Posts Tagged ‘Obamacare’

Letter From Claverack 09 25 2017 Fear, fear mongering, theater and more…

September 25, 2017

While it is now officially fall, the weather is summer-ish, scraping at ninety degrees today.  The train is rumbling into the city where I will be attending a talk today by my friend Jeff Cole of the Center for the Digital Future on “Driverless Cars and the Battle for the Living Room.”  I’m eager to see how those two very disparate topics get pulled together – or not.

Yesterday, I returned to the cottage from Provincetown where I had been visiting friends and attending the Tennessee Williams Festival, now in its twelfth year.  Mixing Shakespeare with Williams this year, I saw five plays, the most laudable being “Gnadiges Fraulein,” an absurdist Williams from the tail end of his career in which some see an allegory for that career.

The Festival was marred by weather from the last of Jose for the first three days; yesterday was magnificent.  Leaving after Shakespeare’s “Antony & Cleopatra,” I drove home, listening to the omnipresent exegesis of President Trump’s Friday comments on kneeling during the national anthem and Sunday’s reaction by athletes and owners of teams.

Trump had said that owners and coaches should get “the son of a bitch” players who kneeled during the national anthem off the field, suspending or firing them.

Owners and athletes defied the President.  Even Tom Brady locked arms with his teammates.  The Steelers stayed in the locker room until after the anthem had been played. All but two of the NFL’s owners and CEO’s issued statements calling for unity.

Some fans booed.  Most didn’t walk out.

Trump praised those who booed.

Such is life in today’s America.

And I’m on the side of the players and the owners in this kerfuffle.  The right to protest is as American as apple pie.

My weariness is growing daily with this President’s ability to be divisive.

Defying top aides, he has escalated the war of words with North Korea to the point that as I am writing this, the foreign minister for the pudgy, pugnacious little man who is the ruler of that country has said that Trump has declared war and they have the right to shoot down American planes.

This will not end well, I fear.

In Germany, Angela Merkel is on her way to a fourth term though diminished.  The far right AfD has won a troubling 13% of the vote and will have a place in the German parliament, a feat that no other far right German movement has managed in decades.

It is representative of the fear that threads its way through our societal fibers, in Germany and here at home, in France and the Netherlands.  The world is changing and change often results in fear and the world is changing so quickly right now.

Abe in Japan has called a snap election, riding high on North Korean nuclear fears.

The Senate is desperately working to pass another bill to repeal Obamacare but with McCain, Rand Paul and probably Collins and possibly Murkowski against it, tough sledding is a generous description of what is facing McConnell.

Trump is saying today that Congress doesn’t have “the guts” to repeal Obamacare and I’m hoping he’s right as this version seems to be the most mean-spirited of all the versions proposed so far.

I’m off soon to the presentation.  I’ll let you know how driverless cars and the battle for the living room fit together!

Have a good day!

 

Letter from Claverack 07 28 2017 Needing places and moments of refuge…

July 28, 2017

 

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A gray, foggy morning yielded to a fairly sunny, rather cool afternoon; whenever the sun slipped behind a cloud I was tempted to come into the house from my perch on the deck while the cleaning crew spiffed the house.

Now, with cottage clean, I am sitting at the dining room table, sliders open to the deck.  Birds are singing and music from the 1940’s is playing on my Echo.

Returning from the Vineyard Tuesday, I made myself a martini, wrote a poem, and found myself purchasing Christmas presents from a site that emails regularly, from which I buy irregularly and, yesterday, had some things I wanted.  Saying there were only four available, I pounced.  I think they were being clever as the number available never went below four.

Insane for Christmas shopping in July?  No.  It saves so much stress come November.  In January, I saw something I thought would be perfect for my friends, Nick and Lisa, and thought: if not now, when?  And, you know, I have been back to that store several times and not seen the item again.

All this, the creek and future Christmas shopping, visiting my friends on Martha’s Vineyard, is very hygge.  And I need all the hygge I can get.

Monday or Tuesday I received a scree from a relative who supports Trump that was filled with things that made me flinch, a repudiation of most of the things I think are advancements.  Should we go back to the days of a segregated America?

And while I look out at my sun kissed creek, I read that Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles, has published a 252-page pamphlet on how to deal with a North Korean nuclear attack.  That was something I needed to read a couple of times.  Hawaii is also preparing for such an event and I am holding my head to keep it from exploding.

Somewhere along the line in my now longish life, I read that one of the contributing factors in the fall of Rome was lead poisoning.  Romans lined their wine amphorae with lead which leached into the wine they drank and we all know lead poisoning isn’t good.

Sperm count has dropped by 50% in the western world in the last forty years.  Gives me pause to wonder what historians will say about the cause.  Pesticide poisoning? Another reason?

President Trump addressed the Boy Scout Jamboree this week.  What you thought of his speech probably depends on which side of the political spectrum you are on.

Speaking of our President, his relentless attacks on Attorney General Sessions seem to have many Republicans up in arms, particularly in the Senate where Sessions was a member for a lot of years and it’s a tight club.

Republican Senator John McCain, with whom I have often not agreed [particularly in his choice of Sarah Palin as his VP choice], made a speech for bipartisanship after returning from surgery for a brain tumor.  If you want to both hear and read what he said, click here. It reminded me of the times I have liked him.

Our president is not going to allow transgender individuals to serve in the Armed Forces.  It’s not necessary for me to elucidate the storm that has created, not the least of which happened in the Pentagon, caught off guard by a Twitter announcement of a policy change.

The president made mention of medical costs for transgendered individuals which turns out to be less than what the Army spends on Viagra each year.

The cynic in me feels it was announced to please his base and divert attention from all the White House chaos.

Hello, Anthony Scaramucci!

The world in which I live seems so mad on so many levels that I am grateful I have the ability to sit here and look out at my canopy of green, look down into my creek and see the bottom of it through the clear, clear water, that I can listen to music and celebrate it, that I have had the chance to stare out at Edgartown harbor thanks to the kindness of my friends who invite me to visit them, that, even though I think the world right now more mad than it has been since my adolescence, I have places and moments of refuge.

 

 

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 07 07 2017 Musings on being home…

July 8, 2017

As I begin writing, it is twilight at the cottage.  The day began damp and grey, changing mid-day to blue and lovely.  Sitting on the deck, the torches burn to ward off mosquitoes and to give a sense of atmosphere.  It is lovely.

Of course, as soon as I typed those words, I felt the first of the raindrops and had to scutter back into the cottage.

Out there in the world, momentous things have been happening.  Trump and Putin met for the first time. Trump:  It’s an honor.  Putin: ?

It’s certain we will be hearing the parsing of the meeting for days to come.  They talked election tampering.  Putin: we didn’t.  Trump: okay. [At least according to some early reports.]  No agreement on Crimea.   Not expected.

We are to agree on a ceasefire in southwest Syria.  Good for everyone if it holds.

In Washington, Mitch McConnell faces the daunting task of passing the Republican version of healthcare legislation.  It seems to be the single most unpopular piece of legislation of the last thirty years.

Over the weekend, I listened to some interviews with people from around the country who were absolutely opposed to Obamacare and absolutely loved the ACA, not realizing they are one and the same.  It left me shaking my head in amazement and then, why should I be amazed?  We, on both sides of the fence, don’t always analyze and we just react, ideologically, and that seems to be on the increase.

In a bright moment in the world, Malala Yousafzai, a young woman targeted by terrorists, terribly wounded, and who miraculously clawed her way back, graduated from high school today.  She is also a Nobel Peace laureate. She celebrated graduation by tweeting her first tweet.

Amazing human being…

Closer to home, Etsy has cut its workforce by 15% and I wonder how that is going to affect the offices on Columbia Street in Hudson.  While that is happening, the stock has been upgraded to a buy by some brokers.

It’s interesting to me to walk down Warren Street and see all the businesses that are there that weren’t when I came and to see the ones that are still here, still pulling along.  One of my favorites is Carousel, next to the CVS on Warren.  One of my friends collects mid-century hammered aluminum pieces and I go in there and sometimes find things for her.

The Red Dot has been here since I arrived and I remember the transition of Brandow’s to Swoon Kitchen Bar.  Seems Ca’Mea has always been there since I arrived, though I am not sure about that.  That’s a little foggy.

It’s been interesting to watch all of this.  The cottage has been my home longer than any place I have lived, including the home I grew up in.  That’s sobering.  That’s rooting.  I like the sense of roots I have created here.

Yesterday, I had my car serviced at Kinderhook Toyota and ran into someone I knew.  At the Red Dot, I am always running into people I know.  Same for Ca’Mea.  It’s wonderful to go into places and be known or to know people there.

The places I’ve lived are many:  Minneapolis, Toronto, Carbondale, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Eugene, OR, New York City and now Claverack.  The places I have visited seem innumerable. They’re not but…

Of all those places, including my hometown of Minneapolis, the only place that has felt like home is here.

And I am enormously grateful for that.  It is sweet and satisfying and that is how, I think, it should be as I enter this third act of my life.

Letter From Claverack 05/04/2017 The time is nigh…

May 4, 2017

Well, the time is nigh.  Today Republicans voted, successfully, on “Repeal and Replace,” hoping to end the Affordable Care Act with their own American Health Care Act.  “Obamacare,” long despised by Republicans, may be gone and they will have had their way and many of them will be holding their breath that it does not go badly wrong because if it does, the piper will need to be paid.

We will find out if, as President Trump says, pre-existing conditions will be covered or as Democrats are saying, they will not.  If they are covered, it does seem coverage will be much more expensive.

Not a fan of Jimmy Kimmel, I was profoundly moved by his discussion of his newborn son’s heart surgery.  If you haven’t seen it, you need to watch it.  It is from the heart. [Yes, pun intended.]  Please look here.

As I ponder this, I am, not surprisingly, listening to jazz, being all hygge at the cottage, sitting in my favorite corner on the couch, starting preparations for a Friday night dinner party.  Have I mentioned I tend to look at the Food Section of the New York Times before I read the news?  First thing, comfort and coffee, and then I hit the hard stuff.

Yesterday marked the month anniversary of my once a week radio program.  My first guest was Jeff Cole, CEO of the Center for the Digital Future at the Annenberg School of Communications, part of USC.  We talked futures.  How we are changing and being changed by technology.

His great concern, and I share it, is how we will, as individuals and society, adapt to the coming advent of AI, artificial intelligence, which is already shaping our lives.  Last night, as I was heading to bed, I paused and asked Alexa to set two alarms for me and they went off flawlessly, a soft chirping sound in the dark which could be eliminated by a command:  Alexa!  Snooze! And she snoozes.

I am experimenting with Siri, changing her responses from American English to British English.  All fun and games until we get to the moment when the machines decide we are superfluous.  Think the Terminator movies or the Hyperion novels which, to me, are more likely than the Terminator scenario. [In some respects, particularly Book One.]

Since I was very young, I’ve been a space enthusiast. Stephen Hawking, the phenomenon of a physicist, has warned us we have about a hundred years to get off the planet.

We could do it if we put all our energies to it but I don’t think jihadists are going to put down their guns to get us into space.

Outside, there are soft sounds and the trees are blooming.  In the morning when I wake, I thank God that I get to look out at the creek and am here, in Claverack, a place that centers my soul as no other place ever has.  When I look out, I am sometimes nostalgic for the time fifteen years ago when the geese formed a flotilla on my waters.  They are mostly gone now.

It sometimes reminds me of an episode of “Star Trek: Next Generation” in which Jean Luc’s brain is infused with the memories of a dead civilization and one of the signs of their passing was the drying up of a creek.  Occasionally, I stand on the deck and think: if the creek is gone, so are we.

However, today the creek still flows.

Generally, I am not fond of George Will, the conservative writer.  Today, I read an article of his that encapsulates my ongoing sense of unreality.  Read it here.

Encased in the safety of the cottage, I am doing my best to live in hope because we must live in hope. Hope is what has driven the race forward; it is what has brought millions of immigrants to our shore, who have shaped the country in which we live.  My great-grandparents, on my father’s side, were among them as were my grandparents on my mother’s side.  They came to the United States, buoyed by a sense of chance, of opportunity.

It’s hard for me to think that could change.

 

 

 

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 01 10 2017 One age ends, another begins… God help us everyone!

January 11, 2017

It is latish, for me.  The clock is moving toward 11 PM and, generally, by this time, I am in bed, reading, watching a video, falling asleep.  But not tonight.  I am just home from an evening with some friends.  We watched a movie on DVD, while having dinner and then watched President Obama’s farewell speech.

There were six of us, I think.  Some cried.  As I watched, I hoped I was not watching the curtain fall on a period of our democracy.  It’s my fear that I will not live long enough to see the other side of the journey we have chosen to take by electing Donald Trump our next President.

Obama extolled us to be activists and I am choosing to be.  I am one of the organizers of a local group we are calling Blue DOT, Democracy Opposing Trump.  How active we are will depend on his actions and the actions of the Republican Congress after they take office.

Obamacare is a flawed system and it is providing help to many who would not have it otherwise.  I know a few, friends who in the years following the economic slump of 2008 and beyond who were hobbled by career misfortune and personal situations and they had no health insurance until Obamacare offered a window.

It’s flawed but it is something.  We spend more on healthcare than anyone in the world and we rank something like 27 in the world for the success of our health care.  In all the time the Republicans were attempting to repeal Obamacare there never was an alternative offered.

Driving home, the exegesis of Obama’s remarks was in full swing on NPR and I heard former Republican leader Eric Cantor say there was no point in offering an alternative to Obamacare though Mr. Cantor did attempt a modification of the ACA when he was in office and the Republicans shut him down for a minor change he wanted.  They wanted nothing to do with ACA.

In the quiet of my home, the creek lit by my lights, thin sheets of ice on each its banks, I am afraid, fearing for the country I do love, for all its flaws.

If you get a chance, read Doug Blackmon’s “Slavery by Another Name.”  It is painful reading and helps me understand what awful, evil things we have done to people of color in this country and while things are much better, they are not yet good and equal.

A quarter of the way through the book, I have paused because each page makes me feel pain and shame about things I never knew but should have known.

Doug won a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for it.  There was also an acclaimed PBS series based on the book.

We are moving into territory none of us could have imagined.  There is an unverified report which was part of a briefing to both President Elect Trump and to President Obama, that the Russians have compromising information on Trump’s personal life and financial situation.

Tomorrow, Trump will hold a news conference.  Unless he cancels it again.  There will be a lot of questions, understandably.  It is supposed to be about how he will separate himself from his business interests and it will be about his Russian connections.

Part of the unverified report states that there were ongoing conversations between the Trump campaign and Russia.

It is unverified and we need to know if it is true.

There is so much we need to know about Mr. Trump and his nominees for Cabinet positions.  I don’t like Jeff Sessions and don’t want him as Attorney General but at least he is one of the few, if not the only Cabinet nominee, who filled out the required paperwork.

It’s my fear we are about to enter an age in which everyone in government feels they are above the law.

In his speech, Obama challenged us not to allow that to happen.

God help us everyone!

 

 

 

 

Letter from Claverack 01 05 2017 God help us all…

January 6, 2017

For several nights now, I have attempted to write a letter.  A few sentences have dribbled out onto the digital page and then I abandon my effort, feeling unsatisfied, bereft of words. And hit delete.

When I spoke to my brother this morning, as we do most days, he, too, finds it difficult to think about, talk about or read about anything political.  He, too, feels bereft of thought and words.

Here I am in my cottage, Christmas bunting still glistening in the lights of my trees, the playlist, “Classical for Deep Thought” playing on my Echo.  And I am in deep thought.

A close relative of mine who voted for Trump has been forwarding me vicious articles on Hillary Clinton and the Obamas.  Going online, I seek to find out if there is any truth to these awful stories.  Most of it is balderdash concocted out of a single thread of reality.  “Unproven” is what Snopes says.

There seems no point in letting my relative know that it mostly or all  balderdash.  They don’t want to know.  This is their truth.

So, it is that for the last few nights, I have hidden out in the cottage where all things are good, listening to music, watching Netflix [just finished “Medici”].  I have been working on my consulting assignment for the Miller Center for the Presidency [oh, irony!] at the University of Virginia and diverting myself with helping some friends in California on the bible for a fictional series on which they are working.   It allows me to live another life.

Glancing at the evening headlines, I winced.  Republicans are working to defund Planned Parenthood.  Trump rebuts our spy agencies and doesn’t quite accept that Russia hacked us.  Certainly, not to help him.

And, oh my!  Putin’s popularity among Republicans is rising!  Why am I so not happy about that?

The Chinese are telling Trump to stop tweeting and that will probably only cause him to tweet more.

Trump has said that “torture works.”  Now that he is President Elect, human rights groups around the world are fearful that his remarks will embolden leaders who find torture a very reasonable way of getting their way.

It is just a discouraging world.

Republicans have been determined to unravel Obamacare since it was initiated.  They now will probably get their way.  My concern is that I haven’t seen any credible alternatives from them and, whatever you think of the flawed system that is the Affordable Care Act [aka Obamacare], there are far fewer uninsured than there have been.

Which also doesn’t much change the reality that while we spend more per capita on health care we are in the middle of pack in terms of health care results.

Look, Donald Trump is the President Elect.  I wish him well.

I am so concerned.  This Presidency feels as if it is going to upend the order we have come to accept for at least the last eighty years.  And that makes me concerned.

If it goes really bad, I hope my youthful activism will return and I will do my best to protest.  And I didn’t think at my age I would be asked for my youthful activism to return but it just might have to!

We will all have to see.  The roller coaster is leaving the station.

At least I have broken out of the paralysis of the last few days and written something.

We all care.  God bless America.  And God help us all.

 

 

Letter From New York 11 04 2015 A beautiful day to ponder world complexities…

November 4, 2015

Hudson River. Howard Bloom Saves The Universe. Election Day. Tiffany Martin Hamilton. Hudson, New York. Christ Church. Kentucky Election. Houston. San Diego Shooter. LGBT. UC Merced. David Cameron. Sharm al Sheikh. Russian Plane Crashes. Justin Trudeau. Obamacare.

Once again, I am headed south on the train to the city, doing a round trip. I have a lunch in the city and then I am turning around and getting out of Dodge and won’t be back until Monday, when I come into town for a couple of days of meetings and Howard’s podcast taping. His podcast is “Howard Bloom Saves the Universe” and is available on iTunes and other podcasting sites. Check it out. He’s great!

The day is another beautiful one. Yesterday was a perfect fall day with the temperature reaching seventy degrees while cool enough at night to justify the use of the Franklin stove. Walking through the neighborhood, I savored the muted colors and the light on the pond into which my creek flows.

The river glistens a burnished copper from the colors of the season.

Yesterday was spent mostly glued to the computer screen, accomplishing digital tasks. My walk was a welcome interlude.

In a way the day felt like an interlude, despite being glued to the screen of my laptop. I didn’t notice much about the world and reveled mostly in the comfort of my cottage.

Yesterday was Election Day. In Hudson, our county’s “big city,” there was a hotly contested Mayoral race that appears the Democrat won. Absentee ballots are yet to be counted though those mostly tend toward Democrats. If it holds, Tiffany Martin Hamilton will be the first Democratic Mayor of Hudson in my memory.

She’s the daughter of the choir director at Christ Church, where I attend services.

Around the country, conservatives had a big night. They voted down an LGBT anti-discrimination effort in Houston and booted the Democrats out of the Kentucky Governor’s mansion.

Pundits this morning, as I was driving to the station, posited that Democrats were not well organized and Conservatives were. In all these places, voter turnout was low. I feel such frustration when people don’t vote.

As I continue, I am sitting in the Acela Lounge, watching CNN on the monitor. There is a live “incident” near the San Diego airport; a shooter is active and planes are being diverted. The shooter has a high-powered rifle and has come close to hitting police.

They are also talking about a nine year old African American boy in Chicago who has died in gun violence, shot multiple times. Mayor Rahm is saying there is a “special place” for the person who did this. I agree.

At UC Merced, there were five people stabbed before police killed the man wielding the knife.

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has delayed flights to and from Sharm el Sheikh while a British team makes a determination about security at the airport there. Cameron and the Brits are concerned that a bomb may have brought down the Russian plane recently, losing all aboard, including 25 children. American Intelligence is suggesting the same.

An affiliate of IS claims responsibility.

A Russian built cargo plane went down yesterday in the Sudan. Children were some of the victims there too.

Justin Trudeau has been sworn in a Prime Minister of Canada and half his cabinet is female. It is, after all, 2015, he points out.

Now that we are two years into Obamacare, a map of the uninsured shows that most of them are in the South and Southwest. Surpised?

And the death rate for middle aged white men who have not received a high school degree has skyrocketed. One article suggests they are dying of despair.

All this violence and despair are hard to imagine as I head back north, the sun just beginning to set in the west, the sun a bright slash across the river. It is peaceful; I am in the café car, sipping a wine and writing, heading north to my cottage, after a good lunch with friends, all soft and right in my world while knowing it is not soft and right in so many other places.

Letter From New York 06 26 15 Ruminating on Supreme Court Decisions…

June 26, 2015

It is about 11:30 AM as I begin to write today’s blog. Yesterday, I simply ran out of time and had to let it go though it niggled at me through the night. Yesterday saw Obamacare upheld by the Supreme Court, something that I was unsure would happen. The decision was 6 to 3 to uphold the law.

I was glad the law was upheld. I think it is a flawed law and that we should have something that more resembles universal health care but it is far better than the nothing we had before it. The victory in the Supreme Court has not squelched Republican’s desire to repeal the law, which they might get to do if a Republican is elected President. If they do, I hope they will have something in the wings to replace it. Right now, I don’t think they do.

This morning, as I was sitting doing emails, I received one from the Democratic Party announcing that the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of gay marriage by a vote of 5 to 4. As it was a notice that came from someone other than a news organization, I went online to find that, indeed, it was true. Gay marriage is now the law of the land.

My friend Lionel texted me, crying as he wrote the text, rejoicing and a bit unbelieving. My oldest friend in the world, Sarah Malone, phoned me and we discussed the ruling. She told me that Texas is already trying to wiggle out some way though I haven’t seen that anywhere but it doesn’t surprise me if they were.

I am unbelieving. I did not actually think, until the last few years, that this would ever happen in my lifetime. I grew up and began to deal with the fact I was gay about the time Gay Lib was beginning to form as a movement. I was not active in the movement; I was working on building some sort of career.

In 1983, a senior executive in the company I was working for told me that I would be fired if it were discovered I was gay. In another company in the 80’s, I was under pressure to get married. It was clear that unless I was, I would not progress up management’s ranks. The President and CEO was very conservative. He was generous to a gay employee who contracted AIDS, and seemed to think it was fine in the creative divisions of the company but I was on the business side. It was never articulated directly but there are ways of communicating that do not include direct conversation.

When I was at Discovery in the 1990’s, I commented to the President of the time, Ruth Otte, that Discovery seemed very homophobic. She agreed but nothing changed until the very late 1990’s or early 2000’s, under then CEO Judith McHale.

I never lied but never admitted I was gay. I cleverly skirted the topic. Not necessarily appearing gay, I had female friends who accompanied me when it was expected I would appear with a date. When asked, I acknowledged but never volunteered. That was probably cowardly.

I grew up in a Midwestern Catholic family and it was clear to me that the worse thing a man could be was gay. It may be that as I grew into childhood, my father sensed I was different and that accelerated his emotional withdrawal from me.

When I was in high school, I was very lucky. I was never bullied and called names. No one ever called me “fag” or any derogative. Looking back, I find it amazing. Fragile as I was in high school, I’m not sure I would have survived the bullying that seems to occur so regularly today.

In the late 1990’s, in a long-term relationship, I became more comfortable with my place in the world. When accepting the job at the Internet start-up, Sabela, I made it clear to James Green, the CEO, I was gay. He shrugged his shoulders, smiled and said he already knew.

Telling my friend Jeffrey was difficult but he responded generously, as did most of my friends.

John McCormick, Sarah’s father, and I were having dinner with his grandson, Joe Eros, the night before Joe was entering the military, shortly before the invasion of Iraq. Joe left to celebrate with some friends and I got up to go but John motioned me down and ordered us another round of drinks. John was a deeply conservative Catholic, or so I thought. He told me that night he had know for a long time and that he needed to know that I knew he loved me, regardless of my sexuality.

It was a tremendous blessing. I cried a little on the train back into New York City.

My brother and I came to peace with it. My sister is uncomfortable but we still talk regularly and have a better relationship than ever. When I was telling my family, my mother was in a multi-level health crisis and so we never discussed it. When she uttered homophobic comments, I repudiated them but never told her I was gay.

Less emotional than many today, I acknowledge that we have crossed a milestone but it will not immediately eliminate homophobia. It may even strengthen it in places. Bu it seems more and more are accepting; going into today, a poll indicated that 57% of Americans believed the Supreme Court should rule the way it did.

It has been a huge journey and the journey isn’t over. But it is so much better than it was.

Letter From New York 03 05 15 In a winter wasteland…

March 5, 2015

As I start to write this, I’m on a northbound Amtrak train, heading back to the cottage after three and a half days in the city. I’m looking forward to being back there. There is paperwork I must organize for the accountant and I will do that this afternoon, cozy with a fire and a good British mystery playing on Acorn TV. The city is a mess. No way around it. A mess. Slushy, heavy snow is falling and tangling traffic and all transit.

My train was late arriving into Penn, coming in swathed in snow and wet. Now we are exiting the tunnels to parallel the West Side Highway before breaking free of Manhattan.

It is wildly beautiful and winter treacherous. Ice floes dot the Hudson.

A Delta flight skidded off the runway an hour ago at LaGuardia, closing the airport.

While having my first cup of coffee this morning and reading the New York Times, I read an article that outlined the depth of Iran’s involvement in Iraq. While I had learned yesterday that an Iranian General was seemingly directing operations, I did not know there were Iranian soldiers on the ground, which apparently there are. The General, Qassim Suleimani, has been described as a stately Osama bin Laden. That is the apparent reason that the US led coalition has not been involved in the advance on Tikrit. It doesn’t want to be seen aiding the Iranians, particularly this General.

At the same time, thousands are fleeing, attempting to reach Samarra for safety.

IS is fighting back, setting oil fields aflame to obscure targets to the Iraqi jets that are pummeling them. They have booby-trapped the roads leading into Tikrit and that is slowing the advance.

In Africa, Boko Haram, under pressure on several fronts, struck back by killing scores in a village in northeast Nigeria.

Late last night Hillary Clinton tweeted she wanted the State Department to release her emails and State says they are reviewing them.

The snow has shut down Washington. Congress called it a week yesterday. President Obama is at the White House, snug I’m sure, with only a briefing and a lunch with Vice President Biden on his schedule.

Everyone is attempting to interpret the questions asked by Supreme Court Justices in yesterday’s hearing about Obamacare. The pundits are working on reading the tealeaves.

Elsewhere in politics, Jeb Bush and other Republican presidential hopefuls are converging on Iowa this week to attend an agricultural forum. While far and away in the lead among donors and Republican centrists, Bush is having trouble breaking through to the rank and file. There is fatigue with the Bush name and Jeb needs to find ways to separate himself from his father and especially his brother.

The World Resources Institute has stated, in its first comprehensive analysis of all the data, that by 2030 there will be a tripling of the number of people affected by river flooding. It is hoping its report will encourage countries to take mitigating measures in the coming years.

May 7th marks the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania. Torpedoed by a German submarine in 1915, the ship sank in just eighteen minutes, taking nearly 1200 people down with her, including 128 Americans, among which was the playboy Alfred Vanderbilt.

The sinking, always surrounded by elements of mystery, became a rallying cry that helped bring America into World War I in 1917. “Remember the Lusitania!” The Lusitania was a Cunard liner and Cunard is hosting a special sailing to note the event.

On board were four million rounds of ammunition. It has long been believed that the ship was also carrying dangerous stores of munitions that were highly unstable. Shortly after the torpedo hit, a second explosion racked the liner and it began to list precipitously. Minutes later it was gone.

To my left, the Hudson River is a white wasteland but the snow has stopped and the weather improved. In a little less than an hour, I’ll be in Hudson and not long after that at the cottage, curled up with my papers to get to the accountant tomorrow.