Archive for Travel

The End of the Beginning

Tomorrow (Thursday June 9, 2017) is The End of the Beginning, a big day in the unfolding of America’s future. I, for one, am taking the day off. I need to watch former FBI Director James Brien Comey Jr.’s testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Comey’s testimony is not the end of this tortuous period in our democracy, but it will be a turning point. We are far from the end of this Constitutional puzzle. Will the President be cleared of wrongdoing or will the Russian saga end in impeachment or prosecution? Was Trump colluding with the Russians to disrupt the 2016 election? Is he in deep trouble with the Russian banks? Do they have him by the short hairs? Will he self-destruct? Will the Republicans finally stop ignoring and apologizing for his erratic, ignorant, dangerous rants? However it ends it will be a turning point in the contemporary struggle for the soul of the republic. I’m all in until it’s over.

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Nashville: Skyline and All

“If you’re travelin’ in the north country fair

Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline

Remember me to one who lived there

For she was once a true love of mine.”

Both Bob Dylan and the Nashville skyline have changed since he wrote those words for the Nashville Skyline album in 1969. I loved the record (yes, it was a record in those days), and I loved his surprising shift from folk-protest to traditional country music including an off-pitch duet with Johnny Cash. Beyond that I didn’t know much about the city except that it was the home of the Grand Ole Opry. I had never been there and neither had M, but a chance meeting with a young couple at a Peter Cetera concert in Seattle got us thinking about a visit to their hometown. So, on impulse, with an Alaska Airlines companion ticket to burn, we booked the flight as just the right destination for an escape from our long wet winter in Seattle.

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Gutless Wonders…

The political mysteries of the moment are:

  • Why did only half the eligible voters think our presidential election was worth turning out for?
  • How did such an ill-informed unfit candidate become President of the United States?
  • How did the Russians manage to meddle so effectively in our electoral process?
  • Why doesn’t a Republican Congress that distrusts or at the least feels ambivalent about its President fully embrace an investigation into his possible collusion with the Russians?

American democratic traditions and institutions are under attack. The vultures are circling. Why haven’t our elected officials come together to thwart the attack and bring the nation together?

Last week, after four months of Congressional foot dragging, during which we watched the President fire all of the nation’s serving US Attorneys, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI director James Comey, Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein decided to take the investigation of criminal wrongdoing away from a partisan, gutless Congress and appointed an independent Special Council. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s charge is to look into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians in the 2016 election.

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Trump and Turkey…

There’s a lot to like about Turkey. It’s exotic, mysterious, and diverse – beautiful blue water sailing on the southwestern coast where the Aegean and Mediterranean meet, ancient rock dwellings at Cappadocia, the broad expanse of the Anatolian plateau, and a blending of cultures where Europe and Asia meet at the Bosporus. (above).

Long before the Orient Express, Istanbul felt mysterious and unpredictable, as if a camel driver might be blocking the path of a Mercedes consular car around the next corner. I spent time there on my own and on layovers as a Pan Am pilot. I had a favorite smoke-filled café near the Golden Horn that served doner kebab for a couple of bucks and a tiny shop nearby where I bought pistachios and squishy dried figs carefully wrapped in brown paper by the owner. I loved Istanbul, the crowds and excitement, even the diesel fumes, a Eurasian jumble of mosques, churches, narrow winding streets, designer shops, shared taxis, noisy ferries, and hard bargaining rug merchants in the Grand Bazaar.

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Let’s Update Civics 101…

As a college student I thought of political science as an adjunct of philosophy. I didn’t appreciate its practical value. Later, in law school, I recognized its value in creating the infrastructure for our American institutions but only insofar as its organizing principles provided for the efficient operation of government. Today, with more experience in the world and having lived on three continents, I have a full appreciation for the complexity and genius of American democratic institutions, but lately I’ve wondered if America hasn’t become too complacent with a system that’s been durable and adaptable for more than 200 years?

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