Posts Tagged ‘Terrorism’

Letter From Claverack 03/02/2017 From Saba to a Trump Speech…

March 3, 2017

It has been about ten days since I’ve written; I just went back and looked.  Last time, I was on Saba, writing when I wasn’t able to sleep.  Tonight, I am back at my dining room table, floodlights on, looking out over the creek, having just returned from Coyote Flaco with Pierre, sharing chicken fajitas.

When I reached the cottage this afternoon, I felt I’d been away for a week, at least.  Monday morning, I went down to DC for some meetings for the Miller Center on the Presidency and then to New York last night to have a wonderful dinner with my friends, David and Annette Fox.  It’s a quarterly event; we gather at their marvelous UWS apartment, order Indian and catch up on our lives.

It is very hygge.  As was the dinner party I gave last Friday night for Fayal Greene, her husband, David, Ginna and Don Moore, Lionel and Pierre.  Leek soup, sautéed scallops in a brown butter sauce, and carrots in a lemony oil garlic sauce, with a baked polenta to die for, followed by a flourless chocolate cake provided by Ginna and Don, via David the baker.


It was an extraordinary evening.

And I, at least, need evenings like this to keep me sane in these extraordinary times.

On Tuesday evening, in Washington, after an early dinner with my friends Matthew and Anne, which followed drinks with my ex-partner and his now fiancé, I watched the address to Congress by our President, Donald Trump.

To the great relief of almost the entire world, he did not go off the rails and sounded presidential.  It was, Tuesday night, all about the delivery.  Wednesday morning people started to parse what he said.  Even the conservative writers that I read, and I do read some, found a lot of flaws with the speech.

Short on specifics.

Fact checkers found a lot of fault, pointing out Trump claimed as victories some things which had been in play for a year at some corporations.  Ford isn’t keeping production in the US because of Trump; they are pulling back on their Mexican plans because those plants would have built small cars and people aren’t buying them.  They’re buying gas guzzlers because gas is cheapish again.

When talking with David and Annette, I said that if Trump had not held it together last night, his presidency would have begun to unravel.  He would actually be President but, in reality, his claim to power would have begun collapsing.  Lots of people on his side of the aisle are slightly unhinged by his behavior.  McCain and Graham are frankly, I think, apoplectic.

And he held it together and while he should have been able to take a victory lap, Wednesday morning brought the revelation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had said in confirmation meetings he had not met with any Russians in the run-up to the election, actually had two meetings with the Russian Ambassador, one in his office on Capitol Hill.

Republicans are excusing while Democrats and some Republicans are accusing.

This is a wild ride and I’ve never seen anything like it.

Sessions has since recused himself from all investigations regarding anything Russian but there are those on both sides of the aisle who smell blood in the water.

While we were having political meltdowns, Amazon’s vaulted cloud computing world went offline yesterday for 4 hours and 17 minutes because of a typo in a command.  OOPS.

It’s a little scary.  150,000 websites were affected.  Amazon is the king of cloud storage and that’s a big oops for the King.  I would not have wanted to be the head of that division yesterday.

And, before Tuesday’s Trump speech, we had the foll der wall of the biggest Oscar mistake in history.  First “La La Land” was announced as Best Picture but it really was “Moonlight.”  Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were humiliated and PwC, the accountants, were more than humiliated.  They handed out a wrong envelope.


When it happened, I was safely in the arms of Morpheus, having strange dreams of Mike Bloomberg dating the pastor of my church, Mother Eileen.

Snap Inc. had a very successful opening on the market today; it was the biggest initial offering since Facebook and they have a rocky road to travel and they are a force to be reckoned with and it will be wonderful to see how it plays out.  The next Facebook? Or the next troubled tech company, which is where Twitter is today.

It’s time for me to say goodnight.

By hygge.  Regardless of your political persuasion, it will help us all get through.




Letter From New York September 27, 2009

September 28, 2009

Or – as it seems to me…

Autumn has arrived; the official start date has come and gone and all around us there are definitive signs: the leaves on the trees along the creek have started to turn, fallen yellow leaves drift down the stream. The temperature has begun to drop and the mornings and evenings are cool and very crisp. Stores are filled with Halloween candy and accoutrements. Sweaters are being pulled forward in closets and it is sometimes necessary, at least here at the cottage, to have heat – the Franklin stove is in use.

Like the start date of autumn, the Emmys have come and gone, full this year of gallows humor about the state of broadcast television. The humor had a desperate edge to it, voices tinged with a soupcon of hysteria. Julia Louis Dreyfus welcomed everyone to the last official year of broadcast television and everyone in the audience who had a stake in broadcast television was afraid she was correct. And there’s no denying that the business is changing. So is everything in media. A once glamorous business seems a bit tarnished and frayed around the edges.

As for frayed around the edges, there is a bit of that in New York as a result of the arrest of several people who allegedly were planning to use beauty supplies to blow up – something. The central figure is a young Afghan named Zazi who seemingly has evolved from enthusiastic immigrant to ardent terrorist.

Apparently in his computer were found photos of New York subways. I hate to admit it but subway terrorism is something I think about. Not just since these folks were arrested… It’s been on my mind since the London bombings in 2005. I arrived there three or four days after the attacks and realized then, as I realize now, how easy it would be to bring backpack bombs onto trains. So I tend to ride subways at the front or rear of the train, not in the middle because if I were a suicide bomber I’d get on in the middle of the train where I would think I could cause the greatest damage.

These are the kinds of things I think about. As, I have discovered, do my friends and colleagues. 9/11 is distant but not so distant as not to think terrorism is a possibility. It is not a bright thought but it is a realistic one.
I also contemplate the changes in media, the work world within which I live. The velocity of change in the media world is unprecedented. In a very short time, many institutions, like newspapers, find themselves called into question. All in all, it’s just a more complicated world than it was ten years ago. On every level…

My great friend Lionel had the good grace to know Jane Campion in Australia, the country of both their origins, and so was invited to the premiere of her film BRIGHT STAR and he invited me to accompany him. It is the story of John Keats and his muse, Fannie Brawne, played out against the deep, lush English countryside which, on film, reminded me of nothing so much as my beloved Claverack – woody, windy, lush, wet, full of promise. It helped me understand why this area is called “New England.”

It also reminded me of the searching we do in our souls for the meaning of things, the meaning of the seemingly countless small things that end up being so important. It is the small things, piled upon each other, that make the important things. It was the combination of wind, rain, lush countryside and passionate love for Fannie that propelled Keats to greatness.

But what combination of small things caused Zazi to turn from being an enthusiastic American immigrant to one who seemingly wants in the deepest part of his soul to bring mass destruction upon his adopted homeland? What combination of small things has resulted in each of our lives taking the direction they have? How did we individually, as industries, as a society, move from where we were ten years ago to where we are today? In the answers to these questions, we have what’s called history.