Posts Tagged ‘Duterte’

Letter From Claverack 04 30 2017 Without hope, we have nothing…

May 1, 2017

It is a Sunday evening at the cottage.  Jazz is playing, the lights splash the creek.  I have made myself a martini.  It was a typical Sunday, up early, read the NY Times and a few articles from the WSJ online before the shower and then off to church, where I did the readings and then coffee hour, errands before settling at the Dot for a long and lazy brunch, reading more off my phone and chatting with a few people, home to the cottage, put away laundry, got the trash together and sat down to write.

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Very hygge.

Because I need the steady rhythm of familiar things in this Age of Trump.

His aides were caught off guard when he extended an invitation to President Duterte of the Philippines to come visit him during a Saturday call.  If you haven’t been following it, President Duterte has been accused of extra-judicial killings in that country’s current “drug war.” Now those surprised aides are preparing for an avalanche of criticism as it’s hard to find a world leader disliked as much as Duterte by pretty much everyone.

Then, after unleashing a problem for everyone around him, Mr. Trump jetted off to Harrisburg, PA for a campaign style rally to “record breaking crowds,” where he railed to his supporters about the media which was, at the same time, roasting him in DC, even if he was not there.  In two events, the official White House Correspondents’ Dinner and the Samantha Bee hosted “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner” withered the sitting President, the first to have missed this event since 1981, when Ronald Reagan was recuperating from an assassin’s attack.

I wake up in the morning and find I am in a state of continuing bemusement in what is going on in Washington.  It is reality television, which is what we should have expected when we elected a reality television star to the Presidency.  With Reagan, we had an actor who knew how to deliver his lines.  There aren’t really “lines” in reality television.  There is direction but no script.  We have a President who is making up his script as he goes along, knowing he knows better than everyone else.  Even if he doesn’t.

The WSJ, a deeply conservative publication, to which I now subscribe, seems to be wanting to support him and just can’t find a way not to point out that it’s all a little…off.

And it is more than a little off.

Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff, said the White House was looking at ways of changing the libel laws to make it easier to for Trump to sue media organizations who criticize him.  Imagine how the Democrats responded to that, not to mention many Republicans?  Not pretty.  Do we not remember the First Amendment?  Or is Trump being inspired by Erdogan of Turkey who has been arresting thousands of people he suspects of being disloyal while cracking down on the press?  Cracking down makes it sound nice.  He is dismantling any vocal opposition to him.

One thing we should note is that the economy grew at the slowest rate in three years in the first quarter of Trump.   Maybe it’s a holdover from Obama or maybe it’s the fear of Trump.

We are in a political Wild West except in this Wild West we have nuclear weapons.

It’s a dark time in American democracy and we need to remember, in this “of the moment” world in which we live, this has not been the only dark time in American democracy.  We had the Civil War, dark time.  We survived Andrew Jackson, a really, really not nice President [who, by the way, our current President seems to identify with].

We will, God willing, live through this.

In the meantime, I will play jazz.  I will drink martinis.  I will write and I will hope, because without hope we have nothing.

 

 

Letter From The Train 10 21 2016 Parsing the post debate world…

October 21, 2016

As the train moves north, the Hudson River is steel grey while bordered by trees with leaves of rust, gold, crimson and green.  The beautiful day on Tuesday is a but a memory; this Friday ride is on a day of grey and chill, with intermittent spits of rain.

My niece, Kristen, and I texted each other throughout the debate, commenting on both candidates.  While we both support Hillary, we are not immune to her faults.  It seemed such an effort for her to smile and when she did, it looked so forced as to be painful.  But being on the stage with Trump must have been painful for her.

The candidates did not shake hands before or after.  I don’t think I remember that happening before.

It was no effort for Trump to be dour and sour.  It is his natural state it seems.

During the first part of the debate, he held it together better than he had and looked like he was on track to do what he was supposed to do – not lose his cool.  But then he did; not as badly as before but enough that he was damaged and more Republicans are distancing themselves from him.

Somewhere after about twenty minutes, he began to lose the thread, veering off the script someone must have given him.  Calling Hillary “a nasty woman” may hurt more than he ever meant as it might well be a catalyst to some women who had been leaning toward him to back away.

The thing he said that had most up in arms was his failure to agree to accept the result of the election. He’ll keep us “in suspense” on that one.  Newspapers around the country led with his statement.

Trump clarified later.  He will accept the results of the election — if he wins.  It also seems he has backed away from that a bit more, saying he would, maybe.

Donald called Hillary “wrong” when she said he had supported the Iraq War before it began.  Hillary told people to google “Donald Trump Iraq.”  And many did.  There is the evidence, in a tape on Howard Stern’s Radio Program, of Trump supporting the idea of the war before it had begun.

Hillary claimed her plans wouldn’t raise the deficit.  That’s doubtful.  Trump refuted claims his plans would raise the deficit by twenty trillion dollars, double what it is.  He claimed that it wasn’t true because he would create so many jobs.  Also doubtful.

Every year of a presidential election, there is the Al B. Smith Dinner to raise funds for the charitable foundation named after the man who was the first Catholic to run for President.

Hillary was on one side of Cardinal Dolan and Donald was on the other.  The civility and joking that is the signature of this traditional dinner was soon lost to hostility.  Trump was booed when he went over the line by saying something like:  Hillary is here pretending she doesn’t hate Catholics, a reference to a WikiLeaks released email from her campaign expressing concern about conservative Catholics.

But they shook hands at the end, an event that was announced from the stage.

President Duterte of the Philippines is in China, where he has declared that his country will “separate” from the United States as we “have lost.”  However, he didn’t give China the carrot they really wanted.  He won’t walk away from the 1951 deal that gives the US bases in the Philippines.

Duterte is quite the character.  He has been accused of mounting squads of killers when he was a Mayor.  The Philippines Senate is looking into those charges and some senior officials have been saying: oh no!  He didn’t mean separation.

He has compared his crusade against drug dealers and users to Hitler’s Holocaust.

The battle to retake Mosul carries on while at the same time, IS has launched an attack on oil rich Kirkuk with suicide bombers and gunmen targeting police.  In Mosul, Iraqi fighters have made significant gains, probably better than expected.  But Kirkuk pointed out the shift in IS tactics to “pop up” attacks rather than holding territory.  And that even when vanquished from Mosul, they will not have been defeated.

In forty or so minutes, I will be back in Hudson.  In my mailbox, it is my hope, is my Cozmo, my robotic toy, which I hope will divert me from the trials and travails of the “real” world.

Though my world has not been harsh to me today.  Last night I watched my friend Todd Broder present to the NY Video Meet-up, had dinner with a friend and, today, breakfast with my friends Meryl and Ray before a pre-op physical [my eye] and now the grey ride home…

Later.

 

 

Letter From the Train 09 15 2016 Thoughts Heading South

September 15, 2016

It is stunning today as I am riding south to the city.  It is a perfect September day, low humidity, temperature in the 70’s, sunny with glints of silver reflecting off the water of the Hudson while low puffy clouds rest behind the Catskills.

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Tonight I am on my way to the city [New York] to have dinner with my friend Ann Frisbee Namye, with whom I worked thirty years ago at A&E and who I have not seen for twenty years.  She connected with me through LinkedIn and we set a dinner date while on a business trip to New York.  I’m excited.

To be truthful, I haven’t let much noise in over the week.  The days have been too special for that.  I woke up happy this morning and didn’t disturb that happiness with a burst of news.  Besides, I had a lot of organizing to do as I was teaching this morning and had lots of handouts for my students.

So I checked into the news once I boarded the train.  Panic at the poll numbers is upon us.  Trump is closing on Hillary and fright walks the land and one Democratic friend of mine may actually have another panic attack over this.

It is my choice not to panic and to read the article that tells me that the polls are meaningless at this moment.

Though the thought of Trump as President is scary.  His Presidency would be one long fright night, I fear.

He released a letter from his doctor of thirty years after a physical on Friday, stating he was in good health.  He was the same doctor who earlier wrote a letter in five minutes stating how healthy Trump was.

When I was in college, many friends made extra money by driving cabs.  Now they’d be driving for Uber.  And those opportunities may go away if Google and Uber and Lyft and the car companies get their way.

Uber has launched a pilot program in Pittsburgh with driverless cars.  They have a back-up human for now but eventually the back-ups will go and then some day there will be no taxi or Uber or Lyft drivers for that matter.  Gone the way of the Dodo…

In yet another gun tragedy, police in Columbus, Ohio shot to death a 13-year-old black robbery suspect.  He apparently pulled from his belt a BB gun that looks almost exactly like standard issue weaponry for the Columbus police.  What adult would allow a child to have such a weapon, such a thing?

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said, “A 13-year-old is dead in the city of Columbus because of our obsession with guns.”

And in a stunning additional gun tragedy, a 77-year-old resident of a Senior Home shot two other residents and a staff member, fled the scene on a bicycle and then killed himself as officers approached.  Apparently, he was upset about poker games.

Jackson Grubb, a nine-year-old from West Virginia, took his life on Saturday because he was being bullied.  I feel like crying.

Today in class the subject of the exploding Samsung Note 7 came up and one of my students almost exploded out of her seat.  It was the first she had heard of it.  Another Note 7 blew up as owners are not listening to the recall requests.

If you have a Note 7, go to the phone store and get it replaced.  Please.  I saw what one did to a jeep the other day online and it was horrific.  This was not a small explosion.  It looked like the vehicle had been car bombed.

Filipino President Duterte, who apparently called President Obama a “son of a whore” is now being accused of ordering extrajudicial killings while he was Mayor of Davao City.  The Senate of that country is investigating.

And now I am caught up with the dreck that is happening out there beyond my world and have inoculated you with it – not in the sense of giving you a vaccine but in planting thoughts.

Today in class I was talking about persuasive speaking and one of the points I made was that a persuasive speaker inoculated their audience by planting ideas that would lead to change.

Perhaps some of these facts will inoculate you to work for change.  Fewer guns, a way to end bullying, more sensible politics…

And I woke up happy and I plan to go to bed happy.