All This News Is Making Me Sick
Is there a doctor in the House? (Or the Senate?)
“Phoebe, what’s the matter?” Cat said.
“I can’t breathe,” I said. “I mean, obviously I am breathing. But I’m having trouble this morning. I should have said that I can hardly breathe.”
Cat wouldn’t be your first choice in seeking medical help. He’s not the Florence Nightingale type. In fact, he’d rather be poaching a nightingale, with a side of fried sparrow, than dishing out aspirins. But I didn’t have an option: my health plan doesn’t allow me to go out of network.”
“When was the onset?” he said.
“What do you mean, ‘onset,’ you knucklehead?” I yelled at him.
“Now, now, just because you’re not feeling perky today doesn’t mean the rest of us have to suffer,” said Doctor Cat, said in his authoritative, I-have-to-get-to-the-next patient voice. “Don’t make me have to sedate you.”
“Could you, Doctor?” I moaned. “Just a couple of pills to get me through the morning news cycle.”
“But that wouldn’t be getting at the real problem, my girl,” the hairy sawbones said. “Now, when was the onset – I mean, when did you first notice you were having troubling?”
“The minute I woke up,” I said. “I turned on the radio, which is sadistically locked onto NPR, (except during those insufferable fund drives) and right away, the words President Trump shot out of the speakers. I could practically see them flying straight towards me and suddenly, I just couldn’t catch my breath, and it was like I had a102.3 fever,” I said.
“Celsius or Fahrenheit?” he said.
“Megahertz, you idiot,” I said. “Where did you go to medical school? DID you go to medical school?”
“I have other patients waiting …,” the physician said. “Now, besides the words ‘President' and 'Trump’ what else did you hear?”
“I can’t … remember … just words,” I said. “I think that maybe one of them was ‘dictator’.”
“Now, now, Phoebe, let’s not exaggerate,” Doctor Cat said. “You know that President Trump isn’t a dictator. He invites dictators to the White House, sitting them down in the Oval Office, where he can be seen on TV shaking hands as they make small talk about torture and censorship.”
“Of course it is,” the doctor replied, his tail flicking impatiently. “You just said your problems started as soon as you heard the radio.”
“What we have to identify is the particular kind of airborne pathogen that seems to be coming from the speakers into your auditory canal, then to your body’s lymphatic systems and straight into that organ, which in Canis lupus familiaris, is equivalent to what laypersons call the brain,’” he said.
“It’s coming back now,” I said. “It’s definitely the news. But just telling you about what I hear day after day after day after day is really making me sick again.”
“Try to do your best,” the doctor said, wiping his paws against his lab coat, leaving flecks of what looked like nightingale feathers scattered on the white cloth. “This hurts me just as much as it does you; the difference being that I don’t have all morning.”
"But there’s just so much terrible news, it’s so overwhelming, I think my brain-equivalent is going to explode,” I said.
“That’s okay it does explode, Phoebe,” the physician said. “It’s part of the healing process, getting all that unhappy news out of your mind.”
So, I did what the doctor ordered, sometimes pausing to catch my breath, fragments of the latest news items spilling all over the exam room floor.
THE MORNING ROUNDUP
Dictator News -- The latest dictator Trump invited to White House was the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban. He was shunned by the Obama administration and despised by other European Union countries, because he’s destroying Hungary's once emerging democracy, closing a university, warring against others, controlling news, demonizing immigrants, undermining the courts and allowing the spread of anti-Semitism. Trump described his guest to assembled reporters: … “highly respected… Probably like me, a little bit controversial, but that’s okay. That’s okay.”
Trade War News -- After talks on a trade deal between the U.S. and China broke down, Trump increased our tariffs, and China imposed more of theirs. The stock market took a dive, although not for long. Farmers complained. Trump promised them thousands in bailouts. And in a 5:31 a.m. tweet, Trump had this advice for American businesses: “Make your product at home in the USA and there is no Tariff. You can also buy from a non-Tariffed country instead of China.” (Emphasis added). What? Mr. Bring Back American jobs advising U.S. businesses to outsource production to foreign countries?
Immigration News -- Via the Washington Post, a story about a would-be deportation extravaganza cooked up by the White House and beginning with mass arrests of “illegal” immigrant families in 10 cities across the country, making sure plenty of children were part of the roundup. It was to be another way of getting word to Central America that anyone wanting to escape murder and starvation should think twice about coming here. The plan was reportedly squashed by Kirstjen Nielsen before she was canned as Homeland secretary, apparently for being too weak on immigration.
Immigration News (Again) -- From NPR, a story about an ex-Marine waiting to be deportation. Brought to the U.S. from El Salvador when he was 3, he fought in Iraq, returning brain injured and suffering post-traumatic-distress syndrome, which figured into arrests for drugs, fights and assault. Not having completed his application for citizenship, he was now caught up in another version of Trump’s Hate An Immigrant Today program. A grateful country thanks you for your service. Now, we’re going to deport you, rather than treat your brain, injured in service to your country.
Mueller Report News -- Via New York Times. Robert Barr appointed a prosecutor to look into the origins of the Russia investigation. It’s the third such investigation, part of Trump’s propaganda campaign to discredit the Mueller Report. Who’s Barr, again? A hard-working lawyer holding down two jobs, Attorney General of the United States and Donald Trump’s personal attorney and PR wizard.
Iran War News -- Oops, getting ahead of myself; I meant the Can We Goad A Country into War news. The War Department, oops again, I mean the Department of Defense, is dusting off plans to fight back should Iran attack the forces of the world's only superpower. Could involve 120,000 soldiers. U.S. already moving an aircraft carrier, other “assets” to the Persian Gulf. Ominous reports that Iran is planning attacks. Really? We’ll have to trust Trump on this one. After all, it’s been weeks since he told the 10,000th lie of his presidency.
Jimmy Carter News -- The antithesis of Donald Trump, Carter is a moral, ethical, principled, contemplative, kind, hard-working Sunday school teacher and Navy veteran who has worked as hard for world peace after leaving the White House as when he was its occupant. The 39th president fell at his home and broke his hip. That’s a worrisome injury for any older person, and Carter is 94.
Torture News -- Over the weekend, the New York Times published a horrific account of torture in Syrian prisons, where 120,000 have died as part of President Bashar al-Assad’s campaign to keep his citizens in line. The PBS NewsHour caught up with the reporter, Anne Barnard, who shared a little of what the paper learned:
… Sometimes, there were much more sort of baroque torture methods that were really creative in their sadism. One activist protest organizer, Muhannad Ghabbash, told us about a guard who would direct kind of plays for his fellow guards during dinner. They would make the prisoners act like different animals. And if they didn't act the way he wanted them to, he would beat them. Some of them had to act as tables or chairs for the people watching. And they were naked while doing this. And other prisoners were nearby, hanging from walls and having cold water doused on them in this outdoor courtyard, so that other prisoners could hear what was going on.
“It’s too much. How can you tell me all about this. You have to be sick to listen to news like this. Get out of here.”
“Now, Cat. Just listen to your Therapy Dog. Just calm down,” I said in my most soothing Therapy Dog voice. “Just breathe in. Hold it. Now, breathe out. Repeat.”
Cat did as I said, and soon, he seemed calmer and more relaxed.
“But, Therapy Dog, why do you listen to all this news?” he asked. “How do you stand it? Can’t you just turn it off. Just for one day.”
“No, Cat,” I said. “I mean, you can turn off the radio and TV and cancel the newspaper delivery and unplug the laptop and let the battery run down in your smart phone."
"But that doesn’t stop the news from happening. It can’t stop Trump from demonizing immigrants, messing with the economy, consorting with dictators. Tuning out won’t stop torturers from torturing, or keep an attorney general from acting as the president’s personal lawyer.”
“But it’s every day, weekends included. It doesn’t stop,” Cat said. “I can’t breathe. I mean I obviously can breathe, but all this news, every day, it’s just so hard to take in.”
“Cat, your 50 minutes are up,” I said. “I’ve got a full waiting room.”
“Well, thank you, Therapy Dog, for all your help,” Cat said.
“No problem,” I assured him. “One more thing, Cat. Your health plan has limited benefits, and they don’t include therapy sessions."
"Oh?" Cat said.
"But we do accept credit cards.”