Posts Tagged ‘Harry Truman’

Letter From New York 10 08 2016 Chosen responsibilities and disgusting words…

October 8, 2016

 

My morning yesterday began with me flipping my laptop open and sitting down to write as a soft fog floated above the creek with sunlight glistening down through the leaves in the midst of changing color.

Just as I sat down to write, a mug of strong coffee at my side, the mother of a friend phoned and let me know her son was in the hospital and had been asking for me.  So I came and sat in his dim room, spelling his mother while she went home to shower and change into fresh clothes.

At two I had a conference call and then I made dinner for Lionel and his family.

The day unrolled in an unexpected way but that is life, unexpected.  It also made me think about how we have, in addition to our real families, families of choice.

My life, thankfully, is full of them.  Blessedly.  And for that I am grateful.

Since I have moved to Hudson, my friend’s family has been that way to me and I went to the hospital to perform the responsibilities of having made a choice.   Choices do come with responsibilities.

Out in the wide world, the cold open for last week’s Saturday Night Live was a send-up of the Trump/Clinton debate with Alec Baldwin doing a magnificent satire of Donald Trump.  It aired the night before the tax revelations.  Pundits wondered which was worse for him, the tax revelations or Alec Baldwin.  The video has gone viral.  If you haven’t seen it, look for it at the end of the post.

Thursday night, Lionel and I went to Coyote Flaco for dinner.  As usual, we sat at the bar.  Seated to my left was Tim and, as happens sometimes, we got talking.  After I had introduced myself, I introduced Lionel, joking he sounded funny because he was from Australia.

Tim, the man to my left, said, oh, I’ve never been there but am thinking of moving there if Hillary is elected.  Lionel retorted he was thinking of returning if Trump was elected.

It didn’t get ugly.  Tim said he couldn’t vote for her because she had done nothing but be in government service.  Not exactly true but close enough.

Asking him if he knew who FDR was, he said no.  So I said Franklin Delano Roosevelt and he said he didn’t know him because he was just little when he was in office.  He asked me if I’d been alive when he was in office and I said he’d died before I was born.

The poor man didn’t really know.  And, by the way, Tim is younger than I am.

After we left, I thought about it and realized most Presidents we have had have spent much of their lives in public service.  Let’s see…

FDR did spend most of his life in public service, seeing us through the Great Depression and WWII.  He was followed by Harry Truman who had worked in the private sector for a while but spent the majority of his career in public service, followed by Dwight Eisenhower who certainly spent his whole life in public service, followed by John Kennedy, who had done the same.

Lyndon B. Johnson owned some businesses but mostly was in public service his whole life, followed by Richard Nixon who, too, had spent most of his life in public service, followed by Gerald Ford, lots of public service there, followed by Jimmy Carter, who was a peanut farmer before his Presidency but he, too, gave a great deal of his life to public service.  Then came Ronald Reagan, who had made his living as an actor before he went into public service.

He was followed by Bush 1, who had spent much of his life in public service, followed by Clinton, who had done the same.  W had been in the private sector but then went on to be Governor and then President.  Obama has spent much of his life in public service.

Being in public service has become pejorative in this election and I am not sure why.

Then, yesterday, all Billy Bob broke out over a 2005 video of Trump saying all kinds of things I can’t and won’t repeat.  If you are interested, you can find them.

Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, was “sickened” by them and disinvited Trump to a Republican gathering in his home state of Wisconsin.

A few Republican politicians have withdrawn their endorsements and it is rumored some Republican leaders are quietly gathering to see what is to be done about Trump.

It’s a little late; the ballots have been printed.

Letter from New York 10 01 15 From Russia to Nefertiti to Abraham Lincoln’s Ghost

October 1, 2015

Russia. Putin. Kerry. Lavrov. IS. Syria. Joaquin. Nefertiti. Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden. Abraham Lincoln’s ghost.

There are so many things to think about today as the Acela glides south toward Washington, D.C. I am headed down there for a couple of “get togethers,” not really meetings.

My former partner and I are having lunch; he recently found something emotionally important to me in a drawer and is returning it to me and then I am having drinks with my dear, good friend, Rita Mullin, who recently left Discovery and is contemplating her future.

While I am contemplating a pleasant day, the world stage is filled with players doing unpleasant things.

Russia has built up its military presence in Syria and launched airstrikes. Surprising to some but not to me, they didn’t bomb IS but anti-Assad troops, some of them trained by the U.S. As early as today, Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Lavrov, will meet to discuss ways of avoiding unanticipated “encounters.”

In other words, the whole Syrian situation has become more chaotic. Putin has one military base outside of Russia. It’s in Syria and he is not going to let it go while he works to ensure he is perceived as a player on the stage of world events.

I’m afraid many more may die to help him perceive himself in that role.

Hurricane Joaquin is battering the Bahamas and is headed north, skipping Florida and probably coming ashore in the Carolinas, then working its way north. New York City is in, as the Times said, “the cone of uncertainty.” I will say a prayer Joaquin does not disrupt my Sunday flight to Indianapolis.

As I have mentioned before, I dreamed in my childhood of being an Egyptologist. That world is all atwitter, as I have also mentioned before, that there is a room behind the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen, which may well be the burial place of Nefertiti. If it is true, the place may no longer be known at King Tut’s but as Queen Nefertiti’s.

She was a more important figure than Tutankhamen, who died at 17. She co-ruled with her husband and then, suddenly, disappeared from the historical scene. Her bust sits in a room of its own in a museum in Berlin, regal and enchanting, alluring and mystifying.

While Nefertiti has enchanted across the millennia, in the moment we seem to be enchanted with “outsiders” in our political process. On the Republican side, the frontrunners are Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, none of whom have held political office.

Bernie Sanders is beginning to clip at the heels of Hillary Clinton. In the last fund raising period Sanders raised $24 million to Hillary’s $28 million. Complicating Hillary’s situation is the specter that Biden will throw his hat in the ring. Her camp is suddenly taking the possibility seriously and is working to outflank him.

Recent polls indicate he would be the most popular candidate of either the Democrats or Republicans.

Speaking of specters, my friend Joshua Warren, has released a photo that was shot during the renovation of the White House under President Truman, which shows a figure that cannot be explained. He is sure that it is the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. You can find out more, here: http://freecharm.com/WhiteHouseGhostPhoto.html

We are soon arriving in Baltimore, my ultimate destination today. Tomorrow evening we will be celebrating my Australian “brother’s” birthday at his favorite restaurant in Baltimore, where he now lives. Streaks of rain have begun to touch the windows of the train; all around me the early morning travelers seem to be largely napping, catching a few winks before arriving in DC.

The day is grey but I’m not in a grey mood. I hope you’re not either.

Letter From New York 06 14 15 Celebrations of democracy on two sides of the Atlantic….

June 14, 2015

Today is June 14th, Flag Day, a holiday I must say I never paid much attention to before moving to Columbia County. On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed a flag resolution. It stated: Resolved, That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.

In 1949, Congress made it official.

Hudson, the County Seat for Columbia County, takes Flag Day VERY seriously; the day outstrips the 4th of July in celebrations. The parade is bigger than the 4th’s and Flag Day fireworks are much more spectacular than those on the 4th.

Apparently, it started with The Elks. They made it mandatory to celebrate Flag Day for their members in 1908 and the Hudson Elks started marching down the main drag, Warren Street, along with the high school marching band and a few others.

It is interesting to note that when Congress made the day official in 1949, Harry Truman was President, and he was an Elk.

In 1996, the Hudson Elks opened the parade to the whole county and it has soared since then.

Every year I go to the Red Dot, have my brunch, and watch from outside the restaurant as every fire truck in the County seems to wheel down the street. Most years, the Caballeros, from New Jersey, musically march down Warren Street in white and black with red scarves and sombreros.   They’re an annual hit. Alana, the Red Dot’s proprietress, hails from the same Jersey city they do and she relishes their presence. She followed them down the street yesterday, blessing them with the soap bubble gun she had me go out and buy for her.

Children dance and cheer and wave flags their parents have bought them from vendors plying Warren Street. It was a picture postcard perfect day yesterday and it was a picture postcard event. Hudson is a town of about 8,000 and 10 to 12 thousand jam into the city for the parade and the evening’s fireworks.

I was not in town for the fireworks, having invited friends for a barbecue last night.

Today is a lazy afternoon of finishing putting the house back in order. Right now, I am seated on the deck, staring down onto the creek, gently flowing down into the pond. The overhanging trees are reflected off the mirror like water, so that all in front of me is a riot of green. Birds are chirping on the other side of the creek and overhead is the muted roar of a plane flying south from the little Columbia County Airport due north of me. All is peaceful in my little world. When I have finished this, I will start “Scoop” by Evelyn Waugh, recommended to me by my friend, Nick Stuart.

It is a lovely afternoon in Columbia County, sitting on the deck, sipping water and tapping on my laptop.

The world, of course, is not peaceful but it feels so far away when I am here.

While Columbia County has been celebrating Flag Day with a weekend of festivities, Britain has been celebrating that tomorrow is the official 800th Anniversary of The Magna Carta, the document that established the King was not above the law but subject to it. It is the foundation upon which democracy has risen.

King John signed it at Runnymede and tomorrow the Queen will be there, hosting a celebration, which will include thousands of people. There have been jousting matches and re-enactments of carrying the document down the Thames to London by barge, 800 years ago.

A thirteen-foot tall statue of Queen Elizabeth II was unveiled yesterday at Runnymede to mark the occasion.

While Britain is in the throes of its Magna Carta celebration, Talha Asmal, a young British citizen from Dewsbury, blew himself up in Iraq, becoming the youngest known British suicide bomber. He was just seventeen. He had run away and joined IS in March.

Sudan’s President, Bashir, was in South Africa for a meeting of the African Union. South Africa ordered him not to leave the country because he is wanted on charges of genocide at Darfur. However, as I write, it appears he may have slipped out of South Africa and is on his way back to Khartoum.

IS has created “flirt squads” to unmask gay men so they can throw them from rooftops.

Once I flirted with the idea of going to the Middle East, it seemed exotic and wonderful. Now I am afraid of thinking about going there.

I will treasure my afternoon, on the creek, listening to the sounds of my woods and watching the mirror like creek reflect the trees.