A Slow Bern

I find that the older I get, the less likely I am to venture into “new things”. I’ve also noticed that I become more frustrated and irritated when my ventures don’t turn out as planned. That’s one of the many reasons I wonder how in the world Bernie Sanders and his followers ever thought he was going to make it into the White House. People criticize President Biden for being “polarizing” and he’s about as an accommodating human being that ever walked the planet. Bernie Sanders is not shy about delivering his opinion to one and all.

Don’t get me wrong, I love everything the senator from Vermont is saying. He is “speaking truth to power”, as they say, and I love him for doing it. I just see that he’s never really had a snowball’s chance in Hell of pulling off a win in a presidential election. Even with the youth demographic behind him, he would never be able to pull enough progressive voters together to offset the “he’s a socialist, he’s a socialist” crowd. It’s sad that the label defines the man, but there it is.

I see Bernie not as a power broker but more of a conscience for the party. Perhaps it’s quotes like this that rope the young people into Bernie’s corral: “What being a socialist means is… that you hold out… a vision of society where poverty is absolutely unnecessary, where international relations are not based on greed… but on cooperation… where human beings can own the means of production and work together rather than having to work as semi-slaves to other people who can hire and fire.”

I particularly love the fact that the young people are so energized by him, and that they turn out in droves to support him. Someone needs to energize the youth of our country and the fact that an 80 year old is doing it is totally cool with me. I just hope that Bernie’s Brigade is not a part of some bizarro hipster movement that will turn it’s attention elsewhere when they get bored with the old guy. I hope they continue to “Feel the Bern” long after Bernie has left politics. I also wonder where the Bernies-in-training are. Katie Porter maybe?

History/memory informs us of another totally left candidate who played very well to the youth demographic, George McGovern. It was a very different time, one when the youth of our country were out marching in the streets every day to put an end to foreign excursions, civil rights, empowering women and other social issues. The presidential election of 1972, left the Democratic candidates George McGovern and Eugene Shriver crushed in a 61-percent to 37-percent defeat to Richard Nixon. The Electoral College total was 520 to 17, for Nixon. At the time, this was the second biggest landslide in American history. I’m not saying that I don’t think that a totally Progressive movement would have the same results today, I’m just offering up a recollection from the past. After all, “those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it”, as the saying goes.

So, as excited as I am to see the progressive ideas expostulated by Bernie take hold with the American people, I know that the realities of his age have got to be catching up with him. At what point will some dip ask Bernie some dumb question, and Bernie lose it and go total octogenarian Rambo on them? I know it’s a possibility I deal with everyday, and Bernie’s got a few years on me. What if Bernie calls a fool “a fool” on the Senate floor and is censured for his truthfulness? Will he continue to try to serve like a Supreme Court Justice until the last functioning brain cell gives way? I hope not, he has meant too much to too many of us for his legacy to become tarnished in that way.

I hope that when when Bernie’s last race has been run that those of us who call ourselves Democrats will keep this Bernieism in our heart: Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice – that struggle continues.”

Selective Memory

It feels warmer this winter than I ever remember it being for this time of year. Of course my memory fades. Truth be told, I don’t really object to a mild winter. I just pray that it is not a harbinger of an asphalt melting summer. Bright sun-shiny ninety degree days don’t hold the attraction for me they once did. Of course if the weather turns sub-zero with snow and ice I’ll start longing for those “balmy” days of summer. My aversion to hot days will be superseded in my memory by the immediate discomfort of cold hands and feet.

That’s how memory works, we try to forget the bad, and reinforce the good. Some would call that a product of evolution, but I don’t want to give my neighbors another reason to distrust me.

Memory is also tainted by opinion. We all remember certain seminal events that were “once-in-a-lifetime events”. Everyone of a certain age can remember exactly where they were when Kennedy was shot. A later generation will remember 9-11 as their “everything changed after that” incident.

I remember being home from school and watching Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV. While there are thousands of conspiracy theories, and hundreds of books have been written expounding them, the opinionated memory can not change the black and white facts. Jack Ruby walked directly up to Lee Harvey Oswald in a garage in Dallas filled with police officers and shot the man accused of killing a president. No amount of supposition or conjecture can change what millions of us saw live on that day. Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald; one man took the life of another.

57 years, 1 month and 14 days later, millions of us watched in horror as another seminal event played out before our eyes on national TV. A group of misguided sycophants attempted to overthrow the government of the United States. They weren’t subtle about their intentions, they even brought along a gallows to deal with the vice-president they felt betrayed them. They were armed not only with weapons but inside information as to where to attack, where the defenses were the weakest.

The inside information was provided by congress people that had had enough of the democracy experiment. The insiders had decided that being re-chosen by their constituents every few years was too taxing on their Zen and that being installed by King Donald the 1st was more in line with their personal beliefs. I don’t suppose any of them had polled their districts with the simple question: Democracy or Monarchy? That would have been too obvious. Better to create a “Constitutional crisis” out of the mob storming the Capitol.

As one who has been unhappy with a lot of what my government has done in my name in my seventy plus years, I’ve always respected the process. I’m miserable when the Republicans are in office and less so when the Democrats take charge. As a youth I marched in the streets to end the war, but I also registered for the draft. It was what good citizens were supposed to do. Work within the system to bring about the change you wanted to see, not trash it for everyone. Not write in our feces on the Capitol walls.

Three years ago, a group of wrong headed acolytes of a false prophet rose up to change the world for all of us. This wasn’t the will of the people, over 81 million people voted for Joe Biden, the largest number of votes ever cast for a presidential candidate. Even by the definition of the Donald, Biden won by a landslide. No this was an attempted coup. This was an attempt by a few to overthrow the will of the many by force. We all saw it!

Most of us recognize that we are not guaranteed “Prom King” or “Homecoming Queen” and would never attempt to burn down our high school as a logical response to our loss. Sometimes another candidate for a position that we cherish goes to another. We learn from the experience, we grow and we move on. At least that’s how it works for 99.999999 percent of us.

Many opinions will be offered as to why the insurrectionists did what they did. Many excuses and defenses will be proffered by those brought to trial. There will be suppositions and conjectures aplenty. But no amount of supposition or conjecture can change what million of us saw live on that day. People, police officers, died while valiantly trying to preserve Democracy for the rest of us. Let’s not let opinions make our memories of what we all saw that day become selective.

Thousands Standing Around

We’re watching all of those folks milling around in the Atlanta Airport on TV. If I was trying to get to Dallas or Chicago by airplane, I’d probably be busting a gasket now.

What seems to be plaguing the holiday time of year travelers is the inability of the security at the airports to process the travelers quickly. I use “quickly” in the most generous sense. People are being told to arrive at the airport three hours ahead of their scheduled flight. Three hours ahead of their departure time! Let us cogitate on that for a moment. Three hours of picking up and kicking our bags forward while we try to not upset the people in front of, or behind us in line.

If those three hours were actually spent traveling, where could we go? Well, by car heading north, we’d make it to Asheville, Knoxville, Nashville and almost to Charlotte. Going in other directions we’d get to Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Columbus and nearly to Tallahassee and Savannah. I am told that people fly to those destinations from the Atlanta airport. Now travelers can drive to their port of call in the time they would have spent in line waiting to take their shoes and belt off.

As impressive as that range is, where could we go by train, if the United States had a train system like Eurail?

In addition to the car list, we add Lexington, Greensboro, Charleston, Jacksonville, Panama City, Pensacola and Mobile. It looks like going to the beach would be a piece of cake by train. I’m talking about a slow train, one that averages one hundred miles an hour. If you move up in speed to Eurail standards, then most of the eastern U.S. is within reach. Chicago is attainable in the time you spent kicking your bag along in line. The two and half hour flight time is just time you get added back to your life to live as you see fit. Logical minds are asking, what can be done? At least I hope there are some logical minds somewhere asking questions.

One of the reasons for the big slowdown at the airport has been brought about by the carriers charging more luggage fees for checked baggage. Passengers retaliated by carrying on all of their stuff. TSA agents retaliated by processing your sixteen carry on pieces of luggage as slowly as they could. The lines of angry passengers going out the door of the terminal notified the news agencies that there might be a story here. The story lasts for one cycle because the media is not going to aggravate any of their advertisers. Ad infinitum.

The news agencies have presented the story as one more government agency unable to function properly, not one more money grubbing industry trying to squeeze every nickel out of their customers. The spin that the fault lies with TSA, will of course beg for the opportunity to turn the security of the airports over to private security companies. Think Blackwater, except they’ll probably re-brand as something cute like “Blue Skies”. By the way, TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration not Thousands Standing Around.

It’s been reported that thousands of flyers have missed their flights because of the slow lines at security. What can be done to fix this problem without compromising security? Well, my first choice is to build a first rate train system in the U.S.A., like President Biden has talked about in his “Build Back Better” plan. If only a fourth of the folks flying today took the train, the lines at the airport would disappear. I suspect if the airlines felt any competition from any other source, they’d figure out how to get the lines manageable without compromising security. Without competition, they’re not motivated. For my money, the carriers have created the problem, and will try to shape the solution to something they would prefer. Something like their own security system.

Hometown Delta Airlines has devised a “Delta Check Point Charley” for all of the preapproved Delta passengers. Flyers have the option to join TSA’s Precheck program and use Delta’s face recognition software to speed customers through the line. Blink, blink, zip, zip you’d be through security headed to the gate like in the old days before 9/11. Of course annual dues would apply, and maybe frequent flyers might have to get dinged a little more for their frequent use of the system. Those face readers don’t come cheap you know.

Security would be maintained without all of us getting to show our privates to amused TSA officials. The downside might be a preapproved gun nut. This year TSA has caught 4,500 firearms in carry on luggage, a twenty year high. I’m not seeing anything in the program that addresses weapons in carry on luggage.

The reduction in the time needed to fly might be enough to hold off developing a first rate Amtrak. We’ll see. There are a lot of us that prefer the comfort and reliability of a good train system. Sadly, we might have to wait until the Hyperloop becomes a reality.


Al Franken, the great former Senator from the state of Minnesota once said of his relationship with Ted Cruz, “Here’s the thing you have to understand about Ted Cruz, I like Ted Cruz more than most of my other colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz.”

Known as somebody who doesn’t mind climbing out on a limb, and then sawing it off behind himself, lyin’ Ted Cruz is never at a loss for words. It seems The Cruz has pushed the crazy meter so far to the right that he’s getting a bounce in media attention currently. Describing Biden’s pledge to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court, lyin’ Ted Cruz referred to the decision as “offensive” and “insulting”. Whew!

I think The Cruz has upped his media game to the point that the major news services feel like they need to stay on his coattails, lest they miss something major. The Cruz is so volatile he just might set himself on fire or something. The extra coverage just brings up more wacky stuff that might get missed if the news people aren’t 24X7. Like the fact that The Cruz is currently packing for an extended stay in Cancun ahead of the next ice storm.

Why do people take an instant dislike to Ted Cruz? It saves time.

Speaking of trips, who remembers Bruce Jenner’s famous trip to the bathroom on his pilgrimage to endorse the Donald in New York prior to the 2016 election?

Now, I will be the first to admit that I have all sorts of issues with the conversion of Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner. These issues are more about a contemporary, a terrific athlete, one who could have beaten me at each and every event, then deciding later in life that he should have been playing for the girl’s team. That’s disturbing to me. Whether or not he feels his gender assignment was right or not is a personal issue, in my opinion, and should have been handled that way. The fact that he has the world’s most aggressive agent promoting his change, and consequently the news coverage, is just tacky. Not quite as tacky as the Kardashian kids, but still real tacky. The firestorm was released when the Kardashian media machine released a video of Bruce going in the women’s restroom, in Trump Tower, no less. Enter lyin’ Ted Cruz.

The Cruz wanted his faithful to know that if there was ever going to be a Cruz Presidency, no one was going to be allowed to enter a bathroom that they were not biologically suited for. In front of God and everybody, Cruz opined, “It doesn’t make sense for grown adult men, strangers, to be alone in a restroom with a little girl,” Cruz continued. “This is the height of political correctness. And frankly, the concern is not of the Caitlyn Jenners of the world, but if the law is such that any man, if he feels like it, can go in a woman’s restroom and you can’t ask him to leave, that opens the door for predators.”  Ahhhhh, the predators card. I’m glad Cruz played it.

Parents of children of both sexes are always faced with how to handle the potty breaks of little ones before we feel that they’re safe to go by themselves. Mom could be with the son, or Dad with the daughter. Neither parent wants to be caught in that danger zone of taking the child to the bathroom we are “gender assigned” to, but not the child. Or worse, entering the bathroom that is correct for the child, but not for the parent. Then you’ve got the Cruz dilemma of an adult in the wrong bathroom. As the child gets older, this situation gets more and more awkward until we finally decide they’re ok to go to their own bathroom on their own, while we wait patiently for them to return. Billions of parents handle this issue everyday.

It’s only in Cruz world where we have to presume that a trans person is also a predator. In Cruz world laws must be made to preserve the sanctity of gender specific bathrooms, no matter how broken the plumbing is in the other bathroom. Ironically, I bet The Cruz never asked his wife if she had ever used the Men’s bathroom. Heidi is prone to hearing voices, and I bet at some point in time Heidi heard a voice say, “I’ve got to go now and there is no line at the men’s room”. Maybe not, maybe I judge too harshly.

I am sure that The Cruz wouldn’t know a “predator” if one came up and bit him on the butt. I even offer up proof. Here The Cruz is pictured with a very famous predator that called his wife ugly and said his dad helped Lee Harvey Oswald: