“At his best, man is the noblest of animals. Separated from law and justice, he is the worst.”
I realize this is November, but I am done with 2020. It’s been a tough year for everyone. I wish I could tell you that it’s going to be over soon, but it’s not.
The Chinese Communist Pandemic came out of nowhere (actually it came from a Chinese virology lab in Wuhan). The “accidental” Covid-19 release was covered up by the Communist government and this has led to the death of more than 1.3 million people worldwide and nearly 250,000 Americans.
Following the best information and science available at the time, our government shut down the country, severely damaging the economy and destroying the lives and businesses of millions of Americans. Fear of Covid-19 has worked to keep many states and cities shut down despite the terrible consequences that isolation causes. Suicide and drug overdoses have increased. People are fearful of going to the doctor so cancer screening, elective surgery and diabetic testing are delayed. The onerous Covid-19 restrictions of government has hastened the decline of my church. Now, Thanksgiving travel has been restricted as well as family gatherings. Each year Becky and I host our large family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Last week we were forced to cancel our tradition.
And now, fear of Covid-19 has led to mail-in ballots and substantive allegations of illegal balloting as well as fraudulent voting machine algorithms which have shaken confidence in our entire election system. Democrats and their media propaganda arm say these concerns are nothing but conspirator theories. Well, I listened to the press conference of Trump’s legal team outlining their findings. The alphabet media did not cover the presser so those of CNN’s ilk will remain willfully ignorant. If even a small portion of the allegations of voting fraud are true, our entire system of government is in mortal danger.
When Ronald Reagan was elected President in November 1980, Democrat Senators alleged that George H. W. Bush was secretly flown to Iran to secure the release of American embassy hostages immediately after Jimmy Carter left office. There was no evidence for this ridiculous claim, but “the seriousness of the charge demands an investigation” was the Democrat mantra.
Fast forward to November 2020 where the allegations of massive voting fraud are infinitely more compelling. These charges must be investigated and, if necessary, litigated or the Constitutional rule of law is forfeit and the country is done. Neither Biden nor Trump can lead a country where half believe the election was fraudulent.
There are other noteworthy issues beside the Constitutional election crisis. A tangential problem was addressed in recent testimony of Fakebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Google’s Sundar Pichai before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Josh Hawley forced Mark Zuckerberg to admit that Facebook, Google and Twitter work with each other (collude) to censor citizens on their platforms.
Then, Rasputin-like Dorsey admitted that censorship of the New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop chronicling his family’s business dealings in China was a “mistake.” No, it was election meddling, Mr. Dorsey, because Joe Biden was influence peddling and you blocked the story on your platform. The social media companies are protected from lawsuits under Section 230 of the FCC when they function as a platform. However, when they censor thought and content they are functioning as a publisher and lose this protection.
Having watched some of the Judiciary Committee hearings, I was appalled that Committee Democrat Senators Diane Feinstein, Sydney Blumenthal and Chris Coons actually demanded more censorship on Facebook, Google and Twitter. I guess this is a virtuous demand for a Democrat, as long as censorship is directed toward conservative political enemies.
Many professionals take continuing education to stay current. In medicine this is known as CME (continuing medical education). Recently I attended a course on substance abuse and the severe problem we have in Tennessee. Apparently, Tennesseans are nervous and have a lot of pain because we use a lot of anxiety medications and pain pills.
I’m not an expert in pain management and rarely prescribe narcotics these days. However, my professional and personal observation is that pain medications are sometimes necessary, but are no panacea. There are many systems to gauge pain and treatment, but I consider the spectrum of discomfort, pain and agony. I’ve experienced all of the above after my cancer surgery. Pain medications are able to decrease agony to the level of pain, or pain to discomfort. However, alleviating ALL suffering is impossible.
I’ve written about substance use (The Rat Park 4/2/2018) and brain chemistry (Tech-Lords 10/23/2020), and the two are related. The Focus has an online archive if you want to read my past missives. In fact, there is very little I haven’t written about in twelve years with The Knoxville Focus. Some say I’ve said too much, but I’m not a “summer soldier or a sunshine patriot” and I will not “shrink from the service of [my] country” (Thomas Paine) at war.
It turns out that pain medications, especially oxycodone, cause surges in a brain neurochemical called dopamine. Even more intriguing is that any pleasurable sensation triggers brain dopamine release and can cause the “craving brain” syndrome.
Most have heard of DTs or delirium tremens when an alcoholic is deprived of his drug. Anything that makes you “high” causes a counter reaction in brain chemistry. Then when you remove alcohol or opioids the brain countering mechanisms are unopposed and “withdrawal” occurs. I’ve treated many patients with alcohol and opioid withdrawal. This can take days to weeks. The recovery of brain chemistry from stimulants like cocaine and especially methamphetamine may take years.
What I found fascinating at the medical seminar was that not just drugs but gambling and video games, virtual reality, porn, even food, the internet and work can lead to problematic dopamine pleasure signaling (craving brain). Especially disturbing is how social media is manipulating us and producing addicted users. If you doubt me watch “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix or try to take away your teenager’s smartphone and observe withdrawal.
Despite today’s challenges there is much good. A patient and friend had a clear PET scan and my recent scans revealed I was cancer free. I am thankful for life, a loving wife and my Lord, Jesus Christ. And I’m thankful for a forty-five-year career in medicine and retirement on December 31, 2020. I’m ready for 2021!