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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.

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.


A Tip of the Hat To My New Favorite Hero

I’m SICK of politics! So…

Several years ago, I wrote a short essay on the feelings I had as my eldest daughter entered that phase in life where she began to outgrow me. Now, here we are at the beginning of her Senior year and to be quite frank, she has completely outgrown me and has moved on to building the foundation for her own life-the one in which I will be merely a curio on the corner of her desk instead of the actual desk itself. It’s hard, but I’m adjusting. She’s going to have struggles, we all do, but she is at her core – good. And if that description is good enough for God, it’s good enough for me. She will be all right, and I look forward to seeing what she makes of herself.

But today, I want to spend some time talking about my newest hero.

Sitting in church on Sunday, we were surrounded by the family members of a young man who was preparing to leave on his mission. (He left Tuesday.) The anticipation in the air was palpable. And why shouldn’t it be? There is no other way to describe this young man other than as a powerhouse. He’s a fantastic athlete. He’s good looking and physically well-built. He has a strong testimony and…well, in short, he’s what you might describe as the All-American LDS boy who is turning into a man in front of our very eyes.

As we sat there, I looked down the row at another young man. One who is not a fantastic athlete. One who as a young boy was always solid without being fat, but in recent years has stretched out into a lanky teenager who only needs four more inches to catch me in the height department. He wears glasses. (We’ve given him the option of contacts, but he prefers his thicker framed black glasses.) In his spare time he can often be found doing math for entertainment or checking on his grades for the 15th time that day. He’s not popular. But that’s okay. I don’t think it matters that much anymore to him.

Anyway, in that moment, I could tell he was nervous – although it’s likely he would have only grudgingly admitted it if asked. He was not the man of the hour, but he still had a supportive part to play. And sometimes, the pressure of that role can be the most daunting of all.

As the meeting progressed, I could sense his nervous energy increasing. I prayed silently on his behalf because I knew how much success meant to him. In that moment, it meant everything. Finally, after the first speaker finished, my son – my oldest son who is turning into his own man in front of my eyes – stood and walked to the piano at the front of the chapel and sat down to play.

And for the next three minutes he filled that room with some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard.

I guess I should back up. When it comes to my son Braden, I have not always been the best father. It’s not that I have gone out of my way to be a bad father to him. It’s more an issue of him being someone who, despite my love and admiration, I will probably never fully understand. And it has always been so.

With my oldest, Abby, there was an immediate connection. That’s not to say we are bosom buddies who share everything with each other. It’s more that I get her. I understand her. She drives me bat-crap crazy, but I understand why she’s doing it. With Braden, that is rarely the case.

On a surface level, I hate math. He loves it. I was forced to endure piano lessons. He will sit down and play for nothing more than the pure enjoyment of playing. I love my music loud and driving. He is the old soul constantly telling ME to turn it down. For me, computers are a necessity that I must force myself to have a basic understanding of in order to exist in this world. To him, anything technological is a tantalizing world of mysteries just waiting for him to come solve. I love sports. Him? Not so much. He’s much more obsessed with time. I recognize these two things are not opposites, but I mention them together because the only way I could get him to watch basketball with me when he was younger was to point out the clock visible in the corner of the screen. It was counting down to zero. Over time, he became more interested in the game, but at first, his entire attention was focused on that clock.

On a deeper level, I tend to automatically see the grey in every issue. He is the epitome of the black and white thinker.

In short, we are not the same. Which is fine because he is going to be far greater than me.

Early on, I allowed our differences to lead to frustration. Now, I sit back in wonder at the amazing individual whose life God has granted me the blessing of being a part of.

Life has not been easy for my son. I mean, it has certainly been easy when compared with 99.5% of the people who have ever lived on the earth, but for an American teen in 2016, not so much. But then has it been easy for any of them? Braden had lots of friends when he was younger. But as he neared the end of fifth grade, the great sifting began. Sports and acceptance become so important to kids that age and often many have the mistaken idea that lessening others is the quickest and easiest way to increasing your own value. Unfortunately, in many ways, my son was an easy target. Sixth grade was awful for him. This was especially hard for me as a parent to watch because sixth grade was awful for me as well. I felt his pain more acutely than he could ever imagine. But to his credit, he handled it far better than I did.

Before the beginning of his seventh grade year, I sat him down and told him, “Son, it’s not fair, but the next few years have the potential to be very difficult for you socially. I can’t make it easier for you, but I can promise you that if you can survive junior high and high school, college will be an amazing experience for you. It will be worth every moment that you will have to endure for the next six years. But endure is what you are going to have to do.” He nodded gravely and then we changed the subject.

I wondered then how much he would understand what I had been trying to tell him. Apparently, he understood all of it right away. Seventh grade was an incredibly different experience for him. Not because he had a lot more friends, but just because he seemed to accept and embrace his solo status. What was even more interesting to me was that as he accepted that status, the acceptance by his peers seemed to increase. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can only comment on how it appeared to me. Anyway, he took pride in what he was good at and offered no apology for his strengths. To my knowledge, he still has no close friends outside of our family. This makes me sad for him. I hope that changes for him in high school. But right now, he has enough casual friendships that get him through.

He starts high school next month. I have no idea what this means for him. I don’t know at all what’s in store. But here’s what I do know.

He’s amazing. He’s a brilliant young man with a mind capable of things I could never imagine. He surpassed my ability to help him with his math homework two years ago. Now, when he talks about the equations or whatever it is he is working on, he might as well me speaking a different language.

He loves music and has abilities in that arena that continue to astound me. I struggled during my short piano career to play the music in front of me. He has gone way beyond that and moved on to arranging the music he’s playing into something greater.

He knows what is good and he’s willing to fight for it. He is unequivocal in his support for what he believes is right. It can be annoying when that sense of right tells him that game show contestants shouldn’t have to pay taxes on their winnings and he becomes quite boisterous in his defense of the downtrodden game show winner. But it is a quality that will take him far.

But most important to me, our relationship is stronger than it ever has been. I’ve quit trying to understand everything about him. And more importantly, I have quit trying to have him see the world through my lenses. Instead, when I try and get a glimpse of what he sees, I am blessed with visions of greatness.

So as I watched him stand up from behind the piano and make his way back to our bench this past Sunday morning, there was no way to convey my pride, my love and my adoration. I tried, but I know my efforts fell way short. He has become my hero and I could not have been more in awe. And in that moment, I knew I was getting a taste of the many similar experiences yet to come.

*As an aside. This post has not been written for anyone else but me. Obviously I am fine with people seeing it or else I would not have put it on my blog, but please know I am not seeking a lot of comments telling me how great my son is or assuring me that I am a great father. I know what I am and I know what he is. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate every compliment I receive on his behalf, but please know that this post was not an effort to solicit more.

There is a good chance Braden won’t see this, and that is probably how I want it. At least for now. It was the same when I wrote my thoughts on Abby. Maybe someday, but for now, if he doesn’t know about this post, it’s okay. 

If you are still reading, thanks for indulging me, because that is what this is…pure indulgence of a father bragging on his child. But it’s my blog, so I guess I will do what I want. 🙂


The Smartest Guy Not In The Room

Okay, I have made it abundantly clear that I believe 2016 is a lost cause. I don’t want to belabor that point any further today. Instead, since it is GOP Convention Week, I would like to take a moment and think about what future, if any, the Republican Party has.

What is the future if Trump wins? I can’t even imagine. But I do believe it would hasten the end of the party as we know it. I believe he would be one of two things and both would be disastrous. One, he would be exactly what he is selling himself to be. A hero to the angry white uneducated males of this country and a president who would alienate us from the rest of the world while destroying our economy. The second would be more complex. He could be exactly the opposite of what he portrays himself to be (which ironically might make him a decent president) which would only further infuriate the very people who got him to where he is. Either way, the division in the party does not get healed by an actual Trump presidency.

But, I personally don’t believe we will have to deal with that because I still believe he doesn’t win.

Not so fast, moron. Haven’t you seen the polls? He’s practically tied with Hillary and nobody likes her. Don’t be a sore loser, Rapier. Trump’s gonna win and you’re gonna have to eat every last one of your bleeding heart moderate words.

Look, if he wins, I will be the first to admit I was wrong. But I really doubt I’m gonna have to do that. And here’s why.

The Electoral College!

See, the dirty little secret is, even if I don’t vote for President, it isn’t like it is really gonna make that much of difference. Trump is going to win Arizona regardless of whether I vote or not. Presidential elections have basically boiled down to two states and there is nothing any of us can do about it. Those states? Ohio and Florida. They used to include Pennsylvania and say that whoever was going to win had to win two of the three, but the reality is Pennsylvania hasn’t voted Republican in decades and it isn’t likely to start anytime soon. Which basically means that any Republican running has to win Florida and Ohio. There is no way around it. It  just is.

So, how are things looking there? Well, Florida has a very large Hispanic population and the GOP nominee has taken every opportunity to alienate Latinos and Hispanics. So…I’m guessing the horizon could look a little brighter there. To make matters worse, if Hillary chooses Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio as her running mate, you might be able to tie a blue ribbon around Florida and deliver it to Hillary by September.

And if Republicans don’t get Florida, they don’t get the White House. Even with Florida, things could get difficult when you factor in the new murky reality of former GOP strongholds Nevada and Colorado. Republicans lost both states last election-which again can be somewhat attributed to Hispanic population increases. And again, the GOP has not addressed their Hispanic voter disconnect.

So if, as I suggest it will, Hillary wins pretty handily, what does that mean for the Republican party going forward? Well, I believe the sixty-five percent of the party that wasn’t THAT angry at the beginning of 2016 is going to be EXTREMELY angry with the Angry wing of the party.

“You made us vote for that?” I can almost hear them say.

Meanwhile, the Angry wing of the party will be even angrier. They won’t know what exactly they are angry at, but they will be MAD. You can bet on it. But the one thing they likely won’t get is another chance to shoehorn in some blowhard with a bad comb-over. The other sixty-five percent is not going to let that happen. Even if another 16 people run (which I don’t believe they will) the GOP voters are going to coalesce around somebody else quickly to avoid a repeat of the oil spill that has been 2016.

So who could that person possibly be?

The smart choice would probably be someone from a swing state that has a good amount of experience. Also, after four more years of Democratic rule, there is a good chance that even some of the more conservative folks in the party might be open to someone a little more moderate if it means having a better chance of capturing the White House.

Furthermore, I think when Trump gets beaten so badly he starts to get mentioned in the same breath as Mondale, everyone who got on the Trump train is going to have a hard time recanting their conversion to Trumpism AND being taken seriously. Thus, we can wish a fond farewell to Mr. Cruz, Mr. Christie, Mr. Rubio, Dr. Carson, et. al.

So who’s left? Well, the answer to me explains a lot with regards to what is happening this week in Cleveland. In case you’ve missed it, many of the Never Trump folks have basically been begging either Mitt Romney or John Kasich to signal that they are willing to serve as nominee if they convention delegates just ask them to so that they might be able to throw the convention into disarray and head off Trump. Neither has been willing to do that. I wonder why?

Well, for one, I don’t think Romney really wants to go through all this again.

But furthermore, trying to stop Trump from getting the nomination at this stage of the game is pointless. He’s got it. To take it away would be to deny the voters their choice and that would not go over well at all.

That only leaves running as a third party candidate. Or in other words, suicide. A third party candidate will never win. It would just be Perot all over again.

So in short, the GOP is stuck with Trump now whether it likes it or not.

But four years can go by quickly. And that is what I believe one man is counting on. I believe the main reason Kasich has decided not to try and get the nomination now, but at the same time maintain his fierce opposition to Trump, is a very calculated move. When the great Trump experiment blows up in our faces, he stands a very good chance of looking like the adult in the room who is perfectly within his rights to say, “I told you so.”

But instead, like a good and understanding parent (which whether we want to admit it or not is really what we want our president to be,) I believe Mr. Kasich will choose to open his arms and accept us all back after our ill-advised weekend bender and will agree to represent a chastened and more responsible GOP as their nominee for President.

So mark my words and get me a yard sign because I can’t imagine any sweeter political words than the following.

Elect Kasich 2020!!!

The Ultimate Party App

Let me just say this up front. By what I’m about to say, I don’t under any circumstances mean to offend anyone who has used on-line dating services to meet people. That is certainly not my intent and if I do inadvertently offend someone, please forgive.

Having said that, I’m wondering if my current political life experience is mirroring that of those who have used on-line dating services in their personal lives. I know that’s a bizarre thing to say, but hear me out.

I accept that I could be wrong, but it is my belief that most people who ultimately look for love on the internet did not do so as their first choice. If given the opportunity, they probably would have preferred the age old method of meeting someone in an everyday situation and then having that chance meeting blossom into attraction that leads to romance. Again, maybe I’m wrong, but that was my preference during my dating years and if I were to suddenly find myself single, I believe that is what I would prefer again.

But unfortunately, life doesn’t always cooperate in the way we would like. So, when the “traditional” option isn’t available to someone (and I recognize that “traditional” doesn’t work for a lot of people) they begin to look for other alternatives. For many, this leads to signing up on a website or app that promises to pair them with someone who shares everything from their interests to their general belief system. This plan is often not an individual’s first, second or even third preference, but when first, second and third strike out…well, what’s a person gonna do.

Which leads me to my point. (I can hear several of you saying aloud, “Thank heavens. Those previous four paragraphs made me extremely uncomfortable. Trust me, I feel your pain. Maybe I shouldn’t have even drawn this metaphor, but we’re already 300 words in so we might as well keep going, right?) I wish there was a dating app for my political party affiliation. (Good Gosh, man! Couldn’t he have just said that as the first sentence?) I suppose so, but why say in 12 words what you can say in 321. Anyway…

See, here’s the thing. As it stands, we all pretty much only get two options these days. (Before I get lynched by members of the Green Party and the Libertarians, I know you exist, but come on, stick with me here and maybe you can someday too have relevance) Now those two options seem to have worked for the most part over the last 200+ plus years (except when they didn’t, see also: Whig Party, Federalist Party, Democrat-Republican Party) but they are currently leaving me wanting.

So what I want to do is get on-line, fill out a questionnaire, and then have that website pair me with like-minded people who might want to start a political party with me.  Now the beauty of this app is that we could end up with twenty parties or maybe even more, but is that so bad? Baskin-Robbins has done pretty well with the 31 flavor thing instead of offering just two. I’m just sayin’. Anyway, since I haven’t been able to find this app or website, and since I have no computer engineering skills whatsoever with which I could create my own, I will instead now list the questions I think should be on the application. I will then answer them myself on the off chance someone might read this who agrees with my responses within an acceptable 80% compatibility rating. Then…who knows? Every ocean starts with a single drop, right? (Stop rolling your eyes and just play along.)

For starters so that we might get a general idea of your political leanings, give us an example or two of current political leaders that you generally respect and admire.

For me, this would be Mitt Romney and John Kasich. Now, let me be very clear. I am not talking about the Mitt Romney who somehow survived the primary season four years ago. That process is one of my main reasons for being disenchanted with the current GOP. I’m talking about the man who ran Bain Capital and who served as governor of the state of Massachusetts. Yeah, I know during that election he said he was pro-choice and for gay marriage. And yes, I am aware that he flipped on those issues when it came time to run for president. But hidden in that flip-flop debate is the whole point. In both instances, I believe Mitt Romney was relatively unconcerned about those issues. He’s a businessman who wanted to bring his experience and leadership working within the economy to, first Massachusetts and then Washington, in order to bring some sense of financial restraint to an out-of-control government process. I just really believe social issues weren’t that important to him. But that’s what I want in my new party; people who are concerned first and foremost about the financial disaster that is our federal budget. To me, that is the primary responsibility of government in the first place. It is most certainly not to legislate religion or religious beliefs.

Don’t get me wrong, I am staunchly pro-life. But if I can’t work with someone who is pro-choice simply because they are pro-choice, I have a problem. I think the time has come in our country to accept that beating each other up over social issues we will never agree upon is becoming counter productive when we: 1. We have no money to fund education. 2. Have no money to fund healthcare. 3. Have a program in Social Security that is being asked to do what it was never designed for. 4. Have a hopelessly out-of-date national infrastructure. And 5. Have an economic system that is increasingly being built on debt from the national level all the way down to the kitchen table. It is my opinion that if we don’t address these five basic issues pretty darn fast we’re not going to have a country left to argue about abortion or gay marriage or anything else in.

Which brings me back to Romney and Kasich. In both of their cases, this is how they approached governing in their respective states. Say what you will about Kasich, but Ohio seems to be doing pretty well and he has been highly successful in working with people from all parts of the political spectrum. Romney did the same in Massachusetts. Yes, he started Romneycare. Was it hugely successful? Not particularly. But he tried. He took on one of those five major problems and he tried. Given the chance, I believe he would try again.

So, short answer long? Romney and Kasich.

What type of programming would make up your political party’s 24 hour news network?

To be blunt, I would prefer that we not have one. I believe the number one factor contributing to the crippling polarization of America in 2016 is the proliferation of conservative and liberal media. They create echo chambers which give people the idea that more people agree with them than actually do. They also allow people to believe themselves informed when in fact they are nothing of the kind.

But if I were forced to create the RNN (Ryan News Network), it’s format would based on the following:

  1. With rare exceptions, we would not allow the leading story on every other network to be the lead story on ours. If Donald Trump gets up and makes a speech claiming that the number one issue facing America is illegal immigration, we would have the intellect and courage to say, “That’s absurd” and we would ignore it in favor of covering a story that actually affects the daily lives of average Americans. If Bernie Sanders claims he is for free college education for everyone, we would again say, “That’s absurd” and ignore it in favor of covering a story where someone presents an idea that is within the realm of possibility.
  2. We would have at least two hours a day dedicated to telling stories of how communities are successfully dealing with local issues.
  3. On our talking head shows, we would require that every individual on the panel have such murky political leanings that it would be impossible to tell who our “conservatives” and our “liberals” are. Also, each issue discussed would not be given five minutes of argumentative air time before moving on to something else. We would require that our hosts arrive at a resolution for each issue through that long forgotten process known as compromise before they would be allowed to address a new topic.
  4. Finally, I would cherry pick people who despite what others might think, have been very good at keeping their biases at bay, like Chris Wallace, Wolf Blitzer and Megyn Kelly. And I would try to entice Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to reunite for their nightly two hour block. Yes, they tend liberal, but their comedic insight is often exactly on point and neither is afraid to lash out at idiocy regardless of which side of the aisle it’s coming from.

Do you believe race relations are a problem in today’s America? If yes, explain. If no, explain.

Wow, this is toughy because the answer is…of course. But the problem is, no one, and I mean no one on the national stage, seems remotely interested in dealing with the actual problems. We are all much more interested in being offended. I know that statement will offend some, but that doesn’t change its truthfulness.

To illustrate, let’s talk about the major race issue currently dominating our headlines: the back and forth between the beliefs encapsulated under the headings Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. Both are extremely offensive to me because they are so blatantly obvious and because they allow people to ignore the real issues here, which are:

  1. Does every cop deserve our undying allegiance? No. In South Carolina, Officer Michael T. Slager murdered Walter Scott in cold blood. There is no doubt. If you have never heard of these individuals, you might want to Google them and watch another channel other than Fox. They don’t tend wanna talk about this one. Now, are there more Michael T. Slagers out there? I’m positive there are. Do they even come remotely close to representing the majority of police officers in this country? Of course not. But they exist. And we as white citizens should recognize this and stop jumping to the defense of every police officer every time one of these shootings occurs. We don’t know what happened and this is not a good guy vs. bad guy issue. Let’s wait for the facts.
  2. Is there systemic racism in our police forces whether recognized or not? Probably, but that does not justify acting like an idiot and inciting police to violence. Only bad things happen when you do that. And that goes both ways. Remember the ranchers who decided to take over a federal building on federal lands up in Oregon? Then remember when one of those ranchers jumped from his truck and started to run before being gunned down by police? What is interesting to me about that whole situation is the number of people on Facebook who posted that they were outraged by the “assassination” of a “patriot”. Many of those people are the same folks who love to post nasty things about Black Lives Matter. Anyway, on the video, you can clearly see Lavoy Finicum acting like he is reaching into his jacket for something. So let’s think through this in real time. A bunch of armed ranchers have been holding up in a federal building threatening violence. A carload tries to leave despite being told they would be pulled over if they did so and then one of these individuals leaps from said car and while running away, acts like he might be going “something” in his jacket. Bottom line, that is going to get you shot by police. The same holds true in black neighborhoods. I’m not suggesting every shooting of an unarmed black man is akin to this situation, but I’d be willing to bet more than one is. Expecting police not to react in situations where they truly fear for their lives is insane. And when they do react, it does not make them racist.
  3. But then that brings us to the real problem. Do we really believe that all Black Lives Matter? Because the one thing that no one wants to talk about unless their purpose is to discredit the other side is that Black on Black violence is an epidemic in this nation. And what is frustrating is that not only are we white folks allowed not to say anything, we are most definitely not allowed to offer solutions. Which is by definition, nuts! Furthermore, it is not just Black lives that we are losing to this epidemic. I live just a few miles from the San Carlos Indian Reservation in Arizona. A hashtag that ought to be out there is #NativeAmericanLivesMatter, but instead the only Native American issue we seem to be interested in talking about is whether or not the Washington Redskins need to change their name.

Bottom line, racism is real. White Americans who don’t believe this need to get over themselves and get with the program. But let’s face facts. Police shootings of unarmed black men is the symptom not the problem. And if we are going to fix this problem as a nation, we need to stop the current practice of shaming every White person over something very few, if any, had a hand in creating and allow everyone to be a part of the solution. My party’s platform would be about finding resolutions to the problems of race we face in this country, not placing blame on anyone, Black or White or otherwise. That only perpetuates the problem. Are we automatically going to be able to trust each other right off the bat? No. But let’s leave the chips on our shoulder at the door and get down to fixing the problems with each and every tool we have at our disposal. Naive thinking? Maybe, but it also happens to be the only solution that is ever going to have a chance at success

Would that be the end of the survey?

No, but I’ve gone on for way too long and if you are still reading, you undoubtedly have better things to do. Bottom line, if anyone out there knows where I might find this app that I’m looking for, feel free to pass along my info: Married White Male seeking political party that’s more interested in solutions and compromise than bickering and vitriol. And if that party happens to like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain? I’m open to that too.

My Response To A Popular Trump E-mail

Recently, I received for about the fourth or fifth time, an e-mail extolling the virtues of why I should vote for Donald Trump. The latest individual to send this to me is someone I respect a great deal, so in this instance, I chose not to ignore the e-mail, but instead responded. Since my response took so much of my time, I have decided to post the original e-mail here and my response.

Mainly, I know that on some level I have led others to believe that I will not be voting in the upcoming election. I want to dispel that idea and express unequivocally that I will be voting. I just don’t know for whom. My reasons for this lack of clarity are listed in the slightly revised e-mail response below.

I apologize that I have given the impression that I will not vote. I will be voting in both the upcoming primary and general elections. I intend to cast a vote for President, although I will admit that I still do not know who that will be for. To maybe help make my position a little clearer I’ve decided to stop, as this e-mail states, speaking out against Trump and have instead just answered the questions myself. When I do, I realize…yep, still not ready to commit. We’ll see. But maybe my answers below will make my reservations understandable. I do understand where those who support the party’s candidate are coming from, but hopefully this will make my views clearer as well. All of my changes to the original e-mail are italicized.


The folks speaking out against Trump are helping me make up my mind a
little more every day!
Is he the Perfect Candidate whose thoughts mirrors mine on all fronts?  NOPE
Does he say everything the way I wish he would say it?  NOPE
Am I absolutely sure that his motives are absolutely Pure?  NOPE
Can I point to any other Dem Politician that I like better?  NOPE
Is there any of the other RINO Politicians I like better?  NOPE
Am I going to sit home, refuse to Vote, and let Hillary win; because he is
NOT Perfect?  NOPE
Do I like what I have seen for the last 7-1/2 years with the Jerk that
sleeps in my White House?  NOPE
Do I like the “fundamental changes” that same Jerk has brought about in MY
America?  NOPE

OK, your turn to decide what you are going to do in about 4 months!
Trump’s presidential qualifications…

Obama is against Trump… Check
The Media are against Trump… Check
The establishment Democrats are against Trump… Check
The establishment Republicans are against Trump… Check
The Pope is against Trump… Check
The UN is against Trump… Check
The EU is against Trump… Check
China is against Trump… Check
Mexico is against Trump… Check
Soros is against Trump… Check
Black Lives Matter is against Trump… Check
Move On is against Trump… Check
Koch Brothers are against Trump… Check
Bushes are against Trump … Check
Planned Parenthood is against Trump….Check
Hillary & Bernie are both against Trump … Check
Illegal aliens are against Trump … Check
Islam is against Trump … Check
Kasich is against Trump … Check
Hateful, racist, violent Liberals are against Trump.. Check


It seems to me, Trump MUST BE the Best Qualified Candidate we could ever

If you have so many political insiders and left wing NUT CASES— all
SCARED TO DEATH, that they all speak out against him at the same time!

Most of all, it will be the People’s Choice…


He’s not a Lifetime Politician…Check
He’s not a Lawyer…..Check
He’s not doing it for the money…Check
He’s a Natural Born American Citizen born in the USA from American parents.
. .

Bonus points !

Whoopi says she will leave the country…
Rosie says she will leave the country…
Sharpton says he will leave the country…
Cher says she will leave the country…
Cyrus says she will leave the country…
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights will prevail….
Hillary will go to jail…..
The budget will be balanced in 8 years….
Americans will have first choice at jobs…..
You will not be able to marry your pet….
You will be able to keep your gun(s) if you qualify…
(Not a criminal or crazy, etc.)
Only living, registered U.S. citizens can vote….
You can have and keep your own doctor…..
You can say whatever you want without being called a racist, Islamophobic,
xenophobic, etc….


Come to think of it, we have no place to go, but UP!

MY RESPONSE E-MAIL: (Again My Responses Are The Italicized Portion)

The folks speaking out against Trump are helping me make up my mind a
little more every day!


Does he say ANYTHING the way I wish he would say it?  NOPE


Can I point to any other Dem Politician that I like better?  NOPE


Am I going to sit home, refuse to Vote, and let Hillary win; because he is

Do I like what I have seen for the last 7-1/2 years with the Jerk that

Do I like the “fundamental changes” that same Jerk has brought about in MY

OK, your turn to decide what you are going to do in about 4 months!
Trump’s presidential qualifications…

Obama is against Trump… Check

The Media are against Trump… Some people in the media I respect a great deal are against TRUMP including George Will and Karl Rove. NO CHECK

The establishment Democrats are against Trump… Check

The establishment Republicans are against Trump… If by Establishment Republicans we mean Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake and Paul Ryan, then I like establishment Republicans and value their opinions. NO CHECK

The Pope is against Trump… LDS Apostle Deiter F. Uchtdorf has sounded remarkably like the Pope on certain issues. Furthermore, I have heard nothing that suggests the Pope is concerned about anything other than the spiritual well-being of his flock. So, NO CHECK

The UN is against Trump… Check

The EU is against Trump… Last I checked the EU is made up of our allies (we do have more than just Israel). I have a lot of respect for Angela Merkel. I also respect many of the politicians who were against Britain leaving the EU. Finally, I have a lot of trepidation as I watch the floundering mess that is the Brexit camp following their win. They have walked back almost every promise they made and are in full spin mode on lowering expectations. Since these are the geniuses the conservative media is touting as the precursor to the Trump revoltion, I am more than a little concerned. NO CHECK

China is against Trump… Trump’s economic policies with regard to China would likely trigger a trade war that would be devastating to our economy and my ability to provide for my family, let alone what it will do to a future economy that my children would have to face when they come of age. I’m no fan of China, but I can find agreement with them on why they are against Trump. NO CHECK

Mexico is against Trump… This whole issue is stupid and will likely set the Republican party back twenty years because of his nasty tirades against Mexico and Mexicans. NO CHECK

Soros is against Trump… Check

Black Lives Matter is against Trump… Check

Move On is against Trump… Check

Koch Brothers are against Trump… Koch Brothers are a large reason Republicans have control of the Senate currently and have held onto the House. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. NO CHECK

Bushes are against Trump … I happen to like the Bushes and feel like they were both good presidents. So did most Republicans until Trump and Fox News suddenly said we shouldn’t. NO CHECK

Planned Parenthood is against Trump….Check

Hillary & Bernie are both against Trump … Check

Illegal aliens are against Trump … Check

Islam is against Trump … Dangerous when you start lumping all factions of a vast world religion into one. For instance, I would prefer not to be lumped in with Warren Jeffs. NO CHECK

Kasich is against Trump … I happen to like Kasich and believe he has done a fantastic job in Ohio. All things considered, I would love to have seen him as our nominee. NO CHECK

Hateful, racist, violent Liberals are against Trump. Hateful, racist, violent Conservatives are FOR Trump. I consider this a wash.


It seems to me, Trump MUST BE the Best Qualified Candidate we could ever

If you have so many political insiders and left wing NUT CASES— all
SCARED TO DEATH, that they all speak out against him at the same time!

Most of all, it will be the People’s Choice…


He’s not a Lifetime Politician… (SEE: Unqualified and inexperienced) We wouldn’t hire anyone else with those kind of qualifications for a job let alone the most important job in America. NO CHECK

He’s not a Lawyer…..Yes, he makes it quite clear that he cares little for the law every opportunity he gets. NO CHECK

He’s not doing it for the money…How do you, I, or anyone else know that? He won’t release his taxes…Interesting…NO CHECK

He’s a Natural Born American Citizen born in the USA from American parents. This is an asinine thing to say. The reason Republicans get beat is because they get caught up in the stupidest little petty things. Obama was born in Hawaii. And regardless, Republicans lost because they didn’t convince enough Americans to vote for the agenda, not because people were hornswaggled into voting for a Kenyan. We need to deal with it and move on.
. .

Bonus points !

Whoopi says she will leave the country…

Rosie says she will leave the country…

Sharpton says he will leave the country…

Cher says she will leave the country…

Cyrus says she will leave the country… (For the previous five answers) So we, the people who claim to be inclusive Christians, are celebrating other Americans leaving. Seems juvenile.

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights will prevail…. Because they haven’t up to this point? Just because the Constitution and Bill of Rights protects everyone and not just one particular political party’s viewpoints doesn’t mean it isn’t prevailing.

Hillary will go to jail… HUH? People who believe this are delusional

The budget will be balanced in 8 years…. As long as we will not even consider cutting one cent of defense spending you may reference the answer immediately above.

Americans will have first choice at jobs….. Which will create products we can no longer afford because having enough is no longer good enough for 95% of Americans. You can’t have Americans producing goods at current labor costs AND pay Wal-Mart prices.

You will not be able to marry your pet…. Open dialogue begins with inclusive statements just like this one. (Sarcasm intended)

You will be able to keep your gun(s) if you qualify…
(Not a criminal or crazy, etc.) The ones keeping guns in the hands of criminals and crazies are the NRA, which typically supports GOP candidates. Again, can’t have it both ways.

Only living, registered U.S. citizens can vote…. So Trump has figured out how to change century old practices in Chicago and Louisiana politics. Let’s just grant him Sainthood right now.


You can have and keep your own doctor….. Unless you can’t afford it which was the problem that led us to Obamacare in the first place.

You can say whatever you want without being called a racist, Islamophobic,
xenophobic, etc…. Unless of course the things you are saying are racist, Islamophobic or xenophobic, etc. Then you will still be called those things.

He will make AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! He can’t even make his own TV show great, but he’ll manage greatness for an entire country? Okay…

Come to think of it, we have no place to go, but UP! Last I checked, I’m still pretty free. I can drive across the state lines of this country freely without being stopped. I have the ability to purchase anything I want that is legal. And I can still attend the church of my choice. And it just so happens that the religion I choose to be a part of only needs to look back within the last 150 years to find it can get a lot worse than we have it right now. So, pardon if I don’t jump on board with this line of thinking.

Final analysis? That’s a lot of italicized typing, so no, I’m not ready to commit to Mr. Trump as of yet. I was raised to believe a politician should have to earn my vote, and currently, Mr. Trump has done nothing remotely close to that. Because in my view, he’s got to do more than just not be Hillary Clinton. Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe my vote is at least worth more than that.

An Actually Useful Lesson Donald Trump Is Teaching Us

When I was a teenager, my parents tried to instill a truth upon my soul before they sent me out into the cold cruel world. They actually tried to instill many lessons, but for the point of this post, I’m going to focus on one. And that lesson was; you marry who you date.

Obviously the point was, don’t date girls that you wouldn’t want to end up spending the rest of your life with. It was a good lesson then, and it’s a good lesson now. It’s one I have spent many hours trying to get across to my teenage daughter.

You see, the problem with spending too much time with someone you wouldn’t actually want to make a lifetime commitment to is the message you send to all those folks you actually would like to make a lifetime commitment to. They see the company you keep and make a mental note to themselves that you are no longer legitimate dating material. It isn’t necessarily a fair judgment, but then…who said life was fair?

And that brings me to Donald Trump.

For the record, this post is the last time I personally am going to write that man’s name on this blog. I don’t want to date him and I sure as heck don’t want to contribute to his single-handed destruction of the GOP presidential chances. But I do think there is a lesson we Republicans can take away from this circus freak show going on right now. And it has very little to do with Trump himself.

The lesson is that maybe we shouldn’t trust the media.

Now, I know the immediate response is going to be, “Duh!!! We’ve known that for decades!”

True, but I’m talking all media. For instance, there was a time when I was an avid Rush Limbaugh listener. When I discovered him, I was thrilled that there was finally someone speaking for me and my views at a national level. And for Rush, one message was constant; the reason Republicans or conservatives don’t win elections is because they don’t get their message out. His belief has always been that too many Republicans wuss out and don’t go full conservative all day, every day-and if they did, we’d never lose another election again.

Over the last twenty years, Rush has become the spokesman for a lot of people who consider themselves conservative. And his message has been consistent. Be a fearless conservative because fearless conservatism wins every time it’s tried. So here’s a question:

Why is Rush being so complimentary of Trump, who is too busy spouting insults and platitudes to actually spout conservatism, instead of taking him to task on the lunacy of what he’s saying?

“Because, Rapier, Trump speaks conservatism without fear. He tells it like it is. He cuts through the crap.”

Those three statements are what I hear from Trump supporters more than anything else when they defend him. And yet each one of those statements is pure garbage.

He Tells It Like It Is

The Mexican Government is sending drug dealers and rapists across the border for us to deal with. – Had anyone been interested in true facts, Marco Rubio had some to share in the recent debate. Most of the illegal immigrants coming across our southern border no longer originate from Mexico. They come from Guatamala, Columbia and other South American countries. Meanwhile, the number of violent crimes committed in this country by illegal immigrants in comparison to US citizens is not statistically higher, but in most cases, statistically lower.

He Cuts Through The Crap

John McCain isn’t a war hero. Well he is a war hero, but only because he got caught. I like people who didn’t get caught. – On this blog, I have made no secret of how I feel about John McCain and his politics. But the man spent five years in a hellish prison camp and deserves our respect for that. He most certainly doesn’t get a free pass for everything he’s done since then, but again, he deserves our respect for that. And to suggest otherwise is the epitomy of “crap”!!!

He Speaks Conservatism Without Fear

“When you give, they do whatever the hell you want.” – Mr. Trump said these words in response to a question about giving money to Democratic politicians. None of those politicians ever advanced a conservative agenda at any point. So if Mr. Trump gave them money and then they did whatever the h— he wanted, one has to ask; What did he want?

My point with these examples is this: He is nothing like what he pretends to be. And not only that, he isn’t doing a very good job of hiding it. So why are the Rush Limbaughs and the Sean Hannitys out there not calling him out on this? Why are so many “informed conservatives” buying into this joke?

I think the answer is simple. The so-called conservative spokesmen/women are scared. I believe they don’t want to end up like Matt Walsh, the right-wing blogger who actually had the guts to point out the vast amounts of hypocrisy spewing forth from The Donald. After his post that called out Trump on many levels, Matt Walsh got KILLED. Not by Trump, but by right-wing nutjobs who called him everything from “RINO” to “subversive tool of the Democratic party”. MATT WALSH! If you’ve ever read that guy, you know full well, a RINO he is not.

So that’s why I believe conservative media personalities are scared. There’s no other explanation. Their numbers aren’t what they used to be and their influence is shrinking. So the last thing they want to do is offend the torch burning loonies who make up a big portion of their audience. You know, the ones who think that some moron who makes a “Megyn Kelly is on her period” joke (but then claims he didn’t, just like everything else he has ever said…wait no he didn’t say it, we just misunderstood) is some kind of conservative messiah. They need those loonies…and as a result, they show themselves to be just as fraudulent as every poltician or media reporter they have been lambasting for the last twenty years.

Donald Trump is not a conservative messiah. He isn’t even conservative. In fact, I don’t know what he is. Regardless, it’s time we Republicans started looking at the real candidates who have a real opportunity to win instead of giving time to a narcissistic freak who is more concerned about who is being nice to him and who isn’t. And it is time we started demanding the same of the media personalities who supposedly agree with us.

Am I Really Hanging Out With The Best Crowd?

I grew up in an extremely political home and from my earliest memories, I have identified as a Republican. To my point, I think I might have been the only second grader who watched with extreme interest the presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Interest in politics and identifying myself as Republican has always just seemed second nature.

However, as we gear up for the presidential election next year, I am looking around and wondering where the heck am I? I thought I belonged to a party that stood for lower taxes, not just for lower taxes sake, but for the improved environment it creates for entrepreneurship and capitalism. I thought I belonged to a party that didn’t look to welfare as a long-term solution, but rather as a short-term stepping stone to improving one’s self and becoming a positive force in society.

In short, I thought I belonged to the party that still believed in the American Dream.

As such, I would expect that the issues my party would be focusing on as we head toward 2016 would be say…I don’t know…restructuring or outright battling regulations that discourage rather than encourage economic growth. Another idea might be coming up with solutions to address the decaying infrastructure of our country by exploring partnerships between government and the private sector that would both lead to the improvement of our roads, bridges and national parks and provide jobs to thousands of people still struggling through a slow economic recovery. (I know some might equate this idea with the New Deal and liberalism, but frankly, both of these issues need addressing and coming at it from a conservative perspective rather than moaning about the solutions the liberals come up with seems so much more productive to me. I’m just sayin’.)

Lastly, since so many of us on the right view Obamacare with suspicion and disdain, shouldn’t we be crafting plans and policies of our own that would address the huge boondoggle that is healthcare in our country. Because, as we all remember, the issues regarding skyrocketing costs and insufficient affordable coverage did not begin with President Obama. They simply provided him a platform to present his own solution…which we hate…to the point that it was almost all we talked about for nigh unto four years. So shouldn’t having a plan of our own to present to the voters be our number one priority?

Apparently not.

Instead, the primary issues that seem to be driving the GOP conversation these days are as follows:

1. Defending a flag that represented a traitorous rebellion against our nation mostly in the name of keeping slavery alive and well.

2. Decrying a Supreme Court Ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

3. Donald Trump

Let me address each of these separately, may I? Thanks.

I find it interesting that so many people want to cloak the Confederate flag and its continued presence in our society in the argument of free speech. Especially since so many of the people making this argument are the same folks who twenty years ago were the ones apoplectic over the National Endowment for the Arts providing funding for art shows that presented, among other things, a crucific upside down in a glass of urine or the American flag in a toilet. Admittedly, I find both of those examples repulsive and agree that tax payer money should not be used to fund such “art”. However, I would also argue that a flag representing one of the most abhorrent practices in our history should not be flying over taxpayer funded buildings such as the South Carolina capitol building. To me, it’s the same thing. And I don’t want to hear ridiculous arguments such as, “It is a preservation of our culture and history.” Bull Crap!!! Let’s ask just about any African American citizen in South Carolina and see how they feel about that memorial to their culture and history being displayed atop a building they pay for with their tax dollars.

Bottom line, if somebody wants to have a Stars and Bars license plate on the front of their vehicle or a Stars and Bars blanket that they purchased from a booth in the parking lot of Walmart, so be it. That’s their right. But for any political movement that wants to be taken seriously to suggest that we need to defend the flying of the Confederate flag over a state capitol is ridiculous. And for this issue to be given any serious consideration within the party of Lincoln is irony at its most extreme.

As far as the Supreme Court ruling, I understand how vital to the Republican Party the religious right is. I can also relate to the fear and concern that this ruling creates regarding religious freedoms in America. I do believe this part of the debate is legitimate. However, there is a very fine line between debating the future of religious freedoms and dredging up old slurs and stereotypes in an effort to discredit your opponents. And frankly, in the political climate in which we exist, crossing that line could be fatal. Regardless of the beliefs of any group or individual, the truth is that the winds of change are upon us. Social acceptance of the LGBT community, and by extension same-sex marriage, has become the majority thought in this nation and those on the right would be wise to recognize this. Trying to scare voters against the “evils of the homosexual” might whip up a small minority of the base, but it will just as easily engender disgust and anger on the part of independent and moderate left. You know, the people Ronald Reagan wooed in order to win the presidency in 1980 and ’84.

Now I know that many will scream out that it is the moral obligation of all Christians everywhere to call attention to those who would “Call Evil Good and Good Evil,” but as I have expressed in a previous post, I think they are wrong. I think debating homosexuality itself is pointless and unbecoming of a people who profess to follow a God who loves everyone. Rarely do those debates remain civil and even more rarely do they accomplish anything. For Republicans, this debate has to stay focused on religious freedoms and protecting the constitutional rights of everyone on both sides of this issue.

And finally, how is it possible for one political party to be so incredibly tone deaf when it comes to single fastest growing voting block in this country. The fact that Donald Trump is being given any credibility at all is mind-boggling. Did people not hear him when he basically called everyone who is or has come here illegally a drug runner or a rapist???…or maybe some of them are good people…he’s not quite sure on that one. OH MY FREAK!!! What is wrong with us?

First of all, did no one notice that the GOP lost Nevada (a state they had carried with ease in the past) in 2012? Why do you think that is? Polling data was very clear. Republicans got slaughtered among Hispanic voters which could be traced back to the Republican primary and their nasty rhetoric regarding immigration. I know everyone wants to argue that it was only directed toward illegal immigration, but when you make it easy for your opponents to paint that rhetoric with a wider brush, it doesn’t help your cause.

But more importantly, as mentioned earlier, aren’t we supposed to be the party of Christian values? I’m sorry, but labeling an entire population as rapists and drug-runners doesn’t sound very Christian to me. I’m sure a criminal element exists within the illegal immigration population, but c’mon, saying what he said was absolutely stupid and frankly, in my eyes, makes him unfit to be considered a candidate for president.

However, the larger point is this: the GOP, and specifically the tea party, has got to take a more realistic view towards immigration from Mexico. To claim that illegals are stealing jobs is ridiculous. It is not even remotely that simple. One, most American citizens do not want to do many of the jobs illegal immigrants do nor would they even consider doing them for the wages offered. Two, Americans are not willing to pay the price of what things would cost if they were produced by fully compensated legal American workers. That’s why everything we buy is made somewhere else…including Donald Trump’s clothing line which is ironically made in Mexico. Republicans should be talking about ways to make manufacturing cheaper in this country so that American made goods could be more affordable. And if that includes guest worker programs made available to Mexican citizens, then…Awesome!!!

Don’t get me wrong. I understand there are issues with illegal immigration that need to be addressed. But denegrating an entire society (which, like it or not, has a spill over effect with the entire Mexican-American population) is not the way to go about it. In fact, I have yet to hear Donald Trump correctly address any issue as a candidate for president.

And yet, if you believe the polls, he is currently in second place. (Sigh!!!)

What makes this all so sad for me is that I used to believe that belonging to the Republican party made me someone who was interested in providing a solution rather than being part of the problem. However, as I look over the political landscape today, I can’t see how I can make that claim any longer. Today’s Republican party seems to be far more interested in debating innocuous issues that better the lives of no one. I hope that changes before November of next year, otherwise I will find myself preparing for four years of another Clinton presidency. And quite possibly looking for a new political home.