Archive for the ‘Gay’ Category

Letter From Claverack 10 12 2017 Thoughts on what I would preach…

October 12, 2017

At sea

Monday, I sent out a blog inspired by Mother Eileen’s sermon at Christ Church on Sunday and forwarded her a copy as she is not on my list.  She wrote back the following day and jokingly suggested I might preach this Sunday, which led me to think about what I would preach.  What would I say if I had to, this Sunday, preach at a church?

I looked up the gospel for next Sunday and its essential line is:  many are called but few are chosen.

Certainly, that fits with last year’s election cycle which started with more candidates for the Republican nomination for president than I remember in my life.  Many were called and, in the end, the one that was chosen was Donald Trump and he went on to become President of these United States.

It will probably surprise many who know me but every week at church I light a candle for the man.  No, I don’t like him.  His policies seem mean spirited, quixotic at best.  His relationship with the truth, as I experience it, is equally quixotic.

And he is President of these United States, a man with great power, influence and the ability to shake the world on more levels than I believe he is aware of or understands.  But he is the president and I pray for him, hoping, on a very fundamental level he doesn’t do anything that will prevent me from being back at church next Sunday to pray for him.

He appealed to a disenfranchised part of America we, all of us, have not been listening to or acknowledging.  They gravitated to Donald Trump as people in the water after the loss of Titanic, desperate to be saved, crying for help.  Do I think he will save them?  No.

But I want us to hear their cries and find a way to address them and to help them.  They are Americans.  With very real issues.

Today I read there are the most job openings than there have been for a very long time.  Those jobs are harder to fill because we have a massive opioid crisis and many people cannot pass drug tests.  Companies are beginning, in desperation, to turn a blind eye, not asking for drug tests for dangerous jobs because they can’t find enough people to fill them.

Not so long ago, there were two Amtrak employees killed, men not much younger than me and their autopsies revealed they had non-prescribed opioids in their systems.  Our local paper, the Register Star, gave a face to the epidemic by highlighting on the front page a young woman, full of hope, who overdosed.

It is time we faced this epidemic, its causes and its ravages and did something and quit pretending everything is going along just fine.

President Trump, weren’t you going to make this a national emergency?  What happened?

Nothing much.  Why not?

Even the beauty of the cottage is not soothing my soul these days.  What am I to do?

Many are called but few are chosen.  What is it I am called to do in this tumultuous time?  Every day I ask myself that question.  What am I to do?  What am I called to do?

Whether you are a supporter of Donald Trump or not, what is that you can do, personally, to change the awful things that are happening in this country?

Many are called, few are chosen.  What will make me chosen?  What thing can I do to make this awful time better?  I want to.  I do and I am not sure what it is that I should do.  Pack a bag and fly to some war-torn part of the world and put up my hand and say: I’m here to help? What can I do?

A friend suggested I do that.  Maybe I will.

We all need to ask ourselves how we are going to respond to Jesus’ call?  I am not a raving evangelical.  Far from that.  I respect, at the deepest level of my soul, the kindness Jesus worked to insert into the human dialogue and which has resonated for both good and ill since then.

Since I was a boy, I have thought Jesus would be appalled at what has happened to what he started.  He preached love and love is not often what has happened.

Many are called but few will be chosen.  Be one of the few.  Practice what Jesus taught.

 

Letter From Claverack 09 12 2017 Memories, hard and bittersweet…

September 12, 2017

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Living disjointedly in time, apparently, I woke up thinking yesterday was September 10th and, as I read the morning paper, realized I was out of step with time.  Yesterday was the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11 and I had a deep heaviness fall on me as I listened to a young woman on NPR who had been born after that day and for whom it is an event heard about in history classes, not something she can return to in her mind as so many of us can, particularly if you were in New York City, Washington, or Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

It’s not often I go there in my mind and today, for the first time, I haven’t felt an emotional ouch of the kind I have every other year.  Much of that is that I am monitoring Irma as friends and family are enduring her as she moves up the peninsula.  My sister and brother-in-law are without power but seem okay while I have friends not yet heard from in Jacksonville which is suffering “historic” flooding.

Yesterday was not dissimilar to that day sixteen years ago; bright sun, hardly a cloud in the sky, warm, waking on a day that seemed God had made to put smiles on our faces.

So, it is I ended my day with a moment of silence, thinking on the thousands that died that day and all the many, many thousands more that have died since in the ripple of effects of 9/11.

For perhaps the eighth or ninth time, I re-read the last few pages of “Call Me by Your Name,” a novel by Andre Aciman, a brilliant and, for me, painful read.  It is the story of seventeen-year-old Elio, son of a professor, living on the Italian Riviera who has an affair with Oliver, a twenty-five-year-old graduate assistant to his father.

Andre Aciman’s writing is so exquisite it is hard for anyone who works with words to read because that kind of beauty is so hard to achieve and I know I will never achieve that kind of beauty in my own work.

It was also hard for me to read because during my 17th year I had my own Oliver, though we never consummated our affair.  On a sunny, spectacular Minnesota fall day I walked into my first Spanish class of my freshman year and there was Marvin, my T.A., a man slightly taller than I, exotically handsome.  He looked Latin, as if he walked out of Andean village.

He was from Queens, who had been in the Peace Corps in Chile.  As I came into the room, he greeted me with “Hola, rubio!” “Blonde one” and that is what he called me during the year.  And I am not sure how it was I became friends with Marvin but I did as well as his two closest friends, Maryam and Caroline.

We had dinner together at the old Nankin restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, a palace of Chinese deco and good food.  Marvin and I talked through the night on many nights, wrapping each other in words when we probably wanted to wrap our arms around each other.  Maryam lived in Mexico when she was not in school and was addicted to Coca-Cola and we made a hysterical search for a real coke one winter night, tearing around in my Acapulco Blue Mustang.  Place after place served Pepsi and that was no alternative for a Maryam in need of a fix.

Early on, Caroline and I sat drinking coffee in Coffman Union and she suddenly looked at me and said:  why am I telling all of this to a seventeen-year old?  But we told most things to each other and I loved them all and Marvin most of all.

Not seducing me was his way of loving me.  And I remember the last summer, drinking Cuba Libres and hearing how he was not coming back to work on his Doctorate but leaving for New York to become a rent boy, which shocked the other three of us.

He left one day, leaving me with a sadness that still can be called up in my heart.  Caroline went on to more grad school; Maryam back to Mexico and that magical year slipped into the wake of my days, coming back to bittersweet life as I read the story of Elio and Oliver, remembering a time when I had an Oliver.

 

Letter From Claverack 08 06 2017 Thoughts from Sunday…

August 8, 2017

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It is a quiet night; the creek is crystal clear and a squirrel has just paraded down the deck, padding along, obviously unafraid of me.

This morning I did coffee hour at church, bringing, as I frequently do, too much food though everyone was appreciative and there should be almost enough for coffee hour next week, when I am in Minneapolis.

Returning home, I put the extra food I had in the refrigerator and then returned to have a late lunch with my friends, Larry and Alicia.  Arriving early, I wrote a poem while waiting.

 

Sun and shadow dapple road,

curving toward town where

friends await.

 

A different life now,

slow, time for noticing

the dappled road;

 

for clasping close

all kind of friends.

To stretch my brain a bit, I am working to write a poem a day.  Most days I do, not always, but most days.

Looking up, there is a canopy of green above me and nature is humming around me.  It’s amazing that in the peace of my deck there is so much noise.  Insects and birds, soft sound of water, far off the sound of trucks now and again, traversing the highway almost half a mile away.

It’s been a day when I have not listened to news or read anything until just a bit ago.  There is, you know, only so much one can take.

It is interesting that Vice President Pence is going to great lengths to deny he is making “campaign style” visits to places.  Governor Kasich is, I think.  However, it is not possible to deny that even at this early stage Republicans are beginning to look to take the place of The Donald on the stage he now holds.

The Donald is in New Jersey at one of his golf clubs in a retreat from the White House will three million dollars plus in renovations are being made.  It was just last week that President Trump is reputed to have said the place was “a dump.”

Really, I hope not too much gold is being added.

Venezuela is tottering toward dictatorship and economic collapse which will not be good for gas prices, I keep reading.

Tuesday, I am heading to Minnesota where, to my dismay, a mosque was bombed in Bloomington, the suburb in which my brother lives.  That was not “Minnesota nice.”

The world is a very strange place.  I mean really, really, strange and, you know, this has gone on forever but it just seems like somehow we should have moved beyond  so many of these things and, hopefully, we will in generations to come.

It is there I must place hope.

In this time of my life, I am being as active as I can and, at the same time, treasuring more than I ever have the wonders of my life:  an interesting life now and in my past, a creek that flows quietly by a home I think I imagined once and made reality, good friends, good dinners, times of good conversation, some travel for good reasons, a sense I have been luckier than most in keeping alive friendships from my past and carrying than into my present.

There is a tree along the creek that is always the first harbinger of fall and it is beginning to tell me fall is coming.

I’m not ready for it.  Though I will accept it as one must.

 

Letter from Claverack 07 28 2017 Needing places and moments of refuge…

July 28, 2017

 

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A gray, foggy morning yielded to a fairly sunny, rather cool afternoon; whenever the sun slipped behind a cloud I was tempted to come into the house from my perch on the deck while the cleaning crew spiffed the house.

Now, with cottage clean, I am sitting at the dining room table, sliders open to the deck.  Birds are singing and music from the 1940’s is playing on my Echo.

Returning from the Vineyard Tuesday, I made myself a martini, wrote a poem, and found myself purchasing Christmas presents from a site that emails regularly, from which I buy irregularly and, yesterday, had some things I wanted.  Saying there were only four available, I pounced.  I think they were being clever as the number available never went below four.

Insane for Christmas shopping in July?  No.  It saves so much stress come November.  In January, I saw something I thought would be perfect for my friends, Nick and Lisa, and thought: if not now, when?  And, you know, I have been back to that store several times and not seen the item again.

All this, the creek and future Christmas shopping, visiting my friends on Martha’s Vineyard, is very hygge.  And I need all the hygge I can get.

Monday or Tuesday I received a scree from a relative who supports Trump that was filled with things that made me flinch, a repudiation of most of the things I think are advancements.  Should we go back to the days of a segregated America?

And while I look out at my sun kissed creek, I read that Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles, has published a 252-page pamphlet on how to deal with a North Korean nuclear attack.  That was something I needed to read a couple of times.  Hawaii is also preparing for such an event and I am holding my head to keep it from exploding.

Somewhere along the line in my now longish life, I read that one of the contributing factors in the fall of Rome was lead poisoning.  Romans lined their wine amphorae with lead which leached into the wine they drank and we all know lead poisoning isn’t good.

Sperm count has dropped by 50% in the western world in the last forty years.  Gives me pause to wonder what historians will say about the cause.  Pesticide poisoning? Another reason?

President Trump addressed the Boy Scout Jamboree this week.  What you thought of his speech probably depends on which side of the political spectrum you are on.

Speaking of our President, his relentless attacks on Attorney General Sessions seem to have many Republicans up in arms, particularly in the Senate where Sessions was a member for a lot of years and it’s a tight club.

Republican Senator John McCain, with whom I have often not agreed [particularly in his choice of Sarah Palin as his VP choice], made a speech for bipartisanship after returning from surgery for a brain tumor.  If you want to both hear and read what he said, click here. It reminded me of the times I have liked him.

Our president is not going to allow transgender individuals to serve in the Armed Forces.  It’s not necessary for me to elucidate the storm that has created, not the least of which happened in the Pentagon, caught off guard by a Twitter announcement of a policy change.

The president made mention of medical costs for transgendered individuals which turns out to be less than what the Army spends on Viagra each year.

The cynic in me feels it was announced to please his base and divert attention from all the White House chaos.

Hello, Anthony Scaramucci!

The world in which I live seems so mad on so many levels that I am grateful I have the ability to sit here and look out at my canopy of green, look down into my creek and see the bottom of it through the clear, clear water, that I can listen to music and celebrate it, that I have had the chance to stare out at Edgartown harbor thanks to the kindness of my friends who invite me to visit them, that, even though I think the world right now more mad than it has been since my adolescence, I have places and moments of refuge.

 

 

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 06 19 2017 An Attitude of Gratitude

June 19, 2017

It is the evening of June 19th; Father’s Day is beginning to fade as is Pride Weekend in Hudson.

Pride

An on again, off again rain falls and an hour or two ago the sky was nighttime dark.  Cosseted in the cottage, a martini by my side, I watch the raindrops splatter on the Claverack Creek.

It’s interesting.  I was very sensitive over the weekend, a little raw.  When I woke Saturday, I was in an unexpectedly foul mood and at the end of the day I took myself home and had a talk with myself.

I felt raw because it was Pride weekend and I woke acutely aware that I am not part of a unit and that I haven’t been very good at dating.  The last one felt like I had entered a reality version of Sartre’s “No Exit.”

I am alone and normally it doesn’t bother me and over the weekend it did.  Hudson is a town of couples and I am not coupled, which puts me at a bit of a disadvantage. You’re the odd one at the dinner party.

And, then, Sunday, it was Father’s Day.  Always a hard day for me.  I did not have a great relationship with my father.  He was good to me the first few years and then, he wasn’t.  The last seven years of his life he had almost nothing to say to me.  The night before he died, I was being a squirrely twelve-year-old and he angrily sent me to my room.

It was the last exchange I had with him.  The next morning, he had a stroke and died.  So, I have spent my life trying to read the runes of the little time I had with him.

Okay, so it’s problematic.  Parental relationships are problematic.  Maybe mine a little more than others and mine probably a lot less than others, too.

It’s just it pops up on Father’s Day.

And I know so many good fathers; I sent text messages to them today.  My godson, Paul, among them.  He has two children, a girl, Sophia, and a boy, Noah.  I don’t know them well and know enough to know they are interesting children and that’s because they have wonderfully invested parents.

And then there is Tom Fudali, who is Paul’s father, who made me Paul’s godfather and I am eternally grateful for that because Paul is not my son and he is my godson and our relationship is something I had hoped for and didn’t think would happen and has.

And there is my friend, Robert Murray, father of five, who exchanged texts with me while watching his son, Colin, play soccer in New Windsor.  Robert reminds me of my oldest friend, Sarah’s, father, John McCormick, who had six children and made their home the place to be.  On bitter Minnesota winter nights, the neighborhood would gather and skate on the rink in John’s backyard.  They are some of my most magical childhood memories.

And then there is Kevin Malone, Sarah’s son, who has always thought of me as his uncle even though I am not actually his uncle but we have an avuncular relationship that is so effing wonderful!  He is not a father and he is wonderful and is a jewel in my life.

So, I was being self-indulgently depressed, and I need to focus in on all the wonderful things which go on in my life and all the wonderful people who are in it.

In the craziness that has been in my mind this weekend, I am so glad I wrote this as it reminds me of all the things for which I need to remind myself that I need to have an “attitude of gratitude.”

In Memoriam:

I read today that Stephen Furst had died.  He gained fame in “Animal House” as Flounder, went on to “St. Elsewhere” and “Babylon Five” and directed movies and television shows.  For a time, in the 1990’s, we were friendly.  He was a gracious, gentle soul, doing his very best in life.  RIP. I remember you fondly.

Otto Warmbier, the young student returned from North Korea in a coma, has passed away.  It is heartbreaking. At least he was at home, with family.

 

Letter From Claverack 04 21 2017 The past fights the future…

April 21, 2017

Apple blossoms dressed the trees in the orchards as I drove along 9H earlier today, the first, best sign of spring I’ve seen though, once having noticed them, I was aware that small buds of green were appearing on other trees.  The ones outside my windows don’t seem to be sporting them and I’m sure they will come eventually, which is how this spring has seemed – eventually we will get there – just not yet.

It has been a quiet sort of day.  Earlier I spent some time at OMI, an art center near me that I have known about but had not visited and that was my loss.  The two-hundred-acre campus is dotted with sculptures, the main building with art exhibits.  Today quite beautiful children were painting, running around in young life’s exuberance, bringing smiles to all the adults.  I offered up a thought for good lives for them; the future does feel cloudy right now.

It’s not just that this is a gray day.  Generally, I am an upbeat sort of person [or at least I think of myself as that] and today I’ve not been.  The state of the world has been weighing on me, both close to home and far from here.

Close to home, I am burdened because a friend sent me suicidal texts and I was incredibly concerned and finally asked the police to do a “welfare check.”  They did.  He then texted me he wanted nothing more to do with me.  Truthfully, I did the right thing and, at this moment, it hasn’t turned out well. For me and, I expect, not for him as he is in deep trouble and won’t admit it.

Candles to be lit; prayers to be said and to continue, as best we can.

Paris is continuing as best it can after a policeman was shot yesterday and two badly wounded by a terrorist who was killed as he was fleeing.  IS claims responsibility and France is having elections on Sunday.  The far-right candidate, Marie Le Pen, is threatening to remove France from the EU so that it can control its own borders.

She has a chance of winning.

The far right is making its might felt all over the place.

And that is so worrying to me.

For a brief, shining moment in my life it seemed we might actually be headed toward a global society and it has not happened.  It was around the time the Berlin Wall went down, a moment I will forever remember.  Driving down Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles, headed west, my bestest friend, Tory Abel, called me on my car phone and said: do you know what’s going on?  As I was listening to classical music, I didn’t.  The wall was falling.

There are all kinds of suppositions about why that magic moment did not result in a better world.

Right now, I am reading a book about “the weekend” in British homes in the 1930’s and one of the revelatory bits was about a British Lord who became a Muslim because he saw Islam as the bulwark against women getting the vote and having shorter skirts and working.

He would probably have a lot in common with IS.

Change is hard.  And changing centuries of tradition is hard and people will fight it.  IS is fighting it.

When all of this works itself out, I won’t be here.  It will take more than a lifetime.

And that is history in the making.  It takes lifetimes to work itself out.

If you are not aware of it, Chechnya is conducting a campaign against gays.  It is putting us in camps, not unlike the Nazis; there are tales of torture and death.  Can this be happening in the 21st Century?  Apparently so.  The reports are horrific.

The President of Chechnya has declared he will eliminate the gay community by the beginning of Ramadan on May 26th.

Putin has declared there is no evidence this is happening and that is Putin’s view of the world: no horrible thing is happening.  There is no sarin gas is Syria, there is no campaign against gays in Chechnya, there is no fill in the blank.

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 03/02/2017 From Saba to a Trump Speech…

March 3, 2017

It has been about ten days since I’ve written; I just went back and looked.  Last time, I was on Saba, writing when I wasn’t able to sleep.  Tonight, I am back at my dining room table, floodlights on, looking out over the creek, having just returned from Coyote Flaco with Pierre, sharing chicken fajitas.

When I reached the cottage this afternoon, I felt I’d been away for a week, at least.  Monday morning, I went down to DC for some meetings for the Miller Center on the Presidency and then to New York last night to have a wonderful dinner with my friends, David and Annette Fox.  It’s a quarterly event; we gather at their marvelous UWS apartment, order Indian and catch up on our lives.

It is very hygge.  As was the dinner party I gave last Friday night for Fayal Greene, her husband, David, Ginna and Don Moore, Lionel and Pierre.  Leek soup, sautéed scallops in a brown butter sauce, and carrots in a lemony oil garlic sauce, with a baked polenta to die for, followed by a flourless chocolate cake provided by Ginna and Don, via David the baker.

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It was an extraordinary evening.

And I, at least, need evenings like this to keep me sane in these extraordinary times.

On Tuesday evening, in Washington, after an early dinner with my friends Matthew and Anne, which followed drinks with my ex-partner and his now fiancé, I watched the address to Congress by our President, Donald Trump.

To the great relief of almost the entire world, he did not go off the rails and sounded presidential.  It was, Tuesday night, all about the delivery.  Wednesday morning people started to parse what he said.  Even the conservative writers that I read, and I do read some, found a lot of flaws with the speech.

Short on specifics.

Fact checkers found a lot of fault, pointing out Trump claimed as victories some things which had been in play for a year at some corporations.  Ford isn’t keeping production in the US because of Trump; they are pulling back on their Mexican plans because those plants would have built small cars and people aren’t buying them.  They’re buying gas guzzlers because gas is cheapish again.

When talking with David and Annette, I said that if Trump had not held it together last night, his presidency would have begun to unravel.  He would actually be President but, in reality, his claim to power would have begun collapsing.  Lots of people on his side of the aisle are slightly unhinged by his behavior.  McCain and Graham are frankly, I think, apoplectic.

And he held it together and while he should have been able to take a victory lap, Wednesday morning brought the revelation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had said in confirmation meetings he had not met with any Russians in the run-up to the election, actually had two meetings with the Russian Ambassador, one in his office on Capitol Hill.

Republicans are excusing while Democrats and some Republicans are accusing.

This is a wild ride and I’ve never seen anything like it.

Sessions has since recused himself from all investigations regarding anything Russian but there are those on both sides of the aisle who smell blood in the water.

While we were having political meltdowns, Amazon’s vaulted cloud computing world went offline yesterday for 4 hours and 17 minutes because of a typo in a command.  OOPS.

It’s a little scary.  150,000 websites were affected.  Amazon is the king of cloud storage and that’s a big oops for the King.  I would not have wanted to be the head of that division yesterday.

And, before Tuesday’s Trump speech, we had the foll der wall of the biggest Oscar mistake in history.  First “La La Land” was announced as Best Picture but it really was “Moonlight.”  Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were humiliated and PwC, the accountants, were more than humiliated.  They handed out a wrong envelope.

OOPS.

When it happened, I was safely in the arms of Morpheus, having strange dreams of Mike Bloomberg dating the pastor of my church, Mother Eileen.

Snap Inc. had a very successful opening on the market today; it was the biggest initial offering since Facebook and they have a rocky road to travel and they are a force to be reckoned with and it will be wonderful to see how it plays out.  The next Facebook? Or the next troubled tech company, which is where Twitter is today.

It’s time for me to say goodnight.

By hygge.  Regardless of your political persuasion, it will help us all get through.

 

 

 

Letter from Claverack 02 04 2017 Mine eyes dazzle…

February 5, 2017

It is Saturday night at the cottage.  “Swing Jazz” is playing on my Echo, the floodlights illuminate the creek and I am cozy in the cottage.  A load of dishes is in the dishwasher and I have spent the day, partially working, running a few errands.  Every week I try to buy some canned goods for the food pantry at the church and bring them in on Sunday.  That was one of today’s errands.

When I finish this, I will rehearse the readings for tomorrow as I am lector at Christ Church tomorrow.  It all feels very hygge. [Pronounced hoo-ga; the Danish word for living a cozy life.]  It seems the best time of all to be hygge, what with everything that is happening around us in dizzying array.

Honestly, right now, I am not sure who’s on first.  The refugee ban seems to have been lifted with the ban on immigrants from the seven predominantly Muslim countries.  Or is it?  I am doing my best to keep up and it’s hard.  Really hard…

I think President Trump hung up on the Australian Prime Minister.  Mine eyes dazzle.

And then President Trump told Putin that sanctions remain until he leaves Ukraine which is not what I think Putin was thinking would happen.  Putin did a few “provocative” actions in Ukraine this past week [thing what you can do with artillery] that ended badly for him.  The pro-Russian rebels were rebuffed by the Ukrainians.  And The Donald rebuked him.

Or perhaps it was Steve Bannon, who appears to be becoming the Lord Chancellor to King Donald.  Time Magazine has a frightening portrait of the man on its cover.  It is feared this is the man who is pulling the strings. Look here.

Apparently, per reports, Kelly, the Secretary of Homeland Security, had to remind Steve Bannon, he only takes orders from the President when Bannon was bossing Kelly around.

Oh, just gosh…

Kellyanne Conway, the most skillful swinger of truths encountered this side of Paradise, is being skewered everywhere as she justified the travel ban by referring to the “Bowling Green Massacre.”  Well, a couple of men were arrested in Bowling Green for attempting to aid and abet terrorists but there was no “Bowling Green Massacre.”  She is saying she misspoke one word and is being eviscerated by “haters.”

Must say, mine eyes dazzle.

The king of Executive Orders, our Donald, is now issuing one that will roll back Dodd-Frank, the regulations that were to save us from another meltdown like 2008.  Carpe diem!

While most of me is horrified by the political spectacle around me, there is another part that is amused.  In a gallows humor sort of way, which is not a good way.  Most of the American public is not amused.  President Trump’s approval ratings aren’t good.

Well, who approves of chaos and confusion and flirting with unconstitutionality?

Ethicists are appalled at the flimsiness of Trump’s separation from his business interests.

And all of this is hurting his business interests and those of Ivanka.  Nordstrom’s has dropped the Ivanka Trump line.  In an earlier post, I mentioned I was at Lord & Taylor on 5th Avenue and there was no one in the Ivanka Trump section.  Last time I was there, there was no Ivanka Trump section to be found.  Poof! Gone.

And, frankly, I have grown a little fond of Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner.  It is rumored they weighed in with The Donald and prevented him from signing an Executive Order that would have stripped the LGBTQ community of rights they had received under the Obama Administration.

On the other hand, it is, I’m sure, not making Steve Bannon happy.  Nor is it making happy the evangelicals who supported Trump despite his raunchiness.

Me?  A gay man.  I’m pleased.  Woo! Saved for another day.

Truly, I’m just a little bit scared.  And a little bit amused.  And a whole lot unhappy.

So, now it is time to return to hygge.  I’ll make myself a martini and finish reading “The Romanovs,” a six hundred plus page book outlining the rise and fall of the world’s longest ruling dynasty.  That’s a saga and it didn’t end well, as we all know.

May all this end well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 01 29 2017 The Game is afoot…

January 30, 2017

It is a little past seven at the cottage; the weekend is winding down, “Swing Jazz” is the Amazon music station playing.  Marcel, Lionel and Pierre’s poodle, is situated comfortably on the couch, looking at the door to see when they will return, which will be in a few days.  The flood lights illuminate the creek and I am at the freshly polished dining room table, writing.

It’s the end of a good weekend, mostly very “hygge.” [Pronounced hoo-ga, it’s Danish for living a cozy life.]  And it’s been a cozy weekend.  Young Nick has returned from his walkabout and came over Friday afternoon and helped me prepare for what turned out to be a most excellent dinner party.

Saturday was cleaning up and being domestic, a solo lunch at the Dot, dinner with Lionel and Pierre at their house, home to sleep.

But all the hygge in my life has been overshadowed and squeezed by the events in the world around me.  President Trump has been issuing Executive Orders to his heart’s content. They feel a bit like Imperial Edicts.  Do this.  Ban that.  It’s been stunning.  And equally stunning is the response of the American public.

When he banned individuals from seven countries, all primarily Muslim, from entering the United States, hordes of lawyers went to airports and became filing appeals, sitting on the floor in the terminals, laptops plugged into whatever outlet could be found.

It made me proud.

At those same airports, crowds appeared.  At JFK, several New York Congressmen were there, attempting to help.  One quarantined gentleman was an Iraqi citizen who was on his way to the US because he had been an interpreter for our soldiers and his life was in danger.  Thankfully, he was released.

People with green cards are in limbo, depending on the airport they flew into.  Federal Judges are ordering limits on Trump’s ruling and some officials are ignoring them.

Excuse me, what?  What?

Heads are spinning.

Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief political operative, has been given a seat on the National Security Council while the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs and the Director of National Intelligence have been demoted.

What? What?

In the morning now, I get up, make my coffee and call my Senators and my Representative in Congress and tomorrow I don’t know what issue to focus on.  There are so many.

A relative sent me a clip of a State of the Union Address given by Bill Clinton, in which he talked about the dangers of illegal immigration.  The headline before the clip was “The hypocrisy of liberals!”

Well, really, hypocrisy?  Take a look at this article.  Mike Pence opposed what Trump has done and now is praising it.  Is that not hypocrisy?  Political opportunism?

Immigration has been an issue ever since we stopped accepting just about everybody.  Don’t know about you, but I’m here, an American citizen, because my great grandparents came over from Germany and settled in Minnesota.  Back then, almost everyone was taken in. [Though my great grandparents arrived in First Class so they didn’t have to go through the indignities of Ellis Island.]

Then it changed and immigration has been an issue ever since.  Okay, I get that.  And what President Trump has done is unprecedented.  His list of excluded countries does not include Saudi Arabia from which came many of the 9/11 hijackers.  It does not exclude Pakistan, one of whose citizens was part of the Riverside massacre.  It’s a bit bewildering. The banned countries have barely contributed to the numbers who have died from terrorist acts in the US.

And, amazingly, it appears the list was compiled during the Obama Administration but never activated.  Boggles the mind.

Not even during Viet Nam was I this agitated.  Agitated does not describe my mood when I am not working very hard at hygge.

In an article I scanned two days ago, it speculated that Trump may be to Millennials what Viet Nam was to my generation, a catalytic event.

You see, there is a movement to stop abortions.  There is a generation of young women who have grown up believing they had the right of choice.  Now some people want to take that it away from them.  No, not happy.  And abortions have been decreasing and in 2014 were the lowest since 1973.

There are young people who are in college whose friends are in limbo because they come from one of the banned countries and went home over winter break and may not be able to come back despite having valid visas.

And there are people like me, a Baby Boomer grown old, who is incensed in a way I have not been for god alone knows how many years.  The protests will not stop.  They will not go away.  The country is fired up in a way that hasn’t been seen since Viet Nam.

Wow!  The games have begun.

To be completely clear, I am one of the founders of Blue DOT [Democracy Opposing Trump] Hudson Indivisible.  It is my time of being an activist.  This Presidency must be opposed.  It is divisive.  It is immoral.  It has in its first week demonstrated a willingness to flaunt conventional order.

Tomorrow I am calling the office of John McCain and Lindsey Graham who are opposing Trump to thank them for their efforts.  We are all in for a rocky ride and maybe this was a good thing to happen.

The Left is galvanized the way the Right was when Obama was elected and already seems, and I hope it continues, to be more emphatic than the Tea Party movement.

The game is afoot…

 

 

Letter From Claverack 01 15 2017 Bemused but not amused…

January 15, 2017

It is early evening in Claverack; the lights have been turned on over the creek and I have asked Alexa to play the “Pop Classical” station so music is filling the cottage.  It is an idyllic night after a very nice day.

Waking before the alarm this morning, I cleared my email inboxes, showered and gathered things together for the food pantry at the church.  Post church, I went to the Red Dot and then to Ca’Mea to meet Larry and Alicia and it was a pleasant country afternoon.

Against the backdrop of the pleasant country afternoon is a tension about the political scene.

One of my neighbors, who, when he met me was a bit uncomfortable with me and who has become a very good friend, asked me why the LGBTQ community was concerned about Trump.  He voted for neither Hillary or The Donald, loathing them equally.

My response was that it wasn’t so much Trump’s views on gays but the views of the people who are around him.  Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana until Friday, then Vice President of the United States, worked to enact strident laws that jeopardized the rights of gays in his state.  Jeff Sessions, who is by all accounts is a gentleman of the first order in social situations, is homophobic, anti-immigration and anti some other important things.

My friend had no idea. And was concerned when he heard this.

Representative John Lewis of Georgia, a legendary figure in the Civil Rights movement, is not attending Trump’s inauguration because he does not feel Trump in a legitimate President.  I find that unfortunate and counterproductive.

And I find unfortunate and counterproductive Donald Trump’s Twitter storm against Representative Lewis, demeaning his part in the Civil Rights movement.  The man nearly lost his life on the bridge into Selma.  To denigrate him as Trump has is unfortunate and not in keeping with someone who is about to enter the highest office in the land.

Stephen Colbert discussed “truthiness.”  Donald Trump exercised a bit of it in his depiction of Representative Lewis’ district as crime ridden.  In fact, he represents one of the most affluent areas of Atlanta.

There is a good part of me that is sitting back and watching what is happening unfold with a sense of wonder, a sense of OMG is this real?  And it is…

Every time I turn around, I am astounded by our President Elect.

His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is going to be a Senior Advisor.  Is there not something somewhere about nepotism?  Ivanka may be the de facto First Lady as Melania seems to be content to remain in Trump Tower.

Who is this person?

Andy Borowitz, comedian and raconteur, described him as the “Kremlin Employee of the Month.”

The awful thing is that he MIGHT be.

The VERY unsubstantiated report about his actions with the Russians are, at one time, very amusing and incredibly disconcerting.  It has spawned a cottage industry in defining “golden showers.”

Right now, I am sitting back and watching it unfold.  Called me bemused, call me amused, call me frightened, call me whatever you like and I think we need to go back into the early 19th century to find anything similar.

Oh, wow!

And I will continue to watch with a carefully bemused eye that is also carefully turned on to what the new President might do as he needs, more than most Presidents, to be held accountable.

Please help with that.  Please.