Longing for Normalcy

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Today is lovely. Two zebra butterflies flit in air, looking for the Lantana. Anoles of all sizes crouch, race, square-off, crisscross my path. The air is warm, not muggy. Sun shines. My coffee is perfect. The cat lets me holds her heavy, thick-furred self – for 30 seconds. I have no worries. I wonder: is tomorrow recycle day or next week? I want to write poetry.

And then.

I log-in.

The world is a shit basket. The president is a dangerous fool. A hydrogen bomb detonated. Houston is flooded. Fires ravage southern California. In Jamaica, a gay athlete is murdered in his home.

On and on it goes, has gone. For two years now, I’ve been in the fight of my life. That’s how it feels. And in some reality, this is truth. These words – kleptocracy, active measures, fascism, authoritarianism, collusion, treason – frame my consciousness. They invade my privacy. There is no solace, no escape, no hiatus.

I long for the small things. I want to celebrate the morning bloom of plumbago, gripe about the traffic jam, find joy in simple milestones, mourn inevitability. Instead my mind is flooded with the direst of human suffering, the most extreme worry. This is an assault on all of us, on what makes us functional, empathetic, intelligent, far-sighted humans.

This should not be an endurance test. Our everyday lives should not be immersed in such anger and horror. We should not have to shout “Resist!” and utter obscenities and wish for the death of a certain person. This is our topsy-turvy world. This is our mess.

 

 

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Three Missiles and a Pardon: Timing Is Everything

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. PHOTO CREDIT: Korean Central News Agency, via Reuters

While most pundits pursue the theory that Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio is a deviously-timed event under cover of a major hurricane, there is a another reason for the timing of his Executive action.

Hours before Trump issued his pardon news broke that the North Korean regime had launched three missiles into the Sea of Japan. Reports varied on the range and the success of the projectiles.

However, what is definitive is the complete silence of Trump, who had raised the spectre of “fire and fury” raining down on North Korea should it dare to issue a threat or launch a missile. That ultimatum was less than a month ago.

Immediately after the latest launch, Yonhap, a South Korean news agency, said it may have included a ballistic missile.

Reports from South Korea’s military command identified them as short-range missiles and said that the “first and third missiles flew 150 miles before falling into the sea.” They also reported that the “second missile appears to have blown up almost immediately.”

The U.S. Pacific Command originally reported that two of the missiles blew up immediately. It later changed its version to match the one released by South Korea.

Meanwhile the North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) determined the missiles “did not pose a threat to North America.”

The terse statement from NORAD lessens the fear of a hit on the mainland. What it does not convey is the fact that those three missiles were entirely capable of reaching into South Korea where U.S. troops are stationed. So, even though the missiles did not pose a threat to North America or Guam or our ally, Japan, they certainly had the range to strike our military bases and South Korea.

According to a NY Times article, their range of 155 miles “would be far enough to reach major South Korean and American military bases, including those near the city of Pyeongtaek, about 60 miles south of Seoul.”

In other words, these missiles posed a credible threat to United States military forces.

As this news was coming out, Trump was boarding a helicopter for Camp David on yet another vacation with his spouse, youngest son and two grand kids. Just three days before at a fractious rally in Phoenix, he boasted that Kim Jong-un, the autocratic leader of the small nation, was “starting to respect us,” adding that perhaps his threat of fire and fury was not “strong enough.”

“And you see what’s going on in North Korea,” Trump said. “All of a sudden, I don’t know, who knows, but I can tell you, what I said, that’s not strong enough. Some people said it was too strong. It’s not strong enough.”

Trump’s impression that his fiery rhetoric gained him the respect of Kim Jong-un is not reciprocal. KNCA, the mouthpiece of Jong-un, demolished that with a personalized assault hours later. Trump’s Twitter posts, it wrote, are “weird articles of his ego-driven thoughts” and “spouts rubbish to make his assistants have a hard time.”

To punctuate that total lack of respect, Kim Jong-un released his three missiles.

In normal times, the aggression from North Korea is expected as a response to the U.S.-South Korean military drills now taking place. These are not normal times. We in the United States have a commander-in-chief who cannot resist boasting of his prowess – in any  shape and form – and whose official acts are determined by a policy of saving face and revenge.

This drive to beam in the spotlight and defuse any criticism is likely why Trump pardoned Arpaio when he did – after news broke of the missile launch. He needed to avert what would be front page, breaking news. Without the Arpaio pardon to steal the headlines, Americans would be glued to the destruction in Texas and the potential danger coming from Pyongyang. Even more upsetting for this president, the coverage would carry the full frontal ridicule and disrespect by Kim Jong-un.

In these most abnormal of times, Americans are faced with the president’s abhorrent pardon of a racist or his start of a catastrophic nuclear war. More importantly, what future measures will this egocentric man take to preserve his inflated persona? What happens when there is no Joe Arpaio? How will he strike out then? Who will he sacrifice?

 

Dear MSM: The Teachable Moment Is Now

Many years ago in another lifetime, I worked for a publishing house that produced national trade magazines. I was editor of one and wrote content for two others in the family. Because these were marketed to retailers in the gift industry, advertising and promotions were a Big Deal. So Big that most of the content of these periodicals were shaped around major holidays and events.

The publisher and I would sit down and work out the editorial calendar for the upcoming year. At first, we prepared ads and content about two months in advance. So for example, Mother’s Day promotions started in March; Halloween in August. This gave our readers plenty of time to check out our advertisers, read our articles, get excited and buy stock for the holiday-to-come.

As each year advanced (I was with them for three), the time frame for promotions grew more extended. So it was that in my final year, I was writing copy, handling new products and coordinating photo shoots a good four months prior to a holiday.

Our magazines performed a service to these retailers. Many were Mom and Pop shops competing against giants like Wal-Mart. We did the footwork; telling them what toys the kids envied, which colors were passé, how to market on a shoestring. Of course, the bottom line was profit – for all of us – the publishing house, its retail base and its advertisers. It was a Win-Win-Win.

When I listen to mainstream media today, I think about this advanced scheduling. Only I call it an Early Warning. Continue reading

Bad Habits and Strange Bedfellows

At least once a month, I sink into the pillows of my rattan sofa, fixated on the flicker of the TV and drop off into an abbreviated sleep. It’s unintentional, though by now, I should know better. I awake several hours later, groggy and groaning, my neck akimbo, those  pinched nerves clenching my back, and slowly pull myself forward. There’s a voice pouring through as I dig myself out of this makeshift bed – mellifluous and steady. It’s a few body lengths away, filling the TV screen. The preacher brings me back to consciousness. Continue reading