Posts Tagged ‘Roman Empire’

Letter from Claverack 08 02 2017 Worn down but not out…

August 2, 2017

The last several days, my deck has been my living room, my office and my dining room.  It’s here I have spent the daylight hours. As I type now, a storm threatens with distant thunderclaps.

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The water in the creek is so clear I can see stones that line its bottom.  The day is cooling as I sit here; having been warm and humid.

On August 8th, I am departing Hudson and journeying by train to Minneapolis for a reunion of old friends.  Whenever I tell people I am making a trip by train they ask me if I am afraid to fly?  No, says the man who, for a time in his life, flew at least a hundred thousand miles a year.

Trains are interesting because there is a sense of a journey when taking them.  It’s not a magic carpet ride from place to place [though these days rarely is flying a magic carpet ride].  It is a journey, as you pass places and towns, sit for meals, read, look up and see surprising things and meet surprising people.  You have an incredible sense of going from place to place and I love it.

It will give me a chance to think, contemplate, speculate, dream, postulate and hopefully not pontificate.

And then, when I am ready, I will fly home from Minneapolis.  My trip is a bit open ended, a reflection of the joys of my life right now.

While the water in the creek is clear, so very little else is clear.We have lived through the extraordinary and extraordinarily short tenure of the foul-mouthed Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director.  In that brief time, he missed the birth of his son and was served with divorce papers by his wife.

He texted his congratulations to her on the birth of their son.  Might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back…

Seth Rich was a young man working for the DNC.  He was murdered.  Fox News suggested he was murdered because he had leaked emails from the DNC.  A lawsuit has been filed by a Fox contributor that claims Fox colluded with the White House on the story that Mr. Rich was the leaker when he was not.

How convoluted this all is.

Politics has always been a dirty business and it seems dirtier than ever right now. Or, at least in my memory.

As “any father would,” Donald Trump helped craft the statement Donald Trump, Jr. made about his meeting with some Russians, who promised him dirt on Hillary.  That’s the story from the White House. Other, less kind versions, have him dictating the statement his son gave.

It’s another JDLR – just doesn’t look right.

After six months, I am worn out.

Really, I am. Every day when I wake up, I wonder what new roil I am going to encounter in the news.  There is no shortage of them.

General John Kelly has been named Chief of Staff at the White House.  Is there a more painful job in the world right now?  I mean, really!?  Kelly kicked Scaramucci’s butt out which shows he is exercising control and has demanded the President pay attention.

Good luck with that.   Trump’s tweets early this morning goaded his new Chief of Staff about not promoting the stock market heights it has achieved may indicate his attention span lasted the night.  It’s not your Chief of Staff’s job, Mr. Trump, to spend his second day in his job telling people how great the market under you is.  That, arguably, is for your Communications Director.

Oh, yes, you don’t have one right now, do you, Mr. Trump?

And, as several friends remind me, we will survive Trump.

Thank goodness.  At times, I think of the Roman Empire which survived a hundred bad Emperors, carried along by the bureaucracy that supported it.  As we will be, by the bureaucracy we have built but we may have lost the dream, I’m afraid.

John F. Kennedy was one of our most flawed presidents and yet he inspired us.

And, while there have been monsters enough in human history, we now have ones with nuclear weapons, like the North Korean dictator who is testing ICMB’s, an acronym whose meaning had almost slipped from my mind since the Cold War.

Yikes!

Every Sunday since January 20th, I have lit a candle for us, the people of the United States, as well as all the other people out there who are living on this crazy planet.  And for solutions to the craziness…

 

Letter From New York 04 29 2016 Protesting Trump to bombing Aleppo…

April 30, 2016

The day began with a conversation over coffee with my friend Robert Murray about Wednesday’s remarks by former Speaker of the House, John Boehner, that Ted Cruz was “Lucifer in the flesh” and that he “was the most miserable son of a bitch” that Boehner had ever worked with.

Ouch!  Gloves off, totally off.

Boehner, apparently, has never forgiven Cruz for his part in the 2013 government shutdown. 

We discussed how stunning it was that such a prominent Republican has said such harsh words about a front runner for the Presidential nomination of their own party.

It is probable that Trump will be the Republican Presidential nominee and Boehner said that he would vote for him, if he was, which is far short of an enthusiastic endorsement. 

Is there anyone we are enthusiastic about in this election?  I don’t think so.

At the Republican Convention in California, there was a tense stand-off between Trump protesters and police as hundreds stormed the convention in protest of Trump.  Railing at the man doesn’t some to be doing much good.  He is the juggernaut the Republicans did not expect.

To my surprise, though it shouldn’t be, 75 years ago “Citizen Kane” premiered and changed movies forever.  Lili St. Cyr, last of the great strippers, who I knew in Los Angeles, briefly had an affair with him while he was making the movie.  Filmmaker after filmmaker has given him homage in their own films and his legend will live on.

Obama is seeking to shore up his legacy, if not his legend, with interviews about his years as President.  I suspect, though I know many will not agree with me, that history will be kinder to him than his contemporaries.

Prince, recently dead, had a bad hip and being a Jehovah’s Witness, was not going to have a replacement.  He had been given pain pills to help and it may be that they played a part in his demise.  Police have obtained a search warrant for his home and have raided a Walgreen’s Pharmacy where Prince had his prescriptions filled.  Results from his autopsy will be available in a month or so.  As he died without a will, it will be an epic battle, probably, over his estate, including all the songs he never released.

In Syria, the fragile truce has frayed and Aleppo has returned to full scale war.  A hospital was bombed and the fatalities rise.  Secretary Kerry has been on the phone with Lavrov of Russia, working to get some sort of end to the tragedy.

It is being wondered if Syria’s President Assad has been dealing with IS, buying its oil.  Which would certainly give another wicked twist to the tragedy in Syria.

The Romans, in their day, ruled Syria and Spain and today, in Seville, in Spain, a group of workers repairing water pipes found 19 amphora or jars filled with Roman coins from the time of Constantine — the Emperor who embraced Christianity.  The find is worth millions of Euros.

While all these things go on, I am now back at the cottage,   There is a fall like chill in the air so I have lit a fire in the Franklin Stove and cranked up some jazz from Amazon Prime Music.  It is cozy and comfortable, a contented Friday evening.

The creek at twilight tonight…

Creek at twilight 04 29 2016

Letter From New York 03 06 15 Ranting on a sunny evening…

June 3, 2015

Returning to the office from a series of appointments and meetings, I met with one of the phenomenon of New York City, the partially crazy person we all learn to just ignore. As I exited the 1 line at 28th Street, a very large gentleman came down 7th Avenue carrying huge black nylon bag, swinging at his side. As he strode the Avenue like a colossus, he was not exactly shouting; it was more like braying. He sounded rather like a human imitation of a siren. As I reached my turn at 30th Street, he began to alternate the braying with shouts of “I hate effing everything and everyone!”

No one seemed to really notice him. He just went on his way, slicing through the pedestrian traffic, a human battleship on some kind of mission.

Almost any foray onto the streets of New York means an encounter with at least one person with a loose grip on reality.

The other morning, there was a well-dressed, middle-aged lady on West End Avenue, chattering away. I thought she was speaking to someone while wearing a Jawbone. But she wasn’t. No Jawbone. Just having a merry conversation with her best imaginary friend.

We don’t intervene or do much except to give them as wide a berth as we can. If they’re not doing any harm, they sail on down the streets. Such people are part of the fabric of any metropolitan area. It sometimes causes me to think on the social welfare net we don’t seem to have for these folks.

There are so many human needs all over the world. Hundreds of thousands are facing potential starvation in South Sudan. Migrants are dying while attempting to reach Italy from Africa or from Myanmar to Indonesia. Nepal is in ruins. Heat is killing them by the hundreds in India.

The huge man on 7th Avenue got me thinking about the state of humanity. We spend so much time and money on fighting each other rather than uniting in curing what ails us. Howard Bloom posits that is part of our nature in “The Lucifer Principle.” He’s probably right. But my hope is that we head toward a better future though I’m not banking on it so much right this moment.

Fierce fighting has broken out in Ukraine again. Boko Haram has slaughtered thousands and kidnapped at least hundreds while Amnesty International is claiming the Nigerian Army has managed to kill off at least 7000 and should be investigated for war crimes.

China, Russia and the United States are all jockeying for position. Saudi Arabia and Iran are duking it out to see who is going to be the big kid on the block in the Middle East. Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines along with the U.S. are skittering to keep China from controlling the South China Sea.

But at the end of the day it is all geo-political nonsense that has been going on since the beginning of empires. The Egyptians wanted to be the big guy on the block and they were for a while. So were the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, Alexander had his moment – and it was just a moment – then came the Romans and so on and on and on. All about conquering and crushing.

I must pick up a copy of Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.” Today it doesn’t feel like it.

While Mayor DeBlasio proclaims that New York is the safest big city in the country, murder rates have inched up the last two years.

Ah, I am ranting tonight but it’s what is on my mind tonight. And isn’t that what blogs are for? Our individual thoughts and rants and hopes and prayers?