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Donald Trump has betrayed America. Through his rejection of science, his demonization of renowned public health experts, and his refusal to model and message behaviors known to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the president has thoroughly abdicated his responsibility, leaving Americans sick, vulnerable, and hung out to die.

In response to this devastating leadership vacuum, Americans recently took matters into their own hands by showing up to vote. Rejecting Trump’s sustained rampage of chaos, carnage, and corruption, voters elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, two leaders who have vowed to protect and prioritize Americans’ health and safety. …

Last week, just days after protesters, some carrying guns and signs emblazoned with Nazi symbols, flocked to Michigan’s Capitol to oppose Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 stay at home orders, Michigan State Senator, Dale Zorn (R-Ida) wore a face mask on the Senate floor that appeared to depict the Confederate flag. When asked about his face covering, Mr. Zorn bizarrely claimed that his wife, who made the mask, told him that it actually resembled the Tennessee or Kentucky state flag. Despite this “clarification” Mr. Zorn clearly knew in advance that his mask could be offensive, telling WLNS, “I told my wife it probably will raise some eyebrows, but it was not a Confederate flag.” He elaborated, “Even if it was a Confederate flag, you know, we should be talking about teaching our national history in schools and that’s part of our national history and it’s something we can’t just throw away because it is part of our history. And if we want to make sure that the atrocities that happened during that time doesn’t happen again, we should be teaching it. Our kids should know what that flag stands for.” …

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That was not a trial. It was a travesty. It was a treacherous farce, a flagrant cover-up that celebrated corruption and insulted the intelligence of all human beings capable of rational thought.

Fidget-spinning lawmakers, some of whom could not even be bothered to remain in the Senate chamber to listen to oral arguments in one of the most consequential debates of our time, insisted that there was nothing to see. The promise of our republic currently lies in shambles due to the insatiable power-hunger of judiciary stacking, deregulation loving, tax breaking, white supremacist winking Trumpian legislators (formerly known as Republicans). …

Truth is hard and freedom is exhausting. How much easier it is for an almighty ruler to inundate the masses with propaganda, to numb hearts and minds so thoroughly that no person need ever be troubled to think for him or herself again. A dictator saves us from the tortured angst of conflict, and diverts us from the stifled but always audible cries of conscience.

A demagogue offers cheap salvation through the fabrication of an alternate landscape, painting over the canvas of truth so completely that the perception of reality is obliterated. All one need do is submit one’s soul to the sick whims of a grotesque dark artist and history will write itself. It is so easy. …

Top Ten Reasons Why I Can’t Stand Top Ten Lists

  1. Top ten lists impose an artificial hierarchy to subjects that may not naturally lend themselves to prioritization. Why must all things in life be ranked?
  2. Top ten lists demand blind adherence to an immutable structure that is inherently random.
  3. Top ten lists are unnecessarily exclusive, particularly when considering art, music or other creative pursuits. If I like eleven songs, I should not have to feel obligated to cut one from my list of favorites simply to suit the needs of an arbitrary, socially determined construct (see #2).
  4. Top ten lists focus unnecessarily on outliers. I am far more interested in the averageness within any given category than I am in its bests and worsts. Show me a list of items that are considered mediocre, and I will review this with interest. …

As anyone who knows me is well aware, I have been advocating for impeachment for a very long time. Yet, tonight I feel sick. Yes, of course I am grateful that the House did the right thing by impeaching Trump on both articles that were drafted. But this brings me no joy. I am disgusted that so many of my fellow Americans voted for this monstrous bigot in the first place, horrified that a man who thrives on cruelty, deception, and grotesque subversion of justice was ever allowed to achieve the position of power that he still wields.

I am repulsed by those members of Congress who could not see fit to vote a reflexive, resounding YES on both articles purely as a matter of conscience and moral responsibility. There should have been no drama or suspense here, nor should there be accolades for representatives who have been lauded for their “courageous” decisions to place justice over politics. Doing what is unambiguously correct should be the expectation in leadership, not the breathless, venerated exception. Too many of our political leaders have drifted so far astray from any semblance of normalcy that the act of rebuking an objectively unfit, corrupt, repugnant character like Trump requires wrestling with one’s conscience and searching deeply within one’s heart. This pains me. It suggests that there is an acceptable alternative to the removal of a president who actively seeks to subvert our national interests and makes sport of the denigration of American values. There should not have been any angst or indecision here. The choice was incontrovertibly clear. …

The Homestead detention facility may lock up innocent immigrant kids once again. It’s unconscionable.

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People hold signs during a rally outside Homestead detention center on July 12, 2019. Photo: Gaston de Cardenas/Getty Images

I will be forever haunted by the memory of the boys in orange baseball caps playing soccer in the sweltering sun. They shouted and laughed while passing the ball, seemingly making the most of an oppressively humid southern Florida afternoon. If I didn’t know any better, I might have thought this was a typical group of boys. But of course, that wasn’t the case. A heavily guarded, chain-link fence wrapped around the playing field, imprisoning the children.

The kids were locked away inside Homestead, a detention center for unaccompanied immigrant children, located in the outer suburbs of Miami. U.S. officials had snatched them from their families and caregivers for attempting to cross the southern border. Many of the children had escaped lives riddled with violence, poverty, and despair only to be greeted with cruelty and incarceration once they entered the U.S. …

I know Michael Cohen.

I’ve never met him. I’ve never spoken to him. I am certain I’ve never been in the same room with him. I cannot fathom the gilded, chaotic universe he inhabited as Donald Trump’s “fixer,” nor can I relate to the grotesque wealth, greed, and brazen criminality of his former boss. I do not recognize the details of Michael Cohen’s lifestyle, yet, still, I know this man.

A proud husband and father, son of a Holocaust survivor, equal parts taciturn and kind, Michael is a familiar figure to me, a composite of all the good men I’ve ever known in my close knit Jewish community. The inelegant tones of his New York accent combined with the deliberate cadence of his speech are comforting sounds to my ears. I notice tired lines etched upon his face that, to me, betray nagging anxieties emanating from an incompletely suppressed conscience. …

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alerted us that we should not eat romaine lettuce, the culprit in an E. coli outbreak that has sickened numerous people across the country. As of this writing, there are no known deaths associated with the outbreak and it is likely that the government agencies’ swift and effective messaging prevented scores of additional people from becoming ill.

Sadly, Americans have not responded with similar urgency to a far different public health emergency, one that kills nearly 100 people per day and injures over twice as many. In the time that we have spent dutifully purging our refrigerators and grocery store aisles of contaminated produce, hundreds of our fellow countrymen and women have become victims and survivors of gun violence. As our nation reels from recent massacres at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it is important to remember that the vast majority of gun deaths and injuries are not the result of high profile mass shootings, but are due to self inflicted gun shot wounds and routine “everyday” shootings, many of which are acts of domestic violence. …

In response to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, I was recently asked to speak to a local group of concerned parents about the following question, “How should parents talk to their children about gun violence in a developmentally appropriate way?” As a psychiatrist, a mother of two school-aged children, and an activist in the gun-violence prevention movement, I would seem to be ideally suited to shed some light on this difficult issue. I am honored that I was consulted, and I look forward to participating in this important community dialogue. …


Sonya Lewis, MD, MPH

Physician, musician, mother, citizen of the world.

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