Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

Letter From Claverack 03 07 2017 A day late but not necessarily a dollar short…

March 8, 2017

Written yesterday, having fallen into the arms of Morpheus before I could post or email…

This has been a very hygge kind of day.  There is a document I need to deliver to the Miller Center and I have been cozied up in the cottage all day working on it.  Outside, it has been drear, chill and damp.  Inside, it’s been warm and comfortable.

Waking, I started a fire in the Franklin Stove to help take the chill off the cottage.

Yesterday, I had started working on a document I owe the Miller Center on the Presidency and today I worked to complete the first draft so I could hone it tomorrow and send it off to them.

Since 7:00 this morning, I have been working.  First, I curled up in bed and handled the voluminous number of emails I receive. Then I made coffee in my Clever Coffee Dripper, a new investment on my search for a great cup of morning coffee. [Not bad…]

Since 9 this morning, I have been huddled over my laptop, working, sorting through a variety of documents, making sense of thoughts I’ve had.  It’s been good, exhausting but good.

It’s lovely to stretch my mind and this has been one of the greatest stretches of my recent time, putting together media recommendations for the Miller Center for the Presidency at this exact moment in time.

Wow! Juicy good.

Every morning I wake up and wonder what has happened while I’m asleep.  While it makes some of my friends crazy angry, I can’t do that.  It’s more like: Wow! At least to me.

There is a new Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare and in reading articles right now, it seems DOA.  Conservative Republicans hate it; Democrats despise it and to some it doesn’t make much sense.  The games have begun and we’re off to the races.

Yikes.  It’s a mess.

As is the claim by President Trump that former President Obama ordered wiretaps on Trump Tower.  The President has offered no back-up to his claim and has, per Sean Spicer, no regrets about his tweets.

Oh, dear.

Some of my friends wake up apoplectic about all of this.  I don’t.  History is playing out and I am very curious about history will play out.  It is incredible what is happening.

While the Trump allegations are playing out, Wikileaks has dumped a huge amount of information which lets us know that the CIA has been monitoring us through our Smart TVs, our phones and our cars.

We can’t blame this on Trump.  This has been going on before him.  Call me shocked.  What’s been going on?  Glad I don’t have a Smart TV but I do have a Smart Phone.  Wonder what they know about me?

This feels very “1984,” a book by George Orwell that became very popular after the Trump election.  All of this, though, started before that.

I, Joe Average Citizen, and I am a Joe Average Citizen, seem to have discovered my government is routinely spying on me and I am perturbed by that.

Really perturbed…

What world am I living in?  Has the CIA become the Stasi?  I am immensely confused by the world I am living in as it is not the world I expected.

Call me naïve. Call me stupid.  The CIA is watching our Smart TV’s?  My Smart Phone?

Wowza, that scary sci-fi future is here.

And so I am at home, doing my best to assimilate all this and also doing my best to be very hygge.  And it has been a hygge kind of day.

Great jazz.  Working on a project for which I have passion, fire in the Franklin Stove, watching the gray day slip by.  That has been hygge.  We need it, I suspect, in a world that seems to have gone mad around me.

Electing Hillary Clinton would have carried us safely down the stream for a while.  Donald Trump is forcing us to confront our democracy.

Oh, dear.








Letter From Claverack 10 16 2016 From a place of tranquility…

October 16, 2016

It is a beautiful afternoon in October in Claverack.  The leaves that fill my vision as I sit here on the deck are golden and some fallen ones float regally down the creek toward the pond.


It was a day when I had an enormously difficult time waking up; every time the alarm went off, I hit the snooze button.  Finally, I staggered out of bed and into the day.  Slightly ambivalent about going to church, I reminded myself of the bag of groceries I had purchased for the Food Pantry at the Church and so I made my way there, a little late but still there.


From church, I made my way to the Dot for Eggs Benedict on potato latkes.  And then home to wait for my friend Larry to arrive, bringing me some wood from his farm for my winter woodstove fires.

He and I sat on the deck after it was stacked, and admired the beauty of the place, enjoying the moment while listening to jazz.  He has now left and I am here, at the end of the afternoon, still listening to jazz and enjoying the beauty of the spot, the moment, and basking in the long friendship Larry and I have enjoyed, stretching back now more than thirty years.


It is always easy here to slip into an avoidance of the world.  This is a place of tranquility.

Beyond here – and sometimes I do not want to move beyond here – the world is a mess.

Aleppo is being pulverized and no one seems to know how to stop it.  Assad and Putin seem to have no respect or care for the citizens trapped there.  It is a strategic notch they need in their belts and so the dying continues.  Reports indicate Aleppo looks like Berlin in 1945, a decimated city.

Donald Trump has once more been skewered on Saturday Night Live, not that Hillary got off easily.  He has denounced the performance in his famous tweets.

He has increasingly been declaring that the election process is rigged.  Some observers think that if he loses he is doing his best to delegitimize a Clinton Presidency.

It is rumored that the CIA is preparing a major cyberattack against Russia for its alleged attacks on American institutions, including the Democratic Party.  This is a new kind of warfare.

And in thinking of a new world, a friend told me that every year from now on, 3% of jobs will be lost to robots.  I think I’m glad I am at the place in life I am.  It will be interesting to see how all of this shakes out.

Soon, I will let you know how my experience with Cozmo goes.  It should arrive this week.

It is supposed to learn from me how to react to me.  A robot pet of sorts, I guess, and I couldn’t resist experimenting with it.

Cozmo is my birthday present to myself.




Letter From New York Dec 10, 2014 Beacon on the hill?

December 10, 2014

Writing this, I am headed back north after having spent the evening in the city, going to the Downton Abbey event and then having a late night dinner with my friend Robert. While I was riding down into the city yesterday, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California was unveiling the Senate Report on the CIA’s use of torture in the years following 9/11. By the time I arrived at the Acela Club at Penn Station to wait until it was time to go to the event, the airwaves were alight with the reactions to the Executive Summary of the Report, which runs in itself 525 pages. The actual Report, which remains top secret, is over 6,000 pages. Even Tolstoy would be amazed.

There are varied reactions to the Report, mostly down party lines. Republican Senator John McCain came out with a thoughtful, I thought, statement on the facts as outlined by the Senate Committee. As I read his statement, he said he understands the reasons that caused the use of these methods and that the folks both approving and performing the acts outlined in the Report thought they were doing what was necessary, he disputes the methods and that “we are always Americans, and different, and stronger, and better than those who would destroy us.”

The “acts” outlined in the Report were harsh and brutal and, according to the Report, both unnecessary and not fruitful. They included waterboarding; sleep deprivation, and something called “rectal rehydration,” which sounds pretty disgusting.

While waiting for the Downton event, I went online from my phone and absorbed what I could about the news breaking around the Report. As I was going to sleep, I thought about it and when I woke this morning and was having my morning coffee, I felt sobered.

It is one thing to suspect something has happened and it is another to be forced to confront the reality of it. As far as I can tell, no one is denying that things happened. What is being debated is the efficacy of the acts. The Senate Committee Report says they weren’t effective and the CIA is saying, yes, they were.

It is a debate that is raging and one that we should have. There are those who think the Report should never have been made public and there are those who are hailing its release as a sign that though we make mistakes [and even the CIA says “mistakes” were made], we can, as a country, admit those mistakes and work to ensure they never happen again.

It is sobering to me perhaps because I was born in that time after WWII when we presented to the world and to ourselves, a vision of ourselves, of this country, as the beacon of liberty and that we did things differently than other countries.

As an adult, now, I am not sure that was true. I have, after all, lived through Viet Nam, Bhopal, Afghanistan, Iraq and other sundry events that have left me wondering about the role of the United States in international events. But I always believed – and, in fact – still do, that we, for all our many mistakes, do our best to do the right thing.

But it is still sobering, this Senate Committee Report. If true, it means we have made some serious mistakes. Good that we are admitting them and working to see them righted.

I agree with Senator McCain’s assessment. I can understand how these decisions were made but am disturbed that they were. It is my hope – and prayer – that we do our best to prevent more “mistakes” and that we continue striving to be the beacon on the hill of freedom.