Posted in News of the Day

A Light in the Wilderness; A Virgin Mother; The Mother of All Living; An Ancient Fertility Symbol; A Goddess of Compassion; and RBG

(A Menorah; The Virgin Mary; Eve; An Ancient Egyptian Fertility Figure; Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and, The Buddhist Goddess of Compassion)

These figures sit on a two-hundred-year-old piece of furniture that belonged to my Aunt Margaret.  It is a biscuit bin, covered with drawers of various sizes and shapes. The top of the bin is heavy, but it can be lifted all the way back to reveal a cutting board and a large sifter. My biscuit bin is a magic cupboard holding secrets. I often wonder what was stored in all those drawers.  I can assume that it belonged to a woman who, in the nineteenth-century, would have considered it something practical, a place to make the bread that was the basic substance of life.  A place of fertility.

In the desert, the seven branched menorah kept the light of God alive for the legendary Moses as he led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. In first century Palestine, Christian mythology tells us that a young girl, a virgin, gave birth to a man who promised eternal life. After she had disobeyed God and eaten of the forbidden fruit, Adam named his wife, Eve, the mother of all living. Excavations over many centuries have turned up many hundreds of these small fertility figures, their breasts exposed. Kwan Yin is a Buddhist goddess of compassion, of love that makes no demands.

The Ruth Bader Ginsburg action figure was a Christmas gift. Justice Ginsburg had just undergone her third surgery for cancer. The box in which the figure came was inscribed on the side, “I DISSENT.”  It is a reference to the vote she cast, from her hospital bed, that decided the fate of Donald Trump’s most recent effort to further restrict the entry into this country of men, women, and children seeking asylum.

Donald Trump has appointed two justices to the Supreme Court–Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Both are white men. Both are to the right of conservative, although I am not sure what exactly they are conserving.  Judging from his testimony during his confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh is an especially loathsome human being, but his position on the issues so far seems to be a little less extreme than those of Gorsuch.  The difference, however, is not sharp enough to save us.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She is eighty-five years old and has just undergone her third operation for cancer, this time a malignancy in her lungs. She has served on the Supreme Court for a quarter of a century, and says she plans to continue. She works out with a personal trainer. There is a wonderful video on YouTube of Stephen Colbert interviewing her during one of her work-outs. She agreed to the interview, but insisted it happen at her gym. Colbert is having trouble keeping up with her.

Today I read this in the NYTimes:

“Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. announced his colleague’s absence at the start of Monday’s session, saying that “Justice Ginsburg is unable to be present today.” He added that she would take part in the court’s consideration of the day’s two cases based on the briefs submitted by the parties and transcripts of the arguments.”

In other words, as on the day of her surgery, Justice Ginsburg, too sick to come to the Court, participated from her bed. She intends to go on doing that for as long as she can.

As I have watched all this unfold, it occurs to me that I cannot imagine being eighty-five years old, with cancer, and carrying the burden of the implications that my death will have on the country for many decades ahead.

How would it be possible to bear that burden as gracefully as this woman is doing?

 

Posted in Art, News of the Day, Personal

Joseph Raffael, Early February 2017: Beauty Is Truth in Any Season

(Photograph I took of the sunlight shining through old casement windows into my living room, reflecting off the handle of an even older brass coal shuttle that belonged to my mother)

 

This essay was first published over two years ago and on a different website. I have updated the small personal history in the opening paragraph and have written a short note at the end. Otherwise, it  stands as written on a day not long after the presidential election of 2016.

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(Haiku Fish I – White, lithograph in colors,
from an edition of 32, signed and dated, 22.5” x 28.5” 1979)

 

The lithograph, “Haiku Fish,” stayed with me for years as I moved from place to place. It was always the first thing to go up on my living room wall.  Until a year ago, it held pride of place in my son’s home. In April of 2017, my first and almost certainly only grandchild turned two, I reclaimed the fish, and it now hangs in his room in my co-op.  “Haiku Fish” was a gift to me, many years ago, from the artist. Today it is a part of all our lives, a gift from the man my grandson calls “The Flower Guy.”

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It is Friday the 3rd of February 2017, just past 1:00 in the afternoon, and I am home from some time with good friends, looking ahead at a few hours that include a couple of phone calls and some uninterrupted reading.  I have two books in hand and will face only the problem of choosing between them.

Yesterday I had a whole day in front of me for reading, and I found myself nearly paralyzed by the old familiar depression.  I couldn’t sit still; I couldn’t concentrate. I was sleepy enough that I actually couldn’t hold my head up.  Eventually, early in the afternoon, I gave up and crawled into bed, fully clothed.  I slept away the rest of the day.

I have days like this, but they are days rather than weeks or months.

Today I woke up, climbed into a hot shower, dressed, and went out.

Yesterday, I made a change in my morning routine. The home page on my web browser is The New York Times, and it is an incredible bargain.  For $15/month, I have the Times in front of me, with its mostly even-handed coverage of events and its always thoughtful, varied, and wonderfully well-written opinions and editorials.  I have had it for several years and wouldn’t consider giving it up.

Nor am I giving it up now.  But yesterday it came into my mind that reading about what is happening in the world, and in the country, may or may not be causing my flirtation with depression, but it certainly can’t be helping, and so I traded information, ideas, and opinions for beauty. My home page is now the website of a friend from many years ago, Joseph Raffael, whose paintings are so exquisite that I have no words for them except “Go, and look.”  As of this morning, the first thing I see in the pre-dawn hours, when I succumb to the seductive voice of technology, is beauty.

We have lost our direction, misplaced our compasses, turned ourselves around, faces backward.  What to do with it all?

At the top of Joseph Raffael’s website is this quote, something I recall his saying in one way or another back in the 1970’s when I first knew him:

“My painting is and has been a kind of conversation with Mystery.”

Below that is this new painting.
large_JR17x3_DawnRose

 

 

(Dawn Rose, watercolor on paper,
17.50″ x 19.50″ 2017)

 

In the time since November 8,  I have been carving out a way through the wilderness, a way that does not involve sitting at home, focused on every detail of the bad news.  On November 9, I raged and wept and talked all day to friends who were also weeping and raging.  On January 20th, I came home at 1:00, found Leonard Cohen on YouTube, and cooked.  Today, I look at paintings. Today I will be at home in my silent house. Today I will read.

It is still Friday and I am just ending over an hour on the telephone with my cousin, Jane, to whom I introduced Joseph’s paintings over a year ago.  Today, we both went to his website and looked at every link, every canvas, every photograph. We read a long interview.  We remembered looking on the Internet at paintings with prayer flags and we searched until we found them.

large_JR11x8_TurningPoint

 

 

(Turning Point, watercolor, 550″ x 441″ 2010)

I kept discovering paintings I remembered from decades ago and pointing them out. It was a lovely hour, an hour well-spent.  I remarked at one point that “I could do this all day,” and then realized that I could also read the Times or get stuck on Facebook all day–and what a difference this time with beauty makes.  At the end of reading the Times, I feel depleted and discouraged.  At the end of the incredible, and incredibly addictive, waste of time that is Facebook, I feel exhausted, disgusted with myself, and most of all sad for the time lost.  At nearly seventy-one, I don’t have time to spare.

But today, it is 5:30. I got some reading done and then, without planning, I was handed this time with my cousin, sharing something beautiful.  And I do feel tired out from so much time on the telephone, but what I most feel is exhilarated, encouraged, enriched, and just plain happy.

I think suddenly of the title of one of my favorite books by C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy.

And I remember the words John Keats wrote in “Ode on a Grecian Urn,”

“‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’ – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

This has always been among my favorites.

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A NOTE:
Almost immediately after I published this essay, I realized I had not asked anyone for permission to use Joseph’s 
paintings, so I went onto his website and found that I could send him a message through Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York.

I did that, unsure if he would even remember me after many years.

He did remember, and I received this short response.

joseph_01

We are still in touch. His emails are longer,
his signature changed only to include Lannis.

jwl

Posted in News of the Day

The Facebook Robots: Down, But Not Out

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg (photo from NYTimes article below)

“Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis

  • A Times investigation revealed how the social network responded as it faced one scandal after another — Russian meddling, data sharing, hate speech.
  • The executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg stumbled. Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them.” 

 

The first thing I noticed when I saw Mark Zuckerberg at his early hearings, was that he  doesn’t look quite human. I can’t be the only person aware that his facial expression never changes.  I made the same observation recently about Brett Kavanaugh, but that was, of course, before he pitched a fit because someone threatened to take something he wanted. Anyone who has raised children will have recognized it for exactly what its was–a temper tantrum, and will also have understood pretty quickly that Brett Kavanaugh was threatened with the loss of more than a toy. Someone had said to him that he might not be wanted on the Supreme Court.

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Kavanaugh

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I can’t help wondering if we will be in for the same sort of entertainment if they put the screws to young Zuckerberg..

 

And now, in the Facebook fiasco, there are two of them.

Who knew?

In fact, Sheryl Sandberg is the CEO of Facebook and, judging from the investigation and reporting of the New York Times, possibly the deadlier of the two.  But Mark Zuckerberg is the boss. Mark Zuckerberg either invented Facebook or stole it from a friend at Harvard. Mark Zuckerberg, if he had even the appearance of reactions and emotions, if he weren’t just so weird and creepy, would be in the position of the typical male in our culture and in all the primary mythologies of the world. Mark Zuckerberg would be seen as doing exactly what he has been doing–sending a woman to do his dirty work. It’s as old a story and Adam and Eve.

In any case, both Zuckerberg and Sandberg are revealed as ruthlessly ambitious and willing to tell any lie or practice any deception to protect Facebook and, one would assume, their own bank accounts.

I have discovered in this last, long two years, that there are people–public figures–who just scare me to death. Zuckerberg and Kavanaugh are two. Mike Pence is another. Men who are too calm and whose rage, when it appears, seems staged, false, unfocused, and childish.  Even in the middle of his apparent melt-down (scripted, we are told, by advisors to the President), no emotion reached those eyes.

Over many years of active interest in what happens in our nation’s capital, I have a gallery of these guys. Smile or scream though they may, their eyes look nothing but dead.

Zuckerberg and Sandberg will eventually be old news. Even the story of the social media giant, Facebook, won’t hold our interest forever.  But there will always be people in power with eyes that do not register human emotion. I believe those people are dangerous.

rts20z0d

Posted in News of the Day

Vote!

I do not intend for this blog to be political, and I have spent my days since my last post on  October 10 working on a story about my grandmother.  It is decidedly apolitical. I have also spent the month watching the headlines and thinking about what is happening in the world and in the country. I have spent the days leading up to the mid-term elections hoping I am not alone in my understanding of just how important they are.

We must vote.

While I am firm in my commitment to write here almost entirely about writing, in all its many, glorious, and frustrating manifestations, there are times when it is no longer possible to leave it at that. There are times when remaining silent, or objective, or neutral, is not only difficult; it is destructive. There are times when a writer must write about what is happening in the polis. 

The state of the union in the year 2018 is alarmingly bad.

To remedy that, we must vote.

The foundation of our system of governing this polis that is America is crumbling, and what is at stake in the elections on November 6 is the basic safety net that makes it possible for all sorts of poor leaders to make an almost unlimited number of mistakes and bad decisions without razing the entire structure.

If the Republicans retain control of the House and the Senate, there will no longer be a functioning structure of checks and balances in the government of this country.

Those responsible for the atrocities of the last two years will have thrown off the last of their shackles and will be free to do precisely as they want. They won’t need my approval, or yours.

I keep believing that each new horror from this administration is as bad as it can get, that there will surely be a reckoning this time.

I believed it passionately when toddlers and infants were separated from their parents at the border. There could be no chance that the people of this great nation would be silent and passive in the face of what anyone who watches “Law and Order: SVU,” knows– what happens to children alone on city streets. The media talked and wrote about the lasting psychological scars that result when a small child is pulled away from all sense of safety and left to languish among strangers. The information was there. A remedy would be found.

It was not, and many of those children will never see their parents again.

This week eight hundred armed soldiers are amassing at our southern border to protect us from people much like those whose lives were shattered when their children were taken from them.

Last month, a man whose smug entitlement and the thin veneer of his privileged world collapsed in a red-faced, spittle-throwing temper tantrum for the simple reason that he had been questioned, had been accused, and might be deprived of what he wanted–and believed he deserved.

Our president, at a campaign rally during the same week, openly mocked the woman who dared to accuse him.

Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to a seat on the Supreme Court. Christine Blasey Ford was discredited and tossed aside, her utter irrelevance underscored.

Last week, a man with rage in his soul and Trump stickers covering his car, mailed bombs to prominent politicians and celebrities, including two former presidents.

Our president bemoaned the fact that “all this bomb stuff” had slowed down Republican momentum heading into the mid-term elections.

Yesterday, eleven people were killed in a synagogue in Pittsburgh by a man shouting “All Jews must die.”  It was a chilling echo of the war cries of the white nationalists who marched on the University of Virginia campus.

Today, our president assured us that the gun laws had no bearing on the shooting and that the incident would have ended more happily had the synagogue had the proper security  in place.  He joked later in the day that he had almost cancelled a rally because standing in the rain and wind, answering reporters’ questions, had made a mess of his hair.

And, so, this blog post isn’t about politics after all. It is about those things that are so clearly immoral, so firmly opposed to the basic standards of human decency, that they can no longer be addressed in terms of liberal vs. conservative or Republican vs. Democrat.  They are, or they should be, an insult to the good sense and acceptable values that are common to us all.

It is time now, for the women and men of this nation to stand up.  If we don’t stand now, it will be a very long time before we have the chance again.

We cannot afford to be partisan. We cannot afford to dither about the imperfections of this or that candidate. We cannot afford to stay at home or to vote for an independent or a libertarian or Aunt Sue’s best friend.  We must vote for survival. We must vote for the salvation of these United States of America. We must vote in spite of the irrefutable evidence that every effort is being made to keep us from voting.

WE SIMPLY MUST VOTE.

 

 

Posted in News of the Day

The Pope, the priests, the archbishop, the children, the church, the political polarities, and–in there somewhere–God

In an article in the New York Times, the man who lived with Oliver Sacks for the six or so years before Sacks died, quoted the neurologist and writer,

“The most we can do is to write — intelligently, creatively, critically, evocatively — about what it is like living in the world at this time.”

(Hayes, Bill. “Swimming in Words With Oliver Sacks,”
NYTimes, August 29 2018)

There have been times, as a teacher of the great works of the English language, when I have believed that writing–and the mindful reading of great writing–opened beyond itself and straight toward the divine. Today, when my mood is dark or my faith weak, I reach for Faulkner or Shakespeare, John Donne or Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, the early novels of Margaret Drabble, Joan Didion’s essays, or the Bible.

Carl Jung’s famous definition of God is,

God is the name by which I designate all things that cross my willful path, violently and recklessly, all things that upset my subjective views, plans and intentions and change the course of my life for better or worse.”

Are Pope Francis and all the other Popes back to Peter really the representatives of God as the result of Jesus’ commission to Peter at the crucifixion, “On this rock I will build my church?”

In the glare of an Archbishop’s accusations, Francis doesn’t seem like much of a rock. Time will tell, of course, but whatever the truth, I tremble when I imagine his fear. Bishop of Rome, or not, he is a man, and an old man at that.

This business of who is or is not God, of who does or does not speak for God is of vital importance today.

We need to know how serious it is likely to be if, indeed, Francis was involved in concealing and protecting priests who were molesting children and seminarians.

Is this about God’s absence from the world we have created? Is it about the corruption of the institutional Church? Or is it just one more sordid story about a  pathetic man who did not do what he should have done and did exactly what he should not have done–and has been found out?

Of course, there is no answer to those questions about God’s presence or man’s sin, no resolution to the dreadfulness of all this sexual intimidation, grooming, and actual seduction and often rape of (mostly) young boys by the priests in charge of their care and education.  There is both too much and not nearly enough to be said about a history of rottenness, and its deliberate concealment.  Sometimes there really aren’t the words.

Here we have Pope Francis, challenging norms, questioning centuries-old repressions; speaking for the young man, Jesus, who walked the roads of Galilee, preaching a radical theology of forgiveness and poverty.

Whether he is the true heir of Peter and God’s voice on this earth–and whether those of us who have listened to him and watched him are Catholics or Protestants or Muslims or Jews or nothing at all–this Pope has stood as a symbol of many of the values we honor and for which we have recently despaired.  The very fact of the man holds out hope. But what if?

What if he has done this terrible thing? What then happens to God? 

To tell the truth, I have no idea. I know only that things have gotten awfully confused.

In a summary of what has happened to the human cast, Richard Perez-Pena, filed from London on August 27th.

“An archbishop, Carlo Maria Viganò, released a letter claiming that Pope Francis, his predecessors and others in the church hierarchy knew of sexual misconduct by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the archbishop of Washington, years before it was made public.

Archbishop Viganò said he told Francis in 2013 that the pope’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, had ordered Cardinal McCarrick “to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance” because of the accusations against him. But Francis, Archbishop Viganò wrote, empowered Cardinal McCarrick, allowing him to help choose American bishops.

I do, in fact, experience a kind of edgy despair as I recognize the same old players–out of the woodwork come the representatives of the newly energized extreme right, both in the Church and outside it.

Inside the Church, the bitterly opposed factions struggle over abortion, gay rights, and a host of other social issues. They also struggle, though it is not mentioned, over power, and here we come up against  God again.  If we are to hear the voice of God in the voice of the Church, then the Church must do better than this. Those who oppose Francis believe he is unduly influenced by the gay faction and that  he is undermining the basic tenets of Catholic theology.  His supporters heave a sigh of relief as they hear a Pontiff finally articulating what they are sure is the good. They believe Francis has opened a window and let in some air and light.

Outside the Church, the usual suspects, the most obvious a group I call “Good Old Boy Anti-Catholics,” bubble up out of the mud to drone the old canards about too much money, too much silver, too much ritual, and the evils of all those queer priests living together.

Another group, less blatant and more dangerous, is a large cohort of otherwise perfectly respectable people who now can air their quiet discomfort with all that silver on the altar, with the unnatural celibacy of the priesthood, with the billion-dollar hoard in the Vatican banks. It down just seem to go on and on,

I vividly remember that, when John Kennedy was elected, my grandmother was convinced that the Pope was going to “take over America.”  Even as a teenager, I knew  that didn’t quite make sense.

If what we have is just another wrangle between liberals and conservatives, just another sordid example of men molesting boys, then I am a little tired of the whole thing.

If this is about God, about what God might want, then the situation is important beyond belief.

If this is about God, in any way, then we are being called to turn toward  the divine in our own natures and perhaps to carry a larger share of the load.B3-BM908_WORDST_P_20180823122430

I, for one, would like to see Pope Francis–and God–intact when it’s over.

Posted in News of the Day, Personal

SLUTS

Melania Trump

Michelle Obama

Laura Bush

 

Marilyn Monroe

Janis Joplin

Zelda Fitzgerald

 

                                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been drawn to Melania Trump since the first mention of her in the press. In spite of myself, I paid attention to those early stories of languages she did or did not speak, degrees she had or had not earned, the childhood poverty, the modeling career, America, New York, Donald Trump.

I vividly recall the provocative black and white photographs of the teenage model. There was a spread of them somewhere, beautiful and unnerving.  Even behind the strained bravado of a young girl trying hard to look sure of herself, to look older, one could see the heartbreaking vulnerability.  I couldn’t look at them for long at a time.

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The first time I ever ran across the term “slut-shaming” was in reference to the public comments–many by reputable journalists–that Melania dressed like a prostitute and had screwed her way out of her village, into fashionable Manhattan parties, and finally into Donald Trump’s bed and into the White House. We were about to have a whore as First Lady.

In our national language, the slut seems to come in two styles–stupid and crazy–and a great deal of ink has been devoted to illustrating Melania’s lack of intelligence. “Dumber than a bag of rocks,” seems to be the consensus. This has made it relatively easy not only to attack her perceived excess sexuality but also seemingly every project she has tried to launch as First Lady. I was horrified at the vicious ridicule heaped on her for the “Be Best” campaign.

The incurable provincialism of Americans is never more evident than in our apparent belief that anyone who speaks with an accent is stupid.

My usual sources of news, analysis, and opinion, The New York Times and The New Yorker, both of which I now read online, are full this week of the death of John McCain.  One focus of all this coverage is yet another example of the petty, vindictive behavior of the President of the United States.  It happens so often, in such appalling ways, that it hardly even deserves a comment.

Buried somewhere in one of the articles in the Times was a reference to Barbara Bush’s funeral and to the fact that Melania Trump attended without her husband (who was, several articles report, on the golf course). The reference was to an “iconic” photograph of four former presidents and their spouses posing with Melania Trump who was there representing the President. The media have thoroughly explored possible reasons for Mr. Trump’s absence, all to some extent believable, but the impression the photograph made on me has nothing at all to do with whether Trump’s absence was legitimate.

It has to do with the image of two beautiful women, only one of whom is alone, both of whom have been judged for their looks–Melania Trump for her whorishness, Michelle Obama for her blackness.  There, too, is Hillary Clinton, criticized for not looking sexy enough. Is there such a thing as wonk-shaming?

Women in the public eye leave themselves open to the worst sort of intrusions into their lives, and even the compliments have an edge.

Janis Joplin, every man’s punching bag, died when she fell off a toilet with a needle in her arm.fullsizeoutput_4948

 

 

Zelda Fitzgerald was committed to an “insane asylum” by her writer husband when she started to write and paint. She died in the fire that burned the asylum to the ground. Their degradation as women was paraded across every front page in the world. I actually read that Joplin had semen in her vagina, and that Zelda Fitzgerald was a drooling madwoman before she died.  She took her clothes off in the corridors of the madhouse. There is no way of knowing if those things were true. But they were written down.

After many decades,  I still occasionally try to watch a film clip, or even look at a photograph, of Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John Kennedy.  Her breathy, little-girl’s voice is much like the President ‘s wife’s. I think about the expensive, tasteful clothes that are Mrs. Kennedy’s trademark. Marilyn Monroe wears an expensive, slutty, gold designer dress that reveals everything.  She is singing for applause, or love, or kindness. Singing for her supper.fullsizeoutput_4944

Malraux et les Kennedy

 

Joplin recorded a song with these lyrics, “Get it while you can. Don’t you turn your back on love. No, no, no.”

I only want to say that sometimes it just isn’t worth it.

Melania Trump has announced that, in the fall, she will travel to Africa to visit some of the places her husband called “shit-hole countries.”800

The President will not accompany her.

 

Posted in News of the Day

The Kind of Republican We Remember

ROBERT MUELLER is a lifelong conservative Republican and the great hope of every liberal Democrat in the country.

A prosecutor who, in nearly forty years in government service, has honored and worked within the parameters of that government and the law, he is the conservative’s conservative. When he was appointed United States attorney in San Francisco–a politically unlikely position for Mueller–he  requested resignations from all the supervisors in his office then advertised as “positions now open” all the major prosecutors’ jobs in Northern California.  The conservative, methodical, tradition-bound Mr. Mueller could up-end the norms when need dictated.

He avoids publicity and is prosecuting arguably the most widely publicized case in American history.

During the past week, Mr. Mueller has inspired an equal number of rants, raised voices, and confident predictions–both ruinous and salvific–from the usual suspects at MSNBC and Fox News.  There have even been days when we have finally had to admit a mild fatigue at Anderson Cooper’s measured tones.

It seems impossible to make one’s way through the thicket of opinion and speculation in the wake of the latest round of confessions and convictions.  It sometimes seems an unreasonable challenge even to go beyond the handsome, patrician face, the quiet demeanor, the air of mystery–qualities that can either infuriate or comfort.

On Saturday evening, settling in to a long and thorough piece in the NY Times (“What Will Mueller Do?”),  I recognized fully the complexity of the man, his history, and the situation.

“By almost any measure, Mr. Mueller has led the swiftest, most successful independent investigation in modern Washington. In just over a year, he has indicted 25 Russians for trying to influence an American election. He has won a conviction of Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at trial and secured guilty pleas from two campaign aides and the former national security adviser.”

I heard the echo of a recent conversation with an informed, educated, liberal friend who generally understands the workings of government and politics.  She was expressing her opinion, supported by dates and milestones, that the problem with the entire investigation is that “it has dragged on so long.”

I began taking notes and, sure enough, the fault line is distinct, but it often does not run down the usual, expected party or ideological lines. Robert Mueller, who has never aspired to elected office,  and has consistently chosen public service, is the ideal conservative candidate for just about any office in the land.   His work in the Russia inquiry has been too slow or too fast. He refuses to bend to political considerations or he has assembled a team that is part of a Deep State committed to undermining Donald Trump. He is, in turn, aggressive and impatient or cautious and plodding.

Robert Mueller is clearly driving us all a little crazy.  Too complicated to label and yet clear and unwavering in his convictions, this man conducting the nation’s most potentially explosive investigation carries it on without fanfare, revealing his cards only when he has something to show.

Frustrating or not, Mueller is the perfect foil for the man he might bring down, a creature of the media whose strategy is always to show every card he holds.

Yesterday, SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN died of the cancer in his brain that he has fought for many months, the same cancer that killed SENATOR EDWARD KENNEDY just when PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA was making a final push for the Affordable Care Act .

Marilyn Hall Patel, a retired federal judge in San Francisco, said of Robert Mueller, that he is “a different kind of Republican, the kind we remember.”

Robert Mueller  is precisely the kind of Republican we need.

Posted in News of the Day

Unconscious from Too Much News

 

New York Times 22 August 2018

“Trump Praises Manafort for Refusing to ‘Break,’ Unlike Cohen, His Former Fixer”

“With Cohen Implicating Trump, a Presidency’s Fate Rests With Congress”

“Facebook Identifies New Influence Operations Spanning Globe”

“Bull Market Hits a Milestone: 3,453 Days. Most Americans Aren’t at the Party.”

“Hawaii Braces for Hurricane Lane, a Rare Category 4 Storm”

Of course, there is so much more.

There is the video by a fifth generation coal miner in Virginia who warns that Trump’s deregulation of coal mines will further enrich mine owners, impoverish the miners, and inflict more damage on the environment.

There is the opinion piece by the son of a Memphis policeman who was involved in spying on political activists, then burning files full of reports on that spying, in the year of Dr. King’s assassination. Evidence suggests that the Memphis police department is still doing it.

There is the usual combination of news analysis and editorial commentary about the Roman Catholic priests and the boys, girls, and seminarians they abused.

The Home Page on my browser is the NYTimes online. I routinely scan the headlines and settle in to read the fine writing in the op-ed section.  I am interested in what is going on in my world.

Today I realized that, for the moment at least, I have completely lost interest in all of it.  Donald Trump and the other disasters that plague us have achieved what I think is the most dangerous consequence of this time in our history.  They have dulled us to the worst, most unacceptable behavior by a sitting president. They have rendered us indifferent to poverty, the destruction of the planet, the violation of the rule of law and the Constitution. They have knocked us into unconsciousness at the very time when we most need to be awake, impassioned, ready to campaign and to vote.

All that catalogue of horrors has turned us into a people who are no longer disturbed by horrors.