Posts Tagged ‘Steve Bannon’

Letter From Miami 02 12 2017 Hygge while traveling

February 12, 2017

Around me, I am listening to a mélange of English, Spanish, Italian, French and German.

I am not in Claverack, NY but on the veranda of my hotel in Miami Beach, a cloudy morning having given way to clear blue skies with a gentle breeze blowing off the beach a short block away, sipping my third very good cappuccino of the day.

Waking just after seven, I have spent most of my morning here.  First, a light breakfast with my friend Nick Stuart, before he left for what is now a rainy New York, later, reading the New York Times on my new iPhone 7 Plus, much easier than on my old 5s.

Reading the news is a bemusing event these days.  It may just be me but it seems the Administrative Branch of our government is in disarray while the Legislative Branch appears as if it’s a group of old white men braying their success at owning the joint with the Judicial Branch holding the center of sanity.

There is a young man named Stephen Miller who is a Trumpian True Believer, architect of the Travel Ban and, before this, on the staff of Senator Jeff Sessions.  Previously known for his avalanches of ideological emails to fellow Congressional staffers, he is now close to and closely listened to by President Trump.  He is 31 and shaping policy.  We must watch him as he will be influential in the coming months, whatever your political persuasion.

Apparently, his secretive nature was part of the reason the Travel Ban wasn’t thoroughly vetted.

He made the rounds of the Sunday morning shows trumpeting the ways Trump will combat the unanimous decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to refuse to reinstate the ban.

When George Stephanopoulos asked him about the report that Michael Flynn discussed sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador before Flynn was sworn in as White House national security adviser, he had nothing to say, not having been given anything to say by the White House.

On NBC, Miller couldn’t comment on whether the President still had confidence in Flynn.  He also continues to assert there was mass voter fraud, causing Trump to lose the popular vote.  Saying so, doesn’t make it so, Mr. Miller.  If it is true, please show some evidence.  He states facts without proof, a great “gas lighting” technique.

Steve Bannon, Lord Vizier, is being scrutinized for a 2014 speech he gave at a Vatican Conference in which he referenced Julius Evola, darling of Italian Fascists.  It also appears Bannon, who is Catholic, is shimmying up to a group of Vatican insiders who believe Pope Francis is destroying the Church.

Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to President Trump, was herself “counseled” per Press Secretary Spicer because she encouraged people to go out and buy “Ivanka’s stuff,” from the White House Briefing Room. That crosses an ethical line, most people agree.  Perhaps not the President, who was unhappy with Spicer’s choice of the word “counselled.”

The Office of Government Ethics had its website melt down with complaints.

Ivanka has had her line dropped from Nordstrom’s because it was underperforming, which elicited a scolding tweet from the President, and then Nordstrom’s found its stock jumping 5%.

Apparently, Ivanka and Kellyanne have had words:  Kellyanne, don’t mention me or my products on television!

Poor Spicer.  He’s lost face with the President because Melissa McCarthy portrayed him on a SNL skit; the program is having its highest ratings in twenty years as a certain element in the country breathlessly waits for its next Trump skewer, though last night’s skit with Kellyanne Conway doing a “Fatal Attraction” on Jake Tapper caused me to grimace but SNL isn’t always known for its taste.

It is with unconscious competence I have chosen to be away now.  Claverack was pummeled with 12 inches of snow with another twelve about to batter it.  Hopefully, it will be over by the time I return.

Last night, I attended my friends’ party for the fifth anniversary of their art gallery, Williams – McCall, in South Beach.  Their chef was last seen providing the food for the Patriots at the Super Bowl.

So right now, I am going to finish this, do a bit more culling of emails and then head to the beach for a bit of sunbathing.  While I am not at home, this is traveling hygge.

 

Letter from Claverack 02 04 2017 Mine eyes dazzle…

February 5, 2017

It is Saturday night at the cottage.  “Swing Jazz” is playing on my Echo, the floodlights illuminate the creek and I am cozy in the cottage.  A load of dishes is in the dishwasher and I have spent the day, partially working, running a few errands.  Every week I try to buy some canned goods for the food pantry at the church and bring them in on Sunday.  That was one of today’s errands.

When I finish this, I will rehearse the readings for tomorrow as I am lector at Christ Church tomorrow.  It all feels very hygge. [Pronounced hoo-ga; the Danish word for living a cozy life.]  It seems the best time of all to be hygge, what with everything that is happening around us in dizzying array.

Honestly, right now, I am not sure who’s on first.  The refugee ban seems to have been lifted with the ban on immigrants from the seven predominantly Muslim countries.  Or is it?  I am doing my best to keep up and it’s hard.  Really hard…

I think President Trump hung up on the Australian Prime Minister.  Mine eyes dazzle.

And then President Trump told Putin that sanctions remain until he leaves Ukraine which is not what I think Putin was thinking would happen.  Putin did a few “provocative” actions in Ukraine this past week [thing what you can do with artillery] that ended badly for him.  The pro-Russian rebels were rebuffed by the Ukrainians.  And The Donald rebuked him.

Or perhaps it was Steve Bannon, who appears to be becoming the Lord Chancellor to King Donald.  Time Magazine has a frightening portrait of the man on its cover.  It is feared this is the man who is pulling the strings. Look here.

Apparently, per reports, Kelly, the Secretary of Homeland Security, had to remind Steve Bannon, he only takes orders from the President when Bannon was bossing Kelly around.

Oh, just gosh…

Kellyanne Conway, the most skillful swinger of truths encountered this side of Paradise, is being skewered everywhere as she justified the travel ban by referring to the “Bowling Green Massacre.”  Well, a couple of men were arrested in Bowling Green for attempting to aid and abet terrorists but there was no “Bowling Green Massacre.”  She is saying she misspoke one word and is being eviscerated by “haters.”

Must say, mine eyes dazzle.

The king of Executive Orders, our Donald, is now issuing one that will roll back Dodd-Frank, the regulations that were to save us from another meltdown like 2008.  Carpe diem!

While most of me is horrified by the political spectacle around me, there is another part that is amused.  In a gallows humor sort of way, which is not a good way.  Most of the American public is not amused.  President Trump’s approval ratings aren’t good.

Well, who approves of chaos and confusion and flirting with unconstitutionality?

Ethicists are appalled at the flimsiness of Trump’s separation from his business interests.

And all of this is hurting his business interests and those of Ivanka.  Nordstrom’s has dropped the Ivanka Trump line.  In an earlier post, I mentioned I was at Lord & Taylor on 5th Avenue and there was no one in the Ivanka Trump section.  Last time I was there, there was no Ivanka Trump section to be found.  Poof! Gone.

And, frankly, I have grown a little fond of Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner.  It is rumored they weighed in with The Donald and prevented him from signing an Executive Order that would have stripped the LGBTQ community of rights they had received under the Obama Administration.

On the other hand, it is, I’m sure, not making Steve Bannon happy.  Nor is it making happy the evangelicals who supported Trump despite his raunchiness.

Me?  A gay man.  I’m pleased.  Woo! Saved for another day.

Truly, I’m just a little bit scared.  And a little bit amused.  And a whole lot unhappy.

So, now it is time to return to hygge.  I’ll make myself a martini and finish reading “The Romanovs,” a six hundred plus page book outlining the rise and fall of the world’s longest ruling dynasty.  That’s a saga and it didn’t end well, as we all know.

May all this end well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter From Claverack 01 29 2017 The Game is afoot…

January 30, 2017

It is a little past seven at the cottage; the weekend is winding down, “Swing Jazz” is the Amazon music station playing.  Marcel, Lionel and Pierre’s poodle, is situated comfortably on the couch, looking at the door to see when they will return, which will be in a few days.  The flood lights illuminate the creek and I am at the freshly polished dining room table, writing.

It’s the end of a good weekend, mostly very “hygge.” [Pronounced hoo-ga, it’s Danish for living a cozy life.]  And it’s been a cozy weekend.  Young Nick has returned from his walkabout and came over Friday afternoon and helped me prepare for what turned out to be a most excellent dinner party.

Saturday was cleaning up and being domestic, a solo lunch at the Dot, dinner with Lionel and Pierre at their house, home to sleep.

But all the hygge in my life has been overshadowed and squeezed by the events in the world around me.  President Trump has been issuing Executive Orders to his heart’s content. They feel a bit like Imperial Edicts.  Do this.  Ban that.  It’s been stunning.  And equally stunning is the response of the American public.

When he banned individuals from seven countries, all primarily Muslim, from entering the United States, hordes of lawyers went to airports and became filing appeals, sitting on the floor in the terminals, laptops plugged into whatever outlet could be found.

It made me proud.

At those same airports, crowds appeared.  At JFK, several New York Congressmen were there, attempting to help.  One quarantined gentleman was an Iraqi citizen who was on his way to the US because he had been an interpreter for our soldiers and his life was in danger.  Thankfully, he was released.

People with green cards are in limbo, depending on the airport they flew into.  Federal Judges are ordering limits on Trump’s ruling and some officials are ignoring them.

Excuse me, what?  What?

Heads are spinning.

Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief political operative, has been given a seat on the National Security Council while the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs and the Director of National Intelligence have been demoted.

What? What?

In the morning now, I get up, make my coffee and call my Senators and my Representative in Congress and tomorrow I don’t know what issue to focus on.  There are so many.

A relative sent me a clip of a State of the Union Address given by Bill Clinton, in which he talked about the dangers of illegal immigration.  The headline before the clip was “The hypocrisy of liberals!”

Well, really, hypocrisy?  Take a look at this article.  Mike Pence opposed what Trump has done and now is praising it.  Is that not hypocrisy?  Political opportunism?

Immigration has been an issue ever since we stopped accepting just about everybody.  Don’t know about you, but I’m here, an American citizen, because my great grandparents came over from Germany and settled in Minnesota.  Back then, almost everyone was taken in. [Though my great grandparents arrived in First Class so they didn’t have to go through the indignities of Ellis Island.]

Then it changed and immigration has been an issue ever since.  Okay, I get that.  And what President Trump has done is unprecedented.  His list of excluded countries does not include Saudi Arabia from which came many of the 9/11 hijackers.  It does not exclude Pakistan, one of whose citizens was part of the Riverside massacre.  It’s a bit bewildering. The banned countries have barely contributed to the numbers who have died from terrorist acts in the US.

And, amazingly, it appears the list was compiled during the Obama Administration but never activated.  Boggles the mind.

Not even during Viet Nam was I this agitated.  Agitated does not describe my mood when I am not working very hard at hygge.

In an article I scanned two days ago, it speculated that Trump may be to Millennials what Viet Nam was to my generation, a catalytic event.

You see, there is a movement to stop abortions.  There is a generation of young women who have grown up believing they had the right of choice.  Now some people want to take that it away from them.  No, not happy.  And abortions have been decreasing and in 2014 were the lowest since 1973.

There are young people who are in college whose friends are in limbo because they come from one of the banned countries and went home over winter break and may not be able to come back despite having valid visas.

And there are people like me, a Baby Boomer grown old, who is incensed in a way I have not been for god alone knows how many years.  The protests will not stop.  They will not go away.  The country is fired up in a way that hasn’t been seen since Viet Nam.

Wow!  The games have begun.

To be completely clear, I am one of the founders of Blue DOT [Democracy Opposing Trump] Hudson Indivisible.  It is my time of being an activist.  This Presidency must be opposed.  It is divisive.  It is immoral.  It has in its first week demonstrated a willingness to flaunt conventional order.

Tomorrow I am calling the office of John McCain and Lindsey Graham who are opposing Trump to thank them for their efforts.  We are all in for a rocky ride and maybe this was a good thing to happen.

The Left is galvanized the way the Right was when Obama was elected and already seems, and I hope it continues, to be more emphatic than the Tea Party movement.

The game is afoot…