#amreading: HIS FINAL BATTLE, THE LAST MONTHS OF FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, by Joseph Lelyveld

Skimmed the last 50 or so pages of Submission. Fascinating, densely written. After the President of France is elected, there’s endless amounts of conjecture about Sharia Law. The last paragraph of the novel was brilliant.

And then she began the next book on her reading list, His Final Battle: The Last Months of Franklin Roosevelt. Self loves World War II history books.  A really good World War II history book can light up her life in a myriad ways. This one had her completely hooked, from page 1.

Self doesn’t know why, but she was completely ready for this book. Against the panoply of war is a sick man who just happens to be the President of the United States. The curtain came “down abruptly” on Franklin Roosevelt in the twelfth week of his fourth term, “on a balmy April afternoon in Warm Springs, Georgia.”

Roosevelt’s fourth term was “the third shortest presidential term” in U.S. history. Shortest was William Henry Harrison’s 32 days, and then the six weeks of Abraham Lincoln’s second term. Roosevelt was, to borrow a term from author Joseph Lelyveld, “plaintive” in his last months.

p. 12:

Mortality is the ultimate reason for feeling plaintive. In our waning hours, we get on with our tasks. Roosevelt was racing, as we all are, against time. If we want to take him in his full measure, we need to see him in his full context, in the round, not just as a dying man in what we may glibly call “denial,” but as an actor playing out his role, simply because he found no alternative; in that sense, a man touched by the heroic. Of all his responsibilities as the war headed into its climactic last year, calculating the date of his own terminus was not necessarily, in that clamorous time, the most pressing.

In other words, people, it’s not always about you. What a contrast to 45, who manages to make even hurricanes seem like personal affronts. 45 addressing the people of Puerto Rico: “Personally, I’m having a horrible day.” Not sure if he said this before or after he threw Brawny paper towels at a roomful of people. Self still doesn’t understand the significance of throwing paper towels to people who are recovering from what @RealRBHJr calls “Big Water”. (A joke, maybe?)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still Reading: SUBMISSION, p. 161

Context: France is undergoing deep and rapid change. For one, the newly elected president is Muslim.

Been a long time since self has read a political novel.

Maybe it was too soon to give up after all — witness these two girls, and my father’s surprising late-life transformation. And maybe, if I kept seeing Rachida on a regular basis, we’d end up having feelings for each other. At least, there was no reason to absolutely rule it out.

  • — p. 161, Submission, by Michel Houellebecq, translated from the French by Lorin Stein

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: San Francisco Chronicle, 17 August 2017

After the deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, people have taken to social media to identify or “dox” the participants in order to shame them. The criticism doesn’t just land at the feet of participants, but often extends to their employers, leading to lost jobs over the exposure. Some people see this practice as violating one’s freedom of speech. Yes, this country is based on freedom of speech, but not freedom of consequences. It’s not a slippery slope. People are marching to intimidate and oppress other Americans.

There’s a real difference between disagreeing over politics and hate speech. No one is obligated to walk on eggshells for those who call for oppression. If you’re concerned with privacy, don’t show up to a public protest spouting racism — and then be surprised if people want to identify you.

— Spencer Whitney, Assistant Editor, San Francisco Chronicle

#amreading: THE FALL OF THE OTTOMANS, by Eugene Rogan

Rogan’s The Fall of the Ottomans is the first history/nonfiction self has been able to get into since May.

She’s on Chapter Five: Launching Jihad, p. 102

The Jihad does not come from the source you’d expect: It is December 8, 1914. Turkey’s Minister of War is a politician named Enver Pasha.

Rogen’s description of Enver:

Enver, an impetuous man, had made his career through bold, high-risk initiatives. A historic leader of the 1908 revolution, an architect of the 1911 Ottoman-led jihad in Libya, leader of the 1913 raid on the Sublime Porte who forced the prime minister to resign at gunpoint, and “liberator of Edirne” in the Second Balkan War, Enver believed in taking action and had little doubt in his own judgment and abilities.

Here’s a list of the other history self has read thus far in 2017:

  • Montcalm and Wolfe: The Decline and Fall of the French Empire in North America
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • SPQR
  • Rubicon
  • The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

The Wall: Pro and Con from Ground Zero

The excerpts are from an article by Jenny Jarvie and Brian Bennett in the Los Angeles Times, 18 July 2017, about the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where preparation for construction of the border wall has begun. The area, about 10 miles southeast of McAllen, is also the site of a 2,088-acre refuge created in 1943 “for the protection of migratory birds”:

  • “The Rio Grande Valley has been an area of exploitation by smugglers, and an area lacking in border infrastructure,” Carlos Diaz, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, wrote in an email. “These miles will help connect existing segments of wall throughout the area and fill critical gaps.”
  • “This is insane,” said Scott Nicol, co-chairman of the Sierra Club’s Borderlands Team. “This is the crown jewel of the Rio Grande Valley wildlife refuge system, with one of the highest rates of biodiversity in the U.S. If it’s walled off, with no public access, it will be left to rot.”

According to the LA Times, “the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is under contract with Michael Baker International, a global engineering firm, to gather geotechnical data at sites in the Rio Grande Valley and other locations along the Southwest border, according to Jenny Burke, a spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Also Reading: Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, 8 May 2017

Many scholars believe that the most plausible bases for a Trump impeachment are corruption and abuse of power. Noah Feldman, a Harvard Law School professor who specializes in constitutional studies, argues that, even without evidence of an indictable crime, the Administration’s pattern of seemingly trivial uses of public office for private gain “can add up to an impeachable offense.” Last week, after the State Department took down an official Web page that showcased Trump’s private, for-profit club, Mar-a-Lago, Feldman told me, “A systematic pattern shown through data points would count as grounds for impeachment.”

And self is nowhere near the end of this article. It’s taken her days just to get this far.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading Evan Osnos’s New Yorker Article, “Endgame: What would it take to cut short Trump’s Presidency?”

Self hopes dear blog readers appreciate that she is giving up precious time she could have spent writing her most kick-ass story to date (pagophilics, a Captain, a woman, an alien invasion launched from the Bering Sea) to continue reading the Evan Osnos article (in the 8 May 2017 issue of The New Yorker):

Trump has embraced strategies that normally boost popularity, such as military action. In April, some pundits were quick to applaud him for launching a cruise-missile attack on a Syrian airbase, and for threatening to attack North Korea. In interviews, Trump marvelled at the forces at his disposal, like a man wandering into undiscovered rooms of his house. (“It’s so incredible. It’s brilliant.”)

and:

The White House recently stopped releasing visitors’ logs, limiting the public’s ability to know who is meeting with the President and his staff.

This is indeed a very enthralling piece, dear blog readers. Self can’t wait to read how it ends.

Stay tuned.

#amreading: “Endgames” by Evan Osnos (The New Yorker, 8 May 2017)

  • By this point in George W. Bush’s term, Bush had travelled to twenty-three states and a foreign country. Trump has visited just nine states and has never stayed the night. He inhabits a closed world that one adviser recently described as ‘Fortress Trump.’

Turnout: England, 8 June 2017

The “youthquake” was a key component of Corbyn’s 10-point advance in Labour’s share of the vote — exceeding even Tony Blair’s nine-pont gain in his first 1997 landslide. No official data exists for the scale of this but an NME-led exit poll suggests turnout among under-35s rose by 12 points to 56% compared with 2015. The survey said nearly two-thirds of younger voters backed Labour, with Brexit their main concern.

— Alan Travis, The Guardian, Saturday, 10 June 2017

Betsy DeVos, Have a Breakdown

Because, at this point, I do question your mental health.

Smiley face when confronted by angry Black students.

Absolutely the right response. Absolutely.

How dare you, woman have you no shame. Race issues obviously mean nothing to you. Nothing.

Then if you can’t understand, be afraid.

Afraid of your own poor judgment.

So I look at the video again. There you are: Keep on smiling! Adjust those podium mikes! Look helplessly at the Black University President by your side! (A completely idiotic and inappropriate response, let me tell ya: “Help me! I’m a vulnerable white woman! In a sea of angry Blacks!” Thus prompting racists of all stripes, those in plain view as well as those merely lurking, to go: “Look at what those people are doing to this poor, helpless white lady!” I wish never to see another such performance in my lifetime)

Betsy, you are doing so much damage to education, every day that you continue in your position. Because you’re just sleepwalking. You know it, the President knows it, the GOP knows it.

To the graduating class of Bethune-Cookman: I salute you. You will go on to do great things.

Link.

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