Blood Money

By now you’re aware of the revelations made in Bob Woodward’s new book, Rage, based on 18 interviews with Donald Trump, and have probably heard the most damning excerpts from those interviews regarding COVID-19.

That Trump knew how deadly the virus was, and chose to lie about it, claim the virus would magically “disappear,” and that young people were “immune” to it, or that it was the Democrat’s new “hoax,” even as disease spread was filling hospitals to capacity and claiming lives, shouldn’t be a surprise. Anyone who can proudly boast about being able “…kill someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it,” or molest women with impunity, or call Nazis “…very fine people,” or cage children, among other acts too corrupt, depraved, and numerous to cite here, is showing an ethical emptiness that is bottomless. A person like that is capable of anything.

Trump had an obligation to warn the public about COVID-19, and be as clear as he could about those measures the public needed to take to contain it, as soon as he knew. He further had an obligation to test everyone, particularly when he learned that it was possible for asymptomatic carriers to spread the disease. And, he had an obligation to do whatever was necessary to protect healthcare and essential workers, and first responders with the equipment they needed. But he didn’t…

…and here we are, coming up on 200,000 dead, and over 6,000,000 people infected.

Is he to blame for these numbers? Yes. As the tapes demonstrate, he knew in early February, but lied to the public, and then continued to lie as he learned more.

There’s no circle of Hell low enough for him, for the deaths and misery he’s caused.

But then there’s Bob Woodward, who is still an Associate Editor at the Washington Post, and his decision to withhold vital information that could have saved lives.

It takes a colossal ego and staggering degree of greed to choose the allure of book sales over the public’s health and well-being, not just on the part of its author, but the queue of people who had their hands on this material prior to publication, and who never thought to say, “Shouldn’t the public know?”

And it takes a Trumpian moral bankruptcy to shirk one’s responsibility as a journalist, and withhold life-saving information from the public, simply because it furthers his ambitions.

I’m old enough to remember Woodward and Bernstein’s reporting that exposed Nixon’s crimes. And perhaps Woodward was also remembering it—the rush of glory and fame that came with ending a Presidential career, and was desperate to relive it by ending another. But there is a crucial distinction between that time and now. COVID-19 is not the Watergate break-in. People are dying, or facing a lifetime of debilitating medical conditions. With Trump intent on deceiving the public about the truth, Woodward, as a journalist, had a duty to report it.

What an irony that Woodward’s employer bears the subtitle, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

Democracy is not all that dies in darkness. Donald Trump may have flicked off the switch illuminating COVID-19 for the American public, but Bob Woodward stood there, and watched him flick it, and did nothing.

©2020 All Rights Reserved

Clichés

William Shakespeare

Griselda disappeared a couple of months ago.

Before setting off for subconscious terrain, she left a long letter on my desktop, beside a file of the novella I was writing, accusing me of suffering from a “Plague of clichés.”

I didn’t scoff, as I might have if anyone else had said it. Her list of grievances was too long, and too pointed. All I could do was sigh and groan.

“Perhaps,” she concluded, “you should take that statue of Shakespeare you’ve had since childhood, and move it from the bookshelf to your desk for inspiration….”

Which is exactly what I did.

So far, he hasn’t said a word. Nor has he budged. I turn the desk light on periodically to see if his expression has changed, but it hasn’t. And, if the light bothers him, I can’t tell. He doesn’t squint, and he doesn’t complain. Not even about my clumsy drafts.

***

In the past couple of months, I have read two novels in which he plays a significant role. Both use similar construction and literary devices.

I enjoyed reading them, but, when I finished, I was struck by how many other books I have read in the past year in which the Bard plays no role, but the construction and devices do—the same ones in my work that triggered Griselda’s departure.

And so, I am left with a silent Bard, too many versions of a manuscript driven by stale contrivances, too much time to rue over them, and a reluctance to let them go.

Shall I be like Donatello, before his statue of the prophet, Habakkuk, and scream at my silent icon, “Speak, damn you, speak!” Hoping, praying for instruction? Or shall I regard the lack of it as trust? The Bard’s way of saying, “You can do this. Think….”

Think, he says…. Of folders nested within folders, unused titles, inscriptions, settings, characters, words…overused construction and devices…and Griselda’s exasperated notes….

A plague of clichés.

Maybe that’s where I start.

©2020 All Rights reserved

The Plow

screen shot 2019-01-19 at 5.29.09 pm

“The Plowman” (Winslow Homer)

The thing about Griselda is she works when I do. If I’m off, she goes…elsewhere; but she’s always back when I’m at my desk, or making notes on paper assuming I’ll be able to read them later…which I won’t because…well, I’ll save that  for another time.

***

I’ve been practicing Hatha Yoga for decades. Four to five mornings a week, once my breakfast has settled, I do a fifteen minute flow to keep my frame limber and strong, and my nerves soothed.

Almost two weeks ago, as I was coming out of the Plow pose, I felt something in my back move in a direction it was never meant to go.

***

You read a lot when you have to spend 10 out of every 90 minutes with an ice pack, first on the side of the initial injury, then on the side that wrenched in response. And days later, when you switch from ice to heat, you reach for a book because you get sick of watching movies and binging on TV series.

I actually did manage to get some writing done when I was finally able to sit at my desk for more than 20 minutes without pain, but mostly I read.

And I came away from those books, all fiction, all of which had garnered enthusiastic praise by reviewers, wondering what I was missing, and whether there was still a place for my voice (such as it is) among all that is recognized as worthy these days. Yes, I know, it could have been the muscle spasms talking, but knowing that didn’t help. It put me in a funk. So, I looked for Griselda, and found her on a velvet swooning couch watching a badly degraded copy of The Brain that Wouldn’t Die.

In spite of the funk, I watched it with her, and, for some odd reason, felt better afterward.

***

It’s almost 5:30 here, and according to my Fit Bit, I’ve logged 3,000 steps doing laps around the kitchen and dining room. I was also on my feet for over an hour this afternoon peeling and slicing apples for a large pan of crisp (now baked and making the kitchen smell heavenly), and I’m still able to sit at my desk without pain.

Ptui, ptui, ptui.

But, I’ve decided to eliminate the Plow, and it’s demonic sibling, the Supported Shoulder Stand, from my flow, when I’m ready to go back to it. There are enough planks and other neutral spine poses to keep me flexible and toned. I think my back will appreciate that. I know Griselda will.

She is fond of plows, but prefers those that turn the earth, ready the soil for seeds of all varieties. For her, it’s all about what takes root, what grows, and what thrives. She’s funny that way.

©2019 All Rights Reserved