Posts Tagged ‘Republican Debate’

Letter from Claverack 08 06 15 Thoughts while watching the creek…

August 7, 2015

It is still light in Claverack; the sky is now pearl grey. The creek is mirror still and there are birds chirping all around me. This morning, while on a conference call, an elegant bird that looked much like a pelican swooped low over the creek and then stood across from me in the water, standing proud on tall spindly legs. This afternoon, returning from the post office, a doe and her fawn crossed the road as I negotiated the curve. I’ve seen few deer of late so this was a particular pleasure.

The packing for my long weekend on Martha’s Vineyard is near completed. In the morning I will throw in my toiletries and be on my way. Depending on my mood, I may go into Hudson and breakfast at Relish, where I lunched today while reading my book.

My binge viewing has declined. My binge reading has increased. I am now in book four of Stephen Saylor’s series, “Roma Sub Rosa.” My Kindle will go with me to the Vineyard. There are twelve books in the series. I wonder if I will read them all?

I suspect so. I am enjoying the characters.

It has been another mostly perfect day in the country. The temperature was moderate and most of the day the sun shone down pleasantly. Up early, I sat in my bathrobe on the deck and sipped my coffee and read the Daily Briefing from the New York Times.

I am sure that Fox News will get staggering ratings tonight for the first Republican Debate, starring Donald Trump who reportedly has not prepared for it. He is what he is and will say what he will say. I am curious of course but I have cut the cord and have no cable.

It is also Jon Stewart’s last night as host of “The Daily Show.”   I really would like to see that but alas, I won’t and suspect I will be asleep before he takes his bows. It will be the talk of tomorrow.

The markets had a bruising day today, driven by a media stock meltdown. Disney issued a guidance, Viacom was off as their networks are not doing so well and so there was a little bit of panic about all old media stocks while Netflix rose another 2+ percent.

Media decline is still more perception than reality. However, the great change is coming and the landscape I grew up with is being irreversibly transformed. I was a bright young man when I opened the West Coast office for A&E and that was the beginning of the gnawing on the bones of broadcast networks. Now cable is feeling the bite.

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. A child at the time it was enacted I really didn’t understand the significance. But I do remember a phrase from my childhood. You could do anything you wanted as long as you were “free, white and twenty-one.” I have been thinking about that phrase lately and realizing that it was an expression of deeply rooted racial discrimination.

And there STILL seems to be a determination in this country to disenfranchise people from voting, by any means possible. Our racial record is really disturbing to me.

My sister once reported to my mother that I had called a man a “nigger.” I had not. My sister didn’t like me much and did her best to get me in trouble. My mother washed my mouth out with soap. I still remember it.

Sometime later, my brother wanted to bring home a friend from medical school who was black and my mother forbade it. She and I had a confrontation about it. She acknowledged she had prejudices with which she had grown up and could not shake but did not want us to have them.

Race relations in this country are, at best, fraught. It’s that pesky legacy of slavery.

Across the creek are the sounds of wild animals. I think it is coyotes howling. My neighbors have seen them skulking in the field across from their house.

The sky is still pearl grey. It is closing in on 8:00 PM. I am happy and grateful I am able to write this while on my deck. Tomorrow I will be on the Vineyard.

Letter From New York 08 05 15 Thoughts from the train heading north…

August 5, 2015

The last letter I wrote was from a train headed south. This one in being started while riding north, headed back home for a day before a quick trip to the Vineyard. I’ll arrive on Friday and leave on Tuesday with a day back in Claverack and then to the city for a couple of days.

The Hudson River is steel grey and the sun is shielded behind clouds, giving a grey hue to the whole world. I am happily munching popcorn and sipping a Diet Pepsi while the river glides by to my right. It feels good to be headed home and I’m looking forward to my time on the Vineyard.

I’m having a good afternoon. I’ve been grumpy the last two days and this morning became dissatisfied with being grumpy and determined not to be. So far, so good.

The field has been declared for the Fox debate among the top ten Republican candidates. Leading the pack: The Donald. Almost everyone I know of is panting to watch the debate, eager to see how he performs because it will be a performance.

My family was Catholic. My two siblings and I attended Catholic school through high school. My brother’s entire education was in Catholic institutions as well as my sister, who, after high school, entered the convent. I rebelled and went to the University of Minnesota. My sister left the convent, got married, got divorced, got remarried. My brother is also divorced and remarried.

Today, Pope Francis encouraged Bishops to be gentle with divorced Catholics, to not treat them like pariahs. Still no communion or confession but a little reconciliation can go a fair way. Not deviating from church teaching, Pope Francis still managed to sound conciliatory and healing.

The Malaysian Prime Minister announced today that the piece of a 777 found on Reunion Island in the western Indian Ocean is from MH 370, the first piece of evidence regarding the fate of the flight that has been found. At lunch, a friend said to me: at least we now know aliens didn’t abduct them.

Obama is working hard to sell the Iran deal, lobbying via speeches at various places. He has written off the Republicans and is hoping to convince wavering Democrats to stay the course with him.

USA Today had a good editorial about the deal today. It argues there is no real alternative; if it fails because of the U.S., the coalition that has brought Iran to the table will fall apart. Here is the link:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/08/05/iran-nuclear-deal-obama-congress-editorials-debates/31067637/

Tomorrow morning at 8:15, a temple bell will toll and tens of thousands of people will be silent. The representatives of a hundred countries will be present. It is 70 years ago since the first atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima. The U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, will be there.

To some degree, we all have lived in terror since.

The survivors are called the hibakusha. Every year the names of those who have died since the last memorial service are added to the peace park’s cenotaph.  In total, there are 292,325 names inscribed.

The train arrived in Hudson and Jerry, my favorite cab driver, brought me back to the cottage. When I first moved here, he taught me how to pronounce the name of my town, Claverack, as if I were a native and not a weekender.

I am now sitting on the deck with the creek glittering in the setting sun. A chipmunk is settled on the deck near me, completely unfazed by my presence. The birds are chirping, the sky is blue with a light splattering of clouds.

The peace of the moment is overwhelming.