Debility; A Tragic Scene at the Pharmacy; Demonstrations

I went to my internist, Kirk, yesterday with the following short-list of symptoms that have gotten so bad that it’s hard for me to stay out of bed: general unwellness, headaches, nausea, worry, anxiety, trembling, depression, fatigue, increased pain, and severe insomnia. Such symptoms could point to numerous diseases, so he ordered blood tests.

Since I was there anyway, he gave me my monthly narcotic prescription early and said that he’s going to start filling it for 90 days, which will save me going both to him and to the pharmacy every month. I already have to go to his office four times a year for a narcotic evaluation plus I have to be available on 24-hour notice for urine screens. It really pisses me off (ha) that, after eight years on narcotics, the hoops that I have to jump through just keep getting higher thanks to America’s drug cops.

As usual, I had to wait a half hour at the pharmacy during which a skinny and jittery woman name Karen came in to pick up a prescription for tranquilizers. When the pharmacy tech said insurance wouldn’t pay for it, Karen started yelling, jerking her body, and slapping the counter. She said she was desperate, that insurance fouls her up every time she tries to fill a prescription, and that, “I know I’m psychotic, but I’m all alone, and no one knows how hard it is to be me.” She said a lot more, but because she had a speech impediment I couldn’t understand it. I wanted to help, but I didn’t know what to do, and when the right words don’t come unbidden, I remain silent for fear of making the situation worse. A pharmacist told Karen that she was scaring people and needed to calm down, yet I considered it obvious that the only person anyone had cause to fear for was Karen herself. When she finally left, she seemed near collapse and kept saying, “I’m so sorry; I’m so sorry; “I’m so sorry,” but no one responded.

I looked for her when I left the store, but she was gone. I wish I had asked her on the spot how much the goddamn drug would cost and maybe paid for it. Anyone can be broken, but if you’re broken in America, you better have money.

So what’s Trump solution? As is his custom, he contradicts himself regularly, but his longest running solution is to give everyone a woefully inadequate income tax credit that they could use to buy insurance. But what if a person has no income or only makes minimum wage (and, alas, receives no benefits) at McDonalds and therefore doesn’t owe taxes? Or what if a person can
t afford to wait until the end of the year to be reimbursed and is obliged to choose between food and insurance?

Actress and activist America Ferrera told the crowd at the D.C. Women’s March this morning, “A platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday,” and I thought she was spot on. Yesterday, another demonstrator said of Trump, “I don’t care what things he was going to offer me. He was such a soulless piece of shit that I wouldn’t have voted for him anyway.”

Exactly. Even if Trump had outlined specific solutions to specific problems (something beyond, “Believe me. I’m going to fix it. Everything is going to be great”), how can his supporters deny or minimize the significance of his pettiness, immorality, vindictiveness, megalomania, and predatory dealings with anyone from whom he wants something? 

Do all of those millions of Christians who voted for Trump really believe that Jesus would have done the same? I would like to think well of Christians, yet to know that millions and millions of them claim, on the one hand, to hold love for their fellow humans beings as their chief value after love for their deity, and then, on the other, to see them turn around and vote for a man like Trump, strikes me as a case of such rank hypocrisy that I can scarcely believe what I’m seeing. Supporting Trump isn’t a choice; it’s a sickness, a depravity. It irreconcilably pits Christians against the values expressed in the Sermon on the Mount by the very man whom they claim to worship as their Savior. This election has caused me to despise with my entire being the dominant face of religion in America. All of my prior criticisms of the church are as nothing compared to the contempt I feel now.

Why WOULDN’T America's Christians support Trump?

After all, why should they object to a bigot who used his four bankruptcies to stiff his workers; put his name on the fraudulent Trump University and other products with which he wasn’t involved; and, while contributing nothing to charity, funneled other people’s money into a charitable foundation that he used for his own benefit. After starting his run for president, he encouraged his supporters to assault people; changed his core beliefs on demand (sometimes in the same day); indulged in constant name calling (“Lying Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Crooked Hillary,” etc. etc. etc.); threatened to sue anyone who criticized him; admitted to sexually assaulting women (“Just kiss. I don’t even wait… You can do anything… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything”); made one unstantiated claim after another; and is too dimwitted to complete a train of thought.

So why wouldn’t millions of Americ
a’s Christians vote for Trump? “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” Christ said, but while conservative Christians accept Old Testament “science,” they don’t hold with their Savior’s insistence upon virtue. For example…

They disobey Christ’s ethical standards while supporting a soon-to-be president who encourages the denigration of gays, blacks, women, transgenders, immigrants, Moslems, secularists, liberals, and environmentalists.

Their pastors endorse conservative politicians from the pulpit although laws governing the behavior of tax-exempt organizations forbids it (Google: “Pastors Flout Tax Law With Political Sermons”), yet their Savior commanded obedience to the law.

Their Bible tells Christians to put their hope in Christ, so whence comes their unquestioning trust in a man who says, “I alone can fix this” (“solve this” “understand this,” “figure this out”)?

When American Christians are sued for having broken the law by placing religious monuments on municipal, state, and federal lands, they belatedly claim that the monuments were intended as “war memorials.”

When federal or state law denies Christians the right to make religious observances a part of government functions, they ignore the law, because they know they can get away with it unless someone complains, and few people have the courage to endure the death threats, job loss, social isolation, and vandalized cars and homes, that come from complaining.

When federal law demands that Christian owned businesses provide birth control benefits to their employees and provide all people with equal access to their services, they simply ignore the law until they can get their state legislators to pass a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (21 states have done so) that gives them the unique right to oppress others.

All of the things I have listed are commonly done. In its dominant face, the Christian religion is in no way an asset to this country. It’s dishonest, power hungry, and manipulative. It is an enemy to compassion; it doesn’t help anyone but itself; it is rabidly opposed to the government helping anyone; and it regards any limitation on its ability to oppress others as oppression. It is fascism under the guise of Godly benevolence.

If Christ exists, where is he when his people are betraying him? How many millions have been imprisoned, tortured, and killed in his name while he remained silent, and where is he now that his American followers have put their salvation in the hands of a psychopath who can neither utter a sentence nor write a Tweet that isn’t filled with hatred and lies? No one is a greater enemy to Christ’s admonition to love than are the Catholics, the charismatics, the evangelicals, and the fundamentalists, people who profess to put their trust in the Lord of Love but whose real allegiance is to the Lord of Cruelty and Filth. Again, why wouldn’t America’s Christians vote for Trump? He represents them perfectly.

Upon an esteemed relative who voted for Trump

Al is an evangelical Christian of unwavering integrity, kindness, and noblesse oblige. The worst thing I can say about him—indeed, the only bad thing that I could have said about him prior to the recent election in which he voted for Donald Trump—is that he allows no one to become intimate with him. If this were different, perhaps he and I could talk about his vote, my desire being to understand what would motivate a man who takes ethics seriously to vote for someone who wouldn’t recognize honor or decency if he tripped over it.

For instance, Al is humble; Trump is a braggart (“I’m, like, a really smart person”) Al is mannerly; Trump’s a boor. Al believes that people should be treated equally; Trump mocks the disabled and his contempt for Hispanics, Moslems, women, and black people, has earned him the loyalty of Nazis. Al is generous; Trump gives nothing to charity, and spends money that others donate to his own charity on himself. Al assumes personal responsibility; Trump blames others for his failures. Al has no interest in wealth; the greed of Trump and his family is insatiable (his daughter tried to sell the bracelet she wore on 60 Minutes). Al dresses modestly, lives in a modest house, and drives a modest car; Trump writes his name in block letters and is enamored of resorts, limousines, gold-plate, and a Boeing 757 with his name writ large on the fuselage. Al treats women as equals; Trump called his own daughter a “piece of ass,” and admitted to grabbing women by their crotches (when the women confirmed it, he threatened to sue them for defamation). Al pays his bills; Trump is a cheat who has declared bankruptcy four times, and promises to run the country like he runs his businesses. Al tells the truth; Trump lies as readily as he breathes and says that the press is composed of “deceitful, dishonest, liars” when they ask about it.

“Believe me,” Trump says about all manner of things, and his followers obediently believe him, evidence be damned. Global warming is a Chinese conspiracy, he says. He would have won the popular election had Hillary not arranged for three million illegals to vote, he says. The crime rate is exploding; the economy is in shambles; I saw thousands of Moslems cheering when the Twin Towers fell; all twelve of America’s intelligence agencies are lying about Putin having helped him win the election (he asked for Putin’s help); America is the most heavily taxed nation on earth; our employment rate is 42%; we can end gun violence by selling more guns to more people; and on and on and on. Why would anyone with even half a brain believe lies that are completely unsubstantiated or contradict known facts? Al is awfully old, so maybe he’s becoming senile…

To answer this question for the majority of Trump supporters, consider who voted for Trump. His supporters were primarily poorly educated Christians whose religion claims that it’s a virtue to believe physically impossible and glaringly contradictory claims about God, so isn’t it conceivable that they might taken the same approach with a demigod named Trump (just as Jesus claimed to be the only savior of their souls, Trump says he’s the only one who can save their physical bodies from terrorists). In any event, in determining which politicians to support, they place the bulk of their considerable store of credulity at the behest of males who are angry, charismatic, macho, and avowedly Christian, although the Christ in whom they believe is more akin to the scornful, intimidating, self-congratulatory, and perpetually angry Fox talk show host, Bill O’Reilly, than the soft-spoken Christ of the Bible. Such Americans mistake anger for strength because they are themselves frightened people who feel weak except when they’re angry, so serves Trump
well to inflame their anger, and by so doing negate what little intelligence they possess.

Maybe this is why it doesn’t seem to phase Trump supporters that tens of thousands of voting station attendants and government officials would have had to secretly conspire to enable three-million illegal immigrants to vote for Clinton (which just happens to be the amount by which Trump lost the popular vote). Likewise, if an alt-right website tells them that Hillary Clinton is running a child sex-trafficking ring out of a D.C. pizza parlor, the “news” goes viral, the owner receives hundreds of death threats, and a North Carolina man walks into the parlor firing his AR-15. Clinton characterized Trump supporters well when she said that half of them are a “basket of deplorables” and added, “I am sick and tired of the negative, dark, divisive, dangerous vision and the anger of people who support Donald Trump.” Indeed, these are frightening people who adore a mean-spirited psychopath who encourages their own meanness.

The only surprise about such people is that there are so many of them, it being not at all surprising that their numbers are greatest where the control of the Christian religion is greatest. When Trump bragged that he could murder someone on a Manhattan street in broad daylight and still be elected, it wasn’t meant as a compliment to the mental capacity of his followers. Like Hitler, he has gone from being a joke to being taken only too seriously, and like Hitler, a man who mocks the disabled or declares a judge unfit based upon his ancestry is well on his way toward building camps and handing out yellow stars. Such is the man for whom Al voted. Gentle Al, modest Al, reasonable Al, voted for a loud-mouthed demagogue who encourages violence and criminality to the point of offering to pay the legal expenses of those who are assaulting his enemies. Again, the only explanation I can offer for Al’s choice is that he is beginning to show signs of age-related credulity. I say this because, although I posit religion as one explanation, how can religion alone explain why a kindly and ethical man would vote for a vicious and unethical candidate? After all, it
’s not uncommon for people to be superior to their deity.

Another puzzler is why would the very regions of the country that are the most prone to flag-waving and support for military intervention in the (supposed) defense of the Bill of Rights, vote for someone who promises an end to the freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights with the exception of “the freedom to keep and bear arms,” which means more to Trump’s disciples than all of the other freedoms put together. Maybe this is because, without their guns, life is just too scary to contemplate. As for the other freedoms, take the freedoms of speech and of religion, for example. The only speech or religion that Trump
’s supporters appear to value is their own as can be seen in the constant barrage of death threats they levy against anyone who angers them (gays, liberals, Moslems, journalists, etc.) Then there’s the freedom from government persecution—which they define as the government’s efforts to secure equal rights for anyone they dislike. When Catholics and evangelicals speak of freedom, what the mass of them have in mind is the freedom to force everyone else to either pretend to believe like they do or face persecution if they refuse, and Trump is on their side.

Trump and his followers hold their
government in contempt simply because they haven’t been able to use it, to the extent that they would like, to force the rest of us to kowtow unto them, so it’s no surprise that he has appointed his billionaire confederates to head the very agencies that those confederates are pledged to destroy. This is but one of endless examples of Trump using the system to destroy itself, but since he won the election by appealing to the worst instincts of his supporters, it’s no surprise when they support such acts of bad faith. Still, the world of Republican politics contains numerous surprises.

For instance, Trump’s supporters insist that people like myself are being unfair to our soon to be president by our unwillingness to “give him a chance,” advice that strikes me as on a par with suggesting that a parent give a child molester the chance to babysit. But the greatest surprise of all is that the very people who are the most harmed by conservative policies are the same people who voted for Trump. They are poor in money (many hold minimum wage jobs, and the Republican Party opposes any floor to what they can be paid), poor in education, poor in opportunity, unable to afford medical insurance much less medical bills, and many of them live in states that receive more from the government in social programs than what they pay into it in taxes.

If anyone needs government help, it’s these people, but they hate being reminded of their inadequacies, but, more importantly, they hold that the Republican Party is on God’s side (or, perhaps, that God is on its side
). To whit, the Republican Party (or, at the very least, numerous Republican politicians): denies evolution, the Big Bang, global warming, the 4.5-billion-year age of the earth (which is inconsistent with Biblical genealogies), and all other scientific discoveries that are inconsistent with a literal interpretation of the Bible. It wants Old Testament “science” taught in schools; opposes abortion if not birth control; claims that stem cell research violates God’s law; favors “trickle down economics” (the belief that the rich are our friends, and the richer they are, the more they can help us by hiring); prefers a theocratic oligarchy to a democracy; wants to bankrupt the public school system by diverting tax money to religious schools; and supports the oppression of everyone who doesn’t look and think like a white, Bible Belt, Protestant Republican (it’s a fiction to imagine that Protestants who despise other Protestants are really tolerant of Catholics whose church they refer to as the Whore of Babylon). 

As many, if not most, of Trump’s people see the world, they are God’s chosen, and both they and God hate everyone who doesn’t look and think like they do. When they chant “Make America Great Again” their vision is a return to September 1929, when things were indeed good for what they would call “real Americans,” and who better to lead them into the past than the man who built New Jersey’s Taj Mahal, and then stiffed everyone who was naive enough to think they were going to get paid? Of course, when Trump-inspired disasters come to America, Trump will do as he always does, which is to deny responsibility. “Believe me,” he will say, “Hillary Clinton was behind this,” and his followers will no more think to doubt him than they would think to doubt Old Testament science because, after all, their reasons for trusting in the best thinking of the Bronze Age are on an equal foundation with trusting in a president who appeals to the same kind of thinking that surfaced in the formerly tolerant nation of 1920s Germany.

One of my friends said that what I need in regard to the apotheosis of Donald Trump is a hefty dose of love and tolerance, but at the risk of sounding as angry as a Trump supporter, I say love and tolerance be damned because they look too much like
acquiescence. When a five-year-old is at the wheel of the car, a good bit more than love and tolerance is required, and so it is now that Trump and followers are running the country. Nothing but disaster is going to come from these people, and, I fear, there will be violence on the part of those who oppose them. I say this because America only respects two things: wealth (America has been an oligarchy for years) and violence, and while few people have Trump’s billions, anyone can get an assault rifle. As for those of us who have no wealth and no stomach for violence, we can but hope that we will still have a country in the year 2021 when Trump’s four years are up—and that’s assuming that he hasn’t amassed enough power to hold onto the presidency in the manner of the Congo’s Joseph Kabila. One of the things I’ve observed about power is that those who assume it usually do so for selfish reasons, and that they have neither the wisdom to use it for the good of others, nor the willingness to relinquish it unless forced to do so.