WE’RE ALL HUMAN (EVEN REPUBLICANS)

For those who pay little attention to American politics, the name of attorney Michael Avenatti may be unfamiliar, but most of you have no doubt heard of his famous client, the porn star and ex-Trump hookup, Stormy Daniels. I bring Avenatti up because I have often wondered why Democrats don’t more vehemently challenge GOP complicity when President Bully Boy acts as if the country were his own personal fiefdom to ru(i)n as he damn well pleases. On August 10, Avenatti addressed that very question:

Now, I fully recognize that the Republican faithful (at least, a fair number of them) are human and, as such, susceptible to being sold a bill of goods and/or being evangelized by a vainglorious pied piper. As an ex-Catholic, I know what it’s like to be vulnerable to vested interests in positions of authority. They seem to have all the answers at a time answers are hard to come by, but you haven’t yet grown to realize that, to those who claim to have the answers, you are part of their agenda, another recruit to their cause/beliefs. Easy pickings.

So, while I can empathize with being gullible (because I’ve been there, done that), there is a bigger issue at stake here, and that is what kind of country are we becoming? When will it prove too late to undo the divisiveness, to blue pencil the Orange Man who debases the dark place that was once The White House? What in the name of civility and integrity has become of our standards of leadership?

America has never been “a perfect union”–far from it–but in a world where almost everything is relative, we are at a new low in my lifetime. For all the faults and failings of past Presidents, has there ever been one so self-obsessed, so megalomaniacal, so utterly incapable of reflection and putting himself in the place of those who come from a different place (both literally and figuratively)?

I started this post intending to intersperse some humor into a sober matter, but despite all the Trump satire and jokes that serve as a sort of laugh-to-keep-from-crying palliative (I plead guilty to occasionally getting in on the relief act), there’s really nothing funny about this President in the long run. At the end of the day, the joke is on us….and we brought it on ourselves. Now it’s up to us–we, the voters–to get serious about an act of contrition.

November 6, 2018 would be a good time to start.

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LET US PRAY….

that the malaise of Donald Trump’s moral vacuity
doesn’t linger like a curse in oral (and worse) perpetuity
so when his term on his bully stage is o’er, we
see that our humanity (which his vanity tested sore-ly)
has withstood base attacks based on our credulity,
as we pray virtue is its own reward (virtus ipsa pretium sui).

DON’T EXPLAIN

It does not matter much what a man hates provided he hates something. –Samuel Butler

Some time ago, after I’d written a number of posts lampooning America’s vainglorious leader, I was asked by a reader why I “hate” Donald Trump. I replied that I didn’t hate him, I pitied him — pitied him for being the kind of human being he is. In hindsight, I should have asked the reader, Does Trump hate those he insults? — i.e. “Pocahontas” Elizabeth Warren, “Little Marco” Rubio, “Lightweight” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (I suppose the Senator should be grateful Trump didn’t call her heavyweight), etc., etc., etc. My answer (and, I assume, that reader’s) is no — hate is something deeply felt, not a juvenile slur. Trump’s mocking is strictly gratuitous, like a bully who must put down anyone who, in his world, is a “loser” — someone in his way; an inconvenient object to be diminished or pushed aside. It’s not even personal (a “loser” is but an abstraction).

So, in deference to Samuel Butler, should I apologize for not hating Trump — or anyone, for that matter? Truth be known, the closest I come to hating anyone is God….that is, if I believed in God — the biblical God, the invented God of wrath, innocent suffering and mystifying absence. But I am a ‘default’ deist, left with a creator God, an impersonal God, a God with nothing to explain — at least, not until the next life (if there is one). The creator God never said a word or promised us anything — not on earth or after. Perhaps I should be jealous, for, unlike the creator God, there are times (like now) when this only-human creator feels the need to explain what I create. And yet, I get not deigning to explain — explaining ain’t easy. If I were God or Trump, I might not explain myself either.

 

 

 

 

MARSHAL LAW and SOILED DOVES

I have often not been asked who my favorite Old West marshal is. Just as often, I have not replied: “I have not often given it any thought.” I suppose that if, for some desperate reason (such as drawing a blank for something to write about for this post) I had given it any thought, I would’ve come up with Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok or Bat Masterson. Don’t ask me to name other famous marshals. Were there any other famous marshals?

Today is the 228th anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Marshal Service, so I decided to marshal my resources, round up a posse, and pursue my query. Unfortunately, it wasn’t posse-ble to corral volunteers for such a questionable undertaking; I will have to go it alone. If I don’t come out of this post alive, please pray that I have gone to a better place. Philadelphia will do.

As you may have noticed in the above clip, Mae West was mighty handy with a six-shooter….but in yesteryear’s wild and wooly West, female marshals were scarcer than beer and whiskey drinkers on the wagon in a one-horse town with two saloons — a sobering thought, indeed. Thus, it mae be necessary to put up wanted posters in order to uncover additional famous marshals (preferably female).

Well, that didn’t take long; there WERE female marshals in the Old West. Here they be:

https://glitternight.com/tag/female-marshals/

That appears to be the extent of their ranks — out of hundreds of marshals/deputy marshals, only four were of the fair sex. But that seems only fair. After all, 99% of the ‘bad guys’ were just that — ‘guys’ — so why should women be charged with maintaining law and order in the Wild West when almost all of the lawbreakers were men….though it’s no stretch to assume that certain upstanding citizens weren’t above regarding certain ladies as ‘hardened’ offenders:

As Jesus and mistermuse not often say (therefore it bares repeating):  Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stein.

Needless to say, I’ll drink to that!

 

SET IN STONE

I think, therefore I am. –René Descartes

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You will (hopefully) recall that my last post, STONE COLD DEAD, featured some of my favorite epitaphs published 4 years ago on SWI (a blog due to bite the dust in November). Ah, but the best laid plans….  The SWI editor announced on 9/1 that he would now need to pull the plug first thing on Sept. 6; thus today becomes SWI’s last full day on this earth.

This sudden passing prompts me to salvage another of my previously published posts from that body of work: a poem which poses a question I believe naturally arises out of STONE COLD DEAD. Unlike that post, it ain’t funny, but perhaps the poem’s saving grace is that what it lacks in humor, it makes up in brevity. It’s the least I can do on Labor Day.

LUCKY STIFFS

Are the faithful
dead better positioned
to be saved
than those who
lived with doubt?
Even a God
can’t help being
what He thinks.

 

 

DO IT…BUY THE BOOK

Among the books I’ve owned for some time and not found time (until now) to read is one which convincingly illuminates how America has evolved (some might say retrogressed, in the case of our politicians) over the years.

When I say “evolved,” most people (at least, those who don’t regard it as a dirty word) think of it in the Darwinian sense as gradual development from primitive to more adaptive or advanced stages….as, to take a human example, from very brutish to veddy British — or, from restive barbarians to festive Bavarians. But one would have to be blind not to see that human evolution isn’t a straight forward, rising-tide-lifts-all-boats proposition. In other words, what you sea is what you get (even my puns have their ups and downs).

Then there’s the history of rights withheld, an early example being what American colonists determined to address. The British, loathe to let go, weren’t there yet…and neither are many of us there yet when it comes to the rights of others — speaking of which (for illustrative purposes), here’s a clip with reference to California’s 2008 ballot Proposition 8 denying same-sex couples the right to marry (an issue of no concern to me whatsoever except as it pertains to ‘affairs’ which some people — especially religious conservatives — can’t bear the thought of, even though it’s no skin off their nose):

Coincidentally, 2008 is the same year the book I referred to at the start (THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON by Susan Jacoby) was published. Here is a review of that book:

http://www.dialoginternational.com/dialog_international/2008/05/i-admired-susan.html

Though I’m in tune with that review for the most part, I take issue with the reviewer’s belief that “Jacoby is overestimating the role of religion in America in the decline of Enlightenment rationalism.” Furthermore, the reviewer states that “the number of true fundamentalists is probably not that significant: she [Jacoby] conflates fundamentalism with evangelism” — a contention which leads me to question whether the reviewer did more than skim through Chapter 8 (THE NEW OLD-TIME RELIGION), which takes pains to differentiate between the two — including such distinctions as The main difference between fundamentalists and evangelicals….is that not all evangelicals regard the Bible as literally true but all fundamentalists do. That chapter, detailing the role of evangelism and fundamentalism in America past and present, is alone worth the price of erudition….eminently readable erudition, I might add.

If you want to add to your understanding of the forces and factors that have created THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON, do it….buy the book.

 

 

THE WICKED WHICH OF BEGETS*

Which is more naïve (naïver?) —
to believe poetry that rings true
….or….
to be a true believer?

Which takes more courageous thinking —
to whistle in the dark of faith
….or….
to face reality without blinking?

Which lays more cards on the table —
the persuasion  of the power of babble
….or….
the allegory of The Tower of Babel?

Which is the bigger cancer —
the answer that brooks no questions
….or….
the questions that beget no answer?

*with apologies to The Wicked Witch of the West (played by the late Margaret Hamilton in THE WIZARD OF OZ). In addition to her film career, it seems that Hamilton was also (according to Wikipedia) a Sunday School teacher in the 1950s, which carries my apologies beyond my title-play-on-words to the poem itself. May her Maker be as real as the great and powerful Wizard was a humbug, and more wonderful than the “whiz of a wiz” who Dorothy and her friends were told they’d see at the end of the yellow brick road: