No, No, No, and No

Photo Courtesy of Public Domain Pictures

One day, I threw some slightly stale bread into the yard for the birds that love to forage there. Within minutes after I got up the back porch stairs, and into the house, a critter, much like the one in the photo above, its cheeks stuffed with as much of the bread as it could gather, was on my porch scratching at the back storm door.

I rapped gently on the glass, hoping to scare it off, but it wasn’t fazed. It lifted onto its haunches, begging for more.

At that time, our Sheltie-Cocker-Beagle mix was queen of the yard, and went after squirrels with a ferocity that never failed to surprise, as she was affectionate to a fault with all humans. As soon as she caught sight of the critter, though, her predatory instincts went into action, and she started to bark. That ended the squirrel’s greedy campaign.

***

I stopped signing petitions in 2016, after I realized none of them accomplished anything, except providing the host organization with enough data on me to become a pest.

Despite checking all the “No emails” in my email settings, repeatedly, I should add, and unsubscribing to future emails, also repeatedly, the requests for more signatures and donations kept pouring in.

That’s when I marked all of them as Spam, and let my email software do the rest.

This year, conditions being as they are, my husband and I decided to give additional support to our favorite charities and candidates.

That’s when this happened.

Phone: Ring, ring.

Me: Hello?

Male: Hello, is this Barbara?

Me: Who is this?

Male: I’m with ****, and I’m calling because as you know, we need your help more than ever. So, could we count on you for a monthly pledge of $1,000?

Me: I’m sorry, but I gave what I could give. So, no.

Male: But (prepared blather…).

Me: I said, no. I wish I could help, but I can’t.

Male: I hate to be persistent, but…

Me: (Interrupting) This is a difficult time. There’s a pandemic. Everyone is hurting.

Male: I realize that.

Me: Then you should also realize there’s a limit to how much people can give.

Male: (Blather blather blather, gimme gimme gimme, shameless attempts at emotional manipulation…)

Me: (channeling my mother) Listen, honey, I know you need funds. That’s why we gave you as much as we did. But now, rather than showing respect for that generosity, you’re badgering me, and addressing me by my first name when you don’t even know me, an assumption of familiarity I find frankly insulting and offensive.

Male: But…

Me: NO. ENOUGH. All I want to hear from you at this point is, Thank you for your support, Ma’am.

Male: (hesitating, a few seconds, then) Thank you for your support.

Me. Ma’am. Say it.

Male: Ma’am.

Me: Thank you for calling. You have a nice day now.

***

Sometimes, the only way to deal with troublesome critters is to bark at them.

©2020 All Rights Reserved

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