Mail Bag Rip Off

As I have posted before, one of my favorite on-line columns was Bill Simmons’ mail bag where he would answer actual questions sent in by his actual readers. It ran on ESPN for a number of years and always was a must-read for me when it came out.

Now, since I don’t have that many readers and none of them actually ask me questions, for me to do a similar blog post, I have to make up the questions. Which is fine because then I get answer questions of my own choosing and I can cover several topics that I might have a thought or two on, but that don’t warrant a full blog post.

So, to be clear, all questions and questioners below are products of my own making. And further, this is not my original idea. It has been completely ripped off from Bill Simmons. Nevertheless, off we go.

Should they fire the radio host who called Tom Brady’s five-year-old daughter an “annoying little pissant?” –

I’ll admit that when I first heard the basics of this story, I was on the side of Tom Brady. If a radio host decided out of the blue to call my kid an annoying little pissant, I’d be cutting ties with the radio station that employed him as well. However, as I learned more details of the story, my feelings have shifted.

Tom Brady has allowed cameras, and thus the world, into his personal life to film a new “docuseries” called Tom vs. Time. This “docuseries” explores the personal life and sacrifices of Tom Brady has he…lives his life while going to work at a job that just happens to be playing football.


That is what we are apparently calling reality television shows now. Docuseries. What a crock! In my humble opinion, Tom Brady’s latest media endeavor could just as easily have been called, Keeping Up With the Caucasian Kardashians, or Mama Giselle: From Hot to…Still Hot, I Guess.

It’s a flippin’ reality show. And if you have the gall to cash-in (for reasons purely related to vanity, because heaven knows the family Brady does not need the money) on your fame by letting America into your home via the medium of non-(if you say so) scripted reality (massive eye-roll) entertainment, guess what? You own whatever criticism comes your way regardless of how rough it might be. And sadly, through your own choices, that includes your children…whom you are exploiting…for no logical reason that makes any sense to a person with even the slightest connection to reality.

So sorry, Tom. That radio host may have been wrong, but you were so much more wrong first.

Do you intend to perform your civic duty and watch the State of the Union tonight? –

No. I much prefer to spend my Tuesday evenings in pursuit of happier, more joyful entertainment…like watching Jack Pearson die in a house fire on This Is Us.

Are you going to throw your Crock Pot away in solidarity with those of us who are so distraught over Jack Pearson’s death in This Is Us that we now believe this household appliance to be an immediate danger to our family? –

When I saw that the CEO of Sunbeam had to issue not one, but three statements in support of their extremely well made Crock Pot appliances, I wanted to shed many a tear for and in behalf of all humanity. The PR problem for Sunbeam got so bad that they had to find a way to share empathy with all of the This Is Us viewers while still pointing out that “…for nearly 50 years with over 100 million Crock-Pots sold, we have never received any consumer complaints similar to the fictional events portrayed in last night’s episode. In fact, the safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible.” They further had to call upon NBC to help them spread “factual information” about Crock Pot safety. To point out that This Is Us is simply a television show and not real was of course never a rational course of action for Sunbeam.

HOLY CRAP!!! Is this really where we’ve arrived in 2018? The whole concept is mind-boggling. But in answer to the question, if we threw out our, not one, but two crock pots there is a slight chance our family would never eat again. We live off those things and they’re great. So no, we will instead continue to put our safety, and the safety of our children at risk and keep those flaming death traps in the house. And I, for one, will not lose one wink of sleep over it.

Have you purchased the new iPhone X yet? –

Let me see, one thousand dollars for a phone that let’s me morph my face and voice into a talking pile of crap? Nope, I think I’ll be giving that one a pass for the time being at least. When the day finally arrives that I see the light and understand how truly vital it is that I exist as a virtual talking pile of crap, I suppose we can revisit this question.

What do you think about Rep. Gosar (R) from Arizona demanding that any illegal aliens attending the State of the Union be arrested and deported? –

Yet another stellar Arizona politician to represent our state to the rest of the world.

If a person thinks that someone who came to this country as a child, through no choice of their own, should be thrown out of the country and sent back to a place they don’t know or understand, then I don’t know how to talk to them on this issue. There’s no funny retort, no witty quip, no…nothing that makes this okay. We should be humans first and Americans second. If anyone disagrees, then we probably have a basic differing world view and there’s not really not much more to talk about here.

Are you outraged that Ed Sheeran won Best Solo Performance at the Grammy’s instead of any one of the four capable women nominated in his category? –

With all due respect to the many women who have been mistreated in any way since, well, quite literally the beginning of time, this one bit of irony that played out at the Grammy’s actually made me laugh.

Just a little bit.

And certainly not a full belly laugh that could possibly be construed as insensitive to the actual plight of thousands, if not millions of women who have faced actual mistreatment at the hands of a man.

I mean, c’mon. If we can’t find a little humor in the fact that the music industry awarded a Grammy to a man (a white man at that) who sings about lusting over a girl’s body contours in a club…in a category whose other nominees were all women…in 2018, with the backdrop of the #metoo and #timesup movements raging all around…then I think we’ve truly gotten to the point where we take ourselves too seriously.

See here’s the problem. For heterosexual men, attraction is largely based on appearance. For heterosexual women, it frankly does not seem to be as important. I’m not a heterosexual woman, so I can’t speak to this personally, but based on observation, I think my deduction has merit. So with that understanding, it’s not outrageous that a male performer wrote and performed a song about a woman’s appearance. It’s been happening for centuries. And no matter how our culture changes in the coming years,  (unless of course we ban all heterosexual male performers from the marketplace of artistic expression) they will continue to do so.

But no one forced the industry to nominate that song. Certainly not Ed Sheeran. (As an aside, is Ed Sheeran becoming the male version of Anne Hathaway? The guy everyone seems to hate for no discernible reason that can be articulated?) And certainly no one forced voters to vote for the song. That it won is not Ed Sheeran’s fault. So…lay off the dude. Were the other songs more deserving? I don’t know. Does it really matter? No. They are awards that mean nothing. No Kesha fan has deserted her for Ed Sheeran based on that Grammy vote. I guarantee it. Don’t get me wrong, I think her message is one that should be heard. The movement is one that has merit. But shaming everyone who happened to like Ed Sheeran’s performance better? Sorry, to me it hits the wrong note.

But to a bigger issue, my worry is that we might be getting to the point where every vote for every artistic award is going to be required to take into account the cultural sensitivity of the “movement of the moment” rather than focusing solely on the value of the performance or the material? I hope that’s not true. For one, I believe that flies in the face of what artistic expression is all about.

But even more worrisome is that it plays into the notion of a politically correct police state where all thought and belief must be universal. That only those of a similar mind are allowed, and that those who cannot comply must be shunned. It lumps true villains and harmless bores together and demands they be viewed the same. That kind of thinking is dangerous. Plus, at it’s worst, it can create a severe backlash which can undermine and threaten not only all the gains achieved by any movement in the first place, but also the basic tenets of goodness and decency in our society.

Think I’m overstating it just a tad? Do me a favor. Take a moment and think back to just two years ago and what we as a culture considered moral and decent behavior by those who would desire to lead us. Now, check the White House twitter feed and think long and hard about where we are now.

—–And thus concludes the first, and maybe last, mail bag of 2018.


Honestly, Is It That Hard To Be Honest?

You know what would be awesome? Just once, I wish I could turn on the television and have talking heads, whether they be media members or politicians, be honest.

Not kind of honest. Not “I didn’t actually lie” honest. I mean brutally honest.

Take for instance the constant mistreatment of the military. I’m not talking about the current crop of Democrats who are “hurting America’s military families in favor of people who are here illegally.” I am referring to current Republicans who have the nerve to act like they give a crud about America’s military families. They don’t.

Don’t believe me, let’s rewind the clock to a time when Republicans had no qualms about “hurting America’s military families” in an effort to defund Obamacare. Getting rid of a law Republicans didn’t like, regardless that it was completely unrelated to the funding of the Federal Government was a completely justified move, even if it meant death benefit checks would be delayed to families of soldiers killed in action. But now that the issue is DACA instead of Obamacare, such action is nigh unto treasonous in the words of talking head Republican lawmakers.

That’s fundamentally dishonest.

But let’s not let Democrats off the hook. In 2013, Senator Harry Reid, Democrat Majority leader, had plenty to say about Republican lawmakers refusing to sign a bill that would avoid a government shutdown. In reference to a woman who had a federal job that would be on furlough as long as the shutdown lasted, he said, “She’s struggling because she doesn’t make that much money, and now to have her job gone. It’s that way all over America. And why? To extract political concessions through hostage taking of one issue, one issue: Obamacare.”

Not fine then. Fine now. Fundamental dishonesty!

Let’s look at another issue that is of much less importance but seems to get people equally up in arms. Presidential Golf!

A 2012 Tweet from Sean Hannity: “Here’s what Obama learned as Commander-In-Chief – That he should use a sand wedge when stuck in a sand trap on a golf course!

A 2014 Tweet from Sean Spicer: “177 rounds of golf by @BarackObama — Obama’s political bogey on the golf course @washingtonpost @Milbank”

And of course a 2014 Tweet from Donald J. Trump: “Can you believe that,with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf.Worse than Carter”

Here are similar quotes from conservative pundits regarding President Trump’s frequent tax payer funded golf outings.

What’s that? There aren’t any? Wow, that’s shocking! 


Meanwhile, publications like Vanity Fair and Newsweek, which had very little (as in, nothing) to say about President Obama’s regular golf outings suddenly are very concerned with President Trump’s regular golf outings. And Shaun King, from the Daily News, even went so far as to suggest that Republicans’ main problem with Obama golfing wasn’t that they had a problem with golfing presidents. They just had a problem with, (HIS WORDS) an “uppity Negro golfing President.”

C’mon. That’s blatantly dishonest. Hypocrites? You bet. Of the highest order. But racists offended by black people playing a white man’s game? That’s a stupid accusation and insanely dishonest.

So why all the dishonesty? Because frankly, it’s what you the American people want. You practically beg them to be dishonest. Ratings of cable news sources and voting trends suggest you are the driving force demanding to be fed a big ol’ pile of dishonest bull crap on a daily basis.

You don’t want to hear the truth that it really has no impact on world or national events when the president golfs, regardless of his party affiliation. And you also don’t want to hear that military families and government workers are no where near the top of politician’s minds when they shut the government down. They don’t care because they are pretty sure you don’t actually care. They are only concerned in making sure that 51% of you, the American people, think the other guy is responsible for all the “suffering” that is occurring due to the government not operating.

Our politicians and our news sources lying to us makes us feel better. Just like lying to ourselves makes us feel better. If it didn’t, we’d hear the truth a lot more about a lot of things. Like:

  • The reason Republicans are so against illegal immigration, want no deal on DACA and nearly wet themselves over any move that can be defined as amnesty is because Hispanic and Latino voters tend to vote Democrat. That’s it. They don’t care about the rule of law, they don’t care about criminals flooding across our borders, they don’t care about hordes of illegals sending all their money home without paying taxes, and they don’t care about hordes of illegals sucking up all of our tax welfare dollars. They just don’t want more Democrat voters. (I’m sure there are many who would like to argue one or more of the points I’ve just listed, but be ready. I have plenty of examples to back up my arguments. Factually based examples that contain real statistics. So bring it on.) Meanwhile, Democrats are for any and all immigration, legal or otherwise because traditionally, immigrants: Latino, Hispanic or otherwise, tend to vote Democrat. That’s it. If voting trends changed, you would suddenly see a wave of Democrats making the exact same arguments against illegal immigration listed above that the Republicans are currently making.
  • Democrats advocate for a larger minimum wage because it benefits labor unions. They are not concerned about a “living wage”. They want labor union dollars to keep filling their election coffers and so they will say whatever they have to in the face of overwhelming evidence that a higher minimum wage brings down overall job numbers and causes inflation because unions pay them to do so. Conversely, Republicans can cry and moan all day long about how important it is to defend the second amendment, but the truth is, they don’t care about maintaining a strong militia. They are not worried about hunters losing their rights. They are concerned with the contributions that flow from the NRA. That’s it.

So let’s talk a little honesty for a moment. The government is shut down because of you. You, me, all of us. We keep telling our politicians that we don’t want to see an ounce of compromise on their part. We demand that they make the other side give in. So that’s what they do. Then we light them up for being do-nothing politicians. On the other hand, if they do their job and compromise, we beat them up for being spineless untrustworthy politicians.

But it’s all so stupid. We could end this government shutdown right now and everyone could get most of what they want.

Democrats: give Trump the money for his wall in exchange for DACA. Done!

But, but…we can’t give in on the wall. Our side HATES the wall.

I know they hate the wall. They should. It’s stupid. And it will be a colossal waste of money. But…it is what a majority of the people in enough states voted for to elect this guy. So…let them have it. Meanwhile, you get DACA.

Republicans: give the Democrats DACA in exchange for the wall.

But, but…our side will see that as giving in to amnesty.

Maybe, but I hope for the sake of our nation, that the people who feel that way are a small minority. If the GOP has really become the party that wants to be the face of debacles like the deportation of Jorge Garcia, then we as a nation have bigger problems.

Garcia is a 39-year-old landscaper, has lived in America since he was 10, has a wife and two teenage children who are all American citizens, and has tried for years to get legal status, legally. He tried doing it the “right way” and what did it get him? It got him ripped away from his family and sent to Mexico with a very real chance he won’t be able to return for over 10 years. His 15 and 12-year-old children are now without a father. Why? Because, the “right way” couldn’t allow for a man who was brought here as a child to remain with his family and help raise his kids. Is that really a standard the Republicans want to rally behind as the best way forward? I hope not.

So give the Democrats DACA, and you can have your wall. A wall that every sane person knows will do very little to stop the flow of drugs and human trafficking. But you will have your symbol. And then we can get out of this ridiculous mess of finger-pointing and name-calling known as the 2018 government shutdown.

Now I know Republicans will have to defend extending DACA, but if framed right, that shouldn’t be too hard. And again, you get to point to a physical manifestation of what you have gained. The Wall!!!

And Democrats, I know you will have to defend allowing The Wall to proceed. But think through this. You can argue that if allowing Mr. Trump to build his wall was the price you had to pay in order to show compassion to thousands of Dreamers and to keep families together, it was ultimately a price you were willing to pay. And keep this in mind. Once you have that wall that even most sensible Republicans admit will do nothing, think of the optics you’ve gained.

Sitting in New York harbor, facing Europe, is a symbol that represents liberty and our American way of life. At the base of that statue is a plaque that reads:

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

And if you give Mr. Trump and all his faithful what they want, you will have another symbol that sends an entirely different message. It will be a wall that faces south. South towards every Latino country in existence.

I don’t believe all Republicans are racist. I don’t believe everyone who voted for Trump hates people of color. But let’s have a moment of pure honesty, shall we? If I were a Republican serving in a national office once Trump fever has subsided, and for the foreseeable future I had to defend the symbolic optics of a welcoming Statue of Liberty facing traditionally white Europe while a giant wall (Republican president Donald Trump’s wall) greets a decidedly non-white Latin America…I think it would be enough to make me quit politics altogether.


The Morning After The Greatest Showman

So I’ve finally seen it. After weeks of seeing it lauded as “Amazing” and “My New Favorite” on Facebook, I finally got the family together and we went to see The Greatest Showman.

My reaction?

Well first, can I just say that Hugh Jackman might be the closest thing we ever get to another Dick Van Dyke, only maybe better. He’s almost 50 years old and he is flat out amazing as a dancer. And he can sing. Quite well. But beyond that, name three other actors who can convincingly portray Jean Val Jean, Wolverine and P.T. Barnum without having the viewer constantly referring in their minds to his other roles. Lastly, the man is half way to an EGOT (he is a Tony and Emmy award winner) and he has been nominated for an Oscar. Dude is something!

And, I believe he picked this movie up and carried it on his back through any and all of its weaknesses.

What has been interesting about this movie is that critics, by and large, have been underwhelmed while audiences have almost unanimously loved it. At least that’s what the 90% positive audience score on Rotten Tomatoes would suggest. The irony is of course that the movie is all about a man who creates a spectacle that is roundly dismissed by the elite and critical circles while the common man eats it up.

And just that quickly it is funny how allegorical this movie is both in its telling and in its reception from the public on so many levels that I will not address.

As the credits rolled, my initial reaction was…FANTASTIC!!! It was the same for each of my kids and for my wife. For the purposes of going to a movie, it hit all the right emotional spots. The last song we heard as we watched the credits was Rewrite the Stars and even now, 15 hours later, I am still humming that tune in my head.

However, for those who think this is the best movie ever, I must disagree. It is a great movie for what it is, but only when properly compared to movies of a similar construct. Bottom line, I believe The Greatest Showman is a better budgeted, better acted film in the vein of High School Musical. Now before everybody starts sending me hate messages and pooh emojis on my Facebook feed, understand this. I liked High School Musical. And get this: I liked High School Musical 2 even more. Admittedly, by the time High School Musical 3 came out, my daughter was no longer interested in the franchise and I never ended up seeing it, but the first two movies are really pretty good.

For what they are.

And by that I mean, are the songs in The Greatest Showman on par with the music written for Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera? No. BUT they are catchier. And I like listening to From Now On or This Is Me at loud volumes in my truck a whole lot more than Empty Chairs At Empty Tables.

As far as story goes, The Greatest Showman is not a complex story. And it also happens to be entirely untrue if you are looking at it from a true historical perspective.
But it is very uplifting and provides a positive moral that literally had the audience applauding when the credits began to roll last night. Caught up in the moment, I even applauded myself.

Unfortunately, I had to go and ruin it when I got home. I looked up the actual history of PT Barnum and it kind of dampened the movie for me. Particularly with regard to the character of Jenny Lind.

By all accounts, Jenny Lind was one of the most charitable and good people around. She was paid $350,000 (almost $10 million in today’s currency) for the tour she did with PT Barnum and donated the entire amount to fund Swedish schools. She did not just quit the tour, but actually broke her agreement with Barnum (which was her right per the contract they had both agreed upon) after 60 shows because she was uncomfortable with the way he was promoting her, but went on to perform 33 more shows without his involvement. There is no known history of a romantic connection between the two and to me that is the greatest weakness of this film. It’s a work of fiction that unfortunately disparages a real person, who by all accounts was a truly giving and good individual.

So, with that knowledge, I have decided that The Greatest Showman is a really good FICTIONAL movie that uses real characters while totally downplaying actual history. Which is fine. I’m not being critical. I mean, the Von Trapp children were Do Re Miing and yodeling in The Sound of Music all through the Nazi occupation of Austria, which by all accounts was not a “let’s all break into song” kind of moment in history. But it’s still a good movie. Mostly. Except for Friedrich. Man, I hate every second that kid is on screen. Ugh!

Sorry, I digress.

Bottom line, I’ve downloaded several songs from the soundtrack. We will buy the Blu-ray when it comes out and I can’t wait to see the Rewrite The Stars segment in high definition. I will (already have) change my opinion of both Zac Efron and Zendaya as actors. They were pretty good. And compared to their previous work, they are getting significantly better. I will be excited to see where they go from here.

Mostly though, I will try to internalize the message that was taught. It’s a good one. So good in fact, I will give a shout out to a friend of mine who stated in a Facebook post that while watching it, he couldn’t help thinking that these were the kind of values he wanted his kids exposed to. I agree. Wholeheartedly!

But I won’t be upset when it isn’t nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. It shouldn’t be.

Now best Soundtrack? That may be a different story.

Apology: No Qualifications Or Justifications Accepted

I’m sorry.

On Friday, in the wake of news reports detailing Donald Trump’s comments regarding Haiti and undetermined African nations, I published a post that was meant to satirically comment on how far our national discourse has fallen. That post was in bad taste and although no one has reached out express displeasure, I want to proactively say that I apologize to anyone that was offended while reading my blog. I am fine with people being made uncomfortable by what I post here at times, but I think in this instance, I crossed a line into commentary I am uncomfortable leaving my name attached to.

Also proactively, I wish to apologize to anyone who may have not recognized my attempts at satire for what they were with regard to communities mentioned in my post. I love where I live, where I grew up and recognize that all communities have much to offer.

If anyone felt as they read my post that I had lost my mind and believes I deserve a good verbal or written smack down for what I said, or believes this apology is not enough, I will be happy to receive your comments with no argument or attempts at justification.

Finally, to those who were supportive of my post, I hope you do not believe I am trying to disparage you in any way. Two things have led to me removing the post and publishing this apology. One, I have been critical of Mr. Trump for years now regarding what I believe to be his devaluing of decency. I don’t apologize for the sentiment of what I posted on Friday, but I fear that the form in which I chose to make my argument actually causes me to be guilty of the very thing I have be so critical of, and in short, makes me a hypocrite. Don’t get me wrong. I recognize that as a person who advocates the teachings of a deity who commands us to be perfect, I am a hypocrite in hundreds if not thousands of ways already. I have very likely been a hypocrite on this blog previously. But I also believe that is a moniker I shouldn’t actively seek if I can avoid it and should try to remedy when I can.

Secondly, I had to ask myself if I would be comfortable defending my words to one of my children should they want to take a similar approach in speaking out regarding something they disagreed with. In the end, I felt I wouldn’t. Ultimately, this realization is what led to my removal of the post and this apology.

I don’t know what else to say, so I will finish as I began. From the bottom of my heart, I truly am sorry.

The One Old Grey Lady Thomas S. Monson Wouldn’t Worry About

This may not be a popular sentiment, but here goes.

To all of my dear LDS friends who are highly incensed and worked up over the recent NY Times obituary of President Thomas S. Monson, may I offer a word of advice?


Take a deep breath…exhale…and then, just let it go.

I mean, c’mon. It’s a newspaper article.

For some context, I would refer to one of my absolute favorite conference talks ever given. President Gordon B. Hinckley in his General Conference address from April 1994, quoted from a book entitled History of Illinois, by former Illinois Governor, Thomas Ford. Thomas Ford was governor at the time of Joseph Smith’s martyrdom and was largely insensitive to the needs of the Mormons who lived and eventually evacuated his state at the time.

In his talk, President Hinckley noted how Governor Ford held little respect for Joseph in his writings. He even quoted the following line directly from Ford’s account: “Thus fell Joe Smith, the most successful impostor in modern times; a man who, though ignorant and coarse, had some great natural parts which fitted him for temporary success, but which were so obscured and counteracted by the inherent corruption and vices of his nature that he never could succeed in establishing a system of policy which looked to permanent success in the future.”

Huh. Seems the esteemed former governor kind of missed the mark on that one. And that was exactly President Hinckley’s point. Who cares what Thomas Ford thought? So he thought Joseph Smith was an impostor whose legacy wouldn’t last out the year. He was wrong. Big deal! Should we go demand a retraction from Lakeside Press?

Of course not. Because that would be stupid and completely unproductive.

With regard to the NY Times, I believe people have a right to be incensed. It does not, in my view, provide a very accurate description of the man we as members of the LDS church have loved and revered for almost half a century.

But starting a petition demanding a rewrite? Spouting angry diatribes across social media calling the obit lies and fake news? That’s a worldly response. That’s a political, social media, 2017 natural man response. And I seriously doubt it would be the response of the man whose life we’re debating.

Furthermore, how many of us actually read the NY Times on a daily basis? I would be willing to bet that 99.5% of LDS church members who are signing this petition did not learn of this obituary by reading about it either in the paper itself or through casual perusal of the paper’s online site. So what’s the plan here? Demand a retraction and a rewrite or we will all cancel our…oh wait, none of us actually have a subscription to cancel.

Lastly, we need to be looking at two aspects of the bigger picture here. One, we get one week to remember, honor and reflect on the life of one of our greatest heroes. Is this really how we want to spend it? Arguing with people we don’t know who work for a publication we don’t care about on behalf of a man who spent his entire life avoiding these exact types of confrontations so that he could quietly go about serving those in need?

I don’t know, it just strikes me

But secondly, there is this to consider. I don’t know anything about Robert D. McFadden, the man who wrote the NY Times obituary. I don’t know anything about his family, his friends, his life experiences that have shaped him-nothing. In fact, the only thing I truly know about this man is this: He is a Child of our Heavenly Father. Just like me. And if the tenets of my faith are true, then God cares just as much about Mr. McFadden as he does about me, about you, and about Thomas S. Monson. According to LDS doctrine, God would ultimately like for Mr. McFadden to come home.

And again, if I understand everything correctly, it is incumbent upon those of us who know better to act in a way that displays God’s love for each of his children…including Robert D. McFadden.

So I would ask, is anger and hatred spewing freely over social media from a large contingent supposedly representing God’s church an effective way to portray that love?

When the Jews railed against the Savior with lies and untruths, what was the Savior’s response?

Nothing. He said absolutely nothing. He just took it. I’m fairly confident the President Monson I loved would do the same here. He would be more concerned about showing love to Mr. McFadden and helping him return home to our Heavenly Father than whether or not he was accurately portrayed in a newspaper.

Thomas S. Monson spent his life going about doing good. Quietly serving while expecting no praise in return. I think I will try to honor him this week by looking for opportunities to do, in some small way, the same thing. And not worry one minute more about an article that is of no eternal consequence.

The REAL Dark Knight

Apparently we have developed a rite of passage at my house. It wasn’t intentional, it just kind of…happened. So what is this rite? No, it’s not getting to drive my truck to the recycling bin (necessary because I haven’t been successful in my role as a town councilman in articulating the need for individual bins for each residence), and no it has nothing to do with hunting. I don’t hunt, therefore neither do my children. I know in my neck of the woods that makes me just a little bit less of a man, but…I can live with that and apparently so can my kids.

No, the rite of passage is actually pretty benign. It simply consists of getting to watch The Dark Knight. That’s it. Not much to it.

But somehow it has become a big deal.

I think it has to do with the fact that it’s probably my favorite movie of all time. Conversely, my wife absolutely hates it. And I have to admit, with good reason. By that I mean, her reasoning is sound. It’s incredibly DARK. And in the end, there is no sunshine or roses. Everything is mostly resolved, but it’s still so bleak. And it’s violent. But even more than its violence is the unsettling feeling that is left when it’s over. It shines a mirror on aspects of our society that we would rather not acknowledge. It addresses issues that have no positive resolution, if any resolution at all. In short, I get why she doesn’t like it.

But because of our differing views, my children hear about this movie, but are forbidden to watch it until they are “of age.” The problem is, we’ve struggled to adequately define what “of age” means. For my daughter, I think it meant 15. For my oldest son, he weedled his way into seeing at 13, but then didn’t like it. That is, he didn’t like it until he re-watched it again at 15. Now he is intrigued by the moral questions it raises.

Which brings us to this last weekend. My second son, aged 13, has been asking and asking to see it. We finally let him. He liked it. I don’t know what that says about him, me or anything else, but I think this movie is more about the individual than it is about what age they are.

Regardless, all of the above has little to do with what I really want to talk about other than, I sat down this past weekend and watched The Dark Knight for the first time in three years. It was just as good as I remembered. But what is truly caught my attention this time around is a line that Alfred says to Bruce Wayne early in the film. A line that after last night suddenly feels very profound.

Bruce is lamenting the fact that the mob has turned to a mad man who doesn’t play by the rules. In his words, they raised the stakes. To which Alfred reminds him, “Yes, but Master Wayne, you raised the stakes first.”

Well, last night, I believe the political stakes in our country may have just been raised. And Republicans everywhere had better get ready.

Whether she meant to or not (and I believe she probably meant to) last night Oprah Winfrey gave her speech as a political candidate. It may not have been as grandiose an entrance as say…I don’t know, a glide down a gilded escalator, but it was effective. And for the first time, I believe Democrats and liberals throughout the country have been given something they haven’t felt in months. Something beautiful and something dangerous. I speak of HOPE.

Two years ago, this would have seemed absurd, but not today. Republicans “raised the stakes” first by flouting the conventional wisdom and electing an outsider to the most powerful position in the land. A man who “told it like it is.” A man who would “drain the swamp.” A man, who despite multiple financial and moral failings, was deemed by his followers as the perfect person to take the reins of a party built upon financial conservatism and moral superiority. No one, including his biggest supporters, knew what he would say day to day, but they knew it would be entertaining and they knew it would likely be a big fat kick in the groin to the evil political establishment.

Never mind he had no experience governing. Never mind that his temperament seemed ill-fitted for interacting with foreign leaders. Never mind his facts seemed…illusive. Never mind any of it. He was change. He was the anti-Clinton, anti-Obama, anti-PC, anti-all that is wrong with Washington candidate.

Those of us who expressed reservations about him were told his immaturity and no-holds-barred-attack-everything-never-apologize-for-anything approach was an act. “Don’t worry,” we were told. “He will become more presidential when we reach the general election…I mean when he actually takes office…I mean, well…you kinda have to ignore all the twitter stuff and just look at all he’s accomplished.”

Uh-huh. A supreme court justice and a tax cut. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure I got the exact same thing with George W. Bush during his first year and I didn’t even have to hear him allegorically compare his penis size with a North Korean dictator once.

Which brings me back to Oprah Winfrey.

If she runs for president, there will be endless mocking and ridiculing from conservative news outlets across the board. Fox News pundits will derisively demean her as a lightweight. Matt Drudge will discount her for being a friend of the Obamas and Hillary Clinton. Steve Bannon will subtly use words designed to remind his minions that she is 1. Black, and 2. Female. I mean really, what more does he need to say.

And they will forget everything they should have learned in 2016.

Because let me tell you what ought to have scared the living daylights out of Trump supporters everywhere last night. Despite what many on the right seem to believe, not everyone thrives on being angry. Not everyone lives to be reminded how mistreated they are. For certain there is a contingent on the left that fuels itself on anger, just as there is on the right, but most of us don’t want to stay there indefinitely.

Which is why it is so curious that Republicans everywhere have forgotten what it was that got Ronald Reagan elected. It wasn’t his promises of tax cuts or ending welfare. Yes, those issues resonated with some voters, but really it was his eloquent way of describing hope. It was his ability to talk about a shining city on the hill. It was his ability to connect with the ordinary joe and help him see the potential that lay just beyond the horizon despite the bleakness all around. That’s what got him elected. Jimmy Carter was talking about “a malaise” of the American people while Ronald Reagan was talking about the greatness of the American people.

Now, remind me, where else did we hear a successful campaign anchored in hope? Barack Obama won in 2008 for precisely the same reasons that Ronald Reagan won in 1980. He could articulate a better existence than what voters were currently experiencing. In short, he provided hope. Some suggest that he never provided any evidence, he just talked a good game. Which just proves my point. People aren’t interested in how. That’s one reason why Romney lost. He was so interested in trying to show people how, that he forgot to inspire them with the vision of what his “how” would produce.

Donald Trump, conversely, tapped into an anger in America. But hidden inside that angry rhetoric was the promise of hope. He promised hope to individuals who felt they had been forgotten.

However, hope encased in anger only gets so far. And let us not forget that Hillary Clinton was not an inspirational candidate. She made no effort in the general election to inspire hope. She simply scoffed at the idea of people voting for Donald Trump. She ran a smear campaign believing that there weren’t enough “deplorables” out there to elect such a hateful individual. And sadly, she’s spent the last year telling anyone who will listen that even though she was wrong, she really was right. Umm…Not inspirational!

But Oprah is no Hillary. And now that Republicans have let it be known that the White House is open to any billionaire American with enough celebrity to take it, the Queen of Everything might just be the worst case scenario for The Donald.

Think about it. Who were the Democrats going to run? Elizabeth Warren? Kirsten Gillibrand? Joe Biden? Bernie Sanders? (Sorry my Democrat friends for making you cringe just now.)

But Oprah? Oh boy, Oprah is everything they’re not. There would be no more man on the street interviews where ordinary citizens have no idea who their presidential candidates are. She’s beloved. For heaven’s sake, her charitable giving is more than the GDP of several South American countries. As opposed to Mr. Trump who promises to be charitable, but as is well-documented, often stiffs those he promises to help.

It would be the closest thing ever to seeing a presidential election that pitted Ebeneezer Scrooge against Mother Theresa.

But, but…she isn’t married to Steadman Graham. She’s living in sin.

Have you heard the TMZ tape that came out just weeks before the election? Voters don’t seem to care about that kind of stuff much anymore. I mean heck, wasn’t it the moral voters of the Christian right that ended up putting Trump over the top in spite of that tape?

Nope, Republicans made a choice in 2016 to turn our political system into a reality show. Now the stakes have been raised and it would seem that their decision might ultimately translate into facing the Queen of Television in the General Election of 2020. A woman who has, in her own way, provided hope to millions for more than three decades. That’s not what I would call an enviable position.

And I didn’t even bring up the wild idea of her naming Michelle Obama as her running mate. Oh my goodness, the entertainment possibilities are endless.

So buckle up, America. Have the stakes really been raised and is it truly #TIMESUP for the The Donald? Tune in to any cable news channel near you between now and November 2020 to find out.