Boots on the Ground

 Presidential politics  Comments Off on Boots on the Ground
Dec 132015
Boots on the Ground

Boots on the Ground

Boots on the ground-I hate this phrase.  Unless, of course, you mean you literally want to put empty boots on the ground in a war zone.  Rain boots, fashion boots, work boots, even combat boots.  That’s fine.  I don’t care.  Air lift all the boots you want anywhere in the world you want and drop them on the ground.  Seems a bit pointless, but my real issue is when you expect American soldiers to be wearing those boots.

Boots on the ground did not win our freedom and they cannot defend it.  Boots on the ground do not die, get dismembered, or suffer PTSD.  Soldiers do.  Soldiers are more than boots.  They are human beings with mothers and fathers, daughters and sons.   Sometimes we need courageous human beings to go into battle to fight and possibly die for the values and liberties we prize.   When we dehumanize them and refer to them as boots on the ground, it is too easy to forget the reality of war.  The reality of hard battles in harsh environments.  The daily choice these soldiers face to kill or be killed.  The reality of coming home to an America that seems not to value or acknowledge their sacrifices.

We can send American boots anywhere.  When we think of sending American soldiers to war, it behooves us to remember they are more than boots on the ground.  They are human beings.

Between the Doctor and the Donald

 Presidential politics  Comments Off on Between the Doctor and the Donald
Dec 132015
Ben Carson

Ben Carson 

I had the privilege of sharing my day with Dr. Carson and Donald Trump (sequentially) yesterday.  There was such a marked difference in the way that I was treated by the two campaigns that I felt it was appropriate to do a compare and contrast post.  A bit of a spoiler, Donald Trump came out on the losing end by a long shot.  The words I wanted to use have been spinning around all day in my head.  Finally, I have a chance to sit down and write it all out and the first headline that pops up on my computer is “ACLU Colorado board member [Loring Wirbel] resigns after encouraging shooting Trump supporters.”   Almost unbelievable, I think to myself, and immediately check to see what site I am on.   Oh,  Better double check that one!  Hmmm, looks like he actually said that.  I’m 99% certain it was a misguided joke (as Mr. Wirbel claims), but a person holding a prominent position needs to be careful what they say.  Be informed, take a position and stand by it.  Talk to your neighbors and advocate your point of view as strongly as you see fit.   But don’t go around shooting them because they disagree with you! And be aware that if you hold a prominent position and make a joke like this it is quite possible that some loony tune somewhere will act on it.

According to the Daily Caller, The post read, “The thing is, we have to really reach out to those who might consider voting for Trump and say, ‘This is Goebbels. This is the final solution. If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before election day.’ They’re not going to listen to reason, so when justice is gone, there’s always force, as Laurie would say.”  Read more: Daily Caller

OK, with that out of the way, let’s look at how my day went (warning-snark ahead.) It started off at Honey Creek Resort, on Lake Rathburn near Moravia, Iowa.  I arrived at the Carson event without credentials, but with tear sheets and an ID to establish I was legit.  No problem, as long as my cameras and gear passed the Secret Service screen I was good to go.  I was politely directed to the press area and took a seat.  Ben Carson’s media person came up, introduced herself, and asked who I was with.  I explained that I was a small indie and sold primarily through stock agencies.   She lit up with a smile and said “Oh, I love entrepreneurs.”  She continued to treat the press graciously throughout the event.

On to the next rally…I arrived at the Donald Trump press credentialing table and they did not have me on the credentialed list.  I was asked to wait until the Grand Poohbah of Trumpeteer Media Relations (GPTMR) arrived.   I waited, along with several other independents and reps of small papers who also didn’t make the cut. When the GPTMR arrived, I was asked who I was with and explained I am an approved independent contributor to several stock agencies and started listing them.   One of those agencies is iStock/Getty. As soon as I named them, she challenged me with “Getty is here.”  I clarified for the (apparently listening challenged) GPTMR that I never said I was on assignment with Getty nor that I was employed by them.  I am an approved stock contributer.  (Trust me, if I were ever selected to represent Getty, I would crow about it to the whole world!) Let me paraphrase the rest of the conversation:

GPTMR:  You’re not media.

ME:  It would have been nice if you decided that before *redacted name of campaign rep* sent me an email indicating I would have credentials and I spent an hour one way to drive here (plus gas.)

GPTMR:  You couldn’t have gotten that email.  I always get a copy.

At this point, it was obvious to me that I was in a no-win situation and at risk of drawing unwanted attention from law enforcement and possibly the Secret Service.  Now, there are some SS men I wouldn’t mind getting attention from –but not the kind that ends up with me in front of a judge explaining myself!

I decided to skedaddle my non-media butt out of the Donald Trump credentialing queue before I got in trouble. It usually takes a lot to get under my skin, but my two hot buttons are my integrity and my professionalism.  The GPTMR had just pushed them both in less than two minutes.   As I was on my way out, another person who had failed to convince the GPTMR that he was legitimate press asked if the public were allowed to have cameras in the rally.  Well, yes, said the GPTMR, but (pointing at MY gear) not cameras like that.  I reminded myself that it would be a really bad idea to lose my temper with the GPTMR with all that Secret Service protection around, took a deep breath, and kept walking to the public entrance. I got into the event just fine without showing ID or being challenged on my “camera like that.”  Got the shots (images-not literal shots-do NOT shoot the Trumpeteers!) I wanted, went home. 

Why does any of this matter?  Being commander in chief of this nation involves a lot of delegation.  It is appropriate to look at how well candidates delegate responsibility to their campaign staff as we evaluate their potential as leaders.  If they choose to be represented by staff that are disrespectful, why would we trust them to respect the US citizenry after they are elected?  Had the Trump rep simply said something along the lines of:  We cannot allow media in unless they are on the list due to security concerns; I would have no issue with that decision.  Instead they took the position that I was not media and implied that I was lying about receiving email from the campaign, in front of several of my colleagues.  The GPTMR was condescending and insulting.  The Carson rep was gracious and welcoming.  IMHO, that says something about the leaders of the campaigns.  

Donald Trump

Donald Trump in Des Moines, Iowa


Carly Fiorina

 Presidential politics  Comments Off on Carly Fiorina
Dec 062015
Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina © Cynthia Hanevy/CJH Photography LLC

When I set myself the goal of photographing every viable presidential candidate, I was anxious to learn more about Carly Fiorina.  I liked the success story she often tells of starting out as a secretary and rising to become CEO of Hewitt Packard.  I soon found out that she has appeared on more than one “worst CEO list,”  but  she did oversee the lay offs of many, many employees-not a great way to win friends and influence people.  And adjectives like “best” and “worst” will surely sell more articles than adjectives like “OK” or “acceptable,”  so I am prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt on this.  Even opponent Chris Christie acknowledged when speaking of Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina (impatient with their bickering) at the Republican Debate on September 16: “You’re both successful people. Congratulations.”  I can relate to her struggles with cancer, and I feel deeply for her loss of a child to drug addiction.  As for Donald thinking Carly Fiorina doesn’t look presidential, all I can say is check that hair, Donald!

Carly Fiorina is a pro-life candidate, favoring a ban on abortion 20 weeks after fertilization with exceptions for incest, rape, and danger to the mother’s health.  She favors equal opportunity for women, but then again who is going to come out and say we should discriminate against women? She believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but is OK with civil unions.  I have always thought that the government should get out of the marriage business and leave that to the churches.   Civil unions can handle the property type issues related to long-term partnerships.   In our society, marriage carries the connotation of God’s approval of the union.   Let’s leave that to the churches and separate it from the state.  Carly supports moving more control of education to local sources.   I am not sure I can support this idea.   It seems to me that we need federal oversight to ensure that all students in the US have access to adequate, quality education.

Carly impresses me as a tough, strong woman.   She is fond of saying in public appearances that, support her or not, we would all love to see her debate Hillary Clinton.   As far as I am concerned that is absolutely true!   I believe she would hold Hillary’s feet to the fire and I know Hillary could fire right back.   My main concern with Carly Fiorina is that she seems to have a problem passing fact checks.   It makes me wonder…is she ignorant of the facts or is she just hoping we are?

Sources:  Carly Fiorina speeches and debate performance, Mercury news,

Did Rand Paul replace his stylist?

 Presidential politics  Comments Off on Did Rand Paul replace his stylist?
Dec 052015

OK, I really planned to stay away from gossip column type snark in this blog, but this shirt makes it hard…can you say prison orange jumpsuit?  I’m just not sure what Rand Paul was thinking going out on the campaign trail like this in April…

Rand Paul in prison orange colored shirt

Rand Paul in prison orange

By the time the Halloween Growth and Opportunity Party (haha) in Des Moines rolled around, he looked a little less felonious.

Rand Paul in Des Moines

But we shouldn’t judge a man by his clothing.   What’s Rand Paul got to say about the issues?  Rand Paul is a fairly typical conservative Republican.  He describes himself as 100% pro-life and introduced S.583-the Life at Conception Act in March of 2013.   Of particular interest is the statement that “{ Rand Paul } would strongly support legislation restricting federal courts from hearing cases like Roe vs. Wade.  Such legislation would only require a majority vote, making it more likely to pass than a pro-life constitutional amendment.”

I suppose that’s true enough-but that doesn’t make it right.  It’s an encroachment on the legitimate power of the judicial branch to check the power of the legislature.  With the Roe vs. Wade decision, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) disallowed many state and federal restrictions against abortion, holding that the due process clause of the constitution protected a woman’s right to privacy, including a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, while acknowledging the interest of the state in protecting human life.

What does Rand Paul mean by “cases like Roe vs. Wade?”   The essence of the case goes beyond the issue of abortion.  The core of the issue is the extent to which citizens are constitutionally protected from the encroachment of government on their private lives.  Should SCOTUS then be barred from hearing any case that might result in a ruling limiting the power of the legislative branch?  I find that idea frightening.  Regardless of where you stand on Roe vs. Wade, it is important that the power of the legislature be subject to the checks and balances provided by both the executive and the judicial branches.   I find it ironic that Rand Paul and the Republican party, in the name of religious freedom and small government see fit to eliminate the protection provided by our systems of checks and balances and expand the power of the legislature to control the private lives of its citizens.   That, ladies and gentlemen, is not small government.

In the interests of full disclosure so you can understand what colors my interpretation of the world around me:

  1.  I consider myself a fundamentalist Christian.  No, I don’t mean I will come knock on your door and hit you on the head with a Bible if you don’t see the world like I do.  I mean I try to understand the fundamentals of what I believe and to act in accordance with my understanding.  I see the Bible as a parable, a literary expression of a spiritual truth that mere humans can’t understand.  The only way I can see to be “a good Christian” is to do my best to understand and live what Christ taught.  I believe he taught that we should love, help and accept each other.  Am I perfect at any of that?  Heck no.  But I try and I plan to keep trying.
  2. I am pro-life and pro-choice.  I believe that every abortion is a sad event.   However, I don’t feel that I have the right, let alone the wisdom, to make decisions for others or to judge them for the decisions they make.  Let’s try this.  Let’s truly respect all life.   Let’s provide support for mothers that may have a tough time bringing a baby into this world.  We can start by helping them, not judging them.  Provide emotional and financial support as needed.  Help them look into all their options and allow them to make the choice that is right for them.  Teach young people about birth control and encourage them to use it.  Fewer unwanted pregnancies, a loving attitude instead of judgment toward women that “should not have gotten pregnant,” and making both adoption and keeping a child easier options will help to drive the number of abortions down.  Let’s respect all life-even the lives of people that are already born.