Wounded Beast Starts War

“Trump is like a wounded beast careering around in his cage. Starting a war to shift attention away from his disgrace and disgraceful behavior,” my Maine writer friend emailed me this morning. She’s worried. I am, too.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, promised retaliation against those who killed Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, our know-nothing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces that this political assassination will “save American lives.”

After stating that he ordered the killing of Suleimani to “avoid war,” Trump tweeted “It won’t be a very long war.” Tough guy bullshit.

The United States is sending 3,500 troops to the Middle East. Escalation is not the answer. More minority and poor white soldiers will die for an egomaniac’s roll of the dice.

Trump and his Puppet Pompeo have decimated the U.S. State Department. They’re both unschooled in diplomacy. Neither possesses expert knowledge of the region. Our demagogue president only listens to his not-so “stable brain.”

I didn’t like President Barack Obama’s use of drone assassinations. I didn’t think it won the hearts and minds of our “enemies.” Obama ordered 1,878 drone strikes during his eight-year presidency. Trump has ordered 2,243 since 2016, according to BBC News.

In March, Trump revoked by Executive Order Obama’s rule of reporting civilian drone strikes outside of war zones to our intelligence agencies.

Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama rejected a drone killing of Suleimani, fearing it would lead to war between Iran and the United States.

How long have we been “winning” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Relaxing in the steam room at the gym this morning, a madder-than-hell man came in and sat next to his friend. “If you haven’t been there you don’t know what it’s like to be at war, pushing your way through the jungles of Vietnam. I did it, I thought for my family. It was wrong. This war is wrong.”

It was only a matter of time before Trump, the wounded beast, would try war to wrongly make him look strong.

 

 

 

 

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Save the Blue Dot

Welcome to this new decade! What will Earth be like when my darling grandchildren (now 3 and 3 months old) turn 80? Will the next century arrive safely?

Gazing at Earth from space must be a surreal and magnificent experience. How excited I become glimpsing the Atlantic from a plane descending over Boston Harbor, seeing other-worldly glaciers in Anchorage, or flying above the snow-covered Caucasus Mountains.

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Flying east over Russia in 2016

I worry about the next decade, the one after that, and the one after that. On NPR recently I listened to an interview with Carl Sagan, the renowned American astronomer who told us more than twenty years ago:

“In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us.” — Carl Sagan

More than twenty years ago I asked my Maine high school students, “Do you know how lucky we are to have been born on this patch of land we call the United States?” I don’t recall anyone responding.

We’ve been taking our clean water, our familiar weather patterns, our beautiful planet for granted for a very long time. Our one and only Big Blue Marble.

BLUE EARTHimages (1) May 2020 inaugurate a decade when we reinstate science, fight off climate change, and upgrade civility among the planet’s humans.

For all our children and grandchildren. For the Earth itself.

Our one and only Big Blue Marble. I hope it survives.

 

Posted in Family Matters, Fight wimpiness, Politics, The Rest of the World | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

“I Am Not Your Enemy”

In my rush to read fifty books in 2019, about an hour ago I turned the last page of “Life Undercover. Coming of Age in the CIA” by Amaryllis Fox.

Fox, 38, asks in the NYTimes article above, “Is our job to be at home reading ‘Goodnight Moon’ every night, or is it to go out and make the world we’re going to gift our kids better? The answer is both, but how do we do that?”

She spent most of her 20s gallivanting around the globe working for the CIA. Fighting fear she utilized spy tactics to thwart “bad guys” from deploying dirty bombs that killed innocent civilians.

It wasn’t easy grappling with false identities, wrote Fox, questioning the reality of her life undercover, most likely as the youngest female CIA agent ever.

I’ve never yearned to be a CIA agent. Since I started traveling internationally about a decade ago, being a mensch is probably the best I can do.

Some of our most worthwhile diplomacy might be funding massive foreign exchanges for U.S. citizens of all ages. Everyone harbors stereotypes or fear of people in foreign countries, especially with negligible travel experiences outside of the United States. F

In 2013, friends warned me not to go to Turkey, that it was dangerous.

“Life Undercover” reminded me of that trip.

Walking around Istanbul by myself was an adventure. Heading toward the Grand Bazaar, the oldest and largest covered market in the world, founded in the mid-1400s, I was fearful.

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Women dressed in full-length swishing black chadors, women wearing head coverings or not, tourists speaking French and German.

A fragrant and colorful spice shop, like an oasis from the masses, drew me inside.

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Do I look nervous?

The young proprietor, I think his name was Muhammad, brought me a glass of tea.

He spoke English. “What, you haven’t had Turkish Delight?” He brought me samples. I handed over Turkish lira. He took my photo. I took his.

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But the best part of our exchange was when he leaned toward me and quietly said, “I am not your enemy.”

Does Amaryllis Fox, a former CIA agent know this, too? I believe she does.

Posted in Politics, The Rest of the World, Tucson Festival of Books/good books | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Gone Are Normal Republicans

Trumpism is a cult. Many of his supporters, especially Republican U.S. House members, no longer believe in a balanced budget. They no longer care about what used to be one of their major talking points, reducing the deficit, which is currently out of control at $23 trillion. Congressional Republicans no longer care about upholding our three branches of government, which represents the bottom line of my outrage about the cult of Trumpism.

Comparing Trump’s impeachment to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion during last week’s U.S. House hearing? Has the representative from Georgia suffered a lobotomy?

What happened to normal Republicans, true Conservatives like William F. Buckley? I didn’t agree with them but I listened. Real Republicans made sense. They didn’t mock disabled journalists or cage children on our Southern border or comment on House Speaker Pelosi’s “bad teeth.”

Consider former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican of Maine. I liked her. She was a serious, compassionate senator, a true human being. Snowe supported a balanced budget. She supported Reagan’s 1980s Star Wars defense missile program, which was the reason I never voted for her (I told her so when she visited my Mt. Desert Island classroom. She chuckled good-naturedly).

When Snowe could no longer take being in the U.S. Senate and left in January 2013, she cited “hyper-partisanship leading to a dysfunctional Congress.”

Drinking multiple glasses of Chardonnay with Snowe at a small Bar Harbor cocktail party, following Bill Clinton’s impeachment on December 19, 1998 on the grounds of perjury to a grand jury, I applauded her civilized behavior.

“And the public has no idea what [members of my political party] wanted to do to Clinton. It was obscene,” she told me.

Throughout our history there has been division in Congress but there has been bipartisanship, too. No more. I worry but I hope that we are not at the point of no return. May 2020 be a year of political transformation.

 

 

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Spunky Writing Hints

You asked. I listened. Here’s my latest blog post, Spunky Writing Hints, a new category.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR AUDIENCE.

What do you most want them to get from this writing? Practice saying it in one sentence: “This is the tastiest apple pie you’ll eat in Naples, Italy, or Oshkosh, Wisconsin.”

JUMP RIGHT INTO YOUR TOPIC.

NOT: I think collaboration is good but…”Collaboration expands useful ideas. Two heads or more are better than one because…”

BE SUCCINCT, EVEN IN STORYTELLING.

Your grandmother’s immigration story may be fascinating to you, but if it has nothing to do with your topic leave it out.

USE DECLARATIVE SENTENCES. CELEBRATE STRONG VERBS.

Contemplate the once-solid ice cream container exploding in the microwave.

CUT ADVERBS.

Really, actually, honestly, always make you sound like you’re lying. That’s what Stephen King says.

REDUCE BUZZWORDS.

“Collaborate” or “connect” must mean something; otherwise they’re too general. If you’re in love with a buzzword go for a longer explanation that’s more personal.

NOT: Connect with your friends but…Surprise happy hour, 4 p.m. today at your favorite wine joint! Show off your newest shoes and/or recite a life-affirming quote.

STILL NEED AN EDITOR? I’M AVAILABLE! 

“Thanks to Sheila Wilensky for smoothing out my sentences!”

— Gwen Harvey, author “Esperanza Means Hope”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Howard Zinn is remembered everywhere!

 

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Mariachi student instrument cases alongside a Day of the Dead altar. The donuts inside smelled super good…so we stayed outside.

Bicycling for five miles with no cars, that’s Cyclovia Tucson. Check out cyclists with small dogs in baskets, reminiscent of Dorothy carrying Toto in the Wizard of OZ. Listen to a top-notch youth Mariachi band with young girls belting out Spanish tunes. Look for friends riding recumbents, or parents and kids happily coasting along on their individually fashioned tandems.

Wide streets and a less crowded than usual Cyclovia route made it a perfect morning to ride under the bluest of Tucson blue skies. I had never been to parts of South Tucson where we cycled, along smooth 12th Avenue from 44th Street to Mission Manor Park.

Cyclovia is a place to be seen, too. I wore my Howard Zinn Education Project t-shirt hoping that teachers would check out the informative website. At least six people along the route told me they liked my t-shirt, which on the back said, “History should emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when people showed their ability to resist, to join together, and occasionally win.” — Howard Zinn, author of “People’s History of the United States”

One young couple pushing their baby in a stroller came over as we ate our Sonoran hot dogs. “Our baby’s middle name is Zinnie after Howard Zinn,” the dad told me.

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Above quote is on the back

“How wonderful,” I smiled and said. It pleases me that anywhere I go someone’s life has been influenced by my favorite activist and an incredible human being.

 

 

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Grandbaby Justice!

My darling, delightful grandson, Foss, was born on Jan. 21, 2017, the day of the imposter president’s Inauguration. Nothing curtailed our family’s happiness. But it was too bad that horrible historical anomaly overlapped with our glorious family occasion.

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Baby Foss

This Saturday, Sept. 28, my son and daughter-in-law will welcome their baby daughter. We hope the imposter president is finally on his way out.

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Soon to be four, when baby girl arrives Sept. 28!

Yes, I’m pretty excited about meeting my new granddaughter!

Lurking in the background will be the possibility of accountability — finally — for this lying, crooked, mean-spirited, racist, very sick individual, and incompetent Mafia family now mistakenly sitting in the White House.

I’ve been supporting his impeachment for months, regardless of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hesitation and newspaper opinion pieces stating it would be a bad idea. It could make him more popular prior to the election if more Independents and Republicans feel sorry for him. I don’t think this will happen.

Here are some reasons why Impeachment is the way to go:

  1. I’m aware that the Republican-dominated U.S. Senate includes a bunch of sycophants incapable of doing the right thing. Support  for the president can switch at lightning speed once polls put him in jeopardy of re-election. Republican senators will do anything to retain their cushy jobs, possibly even convict him no matter what they’re saying now.
  2. Pelosi and friends had to do something to uphold the Constitution. The majority of Americans who disdain politics, who are more interested in making a living may listen to the nightly news, take impeachment testimony more to heart, and understand how little this president understands his role. He is in not charge of the equal two other branches of government. He is not above the law!
  3. Some Democrats and pundits are concerned that Impeachment could make trump more popular before the election. “Oh the poor victim,” but there is so much damning evidence against him in this Ukraine debacle.
  4.  Convict him of “high crimes and misdemeanors” such as obstruction of justice, threaten a foreign power to conspire in our presidential election, which already happened in 2016. If he’s thrown out he’s open to criminal indictment. Lock him up!
  5. One Impeachment outcome could be to make more Democrats question Biden’s possible nomination. Would be ok with me. I’m a staunch Elizabeth Warren fan.
  6. What about Pence? OK, I’m an optimist, but following the Impeachment testimony damning his boss, how can he not be implicated? Perhaps trump will blame the whole Ukraine mess on his vice president, who knows?

Enough is enough.

Cleansing my system prepares me to fly to Minneapolis tomorrow, focusing on the beauty of life and love!

 

Posted in Family Matters, Fight wimpiness, For Love of History, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments