Five years later, I have been needled by Trump’s lack of ethics, lack of honesty, lack of knowledge, lack of decency, and his seditious desire to disrupt our government, ruin its dignity, bankrupt it, and kill as many as possible without it looking blatantly like it was on purpose. I have not become a mirror image of my enemy—and he’s on trial for incitement—so good job, me.
I couldn’t help noticing that Trump’s MAGAts are always waving around guns. Of course, we liberals don’t wave our guns around unless we mean to use them—which we never do, so you never see it. But the Trumpsters, I feel, have no intention of ever pulling a trigger—their game is to bulldoze some nervous liberal into doing it for them. For them (with their imagist focus) that would be a ‘big win’. And a good excuse for fouler mayhem, naturally.
Trump has been a Zen exercise without parallel—the less an American engaged with the Trump Show, the sounder their frame of mind—COVID shutdown notwithstanding. I found that even the shelter-in-place was made exponentially more stressful, for having that jackass interrupt truth to bray his BS. Like most Americans, I felt I had to keep an eye on him.
Had I known McConnell and Ryan & the gang of ghouls would let Trump lie, cheat, and steal for four years, vouching for his fitness and honesty—without believing any of it, themselves—I would have thrown my TV out in 2016, like my wife did. Trump was just the jackass these corrupt scum were all riding—I sure didn’t need to listen to every bray.
Trump has inspired all of us towards our worser angels, besting Gettysburg’s hillsides of slain with his pandemic-neglect mountain of 400,000, and rising fast. The Republicans have disgraced themselves in an incredible manner—acting like people who can reshape the facts to suit, erasing any sins, venal or mortal—even existential.
Well, it only worked on your dupes and patsies—the vast majority of Americans see you people for the hollow-eyed whores you are. Beneath all those ugly suits and sheepskins, you have no center, no character, no strength of will. You take the most empowering document in history and play word games with it until you actually claim a member of a democracy can be above the law! ‘tha Fuck?! Take your bullshit and move to one of those Dictatorships you’re all so fixated on.
The cult’s favorite ruse this whole time has been to equate their nonsense with normal, thoughtful people. That’s why they teased us so mercilessly—their best hope was to get us to become just as bad a bunch of assholes as they were. But it never happened—their mistake was in being just too bat-shit crazy for anyone’s reaction to be to follow suit.
Snowflakes never sat down, never shut up—and you ‘grown-ups’ made a worse mess than no government at all. Hope you enjoyed yourselves—it’ll be a cold day in hell before anyone takes the Tea Party seriously again. Racist asswipes.
President Pig has normalized dysfunction to the point where the two pipe bombs found during the Capitol attack are hardly even mentioned–like some quaint throwback to the days of Jets being Hijacked to Cuba–just because they were found and removed.
Murder was committed. Historical artifacts were destroyed. A Joint Session of Congress and the Vice-POTUS were imperilled. But Jim Jones thinks we should give Trump this last week because, come on, it’s just a week. It’s no coincidence he’s a namesake of that suicide-cultist.
Between the wealthy people screwing up journalism and the wealthy people screwing up democracy, actual Americans are an endangered species. I can’t tell you how much I lust after some kind of mowing down of these big-mouthed, fat-assed seditionists. But they don’t even know what duped tools they are–as inviting of a fist in the face as they may be, they are, in truth, naive innocents (with guns).
In “Winter Meeting” (1949) Bette Davis has this strange line: “I have no particular religion, but even I have more faith in God than that.”
If you don’t know the movie, it was on TCM just now—it’s about a Manhattan heiress poetess (yes, the ‘weepers’ layered it on pretty thick) played by Davis, seduced by a war hero who, afterward, confesses that he was really intending to join the priesthood (I was raised Cat-licker—trust me, even for us, this was far-fetched—even in ’49).
But he ‘explains’ (finally) to Bette that he forsook his plans for the ‘hood one day, taking the train to his hometown (where they awaited with banners & bands) and a war-buddy plops down next to him (the war-hero being all aglow with heroism) and says, ‘too bad that ship you saved with your heroism got sunk with all hands two weeks later’.
Ah, old-timey Hollywood. Who the hell else would dare to so blatantly manipulate our emotions? And they knew we would pay for the privilege, too! But, hey: That’s Entertainment.
So, that’s when Bette delivers this curious line (after supposing aloud if a God would sink the whole ship and all hands just to teach this guy a lesson about being too cocky?!) But it isn’t this melodrama that really got me writing (big surprise, right?)
That line about I have more faith in the goodness of the god you believe in than you do, even though I don’t share your belief—that resonates the hell outta me. All my life, I’ve thought Theists got off pretty damn easy, with their special rule: anyone who questions the foolishness is too foolish.
Look, if you can’t talk about it and it’s too precious to be shared—it ain’t f-ing love, it’s a scam. If you can’t speak aloud, you’re being used (and abused). If you’re afraid to speak aloud—to debate with others—you’re being faithless to your own faith—don’t blame me. That’s cowardice.
America stands, in part, for the willingness of humans to stand together, regardless of religion and annoyance, to make things better for all of us. To be against this, by virtue of your ‘faith’, is to misunderstand where you are—and what’s going on.
I speak (as an atheist) with respect to theists: I will not mock your Faith—and I hope you will not try to use it as a replacement for Reason…s’pretty simple. Only totally extremophile, violent types would wish to attack—and we know the wealthy like to fund them, so look out, me—I guess… (Ain’t dat a bich!?)
But wasn’t Bette Davis the greatest? Hey, cis grampas can love her, too—she was a goddamn artist—respect must be given. In the late forties, no one dared to deny the existence of God, despite the new science of the early twentieth—not on film, at least.
For Bette to say “I have no particular religion” –even that was ‘racy’ for the time. Yet the screen-writer was speaking to a Humanism that forced even God to help us. It’s a curious inflection-point in social evolution. Censors never before so blatantly advocated for linguistic lobotomization, before the post-war era, when the authoritarians were still flush with the feeling of absolute control.
It was as if, having won world freedom, it was now their privilege to determine what that was, down to the very grain. Had not the subsequent explosion of capitalist corruption made them all ridiculous in their own human failings, we would have probable ended up with Hitler-lite (It seems nearly half of us are still in favor!)
But I speak, as always, from the point of view of one who sees nothing, where others see ‘faith’ (if that has any reality). Faith in people, I got—even in myself. But with reason, dammit. The psycho-socio-politics of America in the late 1940s isn’t not any specialty of mine, except for the contextual extrapolations allowed by my general study. But what a line, eh?
I hear stand-up comics taking cheap shots (funny, yeah, but still cheap) at atheists. “Why would you pick ‘atheist’? Everything is random and meaningless?! Why would you do that?”
But atheists don’t choose to become humans without religion—we simply find ourselves with a selection of faiths that are impossible to credit. Atheists, unlike the religious, do not ‘find their answers’ in atheism. We just accept that it’s possible the universe is so big and enigmatic that it may have little or nothing to do with this one planet’s smart-animals. It may even be about something too complicated for our tiny brains to understand.
Is it kinda chilly, seeing our human race as a bunch of smart-ass monkeys who can’t sleep at night unless we convince themselves that the universe was made just for us. Unfortunately, science makes most things clearer—and one of the things it made clear is the human origin of belief—of all our beliefs.
The history of evolving belief-systems through the centuries is not a comfortable one for Preachers. It clashes with the whole ‘forever and ever, as it was and shall ever be’ riffs they like to throw in. It also highlights the more venal uses of religion.
We don’t need to have faith because God said so—we just need to have faith—period. Souls, afterlives, sins, saints, and angels—our prehistoric graphic novel without graphics—it comforts us and it beats back any suspicion that we’re on our own, without a mission (unless we make up our own).
Atheists never proselytize—we see people, happy in their faiths, (and assuming they don’t get up to mischief over it) we see no reason to harsh their mellow. Most angry, vocal Atheists are new to it, still resentful of being indoctrinated (by their parents, or worse, their whole community) into something as restrictive as it was random—eager to spread the word, that it’s all a scam.
But nobody, raised happily in a reasonable form of Christianity / Islam / Judaism / Whatever, will find many opportunities to question their faith—only extremists make a big deal out of it, anyway. It has been my experience that God does not answer questions, but She also never argues with me. I assume she’s got stuff to do. If you have faith in her, it rarely does any harm—but if you have none, it makes no difference at all—except to other people.
But Atheists don’t literally believe in nothing—we just believe that ‘making up an answer for something we don’t understand’ is an obsolete solution. The universe is a mystery, yes—that doesn’t mean we get to know or understand anything—how hard is that to accept?
The human race must find validation within itself, purposes among ourselves, for the sake of each other and our own pursuit of happiness. Such an advanced society would find itself with much more achievable goals, without the distraction of the sky-daddy. And evil would lose its favorite hide-out.
I surfed into the ARTS channel (165 on N. West.’s Optimum ‘grid’) and they got me in my soft underbelly—first with footage of Wanda Landowska playing Bach excerpts on a double-keyboard (including the middle movement of Bach’s keyboard transcription of Vivaldi’s Concerto in D major—a lifetime super-favorite). The ARTS channel can make you want to cut your heart out for missing the beginning of some recordings…this one was from 1953 (three years before I was born).
Secondly, playing Rosalyn Tureck, performing Bach’s ‘Goldberg’s (‘excerpts’, again, of course—god forbid we take the time, eh?) Now, this hit home. Not only was Ms. Tureck the mentor of our shared, Croton Falls piano teacher (and erstwhile piano virtuoso) Muriel Brooks, but Claire and I had a memorable date once, going to see Rosalyn Tureck at Lincoln Center.
In the late ‘70s, Rosalyn Tureck was reaching the tail-end of her career—time passes, but she was still a marvel at the keyboard. The idea of this concert was to attract Bach fanatics such as Claire and I: it would be a recital of the Goldberg Variations on harpsichord, followed by a ‘dinner interval’, and continuing to a piano interpretation of the Goldberg’s, also by Ms. Rosalyn Tureck.
Do not take that lightly, please. I try to play piano—and I once had a great afternoon at Colonial Williamsburg, where the ‘harpsichord teacher’ let me take it for a spin. I am familiar with the superhuman demands of the keyboard—because I’ve spent a lifetime failing to capture the skill. When a performer plays a forty-five-minute baroque ‘musical mandala’ on the original harpsichord—it’s transportive. When she has the grace and the stamina to then sit down and replay the same piece—yet with all the added subtlety and phrasing demanded by the piano—that’s no ‘gimmick’—that’s an Olympic event.
Claire and I were transfixed by this live performance of our favorite work on harpsichord (as Bach would have played it). It was sublime. However, during the interval, the mundane intervened—one of the DuPont heirs had chosen the same restaurant for dinner. I had hoped to treat Claire to a very fancy dinner at this Swedish Smorgasbord restaurant, just across the street from the Center.
But it turned out that our seating was interrupted by the arrival of these Consumed-by-self-importance DuPont people—and we got maybe ten minutes to eat and rush back—while I was forever imprinted with a disgust for the ultra-wealthy—it’s a mental disease as much as a bank balance, trust me.
So, I guess Claire enjoyed the second part—for me it was darkened by shadow. It wasn’t just the insufferable attitude of the DuPonts—it was also the eager (‘though entirely understandable) toadying of the Maître de, et. al. That was the night I realized that Money does indeed ‘force’ some relationships. These relationships aren’t real—they are part of the business model.
And I have always felt that one should avoid any business that requires one to like a pig. It was surprising how absolutely impossible I found that tenet to stick to—the world is designed, not only to give the ones with the gold the ability to make the rules—but even to force the rest of us to smile at them—and talk to them. That just ain’t right. I don like it dat way…..