Archive for the ‘Income Inequality’ 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 the train… The rhythm continues…

September 18, 2017

IMG_2297

Last night, there were insects buzzing around me as I typed out on the deck, following a warm summer like day, wearing shorts all day, even to church.  How scandalized the good Sisters would have been at my temerity to do so sacrilegious a thing as to wear shorts to church on a warm day.  But I did.

I knew Leonard would and so I wouldn’t be alone.  In fact, there were about six of us out of about fifty attendees who were wearing shorts.  It occurred to me that God was happy we were there and not concerned about what we were wearing.

Sunday’s sermon from Mother Eileen was about forgiveness and I thought about someone to whom I felt I owed an apology; I had said harsh things to her about her sister and had felt crummy about it since so I sent myself an email to myself to remind to seek her out.

She was seated at a table at the Red Dot when I walked in, we spoke and she hadn’t remembered the incident.  It was a good moment.

Post lunch, I crossed the Hudson and went to the little gem that is the Bridge Street Theater to see the current play, “How to Pray.”  As always, John Sowle’s sets were inventive and fun.  The cast was superb.

Three actors play myriad roles.

Steven Patterson played what seemed a dozen roles, including an aged transgender chanteuse who finally gets her moment as well as a dog and a cat.  His dog was spectacular; I got it and rolled in laughter.  He is a wonderful actor, having now seen him do several things, including a one-man performance of a play on Frankenstein.

Morgan Cooper must have mastered a half dozen, claiming each one with authority.  His three-year old was especially endearing.

Susan Slotoroff is the only actor who plays only one part.  She, too, held the stage and held my interest as she made a journey which an unexpected ending.

The playwright, Michelle Carter, has won several awards, rightfully so, for the work.

If you are in the area, you have one more weekend to catch it, next weekend, the 21st through 24th. Advance tickets available at http://howtopray.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 800-838-3006.

Today, I am going into New York, which is going to be a zoo because the U.N. is gathering global leaders.  Trump will be there and most of the global leaders are – and I don’t care if you are pro-Trump or not – trying to figure out what to make of President Donald Trump.

Aren’t we all?

Truly.

And if you are not aware of it, something strange is going on at the American Embassy in Cuba.  21 Embassy staff are having health issues that stem from who knows what but staffers are suffering hearing and cognitive issues from some unexplained and undetermined attack.  Raul Castro has offered to allow FBI agents to come to Cuba to investigate and the entire diplomatic community in Cuba is concerned because no one knows what’s going on.

A case for the X-Files.

The trees are beginning their turn as I ride the train into New York City.  A heavy fog played over the creek when I woke.

The rhythm of life continues.

Letter From Claverack 05 24 2017 Where is Robin Hood when you need him?

May 25, 2017

This morning one of my guests on the radio show was Tadd Mann, who is an astrologer and, in these parts, is THE astrologer.

He has been a guest at the cottage several times, including the last beautiful night of last year; the next day the damp and dark fell upon us but that night was a moment out of eternity.

He told me that among his skills are those of feng shui, the Chinese art of placement, and that he had just returned from advising some people on the best places to build on their new property.

His belief is that the cottage is so coddled in peace because of its feng shui; whether consciously or not the house was built in the perfect spot on the land, the creek flows correctly, all is good by the rules of the art.

Every time I walk in the door, I feel the pressure in my body fall.  And I need the cottage’s coddling sorely these days.

It feels like I am living in the time of King Richard, off to the Crusades, and Prince John is the keeper of the kingdom.  Prince John, with the Sheriff of Nottingham, is raping the land [and the maidens] while the King is away.

Trump is Prince John and someone is the Sheriff [there are many candidates for that role in this administration].

It feels we are living through an interregnum.  The real king will return someday.

And I am feeling much of this because Trump’s budget has been revealed and it seemed to be a steal from the poor and give to the rich kind of budget.  It is an outrageous plan for America and avoids so much we need to be worried about and hurts, deeply, many of the people who voted for him.

It is outrageous.

The policies being put forward by this administration are mind boggling.  Seriously mind boggling.

Churchill quote on Art

 

Everything needs to be fixed and it doesn’t need to be destroyed.  The ACA was flawed.  So, fix it.  Medicare was flawed and people worked to fix it.  There isn’t anything that can’t be improved and throwing something away isn’t always the best way of fixing.

The CBO analysis of the Republican AHCA has come out, revealed to be more harmful than the first version.

May the Senate stand strong.  On Health Care.  On this cockamamie budget.

If you have been reading me, you know I take breaks from all of this because I can’t take it.  Last week one day, I went through the wormhole and surfaced hours later, dazed, and feeling like I needed a good, long, hot shower with copious amounts of soap.

The New York Post, the mouthpiece for Rupert Murdoch, is reporting that our Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, did not reveal meetings with Russians in forms he filled out.  Nor did Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, reveal meetings with Russians he had had when he applied for security clearance.

Sessions says he didn’t think he needed to because he met them as part of his Senatorial responsibilities. Gosh.

The liberal press will be all over this.  What I find interesting is that the Post is all over this.  The New York Post.  The effing NY Post, the most conservative paper in New York, generally the excuser of all Republican foibles.  Is this the work of James and Lachlan, not fans of Trump?  Or is it that Rupert smells blood in the water and wants to be on the right side of the story?

All of this, and I mean all of this, is so extraordinary it boggles the mind.  Apparently my word for the day.

Which is why I am so glad I can return to my cottage, feng shui perfect, listen to jazz, have a martini or two, and center myself in the earth and realize that there are some things I can do and many things I cannot.

It is my obligation to be aware and to comment.

And it is my obligation to myself to center myself in the universe to survive all this, all of which feels like some dystopian novel I am living through and it is not a novel: it is reality.

So, go be good to yourselves and don’t forget we need to get beyond the interregnum.  The King will return.

Letter From Claverack via the train… March 27, 2017 The future we can almost touch…

March 28, 2017

It is nearing sunset; I am riding north after a day in the city, on the 5:47 out of New York Penn.  Todd, one of our most venerable conductors, is conducting a game of trivia in which all of us who ride in the café car are participating.  It is lovingly raucous.  Some are answering the question before Todd finishes asking the question.

The commute, I don’t miss.  The people I do.  There is a mixture tonight of old regulars and new regulars.  Annette, of Rhinebeck, is screaming answers and folks are singing the songs which are the answers to some of the questions.  It is a moment wrapped in warmth.

The sun slips beneath the Catskills in a glow of burnt orange.  With Trivia Time now over, we have slipped back to reading, working, with more than a few yawns stretching faces wide.

As in every day there seems to be a necessary amount of political conversations.  Our google groups email list for the Empire Regulars, got slightly sidetracked into politics today until Maria, our estimable moderator, stepped in and held up the stop sign.  As always, when Maria decrees, the Regulars accede.

While I am far from politically indifferent, the cascade of commentary is wearing. This is going to be a long, long haul and we must husband our strength over time and be laser focused.

Just before I boarded the train, Andrew Mer, a fellow consultant and I had a brief meeting while we discussed the Miller Center a bit and some other things.  He said something I thought wise.  Trump’s election has laid bare the fissures in our society we have papered over.

And Mr. Trump is helping underscore the fissures.

The attempt to repeal and replace has gone down in flames and there is even a tentative reaching out to Democrats to see what actually be done as the Freedom Caucus is intransient.

California farmers, enthusiastic supporters of Trump, are nonplussed at his immigration intentions.  One said: I thought Trump was kidding.  He is now anxious because his farm in California runs because of illegal immigrants.

The agony of Rockford, Illinois and other rust belt cities is now at the surface and the failure to deal with that, under both Democrats and Republicans, is a national shame, building for generations.  We did not retrain people for other jobs to replace the ones not returning.

And the jobs are not returning until we look at and adapt to the revolution technology is shoving down our throats and figure out what else we can do.

The industrial revolution is coming to an end; whatever history calls this one, we need to find a new way.

The coal jobs in West Virginia probably aren’t coming back.  Machines are mining what men once did.  Driverless cars will toss aside the long-distance drivers, once a way to climb an economic rung.  Not today, not tomorrow but someday, in a future we can almost touch, those jobs will disappear and we are not moving to educate all those people for something different.

The Trump Revolution is not dissimilar to what happened as the Industrial Revolution began the change.  People rioted.  Today they voted.  If we don’t address the systemic issues, the next step will be riots.

The hopeful part is we somehow weathered the arrival of the Industrial Revolution and accomplished incredible things.  In the last hundred years, for those in the west, our life spans have doubled, we are more educated, our lives are quite fantastic compared to that of our grandparents.  There are friends of mine who are alive because of what has been achieved.

And we need to focus on the fact we are in a revolutionary period.  Trump isn’t looking there nor was Hillary Clinton.  Our politicians on both sides are facing the past, not the future.

The brilliance of Kennedy was he painted a picture of what could be, not what was.

We have raised the lid on the septic tank and need to clean it now.

What we are achieving technologically in this time has the promise of catapulting us to another level and very few seem to realize it and fewer still imagine how to use it for the common good.

 

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.

img_1681

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 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.

 

 

Letter from Claverack 01 10 2017 One age ends, another begins… God help us everyone!

January 11, 2017

It is latish, for me.  The clock is moving toward 11 PM and, generally, by this time, I am in bed, reading, watching a video, falling asleep.  But not tonight.  I am just home from an evening with some friends.  We watched a movie on DVD, while having dinner and then watched President Obama’s farewell speech.

There were six of us, I think.  Some cried.  As I watched, I hoped I was not watching the curtain fall on a period of our democracy.  It’s my fear that I will not live long enough to see the other side of the journey we have chosen to take by electing Donald Trump our next President.

Obama extolled us to be activists and I am choosing to be.  I am one of the organizers of a local group we are calling Blue DOT, Democracy Opposing Trump.  How active we are will depend on his actions and the actions of the Republican Congress after they take office.

Obamacare is a flawed system and it is providing help to many who would not have it otherwise.  I know a few, friends who in the years following the economic slump of 2008 and beyond who were hobbled by career misfortune and personal situations and they had no health insurance until Obamacare offered a window.

It’s flawed but it is something.  We spend more on healthcare than anyone in the world and we rank something like 27 in the world for the success of our health care.  In all the time the Republicans were attempting to repeal Obamacare there never was an alternative offered.

Driving home, the exegesis of Obama’s remarks was in full swing on NPR and I heard former Republican leader Eric Cantor say there was no point in offering an alternative to Obamacare though Mr. Cantor did attempt a modification of the ACA when he was in office and the Republicans shut him down for a minor change he wanted.  They wanted nothing to do with ACA.

In the quiet of my home, the creek lit by my lights, thin sheets of ice on each its banks, I am afraid, fearing for the country I do love, for all its flaws.

If you get a chance, read Doug Blackmon’s “Slavery by Another Name.”  It is painful reading and helps me understand what awful, evil things we have done to people of color in this country and while things are much better, they are not yet good and equal.

A quarter of the way through the book, I have paused because each page makes me feel pain and shame about things I never knew but should have known.

Doug won a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for it.  There was also an acclaimed PBS series based on the book.

We are moving into territory none of us could have imagined.  There is an unverified report which was part of a briefing to both President Elect Trump and to President Obama, that the Russians have compromising information on Trump’s personal life and financial situation.

Tomorrow, Trump will hold a news conference.  Unless he cancels it again.  There will be a lot of questions, understandably.  It is supposed to be about how he will separate himself from his business interests and it will be about his Russian connections.

Part of the unverified report states that there were ongoing conversations between the Trump campaign and Russia.

It is unverified and we need to know if it is true.

There is so much we need to know about Mr. Trump and his nominees for Cabinet positions.  I don’t like Jeff Sessions and don’t want him as Attorney General but at least he is one of the few, if not the only Cabinet nominee, who filled out the required paperwork.

It’s my fear we are about to enter an age in which everyone in government feels they are above the law.

In his speech, Obama challenged us not to allow that to happen.

God help us everyone!

 

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 08 2017 And the robots are coming to get us?

January 9, 2017

Outside the cottage, it is a cold winter night.  It’s sixteen degrees and feels like three, per my Weather Channel App.  Tonight, I will be leaving the kitchen cupboard doors open and the faucets dripping.  So far, so good.  No frozen pipes yet.

Soft jazz is playing on the Echo and its Alexa technology was the hit of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  Auto manufacturers are integrating Alexa into their vehicles.  It is, apparently, the “Killer App” of this year’s CES, which was, apparently, all about technology coming to automobiles.

Alan Murray, who is CEO of Fortune Magazine and Chief Content Officer for Time, Inc. writes a daily blog called the “CEO Daily.”  I suggest you subscribe.  He wrote this week, from CES, that all companies are becoming technology companies.  It also appears, to me, that all companies are becoming media companies.  It is a huge transformation that is going on.

Despite all the rhetoric about jobs being lost to China and Mexico [and some are], the biggest danger to jobs everywhere is the rise of Artificial Intelligence.  A Japanese insurance company is laying off several dozen people because it has found software they feel will do a better job than the people, an offshoot of IBM’s super brain Watson.

Because of where the cottage is located, I have trouble with my mobile signal.  I have a micro-cell.  It has been giving me trouble tonight.  When I phoned AT&T, I had an entire conversation with a gentleman who was not, in fact, anyone. He was an AI interface.

There is an Echo in my home and so I am experiencing the Alexa technology first hand.  Amazing!

Great fun and a little disconcerting.  And more and more jobs will be lost to AI in the years to come because we are looking at technology to replace us.  There are a lot of Uber drivers out there but what happens to them when self-driving cars become common?  What happens to all the long-haul truck drivers when there are self-driving trucks?  What happens to all the crews of ships when we have self-piloting ships?

We are on the way to being replaced by technology.  And we need to figure this out.  Because it is happening.

Donald Trump is going to be sworn in as President of these United States.  A lot of folks voted for him, I think, because he was addressing the issue of job degradation which has been going on but, I think, it was a backward-looking view because the real worry right now, globally, is not moving jobs off shore.  That is so 2000.  It is about the fact we are losing jobs to Artificial Intelligence.  That is so 2017.  And I don’t hear Trump addressing that.

Since I was a kid, I have loved science fiction and I am living in an age which would have been science fiction when I was a child.  Excuse me, I just ask Alexa for a new jazz station and I get it. I ask her for the weather; I get it.  It’s amazing and now we must deal with the job realities of what we’re doing because jobs will disappear as we create more and more devices to take care of us.

In airports, we have all seen the iPad devices that let us order what we want which is then delivered by a human.  In about two years, there will be robots which will take care of that.  What happens to those human servers?

Oh, and does anyone remember Hoot-Smalley?  It was a bill passed in Congress to restrict trade after the stock market crashed.  It created the Great Depression and I am fearing we will do something like this with the Trump Administration.

Look, I’m lucky.  I am in the third act of my life; I have ridden the great American boom of the last half of the Twentieth Century to the max.  Not rich, not poor, full of life experiences I never thought I would have.  Every day I do my best to remember to be grateful.

And I hope I am not Louis XV, saying “after me, the deluge.”

Letter From Claverack 11 21 2016 Join me on the barricades, please…

November 22, 2016

It is November 21st.

Three days after my birthday, a time of extraordinary celebration.  Starting on the night of the 17th, I had dinner with my friends Annette & David Fox.  Leaving them, I connected with my friend Robert Murray and I kept him company while he ate at Thai Market.  Feeling frisky, we followed that by a stopover at Buceo, a Wine Bar on 95th Street.  Things got a little hazy about then.

And that was okay.

The following day, I took the train north and met my friend Larry Divney and his friend, Mark, at Ca’Mea for a birthday lunch.  Then dinner with Lionel and Pierre.

Saturday, I spent the day doing my best to respond personally to everyone who had wished me “Happy Birthday” on Facebook or in emails.  I am still doing that.

It was great.  It was wonderful.  It was a great and lovely distraction in this most confusing time.

Donald Trump, billionaire reality TV star, is the President Elect.

My friend, Pierre, husband to Lionel White, more than best friend said it was [and he is right] that it’s a little bit like we’re Italy and we have elected Silvio Berlusconi as President.

For days, I have done my best to adjust to this.

Over the weekend, for my birthday celebrations, people entered the evening doing their best not to talk politics but that lasted maybe five minutes. How can you not talk politics at this moment?  Once people realized they were in a “safe” place there were revelatory expressions of emotions…

In whatever way you want to think about it, there has been a major shift in American politics.  What I saw this weekend was a beginning of a counter-revolution, a sudden and decisive movement by the left to become a “loyal opposition.”

For years, they/we have felt we had the moral high ground and that was just whisked away from us.  So who are we?

We are faced with the rightfully disenfranchised who voted to place Trump in office. [Let us make note that he did not win the POPULAR vote.]  He won the Electoral College vote, an arcane system I haven’t really thought about since I studied it in high school civics and so I need to understand it better as TWICE in this short century, a President has been elected who won the popular vote but did not win the Electoral College.

As I said, I need to study this but it seems the Electoral College was weighted to help slave states be reasonably represented.  So much to relearn… Or learn for the first time!

We are entering a decisive time and, I think, everyone call feel it.  Politics in this country will never be the same.

Nor should it.  A registered Independent, I am resolutely Liberal and now I have found I must actively fight for the liberal ideals in which I believe.

Join me on the barricades!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 11 14 2016 The world we are waking to…

November 15, 2016

On Sunday, as I was returning to my pew post communion, one of my fellow parishioners, Susan Schuette, reached out her hand to me and asked if everything was alright?  She had noticed a dearth of postings since Election Day.

Wednesday, the day after the Election, I had cataract surgery [which went very well] and it gave me the perfect excuse to be at home with the blinds drawn, to not listen to the news, to eat comfort food and to binge watch on Amazon Prime.  I ate enough mashed potatoes with gravy AND butter for a family of five.

In the slightly hungover state from the relaxants they gave me while working on my eye, I sought to absorb the absolute fact the Donald Trump, television reality star, billionaire real estate mogul, orange tinged with the magnificently weird hair, was President Elect.

Rejoicing is being had on the right while the left is shattered and, quite frankly, totally at a loss as to what has happened.

My dear, dear friend Sarah, known since we were three, and I spoke today.  She lived for seven years in Franco’s Spain and feels we are moving in that direction, to be living in that kind of fear.  A social worker, her Hispanic clients are terrified, if undocumented they fear a door to door search for them.  If documented, they simply fear being profiled and harassed or worse.

Events since the election have fueled all our fears.

At an Episcopal Church in Maryland, the times for Spanish language service were torn down, replaced by graffiti that said: Trump Nation.  Whites only!

At the University at Pennsylvania, incoming African American students received emails from a group called “Mudmen,” announcing a “Nigger” lynching every day.

In Wellsville, NY a dugout was spray painted with the words:  Make America White Again, with a swastika.

dugout-hate

The swastika seems to be a much used symbol for those who are doing these things.

It has been reported in St. Louis a group of high school students marched through their school halls with a Trump sign shouting, “White power!  White power!”

A Muslim woman at the University of Michigan was approached by a white man, demanding she remove her hijab or be set on fire.

Ah, yes, the milk of human kindness…

When asked what I think, I say that I expect the next few years are going to be experiential.

A friend phoned me on Thursday and we talked about the election and he said, well you don’t have anything to be worried about.  After all, Pence is the one who is going to be running things after all.

Pence is homophobic.  Mentioning that to my friend, I said I did not feel safer as a gay man in America since this election.  Some of Trump’s supporters say unpleasant things about us though Trump did say in an interview with Lesley Stahl for “60 Minutes” that gay marriage was the law of the land.

He also told, in a bit of milk toast sort of way, that his supporters who might be doing anti-Semitic actions or harassing Hispanics to stop it.  It didn’t sound all that forceful.

The New York Post has called “fake” incidents of hate crimes since the election.  Maybe they would have happened anyway.  I’m not convinced.

It is a sobering time.  It is now my responsibility to be vigilant and to work against moments of hate.  It is my responsibility to work to restore a more liberal voice in this country and I will.  I’m not sure how but I will find some way to do it.

Republicans own the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and 32 of 50 gubernatorial posts.  They have the run of the land.  Let us see what they do with it.

And let us be prepared to be the loyal opposition.

At Christ Church Episcopal on Sunday, safety pins were given out.  They are to say to those who are frightened because of color, sex, race, religion, disability that you are a person they can be safe with.

Safty pin.jpg

Mine will be worn tomorrow.  It maybe I will offer them to my students.  It is my hope we all continue to be safe and that we are not falling into my friend Sarah’s fear that we are living in a time that will evolve into Franco’s Spain.