All it might hold hidden

Somewhere I’m already dead,

Among the ferns in Costa Rica, 

An anteater,

Hunting for sweet earthy blood,

Selfless, thoughtless, bumbling

Under the green canopy,

Or held safe by pressure on a deep sea 

Floor, where the light can’t waken 

Or convict a whisper once boy

Who sat quiet to see

The top of this mother ocean,

And imagined for a full moment,

All it might hold hidden.

I may decide to ride the tide

As a single grain of black sand

Broken and born, my lava soul,

Shattered in the Bali sea,

Forever mournfully swaying 

In rhythm with the swells,

In the shadow of Mount Agong.

 Through the trick of time,

I see us meeting

In the space between

The ocean and the stars,

Where the debt of debtors is paid,

And no one is who we were,

Inseparable, indistinguishable

From the breath that is, 

was and will be.

There, only there,

We can lay down our shields and mirrors 

To rest. 

Lazy Jake runs for office

My old buddy Jake Wilburn beat me to the punch. I have no interest in holding a public office, but I’ve often thought it would be a lot of fun to run a campaign. Who doesn’t want to wear a dictator’s cap and pound their fists on a podium as throngs of supporters gobble up the the crap you make up on the spot, working themselves into frothing messes? Ah, politics. 

Jake is running for Lt. Governor of Missouri as a write-in candidate. Recently, using what appears to be a paper coozie as bait, my former late night donut-shop co-worker and friend asked followers to manufacture the scandal his campaign deserves. 

This was too good to pass up. 

Below is the nonsense I wrote in response to his query (still waiting to find out if I won) followed by an actual Q&A. For context, you should know he ran for state house seat in 2012 as a Libertarian, garnering roughly 18 percent of the vote in his southwest Missouri district. Now, he’s just having fun, promising to play Tetris if elected to what he sees as an unnecessary public post.

The contest

My buddy and would-be bureaucrat Lazy Jake Wilburn is seeking eternal glory and life on easy street as the next Lt. Governor of Missouri. A tireless advocate for toddler gun rights, this write-in candidate supports consensual corruption, regulating nonviolent video games, subsidies for dictators, Triple H (attitude era) and cushy government gigs.

With the story lines coming out of this year’s presidential campaign, Crooked Jake fits right in the mix. His resume skills include surprise groping of the inferior gender, losing work emails from home, and denying he said what you just heard him say. I know Jake says his run for office is all about the money (and drugs from ISIS) but I can see through his little game. I can smell a hidden snarky budget lesson. And we don’t need no education! What’s next booklover? Mandatory lesbian abortion awareness?

Lying Jake, a suspected North Korea national who won’t rule out burning political enemies alive when he loses, is distinguishing himself from the other candidates. In fact, I believe he is guilty of the greatest-possible sin in modern politics: he won’t pretend he can change anything. Ever since the founding fathers launched their guerrila campaign against the imperialists who rightly stole this land first, politicians of every stripe have promised, and largely failed, to deliver to constituents more freedom, prosperity, safety or services. Not Naked Jake Wilburn. This emperor wears no clothes and has the audacity to tell you he just likes being naked. No naive altruism free-riding on a working man’s dime; no hardened self-serving guardian of privilege. Just Bedwetter Jake and his ties to the Irish mafia. And the very worst part: this puppy mill owner wants working patriots to WRITE IN his name on the coming rigged ballot. No R or D to pencil in. How evil is that?

Pick stolen from candidate Jake Wilburn’s Facebook page

An actual Q&A

Here’s Jake answering a few real questions by email about his campaign. 

Q: Why this position?

A: In 2012 I ran a serious campaign for state representative. I was really jaded after those experiences realizing that 90% of people don’t vote based on substance and are very uniformed. The race for this useless position of Lieutenant Governor perfectly encompasses the game of pandering to willful ignorance that is politics. I could almost describe this campaign as a reaction of light hearted disgust.   
Q: What are some of the media outlets you have talked to?
A: When I launched the campaign I sent snail mail letters and materials to every major print and radio news organization in the state. I made sure they knew I was an actual candidate and requested to be given the same consideration for interviews or voter guide surveys as any other person running for office. I also reached out to some political podcasts and other outlets that interview interesting local people. Most of them told me that since I was running for office, even as a joke, they didn’t want to interview a candidate. I even tried to make sure sites like Ballotpedia and BallotAccess news knew about me. In the end I was interviewed by the Columbia Missourian newspaper, the Springfield News-leader, and a morning news talk station out of Columbia. I believe that if my name was printed on the ballot I would have done slightly better with the media…or maybe they are just biased and this whole thing is rigged…
Q: What kind of feeback have you been getting? Has anyone challenged the notion of the do-nothing job?
A: There have been some people that really “get it.” They seem into what I am doing and reward me with high fives. Facebook marketing tells me it’s the same type of people who like South Park and/or marijuana. Regardless, it’s a small group. I think the humor I use doesn’t have mass appeal to people who are deeply involved in Missouri politics like religiously conservative old white people and millennial communists. Most people I have talked to in person don’t really understand what I am doing or don’t care (see previous answer on being uniformed and willfully ignorant). A few people have been offended by the campaign because they are strongly backing another candidate. Others have been put off by my “unprofessionalism” so they obviously don’t get the joke.
Q: Worth it? How many votes do you expect?
A: Political satire is right up my alley and having an interesting and nonconventional avenue to express my opinions has given me personal satisfaction if nothing else. I’m also pretty much guaranteed to win “two truths and a lie” every time I play from now on. The only thing that worries me slightly is that this may hamper future opportunities in life since it might imply that I should not be taken seriously in other ventures. I don’t let fear decide my fate so I went with it anyway.     
It remains to be seen how many of those high fives turn into votes. A highway patrolman named Charles R. Jackson ran for Lt. Governor as a write in during the 2012 election and received 346 votes. I don’t even have that many likes on facebook. There was a write in candidate for a legislative seat in 2012 that had zero votes. He didn’t even vote for himself. With only a few exceptions in US history, write in candidates get abysmal numbers in elections so I am keeping my expectations low. If I buy a dozen donuts on Election Day and give one away to everyone who promises to write me in, I might come away with about nine votes and one with sprinkles left over for me to enjoy.

Expanding the base Trump style

So if Trump loses, do we lose our democracy? Talk from his supporters is actually turning to pitchforks and riots

Why? Trump — who has spent his entire adult life clamoring for and receiving public attention — says he’s not getting a fair shake from the media. That’s right, the same media so enamored with his divisive rhetoric that he barely had to advertise during the primaries; Clinton outspent Trump by $116 million in the party-focused part of the race.  

Of course, now that his off-camera self has been caught bragging about sexual aggression, that same media has the stones to publish stories coming forward from alleged victims claiming the kind of assault he was gabbing about. 

The media has a bunch of biases by the way, but it’s always slanted towards stories that produce revenue. If anyone should understand that, its Trump. Still, he can’t help but shovel coal into the campaign train he has driven off the tracks crying like a victim himself against the same media he’s used to build his empire. 

What is his strategy? How does this win over the growing group of people in the middle who might still vote for him? More than four in 10 people now identify as independent voters. So where is the exploration of the issues that might sway the uncommitted to the right? Trump arguing the system is rigged against him as the Republican candidate for president while conservatives still control the House and Senate is at odds with reality. 

But Trump isn’t spending his time on Twitter talking about lowering taxes; he’s insulting Alec Baldwin, Paul Ryan, Rosie O’Donnell. I. Don’t. Get. It.

Trump as Sherman with election end in sight 

As the 2016 presidential campaign reaches into the home stretch, New York real estate developer Donald Trump appears to have employed a political strategy akin to William Sherman’s march to the sea in the Civil War. Surrounding the former star of “The Apprentice” television series, is scorched earth here, there and everywhere in the wake of fresh sexual assault allegations. 

The enemy most clearly obstructing his path to the White House is corporate media. 

Those liberal bastards! How dare troublesome outfits such as The New York Times report allegations of sexual assault – as well as Trump’s emphatic denial – against said businessman while simply looking to become leader of the free world? 

To the Times’ credit, it appears a strong understanding of the First Amendment and libel case law by its legal reps have emboldened this pillar of American journalism. 

Yesterday, the Times laid a legal smackdown on Trump, all but begging him to sue the publication for exercising that thing we call freedom of the press. The letter, authored by attorney David E. McCraw, is, in my mind, nothing short of beautiful – a jewel members of the media and lovers of the American legal system should enjoy far and wide. 

Trump, with all his bluster, took to the campaign trail trying to marry the Washington establishment with the liberal media despite the fact that the U.S. House and Senate remain under Republican control. It all feels desperate and predictable. 

While I could have never guessed The Donald would become the GOP’s nominee for president at the controversial outset of his campaign, the very tough path for Trump became clear before convention delegates landed in Cleveland this summer.

In 2012, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney did about as well as one could with white, Christian voters and still narrowly missed the executive office. No lesson learned for Trump, however, who has seemed hell-bent on doubling down on Romney’s strategy, alienating latinos, Muslims and minorities at nearly every turn. 

“The Atlantic,” which recently endorsed opponent Hillary Clinton – only the third such presidential endorsement by the publication since its founding in 1857 – is, unlike Trump, on top of the demographics. In its Oct. 13 piece, “We’ve reached the end of white Christian America,” it rightly notes that those who identify as both white and Christian now represent 45 percent of the population. 

Maybe that explains the anger and venom that rises to the surface at Trump rallies – America has changed without full white, Christian consent. And now there’s little left to do but wait for the crowning insult to the good-old-boy network that has for so long fed people like Mr. Trump so well: we elect a woman leader.

Nobel laureate Bob Dylan must have seen the writing on the wall when he said, “the times, they are a changin’.”

Hillary, Donald underwhelm in second debate

Last night, Secretary Hillary Clinton faced off against real estate mogul and reality television star Donald Trump in the second presidential debate of the 2016 election. If you watched the painful exchange of ideas for the duration, you likely already know the issues and candidates well and were struck by nothing, in particular.

In fact, precious few are excited about this election, according to Pew Research, which has found the most appealing quality in the candidate voters support is the fact that he or she isn’t the other.

To solidify your views, you may have turned to some of your favorite analysts on FoxNews, MSNBC, CNN or Twitter, where a culture of quick quips could have entertained you through the meandering democratic exercise. 

Fact checkers, perhaps not surprisingly, found the former first lady generally had a better handle on facts, while Mr. Trump, again, took more liberties.

Even so, this left-leaning hippie isn’t entirely lost when it comes to Trump’s appeal. While Hillary always seems to be searching for the right words, Trump is off the cuff, natural. If his view of the world aligned with reality, I might even be tempted to vote for him. But as it is, facts are important to me, and I like to break stereotypes; I’m a white male in my 40s, btw.

Regarding other impressions, it seems to me Trump can offer no adequate explanation for #gropegate, and Mrs. Clinton has no satisfying answers for lost emails during her tenure as Secretary of State. Both issues speak to character flaws, though I must admit to being more concerned about unwanted pussy grabbing, myself. Call me biased, if you like. Sidenote: isn’t Billy Bush just as creepy as you always thought he was?

Overall, viewers saw the debate much like I did, it seems; 57 percent thought Hillary won the night.

Looking forward, I found myself agreeing with Charles Krauthammer’s analyses on Megyn Kelly’s show post-debate: Trump salvaged his wreck of a campaign, but while Hillary could well be the target of future Wikileaks revelations, The Donald is just as vulnerable to more hot-mic moments from The Apprentice days or elsewhere.

Nov. 8 can’t arrive fast enough.  

All the ages

A badge of honor anyone would shed:

We have joined 

The collective loss

Of all the ages. 

Yellow and brown. 

White and black.

In a primal scream. 

In bitter tears. 

This loss,

This god-forsaken badge,

Is what binds us. 

Our fingers comb its thin edges,

A photograph, 

The smell of sulfur, rot, gas, gunpowder,

Sunday’s mowed grass,

A flag, a meal,

A holy book,

A voice and laugh captured, 

We can only remember, 

And wait, 

To be whole again. 

To know once more,

A thing not counterfeit. 

In Tandem

And this is life: Forward motion.

Time passes and erases heroes with villains, farmers, families, foes. And when they vanish, they are never more we — this preposterous pirate’s crew. 

Loss is our language, our final expression. When friends meet their end, we cry to honor what was, and sign to own the note of their vacancy. 

Many veer off course. We dismiss debt knowing our own anchors too sit on silt. 

So ‘Rest in Peace’ we say. The laughter we shared in the valley’s shadow always proved we could. 

Ahead, we’re broken in tandem. Into the sea that swallows the sun we sail. Full speed!! 

Should, for some silly reason, all possibilities arise, I’ll chose your faith in me to find you.  

And bolstered by your confidence, I will. Lounging on shore. Waiting. Giggling with the good news we hoped for.