Letter From New York May 17, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

When I woke this morning, it was a pristine morning at the cottage, the light still early morning gray; the verdant green of the trees coloring the cool morning, the world still damp from a light overnight rain. Staring out into the wild yard of mine, a deer wandered into my view, lazily nibbling at foliage, making its way slowly, gracefully down toward the creek. It was a clean, pure moment.

As I sipped my morning coffee, NPR was giving the latest details on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, telling the world that the amount of oil pouring into the Gulf was likely up to ten times as much as previously announced. Tar balls are beginning to show up on land. Governor Crist of Florida considers this to be a monumental disaster; Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi is calmer, apparently more confident than Governor Crist that the containment efforts will be successful. Meanwhile, workers in the Gulf fishing industry have begun to be laid off…

As the oil slick spreads and as efforts to contain it continue, and as I sipped more coffee while watching the creek flow past, the world is also looking to Washington where President Obama has nominated Elena Kagan, Solicitor General, to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to the nomination until I had a conversation with a colleague who was once a Washington insider, a member of the Carter Administration, a cable lobbyist and an avid follower of what’s happening in Washington today. He was relieved that the right had not ywr questioned Ms. Kagan’s sexuality. Which happened the following day, apparently because she had played softball. It was, I believe, a conservative blogger who posited this. It was taken up then by some conservative newspapers, showcasing a photo of Ms. Kagan playing the suspect sport. ABC News/Washington Post immediately conducted a poll that indicated 71% of Americans didn’t think sexuality should be considered as a factor in choosing someone for the Supreme Court, an indication, to me, of social progress. However, Ms. Kagan and her friends and supporters have said that she was not gay.

All in all, it seemed a shabby trick and a stretch. Softball = lesbianism. Hmmmm….

While oil has flowed in the Gulf and Ms. Kagan has had her sexuality questioned, the American public found itself united in laughter in watching Betty White host Saturday Night Live, propelling it to its highest ratings since the political campaign of 2008. She is, as she pointed out frequently, 88 ½ years old. If you missed this iconic figure keep up with the youngsters, you can catch it on http://www.hulu.com. She deserved her standing ovation at the end of the show and was reported to have left the after party at 3:30 in the morning only because she had a 6:30 a.m. flight to catch. Bravo to Betty!

Kudos were flying to Betty White while investigators scrambled to find out why the Dow plummeted a 1000 points in seconds a week ago last Thursday. Some stocks fell near to zero before things started sorting themselves out. It seems someone typed in a billion instead of a million and chaos ensued. Don’t they have a “Are you sure?” button in their program? I can’t close out of my browser without being asked if I am sure I really want to do that. I would hope a trader would have as much.

Apparently not. So the beat goes on. And it’s not been a pretty week this past week or so, even if alleviated by the presence of Betty White on SNL. It’s been grim though sometimes in watching the news you miss that. There was an incisive report on ABC about Teri Hatcher’s new website, aimed at “chicks.” It saddened me that we paid that much attention to “chicks” while the world was in such need of healing – on so many levels.

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