My Favorite Martin – Not

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

The former governor of Maryland and former mayor of Baltimore is doing his best to become everyone’s “favorite Martin” especially Democratic primary voters, but is having real problem finding the traction to move his campaign for the presidency forward.

No matter what O’Malley seems to do, he is unable to get out of the shadow of others in the Democratic presidential nomination process.

The media and the establishment, including money people, ignore O’Malley for Hillary Clinton who has the higher name recognition and can bank on her former positions, including having once been the nation’s First Lady.

Then there is that independent, out-of-box politician from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, who keeps stealing the thunder and the crowds. Sanders is the Democratic equivalent to the Republicans’ non-politicians.

So what is a liberal former governor to do?

Even in Maryland and his hometown of Baltimore, O’Malley is running into barriers to his favorability. With the death of Freddie Gray in April, O’Malley became a symbol of the policies, which he implemented as mayor which led to the outrage which set the city on fire. O’Malley has had to fight back against charges that he aided and abetted the abuses of police officers in one of America’s premier cities.

Who is Martin O’Malley?

Besides being a former mayor and governor, O’Malley believes he is the answer for a continuation of Democratic control of the White House. He is lined out 15 goals for what he terms a way to “rebuild America”.

1.  He wants to increase American families’ median net worth by $25,000 over the next 10 years once he is president.

2.  By 2050, O’Malley wants all electricity in the country to be generated by renewable energy.

3.  The former governor wants to cut the unemployment rate of 16-24 year-olds to 7% from the current 14% within three to four years.

4.  O’Malley is shooting for full employment of America’s veterans by 2020.

5.  The candidate wants to reform immigration while providing a path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented aliens.

6.  The governor is proposing a plan to allow college student the option to graduate debt-free in five years.

7.  His goal is to up the college complete rate by 25%.

8.  Childhood hunger should be, but a memory by 2020.

9.  We need to save and redeem lives in the criminal justice system, O’Malley espouses.

10. Cutting gun deaths (homicides, suicides, accidents) in half by 2025 is another of his goals.

11. Cutting in half deaths from drug overdoses, the governor wants to accomplish by 2020.

12. By 2020, O’Malley wants a drop in the infant mortality rate by 10%

13. Separation of commercial and speculative banking needs to happen with five years, the candidate contends.

14. Within his first year as President, O’Malley wants a restoration and more enforcement of anti-trust laws.

15. Public funding of all congressional elections is O’Malley’s final goal to be accomplished within five years.

At least O’Malley on his web site (http://martinomalley.com) calls the 15 points goals and not promises. Many of his goals have a populist ring and will find a likeness and kinship with many voters on all sides of the political spectrum.

Then there is the reality. Much of what O’Malley would like to accomplish and what is politically feasible are worlds apart. Much of what the governor is proposing comes across as a counter to that Democratic Socialist in the race, Bernie.

O’Malley also seems to be courting the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party and moving to the left of Hillary.

So far in the polls, O’Malley is barely making a dent. The rally is around Bernie while Hillary tumbles down the hill with Jack. Even non-candidate, Vice President Joe Biden, is nearly 14 times more the vote-getter than O’Malley.

Martin’s current composite ranking is 1.5% nationwide.

From the Desert with my feet planted firmly in the Cornfield, the pudding will come on October 13, when the Democratic wannabes square off in a debate hosted by CNN.

Will O’Malley last for another month and a half to make his case to the Democratic voters or will he have to fold his tent and wait for another year to join the carnival?

Will the candidate be able to convince enough people to make him their favorite Martin?

The Doctor Will See You Now

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

Donald Trump is not the only person that is upsetting the conventional wisdom as the 2016 presidential race continues to rev up toward the caucuses and primaries beginning in February.

Another who is making short shrift of what is expected of and thought about those who seek the highest job in the land is a retired neurosurgeon – Dr. Ben Carson.

Carson, like Trump, is an unconventional type who is climbing in the crowded Republican field of presidential wannabes. He has never held public office. He says what he thinks sometimes to the chagrin of his campaign staff and supporters. He does not always get it right and has to clarify or backtrack.

But Carson is making steady inroads and has moved into the #2 spot in the Iowa polls. He has pulled within 5 points of Trump with 18% to 23%. Nationwide Carson has a 10.5% composite compared to Trump’s 23.5%, good enough for the second pole position.

Who exactly is this world-renowned surgeon?

His quip at the first debate earlier this month garnered the most laughs. Carson noted that he is a brain surgeon, but that politicians in Washington seemed to have not waited on him before having a lobotomy.

Carson has a certain folksy way about him that is attracting fans from the most conservative to moderates. His appeal extends beyond Republican voters to independents and some Democrats.

As I noted earlier, Carson has opened his mouth to insert his foot a few times. One such incident was when he claimed that prison makes one gay.

Many see Carson as this campaign season’s GOP response to President Barack Obama. Carson, I am sure, will not hold voters’ color against them.

He believes that it is passed time for the nation to move beyond race. A belief that has rankled some within the African-American community.

The doctor is decidedly pro-life. He is for a balanced budget amendment. On education, Carson is firm on “local control” of elementary and secondary schooling. He is resolute on protecting the Second Amendment and right to bear arms.

The doctor sees Israel as the bulwark ally in our fight with terrorism. He is for a 15-minute tax form, thus paring the current, over-the-top tax code. Carson believes that the Guantanamo Bay prison to contain terrorists should remain open.

Faith is essential to our society, Carson believes, and must be guarded. The doctor advocates health care savings account over the Affordable Care Act and a return to greater patient/physician interaction. 

Lastly, the good doctor, as Mitt Romney before him, sees Russia as a danger we must be prepared to withstand. He sees the aggression in the Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a warning of how, if we let our guard down, Russia will keep marching and seizing territory.

On his website (http://bencarson.com), the candidate does not flesh out the policy positions beyond a paragraph or two. There is a link to sign-up and proclaim, “I Stand with Ben”, on every page. There is also a suggestion to get the doctor’s books to understand his positions.

The fundamental question voters must ask of candidates such as Carson and Trump, who have never held office, is whether the lack of experience will hurt, hinder or be a disqualifier. Many Republicans over the last seven years have pointed out that lack of experience with President Obama. The experience question has been a rallying cry and a good fundraising appeal.

Will the GOP voters give Carson a pass on experience because of the irritation and anger with the typical politician?

From the Desert with my feet firmly planted in the Cornfield, he may not be getting the media attention, but Dr. Ben Carson is striking a chord in the heartland with GOP and independent voters tired of the way things have always been.

Carson will be interesting to view, learn about and listen to as the race continues.

While his time was very limited in the first debate, when the doctor had the mic, he made the best use of it and time with repartee which rang true with voters.

Come September 16, when CNN hosts the next debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, will the doctor get more time?

Will Carson be able to spark interest and still the sound bytes once again?

The Doctor will see you now – are you ready for your examination?

Open Season

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From the Desert with my feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

Surely I must have been sleeping or in a Rip Van Winkle type of coma. There is no way I could have missed state legislatures and Congress passing a law which declared a new hunting sport where law enforcement officers were the target.

But apparently something occurred when I was not paying attention in which open season was declared on police.

This past week the 24th person who wears a badge was gunned down in Texas while he was pumping gas into his patrol car. This came hours after protesters in Minnesota were heard chanting, “Fry the bacon.”

Last year, 27 officers were gunned down. At the current rate, some 36 peacekeepers will be dead by year’s end.

All of this is happening, according to some, because there are bad people wearing the badge and donning the uniform among the thousands who daily put their lives on the line. The reality of those thousands who are courteous, take their oath to heart, makes no difference to some in our country. The good of these officers cannot outweigh the wrong of the few who need to be rooted out and cut from the force.

The only option, according to some, is to target any and all law enforcement to compensate for wrongs past and present, perceived or real. Rule of law does not apply.

A couple of years ago there was a movie which came out and was popular with some, especially our youth, where for one night each year, anything goes. Lawlessness ruled for that one night – including murder.

I am beginning to believe that in some parts of our great nation, this movie is being taken to heart and brought to life. Yes, there are very clear violations by some police officers. There are those police officers who have literally gotten away with murder.

One such example is the case of mentally ill Kelly Thomas who was beaten to death. His beating was preserved on video, yet a jury found the rogue officers not guilty.

But not all cases are so in-your-face or where a jury, in my opinion, got it wrong.

Anarchy is not the answer for those who disgrace the uniform. Taking “justice” into one’s own hands is not the solution to right the wrongs, whether real or unreal.

Vigilante justice only leads to a mob mentality where unlawful lynchings take place in the public square.

Yes, I realize that more officers die each year involved in vehicle incidents.

Yes, I realize some officers die in pitched gun battles with gangs and other criminals.

But what we have going on in the nation today is an open season to “punish” any and all police officers – most who are innocent of any slight, imagined or in fact.

The incident in Houston is reminiscent of the cold-blooded murder last December of two New York police officers sitting in their squad car. It is the same warped mentality putting a red letter on law enforcement.

This ought not to be.

There are methods in place to root out those who bring shame to the blue. These must be utilized.

Powers that be, whether commissioners, chiefs, city or county councils, must be willing to put the hammer down and require city, county and state enforcers of the law to comply in a professional manner or be booted from the force.

There is no excuse for either citizens to give in to the baser human nature any more than there is no excuse for those sworn to serve and protect to violate community and societal standards.

From the Desert with my feet firmly planted in the Cornfield, it is time to stop the insanity. It is time we “revoke” the vile “law” which has declared police “open season”.

The Ugly Stigma of Mental Health

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Since the tragic, on-air killing of two journalists on Wednesday morning in Virginia, discussion has turned to mental health and mental illness.

The subject of identifying and keeping those suffering from some type of mental illness has been linked to talks of gun control, ways to keep those who are afflicted from access to firearms and better identification of those who may be ill or suffering.

It is good that the nation is talking about mental health and mental illness. However, a lot of the conversation is reflecting the stigma, fear and misinformation about mental illness.

It is very evident that many speaking out are lumping all those who have mental concerns or issues into a basket of loonies or nutcases or crazed killers waiting for the opportunity to lash out with violence.

Some of the violence, however, is not committed by those with a mental condition, but rather a snap and acting out due to a situational reaction. Yet, we want to make everyone who does such acts a crazy person.

This shows a lack of understanding and education on the range of mental illnesses and the various treatments, remedies and solutions to maintaining good mental health.

There was a time when cancer or AIDS was only mentioned in whispers. Today those diseases are talked about openly.

There was a time that shame and revulsion was attached to those who were inflicted with these illnesses. Even the families were often ostracized or talked about in hushed tones.

Times changed as did perceptions and advances in treatment and research increased. Sadly, mental illness still carries it’s own “scarlet letter” bringing shame, guilt and false, hurtful jibes at not just those of us who have some form of mental affliction, but also our families.

People don’t want to talk about mental problems.

Even insurance companies and the government do not treat or look at mental health in the same light as physical health. Mental illness is too often not treated the same as any other illness. Even the Affordable Care Act does not provide the proper standing to treatment of mental illness, but relegates it to an inferior condition and limited treatment.

Pregnancy is treated as any other illness by insurance companies, but far too many policies limit, to the detriment of the patient, treatment of mental problems.

Then we wonder why so many who have a mental concern or issue fall back into the darkness, the gloom, the despair that so often accompanies such conditions.

Insurance stops paying. Patients are released due to prescribed set number of days of treatment. Those afflicted are left to stand on their own and make it the best they can.

Courts and states a long time ago closed down state run mental facilities, which sadly proved inadequate. These facilities were mostly a means of keeping the “mad” folk away from society in general.

Families would place their loved ones in such centers and forget they existed. When those hospitals and facilities were closed down, many of those who had resided there were sent into the streets to fend for themselves.

Even today, if anyone has any type of mental illness, parents are reluctant to admit their child could have such a problem. Siblings recoil. Classmates, fellow workers, church members pull away and try to pretend they don’t exist or do not have a problem.

There are so many levels of mental illness. So many of these conditions are treatable.

There are some for which there is no effective treatment, but those are the minority of cases.

For many of us, such as myself, we suffer from depression. People are so clueless to what depression is.

Then there are those with bipolar or schizophrenic conditions. Others have varied affective disorders or adjustment reactions.

Yet, we speak in whispered tones or we refuse to acknowledge the mentally ill exist or that anyone of us could have a family member with “problems”.

Yes, we need to strengthen laws, medical and psychological exams, background checks to insure that those with a mental illness that could threaten or lead to acts of violence be kept from obtaining weapons. But at the same time we must change the perception of mental illness.

We must embrace mental health.

We must treat mental illness the same as any other illness.

We must get rid of the stigma, the shame, the condemnation of those who may need help for a lifetime, episodically, or just a little help in getting over a hurdle.

We need acceptance and tolerance.

We need education.

We need better understanding.

Until society comes to grips with the fact that not all of us are the paragons of mental stability in the same way that not all of us are titans in physical prowess, we will continue to see those needing treatment go untreated.

We will continue to see parents, loved ones, children, spouses, friends refusing to talk about the concerns and issues of someone with a mental problem until it’s too late.

We must embrace each other warts and all.

We must start talking openly without shame, without stigma about mental illness and mental health. We need to break the barriers in health insurance that still refuses to recognize mental illness as the same as any other illness.

From the Desert with my feet firmly planted in the Cornfield, the nation needs to be having a conversation about mental illness and mental health, but we also need a change in our attitudes and perceptions about those of us who deal with or are afflicted with some type of mental issue or concern.

Then, and only then, may we be better able to identify and prevent those who may be heading toward a violent and tragic end.

With the case of the Virginia reporter turned killer, everyone found him to be difficult, hard to work with, but did not see he was mentally ill.

This happens all too often.

In part because none of us want to admit we need help. Admit we are sick.

The stigma prevents too many of us from being who we are and seeking the help we need.

Stunt to Serious Contention

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A funny thing happened on the way to the forum earlier this month in Cleveland, Ohio. What started out, as I believe, as another publicity stunt turned into a serious contention for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

I am talking of course of the loud-mouthed, brash, in-your-face businessman turned entertainer turned (gulp!) politician, Donald J. Trump.

The billionaire who has set off an out-of-control wildfire has pulled in the forces around him to contain the conflagration, shepherding it into the corral of a real-life, organized bid for the White House.

Trump is still shooting before knowing the facts. Trump is still being so politically incorrect.

But I have noticed over the past couple of weeks there has been a mellow to his bark with less bite than before.

Yet, he has piped into a well-spring of discontent with the American people, cutting across the lines, who are fed up with politics as usual and walking on egg shells, careful never to offend anyone.

The subtle changes are a result, in my opinion, of the Mouth That Roared realizing he could actually pull an upset and win not just the nomination, but the whole game – the Oval Office.

Many are voicing concern over what a Trump presidency would be like.

Many are concerned that Trump would alienate the world and start fires in other locales or add fuel to the ones now burning.

While I empathize with the concern, I also retain faith (perhaps foolishly) in our system of checks and balances.

We have all heard the outlandish claims and promises of candidates over the years. We knew there was no way to keep those promises, but we voted for the candidates any way. We knew once in office, reality would take over.

Yet, we still like to hear those lies, those empty promises.

The same will occur if Trump does get the nomination and eventually moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But one thing is for sure at this point in time, Trump has moved on from a stunt to get attention to a serious run for the nomination of the Grand Old Party.

Will primary and caucus voters begin to demand more details on what Trump plans to do or at least try to do once he is president?

Will voters demand more than sound bytes and speeches that tap the nerves?

Will the Trump Summer and Trump Primary fade into the sunset as voters get serious as winter arrives and ballot boxes beckon?

From the Desert with my feet planted firmly in the Cornfield, for now enjoy the show.

For now, see which candidates can weather the Trump storm.

Those who blister or are blown away were not ready nor fit to become the nation’s next commander-in-chief.

Only the strong will survive.

Where Do They Stand? Anybody?

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2016 Election Season – Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts!

The first debate (or was that two debates?) in the 2016 presidential election has passed. There were slight movers, no shakers, but there was fall-out.

Republicans have taken the stage, but we have to wait until October for the Democrats. Who knows if we will get a chance to hear from the Libertarians, Constitutionalists, Greens, Reformists or the independents.

With the summer of campaigning halfway completed, what do we know about the two major party candidates and their positions on the issues?

Donald Trump wants to build a wall between the US and Mexico and make Mexico pay for it, which is not going to happen. Trump also thinks the Mexican government is sending the dregs of society to our country since our government leaders are “stupid” and will take these troublemakers in, making them our problem.

Hillary Clinton wants to hand out a free, two-year college degree and pay for it later with more taxes from American workers. Clinton also wants us all to ride bicycles to help the environment while she boards a private jet.

Bernie Sanders wants the minimum wage to be a phased rise to $15 per hour and a “living wage”.  Sanders also wants to cut the cozy ties between Wall Street and Hillary and all the Republicans.

Jeb Bush wants education to stay in the hands of locals, but with core standards. Bush also wants to do what his father could not and beat a Clinton.

Martin O’Malley erroneously thought that each and every life matters until he was forced to apologize and recognize only certain lives matter.

Ted Cruz thinks everyone is wrong and a liar except himself.

Rand Paul thinks government should stay out of people’s personal business. Paul also thinks we should defeat terrorism, but keep our nose out of the world’s affairs.

Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are for ending, any way possible, equality for all American couples. The tactics and statements are straight out of the mid 1960s when those tactics were so successful in putting the Supreme Court in its place for declaring bans on inter-racial marriages unconstitutional.

Marco Rubio is all for fixing our immigration problem and a pathway to legal residence. Rubio is also dead set against having re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba.

John Kasich has a similar view on immigration as Rubio. Kaisch is open to loving everybody. He is also in favor of expanding Medicaid, though he is not a fan of the Affordable Care Act.

Carly Fiorina, a former corporate executive officer, is not a fan of paternity and maternity leave – surprise, surprise. Fiorina also thinks Hillary is the wrong woman for the job. Fiorina knows how to handle men in the boardroom as she has all over the world – unlike Hillary who can’t handle one man.

Lindsey Graham is in the race only to keep the focus on national security and the threat of jihadism. Graham has no delusions about being able to get the nomination.

Jim Gilmore is the man who is telling us, “I told you so” on the threat of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Dr. Ben Carson is the brain surgeon, retired, who knows where to cut and how to cut, causing the least pain – but does that translate into economics? Carson also advocates moving on from race and uniting all as Americans.

Chris Christie knows how to deal with a Democratic majority. But can he deal with a Republican majority?

Scott Walker is all for busting public unions. Walker may have maxed out his credit card, but he will have a plan to fix the economy – eventually.

George Pataki, the three-term former governor of New York, has a plan to try and make it to the next debate.

Jim Webb – is he still in the race on the Democratic side?

Rick Perry is learning that song, “If We Make It Through December” and changing the month to September. Too busy figuring out how to keep staffers on the job without pay to worry about the issues and policy.

Bobby Jindal – is he still in the race on the Republican side?

If we go to the candidates websites (a simple search will get you there), sadly we will find little to no substance. There is no meat on most of the bones, if there is even a bone.

So where do the candidates stand and what workable plans do they have on:

A. The Economy

B. Job Creation (good jobs, not just low paying jobs)

C. The National Debt and Budget

D. Energy and the Environment

E. Terrorism

F. Uniting Americans

G. Safety Nets and Sustainability

H. Down-sizing Government

I. Campaign Finance

J. Wall Street, the Markets, Banks

From the Desert with my feet planted firmly in the Cornfield, as I look through the stalks of corn and navigate through the cacti trying not to get stuck, it may be early in the political season, but we know very little on what matters from any of the candidates.

 

All the Rage – It’s Bernie!

cornfieldlogoThere is a phenomenon taking the country by storm. That phenom is none other than the independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.

Sanders decided to upset and hopefully usurp the expected coronation of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president. So far he is doing quite a job of keeping the apples rolling down the street and tripping up expectations across the nation.

Over the weekend, around 20,000 people showed in Oregon to support and listen to Bernie speak. Monday, an astounding 28,000 packed the stadium in Los Angeles to cheer for the man who is self-ascribed as a socialist.

But we have seen this type of turnout and support before.

Look back to 2012. An awkward congressman from Texas, known as “Mr. No”, was seeing his campaign stops jam-packed. He was stirring emotions. He was attracting young people much like Bernie. His followers were very loyal and very vocal. His movement even took over some Republican Party state committees.

That man, Dr. Ron Paul, was laying the foundation and building a springboard from which his son, Rand, could run for the White House in 2016. So far that plan is not coming to the fruition imagined. Nor did all the loyal followers nor all the large numbers translate into votes on primary and caucus day.

Will it be the same for Bernie?

At the moment, Bernie is in a statistical tie with Hillary in the first-in-the-nation primary state, New Hampshire, where he has somewhat of a home field advantage being from next door Vermont. But even in Iowa, Bernie is building steam.

Other rivals for the nomination cannot seem to get traction nor get news coverage nor turnout. Not even Hillary gets the turnout Bernie does. For Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee, except for O’Malley, there is never a mention of these candidates in the news.

Playing it smart, Bernie even defended Hillary saying that the criticism of her is sexist. The other competitors remain unmentioned.

Known as “Mr. Socialist”, where does Bernie stand on issues?

The bulk of his campaign centers around support and renewal of the “middle class”. Sanders is a Don Quixote character out to topple the windmill of income inequality.

He stands for overturning of the Citizen United ruling by the Supreme Court and ridding big money from political campaigns.

Bernie backs the raise in the minimum wage to at least $15 per hour and creation of better paying jobs.

Struggling with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which shut down one of his Oregon events, Sanders has been a long-time civil rights advocate.

He is for what he calls, “Real Family Values” – paid time off for new parents, paid sick leave and paid vacation.

Naturally, Bernie is a big advocate of reining in Wall Street and tighter controls on the free market.

Sanders stands firmly against the Keystone XL Pipeline. He has called for taxing carbon and methane emissions.

(I wonder if that means there will be a tax on bovines flatulation?)

Bernie is tapping into the frustration and anger, much like Donald Trump on immigration and political correctness, of Americans with the big banks, the “living wage”, the stagnant, for too many, with the job market and the economy.

Question remains if those flocking to see and hear Bernie will turn out at the polls?

For Ron Paul, though vocal, loud and loyal, the Liberty Movement could not pull in the votes needed to win. Since the take over of state parties, the Paulites have been assimilated.

Will this be the fate of Sanders and his supporters in the Democratic Party?

From the Desert with my feet planted firmly in the Cornfield, is Bernie Sanders this summer’s Herman Cain or Ron Paul?

Sanders is a straight talker much like his GOP rival The Donald. 

But are Democrats ready to swing as far left as Bernie would like to take them?

Can Sanders win the general election?

#WillowFire Sets Desert Ablaze

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Image by Michelle Spotts, near Needles, CA, 6:30 p.m., Sunday, August 9, 2015

The ‪#WillowFire has set the Mohave Desert ablaze, starting on Saturday, August 8, 2015 around 10:30 a.m.. It is 0 contained and burning some 6,000 acres.

The fire which started and is mainly still in the Havasu Wildlife Refuge is covering the entire Desert valley with smoke. It is more noticeable and the smell more pungent in the south to southeast of the valley. It was raging strongly near Topock, Arizona and Needles, California Saturday afternoon and evening.

Up on the hill where I am in Canyon Terrace off James Bilbray Avenue, all I could see was the haze, which was less than it was a half of an hour or so before I crossed the Colorado River to pick up some meat at Smith’s grocery store on Sunday.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is reporting 11 houses have been destroyed. Up to 1,000 homes are in danger and have been evacuated.

The Red Cross set up an evacuation center at the Mohave Valley Elementary School. Pets are also being sheltered. The mandatory evacuation order in Mohave Valley, surrounding subdivisions and areas remains in place.

Even though I am some 20 miles northwest of the fire, the smoke, the smell of the burning wood, has become so thick and intense this Sunday night, I am not able to sit very long on the patio. My one good lung cannot handle the pollution from the fire. My throat began to burn.

As I said – I am 20 miles away!

Prayers, thoughts to all those displaced and those in danger.

To follow as firefighters risk their lives:

http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4465/#

https://www.facebook.com/willowfireaz

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Image by Mark Ivy, at El Mirage and Needles Highway in Laughlin, NV, Saturday, August 8, 2015, about 1/2 mile down the mountain from the Desert Mark’s Den in Canyon Terrace looking south towards Mohave Valley, AZ and Needles, CA.
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Image by Marvin Wilson, Saturday, August 8, 2015 in Golden Valley, AZ
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Image by Jaime Rush, Vanderslice/Courtwright Rd, Saturday, August 8, 2015
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Image by Jaime Rush near Needles, CA, Saturday, August 8, 2015
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Image by Bill Gilmore in Bullhead City, AZ, Saturday, August 8, 2015
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ Still burning Sunday after the sun went down over the mountains.
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Images by Tonya Gold taken both Saturday and Sunday, August 8-9, 2015 at the scene of the fire in Mohave Valley, AZ still burning Sunday night after the sun drops down beyond the mountains.

Not So Inevitable

cornfieldlogoFor over a year now, all the news casts, the political pundits and junkies, the consultants, every talking head on the planet as well as rank-and-file Americans have stated as a fact that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016. Everyone, it seems, agrees her coronation is inevitable.

I must respectfully disagree. While the presumption appears to be on target, there are some factors that must be weighed.

Looking back to 2008, for more than a year all the buzz was how that Hillary would be the nominee. Out of nowhere came this inexperienced, Junior Senator from the State of Illinois. A man who had appeared from the same realm of anonymity at the Democratic Convention in 2004 when a speech turned the party spotlight on him as a rising star.

What happened?

This relative unknown trashed conventional wisdom, denied the vast political powerhouse machine a victory. Barack Obama, with flowery words and charisma, “stole” the lightning bolt from Zeus as Olympus was shaken to its core.

Are we seeing a repeat in 2015?

Look at the independent Senator from the great State of Vermont. An unabashed, self-proclaimed socialist, far to the left of the more centrist Clinton. The numbers flocking to his campaign rallies are staggering and rivaling those of a certain Congressman from Texas in 2012.

Yes, Bernie Sanders is too far out there for not only the majority of Americans, but also most Democrats. He is to the left a thorn in the side as Ron Paul was a thorn in the side of Republicans. Paul’s followers made inroads into the party establishment, but those who grabbed state party control have now been assimilated.

Sanders does have his own set of problems. The biggest coming from the very vocal #BlackLivesMatter movement. Still, Sanders is showing that the inevitability of a Clinton nomination is not set in stone.

Then there is the problem with the credibility factor for Hillary.

Those heady days of popularity she enjoyed as Secretary of State are long gone. The FBI investigation into her use of a private email server is causing renewed concern about whether she can be trusted and whether she thinks she is above the rules by which others must play.

Her credibility and favorable numbers keep getting lower and lower. Her appeal to the masses and to those in the Democratic Party is turning green much like copper.

Clinton is finding out being a woman is not enough.

Add to all this is her lack of detail and avoiding questions she refuses to answer. What is emerging is a self-implosion.

Hillary is already getting push back from a core of the Democrats – environmentalists. This has led to her abandoning her private jets for more ecologically friendly modes of transportation to reach campaign events. But, instead of a positive, it makes her look both hypocritical and caving to a special interest when the water became too hot.

Neither Jim Webb nor Martin O’Malley are presenting any trouble for Clinton at this point. Webb could if he actually starts running for office beyond making the announcement. O’Malley has the baggage as Mayor of Baltimore which is and will weigh him down.

There is all the talk about whether Vice President Joe Biden, smelling blood in the water, will jump into the pool as the sharks circle Clinton. He may. We expect to know this week. But – Biden won’t be the one to sink the Hillary yacht.

There are game changers out there.

Most notably, if New York Governor Andrew Cuomo should decide to do a high dive with a triple somersault, he would rise back to the surface with a standing ovation in the stands.

Democrats are not 100% sold on Hillary.

No, the coronation of Hillary Clinton is not assured.

From the Desert with my feet planted firmly in the Cornfield, as I look through the stalks ready for harvest and the cacti with their prickly spines, it is clear that Democrats are still holding out for a heroine or a hero – and it is not, Hillary.

My Top 5 – Post Debate

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On Thursday all 17 major Republican candidates for the GOP nomination for president squared off in two separate venues. The bottom seven polling candidates spoke at 5 p.m. (ET) The top 10 polling candidates got the spotlight at 9 p.m. (ET).

In light of the performances of all 17, here is my list, at this moment, who I believe are the top five wannabes to get the nod at the Republican convention in June.

1. John Kasich – Kasich, current governor of Ohio, came into the race late and squeaked into the Top 10. His delivery, command of the subjects, his record, his more moderate positions and ability to work with Democrats, makes him a formidable candidate and one who will appeal to the Establishment, independents and disenchanted Democrats in a general election.

2. Marco Rubio – The junior senator from Florida displayed a command of the issues, responded to questions asked directly, showed he is politically savvy and his record, though a favorite of many on far right, displays he can work with Democrats in Congress to get things done or reach common ground.

3. Dr. Ben Carson – Though a non-politician, Carson has been doing his home work. He is affable and can crack a joke as without it coming across canned or prepared. He has a personality that says he is not an egotist like a certain other candidate.

4. Carly Fiorina – Though I see her more as a vice presidential nominee, Fiorina showed in the first forum that she is a force with which to be reckoned. She clearly mastered the men on the stage with her. She also had better jabs at Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton than any of the Top 10. She was knowledgeable and concise in her responses.

5. Jeb Bush – While I am not a big fan, some of the anecdotal stories such as one by fellow CNN iReporter, unBroken1, depict my distant cousin as being a down-to-earth guy with whom it is easy to talk. His performance was lackluster, but he was on point during the debate. His record in Florida depicts him as someone who knows how government operates and how to work with others. He knows how to play with others and share his toys.

While I am not yet solid on any of the GOP group, this is how I see things at this juncture. My view on the Democratic slate will have to wait until October when the Dems have their first debate.

From the Desert with my feet firmly planted in the Cornfield, I am sharing my perspective on the candidates post-debate.

And who are your top five?