Sunday, July 24, 2022

The Biden Recession is here.

The Biden Recession is here.

I told a friend of mine this back in April.
I said it would just take a few months for the numbers to come in and catch up.



Recessions are reactions, and reflections of financial reality, along with people's emotions. The annual inflation rate is sitting right under double digits, as gas, food, energy, and everything else keeps going up. Inflation is about double the rate of wage growth. That's not good.

This one is kind of a one-off recession. The unemployment rate is low, which is not standard in recessionary times, however, we are still about a full percentage rate under the pre covid Labor Partition Rate. That's over a million fewer Americans working compared to the booming economy of 2019.

When you add trillions and trillions of dollars the federal government borrowed from your children and grandchildren thrown all over place to 'boost' the economy, you get what we have now; Inflation. Too much money chasing too few goods. 

The Federal government, first under Trump, dumped 900 billion in 'Covid Relief' cash into the economy. That was enough. We should have stopped. 

Once Biden was elected, he and his newly elected democratic controlled congress, dumped another 1.9 Trillion in 'Covid Relief' cash into the economy. 

Thank the lord for democratic senator Joe Manchin, who would not approve another 2 Trillion in wish-list borrowing/spending, or we would be in worse shape right now.

The GOP is licking its chops about the upcoming election, but they are just waiting for November. They are not telling America what they will do if they get control of the House and maybe the Senate. This is a mistake.

I know when your opponent is drowning, you just let him sink, but right now the GOP should be acting. They should have a plan. They should be telling people what that plan is. I have real doubts the republicans in leadership are up for the battle ahead.

Even the Super Trumpers are all waiting for Trump to announce his candidacy for 2024. I think he is part of this problem with the GOP. He is still solely focused on how the election was stolen from him. Even if you believe this, he's not out there stating what he will do, he just keeps saying he was screwed over in 2020. People who are having trouble paying for the higher prices on everything don't care about Trump. They want someone to say, this is how I will fix it.  

A real leader would be saying, if I were running the show, I would do this, that, and enacting these others policies. What are the exact things the republicans would do to turn things around? Some of those plans will not be popular, but necessary. Will they be willing to take these risks and make some unpopular opinions to get the economy back on track?

Future House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is a mild mannered, go along-get along politician. He is not a leader, he's a fund raiser. Not that those folks aren't important, but that's not the guy you need to battle the democrats and the media (I repeat myself) for the last two years of the Biden/Harris administration.

The next few months are going to be interesting to be sure.

 
Will the democrats dump Biden after November, with some Long-Covid diagnosis? Will they let VP Harris run the lame duck session two years, then come up with a new nominee? She is a known quantity in her own party. A quantity they know they absolutely cannot win with.

It will be interesting.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

23&OMG

I sat there looking at my phone in disbelief.

No way. Wow... No way.....
This cannot be happening.......

I guess I should start with a little background. I have had three fathers in my life.

That's two more than the standard, so let me start with the one with whom I share a name; Walter Joseph Lucas.


My father was 50 when I was born, so you could say he was late to the game when it came to having children. My sister Lisa is two years older that I am. I knew my father had been married twice before, but the few times he did talk about it were very brief. He would just say his previous wife did not want to have children and he did. It seemed reasonable enough.

Even into adulthood, I never pushed him to tell me more. He had a very complicated relationship with his own family. He was born in 1915 on a ranch near Lockeford Ca. His father died when he was 18 or 19 and he had to take over the responsibilities of running the family ranch. I'm sure he did all he could for his mom, but there was definitely some bad blood between he and his siblings. I only know the little he told me about his family, and I don't know their side of the story, so I cannot judge what really happened.

My father was two generations older than me. He rode a horse to school, and milked thirty cows by hand before and after school. His life was work, money and family, but mostly work. He could not get into the Army during WWII because he was deaf in one ear. He worked in the shipyards at Mare Island, building PT boats during the war years.

By the time I came into the world my father was a successful rancher, real estate broker and owned a land leveling business. He had an extraordinary work ethic and drive. I can best describe him as a combination between John Wayne and Donald Trump. Just imagine that for a moment.

Starting off on our ranch in Clements, our family seemed to be on the move most of my early years. We moved to a ranch on the John Day River near Mitchell Oregon when I was a toddler.

He tied me onto my first horse when I was two years old, and sent me plodding off down the dirt road to the bunkhouse where the cowboys lived. My mom said the snowfall that winter was the biggest in decades. You could ride a snowmobile over the corrals without touching a post. That was enough for her. Somehow, we ended up back in California, in Orland. That's the first house I can remember, but we were soon on the move again to the tiny town of Oak Run, north east of Redding.

I loved Oak Run. My father had wheeled and dealed his way into a big ranch there. It was several thousand acres of red dirt, lava rock and oak trees, but it also had a hundred acres of good bottomland where we could raise hay.

The ranch at Oak Run was a giant playground for me. There was a lot of work, but my father never seemed to drive me the way I'm sure his father drove him in his youth. Those were different times. That drive came out of sheer necessity.

I learned to operate the ranch trucks and tractors when I was old enough to reach the pedals. I fed cows, cut hay, and helped irrigate the fields. But only when I was asked or I wanted to. It was not forced labor to be sure, but there wasn't a lot of laying around the house either.

I was turned loose much of the time. In the summers, I would leave the house after breakfast and sometimes not come back until evening. We always had dogs on the ranch, lots of them. They were my constant companions since I didn't have any bothers. Lisa didn't see the enjoyment in damming up streams, throwing rocks, or chasing frogs down at the creek all day.

As I grew older, I was given more responsibility, and expected to do more. By twelve I was gathering cattle in the summer heat, driving Caterpillars, clearing brush or skidding logs. Most of these things were semi-dangerous for a twelve-year-old kid, but I survived.

My father had a way of teaching that could be summed up by the old Nike slogan: Just do it. He never took the time to patiently teach me how to do anything; he just put me in the seat and told me to do it. Drive this D-8 Caterpillar, clear this brush off these hills, I'll be back when you're finished. For a kid, it was equal parts excitement and terror, but that's just the way he was.

He would also let me skip school to go to the Shasta Livestock Auction in Cottonwood on Fridays. I would spend the day running around the sorting pens, while he was in Ellington Peek's office doing business. He would also let me go on business trips with him. I would sit quietly at a table full of businessmen and listen to million dollar deals be made. It was a unique experience for a young man. However, some of favorite times were in his old blue Jeep Cherokee where he and I would go 'check the cows'.

I loved my father, as most sons do. I loved him despite the fact that mine was very flawed, like all fathers are.

My father was an alcoholic. Ever since I can remember, my father drank, a lot. He was a maintenance drinker. He was never falling-down drunk, and he was never hung-over. He would always get up at 6:00 the next day ready to work. Back before computers and cell phones, business was done by telephone. After dinner, my father would start making his business calls. Every night, he sat at the kitchen table, talking on the phone and having several large 'hi-balls'.

We went through stretches where things would be fine for a time. Then, if the cattle prices or real estate market would go down, the stresses and pressures he put on himself would start to boil over. It was very volatile around our house, but then again, my father seemed to live in a constant state of chaos.

In the late 70's my father's ranching business started to take off. I remember the bankers from Bank of California sitting at our dinner table asking my father how large of a credit line he wanted. They were just giving money away, and they were taking my father's word he had the cattle to cover that amount of credit. All with a wink and nod. (Think of the housing bubble in 2008)

He bought a new ranch in Lakeview Oregon. He bought new pickups, horse trailers, semi-trucks, hired more cowboys and a mechanic. We even built a pool and a new addition to the house. It was a good time for our family. Well, until it all came crashing down a few years later.

He was always in conflict with the neighboring ranches, including one actual range war complete with sheriff's deputies, a helicopter and me standing in front of a gate with a lever action rifle to make sure the neighbors didn't push their cattle out of that gate onto the road.

My father made and lost several fortunes in his life. He never seemed to find a balance he could reach. He always wanted more; he always wanted to move forward, never content with where he was. My father was a complicated man.

He loved us kids, but he couldn't stop drinking. He had my life planned out and expected me to take over his 'empire' when the time came. But he spent almost no time teaching me how to do it. He was hard working, but had a soft heart. He could also bend a rule, or outright break it if stood between him and his business success. He never talked about his own feelings, and rarely how he felt about you, unless he has been drinking. Even then it was 50-50 propositions. You were either the best kid in world, or a huge disappointment.

Much like I described him as a combination of John Wayne and Donald Trump, many people loved my father and thought he was a great guy. Others thought he was a son of bitch. I think, in the end, they were both right.

After another lost fortune, our family ended up here in Yolo County. He bought a house with 20 acres after the bank took back the ranch in Oak Run, and he went to work leasing ranches and running steers and heifers for other ranchers.

He stayed in the real estate business, and never letting well enough alone, he took my mom and my sister's interest in cutting hair and turned that into a business. He opened a beauty salon in Vacaville for my mom and sister to run while he had his real estate office next door.

I was in college and discovering the world outside of ranching, hay bales, and cattle. In other words, I was have a great time.

It wasn't until I met my future wife that my interest turned back to the ranch. She loved it out there. Being a city girl, she couldn't understand why I didn't want to ride horses if I had the opportunity. To me horses meant work, and 14-hour days gathering cattle in the brush from sunup till sundown. Why would you want to ride them for fun?

We both were going to school at American River College, but I was still a year from getting my associates degree, so when my wife transferred to UC Davis, I went to work for my father running cattle. We lived on a ranch my father leased in Dunningan. I think I made $600 a month plus the nine hundred square foot house we lived in. Those were good times.

However, like all things cyclical, the good times are always followed by tough times, and that came in 1991. My father was again overextending, and planning as if the good times would always be good. He hated paying taxes, so for every dollar he made in the cattle business or real estate business, he leased a new ranch, or built new corrals or helped my wife and I buy a place of our own. Our house was just about complete, and with my father's help, we had just made our first annual balloon payment on the new place.

One day he was in Sacramento at a deposition, not surprisingly, he was being sued by one of our neighbors for some semi-shady way he sold their ranch, when he felt sick. He came home and stayed there for a while before my mother convinced him he had to go to the hospital.

I was irrigating the alfalfa at my place when I got the word he was headed to the hospital. He sat in the ER at Woodland Hospital for three or four hours while the doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with him. By the time a new doctor came on and decided he was bleeding internally, it was too late. He had an aneurysm of his aorta. They air lifted him to UC Davis Med Center. They performed surgery to repair the tear in the aorta, but he had lost too much blood and died the next day.

Not that there is ever a good time to lose a parent, but it could not have come at a worse time for our family. The cattle market was heading into a decline along with the real estate market. Loosing not only my father, but also my employer and the person who had engineered my life, was a huge hit. Even though I had my real estate salesman's license and was working on my father's ranch, I had let him make almost all my decisions for me. He was running the show, and now he was gone.

I was very immature for someone in my position. At twenty-five, I should have been ready for this day, but I wasn't. Not by a long shot. I went through the motions of gathering the cattle, and trying to help my mom figure out if we should keep the leases on the ranches. In the end, with all my father's bills and past due taxes, we had to sell everything, my house included, and start over.

At the time, all you see are the problems, all you feel is the pain, all you want is to have things put back the way they were. That isn't going to happen. You have to move, you have to go forward, you have to grow.

15 years later, I was working in the technology field, something I really liked, we had two children, and I was making a good living. My mom and sister were living in North Idaho and my mom had a met a man.

This is where I met my second father, Paul.

Paul is a so much different from Walt Sr.

He is soft spoken and kind. He's a patient, caring man, and he is very happy with the life he has. He is content, or at least at peace with his place in the world. Paul is a contractor, although he's retired now. He's a hard worker, but doesn't chase the almighty dollar at all costs. He likes to read, and loves working on his classic cars. He is interested in the world around him. He is self-aware in a way my father never was.

I could not have picked a better person for my mother to marry. He loves her dearly, and she has found someone to love without having to deal with the whirlwind of chaos and volatility.



Living sixteen hours away, I don't get to see them as often as I would like, but I have never worried a moment about my mother since Paul entered her life. He is wonderful, and I owe him more than I can say. He is the perfect second father.

So wait, I thought you said this was a story about three fathers? Yes, I'm getting to that.

Shortly after my father passed away, my mother told Lisa and I that dad had two sons with his first wife, long ago. He had told her not to tell us kids, but now that he was gone, she thought the time was right. She didn't have any names, just the little my father had told her.

This was fascinating to me and it started me on a long journey to find my lost relatives. Ancestry was a new service, and I signed up looking to see if I could find my lost half brothers. I had no luck. I tried to find his first wife, but without her maiden name, you cannot find birth records and such with the counties involved.

I think I solved the mystery a few years back when I found a census record of my father living in Stockton with his first wife Zelda, her mother, and two small children with different last names. So, I think those kids were my father's stepsons, and would be no relation to me. A bit anticlimactic, but the mystery was solved.

Enter the new DNA registry 23andMe.

I had always heard from my father that he was mostly Irish with some French from my grandmother. My mom is full Portuguese, half from the Azores and the other half from Portugal by way of Brazil.

I wanted to see how true that was and signed up. A week or so later a package arrived. I followed the instructions and spit into the little tube, sealed it up and mailed it back. They said it would take about 6 weeks to get the results.

I didn't think I would find too many surprises, but being a huge history buff, I thought it would be cool to be able trace my heritage. I received an email saying my results were in and I logged on and looked at my DNA make up. Nothing too startling. I was 28% British/Irish, 25% Broadly Northwest European, and 35% Iberian, (Spain/Portugal) with the rest a mash up of mostly European make up.

This tracked almost exactly the way I thought it would. Oh well.

I had traced my father's family back to Prince Charles County Maryland in 1731 through Ancestry, and I thought there may have been an American melting pot, genetic wildcard thrown in there somewhere. But it turned out I'm just a plain old American white guy.

I had told my mom about the 23andMe findings and she wanted to know why I was so interested in it? I said I found it fascinating to know for sure where you come from. Knowing what part of the world you came from, tracing your history and such.

I thought that was the end of the story.

A few days later I received an email from 23andMe asking if I wanted to search for my DNA relatives. Sure, why not. I clicked the link.....Oh boy....

I looked at the page for a minute and reread it a few times just to make sure.

I have two half-sisters.

No way. No. Way.

I clicked on their names and looked at their profiles.

No way.

How could this be? They must belong to dad, but when were they born? I found a link to send them a message. What do you say? Hi, I'm your long lost half brother, where did you come from?

I sent each one a message. I had so many questions. I asked if they knew my father, and did they know about my sister and I?

Pam was the first to respond:
 ”.... Tracy and I now know how we are half sisters through information told to us by our mothers when we were young adults. I'd be happy to connect if you want to solve this mystery for yourself. It is just because our parents really wanted us to be born, and all they did to arrange for our arrivals. I was born in 1961. Tracy in 1967. It will benefit us all to know the health and genetic data. So glad to find you. :)"

Wait? What?

I was a little slow on the uptake here just because it seemed so strange. With Pam being born in 61, that was before my mom and dad were married, so no foul there, but Tracy was born in 67, two years after me. Why would our all our parents really want us to be born? I could see my dad having a bit of fun, but I'm pretty sure my mom would not have been okay with my father out populating the planet.

Like I said, it was staring me in the face, but I hadn't put it all together.

I sent both a message saying it looked like my father was a bit of a scoundrel. I think Pam and Tracy had a correspondence between each other and decided to have Pam spill the beans:

"Well, not a scoundrel actually. I don't want to shock you, but since you are over 50, I think you can handle it. When I was 14, I found out that my father (my legal father) was not my biological father. Before my parents married, he had a vasectomy. It couldn't be reversed. My parents really wanted me, so they went to a specialist in San Francisco who arranged for a sperm donor. All they knew was he was a medical student who was healthy and had a great health history and already had a family and children. I was never to have known. Back then, the secrecy was thought best for the child being conceived. At 14 when I chose to sever my ties to my father, my mother told me the truth of my paternal creation. I didn't know about any of you, but always thought that this medical student may have made several donations. Lol. I met Tracy last year through her daughter making a connection to me. We were both stunned. Tracy found out from her mom about the medical student on her 22nd birthday. She is still very close to her legal father, so she is cautious about making it known because she doesn't want him to feel bad. So was your legal father a medical student? Tracy and I don't know if you were from donation like us or if our parent’s donor was both your legal and genetic dad. Sorry for the shock if you didn't know." 

Wow..... No way.

was shocked.

So the only man I ever knew as my father was not my biological father.

No flippin' way.

As I sat there staring at my phone, I felt a rush of different feelings.

This changes everything.

Then again, it changes nothing.

My father will always be my father. He raised me, for better or worse. It was surreal to me that a man from my father's generation would use a donor to have children. He was nothing if not a man's man. With all his success, all that money, there must have been something missing. There must have been a huge hole in his life he needed to fill with children. It made me wonder about those two stepsons he had with his first wife, and how it must have hurt to lose them when they were divorced.

My head was swimming, but it was late and I went to bed with lots of different thoughts rattling around. What was I going to say to my mom? Should I even bring this up? I had to. It was just too much to let go. Besides, my mom did nothing wrong. She did something extraordinary to bring me into this world. The doctors had instructed her not to tell me about my biological father. She kept the secret for over 50 years. She did it out of love, and that is a great reason.

The next day I called my mom in the morning. We spoke for a while and then I told her the story that Pam told me. The story of Children's Hospital in San Francisco, and the donor, and the instruction not to tell us kids. When I finished, I asked, "So, do you have anything you want to tell me?" There was a bit of a pause, "Well, I would say that my story is the same story you just told me."

We talked about dad and her not being able to have children, and the special clinic at Children's hospital was the cutting edge for the 1960s. It was very expensive, but it was their only hope of having children. My sister was conceived the same way. Mom said she never really thought about it about it after a few years, and didn’t think it was important to tell us after dad died. We were going through enough turmoil at the time.

The fact that I signed up for the DNA tests out of pure curiosity was something they couldn't have even imagined back in the 1960s. If I had not spit in that little tube, I would have never known about my biological father.

So, the real question is: Now what?

What does it change? Like I said before; it changes everything and it changes nothing.

Walt Sr. will always be my father. He raised me, he showed what it was to be a man, to work hard, and he showed me you can do more than you think is possible. I will always love that man.

So what about my biological father? Do I want to know more about him? Yeah, I guess so. I would like to see a picture of him, and see if I look anything like him. I would like to know something about his personality, his temperament. Those kinds of things.

I'm sure he never imagined DNA testing, and that three strangers would someday find each other through an ounce of saliva. I wonder if he would want to know how we turned out?

So many questions.

In the end, I am glad I know. I am also glad my mother and father went to that specialist in San Francisco. I am here.

I have a wonderful family, a wonderful life, and memories to last me a few lifetimes. I am hoping to get together one day with my half sisters; that would be cool. Hey, 23andMe is a new company, not many people have signed up, there may be more of us half siblings out there. I always wanted a brother. (Sorry Lisa, love ya)

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Mothers

One of the things that has come with age, is understanding the limits of my own understanding.  The age old adage that, 'you don't know what you don't know', is quite true. 


Ah,,,, to be as sure, and as certain of my beliefs as I was when I was 17, or 27, or 37. For those who have never seen a picture of the Dunning Kruger Effect, it really is a great illustration of my life. Whenever I think I truly understand something these days, I look at where I could be wrong, or try to find another way to understand the issue. I've been wrong about many things, and I hate being wrong. 




As sure as I have been about certain things, parenting was never something I though I had a good grasp on. I'm not sure how anyone could. Maybe if you had 9 or 10 children, you could make a decent determination that, by that 10th child, you've seen just about everything. 

You would be wrong, but you might have that thought rolling around upstairs. Parenting is extremely difficult, extremely frustrating, extremely exhausting, and also the best damn thing you might ever experience in 100 lifetimes. 

One of the things that helped me raise my children was the parenting I received as a child from my mother. My mom is a special person. All moms are special, as I'm sure you imagine yours to be.  My mom is special in some particular ways. 

If you know my story, you know I've written about my father a few times. He was special too. I always say he, was a cross between John Wayne and Donald Trump. That is pretty accurate. My mom is harder to define. She is quite complex. 

If I had to describe my mom to someone (of my age) who has never met her, I would say she is a combination of Carol Brady from the Brady Bunch, and Kitty Forman from That 70's Show. 

My mom is full of life. If I pulled into her driveway today in North Idaho and said, "Let's go down to the bar and have a beer." She would grab her keys and go. If I pulled in and told her I was going through a really rough time in my life, and asked if she any advice, she would sit me down and talk for hours about the best way she thought I could get back on track. Her advice is something I still value. 

My mom always thought of life as an adventure. Boy, did we have one growing up. How she raised my sister and I to be fairly good kids, all the while living through the 18 chapter Greek tragedy that was life with my father, is a remarkable feat. 

Hats off to my sister Lisa for being the well behaved, great student, and the one child mom never really had to wonder what trouble they were getting into.  If she had two of me, on top of dealing with our father, I'm not sure anyone could take that excitement and adventure.

Mom was soothing, she still is. Her way of quieting her voice down, and showing us her love and understanding, was something I tried to do with my own kids. I remember always feeling better after I was done talking with my mom, no matter what had just happened. 

I'm almost certain I failed in this with my kids, because I am a man. I have that 'fixer' mentality. I don't engage very well with the 'just be there and tell them you love them' part of parenting. I want to give them a three piece plan to 'fix' their problem. Look back up at that drawing and see if that makes more sense now. 

My mom was rarely angry at me, and believe me when I say I did a mountain of things to make any parent angry. However, when she was angry it was spectacular. I remember her breaking a wooden spoon on my butt one day and me laughing.

 The only thing that really scared me was when she brought the handmade, braided leather riding quirt down off the fridge. That thing meant business, and it would never break. I don't think I ever got a hard smack with the quirt. She just got it down and started chasing me, and the bad behavior was at an end. 

It still makes me laugh to this day, in my mind, seeing mom chasing after me with her braided quirt. Ah, good times. 

So this Mother's Day, I would like to send some love to my mom Alice up in the hinterlands of North Idaho. I wish I was coming up there to see you soon. We are heading out East to visit Abbie in South Carolina, and I know, being a mom, you will understand. We will get back up there to see you guys sometime this year. 

I just wanted to say thank you for everything you taught me. Everything it may have taken me decades, and many, many mistakes to see and correct. Thank you for every kind work, every warm embrace, and every prayer sent out with me and my family in mind, even when we had no idea. Thank you for being who you are. 

I love you dearly,,

Your son,

Walt



Monday, July 19, 2021

How 'Clicks' are killing the truth

So, if you would, I'd like you to take a little trip with me. I want to show you something. I want to show you that what you see, and what you understand to be true, many times is just not true. I'd also like to show you how the world got this way. 

Now for the fun part: 

I have a few friends who hate President Donald Trump. 

I mean they hate everything about him. His look, his personality, his tone, his manner of speaking, his family, his red ties, his orange hair, and especially his politics. To be more precise, I should say the politics they think he believes and follows. 

They will tell you, without a doubt in their mind, that he is a racist, a homophobe, a Russian operative, a denier of science, a conspiracy theorist, a white supremacist, and every other bad thing you could name. 

They have heard Trump say all these terrible things, they've seen the videos! They've watched all the news anchors and pundits list all these bad things he has done. Outrageous things, that prove he's all those terrible, awful stories, rolled into a tangerine colored piñata to beat on. 

I usually chuckle at my friends. Why? Do I think Donald J Trump is a great man, and a true patriot bent on saving America from its enemies?  No, not really. 

I didn't vote for the guy in 16', and I have been aware of his shortcomings long before he became president. 

I can give you chapter and verse on where I disagree with President Trump. Spending is the main one for me. He spoke a big game, but delivered higher spending each and every year. 

His style? Let's just say that populism is not what I'm looking for in a president, I want leadership. 

Now, I do like his leadership on some issues. His leadership on breaking our crippling dependance on communist China for instance. Making peace deals between Arab nations and Israel has been great. I could go on, but let's just say that he has done some things very well, and failed at many others.

So, why is it I can see the good he's done, and also see where his populist, speaking off-the-teleprompter, outrageous Queens personality makes him seem like a giant A-hole? I think I know. 

Maybe it's because I've been a democrat, and a republican. I'm now just a quasi libertarian, who wishes everyone would just calm down, let other people have their own opinions, and even be wrong, without becoming A-holes themselves. 

Some of this has come with age, and learning I was wrong about a lot of things when I was a younger man. Most folks don't want to investigate if, let alone why, they are wrong. I do. 

I want to know where I'm wrong. I want to fix my understanding of that issue, so I don't get it quite so wrong next time. 

Now, you may say, but I'm not wrong! I watch CNN and they say the same things I believe. Or, I watch Fox News, and they say the same things I believe. How can this be?

I would say I understand the world around me today better, because I understand the news media better than most. 

The news, or at least what calls itself the news these days, is not what I grew up with in the 70's, 80's and into the 90's. 

The 'news' was driven by two forces back then; Newspapers, and the 5:00 nightly network newscasts. If it wasn't on those two media outlets, it did not exist as news. 

Newspapers, for you younger folks, were giant sheets of printed paper, folded up neatly and delivered to your door every morning. You could also buy them for a quarter in metal boxes on the street. 

Newspapers had the big world news stories, (a Volcano blew up someplace you never heard of) National news, (what law was passed out of the House and is now headed for the Senate) State and Local news, (what your local Mayor and City Council were fighting over) followed by Sports, Arts, Editorials, and the big Cash Cow: Classified Ads.  

That's right, before the interwebs, Craigslist, and smart phones, if you wanted to sell your car, your guitar, your poodle puppies, or your house, you took out an ad in the newspaper. Or if you had a job you needed filled, you posted a Help Wanted ad. Business specials and coupons were huge money makers as well. 

All those ads were spendy too.  The Sacramento Bee Sunday Edition was almost and two inches thick, folded. Half that bulk were all the Classified ads and business flyers. It would take you an hour to read through them. 

Classified Ads are where the newspapers made their money. Sure, some folks subscribed just for the news, but most people wanted both; news and ads.

If you don't understand why most newspapers are bankrupt, online only, or extremely thinned out, you're not paying attention. Competition, plain and simple. 

What about the Network Evening News? The internet and smartphones strike again.

The same thing happened to those guys too, but something else changed the networks. 

The news departments at CBS, ABC, and NBC didn't make money for the networks.

They had a huge number of reporters, staff, crews, remote gear, satellite uplink costs, studios, and they paid their news anchors big money to read the news to you. 

Back before CNN, FOX, MSNBC and all the digital news, the Big 3 networks had 43% of American viewers watching the evening news every single night. By 2005, it was down under 20%. It's much lower today. 

What kept these news division afloat? It was the TV network shows. When NBC had the Bill Cosby show going, 16 million households watched it every week. They were making tens of millions, back when tens of millions was a lot of money. 

Now, the big 3 TV networks, along with cable channels are being drowned by digital aps, and streaming media. Again, competition changes everything. 

This is what I want you to understand. The 'News Media' does not operate under the same financial model it once did. Advertising dollars are much harder to come by. In today's digital age, you need 'Clicks' to make money. Subscriptions too, but even that is going away. People are hacking paywalls, or they just grab what they can off the headlines and don't read the full story. 

It's all about the clicks baby. The 'news' sites need them badly. Clicks are what drives their revenue. 

So, how do you get these clicks? Well, back before Google's and Facebook's algorithms sent stories to your newsfeed, perfectly tailored to what you already think is true, you used to have to click on three or four different stories to see who was saying what. You had these things called ' Bookmarks' that were links to the pages you clicked to get to the websites you wanted. It was kind of fun. 

Over the years, you could see whose side the reporters, or news sites, were on politically, as you looked at their stories, and how they covered them. Also, by what they didn't cover. 

They would leave out certain information that made their side look bad, and slam the other side with anything they could.  If they didn't have anything solid, they would throw wild speculation at the other side.  

As David Burge once wrote oh so well: 

Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving. 

One thing that made me really change my idea of the media, was understanding how 'journalists' reported their stories. 

A college media teacher once asked me to think of something I knew a lot about. Some industry or story where I knew the facts about it. Then he would have me find, and read, a news story about that industry. 

He wanted me to compare my knowledge to what was written in the story. The news story was always wrong on several big points. He asked this question; "Why do you you think they are any smarter about any other story they write?" 

He closed with, "They just write crap well, and as long as it follows the AP Stylebook, they will always have a job."

There's a lot of truth in that.  

So, let's get back to you Trump Lovers, and Trump Haters. 

Let's roll back the clock to last year. To 2020, when according to the news media, Donald J Trump did nothing correctly. As they reported, Trump was an unmitigated disaster.  

So, now that we have a lot more actual information, real information, who was wrong on the big stories, Trump or the media? 

Let's start off with the biggest one, shall we?

Where the COVID-19 virus came from? Was it natural, did it evolve into humans from bats? Or was the single biggest killer of humans we have seen in my lifetime caused by people? People in a certain country, and did they try to cover up that fact? 

The first reports out of China, told by the Chinese communist government, was this virus came out of a 'wet market' in Wuhan China. They even let a few minutes of video come out showing how nasty that market is with dead animals, and animals in cages slaughtered right on the spot with no refrigeration, no hygiene, it was pretty gross. 

Okay, I thought, viruses do hop species, very rarely, and not very effectively, but maybe that's what happened. 

The World Health Organization, an organization with about as much credibility as the International Olympic Committee who picks which city will host the next olympic games based on how many bribes they receive, said that the virus came from the wet market. 

It could not have come from the only Level 4 Bio-Safety Lab in China. The one right down the road from that 'wet market' in Wuhan...

The media went with that story. China didn't let this virus loose. China is our friend. They make all our cool iPhones and TV and laptops. Besides, Trump is always fighting with them, and we hate Trump, so...

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark), to his credit, was first to see the danger of this virus hitting the US. 

No one else was interested, or at least they were preoccupied. He could only get 14 senators to show up to a hearing about it in January 2020. Most senators were busy with impeaching President Trump. 

Remember that whole made-up Russiagate nothingburger nonsense? 

Cotton spent three hours talking with President Trump about this virus threat while the impeachment hearings were going on. Trump decided to close air travel from China shortly after that. Holy Cow, what a racist thing to do, according the democrats and the media. 

President Trump said pretty early on, in April of 2020 that he had seen information that stated that the virus may have come out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Oh boy, the press went wild again. 

The White House has shown no credible proof to back up claims that the coronavirus was either manufactured at or accidentally leaked from the lab, and neither have any other sources. But Trump continues to fuel the blame, often through racist rhetoric, by regularly referring to the pathogen as the "China virus," the "Wuhan virus" or "kung flu."  NBC News said. 

The media attacks went on and on, for over a year. 

Anyone, from an actual scientist like Bret Weinstein, an Evolutionary Biologist who studied virus in bats, to ordinary politicians, to a tug boat captain, who dared say that the virus may have escaped from the Wuhan lab was passing on 'conspiracy theory' rhetoric. The media was 100% sure. 

If you posted a Facebook story about the lab-leak theory, Facebook banned it. Flat out banned it and you as well. 

So, was the Lab-Leak theory a conspiracy theory? No. It's almost certainly how the virus got out into the world. We will never be able to absolutely prove it. The Chinese have destroyed the evidence, and even 'disappeared' some of the early doctors who reported the virus. 

Now, even the 'media' outlets are having to change their stories and say that Lab-Leak most likely happened. Whoops. 

So one of the biggest stories of my lifetime, certainly the biggest story in 50 years, one that was front page news for months and months last year,  was false. 

If you said the media was wrong about it, you were ridiculed. That is saying something. Not only did they get their story wrong, but they were so busy being 'right' that they crushed and mocked any information to the contrary.

That should not only give you pause, that should scare the hell out of you. It should also make you angry. 

Today, the media, almost silently, changed their minds abut the lab-leak theory. Seemingly overnight. They just could not find anyone to refute the evidence that the virus had been engineered through gain-of-function research. 

Did we get an apology from CNN or the New York Times, or the Washington Post? It's the least they could have done.

"Sorry, we really screwed up a very important story about the origin of this virus. We also called many of our fellow Americans, and the President of the United States, conspiracy theorists. Our bad." That would have been something...

Now, take that volume of mistakes, that amount misreporting, that level of vitriol and hatred for the president, and half of the country, and then take a look at most other large news stories from the past year. 

Remember my old college teacher's example of a story you know a lot about. Are you starting to see something? 

The not so funny part of this is when the media decided to do this. During an actual pandemic. 

So remember when CNN, MSNBC, and all the network newscasts had New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on in the early part of the pandemic? Remember how they were praising him for his 'leadership' in this crisis? Especially compared to the Tangerine Tornado, with all his stupid theories, cooky remedies, and drinking bleach, right? 

Yeah, how's that looking now? 

Governor Cuomo's decision to move Covid-19 positive patients from the hospitals, into nursing homes, where the most vulnerable population of people lived, was monumentally stupid. It costs thousands of lives. 

Literally, that decision killed thousands of American citizens. Yet, he was celebrated by our media, and even wrote a book on his 'leadership' in the pandemic. 

That story, about that decision, and the fact that his administration tried to hide the numbers of deaths in nursing homes, is something that did not get a lot of attention. Well, aside from Fox news and some honest journalists. 

I don't want to let the Fox crowd off the hook either. That same, my side/their side, hatred works both ways. If Trump said something, for some of you out there, it was one hundred percent true. 

Even if someone showed you actual evidence that he was wrong, you would never admit he was wrong. If he was wrong, you are wrong, and you can't be wrong, you listen to Sean Hannity! 

What is going to be crazy is in the next year, we are going to start seeing some honest journalism come out. It will be swept under the rug to the Trump haters. 

Yeah, well, at least Trump lost, and that's all that matters! Okay....

For some of us, we're just trying to find what is true, what is spin, and what is just plain stupidity. We will have lots to talk about. 

Wait for the evidence to come out about how we could have saved tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of American lives by using a few preventative treatments before, and in the beginning, of the vaccination process. Once President Biden's team got in office, it was all vaccinations, and only vaccinations, that would be talked about in the media. That was the only way to stop Covid-19, according to President Biden and the media. 

Was that true? Was there a much easier, and much, much cheaper way, to hold off Covid, for those waiting for the vaccine, or for those who had reservations about the vaccine? Something that has been used for decades all over the world. A medicine that is safe, generic and cheap?

You are going to hear about medicines like Ivermectin, that can keep you from getting Covid-19, and if you become positive, have a pretty good treatment record if taken early. 

You are going to hear how lockdowns, mask mandates, and stay at home orders, did much more harm than good. You will hear the closing of in-person schooling, and the economic impact that had on single parents, along with the kids will be with us for a generation. 

You will hear about the jump in teen suicide and other huge mental health epidemics. Along with the huge jump in drug overdose deaths during the pandemic.

Folk, I'm just talking about the pandemic. Don't get me started on race, crime and climate. (hint, the very same thing is happening there too...)

This media-politics cluster at the heart of our news and social media is not interested in facts, or truth, or honestly. They need clicks, and they need to report that sensationalism, fear, and panic, to drive people to those clicks. 


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Cheryl Lyn Whitfield; A life well lived.

 I had the honor of being asked to officiate the memorial service for the mother of some very close friends. 

It was an absolutely beautiful day, as the song she picked to be played at the end of her memorial said, and 'uncloudy day' to be sure. 

Good morning, will you join me in prayer.

 

Heavenly father we come to you here today, to celebrate a great life. We thank you for this beautiful day, for all those could make it here to remember Cheryl today. Lord be with her family, as they remember her, her spirit, and her love. Be with us today Lord, let us come closer to you, and let us lean into you. In your mighty name, Amen.


Well, not going to lie, this is going to be a tough one. Not just for me, but for this family too. Be patient with us, if we need a minute to compose ourselves, or if our words don’t come out right, or they come out with a tremble in our voices. Days like today are difficult.

 

Depending on how you look at it, it’s an honor to be up here, but damn, I sure wish I wasn’t.

 

Over the years, I’ve been asked to do a few funerals for this family. Thinking back to last year, Cheryl told me at her mother’s funeral, I think, that I wouldn’t have to do her funeral. She didn’t want me to feel burdened. Cheryl was worried about me. Bless her heart. That is who she was.

 

I told her a few weeks ago, it would be my honor to be here today, and for her not to worry. I was doing this no matter what. I’m going to get through this day today. Because no matter how emotional these are, there is something very right, very truthful, and almost easy, almost, about saying some kind words about a very kind human being.

 

Cheryl Lyn Whitfield was born November 8, 1946 to Barney and Hester Whitfield on Coronado Island. In a few years her brother Shayne was born, and finally her sister Mary Ann. The family moved up to Yolo County, where she graduated from Esparto High. She married her high school sweetheart Joe Gallardo, and together they had three children: Phillip, Daniel and Jody. She worked for the Winters Police department, and for those of you who remember, the Barber Rolland company. As time passed, she moved on, and moved up to the Tahoe and Truckee areas for a while. After a few years back and forth, she married David Buchignani, and she came back down here.

 

As a side note, for those of you who remember David, man, was that guy great or what? So much fun, such a kind soul. His time, was way too short.

 

So, in the past, almost twenty years, since I moved back here to Esparto, I’ve been around Cheryl’s wonderful family. Her parents, her siblings, her children, her grandchildren, and the entire tribe of her extended family, friends, and assorted craziness that made up her life, here in the valley.

 

I remember all the good times at Barney’s and Hester’s, after work down at The Capay Junction, and the annual Cattlemen’s dinners in the fall, and the Almond Festivals, and Larry’s parties after Easter, and sitting around the wood stove, playing music in Tommy’s shop. Even the Wednesday afternoon Covid beverage get togethers last year, in the shade, under Tommy’s tree.

 

Cheryl was always there, always close to where her family and friends were. If she wasn’t around, it was because she was on a road trip with some of them, going somewhere cool. She wasn’t the kind to sit still. She was an adventurer. I didn’t know, but her whole family told me about the little bag of extra clothes she always kept in her car, just in case she decided at the last minute to go on a road trip.

 

I was up with everyone sharing stories this week, and I can’t tell them all, but here are a few favorites. Mostly all involving road trips.

 

Barney was working out of town, down by Tracy, with his friend Ben. After work they would go down the Banta Inn. So he’s sitting there, doing what you do in Tracy when work is over, and his phone rings. He answers, says a few words, says goodbye. He looks over at Ben and says, ‘My mother-in-law is coming by to have a drink.” Ben was kind of shocked. Your mother-in-law? “Yep, she’s coming over to have a drink.” She was down visiting Shayne, sort-of nearby, and so she drove over to say hello and visit for a while. That is so Cheryl. But then again, as Barney likes to say, he is her favorite son-in-law.

 

Listening to the stories, I wasn’t aware of her misguided sense of direction. There a few stories, like when her and Sam were heading up to Idaho. Now early in the mornings, Sam admits she’s kind of cranky, and so when they left Elko, instead of turning north at Wells, Cheryl kept going east on 80. In the end she decided that she would have to wake up Sam, cranky or not, to get directions because they were now entering Utah.

 

The other directional mishap was with Danny heading to the Cow Palace. Coming off the main highway, Danny said they needed to go east, and Cheryl was sure it was to the west. Dan tried to insist but was met with a “shut up”. They drove on for a few minutes and came over a hill where Dan said, Well mom, we can’t go any further west, that’s the Pacific Ocean. I think she told him to shut up once again, but they did make it to the Cow Palace.

 

When Danny met Steph, not too long into their relationship, Danny said you need to go talk to Cheryl so she can better explain what she was getting into. Steph thought that was a bit odd, but they went to Bodega, and had a great weekend together. Cheryl said, If it doesn't work out between you and Dan, you and I are going to be good friends anyway.

 

Jay talked about secrets. All the times Nanna caught her doing something that she should have been busted for, and Cheryl would keep quiet. From boys showing up at the house in Jr High, to the Austin Texas tattoo parlor, Jay says Chery always kept their secrets. But would always talk to her about anything if she needed.

 

Andrew told me about all his favorite trips with his grandma. Down to Winters, to the Coffee place, the Guitar shop, and to Putah Creek Café for fries, and a sandwich. Or the trips to Swabbies on the river for live music, and the Road Trip too. He loved it if when he would stay the night at her house.

 

Mary Ann had many stories about their trips to San Francisco. Early one morning they went for an Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista, which was a standard for Cheryl. Since they just opened, Cheryl was the only car on the street, she parked facing the wrong way in front of the Buena Vista. Having her Irish Coffee, the bartender kept looking out the window. He kept seeing all the cars doing a u-turn in front of the restaurant. It seems the cars coming down the street, saw Cheryl’s car facing the wrong way on the street, and thought they must be going the wrong way and started turning around.

 

You will have to get Mary Ann to tell you about the Christmas shopping trip with Linsey and Andie on BART, and the kitten adoption at Union Square. It’s a good one.

 

San Francisco was a favorite place for Cheryl. She had her spots. Places where she knew the people, and the people knew her. Buena Vista, Gino and Carlo’s just to name a few. Around Christmas, she would always take the girls down to the city and hand out scarves and peppermints to the homeless.

 

As much Cheryl loved to travel, loved to experience things, she also enjoyed just talking. We talked a lot. Cheryl was a thinker, and I like thinkers. We would talk about everything. What made people tick, what life was all about, and what we wanted to try to get out of it. What made a good life, a successful life? Why do so many people, define success so differently? We talked about life, and death and what might come after.

 

Sometimes, we talked about politics, and sometimes, or many times, we had differing opinions. But we would respect the other’s right to have them, even if they seemed in error to the other one.

 

I knew Cheryl pretty well, but from a bit of a distance. We shared a lot of great times with her family, but sometimes, I felt a bit fortunate to have that distance. Because sometimes families are, a bit messy. Just as a pro tip, one of the keys to life is knowing when things are heading south, and it’s time to G. O.

 

Cheryl had a bit of a tough, stubborn streak in her. She would hold her tongue for a bit, but after a while, she let her feelings be known. If you hang around her children, and even her grandchildren, rest assured, they are carrying that gene forward.

 

Like I said, I only saw bits and pieces of her amazing life, but some of her family have asked to share some of their thoughts, and their times together with her. 

 

(Family time) Sam. Jay. Mary Ann (Read Andrew’s note)

 

So, here we are again. Standing around a cemetery, and wishing things were not as they are. It’s tough. But one thing is for certain. This is one event, where every single one of us, one day, will be the guest of honor.

 

Maybe one of these days, some of you might be nice enough to come stand around, and say some nice things about me, when it is my time. Please give my family a hug. I would like it even more if you said those things to me while I’m still walking around. I probably have some nice thing I should say to you.

 

The abruptness of Cheryl’s passing has really made me look at the last few decades of my own life. To look at some of the opportunities I didn’t take. But more importantly, to really contemplate the next chapters coming down the road for me.

 

Cheryl was not a ‘wait till then’ kind of person. She enjoyed her life, especially her family, and her friends. She made time for people. But she also took things as they came. She loved working up at Full Belly Farm for years, and wasn’t punching some clock somewhere, waiting for that last day to retire, so she could then start doing what she wanted. She was living her life as well, and as full, as she knew how to do. That is a very rare trait in people these days.

 

That is the first thing I’d like us to take away from today. Say yes to opportunities. Many of us like to plan, to do the safe thing, not to take chances, to build up that bank balance, to accumulating things, and wealth. Don’t get me wrong, those things have their place. Just don’t let them keep you from saying yes to things.

 

Think about that person you haven’t seen in years, the one who told you to come out and visit. They would put you for a few days and show you cool places around there, and just visit for a while. Why haven’t you done that? It’s a few days, and maybe a couple hundred-dollar airline ticket away. Maybe it’s that trip with your family, or maybe just a few more rodeos, or concerts, or museum visits, or sailing trips, or whatever is your thing. Go do that. Again, you could come up with reasons not to go, but then I want you to think about today. Think about what really matters. That vacation time or small amount of money won’t matter in the end. Those memories will. Those experiences will. They are what make up your life. That’s what is important.

 

Here’s the other thing I’d like us to take away today; Your time here on earth is not infinite. It is fixed, and you don’t know your expiration date. So be good. Not like, ‘stop having fun’ type of good, but be a better person.

 

That means forgiving a wrong done against you. That means going up to someone and having a difficult conversation, asking them for forgiveness. That means letting a lot the small stuff go. That also means, if someone you love keeps doing things that really bother you, have a difficult conversation about that situation and see if you can work through it.

 

In closing, I’d like to say that I was up at Barney and Jody’s a lot for the past month or so. As Cheryl came home to finish her time here, I saw the love she had shown on others come back to her in so many ways. Her family wanted to let everyone know how much their showing up, helping out, dropping off food, being with Cheryl, or just stopping by to be a shoulder to cry on, helped them through this time. They love you all, and they mean that.

 

I was also touched by two things said the other night. One by Andrew, who said she kept praying for his grandma. He said he wanted her to go to a place where she would hurt no more, where she would be happy, where she would be waiting for us. He wanted to be sure she got to heaven. No worries Andrew, she’s there. And you make sure you remember what Steve Farnham told you. Now she’s up there watching you at all times, making sure doing the right thing. (Good one Steve)

 

The other were the words said by my friend Danny. Looking back, it was the my entire 15 minute speech given in less than one. He gathered everyone up, at Grandpa Barney’s bar. He had the beautiful urn made my Todd Treat sitting there, and I wish I could have recorded that simple message, cause it was as powerful and anything I could have said here today. It was close to this. He was pointing towards his mon’s earn and saying, all the things you think are important really aren’t. Everything you own, all your stuff won’t matter in the end. You will end up here. Then he said something that I could agree more with. Danny lightly tapped on the urn and said, This is not the end either. There is some else after this life. There is something more. Amen my brother.

 

We only get one shot down here walking around, do your best. Live to the fullest degree you can. I know Cheryl sure did. That is a hell of life you’ve had here my friend. You will be missed, but never forgotten. We love you.

 

Will you join me in the Lord’s Prayer as we close.

 

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Well, this is what I feared.....

 So, anyone who knows me well, knows about my father. Well, at least they know the man who raised me, not my biological father, because that is a different story entirely. 

Those who knew Walt Sr. fall into two camps. Those who thought he was a great guy, and those who thought he was a son of a bitch. They were both right, depending on when you met him, and the context of your encounter. 

I have said that my father was combination of John Wayne and Donald Trump, and that rings more truly than ever today. 

My father was a cowboy, a real estate broker, and a person who never sat still. He was always working. 

He could be a very sweet man when things were going his way, and a mean, me-first/screw-the-rest-of-you man when things were going bad. He was never into self-reflection or understanding what made him tick. He never tried to grasp, or get a handle on, how he could change. 

He was the way he was, for both good and bad. His weakness were his blind spots, and they were extraordinarily large. Those blind spots caught up to him in his final few years, and he paid the price for them. Our family kept paying that price, long after he was gone.

The same is true about President Trump. 

He has that same great guy/son of bitch, personality. People love him, or hate him. There are a few in the middle, or see him from both sides. 

For everyone who thinks I hate Trump, look, I will go out of my way to point out his faults and mistakes. That goes without question. However, I also love some of the things he has done. I really do. 

Thought experiment: 

Imagine if someone came up to you, the day before the 2016 election and said,  "The next president was going to do the following things"; 

  • Grow the economy at an astonishing rate.
  • Reduce black and hispanic unemployment to record lows.
  • Have a real increase in working class income for the first time in decades.
  • Stop North Korea from shooting missiles all over the region.
  • Slap China with tariffs, and make them stop taking our technology.
  • Renegotiate the NAFTA treaty to give us better trade policies with our neighbors.
  • Negotiate peace deals between Israel, and now three other nations.
  • Drone strike an Iranian Quds Force leader responsible for killing American soldiers. 
  • Roll back the control ISIS from huge sections of Iraq and Syria.
  • Perhaps the best thing; not get us into any new foreign wars. 

What would you have said about that next president? 

Probably that Hillary Clinton was going to go down as the best president in our memories. 

Whoops. 

So, as much as I like those parts of his presidency, and that's a lot, there were parts that I did not like, and some that I hated. I mean really hated. 

Spending went up, or I should say, it just continued on its path towards our national bankruptcy in a few decades. All that talk about not signing another huge Omnibus spending bill was hot air. His fight-first, punch back ten times as hard tactic from his Twitter feed was juvenile to say the least. I did get laugh now and again when he went after certain stupid things, but he is the president. There are times you should let things go. He would not, it is not in his nature. 

Those who supported him, he loved. Those who opposed him, he hated. He would condemn Neo Nazis and white supremacist when called out on it, but the number one target for his animosity were those who hated him. Those folks were the real bad guys and the people he was trying to take down.  

One of the worst blind spots Donald Trump has is that he wants what it wants, no matter what. 

If he wanted something to happen, something that was against the constitution, his staff, or his White House Council would have to say, no Mr. President, you cannot do that. That is not what the constitution says. 

Like I say, sometimes he was at his best going against his advisors. He got so many of his accomplishments done by going against what the media, his critics, and even his own staff said he could not do. 

He would just say, "Move the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem" and he made that happen. The problem is with that kind of mind, that personality, he doesn't know the law, read the rules, or care about those things. He wants what he wants. 

In his private life and business, he had to hire lawyers to either get him out of a trap he made for himself, or tell him the one thing he hates to hear the most; "Sir, you just cannot do that." 

I'm sure he went through a bunch of lawyers and accountants over the years, firing the ones who told him he couldn't do things he wanted. He would find ones who would say, well, let me handle this. I'll keep you in the clear, just don't ask questions. 

That is exactly what bit him, me, and this nation, in the ass on January 6th. 

President Trump kept listening to the people who said he could do something about losing the election. He kept listening to 'experts' who said, you can do this, or the Vice President can do that, there is still a way for you to stay in office as president. 

He knows the democrats are coming for him the day he leaves office. He will be charged, arrested, sued, and every other legal means to do him in by February. The media will be driving the "Lock him up" bandwagon, with a cooler full of sparkling seltzer and a kale salad. 

He knows he had to stay in office or go to jail. If you support President Trump, and wonder why he wants to remain president for four more years, it's probably not the reason you think. It's not to save the country, or to keep making America great. He wants to head out to Mar A Lago and play golf, knowing he won't be go to jail. 

I always thought he would make a deal with Pence, and the Republicans to resign after he lost, and let Pence pardon him. Maybe that could still happen, but time is running out. 

So let's go back to this past week and look at the "Stop the steal" rally, march, and ultimately the riot it became. 

The thing about Trump, is the folks who love the guy, really love the guy. Why? In their eyes, they see all the damage going on in our nation, and see a guy will fight to stop it. That is what they see, and that is what President Trump plays into. 

The Super Trumpers are very much like the man they love. They want what they want, but are not concerned with the small stuff. Things like laws, the constitution, or facts. They want to believe what they believe. 

They believe they are right, and when they are shown they are wrong, some other Super Trumper will post something on Facebook that proves how right they are. A picture, or a five second video, taken out of context, or edited, to make a point is all they need to prove that they alone are the ones who understand what is really happening. 

Look, I have some of these friends. It is very frustrating for me as a friend, and it must be for them as well. I point out things, provable facts, and they go on to the next conspiracy theory, or point me to some kook website where the have the 'real answers'. 

These people who showed up to the 'Stop the steal' rally were encouraged by two entities; the far right media, and (there is no denying this) by the President himself. 

I'm not sure who was behind Trump telling him that there was someway to change the Electoral College state votes, but someone must have been telling him that. Perhaps it came back to the whole, staying out of jail thing that made him grasp on to this fantasy. Maybe he just wanted one last crowd. 

Whatever the motive, Trump not only said that this elections was stolen, the craziest thing was he said he won in a landslide, and was cheated out that. I'm not sure if he truly believes this or it makes for a good applause line, but he said this rally was his, was your, was our last chance to keep him in the Oval Office. 

This was their last chance, and he was going to go with them on the march. He was going to go down to congress and make sure Pence would do the 'right thing'. 

No matter how many advisors, legal counsels, or friends told him that the Vice President has zero authority to change or throw out the Electoral College votes, once they are approved and get passed the appeal period. The president wanted people to believe there was a chance he would remain in office. 

Pence was not going to do anything, and Trump knew this. 

In congress, there were a few dozen right wing folks making speeches contesting the election, but they had zero chance of overturning anything. They were either Super Trumpers, or wanted to get a few bonus points for the upcoming 2024 GOP race. 

No matter what happened at the capitol that day, Joe Biden was going to become the President Elect. 

So the question keeps coming back, why would President Trump do this? 

In the end, for me it comes down to this: Trump was either extremely stupid, not knowing how presidential elections work, or he was just desperate. 

Ultimately,  I think spending his last few years, and all his money, defending himself trying to stay out of prison was the main factor. 

I know, I know, this is where you Super Trumpers will send me a dozen pictures of Antifa guys in the crowd, saying they were doing all the damage. I'm not saying anarchist and Antifa folks were not there, I'm sure they were. If I were an Antifa leader, I would be there to make sure Trump supporters looked like a bunch of lunatics. I'm actually surprised one of them didn't try to burn the place down. 

However, if you spend any time looking at the thousands of pictures and videos, you can be assured the vast majority were in fact the Super Trump crowd. They were caught up in moment. 

Being caught up in a crowd, led by a few radicals is not a good thing. That goes both ways. 

I would tell that to my friends who were at the Black Lives Matter marches in Sacramento this summer. When the Antifa and BLM radicals start breaking things, smashing windows, looting, and beating people up, it's time to stop them. If you can't stop them, just leave and go find a news crew as quickly as you can. Tell everyone that those people rioting are criminals, and should be arrested. 

I would also tell that to my Trump supporting friends. Marching, gathering in large numbers is fine. Even a bit of nonviolent, non confrontational opposition to the police has its place in protest. You want to sit down and block a sidewalk after the police tell you to leave. That is your choice. You might get arrested, but that might be what's needed on your view.

Protests are one thing, violence is another.  

So where do we go from here? What is coming? Where are we heading? For each side, and as a nation? 

Some very bad things are coming. There is going to have to be a reset of how we exist as Americans in the twenty first century. 

There will be lots of mistakes made, lot of civil rights crushed, and lots of conflict.  I must say, some of this will be armed conflict, driven by those on each side of the extremes. There will be open hatred, and sides choosing to separate themselves from each other. It is going to be ugly. 

So, if I have any hope, any words of advice for both sides, for my fellow Americans, it is this; You are not as far apart and you think, and not as far apart as the media on both sides are telling you. 

Democrats, hear me out on this please. Your 65 year old neighbor with the MAGA hat and his wife, the ones flying American flag in their yard, are not your enemy. They are your neighbors. 

They would come over to your house in the middle of the night if they saw your house was on fire, and try like hell to save you and your family. Maybe even your cat. They would stop on the side of the road and offer you a ride home if your car broke down at night. He and his wife are good people, but they are afraid of the America they are seeing, on TV, and on their streets. 

They want to have things stay the way they are if at all possible, because things are changing so fast. They would keep living in a world where they know how things work. They want to know all those years of showing up to work everyday, paying their taxes, obeying the police, and going to church a few Sundays a month, are still the way to be a successful American. 

They get their news from Sean Hannity, Facebook, and Rush Limbaugh, and only hear that one side. They see democrats as the lunatic fringe, burning their streets down and assaulting police without consequence. 

To them, Donald Trump was a throwback to a time and an America they understood. 

Now, there are some of the Super Trumpers out there who will go to the extreme. However, if you look at the past four years, you can't compare the damage and destruction caused by Trump supporters to the leftist and anarchist in the Antifa or militant BLM groups. It not really close. 

These Super Trumpers get one hell of a black eye for the storming of the capitol building. That was absolutely horrific, and should be seen as shameful by everyone. Many will be arrested, and should be. This should make the vast majority disconnect from those fringe Trump groups, and come back towards the center. 

Republicans, hear me out on this please. The 32 year old guy who drives an electric car, and wears a Che Guevara t-shirt while playing video games, along with his wife who wears the pink uterus hat to protest, they are not your enemy. They're your neighbors.  

They have been taught, since middle school, that America is an evil nation, filled to the brim with racists, homophobes, and every other phobe that their humanities classes taught them. They themselves? They are actually pretty nice people. 

They like good food, good coffee, and actually live a lot like conservatives. They get married, send their kids to college, as much as they say they are for the poor and working class minorities, they choose to live in very nice homes, in very safe neighborhoods. The ones with a lot of retired MAGA people, police, firefighters, and rich people, but a neighborhood that is growing blue.  

They think American needs to change, and everything they read, watch, and listen to goes along with that mindset. Every streaming service, movie studio, podcasting service, and every television network is ran by people who think like them. They live in a world that thinks just as they do. 

It is hard for them to see where they are wrong, because everyone from their teachers in elementary school on through college, Hollywood, and popular culture, gives them this same message. America is bad, white people are bad, even if they don't know they are bad, and the world is going to burn up, or freeze over, if we don't vote Socialist. 

How do we bridge these two worlds? How do we see past the stereotypes and come together? I'm not sure we can until we have a another huge shakeup, and it is coming. 

Joe Biden's administration will govern like the hippie leftists from the 60s. His party is being taken over by radicals. These people in his administration, and in congress, are going use the capitol protest as leverage to come up with a new "Super Patriot Act". It will be some other cool sounding law that will strip people who disagree with them of their rights. This is not hyperbole. This is coming. 

If you every supported Donald Trump, you are going to be moved into a second class of citizen. 

How much longer will conservatives be allowed to use social media? How much longer will voting for Donald Trump be a red flag on gun ownership? How much longer will conservative businesses be allowed to host their websites, or use certain banks? Maybe you had given campaign donations to Trump. Now your business is  being selectively audited, red flagged by OSHA, the EDD, Franchise Tax board and business license department.

This overreach is coming, and the only thing that might change this is if the couple with the electric car, or other democratic mainstream voters who hated Trump, but don't like government punishing people based on their politics, hear that their MAGA neighbor just got their plumbing company shut down for no apparent reason. 

They think this is unfair and unAmerican. They will have to speak up, and if things don't change, they will have vote to change who is in charge. 

Look, this is going to get bad. 

Trump folks, a word of advice; spending the next four years wearing your MAGA gear is not going to help. Learning how to be civil, how to engage with people who think differently than you do is going to be critical. Being nice to people who may hate you based on your voting record can be tough, but it is a must. 

When your lefty neighbor Judy thinks about you, I hope they think, oh Mark? He's a great guy, he came over and helped me with my fence last winter. Then when Judy finds out you voted for Trump, and they ask you why one earth you did, you can start the conversation. 

If you flip off Judy in her Subaru because it has a Biden/Harris sticker on it, you are not going to like where America is headed for you. 

Basically: Everyone calm the hell down, and start talking, not yelling, not name calling. Talking. Try to understand why people who don't think the way you do, think the way they do. 

We will be better off in the long run.