Thursday, November 17, 2016
OPIOID OF THE MASSES: I was standing in line at Rite Aid. I needed heartburn medication for all the crow I’d been force-fed after Donald Trump was elected last week. Whether he was effectively elected president or emperor has yet to be seen. In any case, I was struck by the vast array of anti-constipation remedies displayed by the rack reserved for impulse purchases. Row upon row. I won’t mention any by name as none of the manufacturers have seen fit to slip me a bribe. But the sheer volume and breadth of choice suggested what I already knew — America is already great and needs no help from wannabe Caesars keeping it that way. It also suggested something else I already knew: We are a nation of junkies, white collar and otherwise.
It’s a well-known fact that opioids induce constipation, an affliction that’s generated much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the beat poets for whom heroin addiction provided the requisite literary grit. For all the non-literary types who need a little help dealing with the pain of getting through the day, opioid-induced constipation has now become a problem worthy of Big Pharma’s money-grubbing interventions. In other words, America is awash in an epidemic of constipation.
I suspect this has more than a little to do with the sudden onslaught of crow in my diet. Due in large measure to opioids — coupled with alcohol poisoning and self-inflicted gunshot wounds — white males in the 50 years and older age bracket have experienced an actual decline in life expectancy. We are dying off at an earlier age than those who came before. More accurately put, we are leaping off. One can speculate as to why — Rust Belt despair? — but the numbers would suggest yet another epidemic. Given that Donald J. Trump’s most loyal base happens to be this exact demographic, one might reasonably wonder if there’s a public health connection between mass constipation and the person the nation just elected president.
I’ll leave it to the political scientists and the Centers for Disease Control to do my heavy-lifting, but when they demonstrate Trump’s margin of victory was culled from states with the highest concentration of opioid abusers, I’ll be only too happy to accept the Nobel Prize.
For those seeking reassurance, let me offer the cold comfort of Trump’s narcissistic nihilism. He believes nothing. He is allied with no one. He will throw anyone overboard. Deals can be made.
As Trump — who started his impossibly improbable journey by castigating Mexican immigrants as “rapists” — won the Electoral College, Santa Barbarians elected the first Latino to represent them in Congress, County Supervisor Salud Carbajal. It’s more than mere gesture. For those seeking redemption from last week’s results, Carbajal’s victory qualifies as more than cold comfort. Carbajal, it’s worth noting, was born in Mexico. He emigrated to the United States at age 5. He’s one of them, now one of us. Carbajal has been excruciatingly careful not to pigeonhole himself as a Latino activist politician. Yes, he came out against the City of Santa Barbara’s proposed gang injunction — decried by activist types as a form of racial profiling — but only at the very last second and only to a few people in a small room. Still, it helped him secure important endorsements early in the primary campaign. And while final numbers are not officially in, it appears Carbajal benefited by a spike in turnout among Latino voters.
During the campaign, Carbajal’s advisors worried he might experience a subliminally racist backlash among white voters suffering, no doubt, the stubborn agonies of constipation. As a result, they assiduously avoided any references to this historic first Latino fact. But consider the White Anglo-Saxon music captured in the names of Carbajal’s predecessors: Henry Elbert Stubbs, Hugh Steel Hersman, George Elmer Outland, Ernest King Bramblett, Elveris Anson Hayes. In this context, Salud Ortiz Carbajal [CQ] makes for a reassuring demographic departure.
Running against Carbajal was Justin Donald Pagliuso Fareed, who gracelessly held an invitation-only election-night party. More graceless still, he posted two voluminously sized bouncers to make sure only the anointed ones got in. It was evident on election night that Fareed’s goose was cooked, but he refused to acknowledge the obvious and concede defeat. He held out vain hope his candidacy might be salvaged when late return ballots were counted. But when they were, the gap only widened, jumping from 15,000 to 19,000. Two years ago, Republican candidate Chris Mitchum similarly refused to concede defeat to Democratic incumbent Lois Capps until 10 days after the election. Maybe it’s another epidemic.
Fareed made for a curious candidate. Passionate and energetic, he hummed along from the Trump hymnal but made a point to never sing any of the words, talking of fixing leaky pipes, for instance, but never building any walls. To do otherwise, Fareed would have opened himself to attack in a profoundly Trump-phobic district. Hillary Clinton beat Trump in Santa Barbara County by 40,000 votes. Given the strong turnout in Isla Vista, it’s doubtful Fareed could have done anything to win. Two years hence, there will be no presidential campaign to bring the huge Isla Vista vote out. Fareed may try to run again. If so, I’d suggest he learn to talk with reporters at the very least. It wouldn’t hurt. I understand why not me, but it makes him look petty and petulant to shine on the Los Angeles Times and the San Luis Obispo Tribune, as well.
Based on the phone calls I’ve been getting, I’ll be eating crow for some time to come. But if given a choice, I’ll take heartburn over constipation. In the meantime, see you in the Rite Aid pharmacy line.