Faux News: Inside Story Behind the Syrian Bombing

President Trump is boasting that the strategic bombing in Syria last week represents one of the greatest military accomplishments of all time. But Faux News has learned that the decision to bomb Syria came very close to  not happening at all. Here is the story as secretly recorded by our faithful reporter disguised as janitor cleaning the War Room:

Trump: Okay, let’s get started. What we are here to do today is to start a war. We have got to do something: Stormy is going crazy. The Lying, Slimeball Comey’s book is coming out. The press is trying to track down my love child. Seems like every day some new, lying slut files a law suit against me. Approval ratings are down. We have got to change the subject.

Pence: A war? I thought we had already decided to invade Canada and take it over.

Trump: You are right, Pence. That was your idea, and at the time I thought it had merit.

Pence: Thank you, Mr. President, for saying that. Thank you very much.

Trump: But I have changed my mind. It actually was a dumb idea, and Pence, you are an idiot.

Pence: You are right, Mr. President, it was a bad idea, and I ask your forgiveness for even suggesting it.

Trump: I have decided that the country we will bomb to smithereens is Panama.

Pence:  That is a terrific idea! You are a genius, Mr. President.

Trump: Shut up, Pence.

Pence: Forgive me, sir.

Mattis:  Excuse me, Mr. President. Did you say Panama?

Trump: Yes. Panama. Do have any idea what is going on there and why we have to act now? The no good partner we had for our hotel there has changed the name of the hotel from Trump to…Well, I am not sure what the new name is, and I don’t care. He has removed the Trump hotel sign and trashed it. Said the name was a liability. Well, I have ordered the President of Panama to restore the sign, and he has not acted. I want to teach him a lesson. Mattis, I want the armed forces on high alert and the Pacific Fleet to head toward Panama now. I want the whole country bombed into the Stone Age and I want the canal back and I want it back now!

Pence: Wonderful, Mr. President!

Trump: Pence, when I want your opinion, I will ask for it.

Pence: Of course, Your Exalted One.

Mattis: The idea may have merit, but there is something more urgent.

Trump: Oh yeah, what?

Mattis: Syria.

Trump:  What about Syria?

Mattis: Chemical weapons, sir. They have used chemical weapons  again against the rebels. Many civilians have been killed. Certainly you must remember the briefing yesterday.

Trump: So what is the big deal? You are dead anyway. What difference does it make if you are killed by a bullet, a bomb or a chemistry set? If you are dead, you are dead. And that goes for nukes as well. I say a nuke is just like any other weapon, just more effective, and that is why, Mattis, I order you to send the nuclear-armed subs to Panama. We are going to teach them a lesson and do it now. Besides I just announced that we are pulling out of Syria. We have won that war, and I am bringing the troops home.

Mattis: Sir, I see your point, but actually we have not won the war and furthermore chemical weapons are outlawed by international law. If we let them get away with this a second time, then they will use them again and again, so will other countries.

Trump: So…?

Mattis: May I remind you of Obama and the line in the sand he drew about Syria’s chemical weapons and how he did not follow though and how that affected his approval ratings and his legacy?

Trump: It made him look bad?

Mattis: Yes, bad and weak.

Trump: Weak?

Mattis: Very weak and indecisive.

Trump: Bomb ‘em!

Mattis: Thank you, Mr. President. I will get the ball rolling.

Trump: But don’t forget about Panama.

Mattis: Will keep that in mind, sir.

Trump: Okay, Pence. You can talk now.

Pence: You are the greatest man  to ever live! Thank you, Mr. President.

Trump: You are now all dismissed.







76 Trombones

So what is it like to turn 76? Not much different than turning 75 except with a new knee replacement I am actually in better shape than I was a year ago.

So the next question: does 76 mean I am getting old? The answer is yes. I was pleasantly reminded of this recently on two occasions when someone in his forties (in both cases a friendly, African American man) smiled and said, “So how are you doing today, young man?”

It turns out that in 2018 the average life expectancy of a male in the U.S. is 76.4 years old. Five months to go and I will beat the average.

It is worth noting that people who are old are revered in many countries. In our 2015 trip around the world we were treated with deference and respect in many countries. China stands out the most. Toting a large suitcase each, whenever we were faced with climbing or descending a steep staircase in a train station, we would find the suitcases mysteriously disappearing from our hands and waiting for us as we reached the top or bottom of the stairs. Whoever the Good Samaritan was, he was nowhere to be found. How may times would that happen in the U.S. ?

The biggest challenge for me in old age is seeking to find a balance between purposeful and productive activity without overdoing it and also finding time for relaxation and enjoyment of life with friends and family. That has involved some adjunct teaching at GW, a lot of nonprofit board and church work, and returning to my passion for writing and photography. Nor have I given up my love for sailing and plan to compete in close to 20 races this season. Lunches and get-togethers with friends are also an important part of the routine.

I have been especially fortunate to have been able to stay close to family. We see our daughter, Jessica, our son-in-law, Peter, and their two children (ages 10 and 12) almost weekly since they live in the area, and our son, Andrew, and his wife, Karen, who live outside New York City, and their two children (ages 9 and 10) at least five or six times a year. Staying close to children and grandchildren is surely one of the most rewarding benefits of old age.

And most important of all is my fifty-two years of marriage to Embry Martin. I never cease to be amazed by her energy, her values, and her concern for others and am deeply grateful to have been married to such a strong, compassionate, and supportive person. We have been through a lot together, having lost our first child, Katherine, just short of her first birthday, the  summer of 1966 working on the front lines of the civil rights movement, our year on Clay Street, and our many travels together. When we got married, there was no such thing as a feminist, but that all changed, and little did I know that I would be married to one. But I am grateful for it and proud of her for all she has accomplished in her career and in her life,  and grateful for her being a great mother to our children, and  sticking with me during all these years.

I sometimes hear people say that they have never been happier than in retirement when they no longer have to work and are free to spend all their time on the golf course, playing tennis, hanging out at the club or “doing nothing.” Not so for me. I loved my work; and like so many of us Type A Washingtonians where your job/career establishes your identity, giving up my career was hard. However, because of all my seniors and affordable housing board work, I find that I still am able to keep an oar in the water and am grateful for that, even if it means that I have to write checks instead of receiving them.

So upon turning 76–I suppose like many my age–I am most of all reminded of all the blessings that I have received. I often find myself using the metaphor of how we have no choice other than to play the cards in the hand we have been dealt as best we can. Some of us have been dealt better cards than others. Some have not played their strong hands very well, and others who have received very weak hands have played them extraordinarily well. You must know people in both categories. I surely was dealt a strong hand, for which I am profoundly grateful. In the end how we play our cards is how we will be judged.

In some cultures we old folks are considered fountains of wisdom. I suppose that is because we have seen and done a lot and certainly must have learned something from experience. There is a question in my mind, however, as to whether this is true or whether our personalities just become a little more exaggerated as we age—for the better and for the worse. In any event I do not feel all that wise myself though I think I know enough to be genuinely concerned about the fate of the planet Earth if we continue along the path we are on now. Climate change and global warming are at the top of the list, but not far behind are our weapons of mass destruction and our ability to snuff ourselves out. Also high on the list are inequality and the uneven distribution of wealth and power. My generation had our shot at tackling big issues, and we have a mixed track record. The Civil Rights struggle–at least for me– was our finest hour; and other gains have been made—certainly in technology, which has changed our lives, often (but by no means always) for the better. But we are leaving behind a world of problems, which our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren will have to solve.

But isn’t that the way the world has always been and always will be? We are a small, lonely planet. It is up to us humans to protect it and make it a better place. With something like two billion stars in our galaxy and two billion galaxies in the Universe, surely there are other planets out there with life on them, but they are too far away to get to any time soon. We as a planet have been dealt a hand. We need to play those cards better than we have been doing during my short, 76 years on this planet.