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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.

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.

Now You’ve Done It! (One Mormon Guy’s Reluctant Response to THE Supreme Court Ruling)

Okay, now I’m offended. I was going to avoid this topic altogether because of the high emotions and opportunity for offense on both sides.

But then I made the mistake of checking my news feed on Facebook this morning and now I’m irritated.

So, I have several things to say about the recent ruling on gay marriage. And I realize that at some point, I am bound to offend everyone, but screw it. All the self-righteousness spewing from every corner is getting overwhelming and I just have to add my own to the mix. So here goes.

  1. The thing that set me off this morning was someone using the Jeffrey R. Holland quote—the one about the contest already being decided and the final score already being posted and now it just being about which side’s jersey we want to wear—as a gauntlet to any church member who might be sympathetic to the gay marriage ruling. HOW FREAKING DARE YOU!!! I know which jersey I’m wearing and I know which side I’m on. In fact, it is that belief and faith that demands that I approach this entire subject and debate with extreme caution and care. I CANNOT JUDGE WHAT I DO NOT EXPERIENCE NOR UNDERSTAND. In fact, assuming I have read the rule book accurately, it is not my job to do so. So to all those who would deem themselves worthy of speaking for God directly on how every Church member should feel on this issue, I kindly invite you to suck it not.
  2. I have seen and heard the argument repeatedly that this ruling is single-handedly the greatest assault on the family and all that is virtuous and right and that it marks the true beginning of the end. REALLY??? Allowing two people who happen to be of the same gender to enter into a marriage contract so that they may be recognized in society as a family unit—thereby receiving the same benefits, financial and otherwise, as a heterosexual married couple—is worse than a ruling that allowed the widespread annihilation of millions of unborn babies? Sorry, I don’t see it. And by the way, that ruling—otherwise referred to as Roe v. Wade—occurred in 1973, the year I was born. So apparently these rulings that “signify the end” take a while as here we are 42 years later and still going strong.
  3. Meanwhile, now that I’m up and going, let me vent on a couple of items on the other side that get my blood boiling. I absolutely despise the NO H8 campaign. As I have stated before, from a strictly biological point of view, you can see how an argument for marriage being between a man and a woman would make sense as opposed to same sex marriage. One furthers the species, one does not without help from an outside source. Furthermore, marriage between man and woman has been a religious institution for thousands of years. If one holds to the beliefs of the Bible, it is very clearly demonstrated that God instituted marriage when he created Adam and Eve for each other. A man and a woman. It is that Bible, by the way, that ultimately played a critical role in establishing this country which has allowed its citizens unprecedented freedoms—and which now grants the freedom of marriage to same-sex couples. So it seems incredibly mean-spirited and vicious to brand anyone who holds reservations about same sex marriage as a hater. At its very core, the message NO H8 is filled with intolerance. It is a message of you are either with us or against us, and that is not a message designed to engender good feelings and healing in the aftermath of what everyone has to admit was a controversial decision with far reaching affects we don’t yet fully realize.
  4. Speaking of far reaching effects, I do express my congratulations to those who have long awaited this day. It is a day of affirmation and one I wouldn’t begrudge anyone. And I further believe that for the majority of us both in the Christian and LGBT communities, the battle is over and the time for reconstruction has arrived. However, I understand that this is not true for everyone, and that makes me incredibly sad. There are going to be those on the side of Christianity who are going to only up their rhetoric and make healing all the harder. I also know that there are those within the LGBT community for whom this battle was never about “Love”. There is no denying that society has treated the LGBT community poorly in the past. And I am not naïve enough to believe that poorly even comes close to adequately describing the wrongs inflicted on gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals. But now, there are going to be those who want payback. It is a perfectly understandable human reaction. Unfortunately, in situations like this, the people truly responsible for the injustices are rarely the ones who pay the price. Instead it will often be individuals who want no part of this fight, but find themselves caught up in it none the less. It will be Christians, or maybe individuals of other faiths, that are struggling to find a balance between the new reality and their belief system. It is going to take time, but sadly, there will be those who aren’t given any time. They will be metaphorically drug out into the streets by the new social media mobs and be forced to watch as their livelihood is destroyed and their names ruined. It’s already happening. And the cold and cruel messages being delivered to these people carry no love in them whatsoever. Sadly, dark days are ahead for far too many innocents on both sides and love will have very little to do with it.

Finally, I have to comment on the questions this ruling raises within my own faith. It has never been lost on me that there is a disconnect in our advocacy for marriage between one man and one woman and the history of the LDS faith, as well as the still standing policy of marriage beyond this life through temple sealings. This ruling brings that disconnect directly into the forefront.

Polygamy and the Mormon faith go hand in hand. Get outside of the Mormon belt (Utah, Arizona and Idaho) and it is still a practice with which we are heavily associated. And it is also a practice for which many of us in the faith have very few answers and even less desire to find any.

Which is what makes this ruling so troubling.If one reads Official Declaration 1 in the Doctrine and Covenants, a book considered scripture by those within the LDS faith, it states that polygamy was ended as a practice because the United States Congress declared it illegal and the Supreme Court had upheld that declaration. In short, the implication is that had the United States not made the practice illegal, it would have continued.

Which brings us to today and this question: is plural marriage truly a doctrine of God? And if it is, should the leaders of our faith be asking if He wants it reinstated on the earth?

Now back up Rapier. If God wants this practice reinstated, He will make His will known.

Except that when it came to blacks and priesthood, it took Spencer W. Kimball months and even years of asking before everyone got on board for reversing a practice that church leaders now admit wasn’t even a doctrine. So apparently, asking is part of the process. So I ask again, should they?

Furthermore, polygamy isn’t even a practice we have fully walked away from. Men can be sealed to more than one woman should their first wife pass away with the understanding that both sealings are in effect. The same is not the case for women. So are we truly advocates for marriage being between one man and one woman or not?

Now one argument I have heard in justification is that each marriage ceremony that occurs is between one man and one woman even though the man may already have additional spouses and that is how we have been consistently for traditional marriage throughout history. To that I would say, let’s run that argument by just about any woman (including our wives) and see if she thinks it passes the smell test.

Look, I am not bringing this issue up to cause problems (although I can easily see how it could be construed as exactly that.) My point in doing so is this. Maybe those of us within in the LDS faith should slow down on the anti-gay marriage rhetoric and go about our faith the best we know how. Because one, there is plenty about our own history with marriage that we don’t understand. To me, it would be nice to gain a little clarification and understand what is and what isn’t within my own house before I go condemning someone else’s.

But further, I bring this up because of my own experience. You see, I do personally believe that God’s divine plan for the family is for every child to have a mother and a father who cares for them in a loving and nurturing environment. I also believe that in a perfect world, that option would be available to every child born. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. Furthermore, I have been blessed to see first-hand a child being raised in the loving home of two same sex partners. And frankly, he’s doing great. I can say without any equivocation that my brother and his husband are amazing fathers. In many ways, they are better than me. My nephew is loved, and he is cared for more than any child I have ever met. Which is so much more than can be said for hundreds of thousands of children who find themselves being raised in a more “traditional” setting.

Or, if you would like me to put it more bluntly, I think in some respects, we are chasing a paper tiger. Gay marriage is not the problem when it comes to the deterioration of traditional families. The problem is selfishness and bad behavior on the part of adults who should know better. And that is the case regardless of sexual orientation.

Part 1 of Part 2: Simi Valley Hassan and the Raiders of the Lost Mercado

As previously stated in the post from a week ago, The Long Unwinding Road, I am documenting my family’s recent vacation to Magic Mountain and Newport Beach in a multi-blog post, running journal format. Today’s entry is day two of our trip. For day one, please click on the above title. For day two, please read on.

5:30 a.m. – Ding, Ding.  When we had checked into our rooms the night before, I had a faint premonition in the back of my brain that being placed in the two rooms closest to the elevator on our floor might be problematic. But I forgot about and chose to hope for the best. Until right at this moment. Though not overly loud, the chiming indicating the arrival of an elevator car was just loud enough to seep into my subconscious and rouse me from a surprisingly good night’s sleep. Oh well, how many people can possibly be staying at this crudhole of a hotel and how many of those people can actually be up at 5:30 in the morning?

5:32 a.m. – Ding, Ding.

5:34 a.m. – Ding, Ding.

5:37 a.m. – Ding, Ding.

5:40 a.m. – Ding, Ding.

Okay, now I’m really getting annoyed. Has someone let their four-year-old child loose on the floor or has some jackanus taken it upon himself to play the stupidest practical joke ever? I’m not sure, but my desire to pummel someone is rising quickly as any chance of going back to sleep has been lost in the early morning mists of Simi Valley.

5:54 a.m. – After about six more elevator runs, some bozo decides to stand outside the door to my room and start barking directions to some faceless peon, about when and where he needs the “female players.” I don’t know exactly what that means, but if we have accidently wandered into the middle of an all-girl soccer or softball tournament being played nearby I might as well get up now. I shift in my bed and reach for my phone to check my e-mails when both of my sons call over to me. It would seem I am not the only one suffering from insomnia at the hands of a satanic elevator.

7:20 a.m. – After showering and getting ready before my wife and oldest daughter (always a mistake I make on vacation) we decide the plan of attack should be for me to take the three middle children (Things 2-4) and go get some fruit and donuts from a grocery store. As we walk into the hallway outside our door, we see a piece of paper taped to the wall that says Miss Stevens, Make-up and Hair, Room 324 Underneath this bit of info is an arrow pointing beyond our doors to a location somewhere further on down the hall. Interesting. I have a growing suspicion that this might have something to do with the Grand Central Station feel of our hotel at 5:30. But what kind of soccer team needs hair and make-up? And who is this Miss Stevens that she needed that many people to do her hair and make-up? Staring at that sign, I was certain that these questions and more would haunt me for the rest of the day. We walk to the elevator and press the button. I grit my teeth when I hear the all too familiar Ding, Ding, but get on the elevator anyway. We reach the lobby and…

7:22 a.m. – …walk right into the middle of a movie set. There is equipment and lighting everywhere and I am suddenly very nervous that one of my children is going to be so distracted that they will walk into something that will have the potential of costing me thousands of dollars. I don’t know why the fact that someone shooting a movie in our hotel suddenly made our morning from Hades so much more palatable…but it did. I load Things 2-4 into the van (which still carries a hint of puke stench from the car seat) and we set off to look for a grocery store. Being from Arizona, we expect to find one without delay and soon be back at our hotel and then on about our business.

7:36 a.m. – Yeah right!!! What is it with California and their inability to place businesses in logical locations? We have passed just about every form of capitalistic commerce on this planet, but have yet to see even the remotest glimpse of a store selling, you know…food! I know everyone in California is obsessed with their appearance, but come on. People still gotta eat.

7:40 a.m. – I look at our gas gauge and decide we had better fill up. Besides, surely the gas station attendant will be able to point us in the right direction of a grocery store, or heck, even a farmer’s market. Right?

7:43 a.m. – I now quote directly from Hassan, the gas station attendant who appears to not understand any English word other than, “Gas.”

“Uhh…Groceree? No, no. No groceree here.” He gestures generally to express that it is his opinion that no grocery store exists for many miles in any direction.


7:49 a.m. – After starting down a different street that intersected with the one we were just on, we find…drum roll please…a GROCERY STORE! And by my calculation, it was possibly one hundred yards down, and across the road from the gas station where we just filled up. So in fact, Yes, yes. Yes groceree here.

Actually it might better be described as a Mercado, and maybe that was the problem preventing me and my new friend, Hassan, from communicating effectively. You see, it’s a grocery store, but it’s a Mexican grocery store. As in, everything is in Spanish, including all of the tabloid magazines at the checkout.  However, despite some obvious communication problems that might occur, I would totally shop here if they opened a store in Thatcher. They have what I can only describe as a salsa bar with multiple large plastic display canisters full of different kinds of salsa. Also, their bakery is going at full steam making fresh tortillas. This place is awesome!!!

7:53 a.m. – We find the fruit (it was located next to the pinatas) and get some very good looking bananas and a couple of apples.

It was then that I spot something I have never seen before.As is becoming a trend in most stores, there are smaller stores located along the edges of the larger mercantile, much as you would expect to find in a Walmart. And just as you would expect, there is a hair dresser, a phone store and a…you guessed it, Immigration and Naturalization office. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not making fun or in any way trying to cast aspersions on anyone or anything. It’s just something that completely caught me off guard. But frankly, if being able to pick up some milk while extending a work visa works for this store’s core customer base, it works for me. And I say that with no malice or derisiveness intended.

8:04 a.m. – Since Mexican donuts are not quite the exploding sugar bombs my kids are expecting, we leave with the fruit, but head over to The Donut Café to get our pastries. With a name like Donut Café, I feel confident that the fried portions of early onset diabetes will be available here.  I am not disappointed.

8:16 a.m. – With fruit, donuts and three children in tow, I arrive back at the Grand Vista Hotel. On our way to the front entrance, we are stopped outside by someone associated with the movie that was setting up when we left. It seems we have been gone just long enough for them to actually start shooting.

8:17 a.m. – Surprisingly, the woman who stops us, suddenly waves us forward. Out of the side of my mouth, I tell my kids to not look at anything or anyone and to stay right next to me.

8:18 a.m. – We make it back to the elevator without tripping or breaking anything. Awesome!!! That’s when I hear the director say, “Okay, great. I think we got it. Just in case, can we get that family back? They were great.” I look over at the one person associated with the filming crew who is still visible to us and ask, “Were they shooting?” He nods and mouths, “You did great.”

Well, there you go. The Rapiers may soon be headed to a theater near you.

Shannon asked later and found out the film being shot is an indie film entitled, Miss Stevens, and is about a grade school teacher who begins suffering from a sort of mid-life crisis. Sounds like the perfect Lifetime movie to me, but according to the person Shannon talked to, distribution rights have not been picked up yet. So, we’ll have to wait and see if it ever sees the light of day.

9:10 a.m. – Time to start loading up the van. I take the first load by myself and head for the elevator. As I step onto the elevator car, I am bombarded…nay, brutally accosted by the smell of acrid human gas. Before my mind can fully absorb what I’ve walked into, the doors closed and I am ensconced in my own personal gas chamber. I mean it is horrid. I don’t know what the person who rode this slow-moving trap of death before me had for breakfast or dinner, but what I do know is that death poured out of this person’s backside in great abundance mere seconds before I had the great misfortune of happening upon the aftermath. Like most hotel elevators, this car had advertisements for the hotel restaurants on the walls. The pictures of the food mixed with the vile stench combine and almost cause me to vomit. Furthermore, included on the posters is a picture of the chef. By the time I finally reach the lobby floor, I have come to hold that man personally responsible for my dilemma. (Yes, I now recognize the pure irrationality of my thinking, but you weren’t there so don’t judge.) In that moment, I hate him, I hate his food, and more than anything, I hate the Grand Vista Hotel. It’s time to go.

9:30 a.m. – So we leave. Unfortunately, I had read the opening times wrong for Magic Mountain, so while my family’s success in meeting my directive of leaving the hotel by 9:30 is truly admirable, it is also pretty much in vain as we will be arriving at Magic Mountain probably about 40 minutes early. Oh well, at least we won’t be spending another moment at the Grand Vista. You’ve got to take life’s blessings as they come.

***As this post is now over 1,800 words and we haven’t even arrived at Magic Mountain yet, I have decided to break this post into two and finish the rest of our day in a separate post. For those who care, I promise it won’t be as long of a break as it was between part 1 and part 2.

Should Caitlyn Jenner Also Appear On The Cover Of ESPN’s Guide To Abject Stupidity

Oh, man. There is just so much to talk about this week. To those five of you out there who care, I promise that our day in Magic Mountain is coming, but I find I can’t contain myself. I have to spout of on one more subject before we get there.

Let me state unequivocally that I don’t give a rat’s behind about whether or not Bruce Jenner chooses to transition himself to Caitlyn Jenner. As a religious person, I understand that many might expect me to be outraged over this whole thing, but…I’m not. ISIS outrages me. A reality show star who was once a great athlete about the time I was being born? Not so much. It really has no effect on my life and so whatever he/she chooses to do, it makes no difference to me.

Having said that, ESPN’s decision to give the Arthur Ashe award (an award that recognizes an individual for showing great courage over the last year) to Jenner interests me very much—mainly because of the massive PR disaster it threatens to be.

And in my opinion, deserves to be. Here’s why:

Lauren Hill was a girl who seemed to have life by the tail as she graduated high school. As a senior, she was popular, intelligent, and a highly sought after as a college basketball player. She was recruited by several institutions and eventually decided to sign with Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati. However, before she could realize her dream of playing college basketball, she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

Now there are a lot of people who would take this diagnosis and retreat to live out their days feeling sorry for themselves. But not Lauren. She continued to work hard through her illness with the intent of making an appearance in at least one college basketball game. Her coach and teammates at Mount St. Joseph supported her in her efforts. She also used her story to raise money for cancer research. In other words, she did things that might be considered, I don’t know, courageous.

Noah Galloway is a United States Army veteran who served in Iraq. In 2005, he was injured by an IED and lost an arm just above the elbow and a leg just above the knee. However, since that time, Noah has not let his disabilities stop him. He has been fitted with prosthetic limbs and currently works as both a personal trainer and motivational speaker. He routinely competes in 5ks and 10ks as well as even more rigorous competitions that one might not expect from a double amputee. He has also started the No Excuses Charitable Fund which provides money to different charities that include Operation Enduring Warrior and children’s programs through the YMCA.

What is interesting is that I am aware of both of these individuals…BECAUSE OF ESPN!!! Well, okay, I am aware of Noah because of his involvement with the TV show Dancing With the Stars, which is on ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Corporation, which also owns ESPN…so I might be stretching it, but basically the people behind the ESPYs are the same people who have brought Noah to the attention of the American public at large.

Lauren, on the other hand, was featured prominently on ESPN many times. For even more irony, at least one of her segments (the one where I first heard about her story) was introduced by ESPN anchor, Stuart Scott. Both Lauren and Stuart lost their battles with cancer in recent months.

So maybe you can imagine my level of astonishment when I heard that ESPN had (in what I believe had to be a knee-jerk reaction to his/her appearance on Vanity Fair) named Caitlyn Jenner as their Arthur Ashe recipient for 2015. The choice is insane. I mean, let’s look at what these three individuals accomplished through their “acts of courage.”

Lauren Hill not only appeared in, not one, but two Mount St. Joseph basketball games. She also raised over $1.5 million for cancer research.

Noah Galloway has certainly profited from his fame, but the man lost two limbs—neither one by his own choosing (sorry, that will be the only somewhat snide comment I will make regarding Caitlyn Jenner’s transition)—in service to our country. Regardless of your feelings on the Iraq war, that kind of sacrifice is worthy of our praise.

Caitlyn Jenner, on the other hand, has been part of one of the ugliest three ring circuses ever foisted upon the American public. Keeping Up With The Kardashians is American entertainment at its most disgusting. And Bruce has been right there, front and center. Furthermore, has he/she used this transition in his/her life to further the cause of fellow transgender folks in our culture? Not so much. Instead he/she has used this whole experience to…you guessed it, get himself/herself a new reality series.


First of all, I believe if I were transgender, I would find Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner to be appalling. Many of these individuals struggle through this process (regardless of whether you believe it to be right or wrong) in the face of opposition from family, work and society at large. Bruce/Caitlyn on the other hand, benefits financially and faces none of those things. Heck, his family loves the additional attention it is bringing—with possibly the one exception being Kim Kardashian, but only because the spotlight might have drifted from her and Kanye for half a millisecond. Bruce/Caitlyn faces no financial hardship because of this decision and furthermore trivializes the entire transgender issue by dragging it through the muck of reality TV. (And yes, as an aside, I consider you part of that same cesspool Duggar family.)

But again, ESPN is the one with egg on their face over this one. This is bad. There is no way to justify this. They’ve tried by issuing some pathetic statement about how their choice was made to possibly help “…educate people on the challenges the transgender community faces.” But seriously, that’s a load of hog crap. Turning over the transgender issue to the Kardashians doesn’t do a spits worth of good for the transgender community.

Furthermore, ESPN is in essence a sports network. Which means its core audience is men who watch sports. (Pause for a moment.) Yeah, not exactly the demographic that is the most sympathetic to the plight of the transgender community. They are, however, the type of people who would very much get behind the story of say…I don’t know…Lauren Hill? Or Noah Galloway?

So to close, let me make two prediction. Somehow, ESPN will also find a way to honor Lauren Hill at the ESPYs. And secondly, the person who greenlit the idea to get the ESPYs into bed with the Kardashians will find out the hard way that getting screwed by that family isn’t nearly as fun as they make it appear on their vile excuse for a television show.