@CIA @StateDept

The news that’s coming out of the intel community ranges from unsettling to terrifying. Some agents think that President Trump is compromised, and I don’t think they’re wrong. So we have a situation in which reports go underground at best, and really good people, brilliant civil servants, just walking away and watching everything burn because they can’t take it anymore. For them, it’s like working in the middle of a raging dumpster fire.

What you see in media is not reality. It’s not all “James Bond moments.” Most of it is poring over documents, and in the field, agents have access to money, but it’s for someone or something else. They make regular government salaries when they could make eight times more in the private sector, and are trying to do the right thing, anyway. Civil servants are desperately needed, especially translators, cryptographers, and hackers- but with the current administration, they’re having trouble filling jobs all over the place.

It’s not just intel, it’s also State. Having a boss actively working against you would be awful in any job. Why bust your ass for so little money when you’re just going to be ignored, anyway?

It is my hope and prayer that by keeping President Trump out of the loop, everyone at CIA, NSA, FBI, State, etc. can make some headway on these clear and present dangers. It is as awful an attack as Pearl Harbor, with the exception that people can see and understand a bombing. It takes a special kind of person to be able to understand and deflect cracking attacks, particularly with voting machines.

The longer this goes on, the more I believe that Hillary Clinton is our rightful president, and now there’s nothing we can do about it, because no one in Congress has brought up having a new election, and even if we did, voting machines can (and so far, will) still be hacked. The midterms, to me, are so scary I rarely want to think about them…. because what if the will of the people is again thwarted? The “blue wave” most Americans want is not necessarily what they’ll get.

Allowing civil servants to be interviewed by the Russians is probably sending them to their deaths, and I wish I was just being dramatic. It would make me happy to know that I was, but I don’t think so. Putin is not known for being kind.

The reason I’m using @ for CIA and State is because CIA’s charter says that they don’t operate within the United States, so it is generally their job to go in country. With State, I don’t think diplomacy will work, and not that it shouldn’t…. that President Trump always calls an audible and works around them, eschewing protocol that has been in place for what seems like eons…. and it’s been like that since he took office, not just recently.

I am devastated that the GOP doesn’t seem to see the difference between supporting a politician and supporting a tyrant…. many of them, actually, because I refuse to believe that President Trump is smart enough to do all this on his own. They are all content to “fiddle while the United States burns.”

Nikita Khrushchev said during the Cold War that Russia is capable of making the United States destroy itself, and now, it’s working. So far, we’ve alienated the countries that would help us if we asked, before President Trump just went batshit crazy on all of them. It wouldn’t even help if President Trump was impeached, because the United States would be stuck somewhere between Leviticus and 1950 with a Pence presidency, and on the topic of Russian interference, he has been strangely silent, making me wonder if he is complicit/compromised as well.

Of course, my opinion is just my opinion, but I hope it’s an educated one. I am just a “news junkie,” with no actual letters behind my name for my thoughts to even matter. That being said, not speaking out is not an option for me. Too much has happened to keep silent, especially with my background in IT. My knowledge on the industry is somewhere between organ grinder and monkey, because I’m just a Geek to English translator. But I have been to lectures on hacking and cracking, so I know just enough to expound on what a dire situation this actually is. We are at war, and unfortunately, on the defense, because we have a president that refuses to acknowledge it.

But the war is taking place underground, in dark places people can’t comprehend if they do not also have a background in computers or networking. Believe me when I say that right now, we are on the losing end, in a total shitshow.

Such a small number of people still want to work for us after just having had enough already. Blessings on the people who have decided to stay and fight, especially as there become fewer of them. Why wouldn’t there be? With President Trump actively inviting Putin to come to the US in the fall, and not opposed to turning over our people to him for “questioning,” they’re probably already aware that what it really means is torture…. but, of course, our president would never assume that, because everything is above board, right? The president of Russia obviously has our best interests at heart, and please read that with dripping sarcasm, deep sighs, and a large eye roll.

Trying to cover up treason seems in poor taste, but that’s exactly what’s happening. Presidents promise to defend us against all enemies, foreign and domestic… and so far, the domestic enemies have become the media and anyone who doesn’t wholeheartedly agree with the ongoing plan to subvert the world order.

If you are the type person that thinks everything is going to be fine, buckle up, Buttercup. We’re so far behind we think we’re first- American egocentricity at its finest.

What’s Russian for “we’re totally screwed right now?”

But maybe I’m just being dramatic.

Forces in the Universe

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Newton’s Third Law of Physics

My interview with the University of Maryland CATT Lab went very well, or maybe it didn’t. It’s hard to tell what’s happening on their end, because interviewers rarely reveal their cards on the first pass. What I mean to say is that it felt good on my end. I think I at least had three of a kind… it remains to be seen whether I’ll come in Kings full over Aces, though. The interviewer and I talked for 33 minutes, and at the end he told me I would hear either way within two weeks.

The best part is not having to sit and think about it. Either I’ll get it or I won’t, and I am going to be happy either way…. because I choose to focus on both cooking and IT as opportunities. Yes, I would make a lot more money in IT… at least twice what I’m making now. But I can’t be assured that I would be any happier than I am right now, something that is also important. I am sure that my new team would come together and everything would work out, but I am already part of a great team… something about which there are no unknowns. I am proud of myself for putting my resumé out there, even with so many variables unassigned.

I hung up the phone high on life, and then I got the notification that Anthony Kennedy is retiring. My mood just deflated like a balloon, and I began to cry. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve taken a Constitutional Law class taught in Socratic Method, where I had to memorize over a hundred opinions and dissents. My favorites, regardless of the former or the latter, have always come from him. Whether or not he is in the majority or the minority, he always has something significant to say. He doesn’t mince words, and gets to the heart of the matter quickly. He has also never been a puppet of strict construction or liberal interpretation. He is one of a kind, and we would be very lucky indeed to see a jurist  like him within the next hundred years.

I do have hope, though. David Souter and Anthony Kennedy were both appointed by Republicans, but it seems that once you rise to the Supreme Court, your political affiliations seem to fall by the wayside (in most cases). Even if the Democrats do not take the House and Senate, there’s still a chance that a Republican government will confirm an appointee that they think will parrot their views, and, as it turns out, not so much. Even Neil Gorsuch has had his moments (moment?), concurring with liberals in part.

It is now 1519, and my inbox just dinged with the invitation for a three hour sit-down with everyone in the department.

The forces in the universe are strong and swift today. It seems an especially good time to say that I am praying on the spaces, and for those just joining us, it means that words aren’t everything- the silence in between is just as powerful…. literally, giving me pause.

#prayingonthespaces

When I Work

I have an app for my phone that keeps track of my schedule called “When I Work.” I also have a Google Calendar feed from the pub that syncs with my personal calendar so I can see work and social commitments all in one place. You know why this is so helpful? I rarely know what day it is. Since my weekends are no longer on Saturday and Sunday, life is simply a blur from one shift to another. I have reminders set to go off two and three hours before my shift, and when they go off, I get dressed. In effect, it doesn’t matter what day it is. When my computer and phone say “go,” I do.

0d6fba54c423e722f9f3f9ec2fe3b365I’ve tried to keep my schedule as normal as possible by coming home and going to bed at a reasonable hour, but I do not set an alarm. I need 10-12 hours of sleep to restore lactic acid, and if I’m in bed by midnight or 1:00, I have plenty of time. This morning, I woke up at 10:00 AM and stumbled downstairs to make the coffee. My roommate was jumping up and down because she’d just gotten a full-time job, and I really wanted to join in, but my energy level was at ZERO. I remember fondly the days I used to be a morning person. It’s just not possible anymore. By the time I wake up, my Aleve™ and Tylenol Arthritis XR™ have both worn off. By the time I start the coffee, I’ve taken more, but they haven’t kicked in yet. So, when I say that I am stumbling down the stairs, I mean it. The bones in my feet seem not to be strong enough to hold me up. I toddle down one step at a time, as if I have regressed to age three. So, after waking up to the feeling I’ve been hit by a truck, someone yelling “LESLIE, LESLIE, LESLIE!!!!!” is nails on a chalkboard. But at least it isn’t something for which I have to come up with an answer, just listen and say “congratulations.” It’s difficult to be so happy for someone and not be able to reciprocate in the excitement they might want.

I feel I have to catalog every moment of this adventure, because the last time I was a cook, it was hard… damn hard… but I look back on it and think of it as one of the happiest times of my life. With this repository, I hope I’m allowing time to slow down so that I can take it all in. Believe me when I say that despite the pain, it’s worth it.

The dishwasher surprised me last night when she spoke to me in Spanish and I understood every word. She told me that my eyes were beautiful. Since she has brown eyes as well, I said, “our eyes are both beautiful- they are the same.” She said that no, they aren’t, because mine have such clarity. The funniest moment was when she was rattling off what I needed to do in Spanish and I said, “lo siento, mi espanol es muy, muy mal. Habla despacio, por favor” (I’m sorry, my Spanish is very, very bad. Speak slower, please). She said, “that’s ok. So is my English.” I laughed until I cried.

The thing is, though, I am exhausted and sore right up until I get to work, and then muscle memory takes over and energy courses through my body. All of the sudden, I am on fire with passion and drive, when minutes ago I was walking around like I’d just been hit by a truck. When we’re the busiest, on Fridays and Saturdays, I sometimes feel as if I’ve volunteered to be in a car accident by the time I get home.

I’ve also figured out why I am usually in the dish pit rather than the line. It has nothing to do with ability. It’s that there are only three people in the kitchen besides me that understand English, and when none of those people are scheduled with me, it makes more sense to get me out of their way. Not everything can be done with facial expressions. But that’s only part of it. The second is that to my surprise, I’m faster in the dish pit than I’ve ever been, which makes the cooks grateful because we can all get out of there earlier. It has never been my life’s dream to be a dishwasher, but the fact that I can flat do it makes me incredibly happy.  Internal satisfaction is so incredibly high, especially since I have received “honorary Mexican” status. It’s like a video game level being unlocked because I’ve gained so many experience points. 🙂

I also think that the other cooks think I don’t like their food, because I won’t eat at work. We are generally fed “family meal” at the beginning of a shift, but what I have learned early and often is that I’m slower when I feel too full, and just need to hydrate. Every day, I say, “no tengo hambre, tengo sed” (I’m not hungry, I’m thirsty). I wait until after I’m done to eat, and try to eat lunch early enough that I don’t feel too fat and happy once I get there. The other cooks do not understand this, and are constantly offering me rich, rich food. Nothing in a restaurant is healthy unless you go to a vegan joint. Just trust me on this one. Lots of oil, butter, heavy cream, etc. I mean, that’s what makes it delicious, and also what makes me feel like there’s a rock in my stomach.

What I will take, though, is when someone makes limonada in the blender. A little sugar and shaved ice goes a long way. It makes me feel almost human again, often why I have a Coke™ or Sprite™ at the end of my shift rather than a “homemade” beer.

Speaking of homemade beer, the woman that started the brewery, Julie Verratti, is running for Lt. Gov. of MD. The LGBT PAC had a meeting at the pub, and I was cut early enough to make it. Remember in The West Wing when Josh and Sam realize Bartlett is “the guy?” Well, Julie is that person for me. At the end of the meeting, I went up to her and said, “it is such an honor to work for you.” She shook my hand and didn’t fail to notice the tears in my eyes. I’m hoping that at some point, I can either work or volunteer on her campaign…. but that would involve asking her if I could, and I’m not that brave yet.

Mostly because I have no idea what day it is when I work.

 

A Little Bit of Everything

First, let’s get some business out of the way. My domain name needs to be renewed, and it’s only $18. If you haven’t donated and enjoy this site, please do. If you don’t enjoy this site, donate anyway. I will be allowed to keep feeding your dislike. :P~~~ If every one of my readers dropped a dime in the box, I’d have at least a dollar. I think. Anyway, more than grateful if you can do it, not a problem if you can’t. Just putting the idea out into the universe. Paypal link is on my sidebar.

And now, on with the show.

I got to hold one of my three-week-old “nephews” I’ve adopted through chosen family, and I am not exaggerating when I say that my ovaries exploded. I absolutely cannot imagine having my own child, so it was very nice to borrow one for a few minutes. We sat on the couch as he alternated between sucking his bottle and falling asleep in my lap- the most perfect moment I’ve had in a long time. There is nothing that lifts the grief of my mother’s death better than watching a new baby come alive with personality. For instance, one twin finds it comforting to be swaddled. The other will kick off the blankets immediately. I am grateful that they are fraternal, because as they grow I’ll actually be able to tell them apart. Right now, I have to look very, very closely…. or, at least, I think they’re fraternal. I will have to ask. Right now, they’re so little that they look alike in the way that all babies do.

We had to cut off the water main to the house so we could take out a washing machine. Hopefully, it won’t take that long, because I’m supposed to FaceTime with my father and grandfather later. They really won’t care what I look like, but I do. There’s only so much I can do with my current haircut that doesn’t involve a lot of wax. My hairdresser thinks it looks cute. I’m not convinced. I’d show you a picture, but I really don’t want to. Theoretically, I could fix my hair with bottled water, but it’s in the refrigerator. That is a no dice situation right there.

The weather is beautiful, and I’d like to get outside. I’m having to weigh that against my allergies. I’ve taken Zyrtec, Sudafed PE, and Advil. Therefore, I am now allowed to complain. I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s a thing in my family:

Family Member 1: My ____ hurts.
Family Member 2: Have you taken anything for it?
FM1: No.
FM2: Has it kicked in yet?

I’m sure I’ll feel better a little later, but right now I’m waiting for everything to start working. It can’t happen soon enough. Regardless of whether I decide to take a walk, I have to venture out eventually to get groceries. Even that small time outside is a problem without Zyrtec on board. Spring can really hang me up the most. Once summer rolls around and most of my irritants have burned off, I’ll be fine. Now, everything is starting to bloom, and it’s not deadly, but it is truly annoying.

The only thing to which I’m allergic that will literally send me into systemic urticaria (full body hives/rash) and shortness of breath is sulfa drugs. When I was a kid, I had to spend an entire week in the hospital being pumped full of adrenaline, susprin (basically adrenaline extended release), and steroids. It was so much fun, and I looked attractive. It did save my life, though, so I got that goin’ for me.

Back to you, Bob. Let’s go to the phones.

I watched the president’s entire rant on Fox & Friends, and it was hysterical. He just went histrionic on every topic. Even the anchors looked like deer in headlights. This is because they couldn’t figure out how to get him off the phone. The best part was him going full tilt batshit crazy by saying that he’d made NBC a lot of money, so it wasn’t fair that they were now treating him badly. He also called basically every news organization fake news, for which the anchors at least had the decency to look uncomfortable and awkward.

You know, if every news outlet is “treating you badly,” at what point do you make the realization that you’re the common denominator? With Trump, my guess is never.

The other funny part was when he was ranting and raving over DOJ, and the anchors were all like, “Mr. President, it’s YOUR justice department.”

There was only one point at which I truly got angry. The rest of the time, I was just writing him off like Anderson Cooper, who said that he sounded like a crazy guy on a park bench. The anchors asked if the Republicans had done a bad job of representing the black community, and he said “it was a custom….” Then, he backpedaled and said that Lincoln was a Republican and he did the thing.

I assume he meant freeing the slaves, but he did not give any more details. I honestly believe he couldn’t, great history scholar that he is.

I’m actually starting to feel bad for the Republican party, because even when they try to reign him in, try to get him to keep his damn mouth shut, they fail miserably. If Democrats hate President Trump, I truly believe they hate him less than the people who have to work for him.

The problem with not picking an establishment candidate is that they often have no idea how anything in Washington works, and are dumbfounded once they get there. However, this president is not dumbfounded. He doesn’t know anything, and doesn’t seem to care.

I am mystified by all people like that… both people who think education is elitist, and the people who vote for candidates who believe it, too. I don’t understand not wanting the smartest people in the room to be in charge. If you ask me, and so far, no one has, the biggest problem in American politics is that the skills needed to campaign and the skills needed to be president are at complete odds. For instance, policy wonks like Al Gore and Hillary Clinton would have been great presidents, but they’re just not as capable with “show business.”

And that’s what campaigns have become, starting in 1960 with the first televised debates between Kennedy and Nixon. Now, believe me when I say that this is not a treatise on why Richard Nixon should have been elected that year. It’s just that one of the reasons President Kennedy beat him was that he looked like a movie star while Nixon sweat profusely and had to change shirts during commercials. Leaving politics out of it entirely, people are naturally going to vote for the candidate that’s poised and eloquent over the guy who consistently looks like death warmed over.

Much like I do right now, because I can’t take a shower or fix my hair…. and I’m about to be on camera, too.

Send help.

The Leadership Breakfast

Barbara Bush died, which really isn’t that sad if you think about it. She lived to the ripe old age of 92. I think that’s about as much as anyone should expect in terms of time on earth, and her kids were lucky to have her that long. I mean, when someone dies it’s always sad for their families in terms of not being able to communicate anymore, but 92 is close to immortal in today’s terms of longevity. No one is going to say, “dear God, they took her too soon.” As a fellow Texan, I would like to be able to regale you with a story about how we met, but unfortunately, that never happened. We did go to the same church when I was in college, so I have met her husband. That will have to do.

So, it’s Easter Sunday in about 1999 or 2000 (I am really bad with dates). The men’s group was serving breakfast before service, and the president was going around with a pitcher of coffee for warm-ups. The Secret Service guys were stationed strategically around the room, constantly talking into their wrists.

The president comes over to me and fills my cup, and when I realized exactly who I was talking to, I began gulping down my coffee as fast as I could so he would have to come to my table multiple times, early and often. I am sure he knew my game, but didn’t seem to mind. We had very good, very short talks. I wish my memory was flawless, because I’d love to tell you what they were about. I do remember telling him that I was a political science student at University of Houston, and he told me he used to be a professor at Rice (like I didn’t know that. Didn’t tell him, though……).

I don’t think I’ve disagreed politically with many presidents besides him, although I definitely have a list. I was too young to care what was going on with Reagan, and I love Clinton & Obama. It was just exciting to meet anyone who’d been leader of the free world, as well as being Director of Central Intelligence the year I was born (1977), although he left in January and I wasn’t born until September. Close enough for government work. I don’t know how you get to be DCI if you don’t have any experience with espionage, so my guess is that he was OSS (Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the modern CIA) during World War II, and as a cook, I pretend that anyone who was OSS during that time was Julia Child’s best friend.

I was a spazzbasket of excitement, information, and caffeine. At this point, I have conservatively had, like, five cups of coffee trying to talk to him. I debate going over to talk to the Secret Service as well. However, they are designed to look absolutely unapproachable. They definitely pull it off.

What I hope I didn’t pull off was being desperately impressed, because no one that well-known wants to be “on” all the time. He was just there to be part of the men’s group, and I hope I respected that. But so many of my questions just swirled in my head. Did he like Helen Thomas? What’s it like being a wartime pilot? Was he ever under cover? Did he actually know Julia Child, or is that just wishful thinking?

There are so many things I would ask him now that I didn’t think of then, like what was it like for your wife and kids while you were president? It can’t have been easy to be in the public eye, whether there were things you liked about it or not. Also, what was it like to be president when the wall in Berlin fell? Was Ronald Reagan just as funny in private life as he was on television? At the time, all that was swirling in my head was about treating him like a regular human being.

….just like he is right now, dealing with the death of his wife.

Get Off My Lawn

I am terribly cranky today.

Yesterday’s pardoning of Scooter Libby was the last straw. The guy committed treason. No punishment the USG could come up with would be good enough. When he outed Valerie Plame, it was damn lucky he didn’t get her killed. Do all intelligence employees under cover have to be afraid of their own employer now? If I was in their position, it would incense me that even people who commit crimes against national security can almost assuredly get away with murder, both literally and figuratively. Not only was Libby’s personal case a red flag, the precedent it sets is even more scary.

It’s probably against the Geneva Convention so this is absolutely a hypothetical situation, but say there was a black op to take out Assad so that citizens wouldn’t be harmed. You could absolutely argue that the ends justify the means, but someone leaks that information to the New York Times or the Washington Post while Special Ops is in country…. not only the op, but the names of the soldiers involved. How long would it take before their heads were on a spike in Damascus? If you said “10 minutes,” I would answer, just like James Comey, that it was nine minutes longer than I expected.

The most frustrating thing about this whole situation is that no one asked me what I thought (that was a joke).

No one asked me what I thought about confirming Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, either. If the confirmation goes through, we’ll have someone in charge of foreign relations that believes in the Bible more than the Constitution. His view of homosexuality is that it is a perversion, and that his belief is not wrong-headed, but a persecution of all Christians. This is not something I want broadcast all over the world, because the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatry Association disagree with that, and have since the 1980s. It is terrifying that only some people’s beliefs have progressed since then because a book that was meant to be a living document, changing over time as we understand more about medicine and science, in their view must remain literal and stagnant. It is generally believed by progressive theologians that the real abomination in the Bible concerning homosexuality was an ancient Canaanite practice of temple prostitution [by both adults and minors], tarnishing a place meant to be holy ground.

As theologian Jim Rigby once said, Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, so it cannot be essential to his teaching. Ancient desert people would never have known same sex orientation as an identity. The word homosexual was not even coined until the 1900s. It is an identity because even queer celibate people still consider themselves as such [using queer as a catch-all for the entire community and not as a derogatory term. I’m gay, so I can use it. Straight people can’t get away with it. Sorry.]. It is absolutely the last thing a follower of the Christ should embrace, because Jesus was constantly widening the net of acceptance, something that has been twisted since the New Testament, where Paul condemned homosexuality.

Paul had other beliefs that were equally toxic, like the prohibition of women speaking in church… something mainline Christians have moved past, so why is being gay different? Additionally, if you believe in one Talmudic law, you should believe all of them, so advocate for shutting down the NFL because players are consistently touching pigskin. You have to ask yourself whether someone who has an international platform should be able to hold these untranslated views, because even if you don’t support our community, do you really think it’s wise to bolster countries who still execute people for these “crimes?” Do you believe in ending lives and devastating families? The stakes are higher than you think.

In the United States, it means a disbelief of the equal protection clause in the Fourteenth Amendment. If I am truly equal to everyone else, I am a citizen who should be protected by the law, not persecuted by it.

Everything gets messy when the law goes from national to personal, because people can wrap their heads around discrimination of a group, but not their own relatives…. where, often, they fall short in making the connection.

There are still some extremists in this country that are every bit as violent toward the queer community as Sharia law, validated by people who don’t believe in internment camps and execution but aren’t vocal in speaking out about it……….

This leads me to believe that were those things to happen, it would be swift. Ten minutes at most, nine minutes longer than I expect. World issues are literally making me ill.

I am terribly cranky today.

The FDB

Fanagans’ Daily Briefing

Getting into the spirit of living in DC………

  • I can’t decide if I am more or less afraid of Donald Trump being impeached. There are just too many people we’d have to get rid of in the line of succession before we reached the legal definition of “a reasonable person.” The news that Mike Pence thinks we can end abortion in America is what did it for me, because he’s not going to make it happen by creating a social safety net for poor mothers. If Republicans were actually pro-life, they’d be lined up around the block with bottles and blankets for the children living in poverty right now. The classic line about not creating a government safety net is “that stuff should be taken care of by private charities.” It won’t, because charity donations are dependent on a good economy, and even then, there’s no guarantee that people will donate enough.
  • Jared Kushner having his security clearances revoked is the best news I’ve heard in a long time, because he never should have gotten them in the first place. That being said, it literally makes no difference because the president has no qualms about saying whatever he wants without a filter. Well, I guess it does make one difference. Bad things happen to people who leak Top Secret information to ordinary citizens, and it only has to happen once to get on intel’s radar. Additionally, I didn’t mean to or I didn’t know is completely invalid. Idiocy and malice are treated exactly the same way.
  • Since the idea of arming teachers has been tossed around, one has accidentally shot themselves in the classroom, and one has barricaded themselves into a classroom, waving a gun to keep the children out. This is obviously a brilliant idea, as is Florida’s idea to budget $67 million to give teachers hand guns. Thinking they should probably start with pens & pencils….. maybe some Crayons. If they want to get really crazy, why not raise teachers’ salaries to six figures, because without them, we can’t do anything else. Before you can run a Fortune 500 company, my guess is (and I’m just spit balling here…) you have to learn how to read at some point.
  • I’m starting to hope that Eli Pope and Jake Ballard exist.