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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.

Maybe I Was Wrong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disagree? Okay. But may I offer some examples.

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

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

But what if he hadn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




So Is The Rebellion On Hold?

So wait…I’m confused.

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

But then?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Folly Of Raising Awareness When You Are Unaware

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

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

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

And yet I sat there…feeling profoundly sad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this instance, Colin Kaepernick is dead wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President of the United States – None of the Above

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

US Senate from the state of Arizona – John McCain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Kelli Ward – Tantrum Thrower

US House of Representatives District 1 – Ken Bennett

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

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

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

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

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

Arizona State Senate – Jamie Alvarez

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

Arizona State House – Dennis Barger, Drew John

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

Recreational Marijuana Use In Arizona – No

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

Graham County Superior Court Judge – Gary Griffith

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

Graham County Supervisor District 2 – Jim Palmer

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

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

Blogging Memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 17, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Promises, Promises

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

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

WHAT??? How is that possible???

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.  Eradicate False Customer Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Border Wall…For My Yard

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

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

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

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

3. Free Secondary Education For All

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.