The Cost of Messin’ with Texas

The Cost of Messin’ with Texas

My left eye’s twitching because I’m looking at the bright screen of my cell phone too much. Massaging that eyelid with my thumb helps a little, but then the fluttering returns. I just can’t stop checking my iphone. Its election week and I’ve been tracking the news like a baby tracks its mommy. Some mother—the news cycle. President Trump calls it a “mother f—!” Election news has hooked me like Diet Coke, and all I have to show for my interest, besides emotional instability, is dry, jittery eyes.

This morning I woke to the sad news that Beto O’Rourke lost his senate race to Ted Cruz in Texas. I rapidly scrolled down my iphone screen.  Too bad. He’s such a nice-looking, Robert Kennedy kind of guy. And so much youth and charisma. Like most Americans though, I don’t know much about his politics. When the bumper sticker said: “Don’t Mess With Texas,” I happily obliged. I’ve got my hands full messin’ with Idaho.

The good news on Mr. O’Rourke is that now he’s free to consider a presidential bid. I saw that on my Politico news feed. I had to pause in my reading when my nervous eye became so agitated I thought of stabbing it with a pencil. Instead, I stood up, stretched, and walked over to the window to watch a murder of crows circling in the air. Google said to give eyes a rest by looking away from digital screens every twenty minutes or so. Google also suggested blinking your eyes ten times—all of which I did. This attention to my errant eye helped enough that I felt completely justified in sitting back down in my chair and checking my Washington Post news feed on my phone.

OMG. In a matter of just a few minutes my world was collapsing again. The royal RGB, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized. The supreme Supreme. Were her wounds mortal, I wondered? I needed more info so I swept my index finger across the screen of my phone to get the scoop from NBC news. A source claimed RGB had broken ribs from a fall. I’m so sorry, and at 85-years-old she’s certainly allowed to take a spill—but Ruth Bader! Please heal! Rest and wrap yourself. Start praying like I am for your ribs to mend (closing my eyes feels so refreshing).

Sometime during my prayer it occurred to me that Ruth Bader’s health was not the only one being jeopardized. I really needed to take a break from digital news feeds. There were dishes to wash and leaves to sweep, all manner of physical activity to be done. The world would not stop if I quit monitoring it. And, I needed to charge my iphone anyways.

With a lot of determination, I walked over to the charger sitting on my desk and plugged my phone in. Looking up out the window, I saw the crows had quit circling and finally settled in some trees. My eyes were already feeling more relaxed. Then I wandered over to the couch, hit the remote, and settled in for some televised news. Maybe RGB had miraculously recovered.

Bustin’ Makes Him Feel Good

Bustin’ Makes Him Feel Good (Political Commentary)

I was at a holiday dinner party a couple of Decembers ago right after Donald Trump was elected president, where I met a lady who voted for him.

“You realize Trump likes to grab women’s you-know-what, you-know-where, don’t you?” I asked her. I couldn’t bring myself to say the “P” word while guests around the table discussed the true meaning of Christmas.

“Sure, I heard that, but come on! Boys will be boys. I’m more interested in seeing whether or not Trump can shake up Washington. Break free from the mindset.”

What mindset is that I wondered? Respect for human rights? Thoughtful diplomatic moves? A stable economy without give-away tax breaks to the rich? Support for our environmental problems?

Now two years later I’ve decided that lady got her wish. Trump, much like the proverbial bull in the China closet, has broken and shaken and destroyed a lot more than mindsets. His policies, derived largely from the collective wisdom of Fox and Friends, standard bearers for the OWW (old white and wealthy contingency) have defied not only expectations, but any explanation. We’re edging back toward the 1950’s when coal was king and clothes hangers were instruments of death. Where every school classroom began with a Christian prayer. This, despite the fact that today fully 30% of Americans are non-Christian.

Let’s really look at what Trump has done as the new sheriff in town, ghost-buster of stale Washington mindsets:
1) In an attempt to “secure” our borders from terrorists, rapists, and murderers, he’s broken up families and left our immigration policy in disarray.
2) His diplomatic triumph with North Korea (has anyone bought the Commemorative Coin in celebration of this astonishing breakthrough?) appears to be an episode of Celebrity Apprentice whereby Kim Jong-Un tried to “sell” Donald Trump a line about denuclearizing—and Trump bought it!
3) His replacement for Obama Care medical insurance for the poor, is to slowly decommission it.  A good move for the breaker and buster that he is.
4) His tax breaks for Middle America largely went to rich and corporate America. And those folks, ignoring Ronald Reagan’s “trickle-down economics,” took the money and reinvested in their own corporate stock offerings. Unbelievably, they didn’t share their windfall with the rest of the economy. Trump’s tax breaks must have been research for his new TV reality show: Money Hoarders.
5) Other areas Trump has busted entrenched Washington mindsets? Two words: Trade War
6) Three words: War on Women
7) Two words and an acronym: War on LGTBQ

Yes, Trump has broken plenty of mindsets. He’s also fractured a lot of treaties we held with our international friends. He’s pulled out of, or threatened to leave: the Iran Deal, the Paris Climate Accord, UNESCO, Trans-Pacific Trade deal, NAFTA (North Atlantic Free Trade Treaty with Mexico and Canada), and now he’s saber-rattling at the NATO alliance. With friends like Donald Trump, who needs enemies?

Some will say America’s doing better than ever under Trump. After all, he’s finally went after that thief China for stealing all our tech secrets, and he’s at least trying to help the displaced manufacturing workers and miners in Ohio and PA. Ok, a few steps in the right direction. Too bad he’s leaving a trail of destruction everywhere else. But that’s what ball-busters and mind-set breakers do. Without much of a strategy, they always hurt more than they help.

Idaho Governor’s Race

Political Commentary

Dear candidates for political office: please tell us, your public, something we don’t already know. This would be so helpful when we vote in the primary. Rather than signing on to Team Red or Team Blue and showing our team loyalty, it would actually be nice to vote for something, as opposed to someone or some side.

Take the Idaho Governor’s race for example. I don’t know much about Tommy Ahlquist or what he proposes to do, but I do know via TV advertisements that he is a lying, closet democrat. I also know that both Brad Little and Paulette Jordan look great on a horse cantering around the ranch. Raul Labrador however, is about the laziest person on earth and did absolutely nothing, NOTHING in Washington when he was our representative there. And though I’m sure A. J. Balukoff is a great guy and super sportsman, he needs to lose the oversized hunting cap. Sorry A. J., but you look like Elmer Fudd hunting Daffy Duck in that cap.

Probably some of the readers reading this would say that these gubernatorial candidates have extensive policy proposals which they have attempted to discuss and debate through a multitude of mediums the past few months. I’m not saying that we, your voters, are dumb. But I will say that listening to a dry litany of canned proposals edited and rewritten by your assistants is about as much fun as reading the fine print on my cell phone contract.

So maybe it’s your messaging. I realize it must be very comforting, when facing an upstart broadcaster looking for a “gotcha” moment to revert to talking points. Don’t do it. Please. We already know you’re the non-establishment candidate for lower taxes and smaller government. Yes, we your voters agree that education is important. We know all that.

See, this is the messaging debacle: it either doesn’t explain enough or it explains too much. Don’t just tell your voters that education is important. Talk a little about how you want to change education in Idaho because it’s unfair that 56 school districts, mostly rural and poor, can only send their kids to school four days a week, while big city schools like Boise educate their kids a full week, every week.

You can smile all you want and tell the camera the importance of preserving public lands (yet another talking point), but we’d actually listen to you if you told us how much public land, land people might want to mountain bike on for example, has been sold the past five years to private entities. And for those voters more visually stimulated, a film clip showing fisherman or hikers running into no-trespassing signs would be nice.

We’re just starting the mid-term election cycle so there’s plenty of time to improve your message. Help your voters out. Don’t bore them to tears. Consider it, well . . . a public service.