Things are pretty ugly in the country at the moment. While we aren’t quite to the point of shooting one another, despite one person’s best efforts, things are tense.

A couple of packages containing Ricin sent to the Pentagon aren’t exactly going to calm stuff down, either.

Two envelopes addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson have initially tested positive for the deadly poison ricin at the Pentagon’s mail facility, according to a report.

The packages, which were delivered Monday, were intercepted before making it into the sprawling headquarters of the Defense Department in Virginia near Washington, DC, spokesman Chris Sherwood said Tuesday.

They triggered alarms as they underwent a security screening at the off-site mail processing center, according to the Military Times.

A defense official told CNN that the intended recipients were Mattis and Richardson.

Of course, Sec. Mattis and Adm. Richardson were not exposed to the deadly poison.

Neither was President Trump in what authorities believe was a related incident.

Ricin isn’t exactly the most complicated thing to make. It’s made from castor beans, which you can buy online easily enough. While I won’t even look for instructions on how to make ricin (there are some things I refuse to put in my search history), I suspect those can be found easily enough as well.

The last time Ricin was sent, it was by a deranged woman looking to frame her husband for crimes. Previously, someone sent ricin to President Obama among a few other folks.

What we need to know is whether this is an escalation of what we’ve seen, or whether this is something else.

I wonder mostly because sending ricin through the mail has been shown time and time again not to work. The USPS has detectors that catch this stuff. In fact, it’s the one thing I can actually trust the USPS to do well.

But it keeps happening, and I can’t help but wonder if this is someone legitimately trying to hurt the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Naval Operations, or someone trying to make it look like they’re trying to hurt them. One would think that if someone were to research ricin enough to secure the materials needed and the technical know-how to make it, they’d also see how sending ricin through the mail doesn’t work.

But if someone is trying to make it look like an attack, without really risking the target, that’s something else.

It makes a big statement, makes big headlines, and little else except to sew distrust.

Then again, I may also be overestimating the intelligence of the kind of people who would send ricin to a man who once said, “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f— with me, I’ll kill you all.”

Not that Mattis will go and hunt whoever did this down. It’s not his place and he won’t overstep his bounds.

But that doesn’t make it any brighter. There are a lot of former Marines in law enforcement who happen to love the guy.