The Gremlins Are Really After Me…

 

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Esper: US Continues to deploy. Image courtesy of centcom.mil.

Earlier, you received a post from me titled “An Update on My Lost R-A-N-T, Plus Some Positive Stuff.” But all that was shown was the photo above.  (Two of you even liked it; that was very generous!)

Here’s what happened: After losing my post last week, I followed the instructions from the WP Happiness Engineer (HE, for short, which is gender-neutral).

I saved the post that was supposed to appear this morning under the above title in my Administrator, so there would be a history, HE said. I then moved it to Publish and scheduled the publication for 10:45 AM today.

But I decided to add the photo you saw there–and above–in the morning. Once I’d done that, all my text and images disappeared, just as they had last week.

They’re not in the Administrator file either. I sent out another SOS to the HEs and cancelled the publication altogether–to save myself the embarrassment of an empty post appearing.

But the Gremlins are apparently merciless. Or perhaps the subject of my rant has reached into the inner recesses of WP? Nah, I won’t allow myself to dwell on a conspiracy theory. So I went back to work. I hope this post reaches you intact.

MY UPDATED R-A-N-T

My initial R-A-N-T was in response to the President’s actions. You’ve now probably read about those particulars in so many places that I see no need to repeat them.

I have a continuing struggle between my pursuit of lovingkindness and my reactions to current events. So I’m going to keep this R-A-N-T as brief as I can. (For me, this is brief…)

When Trump foolishly pulled the US out of the carefully crafted Iran nuclear deal—which by all accounts was working and during which no Americans were attacked—he set in motion events that now make us and many others much less safe. 

At this moment, the disastrous war that came close to erupting seems to have been averted because the Iranians—never known for their moderation—made it possible for the President to back away, at least temporarily.

But here are the things that trouble me the most:

*Iran is now a little more than two years away from making an atomic bomb, whereas we had a fifteen-year window under the peace accords.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who was instrumental in securing that treaty, said in an Op-Ed:

“The tragedy of our current plight is that diplomacy was succeeding before it was abandoned.”

I don’t see how we get Iran back to the table. 

*We will be forced out of Iraq under terms not our own, giving Iran free rein in the area and providing ISIS with an uncontested field in which to regroup.

*The President’s threats to destroy cultural sites in Iran, if carried out, would have been a war crime; even raising the issue makes us appear to the world on this point as comparable to the Taliban, ISIS, and al Qaeda, which have committed such acts in Afghanistan and Syria.

*The President’s claim during his press conference that the Iranian attack was paid for by money former President Obama “gave” them is a blatant lie.

The truth is that as part of the agreement to get Iran to sign onto the nuclear control pact, the US released Iranian assets we had been holding. It was Iran’s money—not ours.

*Most poignantly, there have long been signs that many of the Iranian people, who include a substantial educated middle class, are actually pro-American.

They have been suffering under Iran’s weak economy and harsh leadership, and there have been growing protests in the streets very recently.

But Trump’s actions have united the Iranians in a way that nothing else could. “Death to America” has replaced those hopeful signs.

And now we must demand that these questions be answered:

–Why was the decision to kill Qasem Suleimani made? Where is the proof of the claims of a plot that had to be disrupted with this assassination?

The Administration’s Congressional briefing was met with bipartisan outrage due to the confusion, lack of details, and unwillingness to answer questions.

–Who were the deciders?

There have been reports that both Secretary of State Pompeo and Vice President Pence had the President’s ear. (See John Cassidy’s New Yorker article.)

And both men have described their opposition to Iran with apparent religious zealotry, as this New Republic article describes.

–What does that tell us about the possible rationale for this decision?

If US foreign policy is being guided by people enacting their over-the-top religious convictions, is our fragile democracy even further endangered than it’s been by Trump’s disregard for law and belief that Article 2 of the Constitution allows him to do whatever he pleases?

— Why should we believe that Americans are safer as a result—as both the President and Secretary Pompeo have claimed?

–And how can our increasingly isolated country counter all the trouble spots that are sure to sprout up worldwide? 

*     *      *   *    *

Having finished my R-A-N-T,  I’m switching gears here because I’m determined to try to remain positive as the new year and new decade dawn, even as our surroundings have turned darker. So please accompany me as I discuss some really valuable forces for good that I’m involving myself in during this year.

WORLD WAR ZERO  (to combat Climate Change)

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Image courtesy of Conference of the Parties 2009-2017.stat.gov.

This is an ambitious effort by a bipartisan coalition of notables to bring the urgency of climate change to the fore and seek consensus and meaningful solutions as the clock keeps ticking.

Former Secretary of State/US Senator John Kerry has brought together more than 60 founding members, who include former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter (bless his heart—the man keeps going), former Republican Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Kasich, and from the “glitterati”: Leonardo diCaprio, Ashton Kutcher, and Sting, among others.

According to The New York Times,

“The name, World War Zero, is supposed to evoke both the national security threat posed by the earth’s warming and the type of wartime mobilization that Mr. Kerry argued would be needed to stop the rise in carbon emissions before 2050.”

The hope is that this diverse group will succeed in bringing along skeptics.

In the US, they plan to hold town meetings—including in the battleground states that are central to the 2020 election.

They’ll also go to military bases, where climate change isn’t often discussed, “and to economically depressed areas that members say could benefit from clean energy jobs.”

To draw people with diverse viewpoints, the group has declined to state a position about the various approaches that might be used.

Katie Elder, who founded The Future Coalition, a network for organizations led by young people that organized climate strikes in September, supports the Green New Deal. But, she says,

“While I may be disagreeing with some of the things that other folks involved in World War Zero believe, that doesn’t mean we can’t work together. Collaboration is our key to survival.”

ALL ON THE LINE (to end gerrymandering and ensure fair elections)

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Former Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama, image courtesy of obamawhitehouse.archives.gov.

Former President Barack Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder formed this group with a sense of urgency to make our electoral map align with our electorate. One person; one vote. Not too radical, right?

Here’s how they describe their efforts:

“We’re on a mission to end gerrymandering because it contributes to the polarization and dysfunction in our political system. It’s time to end map manipulation and finally have fair districts.”

“Whether you care about providing access to affordable health care, reducing the gun violence that plagues our schools and communities, protecting voting rights, achieving equal pay, or solving the urgent threat of climate change, there is a fundamental structural barrier that prevents progress: rigged electoral maps drawn with surgical precision by politicians to preserve their party’s political power and silence the will of the people.

The efforts are focused on key states where they feel they can make a difference: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Although the organization may sound partisan, it is devoted to ending gerrymandering wherever it exists.

And with the Census in 2020 leading to redistricting in 2021, when Census data is used to draw new congressional and state legislative district maps, they issue this clarion call: 

“The time to act is now. The next decade of our nation’s politics and progress is on the line and we need you on the front lines.”

APOPO (to save lives and limbs worldwide)

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HeroRAT rewarded. Commons.wikimedia.org

This organization is new to me, but it’s become dear to my heart. I’ve written about my late friend Peter, who expanded my vision in a number of ways. One of them was to appreciate the intelligence and value of rats.

Before Peter died in November, he had asked that donations be made in his memory to Apopo.org. I was very pleased to do so, especially after perusing their website.

Apopos are African giant pouched rats that are trained to detect buried landmines. These potential killer detritus of wars exist in 60 countries.

Landmines not only kill or maim civilians—47% of them children in 2017—they also interfere with the development of fertile land in vulnerable communities.

It takes nine months to train a rat, which wears a little harness as it goes sniffing into the fields. The rats are too light to set off the landmines, but they are able to discern what is a land mine and what is nonexplosive metal—and they can do so faster than metal detectors.

These rats are also trained to detect tuberculosis that has gone undiagnosed, thereby facilitating treatment and saving lives in yet another way. That’s why they’re called HeroRATS.

The website is inspiring and poignant. I had to stop myself from spending so much time gazing at the photos and reading the stories.

These three organizations are new ways to help me feel empowered to do a little good amid the gloom of our political scene and heightened international tensions. (They are in addition to political involvement and other organizations I’ve long supported.)

What are your views about any of the above? Anything you’d like to note about how you are navigating this new decade, with its dangers and possibilities?

Annie

29 thoughts on “The Gremlins Are Really After Me…

  1. Glad to see your rant printed. It is indeed a scary situation with trump and the people who constantly cover for him and those who push him into dangerous territory, with their extremist dangerous religious views

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Mary. Thanks for following me beyond my empty file! And a belated thank you for following me in general. I wanted to write you a note, but I didn’t get an email address when WP informed me you’d signed on. I’m very pleased to have you with me and look forward to your comments.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi, Annie! Thank you for your persistence, for your well-informed rant, and for including some upbeat news at the end of your blog post. I had heard about these smart and well-trained rats regarding land mines but not their work detecting TB. So many different and fascinating ways that we different forms of life are woven together here on planet earth!! I am attending a birthday party tonight and — instead of actual presents — the birthday woman has invited her guests to donate to the political campaigns of three people: Jaime Harrison, running to unseat Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, Amy McGrath, running to unseat Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, and Sara Gideon, running to unseat Susan Collins in Maine. So I am now making modest monthly donations to their campaigns in honor of my friend and her birthday. Let’s all keep taking steps and making ripples and sharing blog posts which might inspire and educate and comfort others in 2020… and beyond!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s a terrific idea your friend has, and good for you for your follow through! I’ve been making small individual contributions to the impressive members of Congress who were elected in Trumpland; they’re really under fire. I’ll get to those Senate candidates too. I heard Jaime Harrison interviewed, and he was very impressive.
      I really appreciate your sentiments: steps, ripples, sharing posts to inspire and educate and comfort…I’m with you–and your posts certainly have that effect on me!

      Like

  3. Oh no, how frustrating – technology eh, can’t live without it but it certainly makes things damn annoying sometimes! So all of the text seems to have totally gone, just after adding an image?
    As for the rant, I think you’ve made some excellent points. “But Trump’s actions have united the Iranians in a way that nothing else could” – it’s being united in a common enemy that can make nations stronger, coming together to form allegiances because two are more powerful than one. But Trump will forever think America is stronger than ten combined, and therein may lie his defeat. When their country gets the US poking around, of course they aren’t going to be happy with it. When they take out one of their people, they’re going to be irate. It’ll be tit for tat on increasingly bigger scales. It’s beyond worrying. What about negotiators, pointing out how this isn’t in anyones best interests? Hopefully sense and compassion will win out before it’s too late.
    Caz xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How good to hear from you! We just have to hope that the scary specter of a large war will make some Republicans see the light and hold him accountable— and that enough voters will realize how dangerous he is so he isn’t re-elected. I heard there was one Swiss intermediary source that may have tamped down the imminent conflagration.
      I saw you responded to my initial nearly naked post, which has now been banished to the land of tech-we-never-want-to-happen-again. Thanks for doing double-duty responses!
      Take good care. I think of you often.
      Annie xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I got your picture and your rant, so that’s good. As to your rant, all I can say is yes, I feel it to, same as you. The good news for me, though, is that I’m so focused on everything I have to do before, during, and after my move in early February, that I haven’t had time to keep up with Trump’s lunacy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lucky you! In this post, I tried to give balance by adding three very worthwhile organizations—all, I might add—necessary to address manmade problems.

      I have a wonderful photo of a HeroRAT that in my haste, I failed to add yesterday. He/she’s there now, if you’d like to take a look.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the rant and the hopeful examples at the end. Those sound like really promising ideas. Do yoiu follow Jill Dennison’s blog, Filosofa’s Word? She’s uniting with another anti-Trump blogger to explore ways of ensuring the right (ie left!) result on November 3rd.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do follow Brookingslib, and I saw their joint piece, but I’ve been so busy untangling my techie issues that I haven’t gotten to it yet. But thanks: it’s on my list.
      In my haste, I failed to add my HeroRAT photo to my post. Worth a look, if you have time.

      Like

  6. I realize we are not going to agree about the beginning part of your rant, and I will acknowledge an uneasiness with the turn of events, but . . . . I am amazed at the unwillingness by many to acknowledge the extent of the terror this guy had unleashed in many parts of the world over many years. The Iranian government has been backing a wide variety of terrorist groups who have conducted activity in many countries both in the middle east and in other parts of the world. Suleimani was at the center of it, and was ruthlessly efficient at what he did. As the antithesis of the peace and justice that so many of us wish to see, I would have expected a less black and white analysis from the press and talking heads at large. Iran (or more accurately, it’s government) seems to me to have been living the life of an outlaw state that has not been about live and let live, but has been out to destroy those who disagree with their views.

    The Iranian People vs. The Iranian Government has come into focus after the government shot down a civilian aircraft and then actively lied and did its best coverup for days. I do not love shows of force or military confrontations, but the hard reality is that rogue regimes must sometimes be spoken to in the only language they understand. Barack Obama understood this, as evidenced by the many drone strikes he authorized. Anyway, I have a hard time seeing how things calm down in the middle east until Iran stops inserting itself into the affairs of the many countries in the region.

    On the redistricting thing, I would take Eric Holder more seriously if he was also focusing on California, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and the host of states where the gerrymandering is colored blue instead of red. Redistricting is inherently political and different parts of the country represent different views. I have a hard time seeing how pols in places like Massachusetts or Indiana are any different from one another. And it’s not like these are permanent conditions. Thirty years ago California was electing Republicans and Texas was electing Democrats. In another thirty years generations, populations, political parties and the makeup of states will have changed in ways we cannot predict. Redistricting will happen, there will be court challenges, and everything will shake out – even without Eric Holder.

    On a positive note, I had not been aware of the rats. This is something amazing that should be more widely known. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I certainly agree that Iran generally and Suleimani specifically have been responsible for terrible havoc in many regions. Part of the Obama nuclear plan was based on the belief that once the nuclear threat was removed—or at least postponed for 15 years—we would be in a better situation to deal with these other horrific Iranian actions.
      But Suleimani was a general in Iran: do we really want to encourage assassinations of other governments’ officials? And there were reasons why both the Bush and Obama administrations declined to “take him out”: they were concerned about the potential ramifications elsewhere. (I had serious concerns about Obama’s drone policy too, but that’s a separate issue.) To me, the most frightening thing is that the administration’s actions seemed so impulsive and without any thought of “then what?” (other than the regime change that both Pompeo and Pence want, which would surely lead to wider war).
      And then there’s the 2011 video of Trump saying that Obama will surely strike Iran to help his re-election…hmmmm.
      I understand your criticism of Holder, but I have heard him speak of efforts in blue states as well.
      I hope you read the version of my post that contains a photo of an Apopo. In my haste to redo the corrupt file yesterday, I unintentionally omitted my favorite image. I think it’s worth a second look.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi JP. I read your thoughts with some interest. In your first paragraph you talk about many people not willing to acknowledge that Suleimani was a very bad guy. Now this was a talking point of the administration. Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the UN and president wannabe even said, on Fox , that the Dems were “mourning” his death. Yes, she said that. However, I can find no Dem politician saying anything other than he was a bad guy. I did a few google searches. That kind of false narrative is exactly what makes the Trump administration so dangerous. They simply lie. There are, of course, reasons why you do not assassinate your enemies without legitimate cause. And IF there was an “imminent plot” to kill Americans (which I think is happening every day) AND assassinating one person would end those plats, then you may have a case. But now we know there was no imminent threat (at least that is what Sec of Defense Esper said, and he should know) we have to wonder what the motivation was. Impeachment? Deflection? After all, does anyone seriously think that killing this one man, adored as he is in Iran, is going to DEFUSE any violent propensities? I mean, if the Iranians had murdered Pence , who is equivalent , would US citizens say. “Oh my. I guess we better not attack Iran any longer?”

      Regarding your second paragraph. Yes, an Iranian shot down a commercial airliner by mistake. I wonder why? How many airliners have they shot down recently? Since Iran was expecting a US attack evidently some guy on the ground panicked and shot down the plane. A plane that would not have been shot down had the US not assassinated Suleimani. Nevertheless, the Iranians did admit they did it. Which is actually MORE honesty than we get from the Trump administration. and Putin still denies shooting down the Ukrainian plane a few years ago. And the US government still has filed to acknowledge that the supposed WMDs of Saddam were manufactured only in the imagination of Dick Cheney. Etc. I, for one, was surprised that the dictatorship actually admitted wrongdoing. Rare. And, as usual, civilians paid more these mistakes .

      Regarding gerrymandering it seems every state does this. But some states make an attempt, by using bipartisan committees , to at least try to be fair. When there are concentrations of voters of one political party what might look like gerrymandering is actually just how the vote tends to fall. But in a few cases the results are so obvious out of whack that you can see something is amiss. If you look at the data in North Carolina, as an example, it is astounding. In 2018 the GOP got 50.4% of the vote, the Dems got 48.4% of the vote in Congressional races. So, the state is pretty evenly split. But, due to gerrymandering, the GOP got 9 seats and the Dems got 3, with one election thrown out due to GOP blatant cheating (District 9). By contrast in NY the Dems won 21 of 27 seats, but they won the statewide vote 63-27%, not even close. (6 seats were not contested by the GOP). Some gerrymandering? Yes, but not as blatant as NC. What I found unfortunate is that the SCOTUS held that gerrymandering was not unconstitutional which means we can expect more of it in the future. I know that here in NY it will be a big issue as we are sure to lose some seats in congress based on the next census. Should the Dems (who will be in power in the state) try to make fair districts? Or should they do what NC has done and go to a super gerrymandering effort? We shall see.

      Like

      1. I appreciate your comment, but would take issue with your comparison of Suleimani and Pence as comparables. I don’t see that – unless Pence is the guy leading U.S. proxy wars in multiple countries, brutally putting down civilian protests and leading the military and paramilitary forces in all these places. Suleimani and Iran are an interesting example of the combination of legitimate government and terrorist organization. If the guy had been acting like a normal general or a normal government figure, I would agree with you. But if you are going to act like a terrorist and wage an undeclared war, you have to be prepared to answer for that. I am not wholly comfortable with how things went down, but also recall how Reagan successfully defanged Gadafi (sp?) in Libya who had been doing the same thing. And I would be less inclined to think this opposition is mostly political if the bulk of the Democrats had been more vocal when the Obama administration was breaking drone-strike records.

        Like

  7. Two things regarding the timing of the events occurred to me, because the situation in Iran has been simmering for a long time. I wondered if Trump, ie the Drama King, decided it would make a nice distraction. Why strike now, or would a crisis deflect people from the impeachment issue. Would anyone impeach a president when the country was under threat of war? Based on his previous patterns of narcissistic behavior I wouldn’t rule this out.

    And secondly, the timing of the Iranian government backing down and allowing them a way out. Of course they don’t want a war with the more powerful US, but I wonder if the airplane crash perhaps was a deciding factor in that decision. The Iranian people may have been unhappy about the killing of their hero, but they also weren’t happy about the downed airplane with so many people of Iranian descent on board. The government might not want to risk fueling those protests with more lost lives. Maybe they just decided to wait and see how the impeachment plays out. Sadly, it’s rather like a chess game.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There’s been lots of discussion about whether trump did this as a distraction. That would be inconceivable if it weren’t trump. A video from 2011—replayed numerous times on TV here—shows him saying he expects Obama to attack Iran to ensure his re-election. As we have seen this president accuse others of precisely what he’s doing, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to think impeachment was at least part of his motivation.

      But the airplane downing occurred after trump had given his “all is well” tweet. I do think this was a terrible accident on the Iranians’ part in the fog of war. Many people here blame trump for that too because if he hadn’t killed Suleimani, there probably wouldn’t have been missiles flying. Could well be, but the Iranians have wreaked havoc before and surely will again.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. True but as you said, it is unlike Iran to be moderate, and many were surprised by their apology regarding the plane, instead of the expected denial. The worst may have blown over by then, but it may have toned them down a bit more. Revenge may well come later.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t doubt we’ll hear more from the Iranians, but the apology could well have had a domestic aspect, as the Iranian people are infuriated that the first response about the plane was a lie.

    Like

  9. Hello, Annie! Glad to see you back in print and kudos to you for working through the issues. Was glad to read your remarks as I always learn so much. I had not known much about World War Zero, and while I knew some things about those Hero Rats, I had no idea they detected disease. Bravo for the little fellas. It gives me pause to consider how interconnected we are on this planet. That’s a relief as much as a responsibility. As for Trump, where to begin? I share your concerns — very worrying, indeed — and appreciate the bits of positive things you are able to work into your discussion of this sad state of affairs. I appreciate as well the dialogue that your careful pieces encourage. Your readers are thoughtful and I learn from them too. So good for you, Annie, and keep up the great work. I appreciate it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We learn from each other, dear Denise, and I am grateful that you are one of my most consistent and loyal respondents. Your comments always enrich our discussions. So the appreciation goes in both directions!

      Like

  10. Wow, there’s a lot to digest there. The continued existence of partisan gerrymandering certainly is perplexing, since we Canadians mostly licked that one in 1964 by handing the responsibility to an arms length non partisan agency. Each side seems to enjoy pointing out that the other side does it elsewhere, but that doesn’t make it okay and you would think that decent people everywhere would speak up and say this is wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

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