Friday, November 12, 2010

A shellacking

The pendulum, folks! As a body politic, we need to achieve some type of equilibrium.

Remember two and a half years ago, at the nadir of the financial crisis, when the country was made aware of the evildoers–of Wall Street—the rampant greed, the neutered Security and Exchange Commission (courtesy Bush '41),  the cratering of the real estate market, the demise of Bear Stearns? Even hard-core Republicans saw the error of the ways of their aging, alcoholic, dirty joke-telling, slacker frat-boy good ol' boy W ('43) and the holier-than-thou right wingers and we voted in droves for the Democrats.

Now, two years later, and the pendulum swings the other way, to the lunatic, hateful Tea Partiers.

We need to become more stabilized and less polarized. Where are the Adalai Stevensons, Lyndon Johnsons, Sam Rayburns, Shirley Chisolms, Robert Byrds, Hubert Humphreys, and Harry Trumans of today?

It was a sad November 3 to wake up and find the politically savvy Linda Chavez-Thompson, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and force who rose from migrant laborer to executive vice-president of the AFL-CIO lost to the wealthy, dissipated, and elite David Dewhurst for Texas lieutenant governor, the real power center in Texas.

Maybe it was a good thing the public was not aware of components of every deal, but at least our elected
officials worked together for what they thought was the good of the country.

Hey, Tea Partiers! It's not about ideology, it's about the welfare of the country.

Update: at the November 13 Brazos Valley Farmers' Market, a retired judge and I struck up a conversation. I had taken him for a rock-ribbed conservative East Texas Republican, but–surprise!–he is a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, a delegate to the National Democratic Convention that nominated Bill Clinton and the son of a old-time Texas state representative. He added Mike Mansfield and even the conciliatory Barry Goldwater to my list of willing-to-negotiate politicians.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Courteous Mass

Finally, my work schedule allowed me to participate in Courteous Mass in Bryan/College Station. With grassroots groups countrywide, as I understand it, Courteous Mass is a bicycle party with the mission of raising awareness of bicyclists rights to the road.

Usually, cleanup detail following Friday afternoon seminars keep me from busy long past the Courteous Mass departure time, but no seminar was scheduled last Friday.

The crew of about 30 was motley, a good thing. In evidence were the expected fixed gear bicycles, but also a number of casual cyclists on all kinds of bicycles. Not one person attired in bicycling gear. One fixed-gear enthusiast on a bicycle painted in circus-like colors with large lime-green handgrips  fwarmed up/amused himself with a bit of trick riding, including riding backward (doable on a fixed-gear machine), bumping into a fixed object to rear up on the front wheel, and pulling a wheelie and spinning around on the rear wheel. I was impressed and entertained.

I was reminded how much I missed riding with a group. It is so great that someone—a colleague, actually— has taken the reins not only to organize this group, but to lobby for cyclists' right to the road in the Brazos Valley.

Other bicycles: mountain bikes, conventional road bikes, pastel-colored beach cruisers, and my Downtube folding bicycle with its 20-inch wheels.

The group gathers in the Northgate area Texas A&M University and rides to the downtown Bryan to join in the monthly First Friday celebration. Just prior to departure, the organizer (or main motivational force) asked everyone to sign a waiver of liability (standard practice at every bicycle event) and described the route. The route would actually ride about a half-mile  in the left lane on Texas Ave., a road forbidden to cycling. Okay, this is interesting. One cyclist carried the music, loud enough to energize without annoying motorists.

I volunteered to bring up the rear. Within 50 feet of the starting point, I knew the slowest cyclist would present problems. A female, probably an inexperienced cyclist, would not or could not go faster than about 5 miles per hour, despite my verbal and her companion's physical (push forward) encouragement. Although the group pace was slow, she seemed to want to get caught by traffic light, and allowed the group to pull ahead. I stayed with them, but apparently they decided to give it up at the next intersection. I tried to catch up to the group further on in the ride, but they were too far ahead.

No problem; my house is on the route. And after months of anticipation, finally I was a part of Courteous Mass. I will definitely return next month.