Category Archives: General Interest

The passing of an era

“We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a thousand points of light … we all have something to give.”

President George H.W. Bush

When I learned that former president, George H.W. Bush, had died, a deep sadness touched my heart.  Of course, it’s easier to accept the death of an ailing 94 year-old man, who had lived an incredible life and who had lost his wife of 73 years, earlier this year.  Still, the passing of this president feels like the door closing tightly on a long ago era in American politics, where Americans both expected and valued personal character and dignified pubic decorum in their president.

Throughout Saturday, I noted the sincere and insincere public outpourings of condolences, the recounted remembrances, and the recitation of President Bush’s life story.  No matter what else people say about his public life, both admirers and critics alike agree, he led a life dedicated to serving others.

After reading and listening to a steady media stream of his life, which invariably follows the death of famous people in America, I came away still convinced that it’s pretty hard to top a life dedicated to serving others as a eulogy.

America needs to remember not only this man’s life; they need to remember his message.

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Filed under American Character, General Interest, Inspirations, Making a Difference

Odd timing

Since there are still more details unknown than known with what’s going on with Paul Manafort and “Trump/Russian collusion”, here are a few bits of news headlines that have me pondering, both timing and possible connections.

Let’s pretend we’re standing in Putin’s shoes the past few days…

November 25, 2018 – NBC reports:

“Ukraine convened an emergency meeting of what it called its war cabinet on Sunday after it accused Russia of having fired on three of its vessels in the Black Sea, injuring at least six sailors.

Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, confirmed that it had seized what it called three Ukrainian “warships,” saying they had trespassed into Russian territorial waters. It said that “weapons were used to force the Ukrainian warships to stop” and that three Ukrainian service members were treated for minor injuries, TASS, the official Russian news agency, reported Sunday night.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/russia-attacks-seizes-three-ukrainian-naval-vessels-coast-crimea-black-n939876

A hue and cry of international condemnation of Russian aggression and demands for UN and/or US to take action ensues.

November 26, 2018 – American news breaks on Manafort.  Politico reports:

“Special counsel Robert Mueller is accusing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of violating the plea deal he agreed to earlier this year by repeatedly lying to prosecutors and FBI agents during recent debriefing sessions.

In a report filed with a federal judge Monday evening, Mueller’s office alleged that Manafort “committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters.“ Prosecutors said the alleged lies leave Manafort exposed to the possibility of a more severe prison sentence under federal guidelines, but they did not elaborate on what exactly he allegedly lied about.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/26/mueller-manafort-plea-deal-lying-1017278

November 27, 2018 – The British Guardian paper runs this thinly sourced story about Paul Manafort meeting with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in 2016:

“Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, the Guardian has been told.

Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.

It is unclear why Manafort wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/27/manafort-held-secret-talks-with-assange-in-ecuadorian-embassy

The timing of this Guardian story is just too perfectly timed to throw the American media into another “Trump/Russian collusion” hysterical spin cycle and with Republicans in the House subpoenaing James Comey and Loretta Lynch, America is sure to begin 2019,  just like we began 2017 and 2018… still stuck in 2016 scorched earth hell.  And with the pressure building with the Mueller investigation potential endgame moves in sight, Putin would assuredly like to see Trump afraid to cross him, for fear of more leaks, but even more than that Putin would love to see America descend further into “political schizophrenia”.

No bright spots for America’s political system to move to more stable ground in the foreseeable future

We’re stuck in this endless spin cycle of … chaos and more chaos.

 


 

Here’s how I see the Russian hand of cards:

Russian intelligence knows what, if any parts of the Steele dossier, have any veracity.

Russian intelligence knows all about Paul Manafort.

Russian intelligence knows all about the dumb Don Jr. with the Russian lawyer.

Russian intelligence knows all about Trump’s financial dealings, especially if there are any connected to Russians.

Russian intelligence has a vast collection of compromising information on the Clintons.

Russian intelligence has all of the emails that were on the Clinton family server, to include all of Hillary and Huma’s emails, the yoga schedules and wedding plans AND the Bill Clinton foundation emails, which that server was set-up for in the first place.

Russian intelligence has all of the emails that were on the DNC server.

Russian intelligence has all of John Podesta’s emails.

Putin knows everything Trump agreed to in their private July 16, 2018 meeting.

This Guardian leak sure seems like Putin playing World Cup level geopolitical soccer.

Trump doesn’t even know how soccer is played… but he does understand threats, so expect more Trump spin diversions and hysterics, to deflect attention away from himself and more attacks on Mueller’s investigation.

Putin knows Trump is cornered and afraid, leaving Putin free to push his weight around on the world stage without challenge.  The odds of Trump responding forcefully against Russian aggression in Ukraine seem very low.

Putin is banking on America descending further into banana republic territory, with partisan squabbling over 2016 Trump/Russian collusion and Clinton, Steele dossier and Comey/Lynch corruption.  Putin will just keep tossing out banana peels in the western press, to keep American partisans slipping further into spin chaos.

 

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Lewinsky dishes

Twenty years later…

Monica Lewinsky now admits President Bill Clinton asked her to lie about having an affair to avoid being deposed by Special Counsel, Ken Starr:

“In the final part of the A&E docuseries “The Clinton Affair,” Lewinsky revealed that Clinton convinced her to deny the affair if she was called to testify in the Paula Jones case. The 45-year-old recalled the former president telling her that she could avoid being deposed if she denied the affair in an affidavit.

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A walk into simple living

In recent years, the interest in simple living, living off-the-grid, frugal living,  and zero waste living have skyrocketed, even as our consumer culture continues to grow by leaps and bound.   I suspect most of us live somewhere in the middle, far from the extreme ends of these two competing lifestyle approaches, seeking more of a happy balance than a fully committed lifestyle conversion.

The “trash to treasure” crafting type recycling efforts, like those in the book above, fit my lifestyle more than committing to a total recycling lifestyle,  Of course, I acquired several craft books like the one pictured above, from yard sales and used book sellers.  I’ve thought a great deal about learning to use more of the things I already have, and looking around my house before rushing to the store, but in all honesty, I’m still stuck more in a consumer-oriented mindset than pioneer woman wannabe.  The truth is I’m too lazy to wander  into the wilderness to live off-the-grid, I don’t like roughing it and oh, yeah, I like modern conveniences.

Reorienting toward being less wasteful takes a conscious effort.  Several years ago, I decided to stop buying more and more small kitchen appliance and gadgets, because I was cooking for only my husband and me, not a home with four kids.  I gave away several small appliances that I don’t use and my youngest daughter filled up three boxes of assorted kitchen gadgets from my overflowing cupboards and carted them to the Goodwill.

I did really well, for a few years, then this small, cheap 1.5 cup food processor, that I bought at a Black Friday sale long ago, broke.  I started thinking that I want a larger food processor.  I mentioned it to my youngest daughter and she started messaging me pictures of food processors from amazon and suggested some fancy Ninja food processor with various components to do everything from chop food to make perfect smoothies.  From past experience, I knew the chances of me using a small appliance a lot correlates a great deal to how simple it is to use and fewer parts to it.   I told her I was looking for something moderately priced and simple to use.  The same daughter who lectured me on my collecting small appliances habit sent me a large 12-cup Hamilton Beach food processor last week. I did use it to mix up pumpkin bars, but I opted to mix the cream cheese frosting in a small bowl with a wire whisk.

Every time I think the extreme limits, in these lifestyles that shun our modern consumer culture, have been reached, along comes some new take on it and even more bizarre is so many of the people involved in these extreme lifestyles spend a lot of time setting up online forums or using social media to “share” their lifestyle and “sell it” to others… Too often these extreme living efforts toward a more simple lifestyle involve a great need for online communal support and attention.  Some even turn their simple living adventures into a money-making effort…

Recently, I read about freebirthing and honestly, I had never heard of it.  Freebirthing is a movement, gaining traction mostly through online groups, of women dedicated to giving birth at home without any medical care or support.  These women believe birth is a natural process that is best experienced without modern medical assistance.  Oddly enough, in a recent case a mother in labor began sharing the experience live in a private freebirthing facebook group, then things started going wrong in the labor and the mother’s facebook feed went silent:

“In the photos, Journey Moon looks peaceful. Her eyes are closed, her tiny body swaddled in blankets. She rests on her mother’s chest, the slight bruising around her face the only indication of what happened: that she was born dead, at 42 weeks, after six days of painful labor.

This was no ordinary stillbirth. Journey Moon’s mother, Lisa*, spent those six excruciating days in a remote desert home, laboring alone—aside from her husband and the virtual company of more than 6,000 members of a private Facebook group.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/she-wanted-a-freebirth-at-home-when-the-baby-died-the-attacks-began

This mother, eventually, did seek medical help, but it was too late for her baby.  The bizarre aspect of this isn’t that women opt for freebirthing, it’s how it is sold in online groups. This case created an online firestorm, because women committed to fighting the freebirth movement, secretly joined this facebook freebirthing group and had been spying on the freebirthers posts.  When this baby was born stillborn, these anti-freebirthers began attacking the mother online and posting articles online attacking freebirthers and this private freebirthing facebook group..

Less extreme or controversial, I learned about the zero waste movement a while back and while I agree we create way too much waste, especially food waste and packaging, here again the efforts going into zero waste require more commitment than I am willing to make.  Here’s a link with a video, of a woman’s one week trial run at zero waste living: https://www.cnbc.com/video/2018/10/31/i-tried-to-live-on-zero-waste-for-one-week–and-i-barely-survived.html

The most amusing part, to me, was this woman began her one-week zero waste effort going to some zero waste store to consult a zero waste expert, who runs a store selling supplies to help zero wasters.  The woman beginning her one week effort spent $5 purchasing a reusable bag…

First thing this morning, I saw this PBS story: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/what-a-well-off-couple-learned-from-cutting-consumer-habits

This young couple worked hard at well-paying jobs and decided to live as frugally as possible, saving 70% of their income.  They stopped eating out completely, they buy only second-hand clothes and they saved enough to buy over 60 acres of land in rural Vermont, to pursue their dream of living in the country.  This woman, like so many other people involved in these “simple living” adventures started a blog and chronicled her story.  She’s written a book, Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living.

Fighting consumerism by turning anti-consumerism lifestyles into a home business enterprise is, of course, the perfect American take on “simple living”…

Only in America.

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Military readiness report raises serious concerns

I read this NBC News article today, U.S. military in ‘crisis,’ could lose a war to Russia and China, report warns,

which strikes a pretty ominous tone:

“U.S. military superiority is no longer assured and the implications for American interests and American security are severe,” said the report, which was issued by the National Defense Strategy Commission, an independent agency whose board is appointed by the House and Senate Armed Services committees.

The report concludes that the Defense Department isn’t financially or strategically set up to wage two wars at once and could even lose a war against China or Russia individually.

“The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict,” it said.”

For easy access, the 116-page report is embedded on the page of the article.

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Veterans Day thoughts

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”   — Dale Carnegie

November 11th is Veterans Day.  All day today, I thought about writing a blog post, but instead I worked on some craft stuff, tweeted a bit (to my regret) and I moped around thinking about my mother.  Twitter got me riled, because of the endless Trump spin hysteria about Trump not attending a WWI ceremony yesterday.  By the time John Kerry was tweeting, attacking President Trump, I lost it and tweeted about Kerry’s foreign policy failure with Kerry thanking Iran for releasing our sailors they had captured and then Iran turned around and released demoralizing propaganda videos and photos of our sailors.  Kerry and the mainstream media went with the White House spin that it was new era in diplomacy and a great ending…

For someone like me, who finds President Trump’s conduct totally unacceptable much of the time, the way the Dems and media run these hysterical spin attacks, disgusts me more than Trump does.  Of course, President Trump should have attended that WWI ceremony on Saturday, unless he was too ill to attend.  The Dem/media spin feeding frenzy, attacking Trump, continued from Saturday all through today.  I tweeted some comments about how President Trump has a ways to go to match some of the Clinton or Obama outrages when it comes to the military… like Somalia, Benghazi, selling Bergdahl the “war hero” and of course our sailors on their knees.  I believe that is the truth too, but at the same time, yes, I regret tweeting while ticked off and I really wish I had stuck to just ignoring the hysterical spin and tweeting dignified stuff today.  President Trump would do better, if he just ignored the media spin and focused more on doing his job and behaving in a dignified manner. And I, too, need to try to follow my own advice and avoid the mean comments

November 11th was also my late mother’s birthday.  She passed away in 2001, but certain times of the year, the loss becomes painful and raw.  Thankfully, I can remember all of the wonderful things about my mother, like her complete dedication to our family and even smile at how completely organized and disciplined she was about everything she did.  My mother would have been an outstanding drill sergeant in the military.  I’ve written many times about my mother, so for today, I’ll stick to some interesting links I’ve found pertaining to commemorating WWI, which got a lot of media attention this year, with it being the WWI  Centennial Commemoration and also a few other military related links.

The Army Center of Military History put out some fairly short videos (under 15 minutes) on the history of WWI, with a lot of actual photos and film footage:

The UK National Archives has a large collection of war letters, where you can see the actual letter and the text is also provided, so you don’t have to struggle to decipher handwriting. Here’s the link for the WWI collection: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/letters-first-world-war-1915/

Nick Gillespie, at Reason wrote, a short piece worth a read:

Instead of Making Today About Trump, Let’s Remember the Dead of World War I

Gillespie’s piece has a link to Rudyard Kipling’s poems, Epitaphs of the War, which speak to the horrors and massive losses of WWI.

At Military.com, Service to This Country: A Lifetime Oath, written by a former Marine Corps veteran, Sean Mclain Brown, struck me as a very personal and heartfelt Veterans Day message, with advice we can all take to heart. Brown writes:

“Marine Corps combat veteran and CEO of Team Rubicon Jake Wood once told me that civilians “don’t understand the culture and daily sacrifices that veterans make” and that it’s our responsibility to help “educate them by sharing our stories.” I agree. We need to move beyond the casual “thank you for your service” and move toward “can you tell me about your service?” to help bridge that gap between the military and civilian worlds.”

And last, at the end of November, last year, I wrote a blog post, “A few leaves of grass” for remembrance, which came to mind thinking about WWI today.  Here’s part of that post:

I keep War Letters:  Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars, edited by Andrew Carroll, on a small table by my recliner.  A few years ago, I mentioned General Pershing’s famous WWI letter to his young son, Warren, which I came across in this book.   General Pershing’s letter to his son was a father explaining the important values Americans fights to protect and preserve.  It’s probably my favorite letter in the book, but a close second is a letter written in 1918,  by Maude B. Fisher, an American Red Cross nurse.  She penned one of the most touching letters to Mrs. Hogan, the mother of a young soldier, Richard Hogan, who died of influenza in their hospital.  This wonderful nurse took the time to pen a very personal letter, so that a grieving mother would know how her son died.  The letter includes details of how brave and cheerful the dying soldier was, the care he received, and even more than that this nurse wrote the details of the soldier’s burial:

“He was laid to rest in the little cemetery of Commercy, and sleeps under a simple wooden cross among his comrades who, like him, have died for their country.  His grave number is 22, plot 1.  His aluminum identification tag is on the cross , and a similar one around his neck, both bearing his serial number, 2793346.

The plot of the grave in the cemetery where your son is buried was given to the Army for our boys and the people of Commercy will always tend it with loving hands and keep it fresh and clean.  I enclose here a few leaves of grass that grows near in a pretty meadow.

A big hill overshadows that place and the sun was setting behind it just as the Chaplain said the last prayer over your boy.”

page 171, War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars, edited by Andrew Carroll

No one required this nurse to write to this grieving mother, because the Army notified fallen soldiers’ families, but she cared enough to want this mother to have more details.  The book offers a few details about each letter.  Mrs. Hogan lost two of her other children back home in Woburn, Massachusetts, during the 1918 influenza epidemic.  It must have been a great comfort for her to know her son far away was dutifully cared for as he lay dying and that he was given a proper burial.  And imagine her relief knowing exactly where her son was buried.

Thoughtful good deeds, like Maude Fisher’s, used to be very common when most people were reared to put other people before themselves and when quietly doing the right thing was drilled into children and served as the cultural norm

And with that I’ll end this post and hopefully we can all say a prayer tonight for all our brave men and women serving all over the world and for hope to guide our country through these troubled times.

 

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Oh yay, Election Day is here…

Election Day has arrived.  My husband and I went and voted this morning.  There were only a few people at a time trickling in, no line and no wait.  Here in GA, Buddy Carter is my Congressman and I happily voted for him again, but since Trump, I don’t consider myself a Republican anymore and with my conservative views, I assuredly don’t fit in the Democratic Party.  I also don’t fit in the Libertarian Party or any other fringe political groups.  So, I guess I’m an Independent.

The GA race for governor has been one of the most contentious in the country and I left my ballot blank for governor,  just like I did in 2016 with the Hillary or Trump choice.  Stacey Abrams lost me completely the more she talked about her views.  She started off sounding more centrist, but as her campaign went on she moved to very progressive left positions.  Aside from her rise in GA politics, Abrams has several published romance novels, which won her some popularity points with me, of course, but still her progressive ideas sound like lots more government spending on lots more government programs.

Brian Kemp, the Republican candidate, well, he lost me with that first asinine campaign ad pointing a gun at his daughter’s date, plus the whole overplayed “Good ‘Ol Boy” schtick and on top of that he added jackass Trumpian wannabe antics.   He went from losing my vote to earning my ire with how he handled the Democratic concerns (read that as largely fear mongering effort) about voter suppression and then, with his call for FBI assistance to investigate the Democratic Party of GA.  Being on the ballot himself,  he obviously has a giant conflict of interest in any state voting issues in this election and he should have stepped down as Secretary of State or recused himself.  Definitely not rocket science here, that the ethical thing to do as Secretary of State of  GA would be step aside when you stand to gain or lose depending on the election in question. Instead, just like his idol, President Trump, he chose to feed his political enemies free ammo.

On predictions for the House and Senate, well, I have none, other than the sure bet that before the dust even settles on these midterms, both parties and the media will leap full throttle into 2020 hype and hysteria, all centered on President Donald J. Trump.  He now lives rent free in just about every politico’s head.  No matter what the issue, somehow Trump will be a factor.

Oh, and one more midterm prediction.  Hillary will be back in full force making her presence felt among 2020 Democrat hopefuls. Unlike so many others, who have written her off, I believe she will fight tooth and nail to be the Democratic nominee in 2020.  Truthfully, that’s not much of a prediction, since she already signaled this with the upcoming Bill and Hill cross-country speaking tour and in a recent interview she clearly stated that she wants to be president.

We will remain stuck in the 2016 scorched earth spin war for the foreseeable future.

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