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The Official Blog of The Reluctant Blogger

Welcome to the official website of both author Ryan Rapier, and his debut novel, THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, a story about family, faith, relationships…and other things that can lead to therapy.

Author Carol Lynn Pearson calls THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, “A delightful gift from a skilled writer and insightful observer of life in Mormondom. THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER invites us to the high and holy calling of laughing at ourselves and loving ourselves pretty much at the same time. Highly Recommended!

Eric Samuelsen, playwrite and former president of the Association of Mormon Letters, exclaims, “Man, I liked this book. [It’s] Warm and human and real. I read it in one afternoon. I just couldn’t put it down.”

Get a copy today wherever LDS books are available or by clicking on the links to internet retailers located on the right hand side of this blog.

WARNING: While this blog is the official blog of author, Ryan Rapier, the postings located below do not necessarily focus entirely on his book nor on writing in general. Topics below can range from politics to sports to family life minutiae to…whatever random subject might be on the author’s mind. If you are looking for helpful hints on writing, reviews of other author’s works or anything else in between, there is a large potential for disappointment.

Math And Other Things Just As Meaningless

Folks, it’s time to relax . With that in mind, I would like to get some things off my chest that have been bugging me for a while. But please, in this charged atmosphere we live in, I hope everyone would take what I say below with a grain of salt. It’s time to laugh. Even if that means at ourselves on occasion.

  • I’ve done the math on this several times and I keep coming up with the same solution. If two people walk into a polling place and one votes for Hillary Clinton while the other votes for Donald Trump, the outcome is a tie at 1-1. If both individuals vote for Hillary Clinton, Hillary wins 2-0. If one votes for Hillary Clinton and the other chooses to be sanctimonious, judgmental, unforgiving, short-sided and hypocritical and votes for neither one, the outcome is Hillary 1-0. Still a win but with 50% less of a margin. Which by my calculations means that if I am that person who voted for neither one, I am in actuality not giving my full vote to Hillary Clinton, but only half. So may I ask that in the future, for those who would use the argument that a vote for anyone other than Trump is a vote for Hillary, can we please get it numerically correct and call it what it actually is. A vote for anyone other than Trump is a Half-Vote for Hillary Clinton. Unless of course someone actually DOES vote for Hillary Clinton, in which case that would be…A Vote For Hillary Clinton is a Vote For Hillary Clinton. Admittedly, neither of these two slogans roll off the tongue as easily as the original. But it is important to be numerically correct in our assertions or else some might get the idea we’ve been educated by the Common Core.
  • A memo: To the advertising department over at GMC Trucks: Please stop abusing your Medical Marijuana cards. May I share with you a quote from one of your recent commercials: “A well put together man is said to be sharp. At GMC we get why people would appreciate that kind of precision. After all, precision is the kind of sharp that slices through a crowd. This is the precision of professional grade.” (And GMC’s logo appears on the screen during that last sentence.) My reaction when I saw this ad for the first time was…”WHAT?!?” Since then, I have had many, many, oh my goodness far too many opportunities to see this ad again because I enjoy watching sports. And upon my last viewing this past weekend, my reaction was…”WHAT?!?” The nonsensical stretches this ad makes are mind blowing. You might as well have said, “A free roaming feral horse is called a wild mustang. At GMC, we can appreciate why people would enjoy wild parties. After all, wild parties with Colt 44 have the kind of energy that gets the cops called. Colt 44 parties are the stuff of professional grade.” I mean seriously, I’m not entirely sure, but I think my ad makes as much sense as yours. So please, get a new ad consultant. Or call your buddies over at Chevrolet who have been nailing how to make a truck commercial for years. Ask if you can borrow one of them for an afternoon. Anything!!! Just do whatever it takes to keep this absurdity from showing up every five seconds during my binge watching of college football.
  • arpaio-picThe above photo was taken on the highway in the town where I live, Thatcher, Arizona. As proof, I would submit that the building in the background can be verified as the Thatcher Junior High School. Now, to the person who placed the sign that can be seen in the lower right of this picture, I would like to make a few observations. 1) Thatcher, Arizona is in Graham county. 2) The sheriff of Graham County is P.J. Allred. 3) Joe Arpaio is the sheriff for Maricopa county. 4) Maricopa county is approximately 150 miles from Thatcher. Let’s take a moment and let those different statements sink in…………………..Okay. So, by taking into account these multiple observations, I fear that I am left with only the following conclusion: Unless there are new findings that suggest the best time to affect voters with campaign signs is when they are miles from home on an open highway and therefore unprepared to resist the subtle manipulations of a striking visual that applies specifically to them and no one else for miles around, this may be near the top of the list of most ineffective sign placements in campaign history.
  • About a month ago, I had the chance to travel to Chicago. I have been there before and I have to say, it’s a pretty cool city. Anyway, one thing about the folks in Chicago is that they love their Cubs. Not just casually love their Cubs, these folks live and die by every pitch. Which is why it’s so sad that a guy like me, a true bandwagon baseball fan who doesn’t really care all that much about the game, has had the ability in my lifetime to root for and see my local team win a World Series. Because if I had grown up and lived in Chicago my entire life, not only would I have not had that opportunity, but neither would my father nor his father have had that opportunity. It has been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series. Well last night, they got through their first round of the playoffs and are one step closer to finally breaking that curse. And for the first time in years, it looks like they might have the team to do it. So let me ask, in this year when our presidential election has got so many people feeling depressed about our country’s future, wouldn’t it be great if the Cubs won? I mean, yes, it would have been even better had they won last year, thereby making the Back to the Future trilogy prophetic, but if they pull it off this year, wouldn’t that make whatever presidential outcome we have just a little more manageable. I think so. So GO CUBBIES!!! No pressure, but just know that your nation’s ability to heal is totally dependent on you.

Finally, I have to admit something that is difficult. To all of my friends who are choosing to support Donald Trump and have a difficult time understanding those of us who don’t, I have to say; I Get It! I get your frustration.

One of the most common complaints I have heard from those voting for Trump is that no one is talking about the negatives of Hillary. My answer to that has consistently been, “I don’t need to talk about Hillary because we all already know what Hillary is.” Well…I stand here, or rather sit here, humbled and corrected.

I’ve stated before that I have not watched the debates and I have no intention of watching the debates. But unbeknownst to me, my 14-year-old son has decided he is ready to be politically aware and on Sunday night, took the family iPad and pulled up the most recent debate for himself. And he watched the entire thing.

When I found him, I was stunned. But after that wore off, I asked him what he thought and I heard a lot of my most recent words being repeated back to me. Trump is rude, Trump is obnoxious, he doesn’t appear presidential. So I asked about Hillary. And I was taken aback by his answer. He said that she appeared so much more professional. He said that she wanted to talk about what she would do for the American people as president and all he wanted to do was interrupt her. Bottom line, he was much more impressed with Hillary than Donald. And I am quite positive that my unintended influence played at least a partial role.

The problem was, I had context he didn’t have. I was there during her trashing of Bill’s female accusers, he wasn’t. I was there when she made her famous “Right Wing Conspiracy” comment on the Today Show, he wasn’t. I was paying attention four years ago when four Americans died in Benghazi on her watch and she refused to authorize anyone to go to their aid, he wasn’t. I understand the ramifications of including classified information in your personal e-mails, he doesn’t. I understand the ugly implications of favors being granted to people who donate to the Clinton Foundation, he doesn’t. (Although, in fairness, it appears The Donald is equally guilty in this regard.) Bottom line, I know what baggage she would bring to the White House. He Doesn’t!

So I sat down next to him on the bed and we had a discussion about how the campaign process works. I explained how any political figure who is considered to be ahead during a campaign has the luxury of “being above the fray” and that if Hillary were losing, she would be the one interrupting and being rude. I then asked him, “So if you could vote, would you vote for her?” He replied, “I don’t know. Maybe.” And I thought, “My goodness, I have not done my due diligence.”

But then the next night, I had a long talk with my father who is avidly voting for Trump and I realized something else. Even if I did explain all the issues I had with Hillary, would it necessarily translate the same for my son? I don’t know. My father, in his wise way, recognized that my life experiences are not his. And therefore, even though we have access to the same information and that we have the same beliefs and ideals, we can still arrive at different conclusions.

Don’t get me wrong. I think if I explained well enough, I could get a 14-year-old who trusts me to be just as anti-Hillary as I am. But he won’t always be 14. And it will be interesting to see where he winds up politically, as it will all my children.

Nevertheless, back to my original point. To all of my friends and family who are Trump supporters or who plan on voting for Trump because they believe it is the right thing to do, I get you. I really do. After talking to my father, I am more convinced than ever that we are really after similar things. We just happen to have backgrounds and histories that have led us to different beliefs in how to get there. And what’s really ironic is that at the end of the day, I believe most Democrats and others who support Hillary want those same things. Safety, Opportunity, Happiness, and a Country They Can Be Proud Of. Call me naive, but I think that’s all any of us want.

I’m not going to be commenting on this election again. I have wasted thousands upon thousands of words on it and that’s more than enough. You know my views, and regardless of where you stand, I probably know yours. So how about we just root for the Cubs and then go into the voting booths across this nation and act according to our conscience. After that, I’m looking forward to the three month break before this entire process starts again 🙂

Good luck, America. Or better yet, God Bless America. We could certainly use it.

The Conspiracy Theory To End All Conspiracy Theories

Typically, I am not a proponent nor believer in conspiracy theories. I really do believe most people and situations are what they appear to be. I know Hollywood would have us believe otherwise, but I think at the end of the day, most people don’t have the energy nor desire to deceive on such a grand scale. I mean, even the examples people trot out to prove the rule just make me roll my eyes a bit.

Watergate? I think this basically amounted to a political version of some kids toilet papering a house, getting caught and then scrambling like crazy to avoid getting into trouble…right up to the point that they all got in a lot of trouble.

Iran/Contra? I believe you had some people who were legitimately trying to get some hostages freed. End of story. They went about it the wrong way, but at the end of the day, if it was your family member, wouldn’t you want the government to do just about anything to free them?

The entire Bill Clinton Presidency? Horny guy and his wife who are neither moral nor ethical. But that’s it. There is no grand scheme to rule the world and its entire monetary supply. There is no goon squad that goes around killing everyone who gets on the Clintons’ bad side. They, just like thousands of people in Washington and in every state and every community in this country, like power. They just also happen to really like living in the White House.

I know some would say I’m naive. Maybe so. But constantly looking for the bogeyman wears me out.

Nevertheless, I now have one that has totally sucked me in. And it’s not just any conspiracy theory. This one is the BIG one, because it goes all the way to the top. The White House? Phhh, please! I’m talking THE top. As in, God!

Okay, calm down and let me explain.

Throughout this campaign, there has been a large contingent of Republicans (of which I am one) who have stated their displeasure with Donald Trump. We don’t like him. We don’t want him. And we won’t support him.

On the other hand, there is one issue that gets brought up by those who are either: a) strong supporters of Mr. Trump or b) those who cannot stomach the thought of a second President Clinton to such a degree that they have decided to back the GOP nominee regardless; that causes all of us to pause. And that issue? The Supreme Court.

I’ll admit it. There have been moments when I have seriously considered changing course and doing the unthinkable simply based on who will nominate Justice Scalia’s replacement. And it was in one of those moments that I got to thinking. And that thinking took me down some interesting paths. So for those of you who are not LDS or Mormon, hang with me. There may be some phrases or ideas that you don’t recognize, but I believe you’ll get the general idea.

This land we live in is considered the promised land. In Mormon culture we believe this continent to be reserved by God for those with whom he wishes to share it. And when things aren’t going as they should, we believe that He has on occasion stepped in and nudged things back in the direction they should go.

It doesn’t always work this way. Due to His policy of free will, when an entire population loses their way, He allows them to destroy each other and then He moves on to the next group who will hopefully do better. These beliefs stem from the history provided in the Book of Mormon. However, if you are not of the LDS faith, you can catch the same train of thought around 1776. Christians of all denominations came to this country with the belief they were led here by God. I think most Christians look at the Revolutionary War and see evidence of God’s hand. I mean a ragtag group of colonists defeating the greatest army on earth? The odds are worse than if Eastern Arizona College took their football team to Tuscaloosa and played the Crimson Tide. (For non-football fans, those are…those are not good odds.)

From there, we as a nation formed the idea of Manifest Destiny which stated that it was God’s will that we were here, therefore it must also be his will that we keep going west until we reach another ocean and keep everything we find in between for ourselves.

But along the way, we kept getting a few things wrong. For one, our ancestors realized the economic benefits of growing cotton and tobacco. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough of a workforce to actually harvest the crop at a level that would be truly enriching. So as a nation, we decided it would be a good idea to purchase people who had been forcibly taken from their home continent and then keep them as property. I don’t think God approved. Thus He inspired some to begin speaking out against this practice up to the point that things reached a head and…we compromised for thirty years.

You see, things between the north and the south were so bad in 1830 that the nation stood on the brink of war. However, the two sides managed to keep that war at bay for thirty years. Why is that important? Because during those three decades, the north’s industrial capacities increased to such a level that they were ready to win a war should one break out. Had the war started in 1830, the south would have had the decided advantage.

Did God play a role in that? Well, I suppose that is for every man to decide for himself, but I personally struggle to see it any other way.

Come forward a hundred years and we as a people still hadn’t figured out the equality for all men and women thing very well. Supreme Courts from the past had ruled that the races could be kept separate, as long as everything was equitable. One of the key problems with this was that nobody felt it necessary to police the equitable part.

But thanks to the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court who were liberal minded for their time, things began to change in the 1950s and 60s. Despite the overwhelming objections of conservative minded (white) Christians, the court in 1954, led by Justice Earl Warren, handed down the decision, Brown vs. Board of Education. This decision stated that the doctrine of “separate but equal” had no place in public education. In 1956, they affirmed a lower court ruling that the segregation of Montgomery, Alabama’s bus system was illegal. In 1968, the court ruled that racial discrimination by providers of public housing as well as private housing was illegal. And the rulings just kept coming from there.

Now the interesting thing is that hundreds of thousands of people had to be drug, kicking and screaming, into compliance with these rulings. Many of them were good solid Christian conservatives who saw their long held beliefs, and in fact their very way of life being torn down right in front of them. And although we as a people are all critical of those beliefs today, it is still important to understand how difficult it must have been for them. Important so that we might better understand ourselves.

Regardless, if one is so inclined to look for the Hand of God in all things, one in retrospect would have to acknowledge the role God played in putting those men on the benches of the Supreme Court. From today’s perspective, it’s an easy conclusion to draw. I suspect unless you were one of those disadvantaged, praying daily for a better life for your children, it might not have been so easy then.

So let’s come forward to today and let’s get into the conspiracy theory I spoke of at the beginning. By all the rules of politics, Barack Obama should have been a one-term president. The economy was incredibly weak at the end of his first term, he had recently suffered a shattering loss on the world stage (Benghazi) and his signature issue of Obamacare was still two years away from seeing any of the benefits while many of its detriments were in full force. For those who don’t recognize it, this is the same recipe that doomed Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.

But he won. And those in the political class have spent four years dissecting why. Was it the 47% comment? Was it Romney’s inability to connect with Evangelicals. Was is the Republicans lack of outreach to the Hispanic voters? The list goes on and on. And I’m quite sure every entry on that list played a role.

Yet there is one thing that occurred that doesn’ t get mentioned much anymore because there is no way to explain it nor calculate its effect. Hurricane Sandy.

Most political junkies agree, in the days leading up to this natural weather event, Mitt Romney was on fire. The polls were trending in his direction, the enthusiasm for his campaign was electric and all signs pointed to good things on election night. And then Sandy hit. And for three days, Romney (in what I believe is one of the classiest moves by a politician who understands how valuable those three days would be) chose to step back and not campaign. Meanwhile, President Obama was on every American’s television set arriving in New Jersey, hugging Governor Christie and in every way looking presidential. It was his right to do so. He was the president. But for his campaign, it was a…for lack of a better term, a Godsend. He hadn’t had the opportunity to appear presidential for months. But he got it then. And everybody paying attention tends to agree, Hurricane Sandy sucked all of the wind right out of Mitt Romney’s sails.

Again, how much did this actually impact the final results? No one knows. But here’s what I do know. In the middle of what was shaping up to be one of the closest elections in history, we had a LITERAL Act of God that by all conventional wisdom helped President Obama and hurt Mitt Romney.

Now, four years later, here’s where we’re at. Justice Antonin Scalia, the conservative standard bearer on the Supreme Court, has passed away. Unexpectedly I might add. If a liberal judge is confirmed to take his place, it will affect the balance of power on the Supreme Court for decades to come. Meanwhile, Democrats have nominated one of the most unpopular candidates for president ever in our lifetime. Her negatives are unbelievably high. Republicans could have nominated just about anyone and they would have likely had a cake walk defeating her.

Instead, they nominated Donald J. Trump.

To be fair, he could win. It is possible. But I believe all the signs point to an outcome where he will not. The rise of Trump is inexplicable. It has defied all the rules in the game of politics we have ever played by up to this point in our history. So if he loses, what does that mean?

And here’s where my conspiracy theory comes to its full fruition. What if God is trying to pack a liberal Supreme Court?

Okay, okay. Everybody stop yelling. Just hear me out.

You see, as I have stated before, I believe Mitt Romney to be one of the finest men who could have ever served as president. Those who know him best only echo these thoughts. But there is no doubt what kind of justices he would have appointed. They would have been in the mold of Justice Scalia. Donald Trump has come out and told us who he would nominate and they are, I believe, even more conservative than Justice Scalia.

So what if there’s something about our nation, that in God’s eyes, needs to change. And what if it’s something that we the believers aren’t getting? Couldn’t the logical conclusion be made that in His infinite wisdom, God could once again step in and provide a way for His will to be done?

Now I know the immediate clamor from the religious crowd on the right is that liberal justices will do more than has already been done to tear down religious freedoms. Possibly. But ultimately, who’s really in charge here? And why does it seem that at every opportunity where He could step in and make a difference, the outcome seems to illogically go the other way?

So here’s my suggestion. If I’m wrong and Mr. Trump wins, disregard everything I’ve just written and then feel free to ridicule me mercilessly. On the other hand, if Mrs. Clinton wins, maybe all of us who hold strong religious and conservative convictions should take a moment and reflect on our religious and our political beliefs and see if we can find a place where maybe they don’t exactly line up. See if there’s an area where the new liberal majority on the Supreme Court might lean that sounds closer to the teachings of Christ than do our closely held temporal “truths”. Do I have any ideas what those differences might be? No. I’m not going to even begin to suggest that I know the mind of God. I just wonder if I ought not ask for His opinion a little more fervently.

But here’s one definite conclusion I’ve come to. I know in my heart that God wouldn’t expect me to vote for Korihor in order to save Zarahemla. (For my non Mormon friends, insert Judas Iscariot and Jerusalem.) Something is at play here and maybe, just maybe, it’s incumbent upon each of us to look deep into our hearts and find out what it is.

Or maybe this is just a crack pot conspiracy theory. In fact, the more I think about it, that’s more than likely what it is. I mean, this is almost as unbelievable as thinking that Hillary Clinton’s sole plan once she gets into office is to mobilize the military and come confiscate every living American’s guns.

I mean, that’s crazy right?

The Defiant One

bushobamaYou know why I like this photo? Because when I think of America, when I really try to put a visual image to my thoughts on America, this is what I see. It encapsulates so much.

To the public at large, you have two people with nothing in common. They disagree on everything. They are polar opposites who are the ultimate embodiment of the great impasse at which our country finds itself.

And yet…there’s that picture.

So what could it possibly mean. Well, to me it means that out of the 300+ million Americans, maybe 50 REALLY know George W. Bush. And the same is true of Michelle Obama. So for the vast majority of us, we don’t know if they in actuality have anything in common or not. Maybe they share a love of classical jazz music. Or maybe they both harbor a secret desire to paint like the masters of old. Heck, maybe they had a secret family date to watch the Chicago Bears play the Dallas Cowboys this last weekend complete with Romo and Cutler jerseys and an edible stadium vegetable platter. I mean really, who knows what shared interests these two unique individuals have outside of their political beliefs-beliefs I believe make up such a small part of who we as human beings actually are, or at least they should?

However, there is at least one thing we do know. We know they both possess a shared experience of understanding what it’s like to have every single word, expression and gesture seized upon by a soulless media who know nothing about the true measure of their heart and having those words, expressions and gestures parsed and analyzed into their worst possible outcomes. That alone would provide enough of a common ground to engender feelings of mutual admiration and respect even if those feelings don’t necessarily rise to the level of actual friendship.

And that is why I love this picture. Because I believe it represents who we really are as Americans so much better than…well, you know.

So, switching gears (I apologize up front, I’m gonna be a little all over the board today) I didn’t watch the debate last night. And the reason? I just don’t care. I cared much more about spending time with my family and then obsessing about my fantasy football team that ALMOST pulled out a win last night than I did about whatever zinger landed in a pointless barrage of meaningless words. But something I did watch this weekend helped me put in perspective my strong feelings about this election. And it’s probably going to seem like it is coming out of left field.

I watched several segments on Sports Center dedicated to Jose Fernandez, the Florida Marlins ace pitcher who lost his life at the tragic age of 24 over the weekend. One of those segments was an interview with Pedro Gomez, an ESPN baseball analyst who is Cuban American. When asked what Fernandez’s passing means to the Cuban community (Fernandez was Cuban as well) Gomez talked about how much that one man had meant to an entire community. He said, “When he (Fernandez) succeeded, it felt as if we were all succeeding just a little bit as well.”

It was a sentiment I could totally relate to and helped clarify for me what is so devastating about this election. I have touched on this before on this blog, but for me, the 2012 presidential election was very personal. One of our own, a Mormon, had garnered the Republican nomination. And as the weeks drew close for the general election, he was leading in the polls. After a 150 year history that had included persecution, slander, jokes and slights of varying levels, it was suddenly very possible that we as a culture were about to validated.

And then he lost.

It was crushing. I knew losing was possible, but this wasn’t like 2008 when everyone knew going into election night what the outcome was going to be. This was supposed to be anyone’s election. A race so close it might be Bush v. Gore all over again. Fox News had told us the enthusiasm at campaign events for Mr. Romney was so much higher when compared to those of President Obama’s. On that first Tuesday in November, I really thought he was going to win.

But in the end it wasn’t that close. It was closer than 2008, but with the popular vote coming in at 50% to 48% it still wasn’t that close.

Then in the coming days it started to trickle out that while the percentages of those Republicans who had voted was in line with previous elections, the raw numbers showed that upwards of 4 to 6 million Republican voters who had voted for Mr. Bush in 2004 had decided to sit out 2012. Mr. Romney had actually won the Independent vote, but had bled Republican voters. What stung even worse was that the data suggested a large percentage of those Republicans were Evangelical Christians from swing states.

To me, that news felt like a kick in the gut. I knew in my heart that Mitt Romney was a good man. Perfect? No. But definitely a good man. Despite the media’s best effort to paint him as a monster for those in the lower and middle classes, the best they could do to smear him was a couple of context quotes about the 47% and that he liked to fire people. There were no major character flaws. There were no skeletons. There just seemed to be one major flaw that was significant for that voting block. He was a Mormon.

Even now, I know my reaction was irrational. But it was still my reaction none the less. I harbored frustrated feelings of anger against Evangelical Christians, who despite their massive opposition to President Obama, couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a Mormon. It’s fine that we Mormons were supposed to get in line and support one of theirs in the form of GW (who I do respect and admire as a person and would vote for again in a heartbeat) but expect the same in return? Oh Hades No!!!

So let’s shoot forward to the 2016 GOP primary contest and who is one of the groups propelling Donald Trump to victory? Evangelical Christians.

Now in the logical part of my brain I know that there are many Evangelicals, a majority in fact, who are not Trump supporters, who are as disgusted by the man as I am, but yet I can’t help it. I feel betrayed. Despite having a complete lack of empirical data to prove it, I know in my heart that there are a good number of Evangelical Trump supporters who expect every Republican to get in line behind their guy, but who hedged in 2012. They want me to do what they were unwilling to do in 2012. And frankly, it makes me mad.

And so I’ve needed to repent.

Thus, I have returned to my rationale and asked myself if my inability to vote for Trump is based entirely in this faulty thinking. Part of it definitely was, but the truth is, whatever part that anger may have played, it doesn’t register any longer. It may have helped put me in this state of thought, but the reality is, once I felt betrayed, I started examining a lot of things more closely and my sense of betrayal only grew.

Everything about this process from the media to the political party system is designed to separate us. The entire system NEEDS us mad. Anger brings eyeballs to televisions and ears to radios. Anger gets voters out on a rainy or snowy day. For an elite few, anger equals dollars and when dollars becomes what matters most, people become desperate to keep those dollars rolling in.

Finally, I feel betrayed by those who would expect me to lower my standards to the level of Donald Trump. I don’t care about all the reasons Mrs. Clinton must be stopped. I don’t care about all the things people hope and believe Mr. Trump will do without any empirical evidence to suggest that he actually will. I don’t care about any of it.

And why don’t I care? In part because of the message conveyed in the picture at the top of this post. That picture is anti-anger and it is anti-fear.

So of course, there are already those who are suggesting the photo isn’t what it appears to be. That if you watch the video of the same event, the hug is very quick and the look on Michelle Obama’s face can possibly be construed as a grimace instead of a smile. That everything about that picture is false.

But I choose to believe differently. Maybe I’m naive, but what I see is a woman who was never required to embrace the man in front of her, but did it anyway. Because we as human beings can be better than our politics. And that’s just it. I know in my heart we can do better than our two choices for president. Much better! And to my way of thinking, we won’t get a candidate worthy of our support if we give in now and compromise our principles. In my mind, that would be the ultimate betrayal. So I’ll wait. And when a presidential candidate comes along that inspires and lifts instead of playing to lowest common denominator of fear, I’ll return to the top of the ballot and exercise my constitutional right to vote. Until then, I’ll keep believing in my fellow man and exercise my constitutional right not to.

Maybe I Was Wrong

Let me say up front that it is never my intent to offend anyone…with the exception of Donald Trump. Would that I could offend Donald Trump. But beyond him, I share my thoughts and observations because I like to think. And if through my thinking I can help someone else think, then that thought makes me happy as well. I hold no illusion that I am smarter or more “right” than anyone else. I’m just me, sharing things from a viewpoint that is my own. Having said that, I hope that what I write today doesn’t offend anyone. My life experience is my own and it is difficult to try and make observations about others whose life I have never lived. But this past week has been eye-opening to me and I feel compelled to share. If I say something that is out of line, I hope someone will point it out to me. Because as I said, I know I am not perfect.

I am not a fan of the recent trend occurring in sports of kneeling for the national anthem. I think  the ideas behind it are flawed on many levels. But the truth is, I’m not black. And maybe that’s where I miss the point.

You see, when it was Kaepernick only, it was easy to dismiss as a stunt by a quarterback who is losing relevance. But when defensive star Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos joined him, and was willing to lose two endorsement deals because of it, suddenly I felt I needed to consider this a little more carefully. I still don’t like the mode of protest, but maybe I should get past that and listen to the message.

In the midst of this introspection, I traveled to Chicago for a business convention. You know, the Chicago we all like to reference when it comes to gun violence and everything else bad about race issues and politics. And what I saw, truly saw, for the first time was more than startling. It was unsettling.

Around 85 to 90% of the people attending my conference for professionals in healthcare marketing were white. Conversely, well over 90% of those serving us food, parking our cars, handling our luggage, or checking us out at the local pharmacy around the corner were all black. Easily, another five to six percent of those individuals doing what would be considered menial tasks for the benefit of the hotel guests were minorities of a different persuasion.

I’ve been to Chicago before, and I’m fairly certain it was the same then as well. But I didn’t notice it then. And if I did, it certainly didn’t affect me very much. However, when I started thinking back on other places I have visited, I realized the same dynamic was on display in Atlanta and New Orleans. Change the percentages of blacks and Hispanics and then you could throw in Las Vegas and Los Angeles as well, but let’s focus on Chicago for the time being.

Recently, someone I respect a great deal made a comment that I think has relevance here. In relation to what I will now refer to as the Kaepernick protests, she said that there is no longer systemic oppression of the black community in this country. But as I looked around in Chicago, her words seemed to be contradicted at every turn. Almost.

While my conference was overwhelmingly white, the numbers started to change when I walked the streets of downtown Chicago. The number of professional black men and women was significantly higher. I wouldn’t say more than 25%, but definitely higher than in the lobbies and conference rooms of my hotel. Which led me to this epiphany.

I can agree with her statement to a degree, but with an asterisk. It is true, black Americans are now more free than ever to pursue all the advantages white Americans are. But systemic oppression? Oh it exists. It’s just taken a new form. I believe systemic oppression has shifted from existing along racial lines to one that now more solidly exists along socioeconomic lines. Which, by the way, would affect a vastly higher percentage of Black Americans than White.

Disagree? Okay. But may I offer some examples.

I graduated from Arizona State University in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree. I spent a total of seven semesters at ASU and spent an approximate total of $7,400 on tuition. Today, if my daughter were to go to ASU, that $7,400 would not cover more than one semester of tuition. In 2008, when gas prices more than doubled to a rate of $4.00 a gallon and more, we saw prices for virtually everything increase exponentially to cover those transportation costs. Yet, as gas prices have come back down to roughly $2.00 a gallon in the last couple of years, have prices of goods and services returned to their previous levels? Not hardly. In fact, we see the annual cost of living continue to rise year after year while wages remain stagnant.

So now, let’s put that into perspective with regard to my observations above. My father worked his entire adult life as a copper miner for the Phelps Dodge Corporation. He did so because he knew he needed to provide for his family, not out of any love for the mining industry. Yet, throughout my youth, I remember my dad pushing both my brother and me to get good grades. Not just good grades, but the best grades we were capable of. We were expected to get straight A’s. And I still remember his reasoning. We needed those grades to go to college because he was not going to stand by and watch us end up working for the mine in the capacity he had. In other words, he saw the value of an education. He understood what long-term benefits existed for those who invested in themselves and in a college degree.

But what if he hadn’t.

What if my parents had come from a long line of manual laborers who didn’t believe in the value of college? What if I had been pressured to go to work immediately after High School graduation because money in the hand now was worth more than some imaginary fortune that could be made after wasting several years at rich man’s institution that had little to offer but debt? Wouldn’t my life be different today?

And therein lies our societal problem. I believe a large portion of the Black community doesn’t believe in the American dream. And based on the history of Black people in America, why should they? If you are White, please don’t answer that question as a White person. Try and put yourself in the shoes of a Black American. Imagine generations of your family being forcefully cast to the winds under the legal institution of slavery. Imagine living in a country whose founding document includes the statement that all men are created equal, but you are considered only 3/5 of a human being. Then imagine even more generations living through the horrors of segregation. Being told that Blacks and Whites should be Separate but Equal, but watching as Whites reserve all the equality for themselves. Think of all that and then answer the question. Less than 50 years removed from such atrocities, why should they?

My whole life, I’ve heard that one of the biggest problems facing the Black community is their laziness. Sometimes it has been stated directly and other times it has been implied, but that has consistently been an underlying theme. But what I saw in Chicago didn’t line up with that at all. All of these individuals serving a class of people who seemed to take almost no notice of them were working harder than I and most everybody I know do on a daily basis. So I was left with no other alternative than, maybe the issue isn’t laziness. Maybe it’s hopelessness. Hopelessness based in a belief that life can’t improve. Hopelessness bred out of group think that says there is no escape. Hopelessness rooted in a history that gives them no reason to expect more. And worst of all, no parental figure present to tell them otherwise.

Here’s the thing about hopelessness. It means there’s no hope. And when there’s no hope, why care anymore? People without hope act differently, think differently and most importantly, REact differently. And that disconnect between those who see the world from a perspective of hope and those that don’t can ultimately lead to vastly different views on why there is blood in the streets.

So what do we do to fix this problem? What on earth can we do to overcome this massive problem that is multiple centuries in the making? Well…I don’t know. I mean I, like everyone else, have suggestions, but I don’t know if they’ll work. What would I know?

Nevertheless, I’m not going to let something as ridiculous as no first hand knowledge or experience keep me from voicing just one idea. Not a full solution, just one idea that I believe would be a huge start. And that idea starts and ends with education.

First of all, we need to find a way to lower the costs associated with college. I know I’m beginning to sound like Bernie Sanders, but wait. I don’t think college should be free. It would truly have no value then. We just need to find a way to once again make it possible to “work your way” through college. You know, that crazy idea where someone gets a job that can support them AND provide just enough to pay tuition each semester. Some loans might be necessary, but not so many that it buries a person.

Secondly, we need to give education value in the minds of those who don’t see any. And I’m not just referring to Black Americans. I’m referring to Black, White, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian, and everyone else. We need to help those who don’t see college as a viable option for what it is…a viable option. Now, this doesn’t happen at high school graduation. It happens from the first day of Kindergarten. We need a massive restructuring of our education system. In states like Arizona we need to provide enough money to the system so that we can pay our teachers a respectable, no…competitive wage. Not competitive with other teachers, but competitive with the workforce in general. We need to then consolidate school districts tie administrative salaries to teacher salaries. A Superintendent’s income does not exceed a certain percentage of a teacher’s so that more money is available for classrooms and talented teachers are not incentivized to leave the classroom. In unionized states, we need to keep salaries high, but get rid of tenure. Finally, we need to give control of the classroom back to the teachers. Yes, there are always bad examples, but at the end of the day, teachers need to be able to instill discipline in their classrooms without fear of reprisal. I would also advocate for school uniforms in every public school, but that’s a different discussion.

Finally, there has to be some effort made to fix the familial structure in poverty stricken neighborhoods. This entails so much that I cannot even begin to cover it all, but in short, we need to be sending in armies of properly funded social workers instead of armies of cops. We need to open up federal dollars to religious charities that are willing to go and work with families in the inner cities…and in economically depressed rural communities as well. Again, there is so much more to this, but I will leave it at that.

In short, we need to be providing hope. That’s the only thing that is going to save people, lift people, drive people. People need to believe they can do better. They may choose not to, but they need to know they can. They need to know for themselves that Black Lives Matter. Their Black life matters. And so does that life on the reservation, and the one in the barrio and the one in that crumbling trailer park outside of Small Town, U.S.A.

So those are the thoughts that stuck with me throughout my entire three days in Chicago. We as a nation can do better. We need to do better. It’s a conversation we should be having at the highest levels. Unfortunately, we won’t. We won’t hear word one about any of this at next week’s presidential debate or in any debate for that matter. Because issues like this don’t break easily along party lines. We need ideas from both sides and it needs to be apolitical. Which is exactly the problem; nothing is apolitical anymore. And as a nation, we’ve reduced ourselves to nominating the two worst people ever to run for president. It’s depressing.

And it also makes you want to do something crazy. Anything that might turn the tide against this insanity that never seems to end. Even something as nuts as refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

I hate that he does it. I cringe at the idea of citizens not respecting the one country that allows us to even have these types of conversations. That has given so much to so many. But then…had he not knelt, would I have even noticed what has repeatedly been right in front of my face? That realization was the most unsettling development of all.




So Is The Rebellion On Hold?

So wait…I’m confused.

I had my torch lit and my pitchfork resting against the wall by the front door last night, all ready to go. This was it. Part two of the great Republican uprising. Another chance to give the giant middle finger to the GOP establishment.

But then?

Arizona Republicans re-nominated John McCain for the Senate by a double digit percentage point margin. Arizona!!! The state whose GOP voters back in March supported Trump by a resounding margin. How could this be? I thought the whole message, the whole take away from the 2016 election was the need to recognize the unstoppable tide of burgeoning anger that is today’s Republican party. So I couldn’t help but wonder where all that anger had disappeared to as Arizonans watched the poster child of Republican Establishment politics give his acceptance speech.

Apparently it was sitting in its underwear on the couch watching reality television.

It seems voter turnout in yesterday’s GOP primary contest statewide held steady at a non-angry, one might even suggest apathetic, 24%. TWENTY-FOUR PERCENT!!! From an electorate that was so fired up with unrestrained fury that they couldn’t wait to stick it in the eye of every presidential candidate who didn’t promise a wall or insult a random minority group every fourteen hours.

So what’s the message here? Are we not angry anymore? Or are Republican GOP voters such sadists that they want to force these establishment politicians to stand front and center on the capitol steps as their party’s chances of taking back the White House are crushed by the latest misstep of the Great Orange’s massive appendages. (And trust him, any and all of his appendages are truly massive.) Because what happened in Arizona is not unique to our state. It happened in Florida last night too with the re-nomination of Marco Rubio. And earlier this year, new establishment face and tea-party whipping boy, Paul Ryan, received 81% of the vote in his primary. That’s an 8 followed by a 1. Which means four out of five GOP voters were so mad at the establishment in his Wisconsin district that they voted for…wait for it…the arguable leader of said establishment.

This election just gets more and more priceless by the minute.

Meanwhile, I continue to get e-mails explaining to me why I need to vote for Trump. How this election is by far the most important election, not just in my lifetime, but in the lifetime of my children and my children’s children and so on and so forth until we get to Buck Rogers. I even got one yesterday that tried to explain to me how I should be forgiving of Trump’s past because if I’m being truly fair, voting for Trump and his policies is the ONLY avenue a good Christian like myself should be able to follow. Never mind the racism filled pot-holes or the misogynistic road signs, when it comes to good Christian values, Trump is it.

Seriously? I want to vomit. If this election is so freaking important, why oh why did the GOP nominate this side-show circus freak? If winning was that important why would a political party nominate the only person who guarantees a loss?

And I don’t want to hear one more excrement-filled explanation from Eric Bolling or Sean Hannity or any other right-wing information huckster about how the polls don’t matter because we should be looking at how large the crowds at Trump rallys are. We went through that four years ago. We should be smarter than that. Because here is the truth. Donald Trump is going to lose. It doesn’t matter if I, and every other disenchanted Republican comes back to the fold. He’s still going to lose. As a party, the GOP did nothing this election cycle to expand their base. And if you don’t expand your base after you lose, guess what!!! You lose again! In fact, you lose even worse than the last time.

So can we stop with the hand-wringing over e-mails? Can we quit pretending that over 50% of the country can be made to actually give a crud about the Clinton Foundation? Can we let poor Vince Foster rest in peace? And can we please stop with the platitudes that state if Hillary is elected our country will never recover? Because anyone who actually believed that would not have been making such asinine statements eight months ago like, “Well, I don’t necessarily like the language Trump uses, but he makes good points.” Because no…he doesn’t now and he didn’t then, make good points. He is a walking cancer that destroys anyone and everything he touches. So instead, if people truly felt this election was that important, they would have been doing everything within their power to drive a stake through Trump’s heart before he sucked the life blood out of the GOP’s chances of winning this “Monumentally Important” contest.

But instead, a majority of GOP voters spent the entire primary season snickering at the latest incarnation of the school-yard bully and talking about how important it was to recognize the anger of the voters. Well, I hope you’ll apologize while I take a moment and roll my eyes back into position from the back of my skull. Because last night, Arizona joined the rest of the country in proving just how pathetic and fake that “anger” really was.

So buckle up, boys and girls. We get Senator McCain for six more years and we get to watch him do battle with the 2016 version of President Clinton. I’m so thrilled.

Nevertheless, I hold out one hope. Maybe, just maybe, after this latest fiasco of trying to please a bunch of far right ignoramuses throughout the primary season, hopefully we can move past them and have a primary season in 2020 that actually sees the GOP expand their outreach to independents and moderate Democrats. Because that is the only road for Republicans that will actually lead them to the White House.

The Folly Of Raising Awareness When You Are Unaware

There are a few things that will forever be engraved in my memory. Most are good, but not all. And one of the worst is as clear in my mind as the day it happened. At least it feels that way.

It’s the memory of me sitting on my couch in my little condo on the evening of September 11, 2001.

I was staring at my television as coverage raged on regarding the attack on the twin towers. By this time, I had heard everything there was to hear. We had been attacked. Thousands had died. All air travel in the country had been grounded. We would all be forever changed.

And yet I sat there…feeling profoundly sad.

But sadness wasn’t my only emotion. For some inexplicable reason, I felt crushing guilt. I was alive. My family was safe. When I woke up the next morning, for all intents and purposes, my life would go right back to normal. I didn’t know anyone who had died. I didn’t have any connection to the suffering going on in New York, Washington, or around the country other than I was an American in an America that had just endured tragedy. So many people had suffered unbearable loss and yet, me? I hadn’t really suffered anything.

My initial reaction was that I wanted to help. I wanted to get to New York and assist with rescue operations. My problem? I had no means to get to New York and no training with regard to rescue operations. I was essentially useless. The news did say anyone willing to help should go and donate blood. But even this option left me wanting. Due to my having lived in England for over six months in the early 90’s, my blood wasn’t even worthy of helping because of the slight possibilities I might have Mad Cow disease. (I don’t, by the way…at least I’m pretty sure.)

In retrospect, I realize how ridiculous my feelings of guilt were. But in the moment, they were very real and very demoralizing. And their effects had me on the edge of depression.

With that in mind, I have watched the story of Colin Kaepernick not standing for the national anthem with a lot of mixed feelings. I will not pretend to have any idea as to what is going on in the head of a biracial quarterback who was adopted as a baby by well-to-do white parents in Wisconsin. But just like everyone else in this age of social media and 24-hour coverage of the inane, I’m going to take my turn and guess.

In so many words, Colin has said that he is not standing because he will not show allegiance to a country that is guilty of oppression when it comes to people of color. He has not ruled out standing for the anthem in the future, but it will only happen, he says, when he feels we as a nation have made the proper improvements in this arena.

And suddenly, a 28-year-old kid (and yes, because of the sheltered life he has lived as a college and professional athlete I would still consider him a kid in many ways) who has excelled at just about every aspect of life that’s been thrown at him up until a couple of years ago is about to find out just how fun it is to be the eye of a media firestorm in a country that has enough time on its hands to give hours and hours of airtime to such important controversies as what could possibly have been going on behind the scenes at the daytime talk show Live with Kelly and Michael, and whether or not Ellen Degeneres is racist because she made a joke about how fast she could get things done if she were able to ride on the back of Usain Bolt.

In other words, I think he thinks he wanted to attract this kind of attention. And when he talks, I think I understand why. I would not be surprised to learn that deep down inside he feels guilty.

His father was African-American. His whole life he has had darker skin than his family. I’m sure he has felt some of the difficulties that come with being part African-American. But at the end of the day, he has no idea. He wants to. But his life has never been and never will be like those for whom he is trying to speak.

He’s had hundreds of opportunities denied most who grow up in the black communities of our country. In some ways, he’s experienced more “White Privilege” than most WHITES will ever experience in their lifetime. And for someone living in that $61 million ivory tower he has earned for himself, a constant barrage of news stories telling him how oppressive and brutal the police forces around this country (and by extension, the country itself) are, it undoubtedly has to create similar feelings of guilt to those I experienced fifteen years ago-and along with that, a need to do something about an issue that you feel should affect you, but in reality doesn’t at all. There’s only one problem.

In this instance, Colin Kaepernick is dead wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to join the chorus of those who say there are no problems with oppression in this country and I’m not going to say that we don’t have issues that need addressing when it comes to the use of deadly force by a very (and I mean VERY) small percentage of police officers around this nation. I’m just going to suggest that Mr. Kaepernick’s efforts are shortsighted, misplaced and in the long run, likely to do more damage to the very conversations he’s endeavoring to help.

First, let’s take a look at oppression. It’s true. The United States of America oppresses people of color. As individuals, I don’t believe most of us mean to. It’s just flat out impossible to right all of the wrongs done to a race of people overnight that were brought to this land in the bonds of slavery. And yes, I know we ended slavery in the 1860’s, but it then took us an additional 100 years to get to the point where we would allow African Americans to…use the same water fountains…sit in the same section of a theater…eat in the same restaurants. So to suggest that in the intervening 50 years we have undone all that damage and that everything is now hunky-dory is ludicrous. Too many of our inner-cities resemble urban reservations like those we’ve created for Native Americans. (Another fine example of American oppression that we don’t like to talk about.) We are losing thousands upon thousands of young lives in our black neighborhoods because no one knows how to fix all the problems that stem directly from oppression.

But to suggest that police violence is the single biggest pressing issue? C’mon!

According to The Guardian, 1,134 deaths occurred in America at the hands of police officers in 2015. Of those 1,134 deaths, The Guardian estimates that 107 were unarmed minorities. Not just African Americans, but all minorities. The number of African Americans alone was not provided. However, according to the website thetrace.org, 975 black men are killed by gun violence each year. Taking the number of unarmed minorites killed in 2015 and estimating that 90 out of the 107 are black, that would still indicate that 10 times the amount of black deaths due to gun violence are not related to police brutality. It’s true there is an epidemic in the African American community when it comes to gun violence, but the epidemic doesn’t necessarily wear the face of a policeman. It wears the face of a nation that doesn’t know how to lift a community out of the oppressive pit it has existed in for generations.

On the other hand, we are at least a nation that is willing to have the conversation and then try.

You see the other problem with Mr. Kaepernick’s one-man crusade is that he is choosing to ignore some realities about humankind. In America, things may not be entirely as we want, but we’re willing to work at it. However, if he is concerned about oppression of the African race, he might consider this.

According to Business Insider, of the 20 countries with the highest rate of homicide, 13 are predominately black countries with black leadership and eight of those are in Africa. Sadly, the remaining seven are all Central and South American countries. And not one of those countries is interested in talking about police brutality nor ending oppression.

On the other hand, for all of its faults, America is the one place on earth where an African American, a Native American, an Asian American, an Hispanic or Latino American or a White American can get a college education if they are willing to make the effort to do so. It is not always as easy as it should be, but it is possible. It is also the land that pays millions of dollars to individuals who are gifted enough to play an athletic game at an insanely high level. But really…it’s still just a game. A game loved by a country full of people who will now look at Colin Kaepernick and his $61 million of guaranteed money and wonder why this “ingrate” is allowed to stay. That’s not a correct attitude either, but it is a reality.

What is even more sad is that Colin Kaepernick is currently not playing well. He didn’t play well last season. His current team, the 49ers, and the NFL will say all the right things about supporting his right to free speech, but at the end of the day, they are a business. And successful businesses are not generally about supporting workers who are 1) a distraction, and 2) mediocre at their jobs. Before this controversy, Colin Kaepernick might have been able to improve his game and extend his career in the NFL, but now? I believe he will be benched this season, released at the end of the year and then he will disappear from the game. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

And is this new kind of oppression he’s about to face reserved for just African Americans? Not hardly! Just ask the Dixie Chicks. You see, this country is willing to work through and forgive a lot of things. But dissing patriotism generally isn’t one of them…regardless of your skin color.

There’s More To This Election Than The Top Of The Ballot

I am treading into a gray arena today. By the strictest definition, I guess I am a public official which means that I have to be somewhat careful when commenting on certain political happenings that affect the local population directly. On the other hand, I am the lowest face on the totem pole of importance when it comes to public officials. I’m not the proud buck or the noble mustang. No, I’m more like the bucktoothed beaver that everyone has to grudgingly acknowledge.

Yeah, he’s got a good work ethic I suppose. But dad gum, does he have to keep clogging up the whole flippin’ river? He’s totally screwing up my irrigation system.

My point is, since being elected to the town council of Thatcher two years ago, I have tried to be a little more careful in my words and in my criticisms. I still try to be clever here and there, but maybe I have toned down the sarcasm…at least a notch or two.

Anyway, I have heard much talk about how this election is the most important of mine, or any generation. (I suppose we’re all supposed to forget that we heard the same declarative statements regarding the 2012, 2008, 2004 and 2000 elections, but, whatcha gonna do.) And the truth is, it is very important election. But the importance goes much deeper than the two names that are going to appear at the top of the ballot.

With that in mind, I’m going to share my thoughts on many of the races and issues that will be decided either in two weeks in Arizona’s primary election, or the general election to be held on November 8th. It is not my intention to start various and sundry debates although I am not opposed to them. And furthermore, I accept that these are my views and mine alone. I was not asked nor in any other way encouraged to share any of what I am about to share. If you agree or are inclined to consider a little closer the ideas or people I advocate, great. If you don’t or are not so inclined, then we have the opportunity to exercise that great freedom we were granted in 1776 which is to agree to disagree. It’s democracy at its best. So, let’s get on with it, shall we.

President of the United States – None of the Above

Remember that old Richard Pryor/John Candy movie, Brewster’s Millions? If not, you should look it up. Anyway, that’s kind of where I am with this race. I can’t in good conscience vote for either one. Now as I have mentioned before, I have heard repeatedly that if I don’t vote for Trump it is the same as voting for Hillary. That is simply not the case. If this election was an Olympic event between Democrats and Republicans…well, that argument might hold more water as I face plant on the beam and put up a score of zero for the GOP ticket. But it’s not an Olympic event and I am not on a team. Neither candidate has articulated positions or acted in a way that has earned my support. So I will be supporting neither. I could go on, but I won’t.

US Senate from the state of Arizona – John McCain

You have no idea how painful it is for me to write those words. But in reality, for what I believe is best for the country, he is the best candidate I have to choose from. You see, I believe Donald Trump is going to get slaughtered and that Hillary Clinton is going to win. To my mind, the best scenario should that happen is for Republicans to retain control of the House and the Senate. Therefore, I will be voting for the Republican over the Democrat in this race regardless. It also doesn’t hurt that I don’t care much for Ann Kirkpatrick who has been our US House Representative off and on for the past eight years. Now the other contestant in this race is Dr. Kelli Ward who is a tea party-backed candidate. At this point, I would like to pause because I think now would be an opportune time for a tangent on the tea party.

I have a two-year-old daughter. She is adorable and I love her with all my heart. But she is at that age where she can voice her desires and opinions but has no ability to be rational or reasoned with. To illustrate, let me give you an example. Often she will make a statement like, “I want a Nutella sandwich.”

To which I will respond, “We don’t have any Nutella because you ate it all.”

Instead of saying, “Oh, well that is unfortunate because I was truly craving a Nutella sandwich. Nevertheless, I recognize that not having any in the house would make it impossible for you to make one, Father,” she will more than likely begin wailing, throwing herself on the floor in anger and behaving in such a way that disciplinary action is often required.

I view many in the current 2016 tea party caucus much the way I view my two year old. Lately, I have heard their argument of, “We need to throw out the establishment because they don’t do what we want. We gave them the House and we gave them the Senate and all they do is hold fake votes on repealing Obamacare and then give that (fill in your derogatory name for President Obama here) whatever he wants.”

At worst, you could argue that none of that is true. At best, you would have to say it is inaccurate from beginning to end. It is true, Republicans were given control of the House and Senate. But Republicans do not hold a 60 vote majority in the Senate and they do not control the White House. So in reality there are a number of things they can’t do including: Repeal Obamacare, Cut Everyone’s taxes down to zero, Impeach President Obama, Throw Hillary Clinton in jail, or any other ridiculous expectation imposed on them by people who don’t remotely understand how government works. They did shut down the government one time and…as usual, Republicans came out looking bad to most everyone except their delusional cheerleaders on talk radio and Fox News. And in truth, even that didn’t work out for them because the tea party crowd and the right-wing media was mad because they didn’t hold out longer and make themselves look even worse to country’s majority.

Long story short, I believe many in today’s tea party caucus are little more than temper tantrum throwers. It is my hope that like my daughter they will eventually mature in their approach to government, but for now, they are not all that valuable in their contribution to the process. For further evidence, look no further than the Republican nominee for president who is the epitome of a temper tantrum thrower. So from here on out, if a candidate is more interested in “destroying the establishment” than governing, I will refer to them as a tantrum thrower and will not really bother with further explanation on why I am discounting their candidacy.

Dr. Kelli Ward – Tantrum Thrower

US House of Representatives District 1 – Ken Bennett

The favorite in this race is Sheriff Paul Babeu. To be honest, I don’t know a lot about Paul Babeu other than the knock on him seems to be that he has corruption issues that could hurt him in the general election. However, from what I know of his politics, I would vote for him over the Democratic nominee for this seat. Again, divided White House and Congress. But my preference would be to see Ken Bennett elected. I have heard him speak and his number one priority is not a border wall, but rather finding ways to be fiscally responsible without being fiscally severe. You might call him a conservative moderate. Also, I very much like his temperament. He is not one who shoots off insults at the opposition with the belief that such statements ought to be enough to get him elected.

The other names heavily involved in this primary are Dave Gowan and Gary Kiehne. First of all, Dave Gowan has been serving as one of our Arizona State representatives for this area and he’s frankly been terrible. He loves to put on his cowboy hat (which isn’t even really a cowboy hat) and come to our county fair, but when he gets to Phoenix, he has seemed much more interested in playing lapdog to his Maricopa County friends instead of looking out for the interests of rural Arizona. I can’t stand Dave Gowan’s politics and, in line with the old saying, I wouldn’t vote for him for dog catcher.

However, it seems I wouldn’t get to even if I wanted to. You see, Dave Gowan suspended his campaign last week and endorsed Gary Kiehne. My only interaction with Gary Kiehne was at our local Pioneer Day celebration two years ago. I had been assigned to work the soda trailer and had just spent about three hours straight putting my hands in ice cold water to pull out soda cans to hand to approximately two thousand of my closest friends. The fireworks had finally started and I was leaning against the soda trailer next to my dear friend, Bishop Nicholas, when a man in a cowboy hat ambled up beside us. Yes ambled. He pointed to a drone in the distance that was being used to film the festivities and made the comment, “Think that’s Obama’s drone up there keeping tabs on us?”

What??? What is that even supposed to mean? No, I don’t think the President of the United States is so concerned about Thatcher, Arizona and their Pioneer Celebration that he is sending drones to keep tabs on us. Secondly, High-tech surveillance really took off under President Bush. And thirdly, I’m trying to enjoy a holiday celebration devoid of political garbage. The only way I could imagine being more put out was if we had woken up on Christmas morning to open our presents only to have Gary Kiehne burst through our front door and say, “Did you know Obama would have wanted to crucify Jesus?” Anyway, he then handed us a vote for Gary Kiehne flyer and moved on. End result – Not Impressed.

Overall, I think Ken Bennett is the best candidate and it’s not even close. I don’t hold out much hope for him, but that is where my vote will go.

Arizona State Senate – Jamie Alvarez

Bottom line, I am voting Democrat in this race because issues facing rural Arizona are not working out along party lines. Gail Griffin has represented us for the last four years and she is abysmal. I sat across from her on one occasion and expressed my concerns that her vote to not expand AHCCCS (Medicaid) spending in Arizona (even though hospitals would be covering the costs, not tax payers) would cost the state $4 billion in federal funds which could significantly hurt and possibly even close a number of rural Arizona hospitals. Her response was a blank stare while the recorder in her brain reset and then she spat out the same tired Republican talking point about irresponsible federal spending. It had nothing to do with the question I asked. I tried again. She again gave me the same talking point without addressing the concern that hospitals could close. She has held the same line when it comes to cutting corporate taxes at the expense of education. She is part of the legislature that has refused to obey a court order to pay money owed to schools at the mandate of voters. I am not calling her a crook, but I am saying that she is a part of the Republican led coalition in Phoenix that is willfully defying the laws passed by Arizona voters. She is a disgrace to this district and should be shown the door as quickly as possible.

Arizona State House – Dennis Barger, Drew John

See the above. Gail Griffin has aligned with Becky Nutt and Anthony Sizer and per their campaign promises intend to continue with the policies that ignore the needs of rural Arizona while filling the pockets of Phoenix based fat cats (See Charter School owners and operators and follow the money trail). I believe Drew and Dennis, on the other hand, understand what it means to represent rural Arizona. You can’t function without some form of income. They are not for raising taxes on Arizona citizens, but my understanding is that they are for letting some tax breaks for corporations expire. Arizona needs money. We can’t continue to function on ten cents here and five cents there. Our current trend in Arizona tax policy that started years ago led us to selling our capital building to make ends meet. That’s embarrassing and a travesty. We need a more moderate approach and I believe Drew and Dennis will provide that. In a separate note, if either of these gentlemen fail to make the general, I will be voting for Democrat Mike Holmes, a former Republican veteran who is much more closely aligned with what I believe than tantrum throwers Anthony Sizer and Becky Nutt.

Recreational Marijuana Use In Arizona – No

Despite the additional tax revenue it might provide to our state, I still have to say no. We don’t need additional ways to legally impair potential drivers. The only way I would consider this is if it was done in conjunction with making Recreational Pokemon Go playing illegal.

Graham County Superior Court Judge – Gary Griffith

This is in no way a slight on Michael Peterson. I believe Michael is a very good man who would probably do a fine job should he be allowed to continue as Superior Court Judge. However, I have known Gary Griffith for over twenty-five years and I believe him to be exactly what a county would want on their bench. He is highly intelligent with an extensive knowledge of the constitution. In short, the kind of person I would want leading the Superior Court in the community where I live.

Graham County Supervisor District 2 – Jim Palmer

I firmly believe that if someone has done a good job over a long period of time, you should continue to let them do that job. And I believe Jim Palmer has done a good job. Having said that, I want to make clear that I believe John Howard could also do a good job. But in my opinion, Jim has done nothing to warrant removing him from office. I don’t believe in term limits for the simple fact that sometimes, relationships and knowledge gained over time can be beneficial. To discard those in the name of arbitrary time limits seems short-sighted to me. In four years if Jim chooses not to run again could I vote for John Howard? Easily. But this time around, I am going to reward someone I believe has done a good job with my vote.

Well, there are other races and issues that I could discuss, but the truth is, this post is already too long. I hope everyone will take the opportunity to think long and hard about what they believe is best for our country, our state and our community; and then take those beliefs and go to the polls on August 30th and again on November 8th. We may not all come to the same conclusions, but it’s the opportunity to disagree and have those disagreements decided at the ballot box that makes this country great. Good luck everyone and may God bless us.

Blogging Memories

So…I have a senior this year. My first in fact. And with that senior comes the realization that we are doing some things for the final time. In truth, I realized this a couple years ago and started planning and saving on my own for our FINAL FAMILY VACATION!!!

I know, I know. That is waaaayyyy over dramatic, but I realized that we would not get many vacations that include our entire family since Maggie is only 2 and Abby is getting ready to make her own way in the world. Anyway, I began thinking about what would be best to do. Lots of different ideas came up including: Hawaii, Church History trips in either New York or Nauvoo, Alaskan Cruise, and of course, if I actually asked anyone what they wanted (especially Abby) the answer was always Europe without a moment’s hesitation.

But since I am a member of the humble working class, the truth is I could save until retirement and not afford a trip for seven people to Europe. It just ain’t happening. And don’t think it is because I don’t want to go. I served my mission in England for heaven’s sake. Of course I want to go. I just don’t want, nor have the ability, to pay for it.

Regardless, amongst all these options was the idea that we could repeat one of our favorite “Once in a Lifetime” vacations and go back to Florida. This was especially appealing to Kate since she was too young the last time we went and got left at home. I have to assume this was also a popular choice for Maggie since all she would really say on the subject was, “I wanna see Mickey.”

So yesterday we made it official. Sometime next summer, we are going back to Orlando. But not just Orlando, we are going by way of New Orleans. We will fly into Louis Armstrong Airport, spend the night in New Orleans and then drive to Orlando where we will spend a week before returning to New Orleans and spending a couple of days there. I am SOOOOO Excited!!!

Anyway, what this has to do with this blog is that by pure coincidence, Maggie went to one of our book shelves on Sunday and pulled out a book of my old blog posts from back in 2010. That would be the year we went to Orlando last time.

Now I want you to think about that for a moment. That means that I have been blogging somewhat regularly for six years. That’s a freaking long time. What could one person have to say over that long of a period? Well, after reading the book, I realize…not much.

But I did enjoy getting the chance to read about that trip in detail. In fact, it was so fun, Shannon read it to the kids for Family Home Evening last night. Now so you understand, at that point in my blogging life, if we had recently gone on vacation, I liked to detail each day of that vacation, minute by minute. It was a fun family tradition that forced us to keep really good notes on our trips.

Don’t quite get it? Well never fear. For my own pleasure, and my own pleasure alone, I will now go back in time and share with you my blog post from November 17, 2010. Read if you dare!

November 17, 2010

Orlando Trip Day 1: I Don’t Want To Go

For months, Shannon and I had been planning a huge surprise trip to Orlando for our kids. We had asked them several months ago that if they could go anywhere in the country, where would it be. Logan said Disneyland. Abby said Harry Potter’s Wizarding World and Braden wasn’t sure, but wanted to go somewhere associated with Space. Disney World is pretty similar to Disneyland and is in Orlando, Harry Potter is in Orlando and the Kennedy Space Center is 45 minutes from Orlando. So we quietly booked a trip to Orlando for the Week of Nov. 7-14 and didn’t tell them. In fact, we hardly told anyone. But the day of the trip finally arrived and we had a good reason to be in Mesa as Shannon had run her triathlon the day before. Our kids still had no idea what was happening. So the morning of Nov. 7th arrived and it went something like this:

5:30 a.m. – The Hawaii 5-0 theme song starts playing on my cell phone. I don’t have a good reason as to why that is my ring and alarm tone, but I just think it’s a cool song. Not so cool at 5:30, but what are you going to do? We get showered, dressed, packed and loaded in the car.

6:40 a.m. – It’s really nice that kids, at least my kids, are not perceptive at all. First we loaded three suitcases into the truck that hadn’t been used the entire weekend. Secondly, we took Lamar with us in the truck to go “pick up Uncle Larry” wink, wink. Actually Abby did ask why Lamar was going and we said he needed to help Larry get his rental car. Pretty weak cover story, but for children ages 11, 8 and 5 who are just happy for a weekend in Mesa with their cousins, it did the trick.

7:12 a.m. – Arrive at the airport and line up the kids to tell them the truth. And…Not exactly the response we were expecting. My dreams of being featured in a Disney marketing spot were dashed as I repeatedly replayed in my mind Braden’s response of, “I don’t want to go!” Oh how I’m loving the fact that we just spent this small fortune. Get on the plane, kid. We’re gonna have fun whether you want to or not.

7:32 a.m. – Get our one larger bag checked in. That leaves three carry-ons and two parents. I am quickly realizing we neglected that all important crash course on using the handles and wheels on small suitcases with our children.

7:41 a.m. – Begin what can only be described as the torture that is airport security with three children. Forgot to mention to Shannon that you can’t have clear liquids in your carry-ons. Say goodbye to our shampoo, my aftershave and many other needful things. Cost of items thrown away at airport: $22. Seeing the fury in my wife’s eyes at a bureaucratic system we can do nothing about: Priceless. We are off to a GREAT start!

9:05 a.m. – We are on the plane and it begins barreling down the runway. Both Braden and Abby are a little freaked out. Logan? Loving every minute. As the plane begins to pick up speed, he can’t contain his energy any further and begins clapping wildly.

9:10 a.m. – Braden realizes he isn’t going to die and loosens up. Realizes there is a stranger sitting next to him and feels he must rectify this situation immediately. He meets Kathy and they begin a conversation that Braden somewhat dominates. Kathy now knows more about our family than any perfect stranger should. As it turns out, Kathy is a fascinating woman who has worked with the military her whole life. She has traveled the world and had a lot of interesting stories for Braden.

9:15 a.m. – Scariest flight attendant in the world alert. One of our flight attendants had luxurious black hair that had to be at least 3 1/2 feet long. Jet black. It wasn’t until she walked directly by our seat that I noticed she also had to be at least 67 years old. I would guess older. Definitely not her real hair color. I am suspicious as to whether it is her real hair period. She wore all black. Bottom line, she freaked me out. It was kind of like Morticia Addams had decided in her golden years to go out and get a job. As one who has had to accept the aging process at quite a young age (started shaving my head at 25 to beat male-pattern baldness at its own game), I don’t relate well to those who completely deny its existence at all. This really has nothing to do with anything, but even sitting here a week later, I still shudder when I think about her.

10:38 a.m. – Shannon, my brilliant wife, pulls out travel Yahtzee to help the time go faster. Or maybe it was to save Kathy. Yeah, come to think of it, that actually makes more sense. Braden creams her while never once slowing his constant dialogue about time zones.

11:00 a.m./12:00 p.m. – Braden is fascinated by time zones and is desperate to know what time it currently is directly below our plane. At around this time, we see the Mississippi River out the window.

12:23 p.m. – Logan is excited that he has joined the mile-high urinating club.

12:52 p.m. – Braden is tired so he…lays on Kathy. The woman is a saint.

1:12 p.m. – Land in TN. As we exit the plane and walking to the gate of our connecting flight, Braden begins speaking in a southern accent. As his elocution is somewhat lacking in realism, we caution him that he might be offending people by mocking their accent. He explains he isn’t mocking them, he’s simply living in TN at the moment and speaking as someone who lives there normally would. This is definitely logic I haven’t encountered before, but in its own way, somewhat solid. I guess. We still tell him not to talk so loud.

2:00 p.m. – We are definitely waiting on a flight to Orlando. Kids are swarming around us at the gate like crazy. Feel a definite urge to reach out and trip two little boys who are running circles around the chair that include us and our luggage. I manage to refrain. Or maybe Shannon refrained me, I can’t remember.

2:30 p.m. – Get loaded on our new plane and we are off to Orlando. Woo HOOOOO!

5:09 p.m. – Land, get luggage, get rental car and we are on our way to the hotel. Or not. We can’t really tell. The roads here are SOOO confusing and unlit to the extreme. We pray we are going in the right direction. No, I mean we literally said a prayer at some point.

6:01 p.m. – Good news, we are headed in the right direction. Bad news, that means we get to pay our first of two tolls on the way to Disney World. Kids cannot grasp the concept of having to pay to drive on a road. I have a hard time explaining the concept, because I think it’s pretty stupid as well. You’re about to make a bazillion dollars off of us in sales tax on over priced items and you feel the need to stick it to us on the roads before we even get there? I guess this is what you get in a state with no income tax.

6:20 p.m. – The badly lighted finally take their toll (ha, ha. Take their toll. Toll road…never mind.) We think we just passed the road to our hotel, but we can’t be sure because we can’t see any signs. Also, Florida is not big on exits or turn around spots on their divided highways. We know we’re not supposed to actually enter Disney World…and yet…Here We Are! Welcome to Disney World, kids! However, this does not improve our situation. There’s still no place to turn around and no signs directing us as to how we get out of Disney World in the direction from whence we came.

6:30 p.m. – We end up pulling into the Epcot parking lot and getting directions from the people who collect the parking fee. Look Kids, there’s Epcot!

6:41 p.m. – Yep, that road we thought we should have taken was the road we should have taken. Finally reach hotel.

6:56 p.m. – Get to the room and…it was totally worth the wait. There may not have been a lot of things I did right this trip, but this was one of them.

7:03 p.m. – While inspecting the room, Abby and Shannon go out onto the balcony through the master bedroom. I’m dealing with something at the kitchen counter when I hear a massive crash. I whirl around to see that Abby has walked directly into the glass door leading into the living room from the balcony. As she described it, she had never seen a cleaner door. Well, not anymore as a massive forehead mark can be seen about 5 feet up on the glass.

8:00 p.m. – After getting Subway in a very dodgy looking strip mall right next to a Hookah Bar (still not sure what that is), I make it back and we all gather in the living room to watch The Amazing Race. We all felt a little like Amazing Racers ourselves today.

9:18 p.m. – It is getting a little cold in the condo so we turn on the heater. We must have been the first people ever to do this (Stupid Arizona tourists, its Florida. It’s not that cold.) because the heater burns off the dust and sets off the fire alarms. Braden, who hates fire alarms with a passion, informs us we will have to do without a heater for the duration of the trip. When we refuse to turn it off, he refuses to take his fingers away from his ears even once he is in bed.

9:30 p.m. – Get kids to bed and get ready to go down ourselves. After a full day of travel we are all plenty tired.

11:00 p.m. – Shannon and I finally get to bed and are soon asleep with visions of fun in the coming days running through our brains.

12:00 a.m. – The alarm clock goes off for no reason. *@$&#@%!!!! What the heck? Add this to the getting lost, having to throw all of our stuff away at the airport and the fire alarm issue from earlier, and suddenly a bad vibe begins to settle into the back of my brain. I hope this all this stuff isn’t an omen.

Yep, there you have it. I am so excited. Just think of all the things that can happen with five kids instead of three. Bring on next summer!!!

You Can’t Have Your Cake Without Having It Shoved Down Your Throat Too

I’m going to admit something. This whole Donald Trump candidacy has been very liberating for me. Having grown up in an extremely conservative home and having adopted many of those extremely conservative values in my own adult life, I have by default been part of the right-wing chorus on many an issue for quite some time.

But now…not so much. In fact, I’m beginning to see a lot of things without a “Rush Limbaugh” filter and WOW does the view look different!

Case in point, take the clamor of the last forty years over the vast “liberal” main stream media. We on the right have been lamenting that life and politics in this country is so unbelievably unfair because of the incredibly biased reporting we see on behalf of liberal causes and candidates. In fact, you could argue that the rise of talk radio and Fox News is a direct result of that belief.

Now before I go any further, I need to explain before my conservative Republican friends completely go ballistic on me, that I still believe this to a certain degree. I think the evidence over the decades would easily suggest that most media outlets tend to be harder on Republicans and Republican candidates and ideas than they are on their Democratic counterparts. Examples? Sure!

  • The most blatant example would have to be Candy Crowley inserting herself into the Romney/Obama debate in 2012 when she “corrected” Mr. Romney by stating that the president HAD referred to what happened in Benghazi as terrorism in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Technically, she was correct. But there is no denying that for 13 days after the Benghazi attack, he avoided the term terrorism and instead focused on placing the blame on a video that supposedly had incited Muslim riots.  That was Mr. Romney’s point and she knew it. And she knew his point was a valid one. Regardless, it shouldn’t have mattered either way. She was the moderator, not the fact checker. And she felt no need to insert herself at any other point during the debate when things said about Mr. Romney were taken out of context or mischaracterized, specifically his 47% comment. It was blatant and it was brutal. That interjection cost Romney that debate. He looked flustered in the moment (as any of us would) and…lost.
  • Another glaring example is that of Clarence Thomas vs. Anita Hill. Or more appropriately, Clarence Thomas vs. Teddy Kennedy. I believe the truth is, we will never know exactly what transpired between Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. But according to the media then, and according to the media and their counterparts in Hollywood now (see HBO’s most recent entry into this affair entitled Confirmation) Anita Hill was telling the entire truth and Justice Thomas was lying. But what was more troubling to conservatives everywhere was the level to which the media went after Clarence Thomas over an alleged throw away comment about a pubic hair on a Coke can while, ironically, sitting on the Senate Judiciary panel was a man who was never made to answer adequately for his actions regarding the death of Mary Jo Kopeckni in the Chappaquiddick River.
  • A silly but illustrative example, I believe, of the media’s tendency to give liberals a little more leeway than conservatives or Republicans would be misstatements by George W. Bush and Barack Obama. With full recognition that Mr. Bush had more “Bushisms” than Mr. Obama, you can’t deny that the media was more than willing to sell the idea that Mr. Bush was…well not the sharpest tool in the shed. Yet, even though Mr. Bush said among other things that there were “rumors on the internets”, one cannot deny that Mr. Obama had his fair share of verbal slip-ups as well, the most notorious probably being that he had visited 57 states with two left to go. Nevertheless, the media narrative on Mr. Obama has consistently absorbed his gaffes while continuing to highlight how brilliant of an intellectual he is. The truth is, both men are incredibly gifted in their own right and people who have worked next to both men have expressed how intelligent they are.

But having said all of the above, I can’t help but laugh at the hand-wringing that is going on over at Fox and on social media. The issue? How unfair the media is being to Donald Trump.

Let me repeat that…How unfair the media is being to Donald Trump!

Are you freaking kidding me? This is the man who won the Republican primary because the media, both conservative and otherwise, wouldn’t talk about anybody else. He sucked the air out of every room with his bombastic statements and arrogant refusal to back down or apologize for anything. And has the media’s coverage of him changed since then? Not a bit. They are simply continuing to report on the asinine things he says with abandon.

But, but…he gave a speech on his tax policy and all anyone wants to talk about is the Khan family or the fact that so many Republicans are jumping ship on Mr. Trump. It’s not FAIR!!!

So let me get this straight. Someone finally shot Mr. Trump with enough tranquilizers to put him in front of a teleprompter so that he could “Presidentially” explain to America that he is going to cut taxes without explaining how he is going to pay for the deficits his tax cuts will cause. Well I’m sorry, but that’s not news. That’s basically the same thing we have heard from every Republican candidate for the last thirty-five years. To make out like this is some major news story would be similar to cutting into daytime television to announce that a Democrat has pledged to raise federal spending. It’s not a news story. It barely requires more acknowledgement than breathing.

The Khan family and GOP defections, on the other hand, are a very different story.

Let’s take the Khan family controversy…which is ENTIRELY a story because of Mr. Trump. You have the Republican nominee for president criticizing and insulting the family of a United States serviceman who died while trying to protect his fellow servicemen from a suicide bomber. The REPUBLICAN nominee, you know…that’s the party that claims to be the only institution in America who cares about the military.

Now, it didn’t need to be a story. All Mr. Trump had to do was take a lesson from Mrs. Clinton who tried to be as gracious as possible to the mother of the serviceman killed in Benghazi. There is no doubt that Mrs. Clinton’s statements in no way made the victim’s family feel any better, but she was at least complimentary of the young man’s service and tried to sound sympathetic toward the mother’s loss. No one has to believe that she means it, but simply by responding in this way, Mrs. Clinton guarantees that the issue stays low key and doesn’t become a major news story dominating headlines for days. But that isn’t Mr. Trump’s way is it? No, he has to say that he has sacrificed just like the Khans. Now Mr. Trump didn’t serve in the military because, according to his own words, he had spurs in his foot. When asked which foot, he couldn’t remember, but…whatever. Nevertheless, he has sacrificed. He sacrificed by inheriting millions of dollars and going into business. That’s the same as losing your son, right? Then he compounded the issue by insulting Muslim Americans everywhere by suggesting their religion did not allow the serviceman’s mother to talk because she chose to stand silently at her husband’s side. Unbelievable…except it’s Trump so…Totally Believable!!!

This single misstep with the Khans, I believe, will bury Mr. Trump. And it is what thousands of us on the moderate/conservative side of the aisle have been saying from the beginning. He Can’t Win! Because eventually, when all you can do is hurl insults and vile put-downs at everyone, it will eventually cost you. And now, it has. The media is simply reporting what he is saying. They don’t need to do anything else. There is no bias and there is no need to slant the truth. They just have to print what he says, and in the same fluid movement, hand him a shovel to bury himself with.

Now furthermore, dozens of well known Republicans defecting from USS Trump is also a major news story. When in the history of this country have we ever seen this kind of mutiny happen within a political party heading into a general election for president? I would venture to say it has been over a century if it has ever happened at all. Those kind of events are what we call news. Again, the media doesn’t have to lie or slant or show their bias, they just have to report what is going on. What is even more ironic is that Trump supporters will say it is just the establishment trying to seek revenge. To which I would say, then maybe it isn’t so smart to try and whack the establishment when your candidate is a verbal machine gun of ineptitude. You end up looking silly. But whether you like it or not, the defections by so many GOP stalwarts is news. It just is.

Here’s the hard and fast truth my Trump supporting friends. Trump was never going to get elected. EVER! The only reason he got traction was because the media was having the time of their lives playing and replaying his latest soundbite of jackassery. The same jackassery many of you found so appealing. No reasonable candidate could get a word in edgewise because suddenly Mr. Trump was “telling it like it is.” And you liked it just as much as the media did…just for different reasons. But now we are at the point when it is time to start talking about how we are going to fix some pretty significant problems in this country. But instead, what is Mr. Trump doing? The same thing he’s always done. He’s playing the role of eighth grade bully at a level worthy of an academy award. And guess what. Now it’s starting to sound as stupid to you as it did to us all along.

Well…I’m sorry, but this is the guy you wanted. This is the guy you chose. And if you think the media is responsible for his sudden lack of favorability, then I guess that makes you somewhat delusional. Because this guy, the first Republican nominee in over 50 years who might actually lose the state of Utah, is the same buffoon we’ve been seeing portrayed in the media from the beginning.

Promises, Promises

Oh my goodness it is getting thick out there. Of course it always does in Arizona this close to a primary. And then of course it will get even worse the closer we get to November. It just is what it is. Nevertheless, the things people will say to get elected and the promises they will make…it’s just perverse, and frankly borders on the bizarre.

Take for instance one of the guys seeking the Republican nomination for Congress from my district. I got a mailer from him yesterday claiming that his big selling point is that he has never held elected office (a popular thing to say if you are wanting to join the ranks of Republican politicians.) Yet today, I got another mailer from the same candidate that stated right on the front that he is leading the charge to protect my 2nd Amendment rights.

WHAT??? How is that possible???

How can he be leading the charge on anything with regards to my rights if he is not currently, nor ever has held elected office? Has he quite literally formed up a mounted posse and galloped headlong into his local NRA office?

No wait, I suppose that would be leading the charge against my 2nd Amendment rights.

So whose office would he ride into? The Oval Office? I’m pretty sure we would have heard about that on the news. But so far? Bupkiss! So my guess is that he actually hasn’t led the charge on anything except filling my mailbox with trash.

But he’s not alone. My sons have recently rediscovered their fascination with Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and we have watched both shows religiously over the last couple of weeks. During that hour long process we are subjected twice a night to a political commercial for another GOP candidate for running for Congress. In this ad she states that, “Politicians talk, I do.” (As an aside, say that out loud several times and see how you feel afterword. My guess is that you will either feel a little bewildered or feel like snickering for reasons that you can’t quite put your finger on, but are pretty certain it must be tied in some way to bathroom humor.) Anyway, as she finishes her commercial, she says that we can’t wait any longer to do certain things which include…defeat ISIS. This is a common promise from many on the right. And while it sounds good, my first question to this lady would be…HOW? How in the (frickin’ frackin stupid long-eared galoot) heck are you going to work to defeat ISIS? It’s a great slogan, but really? I would like some specifics. Because if it’s really as easy as she seems to suggest that it is, wouldn’t someone have done it by now? Anyone?

This goes right along with the promise of the soon to be built Great Wall of Donald that is to be constructed fairly near to my home-of course, all at the expense of the Mexican government. After almost a year, I’m still waiting to hear how that’s gonna work, but…discussing that would just make me depressed all over again so…

…Let’s suffice it to say that all of these promises have got me thinking. What promises could candidates make that would benefit me, individually, regardless of how far-fetched they might be? Ahhh…now we’re talking. So without further ado, here are the three promises any politician could make that would secure my vote.

1.  Eradicate False Customer Service

Okay, I know this is coming out of left field, but hear me out. If I am in the mood for a good ham and cheese sub sandwich, my best bet for sandwich closure is to run down to my local Subway. Which I do on occasion.

Now, let me be clear. I really like Subway. My kids like Subway. and my wife likes Subway. We are definitely NOT anti-Subway.

However, nothing annoys me more than when I walk through the door and one or more of the workers behind the counter barks out in a bored, I-couldn’t-possibly-care-less-that-you’re-here-but-I-am-forced-to-do-this salutation, “Wehcum to Subway.” This oh-so-warm expression of goodwill is not provided by a worker who actually acknowledges me. It’s more of a Pavlovian response to the ringer that goes off when the door opens. No one behind the counter looks in my direction, adds any inflection to the monotone tenor of their voice, or in any other possible way makes me “feel” welcome.

In fact, it has kinda the opposite effect. This “greeting” is barked out and I immediately wonder who in the heck they’re talking to. I glance around and see that no one is trying to get my attention and so I immediately begin scanning the restaurant to see if I can determine who is addressing whom.

Of course, I eventually arrive at the conclusion that I must have been the person to whom they were directing their verbal shotgun blast, which leads to the second most agonizing part of this encounter. What am I supposed to do in return? To ignore an offered greeting seems rude. Yet, saying “Thank you” or nodding in acknowledgement to thin air just feels so…bat-crap crazy. Especially when everyone already in line who has experienced this same firing squad approach to customer service is staring at you to see what you’ll do. Generally, I mutter “thanks” so softly that even my own ear drums have problems picking up the vibration and shuffle to my place at the back of the line. I feel stupid. In fact, I would probably up and leave right then except…there’s just something weird about leaving an establishment over bad service when that “bad service” was to welcome you to their establishment. The whole thing iss just wrong.

So that is what I want my local politician to do. I want them to promise to introduce a federal law outlawing the practice of hand grenade greetings at fast food restaurants. And throw in convenience stores as well because my local Giant does the same thing when I stop in for 44-ouncer. And frankly the last thing I want is to have attention drawn to me and have someone recognize that I am there for the fourth time that day.

2. Border Wall…For My Yard

There is a neighborhood dog out there that enjoys coming into my front yard in the dead of night and bestowing upon my family a gift that only canine royalty can provide. Of course it’s always done in the dead of night because why would he want to give the sun a chance to dry it out, making it less painful to dispose of.

Nooooo! Let’s place that thing dead center about 2:00 in the morning and let the sprinklers that go off at 5:00 provide a nice marinade.

So if Mexico gets a wall, I want a wall too. But not a wall that anyone can see. I want my wall to be a highly pitched sound that surrounds my yard and that only a dog can hear. And that sound needs to be specifically engineered to drive ANY dog crazy and make them want to run in front of the first moving vehicle it sees.

And by the way, I want the dog to pay for it.

3. Free Secondary Education For All

With my daughter getting ready to start her senior year, I am becoming increasingly aware of the cost of a college education. It is ridiculously out of control. When I attended ASU a mere twenty years ago, tuition was $1,000 a semester. That number has increased by 500%. If you do the math, that’s a 25% increase each year. I’m sorry, but that’s absurd.

And it’s not like they are putting all that extra money to good use. I mean, really. ASU’s basketball program is just as big of a joke today as it was 20 years ago. So really, where is all that money going?

Nope, it is time to find a way to provide a free college education to every person who wants one. Furthermore, I…

What? No way! And they didn’t nominate him? Scandalous!!!

I apologize, I’ve just been informed that Mr. Bernie Sanders actually made this promise during the Democratic primary process. And still the Democrats didn’t nominate him. I’ll admit, I’m totally flummoxed. How could they have made such a drastic mistake?

Because c’mon. If he could’ve somehow pulled off that promise, that “poop wall” thing I want wouldn’t have seemed so ridiculous after all.