Thursday, May 16, 2019

Her name was Susan - never to be forgotten

Written by a physician and should be read by all those white males in Alabama and other states, telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies;

Several years ago, I posted a remembrance from my experience as a junior medical student at UCLA in 1964. The recent events in Alabama have released a flood of memories from that period. So with your indulgence I am reprinting that diary. As an old white male, I can never pretend to know the agony and despair that so many women have suffered and continue to suffer as the result of those who would deprive them of their choice and dignity. I can only try to understand. Even at the age of 78 it haunts me still.

Her name was Susan. She was young. She was beautiful. She was intelligent. She was articulate. She was dying…

Susan was a 23 year old single woman who came to Los Angeles in the early 60's to pursue her dream to become an actress. She had played the leads in her high school plays somewhere in Utah. She was runner-up in the Miss Utah pageant. She managed to get a couple of walk-on parts in some B-grade Hollywood films. She was a starlet.

A year or so after coming to the West Coast she became pregnant. The father quickly faded away into faceless LA. Her good Christian parents were humiliated, outraged and wanted nothing to do with her. She was on her own. Broke. Friendless. Pregnant. Scared.

So she took the bus to San Diego, walked across the border and headed to a cheap, dirty Tijuana abortion clinic. Four hours later she was back on the other side of the border, in pain, bleeding and completely debased.  By the next day, the pain had become unbearable and she was spiking a temperature. She went to a local emergency room and was hospitalized overnight at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica. She was subsequently transferred to the Medicine  unit at UCLA Medical Center, at that time a small teaching hospital in its embryonic stages.

I was a 3rd year medical student in my first clinical rotation at UCLA. Susan was one of my first patients. We were about the same age. I was embarking on my medical career. Her life was ending

Over the next three weeks, I learned how people die from sepsis. Her uterus was perforated. She had developed gram-negative septicemia. Our knowledge of and access to antibiotics was primitive and limited. Eventually she went into renal failure. She burned with fever. She was racked with abdominal pain. The lovely face become sallow, sparkling eyes sunken, lifeless. Her skin turned a sickly bronze color. Her breath reeked the pungent stench of ammonia. After weeks of agony, her  frail body mercifully surrendered.

As I recollect these painful images of my brief encounter with Susan, the most outrageous aspect of this experience is not even the way she died. It is that she died alone. During those three weeks, she never had a visitor. There was no boyfriend - he was off to other conquests. There were no parents - they disowned her in shame and embarrassment.

Even worse was the mindset of the medical staff. While she was given the requisite care, there was little, if any, sympathy or compassion for this young woman or her situation. There was always the profound sense that "she brought this on herself," that she was, in the final analysis, just "an unfortunate tramp" - Even As She Lay Dying.

It is now 50 years later and I still carry this burden of shame for myself, my colleagues, my society, my country. And to this day, whenever the subject of Roe v Wade comes up, whenever I see and hear the holier-than-thou religious fanatics trying to take away the rights of a woman to control her own body, to make her own choices, to force her into the back alleys of Tijuana, I can still smell the stench of ammonia in the air.

Goodnight, Susan, we will not forget you.


Monday, May 13, 2019

Article by 18-year-old graduating from high school this year should be read by everyone

Two of my grandkids are graduating this year -- their lives will be far different from high school graduates who went before them. They will have to spend their adult lives trying to keep the planet sustainable to support  human and animal life.  The tragedy of our times.

We're Not the Class of 2019. We're the Class of 0000.
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by Lia Harel | May 11, 2019 - 5:30am

I am a second semester high school senior. For many students in my position, this is the best part of the year: the notorious "senior-slide" kicks in, chatter about life after high school fills the hallways, and we countdown the days until we get to toss our caps in the air. It's graduation season.

For decades, each class before mine has shared a similar experience at their graduation ceremony—an experience of time hopping, per say. Students celebrate their past academic accomplishments and look forward in anticipation of future endeavors.

However, my graduating class will not share this experience.

How can we look forward to the next chapter of our lives when the the flames of wildfires are already burning the pages of our stories? How can we look forward to building a home with a family when the floods, hurricanes, and rising sea levels are already tearing down our walls? How can we look forward to making the American Dream our reality when economic instabilityfood insecurities, and mentaland physical illnesses are already plaguing us like nightmares? How can we look forward to our future at all when climate change already threatens to destroy anything that might remain of it?

This is not an exaggeration, and this is certainly not a hoax. This is the reality that my generation faces. But we, the Class of 2019, are determined to reverse this reality.

So this graduation season, we are speaking out about the present. We are emphasizing what needs to happen now. We need zero emission, zero excuses, and zero delays—because we have zero time to waste when it comes to solving the climate crisis. Across the nation in gymnasiums, football fields, and auditoriums, commencement speakers are dedicating a minute of their speeches to talk about the need for immediate, bold climate action. Most significantly, we are giving all 2020 political candidates of both parties a choice: have a plan to get to zero emissions—or get zero of our votes.

Our diplomas may say we are the Class of 2019, but marked in history, we are the Class of 0000. We have the power to create a future to look forward to.

Yes, I am a second semester high school senior. I lack the motivation to finish my AP Statistics homework. Yet, I have the passion to take part in the commencement of a new era of climate leadership. This is the era in which science is fact, calls for action result in change, and boldness will save us. We, the Class of 0000, are the first class of this era.

Please join us.

About the 'Class of 0000' campaign:

Class of 0000 is a student-led campaign to take over graduation for climate action. Together, valedictorians and salutatorians across the country will deliver the same message to our leaders in their commencement speeches: deliver a plan for zero emissions — or get zero of our votes. Join our movement at the website:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.


ABOUT AUTHORLia Harel is an 18-year-old climate activist from Hopkins High School in Minnesota, and she is one of the youth helping to organize the Class of 0000 Campaign.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Decline of the natural world has grim implications for the future of humanity

Much more challenge for our children and grandchildren to face in their lifetimes:  A shockingly gruesome picture of future life on Earth, due to biodiversity changes, is painted in this three-year scientific study backed by the U.N.  Harder times are coming...and, under Trump, we're doing nothing to prevent or assuage it.  Back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, the developing overpopulation explosion crisis was being warned about (remember The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich?).  Those warnings were largely ignored. we are now, experiencing all the catastrophic consequences.  Trump's lifting of regulations on all previously Obama-regulated/banned pollutants of earth, air and water, including agricultural poisons and the deep water oil rigs, is helping to hasten the end along.


Dubya Bush - could he force Trump out of office? Read this link and see what you think

George W. Bush may be the only person in the world who can force Trump out of office

This article presents an outrageous idea, but should be considered for the hail Mary pass we need right now.  For most Democrats, Dubya Bush will always be George the Dumb, a stupid idiot.  But in the Republican world of crazy tea bags and MAGA hats and Trump (and Bush) worship, Dubya actually has gravitas...or what passes for that on Earth Two.  Maybe, just maybe, there is merit in this argument that he, given help in speech writing and a teleprompter to read, could convince the Trump supporters that they are following their "dear leader" off a cliff, and taking us and our country along with them.  But, honestly, I doubt it. Those blind and deaf cheerleaders behind Trump at his rallies, shouting "Hail, Trump!" (yes, actually and chillingly!!!) are so suckered in by now, I think even their still-loved Dubya can't turn them around.  For those of us who lived through the "Heil, Hitler!" days, we are shaken to our depths to see another mad lunatic rising up in our own country on the same tide of bigotry and hatred that caused World War II.  So what to do now, in this day, to save our democracy and preserve our way of life?.....

Here is what I think:  We Democrats MUST act now, instead of tip-toeing around like we always do, bending over backwards (as Obama did) to let McConnell obstruct everything we propose.  Pelosi MUST follow her Constitutional duty and start impeachment proceedings!  Rules of law are falling to Trump's ax, right and left, while we Democrats dither around, selling our own souls for poll data, hoping against hope that someone will emerge as the Dem. front runner to take Trump out of office.  The gerrymandered districts and right-wing judges (and unimpeded foreign enemy influence) are against us; we cannot keep dithering!  If ever there was a time to hold our elected officials' feet to the fire, this is it!  We are in grave danger of losing our democratic government and (for God's sake!) the ability of our planet to sustain life!  Political considerations aside, impeachment is absolutely necessary, whether or not it can pass in the McConnell-owned Senate!  The rules of law MUST be followed and protected, or we will certainly lose them all to the mad Trumpzilla monster stomping through our government, screaming, "Off with their heads!'  Where are our Churchills and FDRs in today's world, standing up against any and all who would take away our democracy?  

If we need to start marching in the streets in order to get our elected Democrats to grow a backbone, then I say, Get your pink pussy hats out of storage or make new red/white/blue ones, stick them on your heads, and let's go!  If you agree with me, please call or write Pelosi, Schumer and your representatives in Congress to MOVE AHEAD WITH IMPEACHMENT NOW! Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!!!!  Please pass along if you agree:
Pelosi's phone numbers:  (202) 225-4965 Washington, DC  and (415) 556-4862  San Francisco
Schumer's phone numbers: (202) 224-6542 Washington, DC   (518) 431-4070 Albany  (315) 423-5471 Syracuse

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Eye-opener about psychiatric drugs for "anxiety" - New Yorker article, "Bitter Pill"

Sad to read this article about the misery experienced by people addicted to psychiatric drugs, who were given diagnoses by psychiatrists and then prescribed drug after drug after drug to cure what was a misdiagnosis in the first place. In reading the article, it seemed to me that Laura's experience was like that of many of us in our teen years, especially if we were sensitive types -- not knowing who we were, trying to find an identity that we thought would be "acceptable" in the world at large, etc., etc.  She had the misfortune of being from a well-off family, who could afford to send her to a psychiatrist...and her story went on from there.  Told she was bipolar, put on drugs that made her sleepy, then drugs to keep her awake, then drugs to enhance or counter the effects of the other drugs...and on and on and on....  After many years of suffering, and having finally weaned herself off of all the drugs through a torturous period, she is now an advocate counselor for others who, like her, were steered in the wrong direction.  If only they had met a wise sage-like person in the first place, who could have confirmed for them that most people have a confused sense of self, especially in teen years, and can be led to understand themselves (without drugs) through self-reflection (not self-obsession), mindfulness meditation, spiritual studies (not critical, guilt-inducing religion types), gentle exercise, visualization, and what is sometimes referred to as "soul-searching," etc.  

I particularly think psychiatrists should pay attention to what the man who first introduced calming drugs into the medical scene, warned doctors:  that they should remember the patient is not a fixed object to be given a fixed drug for a "cure," but a living, moving, changing being to be talked with and listened to, as changes occur within them.  I believe most people on tranquilizers these days really just need someone wise to talk to -- who can help them understand who they really are behind all the personality facades we are led to try on by ads that tell us we aren't good enough just as we are.  Most just need to talk about their feelings and given guidance that makes sense, which is what Laura is now providing to people who consult with her.  Laura was a victim of the pharmaceutical world that rules in the medical field these days.  Thankfully, patients and practical, sensible doctors are waking up to different alternative ways of treatment in all areas of health care.  It is especially important in mental health issues for patients to know they are not going crazy or are out of the mainstream if they begin to question their sense of self.  Asking oneself "Who am I?" is a sensible query, one which all of us probably will, at one time or another in life, want to explore.  It is a healthy and perfectly natural thing to do.  In the insanity of the world today, it is actually the sane thing to do. And the sooner, the better, if one wants to live a happy satisfied life.

These are just a few of my "take-homes" from reading this article.  It's a challenge living in the world as it is today, but I believe most people are capable of finding their true self if given wise guidance.  I'm glad more of that kind of guidance is available in good doctors who don't simply depend on drugs to cure their patients, but who realize a listening ear is paramount in diagnosing and prescribing.  The best help might often be given in the form of good common sense. I'm especially grateful for patients like Laura who use their own experience as "wounded healers" to bring their special kind of wise guidance into the picture for others suffering as they once did. In many ways, yes, we are our "brother's keeper."  Empathy and compassion can go a long way in the healing of wounds, whether they are physical, mental or emotional.

I'm impassioned about this subject, as I have a friend who has been on drugs of this type for most of her adult life. We are now both in our 80s and, in talking with her, I can see the toll the pharmaceutical lifestyle has taken on her, and she also realizes it has been to her detriment for the most part.    



Friday, March 29, 2019

Distant planet terrified it might be able to someday support human life

Can't blame that poor planet for worrying.  🙄 I wish it well! 😉  (Trump may hate "fake" news.  But I love my fave news: The Onion!)


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Some musings on our country's situation today - What Do We Do Now?

Dear Friends and Fellow Travelers on Planet Earth,
I am now in my 80s, having tried, in most of my adult years, to contribute to hope for peace and love on Earth.  I was born in 1936, during the Great Depression, when Hitler's rise was taking place in Germany. His Nazi party was gaining strength through the politics of fear and violence that would soon wash over all of Europe and the world.  World War II was inevitable -- and my generation lived through that war and the succeeding wars of Korea, Vietnam and the cold war, with threats of more wars and nuclear annihilation always in the wind.  As I listened to warnings made by brave anti-war leaders like Helen Caldicott, who led the fight against nuclear weapons, I joined with them and marched in Washington -- only to be patted on the head and told by our "leaders" (literally by one Senator!) in Congress, "Go home, little ladies, and bake your cookies, and don't worry -- we are taking care of things here."

Well...we see where that has gotten us.  Here are a few of my musings today on how the world has fared during my lifetime -- and where we find ourselves today.

Just as the fall of the Roman Empire was a victim of its own excesses, and Hitler's dream of ruling the world was doomed to failure, so it was inevitable, if we kept on the course we were heading after WWII, that America's leadership role in the world would come to an unglorious end. To those with eyes to see, it certainly looks like that is happening now.  

For a while, our capitalistic society looked pretty good, as long as it took care of the less powerful members in the middle class, which supported the whole thing.  The New Deal of FDR brought us out of the Great Depression of the 1930s -- and the war, as terrible it was, brought us together as one nation with principles of goodness in view.  The GI Bill after the war helped soldiers to get a higher education and buy homes and become contributing members of the middle class.  As time went on, it became apparent that the workers would need representation in the process, so they began to form unions.  Capitalism look pretty good to us in those days of unions to ensure fairness for the working man in the marketplace.  But that was not to last.  As always in this still low-consciousness world, greed kept increasing and its power finally took over.  

In today's world, capitalism has become bloated and disfigured through greed and power lust, exceeding all natural boundaries of fairness, equality and balance in its return to the people.  Without regulation or restriction, it was inevitable that a gorging process would take place in favor of the rich, who just kept on getting richer on the backs of the workers.  When unions were killed off by corporate scions afraid of losing their power and profits, workers lost their rights to bargain for their own fair share of corporate profits.

The corporate domination of our country has now reached its peak of power, with its bloated thumb on the scales against the people. The middle class is dying and we are fast becoming a divided nation of "haves" and "have nots." Homelessness is an increasing problem as more and more people cannot afford to pay mortgages and rising rents.  Hard workers, even with two or three jobs, are unable to feed themselves and their families on their salaries or have health care in this, the richest country on earth.  Education for our children beyond high school is unreachable without incurring huge debt.  Corporate money now buys and puts into place the political "representatives" who represent only corporations and their ever-increasing wealth, with all the evil bribes and peddling of favors entailed in the bargain of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."  Take a good look at Mitch McConnell who, in his majority rule of the Senate, will not even allow votes to take place if it appears his funded-by-corporations "side" will lose.  

As he was leaving office, President Eisenhower warned of the takeover of our country by corporations (what he called "the military/industrial complex"), but we ignored his prescient warning (see videos below). Through succeeding years of an ever-quickening downward spiral fueled by corporate greed, we watched as the darker devils of our nature won out over the "better angels" exhorted by Abraham Lincoln to the people of his time.  With the advent of Cheney/Bush and their fraudulent takeover of the White House, we were finally and inexorably being led to ultimate authoritarian rule.  Cheney/Bush and their evil administration, with all its subterfuge and lies, paved the road of darkness for the Trump dictatorship we are now being forced to endure.

America has long been avoiding karmic retribution for its dark history of seizure of land from the natives -- and the torture and enslavement of the innocent and powerless. Despite the inscription on the Statue of Liberty to "Give me your tired, your poorYour huddled masses yearning to breathe free," we now have a President who encourages prejudice, bigotry, racism and hatred against foreigners in his followers.  With black clouds over us now, it appears the time for that karmic payment has come due.  Trump is poised now to take away all the rights promised to "We, the people" by our forefathers in the Constitution.  All the gains of the common people that have been advanced over the years since 1776 are now being torn away, one by one and group by group, as the fabric of our nation is ripped apart.  We are now living in the country we would have been in 1865, had the South won the Civil War.  Our national karma was delayed until the present day, but, with the nurturing of greed and power lust to the ultimate degree of today's disgusting excess, it was inevitable. Using the tactics of threats and fear, the Republican Party of the United States, aligning itself with corporate and military power, has brought right-wing fascism in all its ugliness to rulership in our country.  

We are now watching the death of America's democratic republic, as Trump and Company impose their will on all of us. Our fourth estate, victims also of corporate takeover, is failing us, ensuring that journalistic integrity can no longer be counted on. The power of our news media to warn and protect us has been eroded by greed.  Alarms of AHWOOGA! should be sounding loudly, because we now even have a state-supporting network in FOX, watched by millions every day.  This Trump-adoring network dictates policies to the President who loves their adulation and sits fixated in front of his TV screen, getting political directions from the pundits on his favorite shows.  Our Congress is mostly owned by corporations and, seemingly, so is our Department of Justice.  Gerrymandering of districts, corporate ownership of voting machines, foreign interference into our electoral process, and the horrifying unfairness of the electoral college over the popular vote, has led to the near impossibility of fair elections. 

As a result, say hello to a "MAGA" country with a dictator as our President.

But it gets worse.  Not only is our country endangered, but the planet itself is in great peril from climate change being accelerated by greed-driven corporate practices that further pollute its air, water and earth.  With horrific consequences now apparent under Trump's fascist leadership, we go heedlessly on, ignoring all scientific warnings--and even stepping up all the pollution with deregulation and continuing use of coal/oil.  Wise proposals intended to save the planet, such as the Green New Deal, are mocked by the ignorant duped supporters of Trump's right wing. We are like the cartoon of a man in a tree, vigorously sawing off the limb he is sitting on.  

Those who can see clearly what is happening had set their hopes on Robert Mueller and his investigation to put a halt to the disastrous Trump phenomena that is leading us all to doom.  Finally, they thought, with all the revelations of criminality being shown daily to us by Trump's own actions and the actions of his minions, finally truth would triumph over the evil lies being spewed out daily from the right wing.  But sadly, justice was not to be.  Mueller has proved himself to be a loyal Trumpist Republican to the core.  He and his best friend, William Barr, now the Trump-appointed Attorney General, have deliberately loosened the last chains on the Trumpzilla monster, leaving it free to tromp through the country, rallying ever more support from its cheering ignorant followers -- and dealing the final death blow to the democratic principles on which our nation was founded.

As the comic-strip Pogo once sighed in deep sadness and realization, "We have met the enemy and he is us."   

So, what to do now?  We have to marshal our forces and march in the streets against this takeover of our government -- and we MUST fight Trump to our last breath.  And we MUST VOTE, even with the realization that pitfalls against a fair election and an accurately counted vote lurk in dark corners of the Internet, and in all social media.  Our only other alternative is to watch as the fascist forces take over, as they did in Hitler's Germany, leaving  us suffering a far worse fate than Germany did in the end of that (up till now) worst period of history.  In today's world, we stand to lose not only our rights, our country, and our lives, but the planet itself -- and the end of all life on Earth.  Thankfully, our children and grandchildren are realizing this and are the hope of the future.  What a terrible legacy we are leaving them to try to fix.  
Here is a quote from an article I read today by Michael Winship:  

...we must address the reality that Donald Trump is not only the carrier but also a symptom of the greater disease that infects the republic, one in which vast inequality and a government controlled by private and corporate wealthy interests and not the people drives us toward our certain doom both as a democracy and a planet.

If we do not confront this head on, Trump and his bullies win, Pyrrhic though their victory may be.   AMEN.

I can only add to that the words of Hillel the Elder, Jewish scholar of the 1st century:  If not you, WHO?  If not now, WHEN?  Please call and write your representatives and demand the changes we all deserve -- and vote for the Democratic candidates who most seem capable of bringing about the will of the majority of "We, the people" (us).  And NEVER LOSE HOPE. In this world, we can take heart that change is inexorable.  What is up, must go down. And what is down (as we seemingly are now), must go UP.  😌💥💟  If countries like Norway, Finland and New Zealand can elect good leadership and improve the lives of their citizens, we can, too!  I welcome suggestions and comments from any who feel so inclined, as to how we can hasten the recovery of our country and our planet from the right-wing ideological disease that has befallen us.

Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex.
YouTube - Aug 4, 2006

Eisenhower Farewell Address (Best Quality) - 'Military Industrial ...