Thanksgiving is upon us and like many we know, we’re making the rounds visiting family. We’ve spent an early Thanksgiving in Sacramento with my son’s family and leave tomorrow for San Diego for another Thanksgiving with the southern branch of the family. We went north on Southwest Airlines, but we’re going south on Amtrak and avoiding the driving, which is always a problem on the holiday. Everyone seems to be traveling this year, and getting in and out of airports—particularly LAX—is an ordeal. LAX tried to limit the crowding and moved Uber and Lyft out of the immediate airport, but it’s a work in progress, so expect some delays. Southwest may deny it, but the leg room seems to be shrinking and you spend an hour flying to Sacramento in a semi-fetal position. Since the planes are all totally filled, and Southwest has open seating, everyone seems to have their own survival strategy for flying. I go to the very back of the airplane because I have the sense that it’s safer, for which, of course, there is absolutely no supporting evidence. At least you’re more likely to get an aisle seat and you’re close to the restrooms. Then, there is the middle seat problem. A few flights ago, I got stuck with a guy in the middle seat who must have been a former linebacker who had put on a few pounds since his playing days; I spent the entire flight hanging over the armrest, being banged about by the drink cart and assorted passengers. So happy holiday travels.
While in Sacramento, my eight-year-old grandson visited our hotel room and hooked up Karen’s cell phone to play music through the speaker in the hotel radio. He was nice about it as he explained to us what he was doing in the most childlike technical language, the same kind of language you might use if you were trying to explain the technology to an African lowland gorilla. One of the blessings of looming retirement is it will come with the blessing of IT support while we are in Sacramento. But it’s not just my grandson, handsome and well above average as he may be: It’s all the kids. Technology is just a natural extension of their brain. It’s almost like you have to learn certain things at the right time and then it’s automatic for the rest of your life. I know people who never learned the multiplication tables at the appropriate time, so it never became automatic. Now, each time they multiply, they have to first do the calculation in their head. I figure there is only so much you should be expected to learn in one lifetime... If you have to use Alexa or a grandson, so be it.
It was one heck of a week in Washington, D.C. It’s pretty clear there was plenty of quid pro quo with Ukraine, but the problem seems to be that no one cares that much. The polling numbers stayed about the same. By the end of the week, those that hated Trump still hated him and those that liked Trump still liked him. There was a parade of witnesses and many were damned good, but a lot of it didn’t resonate much because it was all very factual and undramatic. I personally thought the star of the week was Gordon Sondland. He actually seemed to be enjoying himself and he had clearly decided after seeing what happened to Roger Stone for lying to Congress that he wasn’t about to take a bullet for Trump, so he told it as it was. I remember when I was still practicing law, there were defense experts who would come in to testify, with a big mane of white hair and a friendly, easy-going manner, and they’d even concede you some points on cross examination. Then, just about the time you were beginning to feel pretty good, they’d hit you with the two-by-four they had under their jacket. Sondland was that kind of a witness and Trump must have squirmed even though he swore he wasn’t watching it. Stay tuned because there is a lot more to come.
Sometimes, it takes a while for it all to sink in to the body politic. Will the Democrats overplay their hand? When it hits the Senate, will the Republicans play stupid? How is Chief Justice Roberts going to handle the Senate trial without looking overly partisan? As I said, there is a lot more to come and none of us have a clear crystal ball.
There was some recent disquieting news that life expectancy in the USA is getting shorter, particularly in the younger generation. There are a lot of possible factors: the opioid epidemic, drug overdoses, suicide, obesity and many more. This generation, which was raised—in many ways—in a cocoon of protection, seems to have real problems handling adversity and failure. Maybe things like creating safe spaces and trigger warnings is not such a good thing after all. We were trying to build up their self esteem and are getting the exact opposite. We got some kids who are scared, tense, risk averse and feel overburdened and wondering if they can make it out there. We are all inclined to protect our kids, but sometimes letting them fail is better, because it provides a reality check. Or maybe I’m just getting old. Harumph! Harumph!