Cruzing The Bathrooms

I want you to take a very close look at the phrasing and word choices that Ted Cruz made in Maryland. This was in response to comments Donald Trump made hours before criticizing the law against transgender people in North Carolina, known as the ‘bathroom law.’

“He thought that men should be able to go into the girls’ bathrooms if they want to. Grown adult men — strangers— should not be alone in a bathroom with little girls. And that’s not conservative. That’s not Republican or Democrat. That’s basic common sense.”

Cruz is a graduate from Princeton and Harvard, was on the debate team while at Princeton and was a law clerk to William Rehnquist, former Chief Justice of the United States. Cruz knows the power of words and to me his comment above was deliberate in evoking the most fearful image imaginable for those who cling to incorrect and harmful stereotypes about people who are ‘different.’

Cruz description of a strange man going into a girls’ bathroom resembles the effort of the anti-HERO campaign in Houston late last year. That ordinance was defeated because the anti-HERO forces used the fear of men attacking, not women, not boys but little girls in bathroom. Now, as was pointed out at the time, there’s very little evidence that rampant attacks would occur from transgenders using gender neutral bathrooms, nor was there evidence that stalkers might dress as women and claim to be transgender to use those facilities. It didn’t matter what the facts were; a conservative element believed this would happen and the flame of ignorance was stoked to bring defeat to the HERO ordinance.

Cruz, I clearly believe, knows he’s bringing up a very powerful image to rally his type of Republican supporter. He’s trying to get the guns, God and morality brigade to race to his side. It’s a long game approach because right now, with the states still holding primaries, aren’t known for their conservative voting blocks. What he’s after is a contested convention where delegates from the South could be the tipping point in getting him nominated. Make no mistake, his message about bathroom attacks of little girls by male predators is aimed at them, trying to convince them that Cruz would protect their families from the liberals and progressive who are ruining the country.

I don’t get the logic of the conservative Republican mind because they focus so much on the liberal boogieman that is ‘ruining the country’ and they turn to the Pied Pipers who promise, by force of will and God behind them, they will return America to a time when things were better. Those conservatives always assume when the clock is turned back, they will reap the rewards. They will get lost jobs back, they will have children who won’t be tempted by ‘the world’ and the world will be a safer place.

If the conservatives would take a little time, walk into a library or check out legitimate sites on the internet and not rely on what Aunt Mamie, Uncle John and conservative media outlets tell them, they might learn that the pristine era they are so in love with wasn’t the nirvana they think it was. A lot of people, when they longingly talk about a simpler time and how wonderful it was, never consider where they might be in that timeline. People always assume the best will happen in the future even though if they look at their own past they will have ups and downs. It’s never just sunshine and happy times.

As fun as the movies and TV might make of the 50s, which seems to be the era conservatives like to focus on, they forget that people like myself has to live with segregation. Minorities in this country aren’t as fond of the ‘Happy Days’ as the majority is of the era. They think that if the clock is turned back they will be in the land of Leave It to Beaver but not every white American was well to do and going to an unknown business job. There were poor white people back in the 50s and the struggles were greater because there were very few government programs to help families keep ahead.

Something else that disturbs me about the Cruz political element is how easily the people who are in support of the anti-transgender bill forget history. Are they forgetting the anti-gay laws in the wake of the AIDS crisis in the 80s? Many laws were passed with the same argument being used; the protection of children. Have they forgotten the scenes of men and women yelling at children because they had AIDS? Did they forget the ugly sermons from the pulpit preaching about how gay men (it’s always the men) who would turn young boys into sex slaves and degenerates? The things we fear we demonize at first glance.

For me, go back a little further in time. Think of all the segregation laws. Blacks couldn’t sit at the same counter as white people. We had to sit in the back of the bus and give up seats to white people. Discrimination was a fact of life. Look at some of the newsreels from that era where they talk about states right and ‘the natural order of things’ and compare that to the rhetoric being used by Cruz and others. It’s the same crap repackaged for a new boogieman.

Fear and ignorance makes people do things that are ugly. We throw away the principles we claim to hold to our hearts. We will demonize those we consider different and do it in the name of God and country. People like Cruz manipulate that fear for short term gains and in the end we all suffer. We want to think of ourselves as a just and moral nation but it’s hard to hold our heads up high when people are willing to exploit weakness for personal and political gain and many of us are willing to succumb to our fear and ignorance.

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Little Hope, No Change

I was watching CNN the other day and they had another bunch of talking heads wondering why there is voter anger over the economy while the economy is getting better. They threw up charts, graphs and talked about a lot of empirical evidence showing things are a lot better than people tend to believe. In the five minutes they were given, they painted a very encouraging picture to illustrate how we are so much better off.

When you have commentators on with nice suits, well-groomed and well-spoken trying to convince Americans that things are wonderful, they forget people like myself are watching their analysis. Yes, I can buy some frivolous item such as some game miniatures, but I don’t have a car to keep up. I’ve done this by choice so I do have extra money, but even the extra money doesn’t keep me comfortable income wise. I work a job that does pay over the minimum wage but it’s not what I would call a living wage. A few weeks ago I worked every day, yes every day of the week, just so I could have a little more money at the end of the month which might help in bringing down some credit card bills.

When talking heads talk about how the economy is getting better, it’s always in the context of abstract figures and modeled constructs. It not in terms of the nickel and dime hits every American faces every day, and those in a lower income are hit harder by those bits and pieces. Just the other day I looked at my bank statement. As many people know, if they get money out of an ATM not associated with their bank, they are hit with a fee from the ATM and later they are hit from their bank for a fee. When I make a payment to my HOA, I get an extra charge for the ‘convenience’ of using my bank card instead of using a check, which if I had checks I would have to buy from my bank. Of course, if I have an overdraft on my account I get a charge. One day I thought about ordering some take-out food to be delivered and considering how much I had to pay for the delivery charge, the minimum that had to be ordered, and the tip that I felt I had to pay, a meal that would be $15 would cost $25. I found something else to eat that day.

I don’t think Americans want gobs of money to waste, at least I don’t, but for us to feel comfortable about the economy we would like to earn enough to take a deep breath and feel free. I’m not opposed to working hard but the reason why people like Sanders, Trump and Cruz are winning and gathering followers is because they speak to the population of middle America that works for companies that have them working harder for less money. They talk to the people who don’t have much in their 401Ks and those who don’t have 401Ks. They talk to the people who have to make a career working at McDonalds, Target or Walmart. They talk to folks like me who are trying to hustle anyway they can and just want someone to understand the pain we go through working long hours on a job.

They also speak to people who have given up, in the sense that they have stopped dreaming about having a better future and are more worried about getting by today. They do live paycheck to paycheck, not having enough to put aside something for a rainy day.

I literally talk to a hundred or more people every day and I would say over half of them could care less about what they do. They haven’t been shown or told they are worth anything. It is something I have seen in the business culture for over a decade. I’ve talked about not wanting to be a cog in the machine but working class people, and that goes from the lowest person in the job pool to middle management folks, are nothing but replaceable cogs that don’t have any worth for the company unless they work harder for less pay. Customers and employees aren’t what companies care about today. It’s stockholders and the companies paper wealth that matters and the people at the lower end of the ladder are getting tired of being perpetually used and thrown aside.

I have to be honest and say I don’t have loyalty for the company I work for now. I’m not even on their payroll. I work for a headhunter company that has me loaned out to this other company. I technically can’t be unemployed because if I get laid off, fired or otherwise quit the job I have now, I’m not hired by them. I’m hired by the agency, which was made clear to me when I filled out my tax forms the other day. In my job I’m constantly having to give people information about their job which should be common sense information, but the different parts of the organization have such a non-ownership and more importantly, a lack of nurturing innovative thought in the corporation, people would rather play dumb and defer simple solutions to someone else rather than taking initiative and solving an issue on their own. Look, I’ve seen ways that can improve the flow of production, but honestly, why would I want to offer my ideas when I’m officially not part of the team? If I offer good ideas, I’m not going to get hired by the main company, I’m not going to get a raise and more than likely the suggestions made will be rejected because they don’t fit within the corporate community think.

The culture of low expectations isn’t something I’ve seen recently at this new job. I’ve seen for decades where the corporate community resists change and innovation. When people stop caring about improvements, about thinking outside of the box they become accepting of the lowest common denominator. They decide to get by rather than forge ahead. I would love to make more money, but as much as I would like to find something different, I know at my age getting something that will pay at the level I can contribute will be close to impossible. I did the math and it is better for me to work a few extra hours a week to earn more money than it would be for me to look for a new job at this moment.

There are millions of people in the country who would love to do better, who would love to explore new options but can’t because the system has impediments that makes the change tough to do. Of course, people can make sacrifices. I know the myth we are told as Americans is making sacrifices is the way you thrive in America, but this is where politicians, especially the Donald Trump types, are making end roads with the American people that the pundits cannot comprehend.

Americans, especially those struggling this economy, want people to understand not all is rosy and bright in the new economy. Yes, we do have a better economy and there should be these wonderful opportunities but all of us aren’t making it as well as should be expected. Politicians always go to the rust belt and talk about bringing manufacturing jobs back to America, but that’s a fairy tale. We want cheap stuff and to have cheap stuff we need cheap labor. We never think in terms of if people made more money they would spend the money on things, easily covering any supposed rise in production costs. Corporations are opposed to raising the minimum wage to a livable level, because they say people won’t pay more for products. During the election of 2012 the owner of Papa John’s was famously against health care for his employees, even though giving them coverage would add less than a dollar to the price of a pizza, if he wished to pass the cost to the customers.

He had this stance while hosting at least one fundraiser in his home which explodes a lavish lifestyle. He didn’t want to add less than a dollar to the price of a pizza yet he wouldn’t take a small loss to his vast income to help out his employees. There are convenience stores all over America that are understaffed and underpay the staff they have because store owners concern themselves more with profit. The safety of employees doesn’t factor into the economic formula, so they work the staff they have hard, then complain when workers who don’t earn enough money to pay rent or keep up car payments don’t care about the business. They complain when workers aren’t ‘loyal’ and don’t care to learn new techniques or are asked to do even more without the possibility of a raise.

The candidates who would be President are promising Americans hope they probably sincerely believe in but, to be honest, have little hope in accomplishing. They can make as many promises as they want, but for things to change the people, the vast large number of Americans who are suffering in this country, need to take an active stand in pushing politicians to keep their promises. The flag waving rallies are nothing more than theater props if the people, after the rallies and the voting, do nothing. Many Americans are feel so defeated they’re unwilling to push forward and hold organizations and politicians accountable. So businesses win and while they make profit, regular Americans struggle.

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Local Phoenix AZ Primary Elections

I watched the news when I got home and realized why the two polling places I saw on my commute home had massive lines. It have to file this under political disconnect with average people. What do I mean by that? Think Flint Michigan. The governor of that state was so concerned about saving money in the short term he and others in his administration didn’t think about long term effects of switching the water supply, even after being warned about the consequences of switching the water supply so soon.

CF20160322aSo here is the supposed logic of local officials. To make things easier, they allowed for anyone (well, I have to define anyone who registered as one of the two major political parties. Someone like myself, an independent, couldn’t vote in this preferential election) to vote at any precinct. So, if you couldn’t make it in the morning to vote at the precinct close to your home, you could vote at any precinct in the state. OK, sounds like a really progressive idea, however the state removed about 2/3 of the precincts from the last election. So, you could vote anywhere you wanted to but the number of precincts was cut dramatically.

CF20160322bThe pictures I’m posting give a slight representation of how longs the line was at the location at the Pyle Adult Recreation Center in Phoenix. The line was possibly a ½ mile or more. When I passed by the location on the bus it had just hit the bus stop at the center. We had to go to the next block before we could be let off. I had seen another voting location on my bus route, about half a mile from by job. I sent a tweet out that the line looked a movie line for a blockbuster film. The same could be said for the Pyle location. The line was long and there were a lot of cars trying to get parking at the site.

What surprised me were comments made by people on the bus and cars that passed by meCF20160322c once I got off the bus. With the long lines I saw at the two precincts on my bus route, I was shocked to see how many people didn’t know why the buildings had long lines. I had truck with a group of guys in it asked me what was going on at the Pyle center. When I told them people were voting, they were a bit confused. When I told them it was election day, they yelled Go Trump.

I haven’t seen a lot about the election in Arizona. Because of the attacks in Belgium, that has been the big focus on the news channels we get at work. Now that I’m home, I still haven’t seen any election results after the polls have been closed for over an hour and a half. I would have to say if the lines everywhere in the state are as I saw at the two voting locations, any preliminary results from the election are going to take a long time. To me it just seems crazy that you would allow CF20160322dpeople the ability to vote at any precinct site, then shut down over half of the sites. In the last Presidential election, the complaint was the long lines at polling places. At that time, you had to go to a designated polling place assigned to you.

So, as I posted earlier in the day, because I am an independent, I cannot vote in this election for the Democratic or Republican election. I have seen a lot of people trying to vote and I have seen for myself the long lines, up to ½ mile of voters trying to vote. It is remarkable people are willing to wait in long lines to get their voices hear but it seems a shame that the long lines could have been avoided with better and frankly common sense decisions by election official.

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Primary Election 2016 Hits Home

The Republican nomination for President in 2012 was called by many pundits as the clown car campaign. There were a few establishment candidates running, including the eventual nominee Mitt Romney, but that election had a fair share of candidates that voters flirted with. Who could forget Herman Cain with his 9-9-9 plan, or Michele Bachmann. The always on the outside Ron Paul ran. Rick Perry was a candidate many thought would be a titan in the campaign, considering his stint as Texas governor, but a number of spectacular failures knocked him out.

In a lot of cases where you have the opposition party going up against an incumbent president, they tend to send up the B-team. Keep in mind, they know they’re going up against an incumbent President, and even an unpopular President still has the wrappings and prestige of the Presidency to make Americans think twice before removing them from office after four years.

It isn’t impossible to defeat a sitting President, just as Jimmy Carter and George Bush Sr. But as Mitt Romney and Bob Dole can tell you, it is tough to knock out a sitting President. That’s why in those years you get unusual candidates running. The odds are rough but a win can happen. Seasoned politicians, however, tend to sit those out. Better to wait when the President is leaving office, because it means the President’s own party will have to field a new candidate, and a free for all election with both parties electing a nominee can be bloody.

This election cycle is very unusual. On the Republican side they have an incumbency election vibe. It kind of makes sense considering who the Democrats have running but I’ll get to that later. The Republicans have the establishment candidates and the odd ones. Well, they had that makeup until Republican voters went to the caucuses and voting booths. Even though Trump was doing well in the polls, conventional wisdom was he would implode and a more established party leader would emerge to face the Democratic opponent. This year the playbook has been thrown out the window. No one took Trump seriously, except for the voters. You can pull up articles where pundits and political leaders talked about Trump failing, then being surprised when his latest escapade didn’t have him fall. One by one established candidates were beaten by Trump. The mistake the party made was just before the South Carolina primaries. That was their last shot to clear the field and make the fight a one on one competition. They didn’t take that opportunity. The second failing was in picking establishment candidates that didn’t appeal to their base.

Right now, the fate of a sound Republican party rests in the hands of Ted Cruz, a senator many Republicans don’t like. He is basically a less bombastic Trump, but with his Eddie Haskell aura he is the only candidate left with a shot of defeating Trump before the convention. The problem is the Cruz factor has happened so late in the nomination process he has slim chance of outright defeating Trump.

What that translates to is the dangerous option of a brokered convention.

One thing both parties do is makes sure their loyal base has enough information to pick who they want, yet not enough information to know all the options. That is going to bite the Republicans come convention time if there is no clear winner after the primaries. Trump will have the most delegates and if he isn’t over the threshold at the time of the convention he will be close. Cruz might have enough to be a threat. The other candidates, those that have dropped out, will have the delegates needed, possibly, to put Cruz or Trump over the top. The establishment has made no secret that they don’t want Trump and aren’t comfortable with Cruz and are looking for a third alternative. The rules say this is possible. Delegates have to be pledged to their candidate on the first ballot but after that they can vote for whomever they want.

While establishment officials such as Paul Ryan have said comments by Trump are irresponsible, Trump is probably correct that if he is close to the nomination and he is denied being the candidate, his supporters will revolt. Even if violence doesn’t happen at the convention, it’s very likely they won’t show up at the polls. That will effect candidates in state and local elections, where a few thousand votes can change the outcome of an election.

The Democrats should be in the catbird seat, considering the chaos on the Republican side. Well before the election, many democratic leaders had a waiting game. What would Hillary Clinton do? It had been assumed she would run for President and if she did, not many wanted to face her. It’s not hard to explain the power of Clinton. With Clinton and her husband as a very powerful political couple, not many want to go up against the Clinton machine. Their power was strong when Obama ran against her, but that was before he appointed her a Secretary of State. With that new title, added to former First Lady and Senator from New York, her resume is impressive. When she finally decided to run, many Democrats, including Vice President Biden, decided not to run.

It came as a surprise that Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Socialist from Vermont, challenged Clinton. Just like the assumptions on the Republican side, many pundits predicted a blood bath, with Sanders being slaughtered by the formidable Clinton. Polls showed him behind by 40% to 50%. But, like the Republicans, those predictions were done before citizens had cast votes, but there were indications the polls didn’t reflect what was really happening. Sanders had huge rallies, comparable to the ones Trump was getting on the Republican side. Sanders got small donations from thousands of people, which only added to his status as an alternative to Clinton.

While the Democratic candidates have been civil in most of their interactions, the same cannot be said of their supporters. There haven’t been scenes of violence as has been seen recently at Trump rallies, but some extreme supporters have raised accusations and have made pledges to not support the opposition candidate in the general election. Progressive radio host have been hit with agitated calls from opposition callers threatening to stop support of their shows because of their support of a candidate. I have seen Facebook posts friends put out pleading for people to be civil in commenting on political issues. Let’s just say those pleas have been met with some people posting even harsher criticism. People have been eager to re-post questionable information about candidates, either in memes or links to websites claiming to be journalistic in nature. The posts from people attacking candidates from opposite parties have been vicious, especially those against the perceived front runners; Trump and Clinton.

It seems at the end of every political cycle we want to say it is the worst cycle in history and we want to think it can’t get worse. If that pattern holds, considering the rise of Trump and the rhetoric from both parties, I hate to speculate on what the election cycle of 2020 will be like.

Today is election day in my state. Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in the primaries because I’m an independent and since I’m registered as that I can only vote for an independent. I wasn’t able to get into a Sanders rally and I had to work while Trump, Cruz and Clinton campaigned. I did see a lot of ads; I mean a LOT of ads. Yesterday on local broadcasts the furniture and attorney ads were replaced by political ads. It was rare to see a local ad in the commercial breaks as the final push was made to get votes.

What I haven’t seen a lot of in the primary have been political signs. If signs were an indication of the election push, then Sanders would win hands down. I have only seen Sanders ads in my travels. I guess the good thing about being independent is I’m not getting swamped with mailers.

In my state I’m sure Clinton and Trump will win, but it will be interesting to see what the percentages will be, especially on the Republican side. People have been able to put in absentee ballots for a month. People who voted for candidates who are no longer on the ballot cannot change their votes, so there may be some surprises as to what the vote will look like with those absentee ballots. Well, this election continues to be fascinating.

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Feeling the Bern

Monday morning, I learned from the local news that Bernie Sanders was having a rally in Phoenix on Tuesday. It was to start at 6pm. The curious side of me wanted to attend. For various reason I haven’t decided who I wanted to vote for in the primaries, and I’ll write about that another time, but since this is the week where I’m working every day, I was thinking more about getting as much off time rest as I could rather than pushing my way into a rally.

Early Tuesday morning, with all the coverage about Super Tuesday 2 (or was it 3?) in the news and the local coverage about Sanders, I entertained the idea of going. I thought at the very least I could get some pictures of the crowds. Just before leaving the house, still unsure if I was going to go, I left my very professional camera at home, opting to bring my ‘stealth’ camera. I call the HG-20 my stealth camera because it looks like a tourist camera but takes professional images. The reason why I brought that camera was I still hadn’t convinced myself I wanted to go.

After a half day at work, and it was just as busy as it had been the past few days, hearing the type of calls I was getting and dealing with the type of people from the stores I was dealing with, I realized I had to go. I wanted to go for the journalism side of me. I needed to get away from the 9 to 5 grind dealing with the same kind of people and feeling frustrated with the routine. I was still concerned with the travel time to the rally (the rally started at 6pm and I calculated I would get there by 7pm at the earliest) but I figured I would give it the college try.

I got to the Phoenix Convention Center just before 7pm. A lot of people were inside the convention because all that were left outside were stragglers. There were a handful of officers outside, a few guys in suits who were clearly secret service people and a few tables set up for petition signing for various local progressive causes. There was a good crowd inside, from what I could see, but being that close to the entrance I saw a sign posted by the secret service which said that bags were subject to searches.

The culprit

The culprit

That got me concerned. I was carrying my big backpack, which had my laptop and various other electronic devices. Now to me, what I carry in my backpack is the stuff I need, at a moment’s notice, to set up for a video shoot. I’ve gone through airports with the backpack but from time to time I do get stopped and asked about the contents. Once I explain I’m a journalist and those are my tools, everything is fine. I had conveniently forgotten that the news reports said no large bags would be allowed and I thought if I had my professional camera it might allow me to explain the large backpack with the equipment. Just to be on the safe side, I turned on my hotspot and loaded up my website on my tablet, just in case there were any questions about the large bag.

As soon as I walked in the door, I was flagged to head to the hand search line. Once they opened the bag and saw the glow from the hot spot and the tablet I had a feeling that might not have been the brightest idea. Yeah, a big person with a big backpack with active, glowing electronics heading into an indoor political rally. What’s not suspicious about that? I explained I was there as a journalist to cover the story. I showed them my business card and the website from the tablet. They rummaged through and saw my microphone, but they wondered about my power charger. I explained what it was and they wanted me to turn on my laptop.

Well, let’s say when the first screen they saw had resist, rebel and revolt on it with the Guy Fawkes mask on it, whatever headway I had made with them melted away. OK, do you know how tough it is to explain to non-comic book fans that the version of the mask I had on the computer was from the Alan Moore graphic novel and not from the movie version or the one used by Anonymous? Right now, in my head I can see that my explanation could have made me look like Number 6 at the end of The Prisoner when he tried explaining his exploits to the police officer at the end of the series. When I logged on and got to my main screen, the Prisoner quote didn’t help. When I pointed out the Star Trek lcars images, and I did call them lcars, I think in their eyes I was just slightly crazy and not dangerous. It was all very innocent, what I had, but after the Trump incidents I could see how the Secret Service could see a reasonably dressed guy with a backpack full of possibly suspicious material and a laptop that proudly had resistance material might not be the best person to let into the rally. They did tell me if I came in without the backpack I could go in, but I would have to put the backpack in my vehicle. Yes, they assumed I had a car.

All I could do was head to the light rail and go home. The best observation I could give CF20160317babout the rally would be from the people who were leaving early and were on the light rail with me. It was a mixture of post counter culture 60s types and young people who were excited about being part of a political movement but maybe not as informed. It was a lot like the Occupy movement people I saw locally a few years ago. There was a lot of passion about Bernie Sanders and they liked him as a person. The older people, the aging counter culture club, seemed to enjoy the curiosity and energy of the young folks. The young folks loved the party atmosphere. It was an interesting vibe happening and it didn’t surprise me that most of the Bernie supporters exited the light rail in the Tempe/ASU area.

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A Needed Vacation

Today was an odd adventure. A lot of quirky and surreal things happened today. It was like I was living out one of my dream state stuff, so it was like a Doom Patrol story from the 90s when Morrison was writing it. Seriously, if Mr. Nobody had shown up today, and I’m not sure if the heroin / ecstasy dealer wasn’t him, it wouldn’t have surprised me.

CF - 20160305aThings started innocently enough. I wanted to explore early rising Tijuana. With the fog kind of thick around 7am I decided it was good to start a walk towards downtown. The Pueblo Amigo is near the border and since I wasn’t sure if the path I normally take to the border was safe due to construction, I figured it was a good time to check things out. The good news was the path was available, so no need for a taxi ride. The sad news was it was just as congested as ever. It wasn’t even 7am when I got to the border and the foot traffic line was at least three hours, probably more four hours realistically. The car traffic might have been an hour wait, judging that they had new lanes built since I was last in Tijuana for Comic-Con last summer.

The sad thing I saw with the new routing construction to the border was that formally thriving businesses along the old border route are dying fast. No foot or car traffic to speak of and it might be an interesting econ study to see if those businesses are around in five years. Honestly, I’m surprised they have lasted this long since the foot traffic route was changed maybe five years ago. The area is a shell of its former self but it did yield some interesting photographs.

I walked across the Tijuana river, which I have to admit was just as clean as it was in the summer. OK, clean is a relative term but for many years only the adventuresome traveler, and by adventuresome I mean foolish, would use the bridge at all, especially at night. The river was a garbage dump and the homeless element living on the banks of the river were a dangerous lot. Now, the garbage has been cleaned, the homeless element gone and I even saw some construction workers on the bridge. Progress is being made.

This is where the story turns into a Grant Morrison inspired dream. I was wandering where the whim took me and I literally came to a point in the road where I could turn left or right. Going left would take me into semi-familiar territory; right would be a tantalizing new adventure since I didn’t immediacy recognize any of the landmarks I saw, but I kind of knew what they were. Curiosity took over and I went right.

It took me a few steps to hit a place I think was called the Love Hotel. It was one of ‘those’ CF - 20160305bplaces that rented in 4 hour blocks. Something was familiar about the area, but it was really vague. There was so much construction, especially recently, I couldn’t put my finger on why I kind of remembered the place. Walking around some more I came across a street that I kind of recognized. It was another back in my head thing that I knew instinctively I had been in the area but for the life of me I couldn’t place when I had been there. I kept thinking maybe I read about the area and that’s why it seemed so familiar but there was something more than that.

After walking a few more blocks it wasn’t the sights but the smell that activated my memories. I had passed by a lot of food carts but I walked by this one food cart and the smell was so familiar. I must have acted like Wolverine by the way I was smelling the surroundings but the more I smelled the more I remembered, but I still was having trouble remembering the circumstances that brought me to the place in the past. It took one more turn and it all fell into frightening place.

Many birthdays go I met Carlos, a bartender barker whom I introduced Butch to. I’ve talked about Carlos in the past, not in the best of glowing terms, but at the particular time this all happened he was someone I called a good acquaintance. At the time, being that I was in Tijuana and I ‘needed a guide’ in the words of Carlos, we started drinking heavily and went on a blur of an adventure. From what I remember at the time it was a slightly scary but fun drunken adventure. That is how I remembered it for all these years. I was so . . . I was going to use the polite phrase intoxicated but in light of the memories that came back I will use blind stinking drunk, I had to stumble back into the area to realize how much I was played back then. Carlos, and I guess this was his motivation all along, is a long term con guy. He’s not going to take your money right away. He goes for the long game. I say that because one of the things I did remember about that birthday was he was pushing me to go on a fishing trip with him to Rosarito. It sounded fun but I remember getting feelings of being out in a boat in the middle of the water and being shaken down for money and dumped over the side. Paranoia; I’m sure it was but I had a bad vibe about going with him so I never took him up on the offer.

What I remembered today about the birthday drunken trip was Carlos was trying to get me CF - 20160305cto buy for every bar we hit and every woman he wanted to get. Yes, the smells and the area was the strip club/prostitution section of Tijuana. I’m not a prude by a long shot but that area of Tijuana, even at 7am, is one of the sleaziest, dirtiest, grimiest and utterly dangerous places I’ve ever been. The area isn’t a Hollywood version of a sleazy part of town. You’re not going to find Julia Roberts on the corner. You’re not going to find a C-listed actress in one of the clubs. This was real life, no glamor sleaze.

Just as an example, I saw a boy at one of the food carts doing his homework while I think and hope it was his mom who was next to him at the food cart selling tacos and tamales to the patrons and street workers in the area. I wanted to think the woman running the cart was his mom because there was a street walker literally feet from the cart who kept an eye on the boy. She may have been his mother. The street walkers I saw lining this one street were hard women, and I’m only saying women because that was the persona being presented. Some may have been cross dressers but I didn’t take the time to do a full assessment. Back during my birthday, I remember Carlos dragging me from club to club, egging me on to buy drinks, being the birthday boy that I was, and having women trying to get me to buy them drinks and more. I was drunk but I did realize what was going on and didn’t take them up on any offers. That much I know happened because I was so paranoid about the experience back them I remember counting my money back at the hotel that evening to make sure I had all my money and I checked my bank account for a week to make sure no unusual charges popped up.

That area looked dangerous and was busy at 7am. When we went there is was 3-4pm and I remember Carlos telling the place gets jumping at 11pm, which is why he wanted to keep me going all night. I can just imagine how wild that area can get at night.

CF - 20160305dI went to the Tijuana arch and sat down. There was an American sitting across from me. At first I thought he was drunk but he wasn’t; he was mentally disturbed. He was muttering to himself, then his eyes fixed on me. I was a threat to him and he soon gathered up his things and shuffled off. Seconds later I saw this guy wander towards me. He looked like a thug you would see in a straight to Cinemax R-Rated street cop crime drama. Greasy and stained jacket over an equally dirty stained hoodie. Heavily tattooed, including neck and head. Cold eyes and stained fingers suggesting heavy drug use.

He came up to me and explained, without prompting, that he could get me anything I wanted. Ecstasy, heroin, cocaine, pot, PCP, girls; whatever I wanted he could get. Obviously he saw my camera and picked me as an easy mark. I took a cue from the mentally disturbed American and started muttering to the guy that the Kai in him was strong and he should follow the path of the Celestial Hosts. I think I walked away saying Pa Wraith be with you or something like that. Yeah, I think I was mixing up some Star Trek religious icons, but before I started muttering I got a glimpse of the Jehovah Witnesses on the corner and figure doing the odd religious references would work tom my favor.

A few hours later I went to a taco stand a few blocks from the hotel. I thought they had closed down but was told by my favorite concierge at the hotel that the time I saw it closed was just a normal closed day for them. Those street tacos are amazing and paired with bottled, real sugar Coca cola, oh sweet heaven did that combination hit the spot! I couldn’t finish all of the build it yourself tacos, which I got the smallest level, and that and the price of the 2 Coca colas I had was $6. It was so good.

While I was eating a cat wandered up to me. The cat wanted food and I tried explaining to the cat that the food I had wasn’t good for cats. (OK don’t look at me crazy for talking to a cat! I got a cat at home and she listens to me sometimes) The cat wouldn’t take no for an answer so I threw the cat a few scraps. Well that sealed the deal and the cat was my instant friend.

When I headed back to the hotel, I came across something disturbing. There was a pet shop in the mall near the hotel. It has been a long time since I’ve seen what pet shops used to be like in the United States and this place was sad. You could hear the dogs and cats in the back just sounding depressed, and that was what I heard from the outside. I didn’t want to go inside. When I turned the corner I saw two baby chickens in a small cage. I thought they were dead when I first came across them because they weren’t moving and were fanned out in the cage. The dog I saw was in worse shape. The dog kept biting at its nails, which were way too long. I think the cage was too small for its size because I don’t think the dog could have fully stood if it wanted to. I felt helpless because there wasn’t a lot I could do in the situation.

I went back to the hotel, went to the bar and had a couple of strawberry margaritas. Part of whom the Pueblo Amigo caters to are gamblers, especially American gamblers. Oh the sports betting was big and the guys I was sitting next to at the bar were the type of gamblers I thought were TV exaggerations. The three buddies were the Hispanic man who kept using man, buddy and my good friend like some people curse, the young American with the Fred Durst personality and dress, and the Asian guy who spoke very little but when he did it was to curse a play. The Hispanic guy knew everyone near the bar area and was given the remote so he could roam through the channels for his friends. These guys were real addicts. They had their phones hooked up to chargers and were on them constantly placing bets at other facilities. They had betting forms in front of them to track wins and losses. They were even doing bets between themselves.

It was an enlightening but crazy scene.

 

Day 2

My last day on vacation wasn’t going to be spent in Tijuana but in San Diego. That meant getting up at 3am to get through the border check by 4am. I’ve said this on every trip I do in Tijuana; I have to get up early for the border crossing because missing the window by 15 minutes can be the difference from getting through the border line in 10 minutes or 2 hours. I got through in 5 minutes and this as one of the first times I picked the right feed line to get into, meaning the border workers didn’t have to check out someone for five minutes.

The wait for the trolley wasn’t that bad. It was only an hour wait. Another rule of the border is get the second trolley that arrives, not the first one. Everyone crams onto the first one; it’s standing room only. The second trolley arrives about 10 minutes later and will be less crowded. You’ll have a chance to sit down, which is needed in taking the one-hour ride.

The ride was OK, nothing eventful and I got downtown and had breakfast at Brian’s 24. Brian’s isn’t a bad place to eat at 2am or 5am. Honestly it’s pretty good but I miss the Old Trolley Café that used to be near the YMCA. Brian’s has a hipster’s vibe to it; like it is cool for the sake of being cool. Here’s an example of what I mean; they have an 80s radio station playing at Brian’s. The station, which supposedly associated with one of the original VJs from MTV, plays the music you would hear on neutered MTV. OK, to clarify even better, the music playing was mostly the stuff you would hear on contemporary radio at the time, sprinkled in with some slightly edgier grooves. So you’ll hear a lot of Michael Jackson, The Police, Katrina and the Waves and occasionally you might hear Gary Numan’s Cars. You won’t hear Jo Boxer, The Smiths or even Kate Bush on the station, and the early DJs did play the odd and eclectic stuff on MTV. In SoCal, you had 91X and KROQ playing a lot of alternative stuff. To me if someone is ‘hip’ then they are hip to the outlier trends. Playing the easy stuff is, well, easy. They may not have the license to play their own music or maybe this was a station that closely fits their sensibilities, but it feels like they are trying too hard to be 80s cool. They off just enough that the result isn’t authentic. The Old Trolley Café didn’t try to be anything but a dining place and it catered to the travels and locals. When I would eat there it felt like San Diego; laid back, surprising sophisticated in a non-pretense way and a staff over the years that was loyal and knowledgeable about the offerings.

After breakfast it was just 6am so I took the bus to La Jolla Shores. With my decades in CF - 20160305fSan Diego I took a lot of things for granted so I didn’t appreciate them. I lived in San Diego so going to the beach should have been something I did all the time but I didn’t. I figured I’d have tome and I went to enough parties and gatherings at the beach, maybe once in a year and a half, I was kind of good with heading to the beach. When you live in San Diego, beaches are always crowded during the day so facing the crowds getting to the beach, finding parking, then leaving at night with the crowds, the beach was an all-day traffic jam I didn’t want to be a part of.

CF - 20160305gGoing very early in the morning the only people there were the locals. There were lots of people walking their dogs, talking the exercise stroll or surfing. With the overcast day and the cool winds, it was so relaxing just listening to the crashing surf. It was so relaxing taking everything in. There was this one person who took his exercising seriously. He started off by the children’s play area, using the structure as a gym center. He played soccer for a bit, kicking the ball against the wall. He did a lot of stretching and yoga poses by the water. The coolest or weirdest thing I saw was when he picked up a trash can and started running around with it over his head and using it like weights. I have to say as gyms go, being at the ocean is not a bad place to work out.

A was at the beach over an hour and I did get a feeling of being one with nature. My geek came out while there and I felt like I was Paul Atreides on Caladan. I was savoring the wet sand and the water, especially the water. It was my last day of vacation and the next day I was returning to Arrakis, which in my case is Phoenix. Considering I had gotten to the beach by bus, I wondered why did I waste so much time not going to the beach when I lived in San Diego? I know living in San Diego there were so many things I took advantage of and didn’t explore as much as I should have. One of the lessons I’m learning from this trip is that I have to experience adventure where I am. There are spots in Phoenix I haven’t seen and I should take advantage of being there and exploring the place. Just on a few runs I have come across areas rich in street art and local personality. I need to find more of that in Phoenix.

After I got tired of the beach I was confused by where to go next. I wanted to head to the North Park / Hillcrest areas but I was meeting a friend downtown and wasn’t sure if I had the routes down enough to hit those areas and still be on time for my friend. In decided to play it safe and go back downtown and explore the harbor before seeing my friend. I ended up watching some workers build a set by the new Children’s Park. It was for the famous half marathon, which I started kicking myself about because it would have been nice to photograph that.

I had lunch at a sushi spot downtown that I will never eat at again. The first and second time I went to this spot the food was good. The last few visits for the past few years have been terrible. Each time I’ve gone recently it’s a coin toss to bet on if the food will be substandard or the service staff. This last time was a little of both falling down. I guess another life hack I’ll have to put in practice is never do dining in the popular part of town. You have to look for the pocket places the locals go or avoid the popular area eateries all together. I would have had a more satisfying meal if I went to the downtown Albertsons and bought food. I’ve done it may times and have rarely been disappointed. They have a sushi area in the store with people creating the dishes.

I had some time to explore Horton Plaza and I went into the comic shop they have in the mall. Something I miss from my younger days in San Diego is getting the old smells that I got from comics, books and record shops. There was the smell of the paper, the aged slightly rustic smell I would get coming into a shop like that. The smell was a transport vessel and it’s something missing from the stores today. Back in Phoenix, the comic shop I go to still has a comic book smell to it. Even with the move they made a few years ago, there’s a sense of grounding I get from that shop. The comic shop in the mall didn’t have that. There are lots of comics and other collectibles in the store. The store is rather large and knowing how expensive rent is in Horton Plaza I hope they’re making money at the location. For any modern collector, this shop does have a big selection of comics old and new.

I finally made my way to Neighborhood to meet my friend. I always rave about Neighborhood because it is the type of place I like when talking about exploring a town. It’s close enough to downtown action that it gets the wandering tourist but the vibe I get from Neighborhood is a local vibe. When I walk in the place it feels like San Diego. They have a lot of local beers and other spirits to indulge in. My go to drink is the Julian Hard Cider. I like the name Happy Apple Juice and I have to be a little careful because it does sneak up on me. After getting my drink The Cure starting playing on the sound system. When I mentioned the difference between trying to be hip and really hip, Neighborhood is a place I find hip without trying to be hip. They have a style at Neighborhood that reads neighborhood. It’s funky approachable.

CF - 20160305hAfter that, my friend showed up, we got caught up and we had a great Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride adventure. For me it was great looking catching up just getting the sense back in one another. It would have been nice to see her earlier, but seeing my friend Cody at the end of the trip made so much sense. I have missed the Cody vibe, which like the ocean I have neglected a lot because I always figured she would be there. There’s a few people I get that calming energy vibe with here but Cody’s vibe is something that is almost mystical. Hanging out with her for hours is like being Alice wandering through Wonderland, even down to the cookie.

All of that made this morning a pain. I’ve got about two hours before I fly out, and yes I checked and the time is right. This was a rewarding vacation, despite some of the obstacles, because there was no pressure to do any particular things and I was able to explore and roam.

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Vacation Fog will Lift

I had a kind of weird dream last night. I’m sure it was related to some things that happened late last night. I have to say this trip has been a test of the techniques I have to use at work and that I’ve had to develop and learn for myself when I lost my job last April. I’ve had to learn to cope, adapt and bypass difficulties as the come up. My inner self wants to scream, bully and otherwise muscle my way through difficulties, but I’ve stubbornly learned that brute force and intimidation doesn’t work in all situations. Not that I used to use the brute force technique all the time, but I would get so frustrated in going to the intimidation mode I figured out that my yelling or getting incredibly belligerent with a person only hurt me.

OK, getting back to the story. I had another obstacle on the trip, which caused a small domino effect. I went to sleep thinking I was going to spend another day trying to clear up the issues and in doing so waste another vacation day. In the dream, the only thing I clearly remember was the end of it. I was on Revolucion, a street in Tijuana. There was a bar opening up, I think it was The Cave (an old bar that used to be in the area) and my friend Donna was opening up another bar down the street. The was a crowd at The Cave and Donna’s bar was just opening up and there was no one there. My mother popped up as a hologram and told me if I was having problems breaking the code, Donna would help me hack it when I needed her help and not before.

I woke up right after that. Donna isn’t a hacker, but as I was getting up, feeling refreshed with a huge five hours of sleep, I had a What Would Donna Do Moment. The thing is I know Donna would do the same thing I was thinking of doing, but then I thought if Donna asked me for advice, what would I tell her. That’s when I realized what I had to do to fix the entire main situation and it would in turn fix the minor ones. It took me less than 30 minutes to research and fix the issue to my satisfaction and all the little issues were pushed off to the side because the main issue wasn’t going to happen. So yes, it seems Donna helped me with the life hack and she helped without even knowing it.

My mom would probably say this was a sign from God through dreams. Other people would say my animal spirit guided me. The only thing I do know is I didn’t have a drink yesterday so a delusional drunken vision probably isn’t a good explanation as to what happened. Probably my unconscious creative mind was able to work past my logical mind to give the proper results. All I know is the thing I’m putting into practice this trip is taking the time to use my head to work past obstacles so I can have a satisfying resolution to stressful situations.

I want to say I can now enjoy the rest of my vacation, but I have a feeling littler bumps will come up and we’ll see how I’ll handle them. Now I will hit the foggy morning and see what Tijuana has to offer.

The first full vacation day starts with a cool fog. It will lift just like my spirits.

The first full vacation day starts with a cool fog. It will lift just like my spirits.

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Doing a Scotty

I wrote about how I can over plan for a trip. The reason I do is I expect something to go wrong that I’m going to have to compensate for. Today I was sure I had planned everything right, but I screwed up bad. I was sure I had picked an AM flight to San Diego but it was a PM flight. Of course if I want to change to another flight it will cost me an arm and a leg. OK, maybe not that much but to change will cost me more than the tickets.

I did what I usually do, get mad at myself for a few minutes then mentally slapped myself so I could take a full assessment of the situation. The obvious option was for me to go back home then come back later. I’m not a big fan of that because considering I’m already dealing with a screw up, to throw in other variables into the mix can cause for more complications. For instance, I could go home and oversleep and miss the flight. There could be a crash somewhere on the return route delaying me from getting back. I could be something as simple as getting back in time but the TSA is overwhelmed and I’m stressing in the line hoping to get through before the flight leaves.

No, the best thing for me to do in these situations is to stay in the known location and assess things.

The first thing I was worried about was being able to get to the hotel. The one other time I screwed up the departure times I got into San Diego when all the public transportation had shut down. It cost me close to $100 to get a taxi to the border. That happened during regular time, meaning San Diego wasn’t in Daylight Savings Time. Today they are on Daylight Savings Time and the flight is getting in within the transit safety margins, so I’ll be able to get to the border with no problem.

Time to breathe.

Luckily I was planning, if things got boring, to try and catch up on a few TV shows. I had a few loaded on my tablet but I have a 64 GB jump drive loaded with a few weeks of shows I haven’t seen plus a few things I said I was ‘going to catch up on.’ I was only expecting to use the ones I loaded on the tablet for the airline flight itself. Now with all this downtime and with the large computer with me, I can watch a lot of them today.

Time to breathe a little deeper.

There has been an improvement to the Phoenix Airport. They have installed these nice bench charging stations. Before I got here I was prepared to sit on the floor sharing an outlet with a few other passengers but now I have this semi-nice chair I’m sitting in, the laptop is set up and it’s plugged in for power. Another plus is I seem to have found one of the few benches positioned where I can see one of the monitors playing CNN. The only hiccup is the table surfaces are so smooth they don’t help for mouse movement. Problem solved by using the printout I did for my reservation as a mouse pad. With mouse use it means I can play Everquest 2 later.

I can tell you from experience that airport Wi-Fi is terrible. I’m not a big fan of public Wi-Fi, so since there is a charging station and I have my Anker brick charger, I have my JetPack, my portable hot spot, attached to the brick and the brick being recharging from the station. I had to so this work around because the JetPack attached directly to the charger wasn’t working I’m not sure why. In any case, I’ve got a secure Wi-Fi line and connected to the web so I can take care of business. It’s also a few days before the end of the pay cycle and I’ve used very little data this month so there’s no fear of going over.

I’ve figured out how to adjust my schedule for the remaining time I’ll have. I have a friend I really wanted to see today, she was a main reason why I decided to do the trip, and I’m hoping we can reschedule.

While I was writing this I remembered something I had to send to my comic book people and I shot them a message. I was going to hit a comic book shop in San Diego and try to pick up a few missing comics, but since my plan was to go there today and I’m stuck at the airport, I improvised.

An example of 'doing a Scotty.'

An example of ‘doing a Scotty.’

That’s the thing I’ve learned in my ‘old age.’ Life is going to hit you with some random junk; that’s just the way life is. What we have to learn in life is how to adjust to the changes life throws at us. You can be someone who bends and adapts to change or someone who is strict in their routine, but for me I think I survive life the best when I make sure I remember life isn’t out to get me and I prepare myself to adapt to change.

I could have easily gotten so angry with myself that I stormed home and said it wasn’t meant for me to go. I’ve seen a few people come up to the charging station and get upset because some of the charging prongs don’t work. I have a backpack full of stuff that makes me able to do work arounds to get my stuff charged and doing what I need it to do so I’m not bored.

I tell you this feels like a commercial I saw a year or so ago with people trying to find a working USB charger on this station. I just realized I had a couple of items that could use charging so I happen to have my 4-port USB adapter, hooked it up to the computer and now I have my devices charging. If I wasn’t afraid of viruses or someone getting into my files I might be tempted to offer use of my computer to charge their phones. But again, I’ve got my brick charger as a back up to the backup.

I got a text from my friend and we’re going to meet up Thursday so that should work out great. So in the span of two hours a situation that on the surface could have been seen as doom and gloom is turning out fine.

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The White Devil Works to Oppress with Cake

Racism is everywhere in America. People want to hide racism, think it’s not as bad it seems, but my brothers and sisters, The Man is always trying to put us down in an up front and also in subtle ways.

Innocent cake or racist code for the oppression of the Black race?

Innocent cake or racist code for the oppression of the Black race?

Today I had to visit the bastion of Mr. Charlie called Wal-Mart. The Man has made it impossible to support homegrown black businesses by making the goods and services of our brothers and sisters unreachable for us average folks to support. So we must go to the haven of The Man to fill his coffers. When I was there I was overwhelmed by the influence of White advertising suggestion and I decided to get something simple; a piece of cake. What I was confronted with was a not so subtle reminder of how White privilege is an influence to us every day.

In the cake section, the Black cake was priced at $1.98 while the White cake was priced at $2.24. In that one subtle display the corporate White devils were telling the customer that a Black person was worth less than a White person. While you might see cake and only cake in the illustration and the price discrepancy I see over 500 years of oppression being illustrated in the face of sweets passed out to innocent minds who are influenced by the bigotry and racial oppression that is prevalent in America.

Oh, the racial injustice in the influence of pastry doesn’t end there. If you look at the expiration date the Black cake is expired on 3/1 while the White cake ends on 3/5. See, even in setting up expiration dates the White oppressor is showing that the worth of Black lives is less than the worth of White ones. They can stay on the shelf longer than their White counterparts. The Black cake is of less worth, and less desirable in an economic sense, than the White cake. The Black cake, while similar and side by side to the White cake, is off lesser value.

I saw White patrons purchasing the Black cake more than the White cake. Some might say because of the cheaper price of Black lives, sorry I mean the Black cake, the White people are showing an allegiance to Blacks and to Black cake. Oh, you would be wrong my brothers and sisters. Just as White America has co-opted our culture, the symbolic nature of the cheaper Black cake being picked up by White patrons confirms how deep down White Americans are willing to exploit the cheap labor of the Black worker and incorporate Black culture as long as they don’t have to pay full market value to do so. They are more than willing to buy and exploit the cheap Black cake rather than pay for the same Black cake at the White cake value.

The scary nature of The Man is he wants you to be oblivious to the subtle ways that he shapes your mind against my Black brothers and sisters. In a White conglomerate like Wal-Mart, even cake can be used to devalue Black lives.

 

OK, just in case no one was in on the joke, the above writing was satire, however the photo accompanying the article was real. That is an actual photo from Wal-Mart taken a few hours ago. You might think it is crazy for someone to have such extreme thoughts, but I heard as recently as a few months ago on a bus where someone on a bus explained how the Ebola virus was a man-made virus created by the government to wipe out Black people, much like the AIDS virus and the crack cocaine epidemic. He was telling this story to the bus driver with a few people listening and while I thought his premise was flawed for a number of reasons, there were a good number of people I saw nodding their heads in agreement with the man.

We like to think that crazy conspiracy theories are in the realm of X-Files devotees or listeners to late night talk radio. The truth is people will believe semi- fringe science more than we would like to admit. I’m going to be kind and not go with the obvious response and say those folks are stupid or naïve. There is a national Presidential candidate, you know his name, who in all likelihood on by March 2 will have cemented his position as being the inevitable nominee of the Republican party. He gained this, in a very profound way, by playing up to the fears and anxieties of Middle America. He used the same tactics and talking points I have seen for years used in beauty shops, barbershops and churches in the Black community. You take a realistic but complicated set of circumstances, make them far too simplistic than they should be but peddle it off as the gospel truth to people who don’t have the resources or are unwilling to verify the information.

Cake and race may seem like a silly correlation, but if I hadn’t qualified it as an exercise and had someone of ‘importance’ assumed it was real the information could have gone viral and become a national debate.

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SC Just Made the Election Real

A few months ago (and it’s odd thinking it’s only been a few months) a man came down an escalator, his wife behind him, and he walks to a podium where he declared his candidacy for President. Almost immediately he made a statement many considered insensitive at best and racist at worst. The press, not overly impressed with the man in the first place, were quick to jump on the statement and declared his candidacy was a joke. They declared that Donald Trump, a business tycoon and reality star, wasn’t a serious candidate, was doing the run as a publicity stunt and his campaign would soon end.

Donald Trump made a lot of ‘mistakes’ before any ballots were cast and the press was ready to jump on every infraction. On any talking head political show, you could see pundits happily discuss the seemingly weekly gaffs by the candidate. Every week some pundit would declare that the latest gaffe by Trump would be the end of his candidacy, despite the fact his poll numbers continued to rise and almost immediately he was the front runner in every poll.

Let’s mention one thing, before going on, that has helped Trump in his bid for the White House. Trump, despite what the press would like us to believe, is someone they like. Using an old newspaper term, he’s good copy. A few weekends ago I watched the Capra classics Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and the press in those two films were portrayed as a group who would do anything for a good story, even bending the truth if it sold papers. Trump is someone that sells papers and he understands his cache. He exploits the press just as much as the press exploits him. Think of all the interviews Trump has done. You would be amazed at how many interviews he has given over the phone. We’re talking about TV interviews where you could easily set up a camera and broadcast from wherever he is, yet we get a graphic of Trump while he’s on the phone. (I sometimes wonder if he dresses up for those calls. He could be in the bathroom giving those interviews for all we know) While other candidates, to get coverage, need to have the sit down, face to face talk, Trump has gotten away with literally phoning in his interviews.

While the press surmised, after realizing how many phone interviews trump has done, that the calls made him look weak, in the eyes of a lot of people the phone interviews makes Trump look presidential. Despite the words from a few networks that they would stop doing the Trump phone interviews, they have continued to do so.

After the South Carolina primary on Saturday, there can be no doubt that Trump is a dominate leader in the Republican party. The candidacy isn’t for Trump to lose; someone has to take it from him. I put the wording in that way because the conventional wisdom since his announcement for President has been that Trump would do something to fail; that he would say something that would cause the public to realize Trump was a one trick pony with no ideas. The political pundits assumed that at some point the public would see the real Trump and sour against him. When the time came to become serious, they would reject Trump. Despite all the political wisdom, Trump is winning. Trump is living up to the term Teflon candidate because no attack, no gaffe on his part has hurt him in the polls.

For any of the remaining candidates to beat Trump, and to be perfectly clear the only two that have a realistic shot at beating him are Cruz and Rubio, they have to rip the nomination from him. Here’s the problem, neither Cruz or Rubio are ever going to do that. Yes, I’m putting down the marker and saying they don’t have a shot of defeating Trump.

Let’s look at the obvious problem with both candidates. They are Hispanic. I’m sorry I have to lay it all out there but for decades the Republicans have spent a lot of time and demonizing Hispanics. Build the dang fence. Illegal immigrant is the phrase of choice rather than undocumented people. English only. Hell, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy and he talked about how Mexico was sending all the criminals to America, that jumped him to the top of the race. With all the decades of hatred put out against Hispanics, does anyone think they’re going to look at Rubio and Cruz and say, “Well, they might be Hispanic but they are good Hispanics so I’ll vote for them.” That isn’t going to happen.

Another obstacle against Cruz and Rubio is their appearance to the public. Rubio looks like the kid in the ill-fitting suit running for high school president. That water gulping image is something he hasn’t been able to shake and with poor debate performances it’s tough to think of him going up against Putin or ISIL. Cruz is Eddie Haskill, plain and simple. He has the aura of thinking he is the slickest, smartest person in the room. In interviews he sounds snarky and smug. It isn’t even a secret that the party establishment doesn’t like Cruz, which should be a plus in the political climate of anti-establishment. The simple truth is Cruz, being a Senator, still has the establishment aura around him despite wanting to be an outsider.

Maybe the biggest obstacle between Cruz and Rubio beating Trump is the fact that two of them are going after Trump. If you use traditional political wisdom, Rubio and Cruz are splitting the ‘anyone but Trump’ votes. If you assume the votes they got were a rejection of Trump, then their combined numbers would have beaten Trump. It would have been 32% for Trump and 44% of the combined Rubio/Cruz numbers in South Carolina. South Carolina is a winner takes all state, so the winner got all of the 50 delegates from the state. That means Donald Trump got all 50 delegates and has a strong lead in the delegate count going into Super Tuesday. The official delegate count is Rubio with 10, Cruz with 11 and Trump with 67. If Trump does as well as projected on Super Tuesday, with a number of those states being winner takes all, it will be close to impossible for any candidate to beat him.

The big question for the Republican establishment is this; Rubio and Cruz are potentially splitting the votes that would help in securing delegates. Does the establishment get one of them to leave the race so there is a shot of defeating Trump? The problem is this isn’t the political machine of a Capra era movie. I’m sure both candidates are stubborn enough to think they have what it takes to defeat Trump and I’m sure there are pundits out there who think one of them has a chance, but as long as both Cruz and Rubio are in the race, they are splitting votes and Trump will beat them. The press will still cover Trump for the flash and showmanship and the Republicans will ultimately have to deal with Republican nominee Trump.

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