Tag Archives: common sense

Sanders, the Invisible Candidate

Political conspiracies are not my cup of tea.  When I was tracking criminal intelligence on outlaw bikers for  the Knox County Sheriff’s Department, I kept running across a phrase used among that group of sociopaths:  “Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”

Experience has taught me that human beings are blabbermouths. Even among police officers, who have more reason to practice discretion that most people, I have had an officer tell me something along the lines of, “This is between the two of us and it goes no further,”  only to have it come back to me a day or two later from several different sources with the same warning that the secret — whatever it is — must be kept.

When someone tells me what their intentions are, I take them at face value until I have reason to believe otherwise.  I never subscribed to “the great right wing conspiracy” or “the great left wing conspiracy.”  In most cases, both sides are upfront about their intentions.  I believed the political right when they say they want to shrink social services to a size small enough to drown in a bathtub  — a form of social Darwinism — and the left when they say they want a government that protects people and provides assurance that nobody will ever starve or go without healthcare — a capitalistic –socialist state, not either or.

In the matter of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who was elected as an Independent, caucuses with the Democrats and does not shy away from what he has described as “Democratic Socialism,”  it appears that  for all intents and purposes, he is nonexistent. The right wing concept of Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton as radical liberals, does not carry over to the left wing of the Democratic Party, where the two of them are viewed as moderates, at best. It’s a matter of perspective.

The conspiracy I have almost come around to believing is that the media in general is pretending as if Bernie Sanders does not exist, despite the crowds of thousands he is drawing and a popularity that matches or exceeds that of Clinton in some early primary states.

While the media seems to be totally focused on Donald Trump and the Republican majority continues to try and disgrace Clinton with continuing and pointless investigations, as if she is the only possible Democrat strong enough to threaten their quest to regain the White House, Sanders continues to draw large crowd everywhere he goes.

The journalistic non-existence of Sanders became suddenly acute when Joe Biden, Obama’s loyal VP began to cause rumbles by making noises that he might enter as a candidate for president. When Biden went to visit Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a favorite of the genuine left wing of  her party, there was an explosion of interest in the media at a possible marriage of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party and the left wing.

Sanders was not mentioned as a part of the possible marriage, even though he has been saying what Warren says for decades longer.  Why is Sanders still being treated as a nonentity? Is it his age — he’s 73, not much older than Clinton — or is it because he is viewed as being unelectable because he has been upfront about building on existing socialist programs such as Social Security and Medicare? Or is it just that Sanders is not as colorful as some?

If I believed in conspiracies, Sanders’ journalistic nonexistence would qualify.

I Really, Really Wish I Hadn’t Said That

Have you ever opened your mouth to speak and before the words had completely left your lips, realized that you have said something totally ludicrous? Of course you have; we all have.

Is anyone else old enough to remember when President Jimmy Carter was speaking at the funeral of former Vice-President Hubert Horatio Humphrey — and for whatever fluke of the moment — instead called him Hubert Horatio Hornblower, a fiction British Naval officer created by author C. S. Forester?

My most spectacular faux pas — from an old French term that means “screwed up, royally” — recently happened at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in North Knox County, where I had met with Gary Wade, Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court and one of his friends for breakfast.

The meeting was ostensibly to discuss a football game played between Powell High School of Knox County and Sevier County High School of Sevier County (of course) in 1963, which Powell, the decided underdog had won.

Wade played in the game and I watched it from the stands, holding hands with a high school sweetheart. I had written about the game a few weeks earlier and the Tennessee Supreme Court Justice and I both agreed it was at least among the most exciting games we had ever witnessed and saw nothing odd about meeting to discuss an athletic contest that happened more than 50 years ago over breakfast.

Having exhausted game talk after a few minutes, the conversation drifted to other subjects. I can’t recall many details of a conversation that happened weeks ago, but part of it had to do with the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because I was venturing the opinion that if the Founding Fathers of this country had written as clearly in our Bill of Rights as Tennessee’s Constitutional framers wrote in their equivalent Section 26 in the Declaration of Rights, it would have avoided a lot of squabbling.

That Section 26 of the Tennessee Declaration of Rights, said: “That the citizens of this state have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.” Just imagine if that sentence had been added to the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment, how different things might have been to day — when it comes to, say mass killings, if weapons were really regulated enough to be kept from the hands of the severely mentally disturbed and criminals.

In the heat of the moment, as I was making my point, I blurted out, “Have either of you ever actually read the original Tennessee Constitution?”

The words were out there with no way to turn them into a joke or make them go away. Chief Justice Wade is a merciful and courteous man who may have produced just a flicker of a smile, as I dropped my head and mumbled something along the lines of, “That was a really silly thing for me to ask.”

I don’t know if the judge’s friend was amused or not because my eyes were downcast in shame on my biscuits and gravy. But being the nice man he is, Justice Wade changed the subject — probably back to the football game –and pretended I had not just made an ass of myself.

It was even worse than a television interview 25 years ago during which I was talking to an attractive television news woman about a new adult entertainment ordinance passed by Knox County. She asked what separated an adult oriented film from one that was permissible without a permit.

As I opened my mouth to say something about “gratuitous nudity,” my tongue froze, my mind shut down and I realized could not remember how to pronounce gratuitous. Rather than stopping the way a wise man would have and just rephrasing the answer, I pressed on and came out with a garbled word that sounded something like grat-chew-u-tus nudity.

It was almost as humiliating as asking the Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court if he had ever read the Tennessee Constitution. I comfort myself by promising never to say anything else without thinking it through — but I know that if I live long enough, I probably will.