Posts Tagged ‘Sheldon Silver’

Letter From New York 05 03 2016 Trump triumphs and the world shakes…

May 4, 2016

Just now, a CNN update flashed across the screen of my laptop while I was finishing the final exam for my class.  It projected that Trump will win Indiana and the first thing I thought was:  I wonder how many Republicans are wishing they had hemlock tonight?

The impossible is happening.  The Donald is on pace to win the Republican nomination, a thing thought unthinkable only six months ago.  There seems no stopping him.

Cruz, I am sure is bereft, not that I feel much for him.  Cruz or Trump?  What a choice?

Speaking of bad choices, medical errors are now the #3 cause of death in the US.  I was shocked but somehow not quite surprised.  In my recent medical experience at Columbia Memorial Hospital, the gastroenterologist there diagnosed me with conditions I didn’t have.  I learned that after seeing my usual gastroenterologist in New York City.

I just went to the great god Google and discovered the US is number 37 in terms of how good its health care is though I think we spend more than any other country in the world on health care.  And now medical errors are our #3 cause of death?   What gives here?  Who is paying attention?  Frankly, I am more scared than I was…

Today is World Press Freedom Day.  Who knew?  Though it has been on my mind today as I wrote the final exam for my “Media & Society” class.  The importance of a free press to a democracy is incalculable.  And so few countries really have a free press.

It is that magical time of night when the light has almost faded and there is still just enough light to see the budding trees outlined against the sky.  There is such beauty in this place, softening the harshness of the world outside.

An American Seal today was killed in a skirmish with IS in Iraq.  The wars go on and will continue to go on.  IS is retreating but is not broken.  The Iraqis do not have a really credible fighting force in the field as far as I can tell.  The Kurds seem to be doing yeoman’s work while Turkey pushes them down.

Recently it was the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which, according to the Turks never happened.  Yet there is credible evidence it did.  Why do we get caught up in keeping mythologies alive?  Would it not be better to move beyond the past?  It was a century ago, another time.  Man up.

Putin, the problem…

When oil prices were high, he took the credit for the country’s uptick.  Now that oil prices have collapsed he his not manning up to the fact it’s a problem.  It’s the West’s fault. To keep attention off the failures of his regime, he has been pointing fingers at the West.

He is like the Tsars of old.  And that is what Russia has been always used to.

Here in New York, Sheldon Silver, once one of the most powerful politicians in the state, just received a sentence of twelve years in prison for corruption.  New York rivals Illinois in the corruptness of its politicians.  Several more are up for sentencing in the weeks to come.

The Tony nominations are in and “Hamilton” has scored a record breaking sixteen.  It is hard to see “Hamilton” as it is sold out for months to come and scalper’s tickets are almost $2,000 a ticket.  You have to be in the 1% to make that happen.  I certainly can’t.

And as I am finishing this, there is an alert from CNN that Ted Cruz is dropping his bid for the nomination after a stinging defeat in Indiana.  Is this true?  I am finding it hard to believe.  We must wait for the morning to see what happens.  Wait!  The BBC has just announced Cruz is gone…

It is beginning to look like Trump versus Hillary and that will be a slugfest to watch, if not to enjoy.

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 23 15 At home and out in the world…

January 23, 2015

It is a day when the sun has been sparkling off the ice on the drive. I knew it was four o’clock because the deer wandered across the yard in their daily pilgrimage. The setting sun, still bright, is casting long tree shadows outside my windows.

I am freshly back from the city, settling down into a freshly cleaned cottage, ready to enjoy the weekend. There are buckets of things to do tomorrow; I have emails to catch up on and bills to pay over the weekend.

A winter storm is coming, not a terrible one but they’re predicting about four inches of snow in total and the nights will be, for here, bitterly cold. Wood is stacked by the Franklin stove to help heat the house tomorrow.

After getting back home, I took a break and walked my neighborhood. The house that will forever, to me, be Rosemary’s cottage has been torn down and a new one is being built on the old footprint. It is a sign of change in the neighborhood. I haven’t really met the new owners yet, hopefully will. They’re living in a rental next door right now and haven’t been very visible.

Out in the wide, wide world Abdullah, King of Saudi Arabia, died, replaced by his half-brother Salman, who has assumed the throne and assured everyone he will continue the course. Abdullah was 90; Salman is 79. I think the older generation is thinning out and the younger ones will start getting a chance but will it make much of a difference? Stay tuned.

Out on Mars, the rover Opportunity is celebrating its eleventh anniversary. Designed to last for three months, it has kept on going and going and going with no signs of stopping. Remarkable little machine. Space stories give me so much delight.

Out in the Mideast, the deadline has passed for Japan to pay a ransom for two of its citizens being held by ISIS. The world waits to see what will happen.

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t follow football. But even I have not been able to escape what has become known as Ballghazi and Deflategate. The Patriots apparently were playing with deflated balls when they defeated the Colts and that’s not allowed. Belichick, coach of the Patriots, and Tom Brady, the quarterback, have NO idea how that happened. NONE whatsoever. The NFL continues to investigate. And, for some reason, I find it fascinating.

What has been absolutely fascinating has been the arrest of Sheldon Silver, who is the Speaker of the State Assembly. Accused of taking millions as graft, the papers today were filled with photos of him being taken for arraignment in hand cuffs. The NY Times is calling for him to resign and the Post relished his predicament and devoted endless pages to it in their paper today.

It may well shake the very foundations of government in New York State, not that that would be a bad thing. New York is notorious – not as notorious as Illinois but the impression I’ve had is that Albany politics are pretty grimy.

So we go into the weekend, the sun almost set. Off to dinner with friends and then a cozy night at the cottage.