We created a slideshow of Kathleen’s life

We prepared a video of photos of Kathleen’s life. point your phone’s camera to the QR code above to download the slideshow. It’s about 12 minutes long so it will take a while to download; please be patient. We also created a page on the Web for posting favorite photos and memories of Kathleen at www.WeRemember.com; a link is also in the photo above.

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Kathleen’s funeral service

Kathleen (Shaddle) Carlson Zoom Memorial Service

September 11, 2022

5 PM Eastern/4 PM Central/3 PM Mountain/2 PM Pacific

Navigate to http://www.Zoom.com

Meeting ID: 876 7454 3608

Passcode: 0824

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In memorium…

Kathleen (Shaddle) Carlson 1949-2022

Our much-loved big sister, Kathleen (Shaddle) Carlson died peacefully at her home in Chicago, IL on August 24, 2022, on her 73rd birthday. She was born on that day in 1949 in Forrest, IL, the oldest child of Dr. and Mrs. Lloyd G. Shaddle and is survived by her brothers Bill (and wife Catherine) of Seal Beach, CA, James of Bloomington, IL and niece (and light of her life) Devon (Shaddle) Ruiz (and husband Alain) of Miami, FL.

Kathleen graduated with honors from Forrest-Strawn-Wing High School in 1967 and worked for several years as a certified dental assistant for her father in Forrest before beginning a career in the insurance industry at age 23, when she moved first to Peoria, IL and then to Phoenix, AZ. There she achieved CPCU (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter) professional certification, eventually working her way up to account executive and manager in several insurance companies. Her career brought her back to Chicago nearly 40 years ago where she lived for the rest of her life. Many of the coworkers she met during her career in insurance became lifelong friends and travel companions who will cherish the memories of their adventures for the rest of their lives.

Kathleen will be fondly remembered for her love of life, loyalty to her friends and family, adventurous spirit and outgoing personality. Whether it was a cozy family week in late fall with jigsaw puzzles, movie marathons, champagne and family dinner preparation, weekend trips to London or Paris with her niece, Devon, or African safaris with friends to watch mass migrations in the Serengeti, Kathleen was ready for the next adventure. She achieved her goals of visiting all seven continents, watching the Northern Lights from a lodge in Canada, white water rafting the Grand Canyon, crewing on a racing sailboat in the Chicago-to-Mackinaw race, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and watching men in kilts compete during the Highland Games in Scotland, all with family and dear friends. Her favorite places in the world included Australia (her mother’s homeland), Kenya, Morocco, London, Scotland, and of course, the Champagne district of France. A life well-lived indeed.

While Kathleen’s love of travel took her all over the world, she always had a soft spot for her beloved Chicago, living on beautiful Lake Shore Drive for more than 30 years. Her favorite activities included mornings on her bicycle, riding along the Lake Michigan shore, and late-night cruises on her brother’s boat, following the moonbeam out onto Lake Michigan. Kathleen volunteered as a docent at the Lincoln Park Conservatory, educating herself extensively about the flora at the arboretum and gardens there. Her intimate knowledge of the city amazed visitors; she was fond of approaching tourists to ask if they needed help in finding interesting sights. She was truly a Chicago ambassador!

Kathleen will be greatly missed as we shall never forget her enthusiastic embrace of life, love of nature, the pleasure she got from being with her dear friends and of seeing new places. 

In lieu of flowers, a donation in Kathleen’s memory to either of her favorite charities, the Lincoln Park Zoo or Lincoln Park Conservancy would be most appreciated.

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Quantum mechanics and free will

Physicists believe in cause and effect, meaning that every event (effect) has a cause (or series of causes) immediately preceding it. Mathematics can be used to explain and predict these causes and effects, with direct observation being used to test and confirm the math. For atomic or subatomic events observation takes the form of banging atomic particles into other atomic particles and watching the spray of subatomic particles that results, in machines such as the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. The excitement comes when those subatomic “sprays” appear exactly as the math predicted they would, as in the case a few years ago of the discovery of the Higgs boson particle, which had been predicted by physicists but never actually seen.

Anyhow, this leads up to physicists generally being hard determinists, because for every (EVERY) event, they have the mathematics that predicts it. Create the circumstances (causes) the same way, and the outcome (effect) will be the same, without exception. And in practice the mathematics is able to predict with astonishing precision the outcome in physics. If it becomes clear that the results are different than expected, either you don’t have enough information or your math is wrong and it’s back to the drawing board to refine the predictive mathematics. There’s no such thing as an event simply “happening” with no prior cause. And this makes intuitive sense to us non-physicists; if my garage catches fire I go looking for the cause in bad wiring, solvent-soaked rags, etc. rather than thinking it just “happened.”

Switch fields to philosophy and human interactions. I made a decision to sit down and type this blog. It wasn’t inevitable that I do so (at least I don’t think it was); I made a conscious decision to write it, organized my thoughts, checked some facts and started typing away. We call this “free will” in action, and believe it applies to virtually everything we do. The idea that my writing this was totally pre-ordained by events leading up to it, and that I actually could not have done otherwise, is counter-intuitive to us as thinking beings. When it comes to our actions, free will is intuitively the only explanation. Of course, prior events may influence our decisions, but those decisions still arise within us; we could have done otherwise if we had so desired.

Of course, you see the conflict now. Physics creates hard determinists, who intuitively “know” that every effect has a cause, and they have the mathematics to prove it. When it comes to our actions, we believe in free will, and have a very strong intuitive sense and personal experience to prove that.

To bolster the sense that everything was not predetermined, in the last century physicists such as Heisenberg and Schroedinger in their important work showed that at the level of quantum mechanics, not everything could be predicted exactly; in fact randomness seemed to be at the heart of physics at that level. (I remind you that Heisenberg is best known for his “Heisenberg uncertainty principle,” and Schroedinger’s cat theory illustrates that, in quantum mechanics at least, the location of an electron at any given instant in time is only probable, and that it is the observation of that particle that “fixes” it into a specific location.) Einstein was aware of some inconsistencies in his famous theory but felt it was caused by incomplete knowledge, calling it “spooky action at a distance” in an area of quantum mechanics now known as “entanglement,” but it quickly gets very weird and is well beyond my ability to explain.

Anyhow, it looked like the “free will” position had support at the level of quantum mechanics: not everything was predetermined or predictable. Enter Superdeterminism. This is a theory proposed as far back as the 60’s that some believe has brought physics back to the strict cause and effect position; the mathematics seem to explain Heisenberg, Schroedinger, entanglement and others. Essentially Superdeterminism states that everything in the entire universe is tied together (kind of like Schroedinger on steroids), and when an experiment is developed to test a hypothesis, the act of selecting an experiment is tied to the outcome in a way that makes that outcome inevitable. I’m obviously using non-physicist’s terms to explain this, so an expert may take issue with what I’ve written it’s as close as I can explain it with my limited understanding.

In any case, Superderteminism has been used to bring the “cause and effect” rule back to physics, and negate what we think of as free will. While Superdeterminism has not yet been established nor observed experimentally, it does have a number of proponents among the elite quantum physics crowd, notably a German physicist name Sabine Hossenfelder, the subject of an opinion piece in the most recent Scientific American and the reason for this particular blog entry. She is referred to by the author of the opinion piece, science writer John Horgan, with links to interviews with her and more scholarly papers that do a deeper dive into the math. In his article entitled “Does Quantum Mechanics Rule Out Free Will?” Horgan states that he has spent a year educating himself in the math of quantum physics in order to understand it (to understand that challenge, quantum physicist Richard Feynman famously stated “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics”), but he (Horgan) remains unconvinced that Superdeterminism adequately explains away free will. In his article he says that he and Hossenfelder (for whom he has great respect and obvious friendship) seemed to be “talking past one another,” with Hossenfelder reminding him that “Everything is physics. You’re made of particles.” Einstein himself doubted whether free will exists, writing “If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord.”

At the end of the day, the question to me remains unresolved. I do understand (and feel it intuitively correct) that every effect has a preceding cause or causes, yet I also feel in my bones that I made the decision to write this blog today and could have decided otherwise.

There’s another article in a recent Scientific American which may throw a bit of light onto this question, on the topic of emergence, but that’s for another blog. Teaser: everything we know and see may be a function of emergence, in the same way that a brick wall only exists as a specific arrangement of enough bricks in the right way to be perceived as a wall.

It may only be an illusion we create to allow us to sleep at night, but I cling to the belief that it was a function of my free will to sit down and write this.

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Republican hypocrisy redux

Trump declared a state of emergency late last week to get his wall built, and Republicans lined up to support it. He used his executive order powers, as he has many times since getting into office, to bypass Congress. The legislative branch had passed a law that gave him funding for border security, but he didn’t get money for extending the wall across the country as he had demanded, so he used his declaration of a “state of emergency” as a cover to give him access to money allocated for other purposes (military construction and drug interdiction, among other things). The irony is that Trump and the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and of course the Oval Office for the first two years of his administration, and even with a favorable legislative branch couldn’t get his wall started. And his oft-stated claim that Mexico would pay for the wall (even signing a “Contract with the American voter” to that effect) has long been abandoned.

All of the ramifications of Trump’s maneuvering for this ridiculous pet project are subjects for another post; I want to talk here about the hypocrisy of Republicans in Congress (and obviously of Trump himself) around Trump’s use of Executive Orders.

When Obama was in office and used Executive Orders to take action on immigration, Republicans couldn’t object strongly enough. Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell put on expressions of deep gravitas to say that Obama was creating a “constitutional crisis” with “executive overreach” and needed to be called to task for his despicable actions. Fox news floated the question of whether or not he should be impeached, and had “citizen Trump” on the air saying he thought it should be explored.

Now, both McConnell and Graham are perfectly fine with Trump’s use of his Executive Order pen, in spite of the stated purpose of the legislative branch in controlling the actual purse strings. In fact, it is specifically enshrined in the Constitution that the Executive branch can ONLY spend money that has be specifically allocated by the Legislative branch. Article 1, section 9, clause 7 of the Constitution says “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”

Although there had been ample precedent for Obama’s actions, the fact is that he probably did overreach his authority. I’m not saying he might not have been justified, particularly given McConnell’s commitment to stymie virtually every action Obama took, but we have a system of checks and balances written into the Constitution and it’s a dangerous thing to do an end run.

Now the Republican’s have Trump (or he has them) and suddenly the “Executive overreach” that was such a threat to our Constitution and the Rule of Law under Obama are perfectly OK.

H. L. Mencken is credited with saying “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” (His actual quote was slightly different than that, but the gist was the same). I can’t figure out if McConnell and Graham are so cynical that they think the voters don’t remember their “outrage” of a few years ago at Obama, or if, as Mencken implies, the populace is too stupid to notice their hypocrisy.

The scariest part to me is a third possibility: that in fact the voters do remember, but don’t care.

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No man is an island

In my last couple of posts I’ve talked about the characteristics of the people that came to the United States, bringing with them their work ethic, their ingenuity and drive, and how that contributed to our strong middle class (not to mention a strong economy and nation). There was obviously also a component of risk-taking and an adventurous spirit that contributed to their ultimate success. Think about what it would take to make a person pull up stakes completely and, often with just what they could carry, sail halfway around the world to a new country and start over. Now picture a whole society of them and it gives you some idea of who built this country. In addition to the people, there was obviously a land to come to that was rich with resources; if they had gone elsewhere it’s doubtful they would have been so successful.

However, in this post I want to talk about the role that a larger community has in personal success. During Obama’s final Presidential campaign, he was speaking to a group in Virginia, and in a broader discussion of the creation of wealth and the role of the government in the United States, he said “if you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Of course, his opponent (Mitt Romney) jumped all over that as evidence of Obama’s dismissal of hard work and the American Dream. Of course he was doing nothing of the sort; that comment was taken out of context. In the earlier part of that paragraph it is clear that he was making the point that no one is successful in a vacuum; we have an entire and comprehensive infrastructure that supports us all. I didn’t work on the new bridge that was built over the freeway near my house a couple of years ago, nor did I help write the code that make up the genesis of the internet. But I benefit from both of those things (and many more) every day.

In the context of these posts on success, the point I would like to make now is that in addition to an individual’s hard work, talent and drive, the contribution of the broader community cannot be ignored. In Obama’s (perhaps poorly worded) comment, he is referring to the role of the federal government. He talks about building roads and bridges that every business benefits from; imagine if everyone had to create their own rail system to get their goods to market. Or if everyone had to depend upon dirt roads. While it’s tempting to dismiss this as an obvious observation, in most of the rags-to-riches stories, short shrift is given to the role of anything but the Horatio Alger of the story. The government’s role in building an infrastructure to support commerce cannot be understated. And of course, in addition to the infrastructure created, supported and maintained by the government (federal as well as state and local), there is also the broader platform provided by society. The simplest and perhaps most obvious example is the marketplace itself. If no one can afford to buy the product or service I am producing or selling, there’s no way I am going to be able to build a successful business. So every business depends upon a market willing and able to pay for whatever the business is selling, and the stronger the market the greater the potential for success.

A strong middle class then becomes a platform for success for the entrepreneur. Henry Ford paid a significantly higher wage than anyone was used to paying in factories, simply so that more people would have the necessary disposable income to buy the cars Ford Motor Company was producing.

So circling back to Obama’s statement, the person who got rich needs the infrastructure provided by both society and the government. No one gets rich in a vacuum.

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Immigration, scarcity and fear

It’s safe to say that the topic of immigration (both legal and illegal) has become one of the most divisive in our already rancorous politics. On the surface, it seems that a large part of this stems from what appears to be the stupidity of our general populace, who have allowed itself to be sold a bill of goods. The right is told that Democrats are against border security since they are opposed to a sea-to-sea wall along the southern border while the left is told that all Republicans are heartless racists who enjoy seeing brown families torn apart. But obviously neither is true; it’s ridiculous to equate opposition to Trump’s campaign-promised border wall with no border security at all, and no one that I know is so heartless that they don’t object to having little kids taken from their parents and put in what amounts to cages. 

It’s tempting to pass all the rhetoric (from both sides) off as simple politics; it’s been the practice to deliberately misstate the other side’s position, or exaggerate a threat to make it existential, as a way to stir up the base (and stay in office) since, like, forever. While politicians are perfectly happy to demonize their opponents or make a huge problem out of a small one, there’s something deeper going on. In order for someone to suspend a charitable view of the other side of this debate, as I argue is happening, there must be some underlying reason, thought process or cherished notion that sets the stage for them to do so. 

First off, let me say that I think immigration policy is in dire need of an overhaul. I’m not in favor of completely open borders (again, who would be?) but that’s not even a remote possibility. But at the same time we need to provide a way for a reasonable number of people to be accepted into the country. And of course what constitutes “reasonable” is open to debate, but what we allow today is absurdly small. In the very recent past it was much easier, and lots more people could become citizens. My mother immigrated to the US following World War II to marry my dad, and while the process of getting US citizenship took several years, she never mentioned any issues in getting into the country initially; I believe the only requirement was that Dad put up a bond equal to her fare back to Australia if they chose not to marry when Mom arrived. In my adult lifetime, the significant influx of Vietnamese following the Vietnam war caused hardly a ripple in our society over the long term; the next town over from me in Southern California (Westminster) is locally known as Little Saigon (street signs are in both English and Vietnamese). And many of these people were refugees (then they called them “boat people”).

So less than a generation ago we as a society welcomed large groups of people into the country. As I say above, I have an immigrant parent and I would guess that most people, if they went back 3 or 4 forks in the family tree, would find someone who immigrated here. Why, apparently all of a sudden, is this such a divisive topic?

I think part of the answer lies in the change in our social contract as a society. Although on a global scale the US is wealthy, most people don’t feel that way now. My generation may be the last one that automatically assumes that their kids are going to have it better than we did. This becomes more visible when it comes to retirement planning. Vanishingly few companies have pension programs anymore; Social Security is under attack and is not enough to retire comfortably. Savings is required, but very few people have enough savings to make retirement comfortable. Minimum wage doesn’t even come close to provide an adequate living for one person, let alone support a family (when that was its original purpose), and in fact almost every household has both parents working full time to provide for the family. In my parents’ generation that was almost unheard of; the Dad made the living and the Mom managed the household.  So where is all this “wealth” we hear about in the US? The vast majority is concentrated in a very small percentage at the very top. According to an in-depth 2014 report on income distribution in the US, as of 2012 the top 0.1% of the population controlled as much wealth as the bottom 90%. That disparity has continued and even gotten worse; as of this writing 3 people (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates) control more wealth than the entire bottom 50% of the United States (more than 160 million people), according to Forbes magazine

I think people are afraid. They’re afraid that “others” are coming into the country and they are going to take a piece of an already-scarce pie, leaving not enough for the rest of us. And cynical people are stirring this up to their own advantage. Stay tuned.

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Perception, pre-conceived notions and politics

Stare-down in Washington

I’d guess that almost everyone has heard of the incident in Washington last week that is best described (in my opinion) as a stare-down that went viral. In case you’ve been living under a rock however, the details are as follows: A group of kids from a Catholic high school in Covington, Kentucky came to Washington to participate in the March-For-Life, an anti-abortion demonstration. They had gathered at the spot on the Mall where they were supposed to meet their bus to head home, which put them near a small group of Black Hebrew Israelites, a fringe group that purports to be the “true descendants of the ancient Israelites.” This group of maybe 4 or 5 then hurled epithets, taunts and racial invective at the kids, who responded with school chants and general rowdiness. Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist then walked toward the group of high school kids, drumming a skin drum and chanting. When he got to them, he came face-to-face with one of the students, a kid named Nick Sandmann wearing a MAGA hat, where both of them stood inches apart in what appeared to be a stare-down. Videos of this went viral, and by the time the evening news was over, most Americans had seen or heard enough to draw their conclusion about what happened (and the motivations behind it).  

That’s where it gets interesting to me. 

Depending upon your point of view, Nick Sandmann instigated the stare down. Wearing an arrogant smirk the whole time, and, backed by a bunch of shouting and hooligans, he showed his disrespect and self-perceived racial superiority to Phillips, who was only trying to bring “positive energy” to defuse a potentially volatile situation between the kids and the Black Hebrew Israelites with his drumming and chanting. 

Or, Nathan Phillips, a known Native American gadfly who has misrepresented his military service for personal aggrandizement, was the instigator, grandstanding with his cheesy drum and chanting. Sandmann, who has “great respect” for all races, was trying to calm his more boisterous buddies down while peacefully and respectfully smiling at Phillips to show he couldn’t be intimidated by him. 

The media by and large at first took the earlier narrative and ran with it. Nick Sandmann was painted as a racially insensitive jerk from a wealthy family, who was trying to build a little street cred in front of his hooligan buddies by confronting a diminutive, elderly Native American while smirking in his face. 

But within a day or so most of the networks had backed down from their initial reports. In a CNN interviewit appears that poor Nick was grossly mischaracterized; he’s actually a very respectful and generally nice kid and was only trying to calm things down. He said that, while he had every right to be where he was and has nothing to apologize for, he probably should have just walked away, yada yada yada. 

Additionally, Phillips may not have been exactly as he at first appeared to be; he may have let people believe he fought in Vietnam when he didn’t; he was the one being confrontational rather than Sandmann, yada yada yada.

Of course Trump and his spin team jumped on this with his “fake news” talking point, to show the media is irrevocably biased against the right. He even inviting Sandmann to the White House for a photo op; whether that pans out remains to be seen. It’s of interest to note that Sandmann’s parents hired a PR firm to help him “craft his narrative” and was undoubtedly coached him for his CNN interview, and Phillips’ “misrepresentation” of his military record and intent in walking up to the Covington kids was not quite what it appearedeither, so at the end of the day it seems to me that the most the media could be blamed for getting wrong is the nuance in each story. About the only perspective that survived unscathed (and which I am sure most people have already forgotten) is that the entire thing was stirred up by the idiots in the Black Hebrew Israelites.

My observation here is not which of the accounts is more accurate (in reality the truth is probably somewhere in between). My point is how two people can see the exact same incident, and depending upon their politics, their pre-conceptions and yes, their prejudices, can come to virtually polar opposite conclusions. I’ve written a couple of blogs on the book “Moral Politics” by George Lakoff, a cognitive linguist and professor at UC Berkely, who argues that our view of the world and things that happen in it are shaped by our pre-conceived notions and prejudices, such that it is impossible to perceive an event differently. Or, as Wikipediaexplains it, “lives of individuals are significantly influenced by the central metaphors they use to explain complex phenomena.It’s almost as if our brains are hardwired to perceive the world in a certain way, making it impossible to see another perspective. It reminds me of the “yanny/laurel” meme, where some people hear “yanny” and others hear “laurel” when the exact same audio is played. 

In any case, I find it fascinating, that people on both sides of our political spectrum could see in exactly the same video, things that support their ideology. But it also is distressing how polarized we’ve become in the US.

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I’ve been quiet for another extended period; lots of life adjustments again and I guess I just needed a break from blogging. I’m getting back into a new routine, so if I make writing a part of this new situation, maybe it’ll become a habit again. And maybe a catharsis as well.

I’ve retired from Metagenics. Well, sort of. I’m no longer an employee but am now a consultant. I’ve got a few speaking gigs with the promise of more to come; we’ll see. I’m also now the Education Director of my brother Jim’s distributorship; I know everyone there and enjoy working with them, so this should be fun. Jim says if I can manage that part of his business for him he’ll be delighted, and it’s the type of thing I can do pretty well. It’s not full time by any stretch, which is good as I have no particular interest in having to show up at an office every day. But that in itself is weird; I won’t say I find myself at a loss of things to do now that I’m not occupied with a full-time job, but I still haven’t been able to escape the nagging feeling that there’s somewhere I’m supposed to be or some project is behind schedule and I have to get busy on it. 

Cathy tells me this feeling eventually goes away; she tells me to think of this as my reboot rather than retirement. 

I’m currently being a nursemaid; Cathy slipped on the tile and broke her foot, so she’s been laid up for the past 3 ½ weeks with at least that much more time to go in the healing process. She’s doing well and uncomplaining but can’t walk yet so she’s in a wheelchair, on crutches or on a scooter when she goes anywhere. I’ve been earning some major brownie points being her Mobility Director, Cook and Laundry guy. It’s actually been fun, but it’s also been an opportunity to do nothing (except Cathy Care) while I get used to not going into the office any more. 

Anyhow, I’ve got tons of books, magazines and journals to catch up on, woodworking projects I can finally get going, classes I’ve wanted to take, audio tape courses I’ve been meaning to listen to, writing and web development I’ve got planned, getting in shape, travel with Cathy, and on and on. And I now find myself completely in charge of my own schedule and beholden to no one for the first time I can remember. If I don’t make the most of this, there’s no one to blame but myself, right? 


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It was unthinkable until it happened.

When Nazis wanted to march in Skokie, Illinois (a mostly Jewish Chicago suburb with lots of Holocaust survivors) in 1976, they were dismissed as a bunch of idiots. Their right to march was challenged, and defended by the ACLU which was roundly criticized for taking the case. (The Nazis wound up not marching but held a rally in downtown Chicago instead.)

It was different in Charlottesville, NC last year, when they staged a rally that turned violent. (The photo above, was taken by a reporter there.) I’ve often wondered how an educated, fairly tolerant society like 1930’s Germany gave rise to the Nazis, and in the past have taken comfort in knowing it couldn’t happen here. But Hitler was able to prey on the insecurities, anger and fear of the people to divide and manipulate them. It didn’t happen overnight, but over several years he and his supporters consolidated power and launched arguably the most destructive regime in history. They got people to believe lies, mistrust the press and focus hatred on a vulnerable minority. Still, it seemed to me that an educated society would be able to see through the lies and reject this type of demagoguery.

Sadly, I think I am beginning to understand.

There’s a couple of books I’m reading that draw a parallel to what’s happening now. The Despot’s Apprentice and How Democracies Die both point to what Trump is doing with the support (or at least tacit approval) of Republicans in Congress, coupled with a small but vocal part of the populace.

It’s beyond frightening.

In what has clearly become the most divisive presidential administration in our entire history, each day brings a fresh example of how low Trump and his toadies can go. We as a society are becoming so used to this freak show that what was outrageous a year ago seems fairly tame today.

I was driving home from work yesterday and saw a bumper sticker on a pickup truck, which itself makes what it said almost too much of a cliché. It said “This truck doesn’t stop for anti-Trump protesters.” I’m assuming he thought it was funny, but It was obviously referring to the horrific incident in Charlotte earlier this year where a hate-filled white supremacist drove his vehicle through a crowd of protesters, killing a young woman. I had to speed up a bit to see what lowlife piece of work would proudly display something so awful on their truck; it was a fairly young guy like anyone you’d see at the table next to you in the coffee shop, but the thing that struck me was how casually we’ve thrown away common decency. As I said, he may have thought he’d get a cheap laugh from those who agree with his views, but think about it:  he’s saying that he’d try to kill people who hold a political view different from his. I find the KKK and neo-Nazis of the world despicable and hold them in a great deal of contempt, but I wouldn’t try to kill any of them by running them over with my car.

But this guy displays a sentiment that casually dismisses any humanity of those he disagrees with, and says he’d drive his truck over them if he could. Not all that long ago, no decent human would ever admit to wanting to kill those people he disagrees with politically. Yet this guy is headed home from a week’s work to park his truck in his garage and maybe have a cookout with friends.

I think that the Republican’s claim that Democrats are responsible for how divisive our politics have become is a complete smokescreen. How can anyone say that Trump, with his juvenile name-calling and unhinged Twitter rants hasn’t degraded our political system and divided our society? And what kind of people still stand up for him?

As I said, I’ve often wondered how an educated, fairly tolerant society like 1930’s Germany gave rise to the Nazis and their unthinkable crimes against humanity. It terrifies me that I can now imagine it happening here.

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