Democracy and distance running aren’t all that different in one particular aspect. Both ask, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately? Because whether as citizens or as runners, what we do today must be linked to what we did yesterday and what we must do, again, tomorrow. Neither is like a bank account where interest can grow absent constant infusions of capital. In that sense, complacency and inattention are the bêtes noires of each.


America began with an ancient idea for a new world, democracy, a  form of government in which the people exercised the authority of government through elected representatives. 

But ideas, like people, grow old and tired and are susceptible to change, even corruption. What then of an idea as hoary as  democracy in America?

As we embark upon an important midterm election in 2022, I have read several articles recently outlining ways We, the People are increasingly growing tired of our democratic form. The fate of democracy was paramount in Mr. Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address amidst America’s (first?) Civil War: “…testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

To date, this nation, under that conception, has endured for 246 years. But over the last 25 years, the number of individuals dissatisfied with democratic politics has risen from a third to more than half.

Shifts in satisfaction were often a response to “objective circumstances and events”, such as economic shocks and corruption scandals, one report said.

Felix Rohatyn, an investment banker and rescuer of a bankrupt New York City, spoke of the “huge transfers of wealth from lower-skilled middle-class workers to the owners of capital assets and to a new technological aristocracy.” Those who skip or flunk the computer will fall into the Blade Runner proletariat, a snarling, embittered, violent underclass.”

We reached that state in 2016 and since January 6, 2021, have seen embitterment and violence metastasize.

When such surveys began in 1995, more than 75% of U.S. citizens were satisfied with American democracy. The first big jolt came with the 2008 financial crisis, the report showed, and satisfaction has continued to deteriorate year-on-year ever since.

Fewer than 50% of Americans are now content with how we are governed, marking the first time on record that a majority of U.S. citizens are dissatisfied with their system of government. And this disfavor isn’t just found in America, either. Many large democracies, including Australia, Mexico, U.K. and Brazil, are now at their highest-ever level of dissatisfaction with democracy.

Continue reading “TIRED OF DEMOCRACY”


The space shuttle Challenger exploded on this day, January 28, in 1986. I found this reflection from the following day.

A national tragedy. The first fatal accident involving an American spacecraft in flight, killing all seven people onboard. People compared its impact to the Kennedy assassination. Everyone knows where they were when they heard the news. Feelings nationwide are of an ecumenical loss.

Today, the day after, the stories are of coping. How it happened is far away and, in this regard, immaterial. That it happened is what we all have to deal with.

The media quickly centered on: how are the children taking this tragedy? But the sense here is that adults are more concerned about how they feel than about the way kids are taking it. The more we ask “how do you feel” to the children, the more we question how it is we feel ourselves.

To those who work among the young every day, the message is simple: “at that age, there are fast impressions and equally fast putting it all in the past.” Kids do not think more than of the moment. That is their strength. The past and future don’t count for much in youth. That’s the beauty and innocence of youth. It is adults with the scope of time who have the capacity and inclination to dwell and consider.

We compare the Challenger’s explosion to Kennedy’s assassination because our lives have encompassed both events. But we bring in child psychologists and psychiatrists to talk to kids. Why? Because we are looking for signs of understanding that we feel slipping away in ourselves. And in doing so, we create an atmosphere more dangerous than the explosion of the Challenger.

Little adults are not what kids are supposed to be. The French have a phrase for teenagers, “L’age ingrat“, meaning awkward, thankless age. That is their way.

73 seconds after takeoff

When we were young, in the early 1960s, we sat in our early morning classrooms as TVs from the audio-visual department would be wheeled in. Lights would dim, shades pulled down. And we would watch expectantly as first the Mercury, then the Apollo flights blasted off from Cape Canaveral. We held our breath collectively, believing that at any time this blast-off would turn into what happened with Challenger a full generation after our expectation of it.

But after its long string of successes, and finally the landing on the moon in October 1969, we began taking the space program for granted and out of the classrooms.

Today’s generation grew up with success in space in place, with no TVs on carts, but guns in the classroom. And death everywhere on TV serving as babysitters for the Me-generation parents. We watched the Challenger explosion on TV on videotape; it wasn’t even live. But it is the same way death is delivered every week on The A Team, Hill Street Blues, and the Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate the real from the imagined, hence our order of concern for the children.

In 1985, the average American watched television seven hours plus per day, up two minutes from 1984’s consumption, the previous high-water mark. The message has become lost in the electronic delivery system. Each act is followed too closely by station identification and Toyota Savings Days commercials.

We have grown up in a society inundated with death, violence, and neglect, all presented in half-hour block packages. How can it but inure us, anesthetize us to death in real life?

We want this tragedy to mean more because it stemmed from a higher cause. But true feelings spur action. We’ve shared death so many times electronically, then gone beyond to find out what’s on Dynasty at nine, eight Central on most of these ABC stations.

Action in the face of this unending barrage has been deafened by the clicks of millions of remote controls, blinded by the harsh light of the cathode rays, and been replaced by a dull shroud of personal safety as perceived from the living room couch.

The real sights and sounds of death, so remote to the young in America, are all too common in much of the outside world.

The Challenger tragedy and its aftermath only brought out our feelings of a new, perhaps just another, lost generation. We ask “how do you feel”, hoping they can and someday will.



I’ve been watching professional (American) football pretty closely since 1958 when, as a little kid in St. Louis, Missouri, wearing my Cub Scout uniform, I attended my dad’s U.S. Army Reserve year-end party at the Reserve Center on South Kingshighway. 

They held the party on 28 December, the same day as the NFL Championship game at Yankee Stadium pitting the Johnny Unitas led Baltimore Colts versus the Y.A. Tittle led New York Giants. 

As the party went on in the big room, a bunch of us took our paper plates of food into a smaller room nearby, where we huddled around a grainy black-and-white TV to watch the end of the game. 

When the Colt’s fullback, Alan “The Horse” Ameche, busted into the end zone to score the winning touchdown, ending the first overtime game in NFL championship history, Colts 23 v. Giants 17, it marked a turning point for the sport. 

It was the first NFL Championship to be seen nationwide on television (NBC), and many consider it the greatest NFL game ever played, the game that eventually led to the gridiron replacing the baseball diamond in the hearts of the American sporting (betting) public. In 2019, a panel of sportswriters voted it the best game in the NFL’s first 100 years. 

Fast-forward 64 years to this morning, 24 January 2022. Today, people are already calling yesterday‘s division-round playoff game between the Patrick Mahomes led Kansas City Chiefs and the Josh Allen led Buffalo Bills perhaps the greatest playoff game in history, with its three lead changes and 25 points in the last 1:54, and unbelievable play after unbelievable play leading to the Chiefs 42-36 win in OT.  

And they’re calling the four games played this divisional weekend, two on Saturday, then two more on Sunday, perhaps the greatest weekend of playoff football ever. 

KC Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes Strikes again (& again)

Recency bias, anybody?

OK, I will accept the weekend proposition. All four games came down to the wire, the first three ending on a last second, walk-off field goal by the visiting team.

But let’s at least be honest with ourselves. Why do you think the game on the field resembles the game on PlayStation monitors? Why all the wild, exciting plays? Simple. It’s not the same game it once was. And I’m not talking about playing both ways like in the Ice Age of the early NFL years.

Let’s see, you eliminate the concept of defense and then tout how great the offenses are. Of course, we all understand why. Kind of hard to sell brain damage and shortened lifespans. Bread and circus, and all that. 

Hey, I am addicted to it, too. And it may be a beautiful game to watch in high-def, but the brutality is right there for all to see, as well. And maybe – no, definitely we don’t have the stomach to keep watching football the way it was once played, especially after the money grew so large and the attention to weight work, PEDs, diet and violence became so extreme that lives were at stake.

Moms weren’t letting their kids get involved anymore. Pop Warner Football altered their rules to reduce the violence as numbers dropped precipitously after the onset of concussion data began to circulate.

Hell, even now, when some poor guy gets laid out on the field, the announcers quickly throw to commercial as they cart the poor soul off the field and into the blue tent on the sidelines or to the locker room to get X-rayed. And when we come back, it’s like – poof! – it never happened.

So they had to do something to take the Uber violence out. But what they’ve done is turn the game into a bowling alley without gutters, a pinball machine without a gap between the flippers. 

So, yeah, it’s fun to watch, as long as you don’t linger on the hospitalizations. But there have to be other ways to offset the violence and still retain the essential game. 

I wish they’d just go back to no face guards and less impactful helmets. That would take care of a lot of the violence right there. Hard-shell, high-impact composite helmets with steel cages bolted to the front aren’t protection devices, they are weapons. Players don’t feel the danger until they’re seeing stars or can’t feel their arms. Then, it’s too late. 

Jim David
Jim David, defensive back for the Detroit Lions from 1952 until 1959

If they wore less severe headgear, they wouldn’t be as likely to lead with their noggins. They’d feel the risk and tackle differently without having to be told to. 

Imagine if in world football (soccer) they eliminated the offsides rule, THEN widened and heightened the goal? Lots more scoring, yeah, maybe even a lot more exciting, too. But not “The Beautiful game” it once was.

I’m not really saying American football should go back. But let’s at least tamp down our hosannas. It’s like getting overly excited about all the running records being set these days. 

Well, when you change the fatigue factor and energy return via shoe technology, it would be more surprising if the records didn’t fall. Not that we don’t love seeing them. But let’s not compare apples with oranges and then give apples all the credit for being red. Just saying’



I recently noticed a study in the Journal of Geology suggesting that exploding stars in our Milky Way galaxy beginning seven million years ago initiated a domino effect that eventually led to us humans walking (and running) upright on two legs.

It’s a long setup, but the domino theory posits that a series of supernovae blasted powerful cosmic rays in all directions, and here on earth the arriving radiation triggered a chain of events that ionized the atmosphere and made it more conductive. 

This greater conductivity, in turn, increased the frequency of lightning strikes, which sparked wild fires that devastated the African forests, leading to large stretches of open savannah. 

Our ancestors, who adapted better to life on the new grasslands by walking upright, survived and thrived, leading to Homo Sapiens who have been devastating forests ever since. Who knows, maybe it’s been an homage to the stars that birthed our uprightness.

In any case, we came out of the trees as an upright running animal. But that only made our ancestors one of many running animals. What differentiated us wasn’t just our upright, two-legged locomotion. 

Along with our larger brain and opposable thumbs, it was our ability to cool while running upright that allowed us to run down our faster four-legged prey by exhausting them. While we could cool by sweating as we ran, the faster four-legged animals had to stop periodically to pant in order to cool down. It was our continuous movement, our relentless pursuit, that overcame our prey’s superior speed. 

This came to be known as “persistence hunting” and it still works today. You hear stories about it from Kenyan friends who recall doing it with their dads when they were kids. 

You want to talk about the chosen people? I’d say you have to consider that area of the planet where fossil evidence shows we humans actually got started as a species. All the oldest pre-hominid skeletal remains yet discovered have been found in Africa, whether in Ethiopia and Kenya, or 1500 miles to the west in the Toros-Menalla region in northern Chad. 

To our current knowledge, this was the original human model. Everything else north, west, east, and south has been a variation from that original environmental design. 

But so successful have we been as a species that we now have so many people in so many places, all disrupting so many other interconnected ecosystems and burning so much fossil fuel, that Mother Nature is beginning to act like an angry parent facing a disagreeable child. 

How else to describe this novel Coronavirus pandemic (and its variants), the stronger hurricanes, the more devastating floods, the larger wildfires except as a nature’s purgatives meant to discipline the planet’s bratty child? It’s all of a piece. 

Continue reading “NATURE’S PURGE”


Both political parties have staged their virtual conventions, both have set off their fireworks displays, and both have warned against the existential threat to America posed by voting for their opponent. And that is the scratch line behind which we stand in the race for the White House in 2020. Perhaps the overriding question before us is: Irrespective of the outcome, can there be anything approaching a victory given such a divergent matchup?


Pressured by a polarizing presidency, a viral pandemic – along the economic crisis that attends it – and street protests erupting against a backdrop of police brutalities committed against unarmed black people (like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks), America is once again searching for those elusive ties that bind at a time when there’s money and political capital to be made by the forces of denial, distrust, and opposition.

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll (June 7, 2020) found that 80% of the public believes the country is out of control, while only 15% view it as being guided by a steady hand.

If we break that WSJ/NBC poll down, it is likely that we will find a wide gap in the understanding of how the nation became so polarized and what we might do to correct it, if anything.

Gadsden Flag

But the sense here, and it’s an ironic one, is that the Gadsden Flag’s “Don’t Tread On Me” brand of staunchly American individualism and anti-government sentiment that earmarked our nation as something new and revolutionary at its founding, the same individualism that helped create the American pioneering and entrepreneurial spirits that proved to be such a strength within a more widely spread homogenous population, has now become the very quality that keeps us from being able to unite in a time of crisis in a more tightly packed, yet heterogeneous society.

Imagine that, our greatest strength now part of what is working to keep us apart. So much so, that the concept of “We, the people” no longer seems applicable some 244 years after our founding. Continue reading “AMERICA IN THE BALANCE”


Even as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced the suspension of his campaign for the presidency today (Wednesday, 8 April 2020), he seemed to understand that he had found himself in the wrong election cycle – again.

Vt. Senator Bernie Sanders bids adieu to 2020 campaign (WireFax News)

In his 2016 campaign, a then 74-year-old Bernie was beaten not so much by eventual standard-bearer Hillary Clinton as by the Democratic Party itself, which had engineered a Super Delegates head start for Hillary that Bernie could never overcome.

This year, after a dead-heat with Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the Iowa caucuses, Bernie followed up with convincing wins in the first two primary state elections. But then, like in `16, Sanders came up against the Democrat Party machine, this time in South Carolina where, with the endorsement of Congressman James Clyburn, former VP Joe Biden began his run to the top of the Democratic ticket.

Ever since, Biden has gone on a winning streak, piling up delegates even as people reached out to Senator Sanders saying, ‘we believe in your cause’ and ‘we believe in what you’re projecting, but we think Biden is the man to beat Trump this November’.

Thus, Bernie’s call for a progressive revolution led by a government-run universal healthcare system hasn’t been repudiated per se, but instead maybe just been postponed, just like the Boston and London Marathons have been put off in the face of the coronavirus crisis, as in “now is not the time”. Continue reading “BYE-BYE BERNIE”


Think about it for a second. Let it linger on the mind. We have all been vulnerable, all been in need at some point in our life. Yes, we all know how it feels to be unmoored.

That in mind, tell Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the neophyte president of Ukraine, a man who has the fate of his young nation hanging in the balance that he was under no pressure.

New Mount Rushmore?

Now look back to America, that beacon of freedom and equality shining its light to guide Ukraine away from the benighted ways of a Soviet past and a menacing Russian future.

“Light the way ahead, America. Show us the way forward.”

Now ask yourself how you would react if the President of the United States sent over his private lawyer saying one thing – like pony up those investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election if you want our help – while U.S. State Department representatives were presenting something else altogether – like keep your nose clean and stay out of domestic U.S. matters if you expect our help? What would you do caught in that pincer movement?  Probably react just like the Ukrainians did, by becoming increasingly confused and then just plain scared.

Defenders of our president say there was not only no quid pro quo suggested during his July 25th call to the Ukraine president, but that there was no pressure applied at all. And that President Zelenskiy agreed when asked.  But you get down on the ground and bring out the political barometer and you’ll feel plenty of pressure. Because when Ukraine is hanging on by its fingernails as a new democracy with an emasculated former empire on its border anxious to reanimate that past glory at your expense, and the USA is ostensibly your new big bro protector who suddenly seems to be looking in the other direction, man, if that isn’t pressure please tell me what is. Continue reading “RUSHMORE NO MORE”


As a genuine outpouring of bipartisan sadness attends the passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md) – laid to rest in Baltimore on 25 October – perhaps this is the proper time for America to address the number one healthcare issue confronting its citizenry in this its 243rd year. 

Partisan rancor grows more heated with each passing day, starting in the embattled White House where Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham defended the president’s tweet attacking his critics as “human scum”.  “People Who Don’t Like Trump ‘Deserve’ To Be Called Scum.”

Trump followers and haters alike have long since come to define our national interests in more apocalyptic terms even as a crowded field of Democratic hopefuls searches for supporters in the run up to the 2020 election.

As I take in these troubling symptoms, I can’t help but recall my travels to Rwanda this past June (2019) where the central East African nation was commemorating the 25th anniversary of its 1994 genocide during which one million people were slaughtered in a scant three months time.

Travel is almost always instructive, not just for the perspective one gains IN another place, but FROM that distance as well. Continue reading “POLARIZATION – THE REAL HEALTHCARE ISSUE”


6 Sept. 2018 – How’s this for being on the horns of a dilemma?   Either stay with a duly elected but “amoral” president who “continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic”, or go with an unelected cabal made up of “many of the senior officials in his own administration who are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations”?  

Oh, my!

The blame, dear friends, lies not with the one called Trump, though he is the locus of the dilemma.  No, he is who he is, who he has been for many, many decades. No surprises there. Nor can blame be apportioned to the wide enough swath of America that got him elected in November 2016. 

They didn’t love him (OK, some did), they just hated you, the Washington establishment. Hated you for your mindless disregard that left them without a sense of their traditional homes, jobs, infrastructure, affordable education, etc. Trump wasn’t their guy so much as he just wasn’t yours. He was  the cudgel you gave them to say NO with and they swung it enthusiastically.

No, this erratic, unfit executive belongs to the Republican Party and its cynical leaders who sought to ride the raging bull long enough to pass tax cuts, strip away regulations, and pack the judiciary before the beast would need to be put down.

“Why are we putting so many resources in South Korea?” Trump wonders aloud. 

“To avoid WW3!” says SecDef James Mattis in utter disbelief. 

Amorality aside, he just doesn’t know any better. Studying was never his thing. Making stuff up on the fly is what got him this far in the family business. Do not expect him to change now because the responsibilities are exponentially greater.

Unfortunately for us, that leaves him particularly unprepared for the task at hand, like a TV actor after the writers have left. This is a president without Mark Burnett to produce the Reality TV show.

But as Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell told Brett Baier on Fox News, “In the last 100 years, the Republican party has held the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives in only 20 of those years. And we are not going to squander that opportunity.”

That’s the key understanding. “We are not going to have this very long, so let’s make the most of it.”

There’s is purely a transactional relationship. Regardless of his qualifications, let’s ride this guy until he implodes, gambling that we can get what we want before the country gets what it deserves. 

In a binary world of Trump v Clinton, where one choice will impact the Supreme Court for a generation in your favor, the choice is a no-brainer (just like their president). So hold your nose, say your prayers,  and pull that voting lever.

Of course, in for a dime, in for a dollar. So when insiders lay open the sucking chest-wound of an administration led by a virtual child, Mitch McConnell has nothing to say about the scathing New York Times Op-Ed from a senior White House official talking about resistance within the administration to many of the dangerous inclinations of the amoral president. This is realpolitik in its purest form. Continue reading “ON THE HORNS OF A DILEMMA – THE WHAT IF MAN”



We come to wonder in times like these,

Whether the founders’ vision as first conceived,

Was a light for the ages from Enlightenment’s steeple,

Or a just votive candle for the lesser-blessed people.


For Founding Fathers like Madison and Hamilton,

Though men of good will were inarguably masculine,

Whose unalienable rights attended the fortunes of birth,

Where color and land were measures of worth.


Yet believing in full,

’Twas the way God designed it,

The true order of man,

Who were they to unwind it?


Still, there was more to their vision,

Than even they ever saw,

As the breadth of their wisdom,

Slowly codified into law.


Ever-widening the definition,

Of all men being equal,

Whether by gender or race,

Eventually all became legal.


And though the union isn’t perfect,

Nor ever likely to be,

The struggle for inclusion,

Stretches sea to shining sea.


Continue reading “AMERICUH 2018”