Posts Tagged ‘Koch’

Letter From New York 01 29 15 Recent events and good friends…

January 29, 2015

As I make the return journey from the city, I am riding alongside a steel grey Hudson River on a day that is equally grey. The world feels a gloomy place and there are reports of more deep cold and snow arriving. Looking out the window, it almost seems I am viewing a black and white film.

Here in New York, much of the news is focused on the fall of Sheldon Silver, the soon to be ex-Speaker of the State Assembly. His fall from grace is being chronicled by news outlets both on the left and right; it has been a stunning collapse in the fortunes of a man who has ruled the State Assembly with an iron fist for more than two decades. Accused of graft, he is being forced from his position and his maneuverings to exercise power in the background have been thwarted by newly elected legislators and forces from the suburbs around the city.

When first accused there were supporting voices. In the last week, they have fallen silent. His law firm has fired him. Fellow legislators and old friends are distancing themselves. He is in a very lonely spot.

The New England Patriots have more than one problem as they roll toward Super Bowl Sunday. There is the shadow cast on them by Deflategate; according to one report I read today, the majority of Americans think they did it. The NFL continues to investigate. But now they are facing the challenge that Tom Brady, legendary quarterback for the Pats, has a cold. He promises to be a hundred percent by the time of the game but he was sniffling and coughing all through a press conference.

Deflategate is serious to many. I find it both humorous and a little sad if somehow not surprising. People have been cheating since the beginning of time.

And since the beginning of time, opposing sides in a war have taken hostages. Today’s drama is once again focused in the Mideast. ISIS promised to release a Japanese hostage and not to kill a Jordanian pilot who is also a hostage in exchange for a woman sentenced to death in Jordan for being part of a suicide bombing that took place several years ago in Amman. As the sun sets, it appears negotiations have failed. ISIS has failed to prove the pilot is still alive and Jordan won’t move forward without that knowledge.

In the category of still trying to comprehend are two things. One is that the Koch brothers, two of the richest men on the planet, with their allies, plan to spend nearly a billion dollars to influence the 2016 elections. That is as much as either the Republicans or the Democrats will spend. Since the Kochs favor a conservative agenda, it effectively means doubling the resources available to the Republicans. It’s mind-boggling.

The other thing I am assimilating is the size of Apple’s quarterly earnings in the 4th quarter of 2014. It was the biggest quarterly profit in history, for any company, anywhere. $18 billion. There were a lot of iPhones sold, something like 74 million, which was far more than anyone was expecting.

Today I had a call with two old friends. We all worked in the cable business in the 80’s and 90’s and had not spoken in awhile so we set up a conference call. Medora and Bruce each have a daughter and they attended the same schools in California, though at different times. They had a lot to share about that and it was interesting to listen to. Bruce mentioned an article he had read this morning in the NY Times about the “Uberization” of work. We’ll only work when we’re needed, summoned perhaps by an app. It’s a novel thought and a bit frightening.

But mostly it was good to share some time with old friends and have a good old “chin wag” as my Australian friend Gour would say.

Whether you are living in America or a refugee camp in Turkey one of the things which supports us is the community of people around us. They help us stand when we think we will fall.

Letter From New York 01 21 15 After the State of the Union Address…

January 21, 2015

Last night I finished dinner earlier than I had expected and before the State of the Union speech so I headed to the Café du Soleil and secured a place at the bar to watch as several years ago I cut the cord and do not have cable in either the cottage or in the apartment in New York.

The sound was off but I thought I’d be able to read the captions. Unfortunately, they were smaller than I would have liked and I may need to have my eyes examined as it was very hard to read and I caught just bits and pieces and so have spent part of the morning reading about Obama’s penultimate SOTU address.

He was combative, facing a Republican controlled Senate and Congress, coming out as far as I could tell as if he and his party had won the fall elections. But they didn’t. Obama laid out a populist plan for middle class relief paid for by enhancing taxes for the rich and big banks. I don’t think it stands an iceberg’s chance in hell of getting very far but, as I’ve said, he is now looking to his legacy.

It will be interesting to see what the legacy is of this President, elected in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, African-American, relatively untested in government. We will see.

In the meantime, it is early afternoon in the city and I was awoken, once again, by the beep beep beep of a truck backing up outside the apartment. I thought it was my alarm and I woke wondering how I had managed to change the alarm tone on my iPhone.

Even though a great Bose radio sits next to my bed, I use my iPhone as my alarm.

Drinking coffee, I used it to start reading about the world. Many of the stories and articles were exegesis of last night’s speech and I roamed through them. The first nine stories on the NY Times app were devoted to Obama and the speech.

It has been a quiet morning, emails, the Times and coffee. I have missed the quiet of the countryside and my desk which looks out both on the woods and the drive, have missed the deer crossing the yard and the flocks of geese inhabiting the creek but I have had things to do in the city and so I’m here.

It’s a grey, chilly day with promises of snow for tonight though nothing like the snow that paralyzed the city a year ago, something like twelve inches fell then. The tony Upper East Side did not get promptly plowed which caused some to accuse the then newly elected Mayor DeBlasio of waging class warfare.

I think that’s subsided.

Beyond the fallout to the President’s speech, the world has been buzzing on. In France, more police are being hired to fight terrorism. In Germany, the head of the Anti-Islam movement, Pegida, has resigned after pictures of him as Adolf Hitler surfaced. In Japan, Prime Minister Abe is attempting to find a way to save two Japanese citizens from being beheaded. ISIS is demanding $200 million for them.

The Republican race for President is heating up. The Koch brothers, richer together than Bill Gates, are holding an invitation only event for politicians sympathetic to their beliefs. There’s a bum’s rush going on to get there. Though Jeb Bush won’t be; he has scheduling conflicts. Chris Christie is off to Iowa to court that state’s Republicans, hoping for a warm reception to burnish his tarnished star.

And today, the list of worst passwords was released. Apparently, we are not very inventive when it comes to them. The worst? 123456. Second worst: password. Come on, we can do better than that!

So, all in all, it is a rather ordinary day in America, post the SOTU address. We have a lot of talk about it and we have chosen bad passwords. We can do more about one than the other.