Religion’s old and recent history as a cancel culture

The definition of a cancel culture is a society in which the past or present acts of a person are used to undermine their credibility to silence their voice and even end their career.

While the term “cancel culture” is fairly recent, the concept of canceling someone out based on supposedly scandalous behavior or wrongful ideas is as old as human history. And it has been a particular weapon of religion for thousands of years.

Cancelling Jesus

An Anglo Saxon Jesus scourged before crucifixion

The most prominent example in religious history is the cancel culture of religious legalism that followed a man named Jesus around to dig up dirt on his teachings. Religious authorities fearing for their own positions in society and eager to defend their notion of “tradition” gathered everything they could find on Jesus to conduct a severe cancellation of his message and ministry.

They succeeded in the short term by collaborating with political forces in the Roman world to conduct a cancel culture trial, mocking his claim to be “King of the Jews” while casting blame for calling himself the Son of God. The religious authorities did everything they could to cancel Jesus, and he notably offered little resistance to their aims. That led to the crucifixion now celebrated by the sign of the cross, a holy symbol to Christians the world over.

Many Christian denominations love to lay claim to that cross as a symbol of their salvation. Yet these same Christians in many cases choose to aggressively ignore the cancel culture habits of those who brought that event about.

Legalistic culture wars

As a result, the most powerful branches of the Christian tradition became the one thing Jesus most despised about religion. By the third century A.D., the institution of Christianity was dominated by religious legalists whose adherence to rules and regulations were no less severe than the people who conspired to crucify Jesus in the first place. Anyone that did not adhere to the tenets of Christian religion could be “cancelled” and banned from society outright.

Christianity took cancel culture mentality to its extreme, engaging in pogroms and purges against all those who opposed its authority. The principal target was the Jews, on whom literalistic Christians placed blame for the death of Jesus. That was a necessary and calculated leap in gaslighting the world to distance themselves, at least in terms of perception, from their legalistic forefathers.

The worst cancel in history

Thus the greatest lie in all of human history took over a religion that started with disciples wandering two-by-two and town to town.

As it gathered political power, Christianity became a force for evil through a cancel culture carrying out inquisitions, crusades, witch hunts, and torture to enforce the authority of its traditions and its gathering wealth.

These efforts to suppress or cancel other cultures were “successful” in the sense that they led to the death of millions of people at the direction of the church. Entire nations succumbed to the brutality as claims of providence were veiled behind facetious terms such as Manifest Destiny to justify the cancellation of any culture that stood in front of the Christian Way. The same perverse mentality was used to justify slavery, and the Bible served as the tool to cancel others as well. From homosexuals to women, from immigrants to scientists, Christianity has embarked on cancel campaigns against all of them.

The Holocaust cancellation of Jews

Even that despot Adolf Hilter recognized the irony of these behaviors by the Christian religion. When asked about his vendetta against Jews, he stated, “We are not doing anything to the Jews that the Christian religion has not been doing for 1500 years.” Christians sought to “cancel” all Jews that refused to convert and confess Jesus as the Messiah. The same rage and cancel wars were brought against other religions and cultures as well. From the shrines of Islam to the huts of indigenous tribes in far flung regions of the earth, Christianity sought to cancel those faith systems outright.

The greatest lie in history is that Christianity as a religion was somehow an “improvement” over the legalistic traditions favored by the religious authorities whom Jesus came to resist in the first place. Too much Christian history involves bloodshed and merciless domination of cultures around the world. Let us recall that even King David was denied the right to build a temple to honor the Lord because, as God warned him, “You have too much blood on your hands.” God may work with flawed people, but in the end, there is still conscience to consider.

Modern Times

MAGA seeks to cancel social progress to replace it with an anachronistic, racist version of national religion

That brings us to modern times, in which the President of the United States is backed by a Christian cabal all too eager to conduct culture wars to impose their worldview on the nation it claims as its sole possession. With dismissive aplomb, the President engages in daily attempts to cancel out voices and destroy the careers of his perceived opponents. Some of these people served in his own administration. He hailed them for their service when they joined, yet assailed them mercilessly if they left. From his personal attorney Michael Cohen, the “fixer” who did Trump’s dirty work, to men such as former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump praised them for perceived loyalty. But when they part ways, the sociopathic side of Trump uses Twitter to cancel those he sees as disloyal. All the while, Trump engages in well-documented corruption and collusion with despots around the world.

And predictably, Trump has in his corner a phalanx of highly calculating religious zealots who view it as their right to cancel anyone they deem enemies to the cause. As noted, this approach has a long, sordid history.

John Lennon was right

One of the biggest demonstrations of Christian cancel culture occurred when John Lennon of The Beatles made an accurate yet widely misunderstood statement about the nature of popularity. He wisely stated, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I know I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first – rock & roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”

Cancel culture volunteers in the 1960s sought to ban the Beatles for their popularity claims

Lennon was right. Across the mainstream denominations in America, Christianity is shrinking because much of the religion and its legalistic foundations are anachronistic. That’s what makes so many religious authorities fearful of future irrelevance. Yet we should recall the response back when Lennon made those cogent remarks. All across the Bible Belt, buzz-haired teenagers and screaming girls threw records onto bonfires in an attempt to cancel The Beatles on the spot.

Fifty years later, The Beatles are more popular than ever. The timelessness of their music and the importance of their social commentary during a time of great social change has grown in significance with the passing years. A deranged fan jealous of Lennon’s fame and talent canceled his anti-hero’s life with a bullet to the head, a haunting reminder that the artist once wrote a song titled Happiness is a Warm Gun.

Smoking guns and gaslighting

Cancelled lives. JFK. RFK. MLK. John Lennon.

So the Christian haters of John Lennon ultimately got their way. How ironic it is that so many hard-Right Christians seem to love and embrace their weapons as much as they love Jesus. Thousands of people die each year from gun violence in America, their lives cancelled by a twisted interpretation of the Second Amendment that ignores the requirement for a well-regulated militia in favor of a selfish claim to bear arms at any cost.

How ironic it is that a religion in its most conservative form celebrates the value of law, yet when it comes to protecting the lives of millions of people in history, it has dismissed the most important law of all, Thou Shall Not Kill in favor of a worldview that says it’s okay to cancel the lives of anyone who stands in the way of imperial or populist religious power.

Christianity is gaslighting the world by claiming loss of religious freedom when its own agenda for millennia has been aimed at canceling the freedoms and rights of people who don’t share the same belief system.

In my forthcoming book Rescuing Christianity from the Grip of Tradition, the issue of religious legalism is dissected and traced back to the earliest words in the Bible, where the Serpent in the Garden of Eden first adopts the Word of God to serve its own purposes.

Too many Americans don’t get “stupid is as stupid does”

You know the phrase. “Stupid is as stupid does.” That means even seemingly smart people can believe and do stupid things.

By a factor of 8 to 1 the United States of America is leading the European Union in the number of new cases of Coronavirus. The EU has 445M people and the US only 330M, yet we’re kicking their ass when it comes to spreading a virus that is spread through airborne droplets. For these reasons, health officials recommend that people engage in simple practices such as social distancing, wearing masks, washing their hands and staying away from crowded places like bars, beaches and political rallies.

Stupid by example

But some people are too stubborn and stupid to abide in those simple recommendations. They’re even stupid enough to conflate them as infringements on their personal liberties. And for their example, the can cite none other than the President of the United States, who aggressively refuses to wear a mask in public.

Upward spiral of death

As a result, cases of Coronavirus infections are soaring in multiple states. Deaths are following the upward curve as well. Much of this rise is due to serial stupidity on the part of Americans refusing to abide by the most basic precautions. Many are politicizing the wearing of masks as a government mandate.

Despite the surge in infections, Vice President Mike Pence insisted in late June 2020 that things are looking great and that the virus is abating. Yet even the Governor of Texas admitted that he’d done a stupid thing by allowing people to crowd into bars and other compromising situations.

The Real Problem

But that’s the real problem. A massive number of Americans is unwilling to compromise to protect their own health, or the health of others. So I’ll say it right here, loud and clear. These people are stupid.

Being stupid is traditionally defined as “having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense.” In the case of people whining about wearing masks, they’re the stupidest people of all.

Two kinds of stupid

As we surmise from the definition above, there are two kinds of stupid. There is lack of intelligence, and there is lack of common sense. That’s what “stupid is as stupid does” means. If you let your brain succumb to stupid advice, that makes you stupid. If you’re too dumb to know common sense when you see it, that’s unfortunate, and sometimes tragic.

Stupid and proud of it

At this point, America is overrun by people exhibiting both kinds of this stupidity. Some display their stupidity in claiming that their man Trump has done a “good job so far” on the pandemic. But the EU and the rest of the world figured out how to do far better than the US when it comes to keeping their populations safe. Only the US is stupid enough to continue down a path of stupid behavior and even stupider political support for a massive failure in leadership. People are being stupid and proud of it.

Forrest Gump versus Donald Trump

If we were to compare the relative decision-making capabilities of Forrest Gump with Donald Trump, whose advice would you most likely be inclined to take? The simple man whose love of common sense made him wealthy and loved? Or the conflicted man whose love of himself bankrupted his own company multiple times, led to a $25M fraud against his own University, got impeached for pursuing illegal political gain and denied the threat of a pandemic and continues to pretend it doesn’t exist?

Let’s put it bluntly. Based on everything we know about the corrupt and fatal actions of Donald Trump, anyone who supports the man has to be stupid. That might be a question of basic intellect, or just as likely a case of willful stupidity. Either way, it’s a tragedy for America.

If wearing a mask is such an inconvenience, why are Trump supporters wearing pants?

An all new look at Trump Supporters has to include this famous underwear shot of their idol. But if face masks during the Coronavirus pandemic are considered optional and inconvenient, why are pants or underwear required in public too?

The resistance to wearing masks in response to the Covid-19 pandemic starts at the top in America. President Donald Trump refused to wear a mask even in a factory where personal protective equipment is being manufactured. After he left, the company was forced to throw out the entire day’s production. He’s done this stunt more than once, as has his Vice President Mike Pence. That’s how little the President and this administration cares about the personal safety of anyone––or anything––that he encounters. Yet he had the gall to make his Tulsa rally attendees sign a waiver exonerate his campaign from any liability in the that people got sick. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

His example is emboldening his supporters to follow suit and protest wearing masks in public, which they apparently regard as both an inconvenience and a broach of their personal freedoms.

But if masks are such a problem for people to wear, why don’t we just do away with the inconvenience of wearing some as restrictive as pants? So many obese Americans seem to have a problem fitting into them in the first place.

Others simply don’t seem to get the concept of what pants are all about. Take this woman whose garments leave nothing to the imagination. She seems to feel that actual pants would get in the way of her right to express herself in public.

So perhaps we should all follow this woman’s example and ditch the pants as well as the masks in a display of personal freedoms and the right to dispense with social conventions altogether.

You might argue there are morality issues associated with not wearing pants. But that doesn’t stop this woman, does it? If she turned around it is quite certain there would be more to find out about her anatomy when her genital outlines are there for all of us to see. Who’s to say she doesn’t have a right to do show her stuff? It’s her body. Her right.

Or, you could argue that the social convention of wearing pants is a matter of personal and public hygiene. But come on! Flopping our genitals and ass cheeks on public seating isn’t really that much of a problem, is it? Would it really bother you if the man sitting next to you in a restaurant has his junk on display while you have your dinner? This is America, people! Trump wants us to be free!

As it stands, I’m in favor of wearing masks in public for all the right reasons. In the event that I am asymptomatic for the Coronavirus, the mask provides a layer of protection for others. And if there are people walking around spreading the virus in my direction, the mask helps prevent that from reaching me.

I carry my masks around with me in the car. Sometimes I start toward a store and forget to take the mask along. In that case, I go back and fetch it, strap it over my ears and go about the business at hand. Yet somehow this simple routine is too much to ask for millions of Trump supporters who think that the risk of contracting Coronavirus is “fake news” thanks to the President. He’s whipped them into a frenzy of “protest” against the entire concept of masks.

That appeal to selfish ignorance fits the entire mentality of the Trump regime. Recently Trump insisted that the rise in Covid-19 cases is only the product of increased testing. This is precisely what Trump said about the issue. “Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!”

A June 23 CNBC story reports: “Public health specialists have repeatedly said the data does not indicate that increased testing accounts for the recent surge in daily new cases. 20 states currently have a positivity rate above 5%, according to John Hopkins University data, and that includes Arizona, which reports that 21.15% of all tests are coming back positive.”

Fails to see the irony between the Pro-Choi

The division that Trump creates among Americans and even within his own party is based on the breathtakingly stupid premise that personal freedoms are at risk in being asked to wear a mask in public. In what must be the height of irony, the Trump-driven protestor pictured above essentially steals language from the Pro-Choice movement on women’s reproductive rights to apply them to the idea that wearing a mask is an infringement of liberty and government intrusion on a woman’s body.

Here is the problem: The Trump movement thrives on this brand of cognitive dissonance. For those who don’t grasp exactly what that means, here’s the definition: “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.”

They’re taking direction from a man who claims to be a truth-teller and authentic, yet paints is face orange everyday and engages in daily vain attempts to cover his balding head with an elaborate combover that blows around in a high wind. This is all significant. His face paint rubs off on his shirt collar. His lies rub off on the Constitution. He’s a fraud from head to toe, evidenced by the settlement of $25M against his own Trump University for bilking students out of money for sham courses that had no value except the shallow premise of the Trump name.

Later fined $25M for fraud.

He has no shame. And despite his claims, he has demonstrated even less merit as a CEO or a President or even a dogcatcher. As Mark Twain once wrote, “All it takes is ignorance and confidence, and success is sure.” That is the Trump tactic in a nutshell, and his supporters eat it up. His tactics are clear. He takes no responsibility for all the bad things he causes and yet loves to claim credit for anything that works, including the economy that is a straight-line product of the restorative actions taken by President Obama following the Bush-led recession. These facts are clear to anyone with a soundly functioning brain. But just like Trump, denial and willing ignorance is preferable to his supporters as a means to claim authority and control over society.

And by the way, under the direct influence of Trump’s reign, an employment crash not seen since the Great Depression took place in 2020. If Trump wants credit where credit is due, he need look no further than the job statistics in which another 1.5M new unemployment claims were filed again this last week in June. Trump is a disaster for America by every measure; economy, environment, employment and education, to name just a few. It’s all because he’s a professional con man, and nothing more.

That brings us to his denial of the Coronavirus pandemic that is now directly responsible for more than 121,000 dead Americas. The United States has only 4% of the world’s population and 25% of the known deaths related to this pandemic. This is all Trump’s fault. He caused this with his delays and continuing denial that Covid-19 is a persistent, lethal disease that requires social vigilance to contain. Other countries have managed that. New Zealand wiped out the virus in its nation. Now the European Union is considering a ban on American visitors abroad. This is all Trump’s fault. He has turned the United States of America into a banana republic, complete with a narcissistically fascist dictator who paints his face like a vain clown afraid of showing even his crocodile tears.

But this mess is also the fault of his stubborn, death-defying supporters who can’t separate the least bit of fact from fiction. The real problem now is getting this sociopathic monster out of office. Already he’s propagandizing the upcoming election to put any result into question. This is the type of dog-whistle manipulation of the American public at which Trump most excels. Whether it is media reporting of his many lies or the investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 election, Trump plays the victim and gins up his supporters because they revel in the notion that what used to make America great was the type of religiously-driven racism and social control that persecuted others for cultural advantage, and when that got boring, it was all done for sport.

Trump is the reason why bloviating bastards and stubborn bitches are waving flags and crying foul over the simple request to wears masks in public. But if masks are an affront, so is wearing pants in public, and we know from where that selfish instinct emanates. The Emperor himself is wearing no clothes, and his worshipful cult cheerleads his waltz down the naked travails of history.

Is it time to ditch the paramilitary structure of the police?

A few years back while riding my bike in the country, I saw a green vehicle parked by the side of the road. The writing on the side said, “CONSERVATION POLICE.”

With an interest in the environment and especially our parks and natural areas, I stopped to talk with the officer at his vehicle. That probably doesn’t happen all that often. I noticed that he was a bit guarded in his demeanor. So I opened with a question, “Do people know what you do?”

He seemed to realize that I was either curious or genuinely knew the answer to that question. He smiled and said, “Between you and me, about seven out of ten people want to know what the Conversation Police do.”

Training and commissions

That speaks to a lack of knowledge and a level of paranoia that exists in society toward the police. As a writer I followed up on our talk by contacting the regional office for the State Conservation Police and wound up interviewing two officers, one a woman and the other a man, about the distinctive nature of their jobs.

What I learned is that State Conservation Police go through training to become fully commissioned state police officers. They also go through additional training for the specifics of their job in policing natural areas, parks and other situations in urban, suburban and country settings.

I learned that it’s not an easy job. I also learned that the police with whom I talked at the managerial level were open to the idea of communicating the breadth of the job handled by state conservation police officers. It’s true that many people do not understand the roles and challenges of police officers at the local, regional and state level.

Urban and exurban realities

After learning more about policing the wilder areas of our state and writing an article about it for a suburban lifestyle publication, I met a man that served as a police chief in a highly urban area west of Chicago. It was a tough town according to reputation. He’d spent many years rising through the ranks to become the Chief of Police. In classic police fashion, he was not overly communicative about the nature of his job. But after talking for an hour, I dared ask him a question that I’d long wanted to pose to a police officer in his position.

“What do police actually think about the problems of gun control?”

It was admittedly a question phrased in a liberal context. Yet he answered with sincerity. “We think it’s a mess,” he confided. “There are too many guns out there.”

One could immediately jump to a number of conclusions from that statement. Gun proponents might state that there are too many illegal guns in the urban environment where the officer was stationed. It is easy to ascribe patent gun violence to gang-bangers and such. That carries with it the implications of race. Yet the police officer with whom I spoke was himself African-American. He’d probably seen plenty of violence and law-breaking from people of all races and backgrounds.

Self-protection

But the culture of policing in America depends on guns as safety and protection for the officers. The result has been that as America’s volume and capacity of the weapons on the street has escalated, so has the need for police to arm up and defend themselves. When placed in circumstances where guns may be present or called into action, police are at risk in every situation from a traffic stop to breaking up a block party to watching prisoners in hospital settings.

So it’s really no surprise that people are being gunned down by the police. The sad, sick part of the equation is that the paramilitary structure of the police force with its hierarchy of command places police in a position of protecting their own as would any other form of unit committed to a battlefront. That’s what the United States of America has become. A nation at war with itself, and the police are supposed to act like the United Nations forces in blue helmets trying to keep the peace.

And frankly, it is too much to ask

Conflicting purposes

The police are clearly being asked to do too many types of things. From traffic control to domestic violence, handling mental illness in the public space to tracking down crime and violence, the police are expected to multitask like no one’s business. And frankly, no organization can handle that many options and be efficient and effective.

That’s especially true when the paramilitary structure demands loyalty, rigidity and compliance on the front end. Surely discipline is important to public and private policing. But discipline alone is too easily compromised when social or work pressures enter the picture. That’s when people become more concerned with covering their ass and keeping things quiet if things go wrong, rather than opening the subject to inquiry and consideration.

When political or racial bias further enters the picture, a paramilitary organization too easily becomes a tool of power and manipulation. When the culture of an organization adopts a prejudice of any kind, it conflicts with the assigned purposes of a police organization to serve and protect.

Tribalism and paramilitary mentality

That is how an officer decides to kneel on the neck of another human being long enough to kill them. And why fellow officers stand aside or even support that effort. There is too much tribalism built into the paramilitary model of the police forces of this country. That is not to say that the police are necessarily to blame. Who wants to risk their lives in a country where there are more guns than people? The perversion of the Second Amendment into a free-for-all of gun rights and vigilantism has turned policing into a losing proposition from the start.

The opening phrase of the Second Amendment holds the solution, too long ignored and debased by the likes of the NRA and its patsy politicians, that reminds us that, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state…” should not be dismissed as an unnecessary burden on the nation. More people have died from gun violence in the United States than all the soldiers killed in American wars on foreign soil. The nation is in the long grip of a gun violence pandemic and mass shootings that only abated for a bit once a disease pandemic came along to force people off the streets and out of the cycle of blasting each other to bits.

The POTUS and domination

The worst part of all this vigilante addiction to guns and force, and the paramilitary approach to society, is that the President of the United States even views our nation’s military as his personal police force. In a fascist response to public protests over the killing of multiple black victims by police, Trump proposed sending tanks into Washington, DC and other cities to “dominate” those he considers out of order. It is no surprise where Trump likely got the idea, as he put in a call to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin before launching the idea of this proposed assault on American society to protect his own racist agenda. Trump’s murderous instincts have included instructing police not to be too soft and to knock heads when doing their jobs. This is not the message America needs to hear.

Cities across America are now considering “defunding the police” which is an unfortunate term at best. The real goal is to restructure the approach and obligations of America’s police forces. The best place to start is changing the system from a hierarchy of paramilitary command to a more collaborative model similar to organizations where decision-making is more effectively crowd-sourced and includes contributions from all levels of an organization to hold everyone accountable and provide support where needed from top to bottom for police everywhere. Of course, the “tough guys” mentality of police work would resist this model as impractical and too soft. But what’s the better alternative? Remaining at war with the public in fear for the lives of the officers on the front lines, or acting with conscience and proving the Blue Lives really do matter?

Source: https://leb.fbi.gov/articles/perspective/perspective-evaluating-the-paramilitary-structure-and-morale

The schoolyard bully and his toadies have had their day

In the famously entertaining––and mildly politically incorrect––holiday movie “A Christmas Story,” the bully Scut Farkas terrorizes the Ralphie character and his friends. Scut clearly derives perverse pleasure from tormenting his victims.

Ultimately, Scut pushes Ralphie a step too far and the bespectacled child boils over with rage and frustration at the bullying he’s been dealth for too long. In an instant Ralphie piles into Scut and begins pounding away. Farkas is so surprised by the return of force that it renders him defenseless. The blood pouring from his nose testifies to a long overdue payback for all the threats and arm-twisting he’s imposed upon the neighborhood.

But Scut Farkas does not work alone. He depends on his toadie Grover Dill, a snotty little brute in an annoying oversized cap, as emotional support for his abusive ways. The empowered little monster Grover Dill relishes opportunities to frighten and dun the neighborhood kids into submission. Yet even in victory, after supposed “victory” has been won, when Grover tries to punch Farkas in a friendly way, the insecure bully can’t handle even the slightest resistance. Instead he bludgeons his little buddy even harder to maintain dominance.

The relationship is an example of sick co-dependence.

Eventually, their bullying ways catch up with them. Farkas gets pounded by Ralphie and the toadie Grover Dill gets shoved aside. He turns and runs away crying how unfair it is to be treated like that.

Yes, the bully and his toadie(s) have had their day. It’s long past time for America to knock that furry cap off the head of the neighborhood bully .The same goes for collectively pathetic, small-minded band of toadies too. There’s no reason why everyday Americans should have to put up with this brand of insecure brutality, nor the misogyny and racism, the economic graft and bribery, the fraud and the fecklessness. The lies. The treason. The selfish denial of genuine threats while inventing fears to manipulate the toadie masses.

Let’s send these bullies and their sick little band of angry sycophants scurrying away like the roaches and leeches that they are. And wipe those shit-eating grins and angry looks off their stupid faces. Scut Farkas and Grover Dill have to go, red hats and all. We don’t have to live like this. Just ask Ralphie.

Why armed militias walk freely and peaceful protesters get mowed down

See those guys in the photo? They’re part of the Boogaloo movement planning to bring about a new Civil War. They’re a far-right, libertarian-style faction that hates government and loves American gun laws that allow them to carry weapons around with impunity.

See the people in this photo? They’re part of peaceful protests taking place all around America and the world. Their main objection is that police keep slaughtering black people in this country, and the death of George Floyd under the pressure-packed knee of a Minneapolis policemen generated legitimate public protests.

To review, the armed militias have had quite a bit to say lately, and plenty of latitude to say it. A group of them descended on the Michigan State Capitol, stormed the legislature and started making demands that restrictions on public access related to the Coronavirus pandemic be removed. One of them placed an effigy of the female governor as if she’d been hanged. Meanwhile, Kentucky Libertarian Rand Paul is blocking an anti-lynching bill even in the wake of the documented asphyxiation––a lynching in public––of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Some of this stuff you just can’t make up.

Trump excuses and welcomes brutality

The President of the United States of America excuses all these affronts to true justice because, he maintains, “People are angry.” That was also his excuse for the “good people” who assaulted activists during the removal of a Confederate statue somewhere below the Mason-Dixon line.

During his manic attempt to restore order in the face of recent protests, the President met with leaders of the American military to request that 10,000 active troops be deployed as a “domination” force against peaceful protestors. That request was made shortly after a personal call with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, also known as a strongman with a vicious bent for punishing his own citizens.

Conflation patrols

Trump’s defenders claim he was only trying to stop people taking advantage of civil unrest to loot storefronts. The two groups had entirely different motives, but Trump refuses to make that distinction. He conflated them as one, and then grandly proved that point by shoving aside peaceful demonstrators to descend on a Washington church where he stood with a Bible in his hand as if he owned the place.

Trump clearly thinks he owns everything, but especially the military. Everything the man has done, and all his claims to executive authority, are earnest expressions that he believes he owns the entire nation. His demeanor is one of a slavedriver demand response to whatever he chooses to impose. The nation is his plantation, you see. That is why he steals funds from the military to build his border wall. It is also why he sought to force Ukraine’s President to make up lies about Vice President Joe Biden. Trump’s version of political negotiation is to cheat or coerce the system until it does his will.

The gesture out front of the church with the Bible in his hand was particularly disturbing because it interpolated Christianity with the brand of fascism it took to place himself in that position. But perhaps that’s not such a big stretch. It was Adolf Hitler that once stated, “We are not doing anything to the Jews that Christians have not been doing for 1500 years.” Some traditions stick around. Others just come back in other forms.

Fortunately the nation’s generals did prevent Trump from sending tanks into the fray in Washington. Yet frustrated by the lack of force he could employ, he instead commissioned Attorney General William Barr to rally a group of mercenary prison guards to station themselves around the Lincoln Memorial.

Displays of fascist “domination” such as these align directly with the overwrought militia types that took over the Michigan state capitol. Their end goal, it seems, is to start a Civil War under the term Boogaloo to get what they want. That is a world free from restrictions on their racial prejudice and aggressive victimhood. They also want their firearm toys. It’s a compensatory thing.

That’s no different than the priorities of Donald Trump. Together these politicized nasties represent a Neo-Confederacy threatening the existence of the Union as we have long known it. That explains why armed militias of many types are being seen more frequently across America. Trump has no intention of giving up control of this nation’s armed forces or its resources, which he loves to dole out to his fawning loyalists. To accomplish this mission he welcomes even mercenary support as long as they share his goal of not letting anyone challenge him. Both the thugs in Boogaloo outfits and the Evangelicals cozying up to Trump share that in common: a opportunity to align themselves with such power. Fuck Jesus, and let’s go play with guns.

There is a third quasi-military faction involved in this mess. We’re already seeing the results of the vigilante confederate mindset, with dispassionately misguided police forces knocking a 75-year-old men to the ground because they can. If that’s how they treat the elderly, think of the brain-crushing they’ve got planned for youthful protestors full with energy and purpose. The bloodshed could be awful to behold.

Fascism rules

Trump’s supporters are keen to defend him. “This is not Nazi Germany,” they say. “He’s only trying to protect the nation from Antifa and looters.” Yet we’ll repeat: that claim aggressively ignores the fact that armed militias are being casually permitted to run wild and privately commissioned prison guards are hired to impose martial law in the nation’s capitol. And the police keep killing people.

This may not be Nazi Germany, but neither is it the United States of America. But perhaps this is what Trump meant all along by his slogan Make America Great Again. After all, Germany enjoyed a few great years before the world sent Hitler into his private bunker with a pistol and a getaway plan of taking his own life rather than having to face a tribunal for the deaths of millions of people. Trump’s Coronavirus body count is only up to 113,000 at this moment, but if he’d been allowed to carry on with his selfish plan of ignoring the threat, it is estimated that 2,000,000 may have died.

The scary truth of that last statement is that Trump’s flaxenly selfish response to the Covid-19 epidemic was only changed because he realized that people dying in droves might hurt his chances for re-election. Once again, he did not act out of conscience, but for selfish political reasons.

Hideouts

Illustration by Christopher Cudworth

In something of a symbolic coup, Trump is now hiding behind 13-foot-tall fences installed around the White House. For a while at least, he was even hunkered down in a bunker out of fear that his life was at risk.

Yet he’s refused to wear a mask in public because he thinks it would make him look ridiculous. That’s a bit like that evil clown John Wayne Gacy complaining that his lipstick is smeared. And speaking of clowns, Trump shrieks like a carnival barker behind the podium of Twitter. He raves about how the game isn’t fair and that he’s a victim of all sorts of conspiracies against him, especially by Democrats, but some Republicans too.

Yet somehow white evangelicals line up and clamor for his words. There are women who worship and fawn and faint over Trump and his manhood. His business buddies just want to grab what they can before the economic collapse comes along. And “First Lady” Melania Trump keeps a purse and small suitcase packed and ready in case the whole carnival needs to take off for Argentina.

A firsthand look at the twisted world of police prejudice

As manager of a sports complex in the town where I lived, my duties were to open up every night at 6:00 pm to allow the public to use the indoor track, basketball, and volleyball courts in a facility attached to the high school. It wasn’t strictly a membership club or anything like that, but there were discount passes available. The entire purpose was to return some value to the community for the tax dollars used to create that building for the school district.

So it was a popular facility for many reasons. On weekends, there were indoor soccer games from 9 am to 5 pm. That was the real moneymaker for the building.

But on weekdays, there were between 100-150 runners and walkers coming through the doors at night. I learned most of their names and still see some of them out in the community decades later. Along with serious runners counting laps, and logging miles on cold winter nights, heart patients were recuperating from surgeries, mothers losing weight after babies and people talking through life’s problems as they circled the oval for 30-60 minutes.

Then there were the basketball players. As a longtime hoopster, I occasionally joined the games on nights when my staff had things in order. It was an excellent way to get to know the players and frankly, earn a bit of credibility among them. We had ballplayers from all over the Fox Valley show up for competitive basketball games. There were politics involved with who wound up on what team. My floor supervisor had a system of first-come, first-serve, but the guys had all figured out how to scam that and wind up on powerful teams that dominated the floor. So instead of winner-take-all every night, we instituted a two-game winner, then you sit system so that more players could see action.

It was a diverse population. We had guys from either end of the Fox Valley, cities such as Elgin and Aurora, two of the larger urban centers in northern Illinois. One night I joined a game that involved nine black players and me. I wound up guarding a small guy named Doc. On the first time down the floor Doc faked right to take me to the baseline and then literally jumped over my shoulder to dunk the ball. The entire place erupted in laughter. I’d been had. Doc didn’t look like much with his wire-rimmed glasses and closely shaved head. But the guy could sky.

From then on, I played him far more closely, and we had a good game all around. Our team lost, however, and I was walking back to the office after shaking hands when my assistant game to meet me at the door and said, “We have a problem. We got robbed.”

I looked at the office, but that wasn’t where the robbery occurred. Instead, there was a team of guys who scouted out the locker room and posted a guard at the door while one of them went locker-to-locker snapping locks with a bolt cutter. They cleaned out wallets and valuables that they could find and were out of there in five minutes.

Of course, we immediately called the police. The officer who showed up was a couple of years ahead of me in high school. His younger brother was a high jumper on the track team with me. The officer was strong and tall, about 6’3″ and probably 190 at least.

The thing that struck me on his arrival was the nightstick he carried in his right hand. He’d already unleashed it from his belt. Recognizing me instantly, he came straight over and made it clear that he was ready to bust heads if necessary. Then he looked around, and I was instantly nervous about his intentions. He muttered something that could only be construed as a racist comment about the robbers, mentioning as well that he thought the “black” problem at the facility was what caused it all to happen.

The guys playing basketball clearly were not involved directly in the robbery. I told him so. “I know these guys,” I told him, using his name for emphasis. “This was someone else entirely. We don’t even know for sure what race they were.”

Our employees had seen people coming in well after the usual rush to sign up for games. They had paid for admission, which was $5.00 per night without a pass. So there was an inferred possibility that the guys who showed up later were involved in the robbery.

That did not satisfy my policeman friend. He took some notes after putting his nightstick back on his person and then left.

A week or so later, I received a note from the athletic director that policies might be changing for the facility. “It may be restricted to residents only,” I was told. Immediately I protested. “This was an isolated incident,” I insisted. “We can keep a better eye on the locker rooms and won’t have a problem.”

My staff and I were concerned about the people who used that facility, and appreciated it. I had even worked out a deal for a father with an energetic batch of children that he brought to the facility each week to let them run on the track. I’d charge him two admissions, and six of his family members would come in. Several years later, those children grew into young adults and won many state championships in track and field. In my estimation, the facility did not lose money on that proposition. It gained value for society, and for that family.

Was it special treatment? That father and his children were black. Would I have done something similar for a white father and his children? I’m not sure. We all have to make judgment calls on those decisions in life. Just like the father I helped out, it would take a little conversation to figure out the right and wrong of the situation. Some of these calls we make are not black and white.

There’s a whole lotta world out there trying to make the right call on issues like these, and more. We have to call on our conscience to make the best decisions in the moment. I suppose I erred on the liberal side of the equation in granting a favor to that black father and his children. But what made the decision easy in my mind was the many other discussions and experiences I’d had over the years with black teammates and work associates. It didn’t take a genius to see the effects of prejudice on their lives. So I tried to compensate a little.

Perhaps a diehard conservative would decry such civil reparations as examples of liberal and unnecessary favoritism. But compared to a cop wielding a nightstick on a winter evening looking to bust heads, and that firsthand look at potential police prejudice and violence, or a policeman kneeling on the neck of a possibly innocent black man until he died, I’ll take the liberal recourse any day. And every day.

Because that’s the least we can all do.

Why so many Americans have literal sympathy for the devil

With police playing both ends of the game as protests and demonstrations broke out across the nation after the choking death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a section of lyrics from the Rolling Stones song Sympathy for the Devil came to mind.

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint

Here’s both the beauty and the problem with a song such as Sympathy for the Devil. It is a masterpiece of rock satire, rich with insight into the motivations and corruptions of the human race. The Devil is both the cause and the foil of all these historic activities from the death of Jesus Christ to the murder of the Kennedys.

Yet given that the song has a title, “Sympathy for the Devil,” that can be literally construed as an apologetic for Satan, there are factions of people in this world that never comprehend the true meaning of the lyrics. They begin like this:

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul to waste

It is critical to understand from the outset that the Satan character in question is an inherent part of human nature. Not a separate entity. Not an outside influence. Satan lives within us when we allow the “world” to take over our souls. That’s why they are “stolen” and laid to waste.

The song goes on to warn that the actions of the human race are complex, and that one individual can symbolize the plot, and the plight, of many who fall into the trap of worshipping power.

And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Thus we find the refrain, brilliant composed to repeat itself throughout the song, in which the Devil reintroduces himself while tossing a cryptic statement out for our consideration:

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my gameI

Both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had already seen much of how the world works by the time they composed Sympathy for the Devil. Rock stars gain a unique insight into the nature of idol worship in general. Combined with the worlds of unlimited drugs, sex and world travel, those two plucked symbols from history to illustrate how and why the world goes sour, and what the consequences are. It only takes a few cogent lines to encapsulate what happens when political upheaval tears into the fabric of society, and fascism runs over justice:

Stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vainI

Rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank

Ah yes, the devil gets around alright. And he/she is always glad to meet someone willing to play the dangerous game of choosing sides with authoritarians and despots promising heaven while they create hell all around them.

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeahI

The sad, sick part in all this is religion’s role in making it all worse. Mick and Keith dared to suggest that many gods were manufactured in the name of God. That’s where the worship of money and indulgences, the power of tradition, and the nasty habits of oppression and repression come together. We’ve seen it here in America in the last three years, and for the previous sixty years before that. Right now the penchant of authoritarian worship is blowing up in our faces. Donald Trump is responsible for it all, right down to the cop kneeling on the neck of a black man on the streets of Minneapolis. Trump is an expression of all the works of the devil. The Seven Deadly Sins: pride, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, sloth, and wrath.

Watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made

I shouted out
Who killed the Kennedys?
When after all
It was you and me

At this point in the song, the Devil comes around to the original nature of his supposed virtues. The lyrics show that no innocent will escape his attention.

Let me please introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached Bombay

If you’re familiar with the song Sympathy for the Devil, you know how the searing guitars and Mick Jagger’s twisting voice turn the melody into a mocking tribute to the kind of all Con Men. He taunts and repeats the refrain, each time making it more obvious that the target of the song is often the perpetrator and a partner with the devil in committing evil deeds.

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what’s confusing you
Is just the nature of my game, mm yeah

Then the song takes a wicked turn to illustrate the threat of what’s really going on when the devil inside people takes control. Let’s recall that the murder of George Floyd took place right after the news cycle chewed on the death of a black jogger, Ahmaud Arbery, who was murdered by shotgun in Georgia earlier this year. The United States has embraced a brand of vigilante justice infecting both the public and the law enforcement world. This has turned the notion of law inside out and upside down. And we should not forget the long line of mass shootings during all this racist brutality as well.

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint

And then comes the bitter end, when Sympathy for the Devil wraps its arms around the issue of complicity and favoring those who claim righteousness while doing heinous work. One can almost imagine Donald Trump Tweeting these first few words…

So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste…

But the devil finally gives us a warning. Better wise up, people, or you’ll be sucked in.


Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I’ll lay your soul to waste, mm yeah

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, mm yeah

From there, the song falls onto a steaming river of lament and teasing when the devil taunts the innocents and calls them honey and sweetie. One can almost imagine the honeys and sweeties at one of Donald Trump’s rallies; those big-haired, blue-eyed blondes in MAGA tee shirts and oversized breasts fawning over the Cheater In Chief. He meets the combined fantasies and treasured taboos of sexual provocateur possessed of great wealth and supposed moral virtue. Yet he also appeals to the Boys Club of politically cuckolded husbands and dispossessed gun-toters hoping for a target to assuage their pent-up rage. But most of all, Trump appeals to the the Victimhood Mentality of rabid apologists who hand on his every sympathetic word. That’s why evangelical Christians seeking a hero flocked to Trump as a communicator of their claims to persecution despite the fact that Christianity is the most privileged of religions in all of American history. It is a perversion of truth for Christians to claim that their liberties are being threatened by granting equal and civil rights to other members of society. And let’s recall that a literal and legalistic brand of Christianity was a principle player in the institution of slavery in the United States.

Do you get it now? Or shall we explain it again?

But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, mm mean it, get down
Oh yeah, get on down
Oh yeah Oh yeah

One can imagine Trump standing over one of his fired cabinet members, Apprentice proteges or abused political appointments demanding them to repeat his name.

Tell me baby, what’s my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what’s my name
I tell you one time, you’re to blame

Did you catch that last line? That’s the gaslighting part of all this Trumpism. No matter what evil he does, or how many lies and excuses he uses to justify his own incompetency, Trump always tells the world someone else is to blame. Often it is those closest to him that suffer the most. And once he casts them aside, he taunts them publicly.

Oh, right What’s my name
Tell me, baby, what’s my name
Tell me, sweetie, what’s my name

But here’s the sad, sick truth in all this literal sympathy for the devil. Conservatives have long misunderstood and missed the messaging in social protest songs such as this. When Ronald Reagan played Born In the USA at his political rallies, he had no idea that the lyrics indicted all the things he stood for. And that’s what’s going on in America right now. The devil has all the literalists and slogan suckers in his grip, and all they choose to do is blame everyone else for their problems while spewing hate, gaslighting those who question them and filling the Internet with the repeated lies of the devil himself.

So perhaps it’s time to stop showing patience to the deplorable and depraved in this country, these people whose racist instincts and selfish lust for power have supported a man whose delay and denial of the pandemic have cost millions of people their jobs. If this were a different period in history, there would be a rush on the Capitol and Trump would be dragged to the guillotine and his head placed on a spike. Politically at least, that’s what should happen. But we’ll be lucky if we can even conduct a safe and legal election to remove him from office and begin to confront the sympathy for the devil that Trump supporters call Make America Great Again.

Can you guess my name?

Source: LyricFind Songwriters: Keith Richards / Mick JaggerSympathy For The Devil lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc. This blog originally published on GenesisFix.Wordpress.com by Christopher Cudworth.

Why Trump Haters are for the birds

CedarWaxwing solo 3

Cedar Waxwing. Photo by Christopher Cudworth

Recently a long-ago classmate from high school showed up on Facebook. He Friended me and began complimenting bird photos that I posted to my wall. The connection for the first few weeks seemed genuine. He’d never been a nature guy to my knowledge but had lived next to a forest preserve back in the day. Perhaps his upbringing near the wilds had emerged as a deeper interest in his retirement.

He posted photos of his own, images of birds and such around his property. Then one day a cryptic post appeared on his wall. It was rife with jingoistic and politically flirtatious language that was all too familiar to me.

 

Bald Eagle Flight

Bald Eagle. Photograph by Christopher Cudworth.

He claimed at the moment to have a neutral stance on the state of the nation these days. Perhaps he was an Independent of sorts? Even a Libertarian? Over the years plenty of that cropped up in social media too.  And then there are the supposedly objective among us, who view all politics and government as the scourge of life. “They’re all crooks,” goes the line.

Meanwhile, the comments kept coming about nature and birds and such. He knew that I was a birder way back in middle school and high school, earning the not-so-complimentary sobriquet “Birdman” from friends who found the hobby ridiculous. So I continued our friendly repartee and helped him identify some species that showed up at his feeder from photos that he’d posted.

Trump shrug

Then came the Purple Post. My new-old-friend had decided to “lift the veil” on his political affiliations and made a statement to that effect with a closing statement: Vote Trump 2020.

I wasn’t shocked. But I was disturbed. My concerns were specific and real. If he claimed to love wildlife and the environment so much, how could he possibly support what Donald Trump has been doing to our country’s laws and regulations that protect clean air and water, conserve both common and endangered species, and honor key acts governing even archeological and paleontological resources?

The list of attacks on these protections is long. I call them the Trump Killers, because he’s presided over legal and political attempts to kill every one of these laws. Here are the major policies that Trump and the Republicans have set out to kill, or have killed already.

Trump KIllers

The point in posting this list is to help people connect the dots between the wildlife my supposed Facebook Friend loves to enjoy and the laws that provide protection and habitat for these living things to survive. That’s a simple enough concept, right?

Yet in Trumpian fashion, his love for Trump is so ardent yet so shallow that he likely has no idea that any of these actions are being taken. He lives near one of the few habitats where Kirtland’s warblers breed in Michigan. Birders have worked to help protect that and many other species. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act alone is designed to protect hundreds of species that travel to our country during spring and fall. Does he even know why such laws are important? Doubtful.

Too many Trump supporters appear to come from a background where science is considered a worthless opinion. Some of that stems from religious prejudice wrought from an evangelical mindset based on biblical literalism and its intellectually retarded offspring, creationism. Some 35% of Americans tend to abide in that worldview, and the consequence is that men like Trump and his greedy Republican allies grant carte balance to industrial polluters and environmental abusers because, it is claimed, the human race has dominion over the earth.

Bluebird 4

Eastern Bluebird. Photograph by Christopher Cudworth.

That is the absolute brand of cognitive dissonance at work in Trumpism. It aggressively fails to recognize the connection between these environmental and resource acts and our nation’s contribution to their survival. In other words, Trump supporters completely refuse to connect the dots between the things that actually make America great and the things Donald Trump does to destroy them. And if you question their passive-aggressive practice of posting provocative Pro-Trump memes and then whining when you challenge them, the first instinct is to gaslight all those with the gall to present evidence of the President’s own lies and contradictions of his own statements. They want to make you feel like it all never happened. “You must be crazy,” is the implication.

And sure enough, when I commented on my friend’s Purple Post, he immediately made a baiting statement that he “knew I’d be first to comment.” In other words, he was taunting me and others. Just as predictably, his Trump-loving friends chimed in with memes supporting Trump and ridiculing those who don’t “get it.”

And finally, one of those Trump Lovers branded me a Trump Hater.

Trump Maga Hat

That’s the “go-to” dismissal for all Trump supporters. It implies an irrational hatred for the President. It directly aligns with the so-called Trump Derangement Syndrome that Trump supporters use to paint those who oppose them as radical leftists who oppose true American virtues. But it’s interesting how many terms it actually takes to insult those who oppose Trump.

The hypocrisy in all this is quite evident. If a Trump supporter loves birds and wildlife but does not understand that the President is doing everything he can to gut laws protecting those resources, that’s plain stupid and irresponsible. And if a Trump supporter claims to value civil rights yet wants to deny those rights to gay people or people of color, that’s an insult to the entire notion of what civil rights mean. And if Trump supporters claim to love life yet refuse to limit access to weapons capable of slaughtering dozens of innocent people in minutes, then they are lying to us all.

That is the dynamic that exists across the entire spectrum of  Trump policies. Claims to virtue counteracted by repression of those whom the Trump world hates. And Trump himself is the most consistent lawbreaker. From breaching emolument laws on conflicts of interest to pressing foreign countries to interfere in our nation’s elections, Trump has flaunted our Constitution and its foundational premises. He refuses to respect the rule of law and at the same time uses it to punish those causes he considers his enemies. He is the most hateful acting of all Presidents, fueled especially by hatred for Barack Obama, whose legacy he has steadfastly and vengefully tried to erase.

bobolink

Bobolink. Photo by Christopher Cudworth

But it’s the birds that illustrate this whole hatred thing the best. Many of those laws listed above were actually implemented with collaborative approval by Republican Presidents and members of Congress and the Senate. But Trump hates them all. The real Trump Hater, in an active sense, is Trump himself.

So I’ll not abide the insults and the targeted claims that I’m somehow “deranged” for opposing the nasty things this President is imposing on our country. They are hateful in every respect, a testimony to the selfish and shallow fraud of a human being whose grasp of even the most simple concepts is at best questionable. Yet he calls himself a genius and brags about his intellect, all while gutting the purposes of our public education system, our civil rights and our heritage as a haven for the desperate and the poor. Donald Trump is the most hateful man on earth right now, and his supporters love him for it. Yet they call us Trump Haters.

Orange Donald

LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 28: Chairman and President of the Trump Organization Donald Trump yells ‘you’re fired’ after speaking to several GOP women’s groups at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino April 28, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump has been testing the waters with stops across the nation in recent weeks and has created media waves by questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

That’s a sickness of mind and an ugly testament to the twisted mentality required to vote and approve the actions of a President who is a bully, a despot, and a fascist in every aspect of his demeanor and conduct. In other words, he is a man genuinely worth of hate, but his supporters instead grant him a brand of worshipful love that resembles a cult.

Cardinal and Evil

So we supposed Trump Haters are for the birds, and many other good things in this world, including civil rights for all, a fair and equitable economy that does something other than shovel money to the wealthy, a foreign policy that respects rather than manipulates and brutalizes our allies, a nation free from religious oppression as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and a country where guns are not the final word on respect for law.

But those who love Trump apparently hate all these things, and hate the world as well, because they’re willingly glad to destroy it in order to keep their man in power.

The crazies have put their man on the moon and want to keep him there

 

man_in_the_moon_

One of the interesting things about being a content creator in the marketing world, as I am, is the things you learn from translating often complex concepts into communications people can understand.

A few years back I wrote a series of whitepapers for a company that handles requisitions and distribution of healthcare supplies for hospitals across the Midwest. They often step in as a third party partner to take the burden of managing those logistics off the back of the hospital so that administrators can focus on the actual healthcare side of things.

Pandemic pressures

We’re all learning the importance of these services as the Covid-19 pandemic continues its spread across the United States of America. The federal government, state governments, and local authorities all got involved procuring and distributing healthcare supplies to healthcare companies in desperate need of them.

One wonders if the company for which I wrote that content has seen an increase in demand for their services, or if they’ve been cut out of the deal entirely We’ve witnessed fights at the highest levels of government over whose responsibility it is to manage the process of manufacturing, ordering and distributing supplies critical to the treatment of Covid-19 and protection of all the people working in the healthcare world.

Where does a third-party system fit in all that craziness?

Making connections

IMG_2526

When healthcare becomes a political topic, we seldom seem to make connections about the systems necessary to make a “good healthcare system.” It’s all about ideology instead. Some decry the idea of a “socialized” or national healthcare system in favor of the profit-driven model we have now. But when systems quickly break down and supplies are in short demand as they obviously are during this pandemic, it makes you wonder if pride in the quality of our healthcare system is not somehow misplaced.

In testimony before a national committee assessing our government’s response to this pandemic, Rick Bright, the recently ousted vaccine official, stated that grave danger exists because the United States is not prepared or responding well to the challenges caused by this virus. “The world is confronting a great public health emergency which has the potential to eclipse the devastation wrought by the 1918 influenza which globally claimed over 50 million lives,” he said. He proceeded to advocate for a coordinated national response, as opposed to President Trump’s choice to that burden onto state and local authorities. Trump has crazily bounced back and forth between the two, claiming one moment to own all authority while at the same time blaming state governors for their poor handling of the supply and demand of PPE and other needs.

Emergency rooms

As I write this I’m sitting in an emergency room tending to the needs of a person close to me. I’ve been in dozens if not hundreds of waiting rooms like this over the years while serving as a caregiver to family members and friends in need of support. I have close friends who work in the healthcare systems of this country. Some are administrators while others serve as doctors, nurses, and many other specialties. I also have friends who work in healthcare communications and public relations. All of these people are great at what they do.

But I’m not so sure our overall healthcare system is great at what it does. And when a national crisis like this strikes, we lack a legitimate collaborative mechanism to coordinate efforts in the face of genuine threats. This essentially qualifies as a coarse example of willfully broken trust on behalf of an ideology that stipulates, at many levels, that healthcare concerns are a question of individual responsibility and a system based on the Ayn Rand mantra of “every man for himself.” In many ways, that amounts to an approach in which women are cut out of the equation of making decisions about their own healthcare needs.

Patient advocacy

That doesn’t even account for people with healthcare issues at hand. I’ve witnessed firsthand what it means to advocate for a patient with what the health insurance industry categorizes as a “pre-existing condition.” It was painful and often dehumanizing to realize that the person you love is considered a liability by everyone you encounter. From the employer offering the insurance to the companies issuing it, that pre-existing condition caused people to shuffle us around like checkers on board.

I’ve also seen medical mistakes up close, such as the time a batch of chemotherapy was wrongly applied by a nurse and leached out through a hole in the abdomen to leave a chemical burn on her stomach. We probably could have sued over that incident, but we were so grateful to be getting treatment at all that the idea of rocking the boat was not an option. Plus we didn’t believe in that course of action. Our doctors and nurses were responsible people. Mistakes can happen.

Perfection is not what medicine is all about. Likewise, no healthcare system will ever be perfect. Yet there’s a new awareness of how medicine is supposed to work in this world, and what it means when it doesn’t. We’ve also become aware that denying that a problem or a pandemic threat exists does not solve anything. It makes things worse. Delays response. Causes panic and fear. Costs lives.

Yet somehow, quite crazily, many people seem to prefer denial over credible response.

Billing games

Perhaps it’s time we took more pride in what healthcare is supposed to do rather than what it costs to do it. All the exorbitant billing games played by healthcare providers, administrators, and insurance companies are wasting billions on what amounts to a massive blame game in which everyone battles over the proceeds from the price of a procedure while no one wants to admit what it legitimately should cost. I say it’s time to take healthcare insurance administration out of the hands of the companies forced to administrate it. The corporations and non-profits of this world don’t need that hassle. It confuses their mission and causes nothing but headaches for all involved. That’s why a public option is the best thing that could ever happen to the world of business, especially small businesses where keeping employees insured is a massive burden.

Medical insurance is itself a crazy proposition. I’ve seen medical bills for a chemo treatment sporting a tab of $44,000. Later I learned that its true cost was a fraction of that. The provider and insurers haggle over that big bill and eventually settle on some sort of money exchange. How is that a remotely intelligent way for healthcare to be administrated? It is not. The healthcare industry knows this. But competitive factors keep everyone locked into a profit-making model dependent on actuarial systems designed to limit treatment. That’s the pre-existing condition of the healthcare industry as a whole.

Risks and rewards

IMG_2101

I know doctors that hate the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare because they perceive it as an administrative burden and a potential limit on their profits for their profession. Physicians take on a ton of risk between the costs of their education, the insurance for their practice, and the fixed operating costs of running their business. And because it is a business, they are not fond of regulations impacting all these factors that affect their specific situations.

So we should respect those concerns and reduce those burdens through an intelligently designed cooperative between government and free-market healthcare providers. We already have successful models for public/private partnerships in facilities such as Argonne National Laboratory where real science takes place and is available for use by businesses that can use that research in commercial and other applications. This is America, people. We can make these things happen.

Stubborn claims

But it’s the stubborn claim that government is a bad thing that has damaged public trust over the last forty years. Remember when our country had actual pride in the fact that we were the first nation to put human beings on the moon? Now the public dialogue seems to be dominated by a brand of people who insist that it never happened, or that the earth is flat, and that the theory of evolution is the scourge of humankind. Their distrust of government aligns with a distrust of science founded in the radical notion that both are trying to pull the wool over their eyes. We’ve witnessed that radical worldview in calls to “Fire Fauci” and the actions of armed protestors storming the capitol in Michigan to demand concessions from that state’s governor.

These outcomes are all products of conspiracy theories invented to grant ownership of reality to distrusting souls eager to defy and deny reality. The fact remains that the administration of government, medicine, and science all take hard work to do. The entire premise of Make America Great Again was the solutions were simple. Yet Trump himself has had to repeatedly admit, “Who knew healthcare could be so complicated?”

It takes commitment and costs money to do healthcare, science, and government right. It is astounding to realize how quickly Republicans reacted with major stimulus funding when they realized how badly Trump and their entire party had botched response to this pandemic. Of course, their instincts are always to throw money at the people who need it least. That’s why every Republican President since Eisenhower has presided over recessions, sometimes multiple in number under one administration.

The needle and the damage done

Orange Donald too

Meanwhile, the Democrats want to grant assistance to millions of people cast out of work by the effects of a pandemic made far worse by the delay caused by Donald Trump’s feckless denial there was ever a problem in the first place. The press has needled Trump over his many contradictions on the subject, and Trump has responded by claiming he “knew all along” that the pandemic was going to be bad. Yet that’s an even worse admission of guilt. If he knew, why did he not act rather than claiming it would all disappear “like a miracle?” That belief system sits well with people who saw Trump as a Magic Man in the first place.

But this dumbing down of our country to satisfy the conspiratorial urges of a willfully disenfranchised and selfish populace needs to stop. Now. We all know where that starts. Some just refuse to admit it. They’ve put their own man on the moon and want to keep him there because he talks about hoaxes and gives credence to alternative views of reality. But the evidence of this folly is the pain we’re seeing from the crippled concept of supply and demand in the healthcare industry today.

The right kind of pride has everything to do with conscience and credibility and nothing to do with crazy claims of conspiracy.