Posts Tagged ‘Giuliani’

Letter From New York 02 22 15 Happy Oscars Viewing…

February 22, 2015

Unusually, I am starting work on my blog early in the afternoon; usually I wait until the sun has begun set but about that time today I will need to be down at the Hudson Train station to pick up friends who are returning from Baltimore, where they spent the weekend.

The Hudson Train Station is charming in its way. It is the oldest operating train station in the Amtrak system. It looks much the way I imagined it looked in the 1940’s.

Almost a hundred and fifty years ago, the train carrying the body of Lincoln and his son, Willie, back to Illinois, stopped for a few minutes in Hudson, greeted by a tableaux that was described by Edward David Townsend, Commander of the train, as “one of the most weird ever witnessed.” There was a coffin, with a lady in white draped over it, mourning; the station was draped in black and white bunting, with evergreens. At either end of the coffin were a soldier and a sailor. A number of women, also dressed in white, sang dirges. All of this was lit by torchlight. No wonder Townsend thought it weird. [Thank you to The Gossips of Rivertown for the details.]

The town is planning to recreate that weird scene this April 25th, the Sesquicentennial of the event. I can’t wait.

Hopefully, by April, the weather will have warmed. We are still living in the land of snow, ice and cold. Today it is warming up to thirty degrees, only to plunge again in the days ahead with more snow predicted.

What I would not have predicted was turning to the news today to find that Al-Shabaab, the Somali terrorist group, had released a video suggesting there should be attacks against American and Canadian shopping malls, including Mall of America, which is in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis, my home town. Particularly of concern is that the Minneapolis area is home to many refugees from Somalia. Al-Shabaab has been actively recruiting young men from there and some have gone back to Somalia to fight for them.

Perhaps more predictable is that there is still heat in Giuliani’s comment about Obama not loving America. Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California suggests we should thank Giuliani for questioning the President’s love of country. Not unexpectedly, the NY Times has countered with a chronicle of the number of times President Obama has declared his love of country. Giuliani reports he is receiving death threats.

Brian Williams continues to take it on the chin. Today he is being criticized for not giving money to his “cash strapped” high school. I haven’t given money to my high school either. I didn’t like the place very much.

Tonight, of course, are the Oscars. But have you paid attention to last night’s Razzie Awards? They’re given out to Hollywood’s worst. SAVING CHRISTMAS, starring Kirk Cameron won Worst Picture. He won Worst Actor, too. Cameron Diaz won Worst Actress for SEX TAPE and THE OTHER WOMAN. Worst Screen Combo was won by Kirk Cameron and “His Ego.”

I attended the Razzies the year Halle Berry won for Worst Actress for CATWOMAN. She arrived clutching her Oscar and was quite funny. They have grown from a personal party to Hollywood’s anti-Oscars.

Tonight’s Oscars will be interesting. It appears that BIRDMAN and BOYHOOD will be duking it out for Best Picture. Having seen both of them last night, I would be hard pressed to make a choice. Both were excellent, neither of them blockbusters, just very, very good films.

The sun is brilliant today, casting clear dark shadows on the freshly fallen snow. Marcel, the dog I am babysitting, sits asleep at my feet as I write this. Having not eaten yet today, I am going to head down to the Red Dot for a bite before picking up my friends.

Happy Oscar viewing!

Letter From New York 02 21 15 As the snow falls…

February 22, 2015

Outside my window, a soft swirl of fresh snow is falling. Soft jazz plays in the living room, with the sound drifting to my desk where I am writing. The day has turned grey and everything outside looks muted.  The big orange plow trucks are patrolling the streets but I am now in for the duration, a fire burning in the Franklin stove. My neighbors’ dog, Marcel, is asleep in the living room. I am babysitting him for the night; I have done so before. He is quiet, good company.

Around noon, I went down to Hudson to meet a friend at Stair Gallery, where he was bidding on some objects at their auction. Just before I arrived an enameled music box went for $120,000. He won the bid on a piece of silver, an articulated fish, and then we went off to lunch.

Post lunch, I dropped him back at the Gallery and came on home to tend to Marcel and to be off the roads, already treacherous when I was heading home at 2:30.

I have come to love these muted grey days, sitting at my laptop, working on this blog, music in the background, finding touch points with events of the day.

Like most days, this one started with coffee, very strong, and a dollop of the NY Times.

Yemen’s former leader left the capital last night, either released or escaped. No one seems to know. But when he reached his hometown of Aden in the south, he took up residence in the Presidential Palace.

In a startling kind of strategy, the Pentagon seems to be broadcasting its intentions to retake Mosul in the spring. Why, many are asking, would you want to broadcast that? Surely not! The response was that it was hoped that all the manpower being readied would discourage IS and encourage the residents of Mosul to rise up against IS.

Senator McCain is not amused. I am not surprised!

The truce in Ukraine remains fragile. The British Foreign Minister and Secretary of State John Kerry have been talking and they are talking about stronger sanctions against Russia.

Former New York Mayor Giuliani’s comment about Obama not loving America continues to get play. Not surprisingly, Rev. Al Sharpton is enraged while Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin commented that he really didn’t know whether Obama loved America or not. Walker is running for the Republican nomination for President.

Giuliani is no longer politically relevant and seems to be enjoying his moment, again, in the spotlight. He has no reason not to keep it up; he likes his name in lights. I agree with the White House on this one. It is sad.

The financial conundrum that is Greece continues to keep us on edge. A deal has been, apparently, reached.   In getting to this place, the Greek Prime Minister, Tsipras, has said: we won a battle, not the war.

Truer words were never said.

Tsipras has a lot to sell to the Greek public as the new deal, if it happens, has Greece still bowing to the Eurozone. It is a lifeline, not a solution.

Seeking a solution to a problem I didn’t know existed, Proctor and Gamble is selling off nearly a hundred brands in their portfolio, including Duracell Batteries, which will go to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway next year.

This year is the 50th Anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination and hundreds gathered in New York to mark the moment.

There continues to be an exegesis of Brian Williams’ fall from grace. There will be an almost uncountable number of them written between now and the end of his suspension and, depending on what happens after that, countless more. The world is not being kind to Brian Williams and the comparisons to Edward R. Murrow have been unkind.

Outside it has grown dark. The jazz continues to play and I am near the end of this blog, for today.

It is predicted that the brutal cold will not be so brutal but that the snow will continue. Boston is a slow moving tragedy. Different from a hurricane, the snow has been probably as destructive to Boston as a hurricane would be to some cities but because it is slow moving, no one is noticing.

Tomorrow is another day. It’s the day of the Academy Awards. I am going to watch BIRDMAN and BOYHOOD this evening, the top contenders for the Best Picture Award.

Letter From New York 01 20 15 Having a good visit…

February 20, 2015

Train travel has been unpredictable today so to ensure that I am up in Hudson for dinner with my good friend, Paul Krich, I have moved my train up to the 3:15 Empire Service so that I will actually arrive in time for dinner.

I am sitting in the Acela Lounge in Penn Station waiting for my train, hoping that another of my very good friends, Robert Murray, will be making the journey with me. He needs to get home in time for a Soccer League Board Meeting. Always good company, his presence would be a boost but he might not make it until the 4:40. Last night we had dinner and drinks at Thai Market, having a good visit or, as my Australian friends would say, a good “chin wag.”

Waking this morning, it was blistering cold in New York with wind chills of minus eleven. And the heat didn’t seem to be working well last night so it was cold inside and out. I huddled under the covers, reading the Times and drinking coffee, took a long, hot shower and went out to brave the world.

When I reached Penn Station, I treated myself to a bowl of New England Clam Chowder and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc at Tracks Restaurant on the lower level and then came up to wait for my train.

In the background, CNN is on the television. They are reporting on three British schoolgirls who have apparently flown to Istanbul with the intention of crossing into Syria to join IS. Their parents are understandably frantic.

My heart goes out to them. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to wake up and find that your daughter has gone off to join IS.

IS has made an art form of their murders and have gained huge attention to them. Also very real is that everyday many are dying from barrel bombs being dropped by the Syrian Air Force, wretched weapons designed to do maximum civilian damage. But they have not gotten the attention that IS has gotten with its gruesome videos. Yesterday, I said they were clever with their messaging.

In breaking news, it appears the Eurozone has come to some sort of agreement with Greece, which is good news for everyone – until we lurch into the next Greek crisis. It may be a case of kicking the can down the road. I haven’t seen any details yet.

Yesterday, Rudy Giuliani declared that Obama doesn’t love America. It has become a bit of a case of “open mouth, insert foot.” Reactions have not been very good though Gov. Jindahl of Louisiana agrees, sort of.

Speaking of Obama, he was at the winter meeting of the Democratic Party, both mocking and criticizing Republicans, being relentlessly upbeat and energizing his party.

In Libya, 45 were killed in IS bombings. In Somalia, some government officials died while saying their prayers, killed by suicide bombers. More Muslims killing other Muslims.

Closer to home, the former First Lady of Virginia, Maureen McDonnell, was sentenced to twelve months and one day in jail. Her husband, the former Governor, was sentenced to more time than she was.

Brian Williams has resigned from the Board of the Medal of Honor Foundation and is not allowed to make public appearances during his suspension, confirmed by Bob Wright, former Chairman of NBCUniversal and close friend of Williams. A poll has indicated 52% of Americans think he should be given another chance while 40% think he should be canned.

Jeb Bush has hired a top-notch researcher, firming up convictions he is running for President.

SIM card maker, Gemalto, largest in the world has announced its SIM cards were hacked by US and UK intelligence services, a fact revealed in the mounds of documents that surfaced from Snowden. Gemalto wants some answers, not surprisingly.

Riding the train with me tonight is Brian Gallagher, the number 2 man at Amtrak. A gruff, blunt and honest man, I knew him from riding the Empire Corridor for a long time before I knew he was the number 2.

I suspect the train will arrive on time.

Letter From New York 02 19 15 As the temperature drops…

February 19, 2015

I am at a friend’s office this afternoon, working on a project for him. It is bitterly cold here in New York and the wind chill will be fierce by this evening. Weather Underground is predicting wind chills of minus eighteen tonight, which will be worse down on Riverside Drive, where there is a micro-climate due to its proximity to the Hudson. I can only imagine how chill it will be getting home tonight.

It is the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year, a forty-day celebration that will result in THREE BILLION trips during these forty days. It is the largest annual migration of people from one place to the next as individuals travel to be at home for the season.

This year is the Year of the Sheep [or the Goat or the Ram, depending on your translation]. Most people are going with sheep this year, because they are cuddlier than goats or rams. It is not a particularly auspicious sign so there is a bit of hesitancy going into this New Year.

Earlier today I had a fascinating conversation with my friend, Kay Rothman, about the recent apocalyptic comments made by IS [ISIS or ISIL]. They have pointed across the sea to Rome and are gathering around a place marked in Revelations as the place where the battle will be fought that will mark the beginning of the end.

They are clever in exploiting our fears. They are clever in their use of social media, far cleverer than the West according to comments made at Obama’s anti-terrorism conference. The Russians unexpectedly attended it, much to the surprise of Washington.

Obama suggested the world address the “grievances” terrorists exploit.

Former New York Mayor Giuliani declared today that Obama “doesn’t love America.” That has kicked up a firestorm, not unexpectedly.

Giuliani was not as unruly as the Iranian Ambassador at the nuclear talks has been at times. Apparently is has been so bad that Ayatollah Khamenei has ordered Ambassador Zarif to stop it.

Also, not unexpectedly, the German Finance Minister is accusing the Greeks of using “Trojan Horses.” I have been waiting for someone to pull that one out. It happened today. There will be another “extraordinary” meeting of finance ministers to discuss Greece. The Germans are adamant about holding firm with them and so a Greek exit from the Euro is possible.

Walmart has agreed to raises wages for employees and to improve customer service. It will cost about a billion dollars but the CEO of Walmart feels it’s an essential investment in their work force. Sales were not so good last quarter and customer service complaints were up. He’s hoping the raises make good sense.

The Ukrainian truce is as fragile as ever. While fighting around Debaltseve has quieted because the Ukrainians have retreated, shelling seems to picking up south of that city, with fears the separatists are making a move on the port city of Mariupol.

The only good thing in this situation is that the four leaders still talk. Merkel and Hollande are determined to make the truce work. Putin seems removed and Poroshenko is infuriated.

Reportedly, the retreating Ukrainian soldiers are saying they felt abandoned by Kiev and were left without help. Regardless, Poroshenko is flying from the capital to personally greet and thank them.

Thankful in Texas is a lesbian coupled that were allowed to marry on the grounds that the denial of a marriage license was causing them irreparable harm. One of the two is suffering from ovarian cancer. It is a one-time event; no others will be done until the stay on granting marriages licenses to gays in Texas expires.

Congratulations to Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant!

In Los Angeles, there is an outbreak of CRE, a bacterium that is resistant to antibiotics. Seven are infected; 179 may have been exposed. Two have died. Another reminder that antibiotic resistant bacterium are on the rise.

The temperature is falling in New York, the afternoon sun is beginning to fade and I am prepping for chilly journey to Thai Market, where I will be meeting some friends for dinner. Wherever you are, stay warm and cozy.