Archive for July, 2008

“I Promised To Be A Good Boy, But I Gotta Win!”

July 26, 2008

I am coming to understand Barack Obama so much better. It took me a week to get past The New Yorker cover, but I finally, slowly and carefully, read the article about his rise in politics up through the Chicago/Illinois machine into the national spotlight. Obama is NOT a sell-out, but a realist, and my sense of his brain power, toughness and determination has all been but clarified and strengthened.

A politician will do whatever he needs to do to get elected. That is one of the pitfalls of democracy: yes, we have free voting, but these votes must be collected and nurtured, which leaves so much room for empty promises and dirty dealing. Glory be to the candidate who will stay on course and emphasize the issues over petty, base personal politics. But some pols get utterly desparate. Take Grampy McSame for instance.

One of his television ads he is currently running is saying that because Obama is against offshore drilling, it is HE who is responsible for the current run-up in oil prices. Now, now Grampy. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Make up your mind: you claim Obama has a deep lack of experience because he has been a national Senator for only two years. Yet you blame him for the high prices at the pumps which have been going on for almost 40 years —– kind of as long as GRAMPY has been in office! The ad clearly infers that if a person is FOR drilling, than this energy problem can be fixed overnight. Not true. Any way you look at it —– wind power, solar power, nuclear power, offshore drilling —– it is going to take at least ten years to right this problem. To pigeonhole Obama as the fall guy for our current mess is simply untrue and just another immature, desparate attempt to get votes, not a viable path to solutions. Talk about personal gain!

Furthermore, this week Grampy McSame spoke at a town hall meeting and said that Obama’s trip abroad was nothing more than a ploy to win the race. Here we go again: all along, Grampy has been criticizing Obama for a lack of experience in foreign affairs, and then when he goes abroad to learn more for his own benefit and the benefit of our country, McSame accuses him of doing it for personal gain. Grampy said that Obama, citing his stance on the Iraq war, was willing to lose the war in order to win the race for President, while Grampy was definitely NOT willing to lose the war for this race. What a hypocrite.

Apparently, Grampy STILL doesn’t get it: there is NO winning this war. When just ONE young life is lost in this nonsense, we have won NOTHING. We entered into this catastrophe based on lies, it has been going on for six years based on ignorance and no planning, and we have no exit policy to date. We have semantics, i.e. “timetable” versus a “horizon”. Have you ever realized that a horizon always remains a horizon because, like the end of the rainbow, there is no reaching a horizon? As to win, lose or draw in this war, now what it is all about to the Republicans is saving face. Period. They need to save face because they need the votes for this election. So you tell me who is really in this for personal gain.

What I have learned about Obama from The New Yorker article is that his changes in policies have come out of his quest for reality. When he lost the race in 2000 for Illinois state senator, he had to adjust his thinking and actions to encompass certain strategies to win. Here’s what Ryan Lizza, the author of The New Yorker article, writes about Obama’s political transformation after he lost the 2000 state senate race:

“Like many politicians, Obama is paradoxical. He is by nature an incrementalist………He campaigns on reforming a broken political process, yet he has always played politics by the rules as they exist, not as he would like them to exist. He runs as an outsider, but he has succeeded by mastering the inside game. He is ideologically a man of the left, but at times he has been genuinely deferential to core philosophical insights of the right.”

This transformation also applies perfectly to Obama today in the Presidential race. He had to concentrate hard on fundraising, because it is just plain old reality that without money, a race can not be won. As more money flows into a campaign, the chances of winning that race increase exponentially. Similarly, issues in our nation and the world are constantly changing, as must a leader’s reactions and policies to them. Without such flexibility and intellectual understanding of the issues, we will be STUCK in a dead end, being dragged down by an ill-conceived and irrelevant policy like we have now in Iraq. “WINNING” this war went off the table years ago. We need to move on, concentrate our time and money on THIS country and its overwhelming needs.

I am grateful that Obama had a very successful overseas trip. I am even more grateful that he is home in one piece. I have learned a lot about him and his “beautiful words” are NOT empty, but stepping stones to designing policies that are actually relevant to finding solutions for our many problems.

The following is a little comic relief sent to me by Nephew Number Three. I do feel that Obama’s leadership abilities are overwhelmingly more sophisticated and obvious that Grampy’s. What I do not understand is why Obama is not further ahead in the polls. Is racism rearing its ugly head? Do these numbers not reflect yet the massive numbers of NEW voters? I don’t know, but I am worried. Enjoy this video; its funny, but also a little scary.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/27570/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-baruch-obama#x-4,vclip,1

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Loose Lips Reminiscences

July 22, 2008

It has been a slow week politically, so I took to reminiscing. Now usually when one looks back over life’s memories, the time frame is way back, measured by decades. I have a much shorter outlook however. So, almost in disbelief, I realized that my reminiscences went back to only two years ago.

Remember the Virginia Senate race where Jim Webb was running against former Governor George Allen? It seems like forever since that time, but it has in fact been a mere two years. First we had the Democratic primary in which Jim Webb ran against another Democrat —– forgive me —– I don’t remember his name. This other guy was actually the “truer” Democrat, whereas Webb was a conservative, former Republican. However, Webb had a better chance at winning the Senate seat against the Republican George Allen. So we Democrats went for the jugular and gave Webb the Democratic nomination. Done.

Not quite. George Allen was the Golden Boy of the Republican Party. He was the incumbent Senator already in Virginia and his reelection seemed like a cake walk. There was much talk (very serious) about Allen running for the Presidency in 2008. His prospects seemed endless.

That’s when I remember what Yo Mama’s mama (G-Momma) always said: “Watch your mouth. Control your output. Don’t run off at the mouth before using your head.” Man oh Manishevitz! Was she ever right. And thus, we had Allen derogatorily calling a college reporter “Macaca”, a racial slur, due to the darkness of his skin and the roots of his name. Need I go any further? Webb took the election and more stunningly, Allen went from god to goat. To top it off, on election night that November, it was this Webb-Allen race that was the last to report final results and when Webb won, it gave the Democrats the majority in the Senate. So this reminiscence was the gift that just kept on giving.

Then, more recently, we have Jesse Jackson. Another “mouth that roared”. His recent divisive remarks about Barack Obama, when he thought the microphone was not on, would outrage G-Momma. She would be correct in deeming him another hot-headed idiot who speaks before he thinks.

So the meaning of all of this? Kudos to Barack Obama for maintaining his poise and tact in the midst of a national campaign. Hats off to Senator Obama for presenting a (so far) very diplomatic mien in his Mideast trip. In today’s newspaper, the picture of Obama with General Petraeus in a military aircraft, flying over Basra with both of them wearing earphones, said it all. Hey look! Obama is meeting with the military heavies, he actually can communicate with them, and he really does have a brain to integrate all the nuances of our current military positions. And no, he was not a POW 40 years ago and he STILL can understand the ins and outs of military policy. Do I hear a cheer for actual judgement, educating oneself on current affairs and holding one’s tongue in favor of enhancing one’s mind? Yes I do.

This is precisely the battle that Grampy McCain is fighting: his vacuum of mental power, his lack of any important legislation, and his insistence on his military record of 40 years ago (!) just is NOT making the grade against what Obama has to offer. And then to add insult to injury, McCain bad mouths Obama when clearly, it is Obama who has the fundamental brains and perspective to grasp the overall AND nuanced battles we face regarding the economy, international relations and the environment. McCain is the one resting on his laurels based on a military record from 40 years ago. McCain is holding the PAST, Obama’s lack of military service, against Obama. But that’s history. That’s McCain’s “claim to fame”. We need to concentrate on the here and now AND the future. Obama is the one using his talents and abilities NOW to come to terms with what ails us today. As a result, Obama demonstrates the intellectual capacity, flexibility and LEADERSHIP necessary for our next President. Welcome to real time, real problems in a world that’s constantly in flux. A military record from 40 years ago coupled with a resistance to acknowledging, understanding and dealing with current problems just doesn’t cut it to be a world leader. A figurehead, maybe. But a world leader? No how. Move out of the way, old man.

Hurry home, Senator Obama. And keep on thinking before you speak. G-Momma would be so very proud.

Spoiled Dirty Rotten

July 18, 2008

I have been listening to members of both political parties rant and rave about energy policy. First of all, we have NO policy. Our first gasoline crisis in the early 70’s came and went without ANY long-term solutions. What happened to the electric car? What happened to development of alternate energy sources, such as solar and wind? As soon as gasoline prices retreated, our memory of the crisis ceased.

We cannot complain about high gasoline prices while at the same time, take NO steps to change that policy and expect NO risks inherent in a new policy. America knows one thing: immediate gratification. No go, Charlie. It is way overdue for us to face these realities. Many politicians are currently for, against, whatever, for new offshore drilling. Listen up: if we do not want to be dependent on foreign oil, then we MUST explore. And that is correct, we will NOT see the benefits of that for at least ten years. No, America, there is no quick fix. The politicians are poo-pooing many solutions because the effects will not impact CURRENT gasoline prices (and current VOTING choices). Guess what? We have ignored this problem for almost forty years, and yes, we need a plan NOW, and and then we need to ACT.

Furthermore, what kind of spoiled brats are we Americans? We want cheap energy prices, we do not want to depend on foreign oil, yet we are not willing to take any risks. Too damn bad. Offshore drilling and nuclear power come with risks. Period. But, being the largest consumer of energy in the world, it is time we took those risks, tempered with extreme caution so as to prevent a possible environmental disaster. And still this will not be a bed of roses. We can not expect cheap oil AND no risk to ourselves at all. Grow up; we can’t have our cake and eat it too. People in Europe have been paying anywhere from $7 to $10 a gallon for gasoline for years now. We have had it easy. It is now time to take responsibility for our own energy needs. This entails first and foremost, a recognition that we must develop new energy sources here at home and that those new sources will entail risk, to our shorelines, environmental landscape and possibly to our population with regard to nuclear energy.

Most important, we need to listen to Al Gore and G. Boone Pickens. We must reduce our reliance on carbon based energy and develop alternative sources, such as solar, wind and nuclear. Yes, these programs will take a minimum of ten years to come to fruition. However, if we had SERIOUSLY considered these alternatives, 10, 20, even 30 years ago, we’d be there by now. The thought of nuclear power plants makes me nauseous, but they must be a part of our overall energy overhaul. On the other hand, I just love those windmills. It isn’t just Don Quixote. They are such a clean source of energy. Of course Big Oil will fight this alternative tooth and nail. Time to tell them where to go.

But first we must make a real committment to, an admission if you will, that we need big change in this country regarding energy. Until our mindset is altered, we will sit back and continue to do nothing, just hope for the best.

The best is no longer viable. It stinks and there is no future in it. Above all, we need this new mindset to reduce our carbon footprint, for the sake of not only what you and I pay for gasoline or heating fuel, but also for the health and existence of our planet. Please take the time to view this video. A child, a mere child, has more sense than decades of our leaders and citizens:

On a different note, I wish Obama safe travel to the Mideast. Go observe, speak wisely and carefully, and PLEASE come back to us.

That’s What Friends Are For

July 15, 2008

I am still reeling from that New Yorker cover.  If this is what Obama’s FRIENDS will do to him, what the hell will his ENEMIES do?

The New York-ah, Doesn’t Work-ah

July 14, 2008

Disgusting.  Irresponsible.  Playing into and giving ammunition to America’s ignorance, racism and fear.  That is what the most recent cover art in the New Yorker magazine is.  Despite the satire and valid use of the First Amendment, this illustration was published in extremely bad taste with disregard for the effect it might ultimately have on the prize —– the election.  Knowing how liberal The New Yorker is, it is even more astonishing because the end result will be a negation of their policies and their candidate, Barack Obama.

The cover depicts Obama dressed in Arab garb with a turban and his wife Michelle, very Angela Davis looking, with a machine gun slung over her shoulder.  They are giving each other a fist bump.  The setting is clearly the Oval Office.  There is a picture of Osama Bin Laden on the wall and an American flag burning in the fireplace.  The title of the cartoon is “The Politics of Fear.”  However, you have to look inside the magazine and really search for this information.  It is only then that the satirical aspects jump out at you, that the visual impact is SO outrageous that the intent was clearly antithetical. 

Well and good for some of us.  However, for most Americans, a picture is worth a thousand words.   They will look at the visual, but hardly any will read the article.  Most Americans can’t read anything that takes longer than emptying their bowels into the toilet (not enough time, gotta get back to the large screen TV).  As i said in my earlier postings, I have come into contact with two HIGHLY educated people who have both said to me, “You know, Obama has Muslim ties.”  This cover art is fueling this fire of ignorance and fear.  Obama’s doesn’t need this and neither does our country.  So the First Amendment be damned;  this cover never should have been run.  Clearly this is an example of cutting off your nose to spite your face;  long live freedom of speech,  the hell with the election.  Living according to principle is admirable.   Discarding reality and the desired end-game in favor of that principle is just plain stupidity.

The average American, like my two educated friends, will look at this picture and add it to their arsenal of bigotry, laziness in seeking the facts and complacency for our do-nothing government.  Look who they elected for the last eight years:  a down-home, dumb-as-a-bunny and even learning resistant beer buddy.  We do not need another beer buddy to run this country.  Tell you what:  I will buy you a six pack, even a twelve pack AND show you a great time.  Just don’t vote for Grampy McSame.  Take the beer but hold that vote.

Current polls are showing that the race in now neck and neck.  Thus, another reason why this cover will have the opposite effect of the desired result.  One of my nephews, Matchu, called me this weekend very upset because he, too, is very worried that Obama might not win this election.  I told Matchu that it IS a distinct possibility that that might occur.  Matchu is in his early 30’s, both he and his wife work very hard at their jobs and are raising two children.  Their lives are stressed, hectic, but full.  However, I told him that it is not enough to feel badly about the possiblity of Obama losing this election.  He must get out there and make a difference.  Even if he can donate only $10 a month (skip two lunches) or give an hour a month of his time to the campaign, this would add incredible help to the cause and Matchu’s sense of contribution.  As Obama has always held, he WILL  get this election won, but he needs our help.  He can not do it by himself. 

So one again, let’s play “DISSIN’ FOR DOLLARS.”  Shame on The New Yorker for their twisted reasoning in publishing that cover.  Send in your checks, however much you can afford.  Show Obama we are with him.  Reward him for having to put up with such stupidity disguised as freedom of the press.  He is working for us;  shall we work for him?

Doin’ The Time

July 12, 2008

I am “DOIN’ THE TIME.” I am educating myself on Barack Obama. I am 70 pages into his first book, “Dreams From My Father”, and even though I still have about 400 pages to go, I already have a much better understanding of his goals, his background, the effect of his upbringing on his current philosophies and policies, his personal and political motivations and finally, his dedication to what is right, moral and beneficial for the greater good.

He lived in Indonesia from the time he was six years old until he was nine. His mother had remarried and his stepfather, Lolo, brought the family there to live with him in his native land. Lolo taught him, in a nutshell, to always be “strong”, yet know when reconciliation is a better tactic than force. This is the basis for Obama’s character and thus, his actions. It has made his moves of the last few weeks more understandable to me, less disappointing.

For example, Obama now wears a lapel flag pin because the fuss, time and effort explaining why he previously did not wear the pin wasted too much valuable time. This race is not about lapel jewelery, and so the issue has been put to rest. In a more meaningful vein, this campaign’s constant back and forth on which candidate is more patriotic is just downright silly and prevents the discussion of real issues. When will people reaIize that patriotism isn’t about just war, but most definitely about keeping the peace? It reminds me of two kids on a playground arguing about some inane matter: “I am bigger than you”. “You are not.” “Am too.” “Are not.” What a waste of time.

John McCain wastes a lot of time with useless comments and thus, Obama wastes his time countering those claims. Stephanie Miller, a Los Angeles based host of a Progressive talk show, has dubbed McCain “Grampy McSame”. Perfect characterization. I just can not find any substance to his speeches. For some reason, the media is not picking up on this emptiness. Besides appearing weak physically, he presents a very, very weak grasp of all the issues. It seems to me that while he can show a little knowledge on military affairs, he demonstrates a huge lack of any kind of understanding of the economy, international relations with countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan (important players in today’s world balance of power), not to mention the different social and religious factions in Iraq, and the daily living hardships of average Americans who are struggling severely due to the mortgage and oil crisis. Whiners? I don’t think so. Not all Americans are married to an independently wealthy spouse. All he can show some interest in and comprehension of is WAR; get in there and show our strength, kill those who stand in our way (never mind about the innocent civilians), sacrifice however many of our young people is necessary to maintain some sort of ridiculous image of our world superiority. Its NOT about image; its about substance. McCain’s concentration solely on killing and destruction is not only counterproductive to peace and prosperity, but also is a tactic that is outdated and useless in today’s world. Even though his military record from 40 years ago is admirable, it does not automatically qualify him for the top leadership position in today’s changing world. I simply have not been able to find any substance to John McCain.

Thus, McCain has one very limited strength, and that is his military experience. Obama needs to hit him HARD right smack dab in the middle of this “strength”. How many of you are aware of McCain’s unsympathetic voting record on veteran affairs and benefits? He almost always has voted AGAINST financial support and aid for those young people in military service who actually do all the killing and destroying.

So the next time you listen to Grampy McSame, see if you can discern any substance and understanding of the real serious issues affecting our country. I don’t know if this shortcoming is due to age, lack of mental acuity or a resistance to learning the facts. All I know is that it is a blatant omission from his campaigning.

On to Jesse Jackson, who uttered an insulting remark about Obama when he thought the microphone was off. This misstep is very telling to me because since he thought the mike was not hot, he actually spoke his true feelings. And those feelings toward Obama are very simple to understand: Jackson is just plain jealous of Obama and where he’s headed. Everything Obama stands for and will ultimately attain is exactly what Jackson wanted for himself. Contrary to Jackson’s opinion that Obama was talking down to African Americans, I agree with the likes of Bill Cosby and Obama who have voiced the belief that African American men are irresponsible regarding their family obligations. Not only do those Black men (and this is a vast generalization) who father children and then leave deem their offspring as another trophy comparable to a very fancy pair of sneakers, but also their women who have these children think that it is cool and quite trendy to speak about “my baby’s daddy”, even though he is nowhere to be found. I think they mean “my sperm donor”, and feel this child is equal to a piece of bling, something to raise one’s status. In reality, this child needs a mother AND father. You gotta “DO THE TIME.” Until the Black community, individually and at large, provide this stability for their children and change their mindset, break the cycle of absentee parenthood, no status-seeking behavior will compensate for the moral, social and real esteem building growth necessary to prepare these kids for productive lives. So Mr. Jesse Messy Jackson, cool your heels and listen to Obama. Certainly your decades long tirade that the there is an evil force, an “outside” force that has held African Americans down, including creating the circumstances that created the absence of a nuclear family, is not the whole truth. Changes have to come from WITHIN first. Each person has to uplift themself before they can uplift their circumstances.

This brings me back to Barack. In the book I am reading, I am only up to Obama in his teen years. His biological father, who left his family when Barack was two years old, returned for a visit when the child was about ten. During this visit, Obama had his first realizations about his race. As this story line evolves in the book, I will speak more to this issue in later postings.

However, with just 70 pages behind me, I am understanding better Obama’s actions of the last few weeks, i.e. his support of FISA, faith-based social initiatives and his stance on the war in Iraq. At first glance, some people might agree with the Republicans that Obama is flip-flopping. Just as in the lapel flag to-do, first they say when he DOESN’T wear the pin, that he is not patriotic. Then when he DOES wear the pin, they say he is flip-flopping. Is this the best the Republicans have? To go on and on about lapel jewelery? What a meaningful and relevant campaign issue!

Based on his stepfather Lolo’s advice to be strong but temper that strength with moderation and smarts, Obama made a reasonable decision on FISA, which would protect the public utilities from privacy law suits on behalf of individuals. Since 9/11, we have had to maintain a heightened security system. I just hope FISA will not tread on innocent people’s constitutional rights. But I am going with Obama on this one. Call it holding faith.

Regarding faith-based government programs, I am torn about that. This country is running out of money between the two war fronts we are supporting and the multiple bail-outs (the mortgage industry, foreclosure saves, Bear Stearns, now Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and who knows how many other banks will go down the tubes). So, even though the Republicans would never vote for social program support in GOOD times, those programs are especially not at the head of the list right now. Look at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Warren Buffett and other huge philanthropists who have virtually taken over starting and running charities dedicated to medical and social issues. Heaven knows our government isn’t (or can’t) going to do it. So along with these very generous organizations, there might very well be a place for faith-based groups to do some good. I only hope that included in this help there won’t be indoctrination to those groups’ tenets. It is a very slender line between faith-based welfare and separation of church and state.

But the reality is what Obama sees, and his “change” on withdrawing immediately from Iraq is reasonable also. Since the primary race, there have been some good changes in Iraq: the surge seems to have worked and the Iraqi government has stabilized, although both events must be labelled as “somewhat”. Obama now believes that a slower, more gradual pullout would be beneficial. Once again, I get his change of policy.

This world is NOT a static place. Circumstances are constantly changing. Thus, policy must adapt. I do not see Obama’s decisions of the last few weeks as flip-flopping; I see them as necessary for peace and prosperity. Obama’s intellectual capacity, his great strength tempered by reality, change and hope have taught me a lot this last month. I am working hard to understand this man.

What follows is a new song, written and performed by my daughter. It is called “Minnesota”, paying homage to the night in that state when Barack Obama declared his win as the Democratic nominee for the Presidency of the United States of America —– “that’s the change we need, Minnesota”. My daughter says that the song is “a little dark but ultimately uplifting. Like America.” Its about children, peace, hope and change. I see it as a bit of a lump-in-the-throat, pull-at-the-heartstrings throwback to the classic antiwar folk songs of the 1960’s. But it is also a timeless song because it speaks to universal principles. I am so very proud of my girl: not only for following her dreams and succeeding at being personally productive, but also for caring about things outside of herself. Her convictions for the greater good are clear in this song. She is sure of herself. She is the face of change. And she is SO worth it. It does a parent’s heart good to see the results of “DOIN’ THE TIME.”

And thank you Barack Obama for bringing us all together —– family, community and, hopefully, the world.

Fly Me To The Moon….PLEASE!

July 11, 2008

I’m baaa-aack! I had a restful two weeks away in Maine. That is, until I hit the airports today to come home. This will be the first of two new postings. I will write the second one after I catch my breath in a day or so. But this one must get written right now.

So I drive the three hours to the Portland, Maine (PWM) airport to fly home to Virginia (Baltimore-Washington Airport — BWI). Easy peaceful drive. I return the rental car to Avis (all brand trade names WILL be used here to specifically embarrass these entities who couldn’t conduct a service business if they’re lives depended on it, which they do). I was quoted a charge of $319 for two weeks on a good sized car. However, I dropped it off after only 12 days. The Avis personnel said there would be NO reduction in the price. I responded that, should I have kept the car two EXTRA days instead of returning it two days early, there WOULD be an extra charge. Correct. However, she said it is an “industry standard” that the weekly fees apply to anywhere from five to seven days. Thus, I get no reduction in the amount I owe. I felt like Jack Nicholson in “Five Easy Pieces” trying to order that simple omelet. Then I handed her a coupon for 25% off. No good. The coupon only comes into play if you turn it in BEFORE you complete the rental. Great deals, huh? The only problem is that there is so much small writing (teeny, weeny) you might as well kiss any deals goodbye.

Okay. So I know when I am beat. I then head to the terminal to the AirTran counter to get my boarding pass and check one bag. Keep in mind that we’re talking about a measly 1 1/2 hour flight. Now the Portland Airport is very small, but there were three attendants at the counter. Despite that, I was told to use the computer monitor to get my boarding pass. Instead of processing my reservation by the staff there to serve, I got a 15 minute computer lesson just so we could deem this process a truly automated system. Imagine: getting technologically educated instead of just a simple boarding pass. Remarkable. It’s a wonder why AirTran has any staff at all.

On to the security check area. On 9/11/01, one of the terrorists originated from PWM. As a result, the rigors of going through security at PWM are tough. The line today was long. As I waited to pass, I watched all the TSA employees do their job. And that was when I had a true epiphany. The whole scene was comical, absolutely hysterical. I vacillated between cursing and laughter as I watched passenger after passenger take their shoes and belts off, empty their pockets, take their laptops out of their cases and place, just the laptop itself, in a separate bin, remove jewelery and hair accessories, place their toiletries in a one quart sized Ziploc bag in a bin and on and on ad nauseum. Which was worse, a more telling statement? Was it that all these strip-downs and silly procedures really wouldn’t prevent a terrorist from getting done what he wants to get done (plastic explosives still cannot be identified in checked luggage!) or was it that all the passengers were going along with this nonsense? Totally sheep. But of course the alternative would be to get arrested and really, that would be such a time consuming process. The kicker was when a three year old little girl, wearing practically no clothing, had to go through the scanner four times! Percentage-wise, what do you think the chances are that some weapon is being hid on an almost naked toddler? Yet all those TSA employees have to justify their job existence.

This air transportation security screening is SUCH a violation of one’s personal rights and space. You would think in this day and age of high technology that this primitive “search-and-seek” method would be replaced. The searches are random and not thorough at all. Half of the TSA employees are just twiddling their thumbs. Do they think that having a bunch of uniforms there would really stop a terrorist? But hey, a pay check’s a pay check.

So on to board the plane. After I sit in my seat, I notice my seat mate is a man of about 60 years old. Seems nice enough. The plane takes off and then I hear, repeated about every ten minutes, laughter from the man next to me. It was loud and it was kind of like he knew something that I didn’t. I had a long talk with Moses, Jesus and Allah and their assurances that this guy did not have a box cutter on him were not at all soothing to me. Jeez, my luck to sit next to a man with multiple personalities. Or maybe he was just delusional or schizophrenic. Then I thought to myself: which would be better (if “better” is a relevant term at all for this situation)? Is it safer for me to be sitting next to Sybil, or the Bates guy from “Psycho, or the Unibomber? Which poison would you pick? The laughter continued until finally after an hour into the flight, I noticed the man was wearing earplugs! So I finally realized that he must be laughing at whatever he was listening to. Tuned out from the world, he never considered the fact that his behavior was in the least bit weird. Whew!

Then there was a young woman a few rows in back of me who constantly snapped the gum she was chewing. Furthermore, I guess she needed more stimulation that the snapping afforded her so she also blew a lot of loud bubbles. Nobody said a word. True, anyone who knows me will admit that I am very sound-sensitive. However, these noises emanating from this woman were downright offensive. Even of we were outside in a park, instead of being confined in a very small, enclosed space, these noises would be atrocious. So every time I heard her sounds, I jerked my head around and stared her down. She too, was wearing headphones. I guess manners are immaterial if the person herself can’t hear her rude insults. The noises finally ceased, but don’t I know that all the other people thought I was the rude, crazy person. Ask me if I care.

To add insult to injury on this wonderful flight experience, just before landing the stewardess gets on the loudspeaker and instructs all the passengers to turn up the air blowers as high as they would go, pull down all the window shades and finally, empty out all the garbage from the seatback pockets and clean the floors of all debris. Done. We just cleaned up the plane for the next batch of passengers and saved AirTran the cost of a cleaning crew. Aren’t we lucky dogs? We not only get to pay for our transportation, but also we get to work clean-up. What a country!

After the plane lands, I head to baggage claim. My bag would be delivered to carousel number 11. Ten minutes pass, 20 minutes pass, 30 minutes elapse. I cannot find one staff person to ask where the luggage is. So, being the really short person I am, I creep under the security rope and go into the baggage unloading area in the rear of the carousels. I yell, “Helloooooooo —– anyone work here?” numerous times before anyone responds. Nobody actually knew where the luggage was from my flight, nor did they care. “Don’t yell at me Lady. I just work here!” Well isn’t that the point? After a total wait at claims of 45 minutes, my bag arrived.

So that was my day. Flying today is a horrendous proposition. I understand that the airlines need to save money, that their bottom lines are really hurting. But from now on, despite the cost of gasoline, I will drive whenever possible. Visits to my daughter in Seattle will be the only exception I will make. I definitely would rather go to the moon than any airport.

Please check back tomorrow or Saturday as I will be posting some comments on the political events of the last two weeks. You will hear my thoughts on Jesse “Messy” Jackson as well as some revelations I have had while reading Barack Obama’s first book, “Dreams From My Father”. Furthermore, I will include my daughter Maribel’s (or in techno-speak as she has informed me, I will EMBED) newest song that she wrote and performed called “Minnesota”. It is a classic anti-war song that will put you in tears. The title comes from the place where Obama acknowledged his nomination as the Democratic Presidential nominee. Speak to you then.