PELOSI VERSUS TRUMP

“PELOSI VERSUS TRUMP” is not a headline seen lately (at least I haven’t seen it) but with the way things are going in the news these days, it’s bound to happen sooner rather than later. I would add that if I were a betting man, and a real headline of PELOSI VERSUS TRUMP came up,  I would bet everything on Pelosi. My reasons have nothing to do with political agenda. It has to do with my knowledge of Pelosi’s history, life and work. How do I know? I wrote the book on Pelosi…literally!

Cover of my 2009 young adult biography for Lucent’s People in the News Seres.

Okay, maybe not ‘the’ book on Nancy Pelosi. More like ‘a’ book on Nancy Pelosi. While I was researching Lee Marvin Point Blank (for almost 18 years!), I was fortunate enough to occasionally land a gig writing for Lucent Books’ People In The News series. Some were assigned, others were pitched, by yours truly. Naturally, the few I successfully pitched were the personal favorites and Nancy Pelosi was pitched, as retold on this blog previously.
However, with the recent events in the news these days, I’ve chosen to write about her again. Why? Well, as the subject line suggests, when PELOSI VERSUS TRUMP becomes a thing, as it eventually will, don’t think Trump’s slippery ways, manic base, or Republican allies will help him win the day. Oh no, not by a longshot. Here’s a few reasons why.
For all of his bluster and bullying, Trump is basically a political novice with a business degree.
Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, has a decades long history of successfully taking on both corruption and the ire of the GOP, oftentimes in the same battle. How? Her father was the long time mayor of Baltimore (Tommy D’Alesandro), her mother was his trusted advisor (Anunciata Lombardi D’Alesandro), and the political savvy Nancy learned at their knee stood her in good stead since she entered Congress….way back in 1987!

(L-R) A partially hidden Nancy Pelosi, Presidet John F. Kennedy, mother Anunciata Lombardi D’Alesandro and father Tommy D’Alesandro at the 1961 swearing-in of Tommy as a member of the White House’s Renegotiation Board.

She also had other political mentors, such as fellow Catholic Democrats, John F. Kennedy and Tip O’Neill. She got her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from D.C.’s Trinity College, raised five kids while being political active the entire time and then entered the political arena as a deathbed promise to good friend Sala Burton….

A page from my book in which I describe how Pelosi entered politics as a middle-aged Democratic activist.

Pelosi is shown being sworn-in by then Speaker Jim Wright in the presence of her aged father, daughter and Calif. Senator Alan Cranston. Her father would pass away a few months later.

Once in Congress, she quickly learned the ropes and became a rising star of the Party, climbing through the ranks to eventually become the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. History. She successfully fought President George W. Bush from privatizing both Medicare and Social Security. Earlier, she spearheaded the challenge of cleaning house of Republican corruption that found then GOP House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (among others) guilty of money laundering.
There are of course many other great accomplishments in her resume but the ones mentioned were pointed out for a reason. She rarely if ever took on a fight or lost cause unless she knew she could ultimately win, and win for the right reasons.
Some Democrats complained when she didn’t pursue impeachment charges against Trump until now. They didn’t know what she knew, that the evidence was not yet there and now that it is, she’s ready for Pelosi vs. Trump. Pity is all that’s left for Trump and the Republicans.
Oh, and according to the U.S. Constitution, now that Vice-President Mike Pence has been implicated in the Ukranian phone call scandal which is on track to unseat both him and Trump, next in line for the presidency?
As the Master-at-Arms would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, I present Madame President……”


–  Dwayne Epstein

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A WRITER’S START, PART 2: YOUNG ADULT NON-FICTION

I learned the key to writing young adult non-fiction was in finding an overall theme to the story, as well as in each and every chapter, all of which I put to good use in writing Lee Marvin: Point Blank. This was a concept radically different from my previous writing and editing of fiction, where the emphasis was on content and comprehension for a much lower reading level. Writing young adult non-fiction biographies for Lucent Books (which also went by Gale, Thomson, Cengage Learning, Greenhaven Press…Whew!) had wholly other challenges. For example, my first young adult non-fiction assignment was Adam Sandler.

ADAM SANDLER, published in 2004 by Lucent Books for their People in the News Series (PITN).

Not a favorite subject, that’s for sure, but in doing the research the themes began to come together. This taught me something else: ALWAYS write the introduction last, even though it’s the first thing to be read. One never knows what the overall theme is until the project is completed. For Sandler, as I wrote in the company’s catalog, the theme proved to be as follows:  “Adam Sandler has become a superstar doing what he thinks is funny, first as a class clown and nightclub comedian, and then on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ hit films and best selling albums. Playing a goofy but lovable loser, Sandler is actually a writer, actor, producer, and musician who’s loyalty to his close-knit group of coworkers has taken him to the highest lever of success.”

The Sandler bio proved successful enough to garner more assignments. Next up was a subject I was was much more enthusiastic about. In fact, I even pitched this one instead of being assigned to it and the editor agreed!  Will Ferrell was a much more fun subject, as I also described in the catalog:

My bio on Will Ferrell published by Lucent in 2005 for PITN.

“Where most comedians have overcome a tragic upbringing, Will Ferrell has gone from a relatively happy childhood to become one of America’s most popular funny people. In this first ever biography of the sought after film and TV star, discover how Ferrell has parlayed his ability to turn outrageousness and hubris into one of the most successful comedy careers in contemporary show business.”

I actually pitched several ideas to the editor on a regular basis. Some were accepted, some not, but in the mean time I asked about another series by Lucent called History Makers. They had several titles available and so, being the movie fan that I’ve always been, I agreed to write about Lawmen of the Old West which was released the same year as the Will Ferrell bio. Six real life individuals of my choosing (‘Hanging’ Judge Isaac Parker, Wyatt Earp, Frank Canton, Pat Garrett, Bat Masterson, and Bill Tilghman) were written about by yours truly within the following theme:

Lawmen of The Old West published by Lucent in 2005 for the History Makers Series.

“The western frontier was a time of immense change and extreme behavior, requiring men like Wyatt Earp, Pat Garrett, Bat Masterson and Bill Tilghman to enforce the law. They were not the icons of virtue legend has painted them, nor were they the extreme opposite as portrayed by revisionists.”

From that assignment, I was able to pitch my next project and it was accepted. In the midst of writing it, however, I was informed that the word count had been radically changed as the publisher decided to make the book’s entire design different from their previous titles. Bigger fonts and color photos meant I had to redo all that I had already written to fit this new format. I was informed that other authors had bailed on their projects and I was offered the same option. Undaunted, I redid the work, and created the following theme for the book:

Hillary Swank, in living color, for Lucent’s PITN release in 2006.

“As a lonely child growing up in a trailer park, Hilary Swank dreamed of becoming a successful actress. Her determination and talent took her from living in a car to eventually earning two Academy Awards by the time she was thirty. The amazing momentum of her career continues for the woman now considered one of the greatest actresses of her generation.”

Granted, the subject’s staying power as a movie industry force may not have lasted, but it was a great challenge to redo the work for the new design and delve into such themes as transgender issues, voting rights, and more, all based on Swank’s career choices.
I was next assigned to write about Joe McCarthy for the company’s seres called Heroes & Villains but in the midst of my research, they cancelled the series. Undaunted, and still in a political vein, I took on the challenge of writing about Congress’s first female Speaker of the House.

Nancy Pelosi, published by Lucent in 2008 for PITN.

The challenge here was deceptive in that her life was pretty straightforward but detailing the complex inner workings of Congress — with it’s rules and hierarchy — for young adults in a simplified manner, now THAT was a challenge! The result was described this way…
” Describes the life and career of Nancy Pelosi, from her childhood in Baltimore and early political career to her rise as the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives.” Talk about deceptively simple!
Anyway, I got the Pelosi assignment because of a previous project that I had done in 2007 on another nationally known female political figure. On rare occasion, a subject is updated, which is what I was asked to do for a previous book I had done…..

Both Hillary Clinton titles I did for Lucent’s PITN series, first in 2007 and then again in 2009.

Although I still had to deal with such events in Hillary Clinton’s life as the White Water scandal and Monica Lewinsky, the timing was such that I was able to avoid having to write about Benghazi, her e-mail server, and the painful presidential bid against Trump last year. In other words, it’s still a worthy read.
Practically at the same time as the Hillary Clinton revision I also wrote this…

2010’s PITN offering on Denzel Washington by Lucent Publishing.

Few things are more enjoyable to me than being able to research and write about a talented film personality, and Denzel Washington certainly filled that bill!

I would very much love to do more such work as the lives and impact of certain individuals are fascinating to me.
As you can see, my fascination casts a pretty wide net, from comedy to film to politics and more, so…..
Anybody need a freelance young adult non-fiction writer who also happens to be an award-winning (see number 33), NY Times bestselling author?
– Dwayne Epstein

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