Living in Society Writing

It’s Not Really Winter

Roasted Root Vegetables: potatoes, rutabaga, turnips and carrots.

On Wednesday morning the ambient temperature is in the teens. By tomorrow at this time it will be in the mid-forties. I’m looking forward to a week of freezing temperatures so I can get tree pruning done.

Not yet.

What gripes me is there is limited work to do outside yet it feels like I should be spending more time there. Instead I write, cook, read, and do chores. It’s a winter life without the winter part of it.

I spent time Tuesday night following events in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic of Iran retaliated for the U.S. assassination of Qasem Soleimani by firing a 15 or so missiles in two volleys into Iraq where U.S. forces were staying. After the launches an Iranian government spokesman said they were done unless the U.S. retaliated with additional military action. They threatened to destroy the Israeli city of Haifa as well as Dubai where thousands of U.S. troops are stationed if we retaliated. It appears the president and his key leadership team stood down after the two volleys and neither Iraqis, U.S. troops, nor coalition forces suffered any casualties. Unrelated to the missile attack, a Ukrainian airliner crashed in Tehran last night killing all 176 people on board.

The Middle East action is a distraction from the president’s Dec. 18 impeachment. Senate Majority Leader McConnell announced yesterday he would proceed with the constitutionally mandated impeachment trail without an agreement to call witnesses. At present he has the votes to support his position although that could change.

Donald Trump is the 13th president in my lifetime and I don’t recall any predecessor who appeared so disorganized and superficial in their approach to international affairs. The conventional wisdom is he won’t be impeached, despite clear evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, because his supporters in the U.S. Senate hold the majority. Based on everything we know, the two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, are rightly promulgated. I was surprised other articles were not drafted, particularly one related to the emoluments clause of the constitution. My position is the president is as guilty as hell of the two articles of impeachment and I would like to see him removed from office even though from a policy standpoint, Vice President Pence could be a worse president.

The Republican Party has become the party of Trump and that’s not good for regular people like us. The corruption from money in politics has become overwhelming and it’s hard to see an end to it. Moneyed interests have a well-developed infrastructure to support what they want to achieve. Democrats have no equivalent response to it. If we can’t slow their progress by winning the presidency in November, it will be generations before a progressive agenda can be advanced.

What stood out to me over the weekend is about 100 people gathered in the county seat to protest the U.S. slaying of Soleimani. At the same time, that number and half again gathered for a nearby event with author Marianne Williamson who laid off her presidential campaign staff a few days previously. That tells me the populace is not engaged in the Middle East or in Trump’s incompetence.

Alice Walker wrote, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” In a scenario like yesterday, where Iranians seem like reasonable people, it seems like we’ve given the president a blank check to have his way with the Middle East. I’d feel better about that if there was any shred of evidence he or his staff knew what they are doing.

It’s winter in America, but not really. Without it it’s an open question whether we will make it until spring with necessary chores completed. We will do the best we can.