I'll be in Minneapolis. As you know if you are a regular reader, the last two columns were quick bullet-points and not my usual analysis of fewer topics. The analysis approach instead has been devoted to appearances in the Midwest as a scholarly expert for the Bill Rights Institute. The women's history division of the Library of Congress recommended me, and I've been speaking under the aegis of the Washington-based institute, which educates teachers on what to teach about the Constitution. Read More
Doris writes a weekly column for LaGaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper, which has pages in English, Spanish, and Italian. Begun in 1922 for Tampa's immigrant community, it continues to thrive more than a century later. Her column is titled "In Context," as it aims to put contemporary issues in the context of the past.
I'm still going semi-crazy with deadlines, so it will be November before I find my scholarly self and do any deep thinking for this column. Meanwhile, more quick bullet points, beginning with thoughts re airports and airplanes, as I fly to the Midwest for speeches for the Bill of Rights Institute:
· Florida may be the nation's home for retirees, but that doesn't mean we don't have kids. I guess they are coming and going to see grandparents, but there always are kids on TIA flights. I noticed this particularly because there were none on the flights to and from Oklahoma City. The quietness was sufficient that it drew my attention.
· Charlotte's airport just gets worse and worse. We used to say that you couldn't get to heaven without going through Atlanta, but now it is Charlotte that is becoming endless sprawl. Everyone and his cat seems to be routed through there, and I'm going to make a point of avoiding it in the future.
· I guess I'll cough up the $88 that it costs to get fingerprinted for TSA pre-clearance. They seem to be targeting elderly blondes, as I have been pulled out for extra security three times in the past three months. I have no idea why, as I don't even carry much in the way of electronic equipment or anything else. Probably I'm just an easy way to meet quotas. How much are we paying these private contractors who seem to have so much time on their hands?
· While I'm sympathetic to people with eating disorders, I also wonder about FAA policy re extreme obese passengers. A three-person family I saw boarding at TIA all appeared to individually weigh at least 300 pounds, and the young adult might have been 500. Now that we are forced to repack if a bag weighs more than 40 pounds (and on most airlines, pay for the bag no matter what it weighs), I would be interested in policy re weight.
· And speaking of bags, I've long wondered why those of us who check our bags aren't allowed to deplane first, before the overhead bin users. I started thinking about this a couple of decades ago, when I would go to Tallahassee for a one-day meeting carrying nothing but my purse. Then and now, I nonetheless have to wait while everyone in front of me gets stuff down from overhead – so I suggested that (again) to a flight attendant last week. "That's a really good idea," she replied, but I'm not getting my hopes up.
· Science fiction promised us long ago that we would have jet packs or some sort of personal long-distance travel by now, maybe even via ESP. I'm waiting.
THANK YOU, DEEP STATERS
· I'm so grateful to what the rightwing calls "the deep state" – a phase they use to nudge the conspiratorially-minded into believing there's some sort of secret plot by government employees to ignore the law. In fact, it is exactly the reverse, as these people pass civil service tests and win promotions by doing their jobs year in and year out, despite changes in administrations. We created the civil service system back in the nineteenth century so that you wouldn't have a new local postman every time you had a new president – and it works, much to the chagrin of the Trump administrators who would like to be free to hire and fire everyone.
· Right-wingers doubtless would consider the FBI folks who arrested the two fleeing Russian-born men at Dulles Airport to be part of the deep state. Instead, the FBI was doing its job, following through on suspicious one-way ticket purchasers. The suspects will get their day in court, and I'm glad that they weren't allowed to leave the country. (No, I don't know whether the TSA folks were doing their jobs in this case – probably not, given that they are private contract employees without credentials and not well-trained members of a longtime federal agency, the FBI.)
· Ditto re the administration's removal of "the woman," the ambassador to Ukraine who refused to play ball with Rudy Giuliani. She was (is) a longtime, well-credentialed employee of the State Department who had risen to the rank of ambassador after a career under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Again, let us praise deep staters. They keep us the United States.
BITS AND PIECES
· I'm sure you saw the photo of our so-called president posing with his three favorite thugs (as of right now), Russia's Putin, Turkey's Erdogan, and Syria's Assad. But did you know we got that photo weeks after the meeting took place? And even then, it was from an English-language newspaper in Russia! Where is our own press corps? The big newspapers and television networks have plenty of money to send inquiring reporters; they just don't choose to do so.
· Speaking of newspaper pictures, have you noticed that old hippies are at it again? This was especially true in the coverage of the recent demonstration in front of Congressman Charlie Crist's Pinellas office. Young Republican Matt Gaetz, who represents a Panhandle district hundreds of miles away, called for the protest because Charlie saw the light, switched from Republican to Democrat, and recently joined the call for impeachment investigations. The scheme backfired on Gaetz, as most of the folks who turned up with signs supported Charlie. By far the majority appeared to be old hippies.
· Ditto with a demonstration in Louisville, not exactly a place where one would expect old hippie Democrats. But they were there in force recently, supporting a Catholic church that proclaimed its ethical responsibility to provide shelter for those being persecuted by ICE. Church officials also signed on to this proud proclamation of sanctuary. Mitch McConnell might want to ponder that. We old hippie dudes have overcome before, and we shall again.
· Although I wish some of its writers were less vulgar, I read Daily Kos daily. I usually ignore the polls that run as a banner at the top of the page, but I looked recently and found them revealing. An aggregate of polls show that Donald Trump's job approval rating is at 54% unfavorable, and support for impeachment is up to 51%. Support for gun control comes in at 55%, with only 38% opposed. A border wall with Mexico is opposed by more than half of the people, at 52%, while those who still want to build it have dropped to 44%.
· Both political parties are viewed unfavorably by a majority, but distaste for Republicans is greater; only 30% -- or fewer than one in three – have a favorable view of that party. These are marked changes from when I looked a month or two ago. As the old Dylan song says, "the times; they are a'changin."
I'm going sort of medium berserk right now. I have three speeches in the Midwest during the three weeks remaining in October, flying in and out on sequential days under the aegis of the Bill of Rights Institute. That will be fodder for future columns. Plus the manuscript deadline for my new book was last week. More fodder for the future. Read More