Thanksgiving: How Should we Spend this Holiday?

Last year I wrote about Independence Day and how our forefathers made clear that it was a holiday meant to be celebrated with our neighbors, rather family.  If your family happens to live on the same street, that would be the exception.  But, by and large, our forefathers we quite clear on what the importance of Independence Day was for our country, and that it was the people to our left and right that we should be celebrating with, as it was those people to our left and right that fought hardest along with us.

Another holiday that gets misconstrued thanks to advertisement is that of Thanksgiving.  It’s a holiday that turns our airports, railroads, and even bus stations into a fiasco.

The movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles dissected this very issue through the genius comedy of John Candy, and help from Steve Martin.  In the movie, Martin an ad-man, is trying to get home promptly prior to Thanksgiving from New York City to Chicago.  Candy, a travelling salesman bumps into Martin on his way to his gate, and the two are reluctantly attached at the hip for a three or four-day fiasco that has them landing in Wichita, Kansas, getting stuck in a pasture in Missouri (if I recall correctly), and in between catching rides with some of the Midwest’s most stereotypical redneck types.  It’s funny, and a bit typical.

At any rate, the movie centers around Martin’s immense desire to get home to his family, where his parents have flown in already, and kids are waiting, and so on and so forth.  And, it’s a nice a movie to play during Thanksgiving, if you’re into that sort of thing.

But, the problem here is that this movie is likely the product of an onslaught of nonsense that travel agencies, airlines, and Amtrak has sold to all of us for years prior to the 80’s: we should be with family during Thanksgiving.

I grew up in a house that demanded it.  In fact,  I believe that the most terse words I’ve heard from my mother were times I had to confront the fact that I would not be home for Thanksgiving.

And being with family during holidays is great.  I wouldn’t suggest it to be a bad thing, necessarily.

But, I will say that we’re not doing the holiday of Thanksgiving justice, in the way it was defined by our forefathers.

For one, look back at the original Thanksgiving.  It was a major feast between pilgrims and native Americans.  They came together, broke bread, corn, fish, and lots of other food that would likely scare us all the way it was prepared.

It’s fair to say that at this particular Thanksgiving, there were family members among the larger group.  But the difference here was, that these people were all neighbors together.  They lived separate lives day to day, and although there was much in the way of interaction prior to this one day, they didn’t necessarily rely on each other from minute to minute.

From this Thanksgiving, came many Thanksgivings that brought us to 1776.  All of these Thanksgivings were with neighbors, the people most close by proximity.  And true, families still were living together, or in the same town as one another, but the idea of sitting down with your neighbor played a more important role.

You may wonder why that is.  I can tell you, it’s because people had Christian values, and were living the example of how to treat their neighbor.  That is why Thanksgiving in the past was a very neighborly endeavor.

There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be the case now.  All of this air travel that we put ourselves through, because we have little in the way of vacation to take, because we had to take all our vacation days in the summer.  It’s madness.

Part of the fabric of our country is developing meaningful relationships with those closest to us, and that’s our neighbors.

I heard one person talk about the fact that when it came to raising money for medical bills, they didn’t know what people did before Go Fund Me came along.  I can tell you what they did.

First, medical bills were not nearly as high as they are today, so that’s helpful.  Second, their neighbors pitched in.  I know that might throw some people off, but the fact of the matter is, neighborhoods in the US were at their strongest when the neighbors were their closest allies.

And now we’ve let all that slip away.  It really didn’t take long.  I think as a kid, growing up in the 80’s, quite a bit of that sunk in then.  And yes, there was some of it developing even as far back as the 40’s, thanks to racism, classism, even politics.

But the age of technology has truly wreaked havoc on this concept of being neighborly.  Somehow we’ve reached a point where we have more in common with a total stranger than we do the family living right next door for the past ten years.  How can you not think that is sad?

So if you’re truly interested in doing something about this issue, consider creating a traditional Thanksgiving in your neighborhood.  But don’t look up recipes from the Pilgrim era, you’ll hate them, and it will be sure to keep the neighbors away for good.

I think in the end, you’ll find the wisdom in developing solid bonds with your neighbors, and sharing in the delight of a holiday or two with them.  The airlines will get plenty of your money come Christmas!

OKC Memorial: Did We Learn Anything?

I recently spent a long weekend in Oklahoma City to promote my recent project, an anthology of veteran’s which encompasses many veterans, from many walks of life, and many experiences.  With the exception of career, there is nothing any of us have in common.  Not in interests, culture, upbringing, style, attire, absolutely nothing.

As we all know, Oklahoma City has the displeasure of being the location of one of the saddest parts of US history.  On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a U-Haul truck full of fertilizer and explosives, rigged to explode, targeting the Alfred P. Murrah federal building, found between North Harvey and North Robinson Avenues.

The bomb killed 168 people inside the building, and injured 680, and effectively destroyed half of the building, not to mention causing serious damage for 16 blocks.

McVeigh’s plot, which was assisted by Terry Nichols, came about because of their ideological views, and their disagreement with the actions taken by government at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas.  In both instances, federal agents began investigations into firearms and other weapons acquired by the groups at each location, and whether it was legal to possess them.  In both instances, there has been wide disagreement about the volume of illegal weapons that each group had, but in the end, what was factually reported by our federal agencies was a small amount of truly illegal weapons, that on their own, may not have garnered the aggressive investigative efforts that the groups initially garnered.

However, while the motivation of these two men is still subject of some debate, what I want to talk about is their actions.  McVeigh had said publicly that he was not aware of a daycare being located in the building, making that discovery over the course of his “canvassing” or scouting of the building.

He passed over another federal building he targeted, because it had a florist shop.  But yet, when actually walking inside the Murrah Building, he managed to miss the fully-windowed day care, in the hall lobby.  He was asked about this on the stand, and said had he known there were children present, it might have given him pause.

Regardless, I can’t imagine the disillusionment McVeigh had to visit daily to carry out this plan.  And the fact is that he left the area, and if not for a traffic violation 90 minutes later, he might still be out in the wind today.

During my trip, I spoke to many long-time OKC locals, who spoke about the tremendous healing affect that this incident had on the entire city.  At the time, OKC was an unsafe place to be.  There were strong-arm robberies at will, muggings, break-ins, and wide spread violent crime that seemed to target strangers to the actors at an elevated rate.

But the sheer violence of McVeigh’s act brought the entire city together.  By and large, the citizens realized that life in OKC could not continue down the path it was, and maintain a place that people would want to live in, let alone spend any time in.

Since that ever tragic day, OKC has rebuilt much of it’s downtown, has worked hard to bringing relevant artistic elements to the area, to celebrate the many communities that make up the city, and to embrace the uniqueness and charm that only can be identified as being that of OKC.

Today we see a very similar scenario playing out at the national level.  We have extremists on the left and right scales of political ideology battling one another on city streets, throughout our entire country.  We no longer have room to speak with others, especially others that are determined to talk in rhetoric and circular logic.  There may be true value in ignoring such tactics, but it does not mean it’s wise to ignore the person.

It doesn’t mean you need to treat them differently either.  It does mean we need to decide individually what it is that we hold dear, truly.  I for one want an immigration system that will be followed and respected.  That doesn’t mean I want immigrants to be shunned, or foresaken, or to have previous agreements ripped away.  None of that holds to American values, and we would be foolish to engage in such third world politicking.

At the same time, there are people that want to vilify those like me who stand for a rule of law that is pragmatic, and sound.  They are extremists, just as those who chanted over and over again that building a wall is a solution.  We should not be so ignorant to identify that both these views are extreme, and truly have no business guiding our country.

At the same time, I respect that there are those that view my words as some sort of threat.  Technically they might be.  But there is no intention of threatening anyone, and having sound, pragmatic law is not a threat to anyone, except to those that break the law.  Perhaps that sounds circular.  But consider our past.  If we did not have sound laws that respected a true view of right and wrong, would we have made it as far as we have?  Would the US still be what it is, after nearly 250 years of existence?

I appreciate ideology, it’s a great place to start from.  But ideology can’t be the only thing guiding rules, law, how we think, or what we fight for.  When you do, you produce extremism.

And quite honestly, one need to go no further than 620 North Harvey Avenue in Oklahoma City to see what raw ideology produces.  The aftermath of which is something too hard to stare at.  Admittedly, I cry so much when I visit the Memorial that I can’t even make it to the museum.  This time I got in the door, and 45 seconds later bolted back out.  I don’t want to live in the aftermath of the Memorial every second in this country, everywhere I go, and I don’t believe anyone else here wants to either.

It’s going to take everyone who’s shouting for their cause to sit down, truly consider what it is they are saying.  If all you are doing is spouting ideology, you are not helping, and it would be best for all of us if you stopped and found a quiet place to park yourself.  You are adding only vitriol, in both what you say, and who you say it to.  It’s not going to produce anything positive.

Be honest with yourself, no matter where you sit on the spectrum, because more than ever we need both sides to accept that there are some very wrong things they are promoting, and there are some very right things they are promoting.

If you are idolizing people within your spectrum, that’s not helping us either.  No matter who’s President, they are only as effective as Congress, and we haven’t had an effective Congress in many years.  You can’t blame that on any President.

Don’t think of this as a call to centrism, because it’s not.  True functioning ideas to fix problems need to prevail, no matter where they come from.  Fabrications, “full-court presses,” and ideology are not going to help us get any of the solutions that we truly need.

In the beginning I mentioned how the group of veterans that I worked with on this project, Walk with Warriors, came from very different backgrounds, and very different places in life.  But somehow, we came together, vividly.  We didn’t know each other before, and it may be difficult for us to stay in touch after, but we came together as one and continued in that vain as we worked to promote our project, and reach an audience we didn’t define.  Time will tell if we were successful, but we tried, and never fought with each other over ideology.  It may seem a small, mild example, but it’s people working together.  I’d like to think if we can do this, then the rest of us can do this too.  We can be big boys and big girls, who sacrifice our ideology, for what it is truly fair and beneficial for all.

For my part, I think after visiting the Memorial, I’m going to search my own ideas and see what really matters, because it’s only fair that if I issue this call to action that I embody it.

Perhaps the future will find me in an even better place.  Until next time!

Walk with Warriors Book Launch

There is always some nerves involved in a new endeavor.  Even the most consummate professional has that feeling when going into a new situation.

Such was the case when I appeared for the Walk with Warriors book launch, held in downtown Oklahoma City at Rose State College’s Innovation Station.

It’s a very neat spot, with MakerBot supplies and equipment, lots of Lego’s, and a massive electronics charging bay that surpasses any of the charging stations you see at the airport.

I’m not sure what goes on there day to day, but what I do know is that it was an incredibly vibrant spot for a book launch.  We made a success of it, with 12 of the 22 authors making appearances.

Oklahoma City is a college football town, in particular, the epicenter for Sooners fans.  This town lights up on fall Saturdays, and though we were a week away from the official start of fall, it was week two of the season, and the Sooners were on the road in Ohio.

Here’s what many people don’t understand about college football towns that don’t have a professional football following; college football is life.  People, even when the team is on the road, tailgate at the home venue, they bring out large televisions to watch the game in the parking lot, they barbecue (more on that another time), and they eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, until the game, which was a night game, is over.

The Sooners play in a town a few miles south of downtown Oklahoma City named Norman.  And so, that wreaked a little havoc on our launch.  The crowds that might typically form on a Saturday downtown didn’t materialize.  But like the true soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen that we are, we handled the situation the best we could, by applying a full-on blitzkrieg to anyone who was within sprinting distance of the venue, and telling them our story.

I have to admit, it’s not the tactics that I would have associated with a book launch, it had its advantages.  Because, it’s something we’ve all trained for and carried out, in one way or another.

And in terms of sales, the results were in: we sold dozens of copies, all with signatures from the whole lot of us.

Oklahoma City was wonderful to Walk With Warriors, and we couldn’t have been more appreciative.  Maybe on the second go around we won’t try to overtake college football Saturday.  Oh, did I mention we’ll be putting together a second installment?

See you then!

Travel: August in Puerto Rico

I consider myself lucky because I get to do a fair bit of travelling in my new lifestyle.  Something my former career wouldn’t allow for on the regular basis I now indulge.

And with that new found flexibility, I find myself frequenting a certain region….the Caribbean!

Ah yes, there’s truly nothing better than being in a hot and sunny locale with strong drinks and good books.  Laying on the beach, without a care in the world.  If you think your therapist does a good job working through your issues, try five days in Caribbean during the non-peak season, and you’ll accomplish a year’s worth of couch time.

At any rate, I’ve frequented foreign islands in the past, but this time I thought I would go where my driver’s license allows, and in this case, I chose Puerto Rico.

What a fantastic island!  I stayed in the Santurce area, which is the far north coast of San Juan.  Directly to the west is Old San Juan, and if you’re looking for that traditional Latin-Caribbean landscape, it’s the place to go!

If you don’t know, Puerto Rico is a fish fan’s paradise.  They have ample charters available, all geared towards grabbing those large red snappers, dolphin-fish (Mahi Mahi for those scared to use the word “dolphin”), and many other delicious seafood that swarms the region.

Be advised, that while much of the Caribbean has calm waves and water for miles around, Puerto Rico does not.  In fact, Puerto Rico has some very well-known surf spots on the island, that attract those in the know.  The waves are not what I would call difficult, but they are definitely different from what you may be used to in Caribbean.

That said, if you are into fishing, this kind of wave activity can be helpful in certain circumstances.  For one, it means that schools of fish, particularly tuna, will be moving in and out, and constantly fighting for position due to the water.  This means that their tired, and not always aware of their travel path, meaning that you can grab some big steals when you would normally be waiting out the calm.

At the same time, if you’re a beach goer, and you have children, you’re going to need to be cautious about where they are in relation to you.  These, though I said not difficult to contend with, are indeed strong, and they can move you without you realizing it.  Especially for kids that aren’t high school age, this can become a deadly scenario without any frame of reference.

If the quality of fishing I briefly described caught your attention, the food in Puerto Rico is as well.

Puerto Rico has their own bread, Pan de Agua, that has a sweet quality to it.  But it’s not so sweet that you would automatically label it as such.  After having ‘Pan’ with three or four of my meals, I have serious questions about all this white and wheat bread I was being given throughout the years.

The beaches are great, except that if you go out in the early morning, say to watch the sunrise (and they are absolutely stunning in PR, I highly recommend this!), you might find that hotel guests and even some locals have strewn trash about from the night before.  And that’s a bit sad.

Surely, travelers are to blame for much of this, but that anyone would ruin a gorgeous beach with trash is just, well, trashy.

That said, much of the employees of the businesses along the beach put in a lot of effort to clean up, and it’s certainly commendable.  I felt like these folks are unsung heroes, and I hope that when you visit, you make sure to thank them for their efforts like I did.

The hospitality of staff here is consistent with what you find in the US, nothing terrible, nothing extraordinary.

There was a bartender at La Concha’s Sunday brunch that lined us up with a lot twists on mimosas that were absolutely delicious!  Even if you’re not a mimosa drinker, try the Soursop version, it’s well worth it.

It’s unfortunate, but Puerto Rico is in massive debt.  One local told me 1.5 trillion, several others said that was a stretch, stating the total was around 72 billion.  What was clear was that with the government beyond broke, not much was getting done, and it was up to private investment to solve the gap.  I hope that doesn’t mean more taxes, because Puerto Rico as a tourist destination is already more spendy than anyone in the industry would like.

Since I left on August 29th, Hurricane Irma hit, and it appears that flooding has caused the bulk of problems faced.  That’s a good thing, in that much of the infrastructure is not in ruin, albeit that roads could become suspect from the water exposure.

What I would say is if you’ve been thinking about going to Puerto Rico, and you’ve been putting it off, come December, when it’s too cold in the contiguous 48, take a trip south and spend some time (and money) in Puerto Rico.  You’ll love the experience, and the people will love to do fair business with you.

Until next time!

Charlottesville: When Apathy and Confusion Collide

It’s moments like these that seem to be our toughest.  We can’t see straight, or want to see straight, or care.  We don’t find ourselves attached to carnage on television.  And it’s with that apathy that the media finds a way into our minds, perhaps even our hearts.  And their version of the events becomes facts, ultimately undisputed.

In this case, it appears that Governor Terry McAuliffe is using a media pulpit to try and shout down far right conservative organizations, who he has a personal ax to grind with.

The media has climbed onto to the narrative from the governor, and are accepting it without asking questions.  And it turns out that the media itself had no reporters on the ground, instead relying on some questionable sources for the information they using to prop up their coverage.

But as we reach the 48 hour period after the incident that claimed the life of one and the eventual injuries of 19, as well as two law enforcement officers killed while responding by air, it turns out that McAuliffe’s version is not accurate.  Not even close.

More first hand accounts are coming forward of BLM, Antifa, and KKK members causing property destruction and violence, which was left unchecked by local police, for what reasons we don’t know yet.

However, there was a large group of Constitutionalists who were attempting to facilitate free speech, rather than allow violence.  And it has been verified that they were attempting to intervene with whoever the violent instigators were, no matter what their views were, to try and keep the protest peaceful, and about each group’s message, rather than violence.  Their efforts failed.  And they became the target of McAuliffe, because the only thing he can do is turn this political, because that’s all McAuliffe ever does.

It’s time we as Americans got serious about a problem we have in our country, that we are contributing to:  apathy.  Because we refuse to be truly engaged in events like these, we give people like McAuliffe a platform to lie, and accept his ideas as legitimate because of title, rather than actual work.  There are hundreds of politicians like him, and we legitimize their lack of true work by accepting them verbatim.  We have to stop this.

We have to get engaged on these issues, and we have to use our pursuit of information to demand that news organizations actually do the job of reporting fact, rather than revisions of history as it occurs.

One stance we should all have, is that Antifa has no business being anywhere in our country.  Antifa is an armed wing of the Anarchists in the US.  Antifa is their “dark ops” group, renamed.  And their entire effort is cause violent outbursts to further their efforts, of unraveling our Constitution and our form of government.  All of us should unite in not accepting them or their stance.

The KKK is another group we should roundly rebuke.  We should not have a problem uniting and not accept their ideas at all, and scare them out of existence.  I don’t see how either of these stances can’t be universal, but yet if you listen to the media right now, they’re tell you that you have to accept one or other.  Aren’t you getting tired of these massive organizations telling you to accept one pill or the other?

The BLM is yet another group we should not accept.  As much as they’ve had people come forward who speak and articulate points, the results have been nothing but violent events, businesses being torched, innocent people being hurt, and key witnesses in criminal and civil cases being assassinated.  BLM, for all it’s legitimized grievances, has nothing but violence attached to their activities.  It’s a very short history, but it’s been substantiated enough that none of us should accept the existence of this group either.  Their efforts are no better than the previous two I’ve talked about.

If we truly want to expunge hate, then we have to expunge all of it, you can’t pick sides, and you can’t choose which one has interesting points.  These three groups caused the problems in Charlottesville, no one else.  As I write this, the driver of the vehicle, James Fields, has been identified as member of an unidentified democrat party, and a possible member of the KKK.  It stands to reason that regardless of his affiliations, violence can’t be accepted, and the groups that are inevitably involved violence need to be removed from our way of life.

But more so, we all need to get engaged, and we need to unify in not letting these groups cause these problems.  We all have to rebuke their existence together.  That’s how America comes together, right now.

Update:  Since I wrote about this incident, the reporting of Mr. Fields’ party affiliation has changed again, and the sources reporting on this detail now are not what I would consider reliable.  Good thing that detail has nothing to do with refuting violence.

Cubs Sunday: 1st Place in the Division

So a lot has changed yet again on the Northside.

The Cubs are a game above in the division, and have hit a few win streaks that are causing them to separate from the rest of the pack.

Their last ten has them losing more than winning, but don’t mind that.  Manager Joe has a theory that we need to be playing more night games, and get away from the typical day time shuffle that has been a signature of Cubs baseball since before most of us were born.

Wilson Contreras was on a serious tear.  And then he seriously strained his hamstring.  The Cubs had been riding his stellar plate defense, and his incredible bat for awhile.

Rizzo is batting .262, and band-wagoners are swaying back to whatever rocks they came from.

People are saying this is as good as they’ll get, and they’re going to start descending again.

Have no fear.  I have none.  These guys are real terror, and while they look a bit toppled, they’ve only just begun.  They have less than 50 games left, and they’ve picked a great time to band together.

Some things that have stuck out to me:

Addison Russell isn’t getting better offensively.  He’s not merely in a slump, he’s competing in every at bat, for his skill level, but he seems to be tailing off, making less quality contact with each day.  It’s not improving in any situation.  It’s not improving when facing any count.  It’s not improving when dealing with a certain pitch.  It’s simply not improving.  It may be time to deal him while he still has value.

Ben Zobrist is in hang-over city.  That’s it, nothing else to say about it.

Jason Heyward is settling into what the rest of his career is going to be:  Defensive dynamo, who can hit .250 plus.  I’ll take it!

We need more Albert Almora Jr.  We need more Jon Jay.  With experience these two are going to be clutch contact hitters, with spark plug influence on the line-up.  Put ’em in coach!

John Lackey is going to retire.  There’s no way he’s going to keep pitching at this rate.  It’s sad to think about.

Jose Quintana has become more effective pitch to pitch with the Cubs defense behind him.  It’s amazing what the confidence of routine catches will do for a young hurler.

Hector Rondon is done.  That’s even more gut wrenching than Lackey.  Rondon is a young pitcher who had so much promise, ripped from him through two major injuries, and now he battles minor setbacks in the wake of recovery, along with limitations his body now places on his natural form.  He’ll finish his career as a Cub this year, and that will be it for him.

Eddie Butler has presented himself as an interesting puzzle piece.  We’ll need a bit more tape to sort it all out, but optimism says he’ll find a spot at the tail end of the rotation.

There’s far more in Wrigleyville than my synopsis, but let’s watch the rest play out.  I know I will be!  Eamus Catuli!

Order Walk with Warriors

Hey, another quick note about Walk with Warriors, order yours today, and very soon I’ll be making appearances to discuss my contribution to this veteran project, at which point I can sign your copy.

This is the first installation of an on-going project intended to support veterans, giving them a voice to their stories of service.  Even if you’re not a fan of me, I urge you to support this project, and help veterans express their stories, while giving the rest of the world a chance to understand them better.

Order Walk with Warriors right here.

Friday Night Opinion: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Must Resign

I know most people are living in or near Seattle.  Mathematics and statistical distribution says it’s not possible.

But I must comment on one of the worst scandal-not scandal’s I’ve seen in some time.

Ed Murray is the embattled Mayor of Seattle.  The reason he is embattled is because it has come to light that his adult past may not be as “clean” as we’d all expect of a mayor.

First, some men that are younger than Mr. Murray came forward alleging that when they were teens, he paid to have sex with them by offering them drugs as well as cash.  Allegations like these never look good in public, but I would agree that these allegations alone are not a reason to resign.

But, those allegations started gaining traction in the form of court hearings.  Murray, continuing to run for re-election, boldly said that these allegations were part of a “right-wing conspiracy” aimed to take him down.

And that’s the point that I had to raise an eyebrow about his involvement in these alleged past discretions.

If you know anything about Seattle politics, they haven’t had a conservative, or “right-wing” anything in the city since James Braman, who last served as mayor in 1969.  Since then it’s been an onslaught of progressively aggressive left-wing ideologues, with Murray being the most recent iteration of that group.

Murray, along with support of the majority of current Seattle City Council, has ushered in the left’s economic scourge of raising minimum wage to $15.00 an hour.  They’ve made a mess (yet again) of both the drug and homeless problems in the city, they’ve gone after property owners in Seattle, who in their opinion, are charging too much for rent for certain apartments – going so far as naming a law after a landlord which is prompting a legitimate lawsuit, and the final piece of Murray’s tenure, instilling an income tax against what his council has defined as the “wealthy” of Seattle.  In case you’re not catching the theme, these are all examples of major pillars of the far left argument concerning their version of economics, which is suppose to place the common person first, ahead of those that are high earners and innovators.

And for those that are further perplexed, here’s the straight dope:  These kinds of moves within any government, can’t be accomplished by the first group in support of them that has achieved a majority of office.  It takes years, upon years, upon years to get the right kind of momentum going.  Usually, somewhere between 40 and 50, and we’re at 48 years of progressive liberalism in Seattle.

There certainly are conservatives in Seattle and Washington State, but to think that they could organize such an effort to take down an openly gay mayor is comic relief at it’s finest.

The fact that Murray uses that reasoning for these allegations only helps solidify them.  Though it will take a court to sort the mess out.

But, if that wasn’t enough, more problems with Murray’s past came to light, to include a very damning report from his life in Oregon, where he had adopted a child.  In the report, the investigator who was looking into accusations of child abuse, made clear statements that the adopted child Murray had should have been removed from the home by the State of Oregon, and there was a strong likelihood of both physical and sexual abuse occurring in the home.

It’s this revelation of fact that causes me to put my foot down and state loudly that Ed Murray must resign.  He’s argued that he won’t leave office, because it would cause more problems, with a power vacuum occurring within the council.

The main problem with this, whether the media mentions it or not, is that Murray is failing to respect the desires of the citizens of Seattle.  Despite politics, despite ideals, no citizen in any citizen wants a child abuser as a mayor, nor should they have to accept that.  Murray effectively makes the argument that citizens don’t care enough about their own city to work to remove him, which is essentially the only option, since it is clear the council is not going to take action to remove him.  These issues with Murray started to break publicly around February of this year.  It’s August now, and the council has verbally said they’d like him to leave, but they’ve done nothing to remove him, which they have some power in.  But more to the point, if they truly stood for children’s rights, which they’ve invoked about four dozen times over the last five months, you’d think the first thing to do is begin removal proceedings.  There’s no legal grounds for Murray to sue, he serves at the pleasure of citizens, and there’s nothing in law that stops council members from energizing the cause.

And considering that Kshama Sawant, who is the biggest liability on the council, if you read the link news story, you would think this is a no-brainer for them to get started, since she stuck her nose in the business of the City of Seatac, which also had a push for a $15.00 an hour minimum wage.

But of course, while the council has strict rules on their members getting involved in other municipalities politics, they didn’t enforce it with Sawant then, which then allowed the politcally-motivated Seatac judge to dismiss the criminal charges on the worst legal grounds ever uttered in a court of law. 

And since it’s clear they’ll let a council member act criminally, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ll let a mayor, whether or not the statute of limitations has been reached.  But this is why the citizens of Seattle need to take this effort on.  Because until they do signal their supreme interest in having ethical leadership, this kind of terrible circumstance is going to continue to visit this fair city multiple times.

On a side note, this might be the reason that voting down party lines is a bad idea.  It gives people the chance to fast-track themselves, despite their inability to maintain a proper life.  Of course, that idea can be used subjectively, but I think this example states it very well.  While there is no question that no one helped Murray do any of the despicable things he’s been accused of, or been found to have done, it is clear that due to a liberal-friendly media, a liberal-friendly citizenry, and delegates, advisers, business leaders, really a whole apparatus of political “clergy” who were friendly to a politician like Murray that has allowed him to serve as long as he has without anyone digging into his background.

It ought to be concerning to citizens that it took until May 2017 for the child abuse investigation to be made known, seeing as Murray has served in as a State Representative in Washington State for several terms before becoming mayor.  Those findings were made in the 80’s.  How was the press not capable of finding this out?

All the more reason for citizens to take over their own cause, which is the city, and forced Murray to resign, or face recall.

Character Development: How Should you Write Someone

Writers have a lot of avenues to collect advice on how to write characters.  I’m not the kind of person that tells people how to write.  I come from the Charles Bukowski school of writing:

Just write.

That being said, I was talking with a few people who have some of my business affairs at heart, and as I was discussing a particular character for a book I have in development (not list on here by the way, so you’ll have to wait), they said “Matthew, you really need to discuss your insight into writing people, because you don’t have the same information to provide, you don’t from a purely academic background in writing, and you have experience with real world characters.”

I thought to myself the same thing I always think:  No one cares what I think about writing, they only care about what I write, because that’s all anyone has ever cared about.

But they pushed me about this, so I thought I would give a little bit of advice about writing characters that I find useful.  This isn’t necessarily universal truth, so don’t think you can apply it to all characters.  In fact, that’s the first thing to remember:  if you think it’s something you can apply to all characters, you’re wrong.

No one in this world exhibits the same kind of characteristics as another, to a complete T.  Even identical twins have differences if you pay attention.

And in a novel, it’s no different.  In fact, it can be even worse for the writer.  Because your reader has that book to read, over and over again.  Or more likely, re-read that one paragraph, over and over again.  If they start to notice cracks in your character, it’s likely because you applied some “universal truth” to all of them, and it’s made one of your characters seem unrealistic, or at least illogical.  So don’t apply the same thing to all your characters.

Motivation can be tricky.  You may think that your character is motivated to only one thing, or at least, common writing logic says your character should be motivated to one end.  Is that true in real life?

I highly doubt it.  I know some real life “characters” that seem to think that they can get high all the time and still effectively work.  Sure, one is going to win out over the other, but that doesn’t mean that either motivation for them is any less real.

If you try to force your character to choose between motivations, it seems unnatural.  Now, if your character gets to a point where they have to choose one over the other, that’s a ‘moment of truth’ situation.  In order to get there, your character would have had to analyze pros and cons of the two motivations, and internally come to a conclusion.  Then you can reveal that result in that moment.

But by and large, characters should have multiple motivations.  You yourself are likely motivated by six or seven hobbies, and two are pursued heavier than the others, but that makes them no less valuable to you when each opportunity to pursue them affords itself.

And a third thing, never, ever, never, should you end a story with any character eating a slice of cake.  That is ridiculously decadent and not the sort of thing you should be aiming for!  Cake?  Seriously?  Why don’t you have Marie Antoinette make an appearance while you’re at it.

When it comes to writing, I tend to talk with two truths and a lie.  I dare you to figure this one out.

Update: Hope in Varnell, Georgia

In a very strong showing,  in the small town of Northern Georgia we discussed a few weeks ago, Varnell, citizens showed they were done fooling around with the city council nonsense, and told their sitting council that it’s time for them to resign.

To recap, Varnell Police responded back in June to an incident at Sheldon Fowler’s residence, who was then a city council member.  It turns out that Fowler is sexually aggressive with his daugthers, and also makes fun of one for having learning disabilities.  I don’t want to review the whole situation, but for your own benefit, here’s where you can read about Dad of the Year.

He refused to resign in lieu of the arrest, but then eventually did.  The city council, in response to “one of their own” getting held accountable, decided that disbanding the police department was the correct action.  The citizens had one word for it: wrong.

Not only was this not a popular move by city council, they also violated sunshine law requirements, because they misadvertised the special meeting where they took action.  For one, the City of Varnell prior to this had a rare distinction for being a open, transparent city government, achieving the highest award given with the State of Georgia for the effort to be transparent.

This whole episode places that entire reputation in jeopardy, which was likely built by many council members and mayors prior to those currently serving.  What a bad move by the current council.

At a special meeting called on July 25, 2017, the council could not achieve quorum, because as it turns out, one of the currently sitting council members who voted to disband the police department, doesn’t even live in the city limits, which is required.

Funny how following the rules seems to be so hard for this crop of city council members.

The person resigned prior to the meeting, because it’s been documented that they’ve lived outside of city limits since last year, and they cite being threatened, but it’s more likely they don’t want to face an ethics investigation that would have been carried out.

As far as the special meeting, the only council member in support of the police department was gone on a family emergency, so because there is no quorum, they had to postpone the meeting.

The two remaining council members left in shame, and rightfully so.  They’ve tried to grind a political axe that no city council members are supposed to have, but sometimes are given for very stupid reasons.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it is that this has played out this way.  My theory is that the two council members in favor of disbanding will eventually resign.  There’s no way they’ll be voted back in, and there’s no reason for them to stay in office now, since it is clear the citizens are going to take action to keep them from conducting any business.  The citizens don’t trust these people.  Nor should they.  They want a police department they can trust, and they want to feel safe.

And they should have that piece of mind.