Tag Archives: Politics

Family encounter proves it: Life is much fuller than just politics

LA CENTER, Wash. — I affirmed something I knew long before today.

We attended a birthday party at my sister’s home in Washington state. The back yard was filled with family members and friends of my sister and her husband.

All of us had a grand time.

One of the party attendees happened to be a second cousin of mine. We disagree mightily on our respective world views, not to mention our political choices. He has expressed his “love” and admiration for Donald J. Trump; I have expressed, well, something vastly different.

The affirmation dealt with how love of family and friends supersedes politics. At all times!

My second cousin is serving in the U.S. Army. He has been deployed to the Middle East to participate in our nation’s war on terror. He challenges my blog posts on occasion. Every so often I’ll respond to his criticism. He gets fired up. My cousin is an intense young man, so perhaps we all can expect his emotions at times to get the better of him.

Today, though, we set aside all those differences. We sat at the same table and talked about, oh let’s see … family matters. We talked about his family, about our family; we shared some international travel experiences. He gave us a bit of history on how Greek soldiers’ attire came to be.

What’s the lesson here? Life does not revolve solely around politics. The love of family and friends goes far deeper than any political differences any of them might experience. Indeed, I have many friends with whom I have severe disagreements — but I still love them; I hope they feel the same way toward me.

So it went today in a rural Washington back yard. We came together to enjoy some barbecue and beverages with close and extended family.

We love them all … even those with whom we disagree politically.

Trump has become the cause for serious depression

Donald Trump causes depression. I believe it might be a clinical depression at that.

Here I sit in Flyover Country, Collin County in Texas, a place where Trump still stands tall. I write this blog full time in my retirement years. I spend a lot of time cogitating over what to write, offering commentary on this and that public policy and those who make those policies.

The president’s latest Twitter tirade/torrent/tempest has taken aim at four members of Congress who have been critical of Trump and his policies. He has gone after them with racist rants.

It’s depressing, man. I find myself looking for positive elements.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles, the minor-league baseball team that now plays in the city where I used to live, is one option. I take joy in reading about the big crowds they’re drawing and that ballpark that graces the downtown district.

So, too, is the ongoing renovation of that city’s downtown business/entertainment district.

I like commenting on adventures with out 5-year-old pooch, Toby the Puppy.

I relish talking to you about retirement, travel and spending time with our precious granddaughter, Emma.

High Plains Blogger, though, is built largely around the discussion of public policy and the politics that drive it. I make no apologies for my bias. I know I have it, although my bias is no more pronounced than anyone else’s bias.

My commentary on the president, however, is getting me down. As in down in the dumps. I don’t like feeling this way. I don’t like the feeling of hopelessness that at times creeps into my skull when I think of this guy, which — I regret to acknowledge — is quite often … perhaps too often.

I’ll have to get over it. I’ll work through it.

If only Donald John Trump would stop providing all that grist that gets me down.

Sorehead critics are few, still just annoying

My life as a full-time blogger has been on a mostly uphill trajectory. Indeed, I am enjoying this gig almost as much as I enjoyed writing for newspapers — and got paid for it!

There is one aspect of blogging, though, that continues to stick in my craw. Don’t misunderstand me: I am not choking on it; it’s just a tad annoying.

You know the type of individual who cannot give you credit for anything? These are the folks you know who are quick to criticize but who just cannot find it within them to say a good word when you say or do something with which they agree.

Among the folks who read this blog I am blessed with a few of those types of critics. I’ll call ’em “soreheads,” because I cannot think of a more apt term to describe them.

Yeah, this is a mostly political blog. I wear my bias on my sleeves, on my chest, pasted to my forehead . . . you name the place, it’s there. I won’t apologize for it. My bias is who I am. It’s what I believe. It is where I’ll stand.

But the blog also deals with what I like to call “life experience,” which by definition is about as broad a topic as you can find. I like writing about family, my pet(s), places I’ve seen, people I’ve met, things I’ve done.

Those posts draw occasional comment from readers. They aren’t always fawning praise. Readers might see something in these posts that trigger a unique thought, which they’ll share.

Do any of the soreheads respond to those posts? Not on your life! They prefer to wait for the next tart comment I’ll put out there that looks critically at — oh, let’s see — the president of the United States. 

That’s when they pounce. Sometimes they pounce hard.

Am I tempted to block them? No. I’m not. I want their comments out there. Sometimes they provoke debate among other readers of that post. They occasionally get entangled with other High Plains Blogger readers. I usually resist weighing in on those exchanges. Instead, I have what only can be described as an out-of-body experience. It’s kinda fun, if you want to know the truth.

None of this is intended to cry on anyone’s shoulder. I’m an old man these days. I’ve had my share of beefs and arguments with those who disagree with me. I once had a Texas judge threaten to sue me over some commentary I wrote about what I perceived to be a conflict of interest that involved the judge.

I just want to re-state for the umpteenth time that blogging is a gas. I am having the time of my life . . . even with the soreheads looking over my shoulder.

If only he had pledged an end to insults and innuendo

Donald Trump sought to strike some sweet notes during his State of the Union speech, asking for an end to politics of revenge, seeking more cooperation and compromise and less confrontation.

If only the president had made one more pledge, one that I wish would come from his mouth. I wish he would pledge an end to insult and innuendo.

To my ears, those have been the hallmarks of Trump’s time as president. He continues to hurl insults at his foes. He denigrates opponents’ patriotism, their intellect, their motives.

He just recently said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a “danger” to the country. Why? Because she resists spending billions of dollars to build The Wall along our southern border; she pushes back on the president’s effort to ascribe certain motives behind why she believes what she believes.

Trump’s call for compromise and his plea to reject revenge is fine as far as it goes.

The coarseness of the current political debate is attributable directly to the president’s continuing use of insults and innuendo. I won’t suggest that he has caused the coarseness solely, but he at the very minimum helps perpetuate it by the manner in which he hits back at critics.

Trump’s friends keep justifying his crude language by citing his obvious lack of fluency in politic-speak. He doesn’t utter politically correct sentences, they say; the president speaks from his gut while “telling it like it is.”

Well, that’s their view. It ain’t mine. Donald Trump cannot respond without hurling a verbal brickbat.

That doesn’t make America great . . . again.

Break from politics? Umm, not this year, folks

The past couple of years have enticed High Plains Blogger — meaning me — to take a break from political commentary during the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

I am not going to take such a break this year.

I decided to stay in the game, but with one important caveat: I am going to refrain from some of the occasionally harsh rhetoric I use to describe certain politicians with whom I disagree.

You know about whom I refer, in particular.

There are others, to be sure. But my intention for the next few days will be to keep a civil tongue in my mouth — so to speak — and offer criticism without referencing the president in ways that I have been prone to do on occasion.

It’s my way of adhering to some semblance of civility and decency during this holy time.

It’s a joyful season for my family and me. Indeed, I intend to avoid discussing politics with friends and family members on Christmas day. Those who read this blog, thus, are forewarned. No discussion of the president, his administration, his policies, his pronouncements … nothin’, man!

I might, time permitting on Christmas, take a moment to salute a pol or two who does something that merits praise.

That would enable me to maintain the Christmas spirit … wouldn’t it?

For now, I’ll try my level best to keep the dagger sheathed, the arrows in the quiver … whatever!

The coming year promises to provide plenty of ample targets of opportunity. Hey, it’s an election year!

Enjoy yourselves.

Taking a one-day break from politics and public policy

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I am going to join some of my fellow social media pals and refrain from talking politics today.

There. That’s the extent of my mention of the p-word.

Instead, I’m going to concentrate my energy on other matters.

I might watch a football game or two … but don’t hold me to that.

Dinner awaits. It won’t be a huge affair for my wife, son and me. It’s just the three of us, so we have decided to go easy on ourselves.

I’m going to scroll through the Internet throughout the day to catch up on the news. I won’t mention any of it here today. Tomorrow is another day.

I might even brush up on social media-speak. For example, I don’t yet know how to use the word “meme” properly. I’ll take a minute to look it up. My trusty American Heritage desk dictionary likely doesn’t even have it listed. I guess I’ll go online to find the meaning of the word. Wish me luck there.

I believe, though, I’ll spend the bulk of my day giving thanks quietly.

Thanks go to the fact that we live in such a wonderful and, yes, a great nation. I always give thanks to my family, who I cherish more than life itself. I am thankful for the good health I continue to enjoy.

I will give thanks, finally, for the opportunity I am granting myself to forgo commenting on the many things that have caused me great anxiety over the past few months. (See? I didn’t mention the p-word.)

That, too, can wait for another day.

Until then, let’s all enjoy this uniquely American holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

When in doubt, go with your gut

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A young friend of mine is going to vote this year for the first time in her life.

She is 23 years of age. She is torn over this election. Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? After visiting with her for a few minutes Tuesday, I concluded she is likely to vote for Trump.

But she said something I want to share here.

My friend said she is reluctant to vote for anyone without knowing all there is to know about the candidates, their views on public policy, their philosophy or their world view.

“I just don’t know what to do,” she said.

Her biggest concern about Clinton? Benghazi. My friend believes Clinton was responsible for the deaths that occurred there during that fire fight on Sept. 11, 2012. We tussled a bit over what Hillary knew in the moment, what she should have known and what she could have done to prevent it.

I told her later I’ve been voting for president since 1972. I cast my first vote that year with great pride and anticipation. That vote — the first one — still means more to me than all the other ballots I’ve cast.

“I voted for the guy who lost … big time,” I told her, “but it meant a great deal to me.”

When in doubt, I ended up telling my friend, “go with your gut.”

It doesn’t really matter that voters get their arms around every detail of every issue. All that matters, in my view, is that they feel comfortable in their own gut and heart with the choice they make.

Nobility of politics facing serious challenge

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I’ve long believed in the nobility of politics and public service.

Yes, they’re related. To attain one measure of public service, one must endure the political rough-and-tumble.

My very first political “hero,” Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, would talk occasionally about politics as being a noble pursuit. RFK imbued in me an interest in the political process just about the time I was coming of age. Then, in a tragic spasm of violence in that Los Angeles hotel kitchen after RFK won the most important political victory of his career, he was gone.

My love of politics remained.

This election season, I fear, is going to put my political affection to a severe challenge. I’ve noted already in a tweet that this election cycle just might “cure” me of my political addiction … political junkie that I am.

I don’t want to be cured. I want to remain engaged in the political process. I mean, heck man, I studied political science in college and came away from my post-secondary education with a keen interest in the process that elects people who purport to become our leaders.

What can we expect from the next presidential election campaign?

I fear it will be little of anything truly positive.

Already I’ve noted that this election cycle is presenting me with the unhappiest set of choices I can remember. I’ve been able to vote in every presidential election since 1972. I voted with great pride in that election, just a couple of years after being discharged from the U.S. Army.

I was full — if you’ll pardon the pithy language — of piss and vinegar … and I wanted the political process to be full of it, too.

I’m feeling quite a bit different this time around.

The two candidates for the highest office in the land don’t fill me with much joy. In fact, one of them — you know the fellow to whom I refer — fills me with dread. The other one? Well, she still has to prove herself.

I’m waiting to be won over yet again. I fear, though, that the Campaign 2016 misery index is going to send us all scampering to the tall grass.

Yes, I’m a political addict.

I hate the idea, though, of being “cured” of the addiction.

A mystery of life needs solving

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Life is full of mysteries.

There are too many of them to list, but given that one of this blog’s stated missions is to discuss “life experience,” I am going to veer far, far away for a moment from politics, policy and the future of American jurisprudence in the wake of a Supreme Court justice’s death to discuss one of those mysteries.

Perhaps you’ve tuned in to one of cooking shows that tells you the secret of peeling an egg.

Here’s what just happened to me.

I boiled two eggs this morning for breakfast. I left both of ’em in the water for exactly the same length of time. I peeled the first egg and tore it ribbons. Half of the egg white stuck to the shell as I struggled to remove the shell.

Then I turned to the second one. The shell came off almost in a single piece. Slick is a whistle, man. No sweat.

I’ve never bought into this theories one hears from the likes of Racheal Ray or Martha Stewart about how to perform this simple, mindless task. Put salt in the water? Put cooking oil in it. Heat the water that’s already warm? Heat it when it’s cold? Mutter some ancient Native-American chant? Cross my eyes, stick out my tongue and stand on one leg?

These eggs came from the same carton. For all I know they might have come from the same damn chicken!

It’s a bloody mystery, I’m telling ya.

Whoever can solve this mystery — definitively! — is my candidate for a Nobel Prize of some kind. I’m willing to make up a category.

 

 

 

Anger: It’s strewn all along the campaign trail

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I guess you can sum up the tone of the 2016 presidential campaign with a single word.

Anger.

I might live in a dream world, although I doubt it. Donald J. Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, and Bernie Sanders, the surprising Democratic candidate, apparently have tapped a vein that neither of them would be able to find on my body.

Voters are angry with the status quo. They hate politics and politicians. So, many of them are turning to so-called “outsiders” for relief from what they say ails the nation.

Isn’t that interesting? Ironic, too, if you want my take on it.

Trump and Sanders by the very definition of the word are politicians. Never mind that Trump made his fortune selling real estate, developing ritzy hotels and appearing on reality TV. Or disregard that Sanders has been a small-town mayor, member of the U.S. House of Representatives and now is a U.S. senator. They’re not “politicians” the way we’ve understood the word.

To quote the great fictional TV character U.S. Army Col. Sherman T. Potter: buffalo bagels!

They both are pursuing the granddaddy of American political offices, the presidency. Thus, they are politicians. Let’s stop pretending they aren’t, OK?

I don’t know what’s fueling the anger. From my vantage point, I remain the eternal optimist. Our national economy has recovered; we remain the strongest nation on the planet — by a mile, maybe two; we have avoided another 9/11-style terror attack since that hideous event more than 14 years ago; the price of gasoline is falling; we’re making strides in protecting our environment; our budget deficit has been cut by three-quarters.

And people are angry?

I believe the gloom-and-doomers have won the national shouting match. They’ve out-yelled the rest of us who, by our very nature, are not inclined to rouse rabbles and raise hell.

So, people are sick and tired of politicians.

Well, all right then.

The nation will be hearing a lot more from those purporting to be outsiders and those who have some actual experience running a massive government.

You may choose to believe — or disbelieve — this final point. I am willing to listen to the outsiders. I want to hear their solutions. I also am willing to consider all they have to offer.

The late House Speaker Tip O’Neill used to say “all politics is local.”

I believe, though, that for me politics is personal. I am happy with my lot in life, with the direction my life is taking. I believe I have it within my power to guide my own destiny.

Government is not in the way. It does not threaten me or those I love.

I also know that there will be those who read this blog who will call me “naïve,” “Pollyanna,” “ignorant,” “bleeding-heart” . . . whatever. Fine. Go ahead.

I’ll let the shouters keep trying to drown out the rest of us. I also am awaiting to hear some semblance of a solution from any of them.

First, they need to persuade me that we need one in the first place.

I’m all ears.