What Could Happen, If Trump Wins?

December 23rd, 2023

While you’re thinking of your choices for the November election, please take time to find and read the January/February 2024 issue of The Atlantic. I don’t normally read magazines, but this one is too important to ignore.

Please, go to a book store or your local library and read this issue of The Atlantic magazine, whose title - “If Trump Wins” - is the subject of the entire issue, which offers answers to that question. After we vote and the votes are tallied, if Donald Trump should win, what will become of us, our neighbors, our nation, our freedom, our world and our democracy; if Donald Trump regains the presidency??

This magazine offers extensive answers to questions every voter should consider; because Trump has shown, with disturbing frankness, what path he intends to take.

American Taliban?

October 16th, 2023

You’ve seen the pictures - the Taliban, the extremist group that has taken over Afghanistan, maintains its grip on that country by posting young men on almost every street corner, riding in trucks, holding/brandishing assault rifles, wearing atypical clothes that stand out, letting the public know who’s in power, and will stay in power, by the power of openly brandished guns and fear.

How can we think our future under a government backed by the hate-filled, gun-carrying white supremacists could be any different?

What would an America with a Second Amendment “rights”, extremist-controlled government look like? Remember how the militia types - Proud Boys, the ones an ex-president told to “Stand Back and Stand By,” and others of like mind - appeared at the Capitol January 6th in Washington? Similar shows of gun-force were on display at state capitols:

Olympia (Washington),
Salem (Oregon),
Salt Lake City

And recall how Al Quaeda stormed our skies, tore into the Pentagon and slaughtered our citizens with anti U.S. furor on 9/11.

Now, think of the rage of the mob who attempted to conquer our Capitol and stop our republic from functioning. Their actions were as vile and filled with every bit of rage against our country, their own country, as the foreign suicide terrorists had for us on 9/11.

Do we really believe the behavior of U.S. rifle-bearers - should they achieve power - would be any different than that of the Afghan Taliban? Who would be on our street corners? Who would be standing outside our state capitol buildings? Our local government buildings? Outside our U.S. Capitol in Washington? And would we still live free, enjoying our lives? Or would we live in fear? Fear of our fellow citizens, openly brandishing arms?

This is the future that stands before us.

You have the mightiest power on our earth, your Vote. Make sure you exercise it, every election day. Because democracies are not guaranteed, and can disappear, when good people decide to walk away from their right to cast their ballot.

Please, vote.


— For a look at the militia movement and the entities most prone to violence, see this report by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), “a disaggregated data collection, analysis, and crisis mapping project, [which] collects information on the dates, actors, locations, fatalities, and types of all reported political violence and protest events around the world.”)

Now see how a previous militia behaved: The District of Columbia militia Protecting the Capitol on May 13, 1861.

NAACP’s Origin: 1908 “Race Riot” in Lincoln’s Hometown

August 16th, 2023

Illinois Mobs Kill and Burn

Foiled in Attempt to Lynch Two Negroes, Angry Whites Start Destructive Raid

Troops Bring Gatling Gun

Mob Sets Fire to Negro District and Refuses to Allow Fire Department to Work

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. Aug. 15 — Race riots are raging here as the result of an attempt to lynch two negro prisoners in the county jail. [ New York Times ]

Those are the headlines and opening sentence of a New York Times account published on August 15, 1908, of a race riot in the home town of Abraham Lincoln, the sainted president who practiced law in an office that overlooked the Old Statehouse. It was at that same building, 100 years later, where Lincoln’s would-be successor, a young Barack Obama, announced his campaign for the presidency. But, in 1908 that very area had been full of a seething white mob.

Who could have imagined it? A ‘race riot’ in Lincoln’s home town?

This was no Watts or Detroit. No, this was a white man’s riot. At one point, according to the New York Times’ account, “the sky over the east end of Springfield was aglow.”

I know that ‘east end’ of Springfield — the ‘end’ Springfield residents now call the East Side — because I was born and raised in Springfield. For as long as I can remember, the East Side was ‘the black side’ of Springfield, the ‘other side of the tracks’ just beyond Ninth Street. And it was in that part of town, the Times reporter wrote 101 years ago, where a white mob roared, killing blacks and destroying their homes and businesses.

How did this all begin?

On the hot summer evening of August 13, 1908, a white woman, Mabel Hallam, who lived on Springfield’s north side, claimed she’d been raped by a black man. Subsequently an African-American construction worker, George Richardson, was identified by Hallam, whom she told “I believe that you are the man and that you will have to prove that you are not.” [ Something So Horrible, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, 2008 ]

Richardson said, “Before God, I am innocent of this crime. I can explain her identification of me only by the theory that all coons look alike to her.”

According to the Lincoln Presidential Library account, “Richardson was a handsome, dark-skinned man, the well-spoken grandson one of Springfield’s most prominent Blacks, William Florville, who had been Abraham Lincoln’s barber.”

Richardson was taken to the county jail, where another black prisoner, arrested a month earlier in a different case, resided.

The next morning the city opened its newspaper, The Illinois State Journal, to find this screaming headline: “DRAGGED FROM HER BED AND OUTRAGED BY NEGRO.”

Aflame with the alleged ‘violation of a white woman by a black man’ — the ruse concocted to lynch untold numbers of black men over the history of this nation — an angry mob formed at the jail, demanding the sheriff to release his two black prisoners, so the mob could lynch them both.

Instead the sheriff spirited the two out of town for their protection, and the riot began in full force.

One of those killed in the furious mayhem was a black barber named Scott Burton, who faced the mob in his shop doorway. Someone shot and killed Burton “and his body was paraded from his porch to a place several blocks away where it was hanged from a tree outside a saloon. Burton’s corpse became the symbol of the mob’s hatred of blacks and was riddled by bullets.”

At the end of the second day of rioting, the mob, frustrated in its attempt to roust other black Springfieldians from under militia protection at the state arsenal, marched across the Capitol grounds, where the militia was encamped, to the home of 80 year-old William Donnegan, a successful businessman. Donnegan came out of his house - two blocks from the Capitol - to confront the crowd of a dozen men, who attacked him, cut his throat and used clothesline rope to lynch Donnegan to a small tree standing in a school yard across the street from his home. He was cut down, still alive, by members of the militia, whose act proved too late to save Donnegan’s life.

And how did State Journal, Springfield’s leading newspaper, headline its day-after, post-riot account? Well, it tells you a lot about what Springfield was in 1908, and what, eerily, still lurks there today: “Frenzied Mob Sweeps City, Wreaking Bloody Vengeance For Negro’s Heinous Crime.”

A ‘crime’ that had never occurred.

“Two weeks after the riot, Mabel Hallam would confess to the grand jury that her story of rape by a Black man was a lie. … But that Friday morning, August 14, her cry set the mob in motion and evoked death, destruction and untold hardship for which Hallam was never held accountable.”

Something positive did come of this horrific event: the NAACP was founded less than six months later in New York on the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, February 12, 1909. Last year at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, the Association commemorated its link to that terrible summer of 1908, and included a copy of William English Walling’s chilling, on-the-scene account. [ The Independent - 1908 ]

And what of Springfield today, 100 years after the founding of the NAACP, 101 years after the riot itself?

The State Journal-Register (successor to the State Journal) produced a special edition to commemorate the riot’s 100th anniversary on August 14, 2008. But below the online story in the ‘comments’ section, the ugliness of 1908 raised its head in the form of two anonymous comments:

‘tweetybird’ wrote:

“this is a total waste 0f time why keep bringing up the bad stuff? Nobody living now was involved in that. Its past. Leave it there. The article states its not forgotten. Well its not forgotten because this paper keeps shoving it down our throats. I’m tired of hearing about it. drop the subject and leave it in the past where it belongs.”

Following tweety’s comment, ‘Iremember’ wrote:

I am in my 70’s. I was born and raised in a small town outside of Springfield. When the riot was still fresh on the minds of many, I recall folks stating that one of main reasons for the riot was the black’s ‘push day.’ On one day of the week (I think it was Thursday, but am not sure), groups of blacks would literally walk down the sidewalk in mass pushing everybody — in this instance, whites — out of their way. That tactic and the supposed rape I guess set the white folks off. Whether ‘push day’ is true or not, and I am of the belief it occurred, it is part of local lore, and I am disappointed the JR didn’t do a better job of researching and reporting the complete story of the riot.”

Has the election of Barack Obama changed the thinking of these two? You have to wonder. Springfield remains a racially tense town.

Just a little more than two months ago in Springfield, a noose was hung in the work area used by a black employee of the city’s power and light utility.

The apparent target of the noose hanging, Mike Williams, an African-American, pleaded to the Springfield City Council,

“So, I beg of you, as this ground starts to shake and the rumble is coming, to please don’t just ignore this, don’t sweep this under the rug,” Williams said. “Adopt a no-tolerance policy immediately that says if you are caught or if you admit jokingly, unintentionally or whatever it may be that you committed such acts, that you will be terminated immediately.”

After Williams spoke, Archie Lawrence, president of the Springfield Branch of the NAACP, said that hanging a noose is “the ultimate insult.”

“The only thing that’s worse than hanging a noose is hanging itself,” he said, adding that he finds it impossible “to believe that anyone would hang a noose did not have the intent to send a message that black people are not welcome in this town, that black people did not deserve to perform their job without any type of threat or intimidation.”

Following a ‘review’ of the incident by the Mayor of Springfield and the Sangamon County State’s Attorney, the names of those who placed the noose were made public: one was the brother of the mayor’s former wife, and the other a nephew of the city human resource director, himself a well-known former high school coach.

The punishment – meted two months later – for the heinous act committed by these well-connected city employees in Abraham Lincoln’s home town: 60-day unpaid suspensions in scheduled five-day increments. This unusual method of discipline was taken, according to the city utility’s spokesperson, “in order to not adversely affect the operations of those departments and avoid overtime.”

At an October 7 secret meeting, the city’s civil service commission declined to intervene, yet one member questioned the suspensions as a “a new level of discipline … that basically keeps people from being terminated.”

And so it goes in the Land of Lincoln.

[ Also at Springfield 1908 ]

A Tick, huge rash, Lyme? Medical mistakes, 20 Years of Pain.

June 17th, 2023

July 29, 2003

I was a happy and fit 57 year-old in July of 2003. I’d lost 125 pounds and was in the third year of my recovery, enjoying the best physical and mental health of my life. That soon ended when I found a tick on my ankle. It was the evening of July 29,2003.

On that Tuesday, after returning home from work, I was changing my shoes and noticed a black spot just below the top of my sock, on the outside of my right calf, near the ankle.

It appeared to be either a mole or a piece of dirt and I began to pick at it. Then I thought I probably shouldn’t, because a mole should not be toyed with. But the dark bump began to come loose, so I continued to pick it off my leg. When I had it off, I held it up to my face and then noticed the squirming legs of a tick.

I tried to crush it, but could not. It was about the size of a pencil eraser and appeared to be light-to-dark brown on top with what may have been spots.

The tick concerned me, but not enough to seek any kind of treatment. I had no pain associated with it, nor any itch.

August 2003

Three days later, on August 1, I awoke with a terrible head and neck ache, along with general pain throughout my body. I remember thinking about meningitis, because of the intense pain in my neck. I spent most of the day in bed, curled almost into a fetal position, because the pain was so severe. That lasted all day Friday, but I was fine the next day.

Because of my neck pain on Friday, and knowing I’d been bitten by a tick, on Saturday morning I called the HMO we used via my wife’s employer. We were told to come to urgent care facility for an evaluation, because my complaint involved a tick.

I brought along the dead tick, which I’d placed in a baby-food bottle. The doctor at Kaiser took one look at the tick and said, “Well, that’s not a deer tick, so you don’t have to worry about Lyme disease.” She explained that the tick which causes Lyme is the size of a pencil point, and the tick I’d brought was much too large.

As a native of Illinois, I associated only one disease with ticks, and that was Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Lyme was foreign to me. The doctor had blood drawn to test for Lyme, and I was sent home with no specific instructions.

Since I was feeling fine, I had no reason to believe I was ill.

Over the next few days, however, a red spot appeared above the outside of my right ankle, at the site where I’d removed the tick. I think I noticed it on Tuesday, August 5, which was exactly a week after I’d found the tick.

As those days passed, I watched the red circular area increase in size from that of a dime, to a penny; then a nickel and, finally, a quarter.

By the end of that week the skin inside the red area began to fade from red to pink to skin color, while the outer edge remained pink — giving the circle the appearance of a red halo surrounding a tiny black dot.

At no point did this area itch or cause any pain. I’d only discovered it by chance.

I called my wife’s HMO, explained that this red circular rash had developed, and asked if I should postpone the two-week car trip to Illinois and Wisconsin that we were scheduled to begin on Saturday, August 9.

I was assured, over the phone, that our plans need not change; because, even if I did have a tick disease, two weeks away should be no problem.

By the time we’d arrived in Springfield, Illinois, for our visit, the fading circular halo had nearly vanished, and I’d gradually become ill. I was weak and had general body aches similar to the flu.

After my second day in bed with these worsening symptoms, my wife called the HMO. The doctor assigned to my primary care instructed my wife to take me to the HMO’s nearest facility, which, we were told, was in Ohio. My wife pleaded for help, explaining that I was quite ill in Springfield, Illinois. Still, she was told the HMO could take care of the problem only in Ohio, since we were out of our home coverage area.

Frustrated, we decided to act on our own in Springfield. We would use my secondary, individual insurance through my employer, so my wife drove me on August 13 to the Springfield Clinic “Prompt Care” facility, where I was seen by the doctor on duty.

She listened to my account and ordered blood and urinalysis tests, which detected no illness, but did show a slight reduction in my white blood cell count. She decided to put me on doxycycline for ten days. When we left Springfield for Madison, Wisconsin, on August 15; I still had the flu-like body aches, weakness and a headache. In addition, numbness occurred on the underside of my arms.

In Madison I continued to feel very weak. My abdomen was a bit sore, I’d become weak, and had a debilitating headache. I was in bed with these symptoms at our motel room August 16 and 17, ruining the trip to see our daughter. I called the primary physician I see under my employer’s plan on the 16th, and was told that if my headache persisted and I had a fever above 100.5 to go to an emergency room immediately. I had no fever, so we continued on our return to Virginia.

On the 17th I was surprised to discover another, huge red circular area on my lower right abdomen.



[With a pen, we drew a border around it, to see if it would get any larger.]

It was much larger than the one I’d had on my ankle. This area was about the size of a half-dollar and deep scarlet in color, with a strange red curl extending from the top. The area was not painful and did not itch. However, when I applied pressure on it, I felt nauseous for several minutes afterward.

We spent the night of August 18 with my older brother in Chesterton, Indiana. When I awoke on the 19th, my body was jerking, as though I had a chill, but much more violent. My temperature was normal, and after an hour or so the jerks dissipated.

On August 20 the large red area on my abdomen had grown in circumference (the size of an old silver dollar) and even deeper red in appearance.


We decided to stop at an urgent care facility just off of I-70, attached to St. Francis Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. There I saw a physician who was mystified by the rash, researched possible causes and found none.

She ordered blood work and thought perhaps the scarlet abdominal rash could have been caused by a drug reaction or an infection. She told me to stop the doxycycline and gave me a prescription for amoxicillin.

At the suggestion of my eldest brother, a pathologist, I continued on the doxycycline and began taking the amoxicillin. Initially, when we stopped by his home on our way to Springfield, he said I couldn’t have Lyme, because the tick that spreads it is nearly invisible. However, as we talked with one another by phone and he followed my description of my symptoms, my brother began to do some research. He found that the engorged female deer tick is visible.

“Nick,” he said, “you have Lyme disease. You’re a writer; keep notes and write about what’s happening. You’re going to educate a lot of doctors.”

On August 21 I discovered that the “curl” at the top of the scarlet abdominal rash had developed into a faint circle. Looking more closely, I could see the outline of two pink circles sitting above the abdominal rash. In effect, the large scarlet rash had the appearance of medallion suspended from a double-rounded pink chain.

On the morning of August 22, I awoke with my body jerking. This time the jerking was much more intense and lasted much longer than the jerking I’d experienced on the 18th. After an hour or so the jerking subsided. Again, on the morning of August 23, I woke again with the jerking (my body reacted as though it had been shocked repeatedly by a cattle prod). A similar event occurred later that evening. Clearly, these violent episodes were not “chills.”

By August 25 the jerking came and went throughout the day. I saw my non-HMO physician. She ordered an MRI, and gave me a referral to a neurologist.

I had the MRI on August 27 and saw my physician again later that day. She looked at the MRI and said it appeared normal, but wanted to wait for the radiologist’s report.

She then said the jerking could have been caused by a drug reaction, that the Lyme test which had been performed at the HMO had been negative and that the tick was too large to be a deer tick. She also said that even if I did have Lyme, I’d been on antibiotics long enough to have killed the bacteria that might have been involved.

I felt very confused. I saw the neurologist on August 28 and, after checking my reflexes and looking at the MRI, he said everything appeared to be normal; though he was puzzled by my body jerks, which were continuing to take place throughout the day and night. He ordered a spinal tap and an EEG.

At the suggestion of my wife, I called my physician and requested referral to a Lyme specialist. Her office called back and gave me a referral to an infectious disease specialist in Annandale, Va.

On the afternoon of August 29 I was examined by the specialist, who, upon listening to my history, viewing the abdomen photos, and observing my non-stop body jerks, said he felt I had either Lyme or another tick-borne disease. During the course of the exam he later said he was sure I had Lyme disease.

He ordered a 21-day course of intravenous antibiotics (Rocephin) and said I would begin to feel better by the second week and that the disease should be cured by the end of the antibiotic therapy. I was relieved that we finally had found a physician who seemed to know what had been taking place in my body. He suggested I stay home from work the following week.

I experienced considerable jerking of my body on Sunday, August 31.

September 2003

On Monday, September 1 the jerking stopped, but I experienced pain in my head, neck, shoulders, arms and legs. On Thursday, September 4, I went to bed around 9:30 p.m. with a severe headache and neck ache and jerking. At about midnight I awoke with even more severe head and neck pain.

Throughout the week of September 7, I continued to experience the jerking, weakness and body aches. On the night of September 12, I experienced violent jerking of my body, a sensation of pressure on the top of my head, and a severe headache. I took an endocet, which had been prescribed for the pain. While the jerking stopped, the pain remained. I slept little that night.

I slept well the night of September 13 and experienced no jerking. The next day, however, after eating breakfast about 9am, I became very weak and my body began to ache and jerk. I went to bed and slept for about two hours.

Upon awakening I found that the jerking had stopped and the pain lessened. I still felt weak, with just enough energy to write this report. It is now 5:16 pm on September 14, 2003. I am a bit dizzy and have numbness on the underside of my arms and hands.

At the end of September 2003, my symptoms seemed to have been abated, and my infectious disease physician declared me cured of Lyme.

October 2003

Total healing seemed to have been complete by the first week of October, 2003. No pain, no tingling/numbness, no body jerks.

November 2003

Approximately seven weeks later, in late November, 2003, the jerking symptoms came back. Puzzled, I returned to my infectious disease doctor, who seemed perplexed. Asked if he had ever experienced a recurrence of Lyme, he said, “Never; and I’ve been in practice 17 years.”

December 2003

Nevertheless, he placed me in Fairfax Hospital on December 9, 2003, and began a new course of I.V. Rocephin. At the end of that first night in the hospital, my jerking disappeared.

However, next morning I awakened with the severe body jolts again. The infectious disease specialist had my case reviewed by a psychiatrist and neurologist, both of whom could find nothing that would explain my symptoms. The psychiatrist said my behavior could not be linked to the medications I was taking for psychiatric reasons. The neurologist’s exam, which included a spinal tap, showed no abnormalities; and no evidence of the Lyme spirochete.

The infectious disease doctor ordered a ‘PICC’ line (peripherally inserted central catheter) to be inserted into my lower right arm and threaded up into my chest cavity, so the next round of antibiotics could be delivered directly into a major vein near the heart. He told me to check in with him the next day.

At his office the following day the infectious disease doctor again reviewed the medications I am taking for psychiatric illnesses. He changed his assessment and told me the violent jerks I was experiencing were “clearly electrical,” not related to Lyme or any other disease, and suggested I go see a psychiatrist and neurologist.

My wife and I were both stunned. I’d suddenly been dropped by the physician who had seemed to be on the right path. Rather than go with the evidence before him, he said he’d never seen a recurrence, reviewed the medications he already knew I took for my severe depression, and appeared to be giving me a ‘go and sin no more’-type dismissal.

A few days later, the severe joint, muscle, head and neck pain returned; so I made an appointment to see the same doctor. Despite my report of intense pain, he repeated, “We had an agreement; you are to see a psychiatrist and neurologist,” and expressed no further interest in my case.

In the ensuing months the pain returned to all joints, neck, head, and extremities; gradually worsening. The body jolts became quite violent.

I arranged to see the neurologist who had examined me at Fairfax Hospital. She, too, was puzzled by my condition, but wanted to help me find the cause and get treatment.

She referred me to a specialist at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. However, that physician merely reviewed my lab results (all had been negative for Lyme) and said, “You don’t have Lyme disease.” I told him I was not trying to prove I had a particular disease: just that I was ill, my condition was getting worse, and I needed help. He said there was nothing he could do.

My neurologist then referred me to a specialist at the University of Virginia Medical School, who also reviewed my labs, said I didn’t have Lyme and whatever I did have would not be known for “20 years or so.”


Next I looked online for anyone who may have worked on a recurrent tick disease, and found a physician who had published a study on the recurrence of Lyme in the 1990s. She practiced and conducted research at the State University of New York at Stonybrook. I quickly made an appointment to see her.

We booked a train to New York, where we transferred at Grand Central Station to a commuter train that took us to the SUNY Stonybrook hospital on Long Island. When our appointment was called, the doctor reviewed my history, dictated her report to my neurologist, then examined me and said her conclusion was that I didn’t have and never had Lyme disease. Despite my plea that I was not trying to prove Lyme, just get help; she said she felt that my symptoms would eventually “clear-up on their own.”

We returned to Arlington to report back to my neurologist. Unlike all of the other doctors we’d seen, she continued to be interested in my case, and acknowledged that I did have some disease. She also said she had to rely on “someone smarter than I am” to try to solve my case.

So, instead of taking the easy path and wishing me well, she again gave me a referral, this time to a Fairfax City (Va.) Lyme specialist, whom she said was controversial, but could possibly help me. And, to alleviate the worsening pain, she also referred me to a pain specialist in Fairfax County, Va.

I finally was ‘getting it’ that Lyme is a ‘political’ disease, because many doctors believe that the only people with Lyme were those with a positive blood test. All my tests had been negative; yet I had the tick and the photographs (thank you, Lisa and Denny) of a classic secondary circular rash.

We made arrangements to see this new doctor.

To recap: Between December 2003 and April 1, 2004, I had received no treatment for my ailment. The photo I had of the large red area with the curl was the only concrete evidence I could present to physicians … those who attempted to understand my condition and help, that is.

The new doctor listened to my description of my situation with great interest and viewed the photo. She said that Lyme was one of the most difficult diseases to verify, but that her clinical diagnosis was that I did have Lyme disease, and I needed to begin I.V. Rocephin treatment immediately.

After about a week of infusion at her office, I was instructed by this new doctor to go to the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., to have a Bard Mediport implanted in my chest. This device — similar in concept to the PICC line — would allow me to infuse I.V. Rocephin into the major veins near my heart. This was done daily, in our own home, for seven months.

At the doctor’s suggestion, I had my tonsils removed, with the hope that the spirochete might be detected in them. Alas, no spirochete was present in the tonsils.

This new doctor explained that the Lyme spirochete bacterium “hides” in other cells. [This "hiding" concept was difficult for me to understand, until I read this article, one of the most informative I have seen, and made available by a Lyme support network.]

As treatment continued — with my doctor adding more medications to fight the infection — my situation continued to deteriorate. Two months later (October 2004) the doctor noticed my severe sweats/chills and heard my complaint of painful and very weak legs when I tried to climb stairs, whether at home or at a public building.

She began to suspect a babesia co-infection and commenced treatment with Mepron and Artemisia to attack not only the Lyme but also babesiosis. She then halted the Rocephin. She believed beyond doubt that I did have Lyme and babesiosis, but was concerned that my condition did not seem to be improving after nearly 9 months of I.V. treatment.

Again, her diagnoses were clinical; but my description of my symptoms left her with no doubt that I had these diseases.

Visible symptoms included loss of muscle, loss of hair on the legs, sweats/chills, some violent jerking (usually only at night in bed), extreme difficulty and pain while climbing stairs. I also experienced joint/muscle specific pain, and periods of extreme exhaustion. Another very new symptom was severe (a level of 8 out of 10) pain on the surfaces of all my teeth; both top and bottom rows. I checked with my dentist on December 30, 2004 — by then the pain was gone — and he found no evidence of dental disease and had no explanation for the pain.

On December 26 I was taken by ambulance to an Arlington hospital for what seemed to be constriction of my throat/airway. The symptom began as rough pain in the back of my throat, which spread down my esophagus. Examination found no constriction, and I realized, again, that the source of the pain was in my damaged central nervous system, not where the pain seemed to be. This sudden, spreading throat pain became a new addition to my catalog of pain.

During the night of December 27, I awoke with violent, severe chills for which nothing gave relief. Then I noticed my breathing had become alarmingly shallow. I said it felt as though I was taking only a half breath in and a half breath out; I worried that I would cease breathing. My wife took my blood pressure — with an automatic cuff — and it appeared in the normal ranges. However, my pulse was around 50 and then began to drop slowly: from 50 to 47 and then 42. I tried to remain calm and took my pulse by using the clock and my wrist.

Perhaps that distraction helped reduce my anxiety. The feeling of impending inability to breathe was quite frightening. We went back to bed; when I awoke, my pillow, cover and thick bedspread were soaked from my perspiration which apparently occurred during sleep after the low pulse/shallow breathing incident.


On January 5, 2005, the pain in a.m. was severe (9) and stayed that way for hours, even though I was taking oxycontin (40mg 3x/day, prescribed and closely monitored by a pain specialist physician) each day for pain. Despite using that potent drug, there are some days when even more severe pain will “break through” between dosage times.

My physician urged me — because, she said, “We’re missing something” — to get in touch with a New York doctor who uses herbal remedies. She believed he could offer some hope to cure me.

I saw this Asian doctor on April 2, 2005, in his New York office.

Since starting use of his herbal supplements (it is now June 25, 2005) my pain has diminished to the point that I am able to go into work every day. [His treatment, in the end, did not bring a "cure."]

I still had days of pain, but the instances did not reach to the 9 level. However, I am weakening and it has become difficult to walk. I walk very slowly, at least I did yesterday and today.

The chills/sweats are gone. And I had reduced my pain meds — as of June 20 — to 40 milligrams of Oxycontin in the am and pm. I took, as needed, oxycodone (also known as Oxy-IR) for pain that often occured during the midday.

Our chief concern centered on weakness, especially in my legs.

On weekends I am frequently in bed most of the day, due to pain and weakness.


A new and strange symptom has appeared: I began to have difficulty reading and concentrating at work between 9am and 11am. Frequently I became aware of these events when I noticed I had held down the key of the last letter I’d typed, so on the screen there appeared a long string of one letter — nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, for example. Other times, I’d suddenly realize that I’d been staring at the screen, unable to move, for an hour or more. My mind was in a daze or ‘fog’ that permitted no ability to work.

To deal with this incapacitation I received permission from my boss to lie down under my office desk and nap for two to three hours. I would place a small sign on my door that read, “Please do not disturb. Thank you.” It could happen as many as three days out of five in the week. I was able to complete my work each day, but sometimes I had to stay much later than the rest of my colleagues.


I saw my Virginia physician monthly, and she tried a number of medications to attack the source of my persistent symptoms.

I remained plagued by unanticipated severe jerks or jolts to my body…. sometimes in my office, sometimes in meetings… and, often, very violently in bed at night. I would awake with rapid, upper body spasms … it felt like Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! for up to 20 times … maybe 30, before the episode stops. I took 0.5mg of clonazepam, which usually ended the disquieting symptom.

The other persistent symptoms consisted of extreme exhaustion, coupled with mid-morning double vision and the inability to concentrate. I continued to nap when necessary.

I also still had severe attacks of pain, which could reach a level of 8. I had no idea when these pain attacks might to occur, but they rarely occurred during the work week. Frequently I awoke on Saturday morning with the pain and had to rest in bed, unable to do anything else, until the pain ebbed, around 5pm or so. My pain physician said the weekend pain could be fallout from the stress of the work week on my body.

However, my situation seemed to be moving in a positive direction: the mental confusion had begun to diminish, though I still would lie under my desk for an hour some days. On Saturday, September 29, I awoke with no pain and was full of energy all day.

On September 30, 2007, I awoke with 7 pain and worried it could be another all-day bout. But the pain diminished, with some remaining in my knees, shoulders, ankles and fingers.

My pain specialist replaced Oxycontin with a single daily dose (at 5am) of Avinza — a time-release morphine capsule. Yet, still, on some days I experienced periods of intense pain, for which I may take 5mg Oxycodone, one-at-a-time, for up to four separate doses.

By 4:36pm on the 30th, the pain was marginal (3), and I was able to work on my writing with a sense of hopeful energy.

Two other milestones that week: I was able to walk the 1.5 miles to work from my house to the subway. That would have been impossible over the span of the previous four and a-quarter years. My knees ached most of that morning, but not enough to halt work; and I had no walk-related pain the next morning.

I believe my Lyme specialist physician’s treatment, though considered unorthodox by some, has brought me to this level of good health. I’m not completely healed, but there has definitely been progress, thank God.


By early June of 2009 my situation seemed to be moving in a positive direction: I had just reduced my main pain medication — Avinza (time-release morphine) — from 60mg/day to 45mg/day. I had not used oxycodone for several weeks.

Then, without any warning, head/eye pain began mid-day on June 7. It progressed — to level 8 — and spread to extremities, neck, etc., and kept getting worse, despite several doses (at one hour intervals) of oxycodone. By 10:00 pm. I had to resort to another medication to enable me to sleep. Lately, my pain has been more constant, and the condition of ‘no-pain’ has almost disappeared.

On June 20, 2009, after several ‘normal’ days, pain began at 7.5 in intensity, progressed to 8, and affected these parts of my body: knees, elbows, wrists, hips, neck, shoulders, spine, ankles, fingers, palms, head, jaws, chin, temples, ears, legs and eyes. It became so debilitating that I took breakthrough medication at 5:50 p.m.

The pain can occur for no reason. I have no idea when or if this will end; I’ve long given up on the possibility of a ‘cure.’ Six years, and the pain continues.


Primary symptoms: severe chronic pain, violent whole-body jerking (mostly in bed at night), occasional extreme exhaustion/inability to concentrate, and debilitating leg pain. Frequent (once a week) diarrhea led to discovery of a gluten allergy. Eventually, soy was added to the allergy list.


My condition changed, dramatically, the week of July 11. I was helping to staff a legislative meeting for my education association employer and began to walk from the Senate side of the Capitol (Constitution Avenue) to the House side (Independence Avenue), about four city blocks.

After roughly 50 to 100 feet of walking, both legs were in pain, primarily deep inside the muscles in my right thigh, and then the left thigh. Walking grew more and more strained; so I headed for the subway and took sick leave for the rest of the day.

The next day (Friday, July 15) I rode Amtrak from Union Station to Williamsburg to visit my wife, who was working as a site interpreter at the Jamestown Settlement near Williamsburg.

I drove from the station to the Jamestown Settlement parking lot. After locking the car I remembered I’d forgotten something, so I turned to go back to the car. On the short (50 feet) walk back, my legs again became painful, with deep muscle pain in both thighs, a tightened feeling in the backs of both legs, accompanied by such weakness that I found it difficult to walk.

When it came time to tour the Jamestown Settlement Museum, I told my wife that I felt I would not be able to walk through it, because of the intensifying pain and weakness. So, she found a museum-provided electric cart, which I used throughout our tour.

I had never even considered use of such a device, which I associate with the elderly and handicapped.

When we later began a tour of another museum at the Yorktown Victory Center, I soon knew I’d need another electric cart. In each case I was grateful such devices were available.

In the ensuing days and nights, the pain worsened, almost exponentially. I had to use oxycodone at least three times each day and I started an application for federal medical disability leave. Retirement did not, at that point, seem to bring the thoughts of relaxation and peace I once would have expected.

September 6, 2011 — My boss at the association, after listening to my account of the Capitol and museum episodes, suggested I consider a medical leave and then reassess after three months. After that period, he said, I could apply for the association’s long-term disability insurance.

Subsequently, with the assistance of my neurologist, I was granted three months of medical leave. I also prepared documents to be submitted for the association’s two-year disability insurance.


At the end of my medical leave, I retired from the association on November 18, 2011, after 26 years of service. My application for my employer’s long-term disability plan was denied by their insurance carrier. The reason? I never tested positive for Lyme disease. I’d had all the symptoms and I even found the tick; but, once again: no positive blood test means you have no evidence that you’re sick. The person handling my case was in my corner and wanted me to be granted the benefit; but it all came down to that one, fallible test, which I could not provide.

A similar application to U.S. Social Security’s Federal Disability program was initially denied. I was given the opportunity to appeal, and, to our astonishment, I received a notice that my federal application had been approved about two weeks before my 66th birthday, my full retirement date and the date on which the federal disability insurance would expire. (I was awarded a lump sum payment, which gave me disability benefits for the last few months before my 66th birthday.)

Meanwhile, the pain makes life a daily struggle. Exhaustion requires a daily 2 to 3 hour nap in the late a.m. or mid-afternoon. On a ‘pain day’ I may have to take a single oxycodone at various times to reduce the pain and help me remain somewhat active.

I’ve also noticed that I’ve become quite thin. My weight has dropped to as low as 159lbs. When this journey began in July of 2003, I weighed 183lbs.

Walking, again, can be painful and I tire easily.

On July 23, just as I was about to shut the front door of our house to join my wife for an afternoon movie date, I suddenly experienced pain around my back and midsection, which spread rapidly to my neck, eyes, head, arms legs, joints. I took an Oxycodone, but the pain continued to worsen. The date was off. Heading for a large easy chair and my iPod — filled with “healing” meditations and “space” music — I settled into pain distraction and attempted sleep, while the medication did its job.


February 2 — Weight at Jan. 3 doc visit was 156. Skin is extremely thin and limp/wrinkled in arms, abdomen. Good biceps, but where’s the rest of the flesh that’s supposed support and surround them?

Cheek bones more prominent, giving a ‘gaunt’ look. Palms are deepening. All blood vessels appear as on top of skin, not under it. (Slight exaggeration, but that’s what it seems.)


April 1 — Weight is now stabilized at around 170lbs, but other symptoms have become more worrisome. Touch to my palms and scalp can bring pain. The skin across my forehead — beyond the temples and above the hairline — can be marked by as many as six deeply set furrows.

Nearly every part of my body — except — continues to recede at a steady, glacial pace. More prominent each week are the bones in my hands, wrists, forearms, face, ankles, toes and pelvis. These imperceptible changes have occurred over the length of my journey, and have been, until recently, more discernible to me than to others.

And the pain … the relentless, unyielding pain … maintains its solid grip.


My pain physician, Dr. Justin Wasserman, M.D., took me off of oxycodone and replaced it with a drug that is much more successful in diminishing my pain with a simple combination pill — Buprenorphine-Naloxone — that has minimal side effects and has all but erased the most intense, crushing pain that has debilitated me for so long. I am extremely grateful for his help in giving a somewhat normal life back to my wife and me.

At present, I weigh 137 lbs and am undergoing physical therapy to help me prevent falls, of which I have had too many. A specialist at Johns Hopkins gave me a “long-shot diagnosis” of Powassen disease, for which there is no cure, but at least it could provide an answer for this relentless wasting and occasional head pain.

Where is this leading? Each day is a gift. Each hug is precious. Each kiss, divine.


I am indebted to my amazing wife — my life’s partner, soul mate, lover and mother of our four daughters — whose smile and hugs and sturdy right arm make it possible for me to live as ‘normally’ as possible. She has adjusted her life to care for mine. She reads voraciously in search of new paths to pursue; new hints for answers. She has devoted each and every year (2013-present) of her retirement, to assure that I arrive at health appointments — at lease one each week — on time and monitored. What we’d both hoped would be years of relaxation has, instead, yielded to a period of much more limited goals.

She has never given up and has always encouraged me to seek a solution that could end all the ills befallen us since July 29, 2003. I can never imagine life without her.

This diary of Lyme is dedicated to her: Mary Ann Templeton Penning, the love of my life. She and our four daughters — Marni, Rebecca, Lisa and Anna — make me whole and bring total joy.

Pain may interrupt, but their love is with me always.

03/16/14 — 8:00pm

American Taliban?

April 28th, 2023

You’ve seen the pictures - the Taliban, the extremist group that has taken over Afghanistan, maintains its grip on that country by posting young men on almost every street corner, riding in trucks, holding/brandishing assault rifles, wearing atypical clothes that stand out, letting the public know who’s in power, and will stay in power, by the power of openly brandished guns and fear.

How can we think our future under a government backed by the hate-filled, gun-carrying white supremacists could be any different?

What would an America with a Second Amendment “rights”, extremist-controlled government look like? Remember how the militia types - Proud Boys, the ones an ex-president told to “Stand Back and Stand By,” and others of like mind - appeared at the Capitol January 6th in Washington? Similar shows of gun-force were on display at state capitols:

Olympia (Washington),
Salem (Oregon),
Salt Lake City

And recall how Al Quaeda stormed our skies, tore into the Pentagon and slaughtered our citizens with anti U.S. furor on 9/11.

Now, think of the rage of the mob who attempted to conquer our Capitol and stop our republic from functioning. Their actions were as vile and filled with every bit of rage against our country, their own country, as the foreign suicide terrorists had for us on 9/11.

Do we really believe the behavior of our rifle-bearers - should they achieve power - would be any different than that of the Afghan Taliban? Who would be on our street corners? Who would be standing outside our state capitol buildings? Our local government buildings? Outside our U.S. Capitol in Washington? And would we still live free, enjoying our lives? Or would we live in fear?


— For a look at the militia movement and the entities most prone to violence, see this report by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), “a disaggregated data collection, analysis, and crisis mapping project, [which] collects information on the dates, actors, locations, fatalities, and types of all reported political violence and protest events around the world.”)

Now see how a previous militia behaved: The District of Columbia militia Protecting the Capitol on May 13, 1861.

The U.S. and The Holocaust

October 3rd, 2022

We need to take stock of who we are as a country - the good as well and the bad - and resolve to learn, so that bad choices are never made again.

Ken Burns, maker of outstanding documentaries, ranging from the National Parks to Country Music, has produced The U.S. and the Holocaust, calling it “one of the most important we’ve ever worked on.” Based on the political furor over our nation’s elections, over immigrants, over the huge lies of a former president, Burns reveals his deep concern over where we’re heading as a nation.

Please watch his film and ponder who we’ve been and who we seem to have become today … and whether we can change course before it’s too late.

Lies, Politics and Democracy

September 26th, 2022

For the sake of the future of our country, if you’ve not seen it, please please watch this vital program - Lies, Politics and Democracy - which addresses the most serious issue of our time: the survival of our democracy.

Produced by PBS, Frontline, Lies, Politics and Democracy carefully explores how decisions by our political leaders - those calling into question the legitimacy of our elections - have placed our own democracy in peril.

This program has been produced by one of the most acclaimed teams of investigative journalists in our country. And, according to Wikipedia, “As of July 2016, Frontline has won a total of 75 Emmy Awards and 18 Peabody Awards.”

Please, regardless of your political/non-political views, take the time to see it. What you and I do between now and our next elections - how we discuss, how we read, how and to whom we write - will play a role in what the United States of America is or will become.

Driving While Black … “Three times”

August 7th, 2022

This column has been written in loving memory of Calvin Milton Jones, who died May 25, 2011.

“Has that ever happened to you?”

His face looked at me with the most serious expression I’d seen from this gentle man.

“Three times,” he said.

My friend, the late Calvin Milton Jones, had just sent me a copy of Dick Gregory’s talk to a Tavis Smiley “State of Black Union” convention center audience. Gregory, the comedian and activist, wondered aloud, that if Bill Clinton was truly “our first Black president,” would he know (at 1 min,50 sec.) how it felt to be a Black man, driving down the road, and hear a police siren:

“Mr. President, do you know what it feels like to be a Black person, to be a congresslady, to be a lieutenant governor with 12 doctor’s degrees, and driving down the street, and hear the police siren, and you start squeezing that steering wheel tight, and they pass by you, and you Thank God! Damn! You didn’t do nothin’ in the first place. Do you know what it is to be Black?”

The primarily Black audience was in howls, cheering with a standing ovation at Gregory’s presentation. And I realized then that the expression, “driving while Black,” was so real and so common that an entire audience of hundreds had reacted, knowingly and in unison, with raucous laughter at Gregory’s searing remarks.

After I watched it, I walked over to Calvin’s office and asked him, “Has that ever happened to you?”

He looked me straight in the eye, “Three times” … on the way to and from Washington and his hometown in North Carolina.

So this gentle and generous man … who arrived at the office at close to five o’clock every morning — even the day before he died, sick with pneumonia — to turn on the lights, make the coffee, check the phone and computer systems, arrange the conference rooms to be sure everything was in place for the days’ meetings … told me, with those words, that he had been stopped by police officers on three separate occasions, just because they knew they could taunt another Black man.

This man, Calvin Milton Jones … who wouldn’t harm a soul, who cut all the lawns in his neighborhood, because he didn’t want it to look unkempt; who, unasked, often waxed neighbors’ cars; and who would give you the shirt off his back, if you were in need … this man had been pulled over three times for no other reason than the color of his skin.

Imagine how it must feel to look up into the eyes of a uniformed man, who, you and he know, could change your life in an instant.

And now we have young Trayvon Martin, killed by a single shot from the gun of a self-appointed ‘neighborhood watchman,’ who said Trayvon was, “suspicious … looks Black” and, chasing Trayvon against orders, told 911, “They always get away.” But “they” (Trayvon) did not get away; and the man who hunted him down wasn’t even arrested.

Walking while black?

Author Donna Britt, commenting on the shooting death of Trayvon, said, “I don’t know what this child could have done to be safe, except not be Black.”

Being, while Black.

These two men, going about their business, are stopped for being “suspicious,” for being Black men living in the world’s lone superpower; which the rest of us tell ourselves is “the land of the free” … the “sweet land of liberty” … that exists, “under God … with liberty and justice for all.”

Perhaps it is … for some.

The Danger of Presidential Racism - Tulsa 1921, George Floyd 2020

May 16th, 2022

What a president says, matters.

When he was running for president in 1912, Woodrow Wilson signaled to the African American community, whose votes he was courting, that he was on their side: “Should I become President of the United States, [Negroes] [sic] may count upon me for absolute fair dealing and for everything by which I could assist in advancing the interests of their race in the United States.” Wilson, a Democrat, won, in part, by capturing the votes of many African Americans, formerly embraced the Republican Party. Long-sought equality seemed within reach.

But only weeks after his March 7, 1913, inauguration, Wilson - in an April 11 meeting - assented to requests by determined Southern cabinet members to segregate their departments, which had been officially integrated for 50 years, since the time of Reconstruction at the end of the Civil War. The U.S. Postal Service and the Department of the Treasury soon went into action, rushing to move African American workers into desks and tables that were separated from white workers, and moving Black workers out of formerly shared locker rooms and restrooms. Screens were posted around African American workers, so no white person could see them.

Wilson told a group of African American leaders at the White House that segregation was necessary to “prevent racial friction.” Instead, by reversing his pre-election pledge, he provoked it.

W.E.B. DuBois, the editor of NAACP’s The Crisis, responded, “The federal government has set the colored apart as if mere contact with them were contamination,” adding, “Behind screens and closed doors they now sit as though leprous. How long will it be before the hateful epithets of ‘Nigger’ and ‘Jim Crow’ are openly applied?”

In the years following official segregation of the federal government, the security of African Americans became ever more tenuous. Recruitment for the armed forces for World War I featured a draft registration card that crudely instructs the enlistee: “If person is of African descent, cut off this corner.”

Racial separation signaled to racists that Uncle Sam doesn’t see Black people as equal, and in the 1919 summer months following the return of service personnel from Europe, white rioters attacked and killed hundreds of African Americans, including fellow servicemen, in 33 cities spread across the entire country. Black life was in low regard.

The seeds of division Wilson had planted produced such venom and disregard for the lives of Black people that the most successful and prominent community of African Americans in the country, Greenwood - a 40-square block district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, known as The Black Wall Street - was invaded by white mobs on June 21, 1921, firebombed by planes and totally destroyed. Upwards of 300 African American men, women and children were killed, and the Black Wall Street lay in embers.

When Donald Trump called the white supremacists in Charlottesville, “very fine people:” when he said African immigrants come from “shithole countries,” and when he fed crowd rage toward protesting African American football players, urging, “Get that son-of-a-bitch off the field!” we had another president taking aim at our own citizens, only this time it was being done with blunt furor and open hate, with no attempt to hide his disdain for Americans he just doesn’t like to see.

The signals he gave to those seething with hate, the ones who had been in the background, those who had gathered secretly in the woods as militia and KKK, came out in full force on January 6, 2021. The wink he gave to police about their treatment of suspects likely ended the vibrant life of George Floyd in 2020 Minneapolis.

Are you willing to allow this venom to pour into our communities and neighborhoods? To see open attacks on people of color? Will you do anything to stand up for justice and the rule of law?

Sadly, we have seen more videos of three or four or five police officers arresting African American men for simply being in a public space. in 2018, a woman was choked and her clothes torn off, as she asked why a disagreement over plastic-ware caused her to be cornered by police in a fast-food restaurant. When an officer used that coded-phrase, “You’re resisting me,” he seemed to feel that gave him full authority to do whatever he willed to her partially-clothed body.

Then, in a moment separated by just miles and hours, a lone African American man had the courage to lunge at a gunman in a similar fast-food outlet, and stopped potential carnage. What a comparison: two policemen tackle an unarmed girl, while a Black man heroically tackled an armed gunman.

And how many unarmed Black men and women have been killed by police, in the encounters we know about, since 1999?

How can we - you and me - ensure that this outrage stops, that this legacy of violent racist hatred ceases?

America, What Horror Is Looming Toward Us? What Fate Is Staring in Our Faces?

March 27th, 2022

We see news of violence at meetings of school boards - our closest local governmental body, overseen by elected, unpaid, community volunteers - meetings formerly peaceful and respectful, that have become shouting rows tinged with threats of violence over issues that barely exist - face masks, “critical race theory” - which is a college-level concept not taught in public schools - and attempts to purge books from school libraries over alleged sexual content, which one Iowa resident alleged included “child-adult sex and books that promote pedophilia,” a preposterous statement.

The furor against schools, against libraries, against face masks, against the vaccines that have saved our lives in a worldwide pandemic, is creating a cauldron of hatred that will - if we cannot control ourselves - steer our beloved country further away from civility on “this land … your land” - the hills and cities and farms and hamlets and apartments and factories - into fearful disorder.

Meanwhile, civic order is also seeing challenges to local and state elections, as the “stolen election” lie has caused local administrators - some experiencing threats to their lives - to resign, and new state laws are passed to restrict who can, and how easily, vote, both of which foretell an assault on our precious right to choose whom to elect as our leaders.

This apparent chaos exists because one man, who had been our president, repeated and repeats, over and over - with no evidence - the “Big Lie” that his attempt to win reelection was stolen from him. And because elected leaders in his party, extol and repeat his lies, a huge portion of our country believes our president is illegitimate.

Reflect that each of these questioning officeholders appears to see no problem with the vote count in their own reelection - won by having their name checked on the very same ballot on which voters also checked a box for the office of president. If the ballots were fraudulent, wouldn’t their own election be fraudulent, too?

Imagine how empowered Russia’s and China’s leaders must feel, watching us tear each other apart, weakening our national government. Perhaps that’s why Putin is killing his opponents and destroying Ukraine? Maybe he thinks the U.S. isn’t such a tough opponent anymore.

Stoked by enormous lies, repeated over and over, by extremist politicians and the far-right cable “news” channels in a symbiotic echo chamber, many of us believe the government is against us; that it is threatening our freedom.

But look at what objectors to our government can do here - demonstrate, peaceably, with marches and signs and even slow-driving “convoys” around our nation’s capital - and compare that to the genuine threat to freedom ripping apart Ukraine, where middle class cities, families, children, schools and hospitals are being destroyed by Russian tanks and bombs and missiles, just because the people and the government won’t surrender their genuine freedom to a murderous dictator.

Being asked to wear a mask, to get vaccinated, during a worldwide outbreak of a new and deadly infection that has claimed millions of lives, is called an assault on our freedom? Look to Ukraine, if you want to see what a real assault on freedom looks like.

Here we can express our disagreement, but not express it with violence. Why would we? We can go anywhere we want, walk wherever we want every day, if you are white, that is. We can travel between cities and go to work, our children can go to school, we can read whatever we want, say whatever we like, love whomever we love, watch whatever we want, listen to whatever we want to hear - all without anyone in authority telling us we can’t; all without anyone grabbing us off the street.

Are the anti-mask/anti-vaccine and anti-school cries for “freedom” a foretelling of widespread violence? Is it actually true, frighteningly true, that greater numbers of us think political violence is acceptable? That another January 6 would be likely … in the freest nation on Earth?

We know this is happening. And it frightens me to death.

My friend in The Netherlands wrote to me that “Biden’s (1/6/22) speech, the whole horrible event of January 6th, has been given much attention on tv over here. And that makes it clear how important it also is to us and our values … democratic values.” He added, “One can hardly believe what is happening right now in Republican states like Arizona and Georgia, where Trump’s lies in advance are given a ‘legal’ basis for overturning the correct results of elections in the future.”

Where are we? Is this the United States of America? The place where Jefferson declared, “all men are created equal”? Where Roosevelt strove to calm Depression fear and to topple fascists abroad? Where JFK sought a New Frontier and Johnson said, “We shall overcome”? Which Reagan called “a shining city on a hill”? Where Lincoln pledged that our unique commitment to self-governed liberty “shall not perish from the Earth”?

America, who are we? And what will we become?

Will we become?

Read, learn, seek truth, and vote, knowing that in the United States of America, your voice matters, and your vote is, without question, fairly counted.