It is on display at Versailles in a glass case and named the “bistouri royal.”

Louis XIV with his Queen and Confessor giving him solace just before the operation

The operation was a success, and the surgeon was well rewarded. He received 15,000 Louis d’ Or approximately $5,000,000 in today’s currency. Additionally, there was a chateau in the south of France, and the title of Baron, that came with the fee. Compare that to today’s Medicare reimbursement for a fistulotomy, the kingly sum of $436.87!

Although not in historic proper timeline order, it seems appropriate to mention David Henry Goodsall at this point. He does not come on the scene until 1900 when he was able to correctly describe the path of an anal fistula, a frequent question on surgery in-training exams.

Goodsall’s rule states that if a line is drawn through the middle of the anal ring parallel to the floor, the internal opening of the fistula will be in direct opposition to the external opening on the skin. If the external opening is posterior to that line, the internal opening will follow a curving path to the dorsal midline. The exception to the rule is, if the external opening is more than 3.75 cm from the anal verge, the path may curve to the posterior midline regardless of where it is.

Appendicitis was almost always a fatal condition, as that, too, had no known treatment, and the surgeon did not have the luxury of trying out different procedures for a year.

The very first successful removal of the appendix was done at St. George’s Hospital in London, in 1735, by a French surgeon, Claudius Amyand, on an 11-year-old boy. He described the operation, which he presented to the Royal Society.

 

 

St. George’s Hospital< Hyde Park Corner

 

Amyand had to wait for the proper credit, as many were accorded that honor erroneously, not knowing he preceded them by 150 years. Charles McBurney wrote about “the McBurney” incision in 1894, actually 1st described by another surgeon, Louis L. MacArthur.

Although the pathophysiology was not well understood at that time, it was a Harvard pathologist, Reginald Herbert Fitz, who described it accurately in 1886, 150 years later. He wrote a paper entitled: “Perforating Inflammation of the Vermiform Appendix; With Special Reference to Its Early Diagnosis and Treatment,” as the little worm-like projection from the cecum, that was the cause, and not what was thought to be a process that involved the entire cecum, called typhlitis or peri-typhlitis.

John Hunter is considered to be one of the early “Fathers of Modern Surgery.” He was a man who would not accept any idea that he himself had not thoroughly vetted. He was a scientist that depended on direct observation, trial and error, and experimentation to prove a  theory.   He

 

was considered to be a surgeon, and he felt himself a surgeon, although he saw the shortcomings of the craft of surgery. He tacitly acknowledged that surgery had its flaws, “It is like an armed savage who attempts to get that by force which a civilized man would get by stratagem,” he said. Surgery was a treatment option when other, less invasive measures failed. He was known to collect everything that moved,    and even plants, a total of 14,000 exhibits at the end of his life. One of his prize specimens was the skeleton of a giant man (7’7”), who specifically left a will which refused any part of him to be used in one of Hunter’s exhibits, but Hunter bribed one of the morticians. The skeleton is now on display at the Hunterian Museum in London. What would the legal and ethical implications of that be in our time? Hunter came by his “trade,” not through any academic route, he was an assistant to his brother who taught an anatomy course for eleven years, then assisted a surgeon for one year. Subsequently, he was an army surgeon for three years. He was appointed to be the Surgeon to King George III, (yes, that George, against whom we fought the Revolutionary War).

 

He published several scholarly books on venereal diseases, the development of human teeth, inflammation, blood, and gun-shot wounds. He was an ardent supporter of learning by doing; surgery was not something that could be taught only by reading. He died at the age of 65, on October 16, 1793, immediately after a fierce argument with his hospital’s Board of Directors, who did not want him to bring medical students to observe operations (a discussion we still have today).

 

His death mask, to the right, shows a man with determination and wisdom. He was described by one of his assistants, “as a man, warm but impatient, readily provoked, and when irritated, not easily soothed,” a character trait common to many surgeons. His house in London had two entrances, one for the family, and one on a different level, the entrance for his macabre laboratory, where he prepared many of his exhibits for display. The house became immortalized, and Hunter, himself, was thought to be the most likely inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Sir Astley Cooper

Operating on the crowned heads of the European Empires was quite rewarding. Sir Astley Cooper, a student of John Hunter, was Surgeon to George IV. His aristocratic title was bestowed on him by George IV for removing a huge mass on the King’s head.

 

Cooper has several anatomic structures named after him; the most remembered today are two ligaments: the suspensory ligaments of the breast are Cooper’s ligaments, as is the thickened periosteum, just above the superior pubic ramus, the ligament of Cooper. It is Cooper’s ligaments in the breast that cause the skin to give the “peau de orange” appearance with underlying cancer, plugging the lymphatics causing swelling of the skin, but Cooper’s ligaments tug on and create the fine dimpling of the skin that gives it that orange peel appearance. The other Cooper’s ligament provides the strong anchoring structure in the pelvis for the Mc Vay hernia repair. His contributions to surgery were diversified, from ligating the aorta for aneurysms, the study of the cerebral circulation, anatomy of the inner ear, and more practical applications, such as hernia repair, and treating breast diseases. Cooper’s published works include anatomy of hernias, breast, and thymus, as well as lectures on surgery, and treatment of fractures.

 

Sir Astley Cooper has a special place in the education of women surgeons. The fact is that women were not accepted into medical schools in that era, much less becoming surgeons. The strange story of James Barry changed that. James was actually a female who very much wanted to be a surgeon.

 

 

She dressed as a boy, and entered the medical school in Edinburgh, Scotland where she came under the influence of Sir Astley Cooper, and eventually became a very talented, capable, and accomplished surgeon. Her real name was Miranda Steuart. She continued to dress and appear as a man; she also joined the British Army and fought in the Crimean War. By that time, she had attained the rank of General, because she was an outstanding surgeon.

 

She gets the credit for performing the first successful Cesarian section, where both mother and child survived! Being from Edinburgh, which had a  reputation for hygiene concerns,  she was very meticulous about sanitation during the execution of surgery, long before Lister came up with his carbolic acid spray. She got into a knock-down-drag-out fight with a fellow army surgeon who was less interested in cleanliness. Miranda was court-martialed for behavior “unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.” But she prevailed both in the fight, and the court-martial. When she died, it was discovered at her post-mortem exam that she was, in fact, a female. Also elucidated was that she had had a child, which she obviously hid from society.

 

Florence Nightingale worked with Dr. Barry in that war, but the two did not get along. There were nurse-surgeon hierarchical issues, something that remains a point of contention at times, even today.

 

Wars have always advanced the surgical sciences, because with war comes trauma, which usually requires intervention to stop the bleeding, cut off the mangled extremity which would only get infected, and eventually kill its owner, extract the bullets, dress the burns, etc. Dominique Jean Larrey was Napoleon’s surgeon, and whatever battle, whatever country Napoleon went to, Larrey was sure to follow.

 

He made the astute observation that the sooner the surgeon gets to the injured soldier, the better the outcome. With that as his leading theme, and observing how quickly the French “flying artillery” crisscrossed the battlefield, he adapted it, and “Voilá,” came up with the “flying ambulance.” It may have been a bit overstated, as it was just a horse-drawn cart, but it served its purpose, getting the fallen soldier off the battlefield, and into the surgeon’s tent. He created the rule for triage we still use today, treating the wounded according to the seriousness, and urgency, without regard for rank, or nationality, of the injured.

 

The concept of early intervention would be copied, and improved by another icon of surgery, Michael DeBakey, in the 1950s, during the Korean Conflict, where the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) was set up right in the conflict zone. Only this time the horse and buggy “Flying ambulance” was replaced by a real flying machine, a helicopter, dubbed the “Angel of Mercy” by the soldiers on the battlefront.

 

 

 

Edward Jenner studied anatomy and surgery with John Hunter at St. George’s Hospital in London.     Jenner took Hunter’s advice, a well-known philosophy among the intelligentsia of the Age of Enlightenment, “ Don’t think, try!” In  1796 he noted that milkmaids that contracted “Cowpox” did not get Smallpox, a disease that wiped out one in five inhabitants in the villages in Briton.  He experimented by inoculating his gardener’s son and even his own son with pus he had collected from the pustules of infected cow’s udders.  Although the children had a mild febrile illness with skin lesions, they were immune to the lethal form of the disease.  He coined the word vaccine from the fact that it came from vaca, the Latin for cow.  Jenner has saved more lives than any individual in human history including today. It was in 1970 that the World Health  Organization declared  Smallpox eradicated, in no small part due to vaccination.

 

 

In 1822 Alexis St. Martin was shot, by accident, in the left lower chest. A Surgeon, doctor William Beaumont, was called to attend to him. Beaumont did not think that St. Martin would survive, but he did. Beaumont took the opportunity to study him, becoming the father of gastric physiology. He put bits of meat on a string, and placed it through the skin opening into the stomach, but retrieved it periodically, to see what the stomach acid did to it. Alexis attempted to escape from Beaumont, but was caught, and returned to him for further study.

 

 

 

 

Louis Pasteur was a brilliant chemist, who came up with the germ theory of diseases, that ended the popular idea of so-called spontaneous generation as a reality. Pasteur discovered the etiology of TB, rabies, as well as cholera, smallpox, anthrax, and made vaccines to block rabies, smallpox, and Anthrax. He ascertained that most bacteria were killed by the heat generated with the process of Pasteurization, a life-saving discovery that saved, perhaps millions, through the ages, and still does.

He contributed to a variety of industries, among them the fermentation of grape juice, and silk manufacturing. He recognized that virulence is variable. Less virulence allowed vaccination, while more virulence led to epidemics.

He is also responsible for giving us the understanding that many chemicals have a mirror image form, each with different characteristics. Although he was not a physician, without him, we would all be ignorant of microbiology, the cause of all bacterial and viral diseases.

The implementation of Pasteur’s discoveries, however, took a while to permeate all of the medical community. The Viennese obstetrician and surgeon, Ignaz Semmelweis, wrote a paper explaining the cause and prevention of the dreaded Puerperal Sepsis (Kindbettfiebers). He noticed that in his hospital, the Allgemeines Krankenhaus, in the city of Vienna, the service of the professors had a much higher maternal mortality than the women who were delivered by midwives. The professors would do the autopsies on the women who died, and then proceed into the delivery room, often not washing their hands, or changing clothes. Semmelweis believed in Pasteur’s work of tiny plants that cause disease, but the professors in Vienna didn’t. They laughed at Ignaz. “Tiny plants growing on your hands … Ridiculous!”

 

All he wanted was for us to wash our hands between patients! He lost his job, but continued railing against his colleagues in the newspapers, claiming that they were killing women… which indeed they were. To stop him, they had him committed to an insane asylum, where he died, a broken, discredited man, with the knowledge that he was right.

 

ROBERT KOCH 1843-1910

Robert Koch was a Surgeon during the Franco-Prussian War, and later led the battle against ignorance of the denial of microbes. Koch’s postulates helped in convincing the world of the truth of Pasteur’s theories:

  1. The bacteria must be present in every case of the disease.
  2. The bacteria must be isolated from the host with the disease, and grown in pure culture.
  3. The specific disease must be reproduced when a pure culture of the bacteria is inoculated into a healthy susceptible host.
  4. The bacteria must be recoverable from the experimentally infected host.

The above are the four famous Koch’s Postulates that prove the etiology of a disease.

 

He identified the bacteria that caused anthrax, cholera, and tuberculosis. He also developed the PPD (Purified Protein Derivative), the still-used test to determine if the tubercle bacillus has infected an individual.

 He did not patent it, as he wanted it available to all for study, and disease prevention, thus giving up all royalties that could have made him a rich man. He discovered Agar, (a product of red algae), still used today to grow bacteria. He garnered the Nobel Prize in 1905 for his achievements.

 

Joseph Lister listened to Pasteur. He believed that the little plants do cause infectious diseases. Pasteur advised the railroad builders that if the railroad crosstie timbers were soaked in creosote, they would not rot nearly as quickly as when untreated. Lister used the phenol extracted from creosote and devised an atomizer that sprayed the phenol (carbolic acid) into the air. He used it to spray into operating rooms, and soaked his hands in carbolic acid before surgical procedures, and also dressed wounds in bandages soaked in it. Lo and behold the infections all but disappeared! That too took a while to sink in, with no help from literature. The Lancet, which was and remains a respected journal, warned the profession against these “progressive ideas”! Something they failed to do when they promoted hydroxychloroquine for Covid.

 

The above is Lister’s invention that made a vapor of the phenol that was sprayed around the operating theater.

 

 

 

 

 

I visited Lord Lister’s home on June 7, 2005, to pay my respects, about135 years after he lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife Agnes, daughter of James Syme, the innovator of the Syme amputation (cutting half the foot across the metatarsals). Lister eventually replaced Syme as Chair of Surgery.

 

 

 

Lord Lister (center with his hands clasped) surrounded by all his residents at the Old Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh 1855.

 

 

 

 

 

In eighteen-forty-six, William Morton, a dentist, gave a public demonstration on the effects of Ether at the Massachusetts General Hospital. The operation was to be the removal of a neck tumor. He used a device that contained a sponge soaked with Ether. He had learned about Ether when he was a medical student at Harvard, from his chemistry professor. Much of the rest of his life was spent in trying to profit from this drug and trying to claim credit for its discovery.

 

Morton’s tombstone reads, “Science has control over pain.” Shortly after Morton’s public display, a Scottish obstetrician, James Y. Simpson, introduced Chloroform in 1847, which had a much quicker onset but was more of an explosive risk than Ether. Queen Victoria made Chloroform popular when she used it for the delivery of Prince Leopold.

 

 

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was a German physicist who was experimenting with cathode tubes, and noted that a strange and eerie glow was coming from them in the dark. He surmised that they emitted some kind of energy, that he named the X-ray. He exposed his wife’s (cleverly not his) hand to it, placed a photographic plate underneath it, and there were her bones and wedding band, the first X-ray. X-rays revolutionized diagnosis, and consequently, treatment. Without X-ray, we would literally be in the dark!

 

 

 

BERNHARD RUDOLF KONRAD von LANGENBECK 1810-1887

 

Langenbeck was a German surgeon who gained much of his surgical training courtesy of numerous wars against Denmark, Austria, Prussia, and France. After the various wars, his hospital was Charité in Berlin where he became acquainted with Rudolf Virchow, “the Father of Modern Pathology,” (whose name is memorialized in the Virchow’s Triad and also Virchow’s node). They are both honored by a building dedicated to educational purposes and a meeting place for physicians – the Langenbeck -Virchow- House in Berlin. Langenbeck invented a variety of instruments, especially retractors that still grace surgical trays in every operating room. He is perhaps best known for creating the method of training surgical residents, and is considered the “Father of the Surgical Residency.” The term “resident” derives from the fact that Langenbeck insisted that the surgeon in training would reside at the hospital 24/7. Hence he or she is a “resident.” The famous surgeons that were part of his house staff read like a Who’s Who in surgery: Billroth, Kocher, Bassini, Esmarch, Trendelenburg, and even Halsted spent a short time with him.

 

 

 

Mary Edwards Walker 1832-1919

The only woman ever to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor was for her services above and beyond the call of duty during the US Civil War. She was the first woman surgeon in the Union Army, and was captured by the Confederates, and treated as a spy. She was raised on the family farm in New York state. From that time on, she wore men’s clothing, as it did not restrict her ability to work alongside her brothers in the heavy labor farm work required. Her medical education was at Syracuse Medical College. She was an active surgeon during the war and participated in numerous battles including Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chattanooga, and Chickamauga.

Even when captured, she helped Confederate doctors perform amputations. During her imprisonment, she suffered neurologic damage, for which she received a military pension after the war. She lectured and was active in women’s rights movements that made her popular among feminists and female physicians. She died in 1919, one year before the 19th Amendment to the Constitution passed, which guaranteed women the right to vote.

 

Theodor Billroth 1829-1894

Langenbeck’s illustrious protégé, went on to found his own school of surgery, the Vienna School, that in-turn produced more famous surgical icons, with many firsts: Wölfler- gastroenterostomy, Czerny- vaginal hysterectomy, Mikulicz- the pyloroplasty, Eiselsberg- the founder of neurosurgery and creator of the ER, and William Halsted- the radical mastectomy.

 

 

 Billroth was an amateur musician and had mastered the violin and the piano. He had also bought the former home of Ludwig van Beethoven, and often Billroth would host musical evenings with Johannes Brahms, the composer considered by many to be Beethoven’s successor. Billroth often invited his resident, Jan Mikulicz, an accomplished pianist, to play quartets, and the like, in Beethoven’s former residence. Jan became one of the great surgeons in his own right. 

 

 

Billroth was the creator of many firsts in surgery: the 1st gastrectomy, the 1st esophagectomy, and the 1stlaryngectomy. He was an early adopter of the white coat and asepsis. His methods of reconstructions of the stomach, post resection, bear his name, the Billroth I, and the Billroth II, which confuses every beginning surgery intern. One intern  even  asked  me  whether it was Dr. Billroth I, or Dr. Billroth II, that was the more famous one.

Robert Virchow 1821-1002

Virchow, although not a surgeon, was crucial for surgeons to do their work. He was the “Father of Pathology.” He produced volumes of scientific articles in excess of 2000, introduced the microscope for use in pathology, and developed many principles of the medical sciences. Omnis cellula e cellula– all cells (come) from cells. He coined words and christened multiple diseases, such as spina bifida, amyloid degeneration, leukemia, chordoma, embolism, thrombosis, parenchyma, osteoid, and many more. He is the sole inventor of the modern autopsy, a systematic investigation into a deceased individual’s journey from birth to death. His work at Charité in Berlin influenced many surgeons, including Kocher, Langenbeck, and Bergman. He ventured into a diverse variety of fields in addition to medicine: anthropology, forensic criminology, and politics among others, vehemently disputing that Aryans can be identified as a single race, much less be superior to other races. “Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale,” he remarked. Virchow’s strong opinions inevitably led to a confrontation with the most powerful politician of the time, Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire. Robert got under Bismarck’s skin to such an extent that Bismarck challenged him to a duel. By the rules, the challenged chooses the weapons. Virchow brilliantly chose Kielbasa, Polish sausages, filled with Trichinella Spiralis, the cause of Trichinosis (also his discovery). Bismarck turned him down as the duel was undignified and furthermore Bismarck thought it too risky.

 

ANARCHY IS NOT PRETTY

WESTERN FIRES

How does global warming cause fires in straight lines along highways?  Looking at the fires in California, Oregon, and Washington, someone has to connect the dots. Rumors that ANTIFA is responsible, but maybe false but they certainly set fires in Portland and elsewhere.  These are just the ones that have been caught, but there are more arsonists out there that need to be apprehended.

So far, 28 people have died, and dozens are missing, not to mention all the pets, dogs, cats, horses, cows, and all the wildlife that have succumbed in the cruelest manner. Last night, 9/12/20, two Sheriffs, one male one female, were ambushed and shot multiple times in Los Angeles. Rioters affiliated with one of the organized groups then blocked access to the hospital with mobs shouting, “ I hope the bitch dies!”  Now that is “hate speech,” and that needs to stop! Both are still alive but in critical condition with shots to the face and head. What have we become? We are losing the battle against anarchy. I am beginning to think that we are too late to fix this.  “Burn, baby burn!” has become the reality.

I can’t be the only one that notices these “coincidences?” I don’t care if Democrats or Republicans send in the troops, but someone has to.  Are there any alternatives to this madness? The inmates are taking over the asylum. Does anyone wonder why the sane ones want to arm themselves? This is the stuff that causes dictators to take charge, as a democracy will not, or cannot, handle the truth.  If Governor Gavin Newsom, Governor Kate Brown, and Governor Jay Inslee do not act decisively and declare martial law, then the Federal Government needs to do so.

Riots are not peaceful demonstrations and need to stop. The hotbeds in Seattle and Portland are the source of these anarchists. They need to be controlled by preventing ingress and egress. The known sources of money for those rioters need to be charged with aiding and abetting arson and murder. Our politicians need to stop calling them “brave Americans.” This includes the Hollywood crowd that has been sending money to bail out the scum from jail, who then just slink back to their “Autonomous Zones.” Criminals need to be rounded up, quickly tried, and punished. If they committed capital offenses, they need to suffer the consequences.

This is what an insurrection looks like. But it is a small percentage of people that are creating the mayhem, some of them paid organizers.  Hopefully, it is still possible to control the situation before our state burns up. But there must be some forceful action and soon! 

WHY NOW?

I am puzzled as to why the whole racism issue has emerged NOW before our next national election.  Why do we have race riots about racial justice? Why are there lootings and burnings of buildings happening now? We had a black president for eight years, and what did he do to improve the black race situation? His numbers on black crime, black on black murder rates, black high school drop out rates, police shootings of black boys and men, fatherless families, black unemployment rates, and black illegitimacy rates are nothing to brag about and showed not one iota of improvement after eight years. Look it up! Where was the outrage for Obama’s abysmal record? Where were the protest marches of BLM?

The Democrats have finally hit on the perfect storm to destroy Trump after multiple failed attempts. A fortuitous pandemic set the background for unrest and erased all of the economic gains of the Trump administration.  Then the unfortunate killing of a black man by a white cop triggered the firestorm. The number of blacks killed by police every year is between 200 to 250, including every year of Obama’s tenure. Whites are killed by police about twice that number, despite the fact that the black crime rate is roughly five times higher than the white crime rate.  This indicates more police restraints when dealing with a black criminal, and contradicts the mob’s screaming that the unjust police are killing black people. The opposite is true.  The police treat blacks with greater deference than whites when it comes to pulling the trigger.

Why, all of a sudden, does one killing of a criminal high on Fentanyl and Amphetamines become the poster child, and now the hero, for this race riot? Not considering the details because they will not be known until the trial of the indicted white cop, and cell phone video is incomplete in explaining the preceding events. The riots do not pass the smell test. It seems like a carefully orchestrated setup. The inciting event was not the best choice for a trigger. The criminal history of George Floyd and the drug overdose does damage the story, and makes his resistance more complicated given the Amphetamines on board. Amphetamines are known to accentuate aggressiveness, increase muscle strength, and the Fentanyl obscures the now-famous T-shirt logo “I can’t breath” line if you understand the pharmacology of Fentanyl, which depresses the brain’s respiratory center. Two autopsies reported the Amphetamines and Fentanyl in his blood.

The rapidity of the deployment and the organization of the mob suggests that it was not as spontaneous as it appeared, but preorganized long before the Floyd affair, waiting for a suitable trigger. The timing is also suspicious of preplanning. I would like to know who is the financial backer of all this unrest?. Somebody is! Who is benefiting from racial division? I must admit it is a brilliant strategic move in its timing and opposition to the “Law and Order” argument.  One factor I can attribute to coincidence, but with four factors pointing to a rented mob, I come to the conclusion that this was a covert DNC production. #1instant mob #2 tenuous trigger #3  statistics dispute the main complaint  #4 highly suspicious timing

I saw a video that all of you should see: uncletom.com, produced by Larry Elder, a black radio commentator, who addresses many of these issues.  If you are liberal, you will get a different perspective than you have ever seen. If you are conservative, you will learn some history that you never knew.  It costs you $8.00 to rent, but it is worth it. Many of my questions have been answered, but my own theory as to the recent racial discontent is even more specific.

My theory of the whole issue is that when Obama was elected, there was much enthusiasm and hope from the black population that now things were going to change.  Guess what? Nothing changed!

Statistics on black vs. white police killings do not bear out the claim of police treating blacks more harshly and shooting quicker. The opposite is true. The real issues when Obama took office in 2009, were black fatherless homes were at 67%. It dropped a paltry 2% in 2017 at the end of his term.  Black unemployment increased from 7.6% to 7.8%, rather pathetic , to say the least. Pre COVID under the “racist Donald Trump,” unemployment was the lowest it has ever been, 5.4%.

Black illegitimacy in 2017 was up to 77% at the end of Obama’s term. In 1965  it was 24%. The black family was much more of a standard core family in the mid-1960s before Johnson’s “War on Poverty” with its dramatic increase in welfare.  WELFARE DID MORE DAMAGE TO THE BLACK FAMILY THAN SLAVERY DID. 

Black on black crime kills more black people each and every year than all the Ku Klux Klan killed during their entire rant of 86 years. Is that not an amazing statistic that gets absolutely no press. It is a topic the left does not want to talk about. Black on black homicides were 2500 to 3500 a year most of Obama’s tenure. Welfare removed the father figure from the family and made the family matriarchal. More black children grew up with a father during slavery than now. These are statistics Obama should be ashamed of!

Obama, who had the chance to make great strides in the real issues ignored the problem! It was a great disappointment. Obama had made it one of his campaign promises.  He stated that Dr. Martin Luther King had gotten the black race 90% to their goal, and he was going to get that last 10% needed to get to the Promised Land.  He did exactly nothing, just as all democratic run administrations, federal, state, or local since Abraham Lincoln. 

The Jim Crow laws were created by white southern Democrats and Dixiecrats to keep blacks from voting. It was the Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower who sent in the 101st Airborne Division to open the schools in Little Rock, Arkansas.  It was a Republican Congress led by Everett Dirksen that pushed through John F. Kennedy’s civil rights bill nullifying Jim Crow. This was unfairly credited to Lyndon B. Johnson due to the assassination of Kennedy. Furiously fighting against it were the Democrats who opposed the civil rights act through the longest Filibuster in history, led by Al Gore’s father, Albert Gore Sr., along with the Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond. It was Lyndon B. Johnson who came upon a “brilliant” new game plan.  His idea was if blacks were going to vote, they might as well vote Democrat.  He was fond of using the “N” word, something the media never brought up, but was undeniable. “I’ll have them n….s voting Democrat for 200 years,” he said – something that is still coming true.

Now with a new election, the left sees a chance to take over just as they have taken over in many major cities of the country that they have destroyed, like Baltimore, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, St. Louis, New York, Detroit, Memphis. Los Angeles, and Houston, etc. The best way is to divide and conquer.  Race is an excellent way to divide people. And what better way than to discredit the current administration by blaming them for all the failures of government to improve racial inequality, which of course, had not been addressed by the previous administration. If you look at what Trump did with his efforts on unemployment, ridding employers of oppressive regulatory policies, and the tax reductions, he helped black people more than Obama ever did, who did nothing in his two terms, as demonstrated by all metrics: unemployment, black murder rate, black incarceration rate, high school drop out rate, black illegitimacy rate, number of fatherless families, etc. Obama actually harmed black education by cutting annual funding for black institutions of higher learning by $85,000,000 annually; something Trump reversed by restoring $100,000,000, the largest federal funding of black colleges by any president ever. It was Bidden who is responsible for creating the largest mass incarceration of black Americans through his work on the 1994 crime law, and the “Crack Law” that punishes possession of crack cocaine more severely than powder cocaine.  Whites prefer the powder and blacks the crack, which disproportionately keeps blacks in jail longer, another Biden ringer.

Democrats have harmed the progress of the black race in cities run by them, and their social welfare programs have destroyed the black core family by the most devastating blow a family can have, namely the removal of the father. Instead of ranting about racial justice, which Obama ignored, the protests should be about fatherless black families, the disproportionate high school dropout rate of black children, the disproportionately high crime rate in black communities, including the high black on black murder rate, and the unprecedented abortion rate of black women, now at 52%.  Those are the issues BLM should address, all problems that Obama and Biden could have fixed but didn’t and apparently didn’t care about.

Why I’m Voting Against Socialism – Part II

The failures of Socialism are seen in all the rest of the countries that have tried it: the USSR, Cuba, Venezuela, all the eastern European block that did not give up communism when Russia failed, but soon had to follow suit, like East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, the former countries that made up Yugoslavia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia, andSerbia, additionally, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.  Did I forget anyone? I never thought I would again have to reject this failed political joke created by two egg heads in the mid-1800s.  This stupid idea almost cost my parents their lives and with them my existence (see my books Tales of a Country Surgeon and Tales from my Home Town).  There are only five countries in the world today that are communist: China, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, and Cuba. Three of those have relied heavily on capitalistic measures to save their declining economies, and North Korea is a total disaster on all fronts.

We now have a group of intellectuals that have never personally experienced Communism, like Bernie Sanders and his crew, who want to resurrect that failed system.  Bernie has pulled Biden to the left and with it the Democratic platform. There are more Communists working as professors in our universities than there are in all of Russia now.

Admittedly, Trump does have flaws, he is constantly caught in crude statements that lack grace but are typical of the New Yorker personality, and he could temper many of his Tweets. But unlike most of my left-wing friends, I do not think he is stupid. He is refreshingly not like any polished politician who often speaks without saying anything. What you see is what you get. He is a billionaire, mostly self-made, some of his businesses have come out of bankruptcy more than once, and he did not achieve his success by being stupid nor demented. He has done most everything that his Covid advisers, like Fauci and Brix, have recommended, as they confirmed multiple times from what I have heard them say. He announced shutting down the western border January 31, 2020, and eastern borders on March 11, 2020.  I remind those of you with short memories of Biden’s critique of “hysterical xenophobia”, even though Biden apologized for that remark later. Apology or no apology, it points out that Trump had a better understanding of the crisis and was ahead of the curve before Biden and many others.  There were mixed messages from Trump along with his “learned science advisers” early on before much was known: Mask, no mask, social distancing 3 feet, 6 feet, 15 feet, a variety of drugs including hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, steroids, famotidine, high titer antibody serum, nitrous oxide, etc. that are still in flux. Furthermore, there is a flurry of various controlled and uncontrolled studies backing up this or that point of view. Despite the recent consensus of wearing masks, a recent report from Sweden now says masks are useless, and they don’t advise them or use them. Incidentally, they have one of the best numbers if that means anything.  Science relies on evidence that often vacillates, and is not all that exact. Don’t worry, I still believe in masks and wear mine. Although, In my over half a century of practicing medicine, I have learned the hard way that today’s best practices are tomorrow’s heresies. Knowledge is constantly evolving, and with small sample size, results will often differ. It is still not all in folks!

Do we need to look at the tax returns of a billionaire who works for us free of charge? We should be asking for the tax returns of the politicians who took office poor as church mice, and consequently became millionaires after coming to office. That would interest me more! 

The economy prior to the Covid19 pandemic was the best it has been with employment numbers, as good as ever achieved in our history, especially for the racial minorities, Black and Hispanic. CNN, in 2016, predicted if Trump became President, the economy would tank! More recently, the same people on CNN say Trump had nothing to do with the good economy, if you care re-run those wise remarks. Of course, their most recent position is that it’s all Trump’s fault. Which version of the truth are we supposed to believe? This is especially significant now that the economy has made an amazing comeback so far, and unemployment is shrinking.

The fact is all politicians have been known to slant the truth.   Is that news? Is that supposed to guide our political thinking as to who tells the biggest lie? Biden has legendary zingers, as well as plagiarizing Robert Kennedy, John Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, and British Labor Leader Neil Kinnock. But for me, I really don’t care if he was the first or last in his class, just as much as I do not listen to what Trump says about hydroxychloroquine and other medical issues. The press counts those as lies. My filters see them as wishful thinking, cheerleading, and politics.  It is easy to tell which are lies and which are not. If you can’t, I feel sorry for you because your hate is at such a level that you can’t tell the difference between fact and hopefulness. There is a bit overzealousness in the lying count, 20,000 lies, really? I suggest you recalibrate your lie detector a bit. But since we are talking about lies, let us talk about the biggest lie of all. Bernie, AOC, Kamala, and others are telling us a whopper. “Democratic Socialism” as defined by our trained Marxists is a much more sinister Socialism.  All you need to do is look at their published plans for us. AOC and Bernie have real Socialism in their back pocket, and it is not Social Democracy which is a capitalistic democracy that has peaceful social welfare programs such as education, health care, care for the elderly, workman’s compensation, and child care.  Real Socialism is a political system of government where the state controls the means of production.  The state owns everything that makes anything. They tell you what to make, where to make it, when, and how much to make. The idea for this form of government came before it actually existed.  It was one man that put the theory into action,  Vladimir Lenin. 

Tzar Nicholas with his family

For those of you who don’t know the story, and see Socialism as just another way that is a little kinder and fairer, you are sadly misguided and just plain wrong. He ordered the murder of Tzar Nicolas II, his wife, Alexandra, the four daughters, and their young son in a basement execution-style by shooting the whole family. Some of the girls, although hit, were still alive and had to be killed by bayonetting them to death.

You see, Socialism can never be democratic; it doesn’t work that way. You can’t take possession of things that are not yours democratically. If you believe that you believe in a Fairytale. Nor can you replace the Socialists in a Marxist, Chavist, or Nazi Socialist government by voting them out democratically. “Der Führer” will not let you. So that too is fiction. They will not leave, and that too would require violent force. People just don’t hand over possessions or power willingly. It was that way in 1917 in Russia and in 2018 when 5,000 people died at the hand of the Velenzuelan armed Forces, and in 2019, another 1600 were put to death on the orders of Nicolás Maduro. Bolshevik Bernie is just as deluded as Karl Marx was. Humans are like the rest of the animal kingdom when it comes to what is mine and what is yours; furthermore, Socialism has a fatal flaw. It believes that the state can make better decisions for people than people can make for themselves.

People are assigned to jobs by the all-knowing state, and if some don’t like it, you can guess what the Democratic Socialists will do with them. The word “Democratic” was placed before “Socialism” to make it sound milder, just like National Socialism sounds better. There have not been any successful states that have been Democratic Socialistic societies (and the Scandinavian countries are not Socialist if you know anything about economics). Nor have Socialists, Communists, or Nazis been replaced anywhere democratically with the exception of Israel, the UK, and India, further demonstrating that Socialism has failed in every country it has ever been tried. A very telling movie I saw recently, and recommend for you to see, The Death of Stalin, although a black comedy, will let you in on how Socialism really works.

This moron (me) was valedictorian of my high school class, fourth in my medical school class, in the 99th percentile countrywide on my surgery boards, plus I have seven books so far that I have published, and I am a Professor of Surgery.  I do not say that to brag or impresses you, but to make me more incontestable, convince you that I am not a moron and I am more capable as a human being to present to you facts and reasoning that may resonate with you if you know from where I hail. I swear that is the truth.  Most of you Trump haters know what he says in detail, but very little of what he has done.  Remember, actions speak louder than words. His medical opinions mean very little to me and are non-sequiturs as he has no control over use or non-use of any drug or treatment. But I do pay attention to his actions on EPA regulations affecting my ranch, along with Fish and Game that controls when and how I am allowed to clean the overflowing Timber Cañyon Barranca running through my property when it is full of debris. It so happens to be the habitat for the red-legged frog, unfortunately for me and the frogs, as the frogs are also on the endangered species list which Fish and Game watches all too closely. HUD (Housing and Urban Development)   impact my property which maybe someday I will be allowed to develop. Also, there is Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that regulates banking, which influences my retirement account. Trump has reversed two regulations for every new one, and many more that I know you could care less about because you are more concerned that he can’t pronounce “Yosemite” or that he called Haiti and El Salvador, “sh.. holes!” By the way, have any of you ever been to Haiti or El Salvador? I’d be interested in what you think.

This is a Biden vs. Trump comparison on some of the major issues:

Supports late-term abortionDoes not support late-term abortions
Health care: Obama Care with moreRepeal ACA
Regulate social mediaAlso regulate social media
Open BordersControlled Borders
Rejoin Paris Climate AccordsStay out of Paris Climate Accords
Has Socialsist advisersDoes not have Socialist advisers
Opposes death-penaltySupports death-penalty
Refund police(Biden term for defund)Do not defund police
ANTIFA &BLM are brave AmericansANTIFA & BLM are criminals
Raise minimum wage to $15/hStates to decide minimum wage
100% renewable energy by 2050Continue with fossil fuels
Reduce age for Medicare eligibilitySpending cuts in Medicare
Pressure on China is offPressure remains on China
Top income tax goes to 39.6-70%Top tax rate stays at 37%
Top corporate rate increases to 28%Top corporate tax stays at 21%
BIDEN ……………………………………………………………TRUMP

Although economists disagree on what effect tax has on the economy, most believe that higher taxes move money out of the economy and ultimately slows the growth and lowers the GDP.  All the programs that the Socialists want will require more than just an increase in taxes.  There are not enough high earners and wealthy people to pay for all on the wish list, including Medicare for all, funding renewable energy, free higher education, reparation payments, baseline citizens’ income, etc. It will require the confiscation of assets to generate those funds according to the economists that figure those things out. The National Socialists (aka Nazis) contrived a very clever way to confiscate property from whom the Democratic Socialists can learn. They simply raised the taxes on properties they wanted until the owner could not afford the property anymore.  Nazi Socialists were no dummies.

The issue with China has been a campaign promise of Trump since 2016.  China has been aggressively stealing our intellectual property, and industrial spying has been well recognized, but very little has been done to stop it by previous presidents, Democrats, or Republicans. Climate Change is a controversial topic that has come down to resembling religion with accompanying similar emotions and arguments.  98 % of scientists do not agree that it is settled, especially the part about how much of an urgent crisis this is.  Even if CO2 is the main culprit, lowering it is unaffordable with current means, and not as urgent as the alarmists claim, especially for the poor countries of the world, and they would suffer marked damage to their population in terms of starvation and health.  There are other options to lower CO2 without the damaging effects it would cause by eliminating fossil fuels (see my website gusiwasiuk.com the essay on Why the Green New Deal Will not Work).  Gambia, which has almost no industry, is close to meeting its promised reduction of carbon emission, but it too will still fall short.  The main polluters aren’t even trying.  For us to do so is useless as all those agreements have been so far.  It would also hurt us economically while China keeps on churning out CO2

As far as the criticism of handling the pandemic, you should realize this was a state by state project with governors resisting federal “interference” treating it as a political football: stay at home orders, masks, which businesses to close or open, schools, etc. It was the governors who shut down the businesses, not Trump. When a business is shut down, its employees are laid off by their employer on the order of the state public health department and not by Trump. What part of unemployment do you folks not understand? Incidentally, employment has dramatically improved from its lowest point during the pandemic of 14.7%. It is now down to 8.4% as of September 4, 2020, still a ways to go to reach its 50 year low of 3.5% in September 2019, but still an amazing achievement for this short time. Car sales and housing starts are also very encouraging. All will dip again with a Democratic sweep of all branches of government, according to the economists. Although if just one branch remains Republican, the economy will thrive as Wallstreet likes a split government.

The basic science of the Coronavirus was poorly analyzed at the outset, and China was less than helpful in providing information in the early phases. The Democratic Candidate Debates show how little democratic leadership knew or cared about the evolving pandemic.  The anti-Trump rhetoric at the debates swirled around climate change and not the virus, as late as February 19, 2020, when there were 74,000 cases in China with 2,100 deaths. By then, the “xenophobic hysterical racist,” Trump, had restricted travel from China on January 31,which was denounced as unnecessary and racist by Democrats, Biden, and the media. Now he is blamed for not acting soon enough and letting the virus in. He should have been a clairvoyant.  Where were all the smart people then? They continued to deny the dangers.

The February 1, 2020, Washington Post, “Get a grip America. The flu is a much bigger threat than Coronavirus.”                                                                                                                                 February 7, 2020 CBS This Morning Saturday,– “Coronavirus is not going to cause a major issue in the United States.”                                                                                                                     March 4, 2020 Anderson Cooper CNN – “So if you’re freaked out at all about the coronavirus, you should be more concerned about the flu.”                                                                            March 11, 2020, Trump shut down travel from Europe.  CNBC reported this was “politically motivated and unnecessary.”  Do you think CNBC was doing exactly what they blame Trump of doing?  Were they also just a little bit politically motivated instead of doing honest investigative reporting?

People that made many of the decisions were the governors of each state. Each state, in conjunction with their health department, made their own plan for better or worse, and the use of hydroxychloroquine is a medical decision, not the President’s decision. We can all agree that Trump does not have an MD degree. If you take medical advice from any laypeople seriously, you are the one whose IQ I question.

The public was less than helpful in following the public health dictates of masks, social distancing, and public gatherings (and still is!).  Nancy Pelosi, herself, encouraged demonstrations of thousands of people elbow to elbow exercising their constitutional rights, even if it did include looting a few stores and setting police cars on fire.  Admittedly having the Republican Rally in Tulsa was not a good idea either, but at least no property was burned down, and no police officers were killed.  A critique that is often launched is that Trump does not have a national plan, unlike Biden who promises to give us one.  What exactly would this national plan do?  There are only a few options. Wash your hands. Wear your face mask. Don’t congregate. Don’t leave home unless absolutely necessary.  Various countries, like China, Singapore, Italy, South Korea, and others, imposed fines up to $3000 or jail time for any quarantine violations. The “Never Trump” people point to how good the European death numbers are.  Our bad numbers are again blamed on Trump.  The European numbers were achieved with very strict house arrests.  For example, in Italy, if you were outside of your home without government paperwork permitting you to do so, you were fined with rather stiff penalties and or jail. Some communities marked people with non-removable markers (reminiscent of concentration camp tattooing and Hawthorn’s The Scarlet Letter) that were supposed to be in self-isolation and, if caught, in the street, were severely punished. Can you imagine the public outcry claiming Nazi tactics? I can almost hear Nancy Pelosi screaming, “Storm Troopers!” We can’t even get everyone to wear masks.  Civil disobedience would have dramatically escalated. So much for the national plan unless you want to invoke the COVID Fairy to sprinkle some fairy dust on us.  Maybe Biden has some.

Perhaps the Socialists will change all that. Socialists have some very clever ways and from historical evidence, painful to make you do things, another reason to think twice before voting Socialist.

Medicare age lowering to 60 will increase the Medicare population.  Most experts think Medicare eligibility age should be increased so that funds will last longer.  As it is, at the current level, it will be out of funds by 2026. Biden’s plan will not help.  Although Roe v. Wade is settled law for almost half a century now, and that first-trimester termination of pregnancy is legal, I think that late-term abortions are barbaric.  There is a difference between a gray ball of cells and a formed body with arms, legs, and a brain that could survive outside the mother, cry, have an audible heartbeat, and feel pain.  Aborting them requires a definitive life terminating act, sort of like drowning, suffocation, injecting a very high concentration of salt into the uterus, or puncturing the skull. Believe me, I know! Infanticide is not something that a civilized person or nation should tolerate. Finally, the question of Biden’s health is an issue. I will refrain from commenting as I have not examined Biden, but I have seen behavior that concerns me. Each person needs to make his/her own honest, unbiased decision.    I do think “Trump Derangement Syndrome” is real.  Socrates was right when he said, “The most hated people are the people that tell the truth.” Everything seems to be Trump’s fault.  No alternative explanation is possible.  Was the Corona pandemic really mishandled and all because of Trump, even though many of the setbacks had complex reasons with multiple inputs from governors, myriads of public health experts, Congress, the media, and above all poor public compliance? What remains undeniable is Trump’s success with the economy.  Of course, that was pre-pandemic, with the lowest unemployment in all sectors, including minority groups. Such numbers have never before achieved by any president including with our recent minority president.  And now even with new spikes of the virus in California, Arizona, Florida, and Texas, we already see the economy roar back. The stock market has made an amazing recovery, just 3%  down from its highs (dramatically better than the 30% loss it was initially), especially the NASDAQ and the S&P 500, both of which have reached new record highs.

Another very important economic index that is spectacular is consumer net worth, which is at an all-time high. The economy has made an unbelievable comeback.  Of course, that couldn’t be due to Trump’s handling of the economy. He just gets the credit for destroying it. The rest of the market is poised to reach higher levels than pre-pandemic levels.  But the economists I listen to are afraid of what higher taxes and open borders will do to our current steadily improving economic trends.  The market is already calculating a democratic sweep into their prediction of an economy that will again suffer if we see all three branches of government under democratic control. According to my financial adviser and bankers, Wallstreet is giving a democratic sweep a better than even chance at present.  It will require new financial strategies, especially for fixed income folks and retired people like me, especially if the more radical left gains control should Biden have to step back for health reasons and allow the VP and “the squad” on his advisory committee more powers.  That is a real possibility!

With Trump, we know what we are going to get, more or less status quo. When Covid is repressed, and a vaccine is available, which is just about to happen, there is no reason why further recovery of the economy and near full employment will happen. We will have the same tax structure, a strong military with less foreign entanglement, more emphasis on managing public disorder, controlled borders, and continued haggling for better deals from China, Europe, and Canada.   And this is supposed to be the bad news that justifies turning the country into a Socialistic one-party government, open borders, socialized medicine, with protesters demanding justice, which apparently means what we see in Portland and Seattle in other cities, maybe in our city. What did I miss? Do we need some adults here?

I am dumbfounded that so many Democrats, independents, and even misguided Republicans are willing to risk having a Socialist president instead if something requires Biden to step back. And make no mistake, Kamala is a Socialist.  By analyzing her voting record, she has been rated the most radical Senator in Washington, outranking Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  Without question, with a Biden win, we will get fundamental change in our government. Certainly higher taxes, some assets would be taxed at 100% (usually called confiscation), little or no passing on of wealth to children on your demise, no borders, castrate the police, a one-party political system, nationalizing big industry such as medical care, utilities, communications, banks, oil, pharmaceuticals, and whatever else they want to.  Marissa Barrera, a health policy adviser to Bernie Sanders, says, “Nationalize everything.  I don’t even care what it is… y’all lost your capitalist privileges.”  You see, because a pandemic that started in China is obviously Trump’s fault by not closing the borders soon enough, and is furthermore evidence of the failure of capitalism, Socialism needs to take over to fix things just like they did in all those other Socialist countries. Amazon, Google, and Walmart merged with the US Post office that, as we all know, has been so “fiscally successful” would be Bernie’s wish and a triumph of Socialism. The “Never Trumpists” fail to comprehend the grave implications that a Biden win would bring to the political structure of our country. Many of you do not understand that it is not all about Trump! Where is Reagan, Jefferson, and Lincoln when we need them? Last time I looked, they were not running. The greater picture is all the Socialist baggage a Biden win would bring.  I am hoping that the “Never Trumpist” constituencies will convince them of the error of their ways.  The “Never Trumpists” need a quick study of history.  Just as they have allied with Biden and his leftists, there was a group in Russia called the Mensheviks, who thought they could negotiate with Lenin and the Bolsheviks, but they found out differently.  The Great Purge sent the lucky ones to the firing squad and the other ones to a brutal but short Gulag stay before the grave.  They did not get the chance to take back their miscalculations. Once we are a socialist society, we will be one for a long time!

 You will then find out what Democratic Socialism really means. Incidentally, it was with the early show trials of the Mensheviks that Stalin learned all about how to obtain confessions.  Dislocating shoulders was an effective way! Something the Vietcong learned from the Bolsheviks and tried on John McCain when he was a POW in the early 1970s.

We will see a rollback of any accomplished deregulation and certainly no further deregulation, which so far has impacted all business for the better from what I have seen. The oppressive bureaucracy has been pulled back a little by Trump.  The EPA, the Bureau of Land Management, OSHA, Fish and Game, Dodd-Frank, Affordable Housing, and others have overregulated banking, home building, energy, oil and mineral production, agriculture, my current job regulated by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). They are especially concerned about coyotes pooping on my avocados high in the trees, which, judging by their concerns, rival the Covid deaths throughout the country. I have seen a breath of fresh air with governmental agencies that are all just a little less enthusiastic about enforcing unreasonable, unaffordable regulations.  Just a few days ago, I had to report the finding of a dead bear on my property.  Previously Fish and Game would insist on coming out and doing an autopsy on the bear to prove a bullet didn’t kill it. The Fish and Game official wanted to come out, but the bear was already 6 feet under, and he agreed to just let me fill out some forms and send pictures that I had already taken, just a little more common sense.

For the first time in recent history, we are energy self-sufficient.   We do not have to depend on the Middle-East, Russia, or Venezuela for oil.  That is an achievement that all Presidents in my lifetime have had a desire to accomplish. It took Trump to achieve it.  The Islamic terrorist threat has been greatly reduced with the containment of ISIS, and the elimination of leaders like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and Qasem Soleimani.  Border security is clearly better despite the open border wishes of Nancy Pelosi, which will come true with a Biden victory. Open borders will influence criminal traffic, drug transport, unemployment numbers, welfare costs, healthcare safety net overloading, demands on schools, terrorist access, but it will not separate children from their parents anymore. Thank God!

I am afraid that meaningful and intelligent discussion is becoming increasingly difficult.  There is so much mindless vitriol on both sides that facts, logic, and proof are substituted by name-calling, ad hominem attacks, and even worse – obscenities. Both sides must realize that in the last election, it was very close to an even split.  That means half the county was for one candidate, and the other half was for the other, for those of you from Peoria. (I know, I came from Peoria too.)  It was our system of the Electoral College that gave the victory to Trump. The Electoral College was critical to the Founders because it prevents the tyranny of the majority (of one), and gives the smaller states a voice.  Without the Electoral College, California and New York would always elect the President. Politics brings out the worst in us. Generally, people follow what their parents believed, i.e., deep-rooted and often not changeable. Keep in mind that calling half the country “morons” is not exactly brilliant either. I would classify it “moronic” as well. 

All of you that intellectually espouse Socialism have the amazing ability to blot out all the evidence against communal property and the incredible blindness of not seeing the countries that have tried it and failed.  Just look at the numbers of people escaping from the Socialists of Cuba, South America, former East Germany, North Korea, etc.  How many defectors went from the US to the USSR? This should be a clue who has a better economic system, a socially more just system, a better human rights record, etc. even for the blindest Socialist.  In 1988 Bolshevik Bernie honeymooned in the USSR and saw a “utopian worker paradise” through his rose-colored glasses instead of what it was, an incredible abortion of human misery that collapsed just three years later. I know you won’t do it, but I dare you to rent the movie Dr. Zhivago where all the homeless are moved into his house, and he gets one room of it.  Boris Pasternak, the author, wrote about his own life’s experiences. It was banned in the USSR. My parents, with similar experiences, could not watch the movie because it brought both of them to tears. The reality of what Socialism is might finally click with you. Believe it!  Socialism is not an idle threat when you have the government with numerous self-proclaimed Socialists already in power. So think twice before you vote in more of them!

RACE OR RACISM, IS EITHER REAL?

We are still talking about slavery. Jefferson prohibited importing slaves in 1808, and Lincoln abolished it in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation. Slavery has been a human institution for thousands of years.  It became a factor 11,000 years ago with the advent of agriculture.  The need for cheap labor was the driving force. It was practiced by almost every ancient civilization and society, including all races, all colors, and on all continents.  It was often people that were defeated in wars that were then enslaved.  There have been no slaves in the U.S.A. since 1865 with the adoption of the 13th Amendment, but it is still practiced in the rest of the world, and there are thought to be 20 to 40 million enslaved people on earth today, more than ever before. The countries that currently have slavery are mostly in Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. Why are we obsessed with the Civil War when we have actual slavery happening right now in the rest of the earth? How about we think more about the present!

One justification for slavery has been racism.  One race is superior to another, a belief that finds support even in the holy books of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, something that did not elude Jefferson Davis. It was religion that reinforced slavery and helped to imprint it on civilization indelibly. But is race real?  

Race has, in fact, no basis in science. It was a Philadelphia physician,  Samuel Morton, who in the the early 19th century measured braincase volumes.  He did it with lead shot poured into an opened skull and then measuring the amount of lead he could pour in. Based on this, he divided Homo sapiens into five races: Whites, Mongolians, Southeast Asians, Native Americans, and Blacks.  His observations were fatally flawed.  His sample size was grossly erroneous.  His White sample had a skull from a large Irish man that skewed his calculations, making Whites smarter than they really are. 

Now that we have the human genome mapped it is obvious that there is no such thing as a pure race.  We are all mixtures of many strands of D.N.A.  Before we knew about Deoxy Ribose Nucleic Acid, a German pathologist, Rudolph Virchow, studied 6 million children and came to the conclusion that there is no Aryan race, something that led to his books being burned by the Nazis.  The most common racial metric is skin color, which is the most arbitrary of traits.  When our ancestors migrated out of Africa to colder climates with less sunshine, the genes that determined skin color changed. It is an adaptive trait that can be mapped on the world map. Areas that get more U.V. light have darker populations.

Dark skin is more protective for U.V. radiation,  but lighter skin allows for more Vitamine D to be manufactured in our body. Adaptive traits were selected to be picked, and according to Charles Darwin’s discoveries to pass on only traits that improved survival or made for more sexual attraction in the individual.  To use traits to separate humanity, that have been acquired from the environment, is not at all scientific.  If you can pick up a characteristic (whiteness) from not enough U.V. light on your skin, it is not a legitimate trait to define race.  Brazilians are genetically a greater melting pot than the U.S. some Brazilians classify as white, but their D.N.A. has more African black genes that some U.S. blacks have.  The concept of the human race becomes increasingly complicated, with science being unable to help.  If race does not exist, racism has no basis to exist either.

Dr. Ben Carson, current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who in his prior life practiced neurosurgery,  was the first, and so far, the only surgeon who successfully separated conjoined twins joined at the head.  He has opened many skulls and looked at the brain of whites, blacks, yellows, and red-skinned people.  His observation was that  all their brains looked alike.  It is the brain that is the important part, if you don’t know that already. Over 99% of our D.N.A. matches! The other fraction of less than 1% is so varied that classifying humans into meaningful racial groups is not possible, and furthermore, to base it all on skin color is sophomoric.  So why do we keep picking on a scab that  was almost healed?  Because we have done it for 11,000 years.  It is as if certain subgroups of people don’t want it to heal.  Do we need to stop talking about it just as Morgan Freeman keeps telling us to “stop making it a bigger issue than it should be”?

Morgan Freeman

In the last 150 years, since the end of the Civil War, we have made great strides, and we continue to do so.  My theory is that as time goes on, Homo sapiens will all become shades of brown, and then there will be no discernable difference so we wouldn’t be able to discriminate on that basis.

There still are people that believe in race and that one is better than another, but now it seems to be the dominant issue with the politicos, and the activists. B.L.M., as currently organized by self-proclaimed Marxists, divides us.  Taking down memorials certainly is not a friendly gesture that helps to unify us; politicians divide us for their own selfish gains.  Even my friends believe that name-calling, such as traitor, liar, and other pejoratives, are useful to help us understand racism in the past. Still, these are not precisely current or useful in attempting to be inclusive or uniting and besides show considerable malice. It appears that they need and want to relive the Civil War that Ulysses S. Grant won over 150 years ago. Do we have to dredge up the Civil War to find bonafide racism? If events from that long ago still affect you, perhaps professional counseling would help you get over your preoccupation with racism and retribution for past wrongs? 

The recent race riots appeared to be manufactured from a poorly chosen trigger waiting for a cause. This trigger was a black criminal high on Fentanyl and Methamphetamine that was murdered by a police officer. George Floyd and Derek Chauvin had a prior relationship in that they had worked together as security guards and already had an adversary relationship then. Race may or may not have played a role.  The police officer, if not racially motivated, was clearly a murderer for whatever reason and has to be treated as such.  There are bad cops, and this was one of them, but as initially quoted by Aesop, “One swallow does not a summer make.”

I would like to recount my experience with Strom Thurmond, possibly one of the most racist politicians of past generations.  He has made a remarkable change over his long career from being a racist, like pretty much all white people of his era, into an individual who at the close of his life accepted that he fathered a mixed-race daughter, possibly the most demonstrative example of ridding himself of racism.  At his other children’s request, her name was added to his tombstone inscription. Essie Mae Thurmond, the bi-racial first child of Strom Thurmond,  had a better way to encourage racial unity. Strom took responsibility for her and funded her education.    She had achieved a master’s degree in education, authored a book that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and believe it or not, applied for membership into the United Daughters of the Confederacy through the ancestors of Strom, who fought for the Confederate army, a distinctly better way to foster racial peace and unity. The Southern Poverty Law Group forgot to mention that factoid. Essie Mae showed character and a genuine understanding of healing racial divide by a few logarithmic measures more than spraypainting memorials of Abraham Lincoln or pulling down statues of Robert E. Lee.  Her father slowly changed his views on race also. Strom Thurmon was the first Senator to have a black man on his working interactive senatorial staff.  Thurmond was instrumental in making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a Federal Holiday as well as supporting the nomination of the second black Supreme Court Justice in 1991, a 180 ̊ reversal from his opposition to the first black Supreme Court justice 24 years before.  He gradually evolved out of racism, just as much of our culture has.

I see Strom Thurmond as the classic example of how we all can grow with time and wisdom, something I wish we could all (black, white, yellow, and red) acquire by drinking from that cup. I am sure that some of you are not satisfied that he didn’t drink enough from the cup of wisdom, but from a dyed in the wool racist to endorse a black supreme court justice,  was a major turn around that many in this world have not yet achieved. The activists that claim to endorse anti-racist principles, but their actions show them to still be just the opposite, violent racists that even kill. They could learn a few things from him. It is people like Strom Thurmon that have turned around the racist mindset that still keeps millions in chains. It is people like him that have transformed this nation. There is no nation on earth that has less discrimination, less racism, more opportunities, and financial advantages, than any other. We are the freest nation in the world! If that is not true, all those immigrants that are streaming to the USA, even risking their lives to do so, are apparently mistaken. Stated another way, “Why does everyone want to come here?” We build walls to keep them out, while other countries (like the Marxists- think Berlin wall) build walls to keep them in. Does that give you a clue?

I have enormous respect for people that can change their fundamental beliefs and go in the opposite direction, which shows their ability to grow in wisdom and character. I hold a unique personal bond with Strom Thurmond that I would like to share if you have the fortitude to read on.  In 1970 I joined the USAF at the height of the Vietnam War, not by choice I might add.  I was stationed in the Azores, Portugal, a very plush assignment if you consider that I had just received the news that my best friend was killed in Vietnam. I am told he was the only physician killed in that conflict. We were always paired during internship on every service to which we were assigned because of the alphabetic association of our last names at U.S.C. Medical Center in Los Angeles.

I was a newlywed when I arrived in Portugal.  My wife was to join me as soon as I got assigned to based approved housing.  The months dragged on, and instead of advancing on the housing list, I went backward.  I failed to realize the Sergeant in charge of the list needed some help in the form of greenbacks to remember my name.  Furthermore, I was a purist then, and I would not tolerate bribery.  I missed my wife, her smile, her laugh, her intellect, her conversation, and a lot more.  The Obstetrician on base and I had the same problem.  We were not allowed to rent “off base housing” that had not cleared the base housing inspection, which was a very slow process. An unfortunate event occurred that slowed that process even more.  A young N.C.O. (Non-Commissioned Officer) who had little chance of even getting on the housing list, had brought his bride to the Azores and rented “non approved off base housing.”  On a cold night, they turned on the heater that was defective and leaked carbon monoxide.  They both were found dead the next morning.   Now things really got slow.

The Obstetrician and I decided we would simply bring our wives over on civilian transportation without any help from the U.S. government.  It was less than a month later when my wife landed on the only landing strip on Tercera, the military airstrip. 

Our base had a new commanding officer, a two-star General, a hero of the conflict in Vietnam.  The Azores was a kind of reward for him, being an incredibly beautiful place, volcanic, lush and green like Ireland, sort of similar to Hawaii.  The General had his staff from Vietnam with him, including his young female secretary, as well as his wife.  All three showed up at the base medical clinic with a “social disease” that was especially difficult to cure.  Southeast Asia had evolved an especially virulent form of gonorrhea, which required the newest and more powerful antibiotics to eradicate.  The doctors that treated them were young, and not all that mature or ethical.  That group was just about ready to rotate out, and a new group, including me, was to replace them.  The third Saturday in May was Armed Forces day.  A celebration that included displays from every unit on base was held.  The hospital had a presentation, as well.  It was quite simple, a microscope with one slide focused on a field that had the classic Grahm negative diplococcus embedded in a white cell, the General’s white cell.  Just to make sure, the slide had two stars marking it.  A day later, the doctor responsible for this breach of the Hippocratic Oath was off to his next duty station.  Revenge was now prominently in the General’s mind, especially targeting doctors. The new group of arriving doctors would do just fine to teach proper military behavior!

When my wife arrived, her civilian airplane landed at the base airstrip.  It so happened that the General was there to greet some Congressional visitors that came on military aircraft.  My wife was the kind of girl that would turn heads, especially male heads.  This was not missed by the General.  Additionally, she wore a fiery red pants suit, tight everywhere except at the ankles where it flared out in the then stylish bellbottoms.   It was not long after that that I received the order that I was confined to the base and needed to sleep in the BOQ (Bachelor Officers Quarters).  I was under no circumstances to join my wife in the “off base” none approved apartment I had rented.  Fat chance…  I did notice a base police car parked near there with two men sitting in it when I came home, an unmistakable message to me.  But being young and foolish,  I violated the orders! I was soon notified that I would have to stand for a court-martial for the crime of violating orders!

What do you do if you are guilty?  You get a lawyer!  It so happened I had a friend who was one, a Captain in the J.A.G. (Judge Advocate General) office.  His aid was an N.C.O. who was also a friend as we were waterski buddies.  This N.C.O. kept me informed as to how my case was going.  Not so good, I might add.  The verdict was already decided before the official trial…guilty! And the punishment was also… punitive re-assignment to a forward firebase in Vietnam.  All I could think of was my internship friend, who died attempting to rescue his Corpsman just a few months ago. Was this to be my fate also?

Then a miracle happened!  Strom Thurmond was a Southern Senator who was against anything that was pro-integration, including Brown vs. Board of Education.  He hated Lyndon Baines Johnson for all his civil rights legislation to such an extent that Strom changed political parties and became a Republican.  Incidentally, L.B.J., despite his legislative agenda, was quite racist also.  In his private conversations, he relished in using the “N” word as often as he could.  Strom ran for president in 1948 under the Dixiecrat party but lost to Truman.  Dixiecrats were the ones who brought back the Confederate flag and made it the standard flag for all the South, that just now was taken off the State flag of Mississippi.   The Azores, like all military bases, had a Class VI store, a name assigned to liquor stores by the military.  This one had the best prices of any Class VI anywhere in the world.  You could get a bottle of expensive French wine for $1.50, and even the high priced fancy liquours were $3.00 for a big bottle of B&B a fantastic price even then.  My favorite was a Portugues bubbly rosé wine that was in an earthen bottle called Lancers; it cost $0.50.

Every few months, Strom Thurmon came to the Azores to go “Booze” shopping.  He had large parties in Washington, and this was the place to buy alcohol.  He flew in on military aircraft and left with palate upon palate of the expensive stuff.  It so happened that my lawyer, while he was in law school at George Washington University, was a law clerk for Thurmon. Strom, who by that time, was a recovered anti-Semite as my attorney was Jewish.  It was then I met Strom, then a member of the Armed Services Committee, which he later chaired. We presented my case to him on the tarmac of Lajes Air Force Base as he was boarding to fly back to Washington, D.C. Strom listened attentively and took it all in.   The Portuguese government also got involved because the General was interfering with tourism by restricting troops from renting housing on their economy.  The General was recalled the next day, lost a star, and had to retire.  My court-martial was dropped. My reassignment was withdrawn, and I finished my tour in the Azores, perhaps in retrospect, some of the best times of my life.  From then on, the Confederate Flag assumed an entirely new meaning for me. It reminded me and still does of the man that undoubtedly saved my butt and the rest of what was attached to it! Symbols mean different things to different people, depending on their various life experiences.  That is why the meaning of symbols needs to be left to individuals instead of mobs.  If Strom Thurmond’s daughter can forget the scourges of racism, so should we. Morgan Freeman might just be right!

Confutatis Maledictis … Voca me

Blondie and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

In case you are not fluent in Latin, that is what the title means. Once the accursed have been destroyed… call me.

The last time I worshiped in a church was at age 7, almost three-quarters of a century ago.  That is a long time, but not when comparing it to eternity, which is what I was thinking about at the time.  I had been honored to be selected as an altar boy from amongst my grade school classmates in Austria.  I was chosen probably because my father was the only chess partner with whom the local priest could play an advanced game of chess.  They would spend days literally on one game, often deep into the night.  My father’s religious background was somewhat dubious, although he and the priest had vehement discussions about God and philosophy. Ironically my father had just converted to Catholicism as he needed those credentials to further his claims of Teutonic origins.  The constant risk of being taken off to Auschwitz by the Nazis was ever-present. Although, it would have more likely been Mauthausen, which was only 130 km from our village.  My father, the town doctor, was not all that happy with my recent appointment; he thought it was inappropriate, given our family’s circumstances, something I did not comprehend until I was much older. I, on the other hand, was thrilled! I especially loved the long flowing robes they gave me.  My job was carrying the censer.  Those of you who are not Catholic will likely not know what that is. It is the metal container for burning incense.  My job was to bring it down the aisle of the church already lit and emanating the holy smoke.  I was not to disburse it but hand it to the priest who did that.  But I could not resist, a little unnoticed subtle swinging of the censer on its chains actually produced a lot of smoke (the carcinogenicity of which has never, to this day, been tested) that I could waft through the church. 

My father felt it necessary to talk about philosophy and ethics with me.  As a consequence, my stint as an altar boy did not last very much longer.  And as life progressed through school, college, and medical school, it became increasingly difficult for me to reconcile my earlier philosophy that I learned in altar boy school, with the biblical God who did not, or could not stop the evil of the world.  How was it that God could allow such evil and cruelty to permeate our lives?  It started with the flood which drowned all of humanity, including the unborn save for Noah and family.  God allowed the Holocaust, the Holodomor, the Armenian Genocide, and all those genocides in Africa.  Free will didn’t do it for me, besides it did not consider the free will of all those murdered people who, I am sure, had different visions for themselves, which did not take into account their free will.

Nevertheless, I am not aspiritual.  I consider myself very spiritual, and  I have a fervent belief that there is more to our existence than is apparent, and that our lives have a purpose beyond our comprehension. My journey eventually led me to medicine and a life of service to the sick and injured, in principle, not all that different from priesthood. Even everlasting life is possible in my construct of the universe, although with a different twist involving double helixes of DNA.

There is more of my early years that stayed with me than just the smell of incense, and my secret inner spiritual life.  It was music.  In European churches and cathedrals, music often accompanied the services. In large churches or cathedrals, it was frequently a full orchestra.  This was a good thing because it did make the services, which were all read in Latin in my time, much more tolerable.  The liturgical music was often, if not almost always, composed by Mozart, who, by the way, was Austrian.  One particular piece of music that affected me more than others was the Mozart Requiem in D Minor, particularly the “Confutatis.” It begins in D Minor but modulates to F Major with very rhythmic commanding male voices that have an almost infernal sound.  Confutatis Maledictis  – Once the Accursed have been destroyed – Flammis acribus addictis – and given over to the bitter flames – Voca me con benedictis – call me with the blessed, now sung by a gentle melodic heavenly female choir in hushed angelic tones.  If you have never heard it, you must before you die.  In fact that is what I want for my funeral whenever that happens, hopefully, later than sooner.  It was also what Chopin ordered to be played at his, which was quite an achievement because women were not allowed to sing in the churches of Paris.  It took a special proclamation by the Archbishop to allow it.  It is surprising that Chopin chose the Mozart requiem for his funeral, as Chopin had written the penultimate iconic masterpiece of all funeral marches himself, which you would recognize instantly, as it was played in many movies and served the funerals of many heads of state including JFK, Stalin, Brezhnev, and others. It is universally recognized and linked to death and mourning.  

You will assume that all  I listen to is Classical Music.  That is simply not so!  The Confutatis brings forth the theme of summoning you, in Mozart’s case, to Heaven.   There is another piece of music from my later youth that was not classical, that also is summoning you.  It evokes many pleasant memories from when I was young and much better looking than now. This is another melody you should listen to before you die, this one with a completely different style and meaning. While the Requiem is calling you to Heaven, Blondie is calling you for a much more earthly and earthy activity compared to the Requiem!

Call me (call me) on the line
Call me, call me any, anytime
Call me (call me). I’ll arrive

You can call me any day or night
Call me

Cover me with kisses, baby
Cover me with love
Roll me in designer sheets
I’ll never get enough!

The call is quite transparently a bit more sanguine than the Requiem call. Music is the universal language that can and does evoke all flavors of human emotions.

THE BARD WRITES A MODERN SOLILOQUY

“To open or not to open, that is the question? Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows and risk COVOD-19, or to stay at home, to sleep and perchance to dream.  Ay there is the rub.  Should we herd on the beaches toe to elbow, should we hit the malls four abreast, should we take off our masks and crowd into congress and state houses, waving flags and claim our rights of birth? Or grunt and sweat under a weary life?  Should we follow science or the constitution?  There is the respect that makes calamity of so long a life. For who would bear the whips and scorn of ICU care? It is us who would dare?”

How about should we practice common sense? There is no easy answer; both hardcore choices offer death and destruction.  Opening will create the same scenario as in 1918 of Philadelphia vs. St. Louis, double the death rate. Not opening will increase unemployment, increase the suicide rate, increase domestic violence, child abuse, depression, increase poverty, destroy the market, and produce its own set of evils. 

The answer, of course, is to do both with forethought and caution. It all depends on the community. is it urban? Is it rural? What is the population density? What jobs can function well from home?  What jobs require actual physical presence? What jobs are essential? What jobs are optional?  How well can people learn to practice social distancing? Which masks work best?  Are there medications that decrease the risk of infection like Pepcid, Vitamin D, Remdesivir, and who should be taking them?  Certainly, the low-risk drugs should be liberally distributed, where the high-risk drugs (like Hydroxychloroquine) that can cause Torsade de Pointes (freely translated -death), also renal and liver toxicity  could be doled out only to those that are healthy, but at high risk, who have normal Q-T intervals (normal EKG’s for non-doctors).  Testing for both active virus and antibodies would also help in deciding whom to isolate and who is relatively safe to walk among us.  Simple testing such as temperature screening should be practiced widely and regularly.

The message should be crystal clear and delivered not just from the governmental authorities but a consortium of elected officials, law enforcement, scientists, physicians, and spiritual leaders of the community.  This will strengthen the message and allow stringent enforcement of the decisions that are uniformly adopted. Social distancing will be with us for a long time to come.  Just look at the continuing increase in cases and the death rate.  And, yes, uniform enforcement must be dealt out to all.  Just like Typhoid Mary was put behind bars for not obeying the law, and because of that careless act killed people with typhoid fever.  That will not work for us, the jails are already full, but some disincentives for civil disobedience will need to be meted out, a fine, for example, and civic service for repeat offenders. Nowhere in the Constitution does it give anyone the right to infect others at their whim. Just as people wielding weapons need to be constrained to protect society, so do people who would spread disease wantonly. No one is above the law!

What should we do?  We should do what common sense dictates.  Do the best for the most, as the power of the people dictates us to do! 

“STINKO” DE MAYO

Execution by firing squad of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico

I do not celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  I doubt that many Mexicans know the real story surrounding that date. If they knew what a vicious, murderous, and petty character President Benito Pablo Juarez Garcia really was, they should not either. 

On May 5, 1862, the Mexican Army defeated the French Army in the First Battle of Puebla.  Benito ran the country into the ground financially, as liberals often tend to run out of your money, and Mexico fell heavily into debt to Spain, England, and France.  Britain and Spain were less anxious, but the French sent troops to Mexico to encourage repayment of the debt. A year later, the French defeated the Mexicans in the Second Battle of Puebla and also took Mexico City. The first battle was a morale boost for Mexico, even though it was a minor victory of little military consequence.  The second battle allowed France to install Emperor Maximilian as the leader of the Mexican Government.  Maximilian was appointed by the Emperor of France, Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon I.  Maximilian was a Habsburg, the younger brother of Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria.   Napoleon I had divorced Josephine and moved into the Palace of Schönbrun in Vienna and married an Austrian Princess with whom he had a son. It was this that created the French/Austrian connection from then on.   Maximilian was an enlightened leader.

Maximilian, as Emperor of Mexico, introduced land reform in Mexico, giving property to the people to grow crops and develop.  He took assets from the very wealthy Catholic Church and created religious freedom for everyone. Maximillian brought Austrian culture and even Austrian music to Mexico. The classical “Umpapa” music heard in the usual Mexican folk music is heavily laced with strains of accordion sounds, an instrument popularized in Berlin and  Vienna around 1830.  Maximillian gets no credit for that musical gift to Mexico.

Other than ruining Mexico’s economy, Juarez didn’t do much for the people.  Benito Juarez, President of Mexico, had to escape when Maximilian was crowned.  Juarez, the head of the liberal factions, was in conflict with his own country’s conservative branch, who, in fact, supported Maximilian over him. Maximilian offered Juarez amnesty and even offered him the position of prime minister.  Juarez had conservative members of the Government rounded up and had them murdered without trial, just shot, which was the original  “Black Decree,” according to historians.  He later accused Maximilian of that heinous act and used it as justification for having Maximilian executed.  Although Maximilian did execute some hardcore military, he did so after a military court-martial and pardoned many of them.

Abraham Lincoln refused to support Juarez, nor did the US House and Senate, and it was only because Andrew Johnson, who took over after the Lincoln assassination, could not get Congressional support for Mexico, and pulled the Reagan/ Iran Contra Affair trick, by privately and secretly seeing to it that Juarez got some much needed presumably “lost” weapons of US Army stock near the Mexican border for his fight against Maximilian. After all, he wanted to follow the Monroe Doctrine of no European influence in the Americas.

When the French abandoned Maximilian,  he was arrested.  He had the chance to escape but did not want to leave his supporters, and never assumed that Benito, whom he liked and with whom he had an amicable relationship, would kill him. Every crowned head of Europe including Queen Victoria, the Czar of Russia, the Kaisers of Austria, and Germany, the King of Spain who was a Habsburg, Garibaldi of Italy and the famous author, Victor Hugo of France, as well as Pope Pious IX petitioned Juarez to give amnesty to Maximilian, but Juarez felt he needed to prove himself to the Europeans.  He needed to show his superiority to those aristocrats that he was in charge, and he was more powerful, he was the leader of Mexico now.   But to me, that just proved his small-mindedness and provincial attitude, as well as a loss of respect in Europe!

Maximilian, when facing his executioners, gave each of them a gold coin, asking them not to shoot him in the face so that his mother could recognize his body. On June 19, 1867, Maximilian was executed by a firing squad.  His last words were “Viva Mexico!”

I was born in Austria, and my parents were Austrians.  I have respect for my place of birth and its history.  And I resent the fact that a self-impressed bureaucrat who wanted to call attention to himself by murdering an Austrian Emperor gets any credit at all, instead of condemnation, even if this was over 160 years ago. So I don’t think you will hold it against me if a call it “Stinko de Mayo!” and don’t share my Guacamole or beer with anyone as a celebration of a petty president.   Besides, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the day got more attention because of the American Beer Industry who looked for a date to celebrate, and it now rivals the Super Bowl in beer revenue and avocado sales, except this year because of the Corona pandemic.

WE ARE AT WAR! (This Time with a Virus!)

It pains me to see the bitter divisiveness our country is undergoing, specifically understanding the current ad hominem attacks on President Trump. Ad hominem attacks, rather than attacking the substance of a position, attack the person’s character, his motives, or other personal attributes of the individual, and make the argument that because of these traits, his position is also wrong. It was Aristotle who first pointed out that such arguments are illogical and unsound. These attackers focus on Trump’s stupidity, his narcissism, his self-aggrandizement, his lack of humor, his small hands (and we all know what that is supposed to mean) etc. etc. Is this helpful?  Does this add anything to the discussion? Will this change anything? Almost none of these tirades focus on meaningful critique as to what he should do differently. This makes me think the critics either don’t know what he should do differently or they are afraid to voice any opinion because they very well may be wrong. 

Former Vice-President Biden was very critical of Trump about shutting down travel from China.  He called him hysterical, xenophobic, and fearmongering.  The spinmeisters claim those labels did not specifically relate to him closing travel from China, even though those critical remarks came right after the travel restrictions.  If that is so to what did it refer? Ah! I know. He named the virus “the Chinese virus,” which called forth another straw man, the race card.  Trump is a racist! But is that realistic? The fact that the epidemic started in Wuhan, China, ostensibly from Chinese bat soup, makes it relatively easy to call it a Chinese virus, just as the 1918 pandemic was called the Spanish Flu with much lesser justification. The first case of the 1918 Flu was actually in Kansas. 

Biden’s fearmongering critique demonstrates how being critical too soon can backfire.   The newest Biden critique complains the opposite, that Trump acted too slowly.  Trump tends to be positive about opening up the country, about medications that may help, about the stock market coming back, about fewer deaths than the models predicted.  He often puts the better spin on the message given by his consultant doctors; nevertheless, he does what they say to do. I might add that doctors are trained to hang black crepe.  It is in their nature. I know, I am one. Trump does not want to be the fearmonger that Biden claims him to be.  He wants to be reassuring but has not acted on that positivity, and sticks closely to what Dr. Anthony Fauci recommends. I am sure the President would like to be a cheerleader, and we certainly need one!  

In a few months, we will have the chance to elect a new president.  That will be the time to exercise your opinion, your rights as a citizen, and your wisdom.  The word Democracy comes from two Greek words, Demos (the people) and Cratos (the power). We shall see what our Democracy will do, and then I shall support what the people decide, as our Founding Fathers envisioned, and I hope the rest of the country will also do as I do. In the meantime, I believe for the current COVID war, our Democracy has already spoken twice. For almost 250 years we have had certain rules for electing the President, and those rules have not changed. It is appropriate to go with the lawfully elected President, given our time of uncertainty and combat against an unseen enemy.

Ad hominem attacks lack style and put the attacker into a lesser class.  If you can’t argue intelligently with facts and figures, don’t succumb to name-calling.  It does not make you look classy. Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan, but he is our President, whether you like it or not. We are in a war, even though this enemy is a virus, and war demands we act on a war mentality that traditionally requires unity and civility.   I plead that we keep our cool and act with style, intelligence, and wisdom, and listen to Aristotle!   

THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN

It has been a month now that the government edict to stay at home has been proclaimed.  Many have lost jobs, and there is a natural resistance that is evolving among the restless among us.  The question of individual rights and freedoms is raised.  Is it not my right to control where I go and what I do? This philosophy has evolved into a political movement of Libertarianism that emphasizes freedom of choice, voluntary association, and holding the individual’s judgment as the holy grail of how we should live. There are right-leaning and left-leaning Libertarians. But both pit governmental authority against individual opinion. Why should I wear a mask when I am not sick, why should I vaccinate my children when vaccination has some risk and has in some cases shown not to be completely protective?  Why should I stay at home when I need to get back to work?  There are only two certainties, death and taxes. People die all the time, how is that different from this virus?  The country’s and my personal economic condition is deteriorating while I sit at home bored out of my mind.  It is my decision to risk my life if I deem it necessary?  We live in a democracy.  How can the government tell me what to do?

Those are the arguments I hear from friends, the radio, talk show hosts, and sometimes I even have these thoughts myself.  There is, however, an overriding principle.  Humans live in social groups.   Only hermits can act out their fantasies. Our actions impact others. We have social responsibilities that go beyond our personal being.  When our freedom impacts society adversely, society has a right to regulate what we do.  Willie Sutten, when he was caught, was asked why he robs banks?  His answer, “Because that is where the money is.” I have always wanted to be rich, but I can’t go to banks, like Willie, and take what I want.  My right to be rich is infringed upon by other’s rights not to have their wealth stolen. My right to refuse vaccinations interferes with the population’s rights not to have a carrier of disease spread the plague and shorten their life span.

Mary Mallon was born in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. She came to New York and was a  cook working in restaurants, and also for a number of families that hired her to cook for them.  Everywhere she went, people got sick with fever and diarrhea; some even died.  The disease that caused this illness was determined to be from a bacteria, Salmonella Typhi.  She was not ill and appeared perfectly healthy.  At least 50 deaths from Typhoid fever were attributed to her.   

She was held in quarantine from 1907 to 1910.  But when released, she went back to her old job of cooking.  This time she moved on, when people got sick, to the next cooking job.  Authorities failed to catch her until 1915.  She spent the rest of her life in jail and died in 1938 of pneumonia. History assigned the name “Typhoid Mary” to her.

It was Rudolph Virchow, a German pathologist of the 19th century, who gave us the word “zoonosis,” a disease that originates in animals and then is transmitted to humans.  In its more aggressive form, it can then spread from human to human. There are many zoonoses, Swine Flu, Avian Flu, Ebola, Malaria, Anthrax, Trichinosis, Rabies, Plague, COVID-19, etc. Our close association with animals started with the domestication of animals, going back to the late Pleistocene, beginning 129,000 to 11,700 years ago during the last ice age.  The Middle Ages brought humans and animals together even closer, when farmers brought their animals into their houses for warmth and to guard them.  Because we lived in close proximity to animals, their bacterial, viral, and protozoan diseases could now jump to us quite easily.

When our freedom interferes with the freedom of others, a compromise must be negotiated.  We can only exercise our freedom if it does not take away the freedom of others.  That principle is what allows the imposition of shelter in place dictates, immunization mandates, social distancing rules, and the wearing of face masks. South Dakota resisted implementing social isolation for much too long in the name of freedom of choice, with many unnecessary deaths. This recent pandemic has been a new experience for us, but it is not unprecedented.  1918 gave us the Spanish Flu, named because of a misunderstanding.  Spain was neutral in World War I.  The first case of that Flu was actually March 11, 1918, in Kansas.  Because there was censorship, as not to reduce the morale of the troops, it was not reported.  Spain, on the other hand, was not bound by that censorship and reported all the gory details, including that their king, Alfonso XIII, came down with a severe case of it.  That cinched it.  From then on, it was “The Spanish Flu.”     Quarantine and masks were the order of the day. There is nothing new under the sun!