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2016 Election Starts Now: Bad Year for Politicians, Good Year for Deez Nuts
It's been a bad month for politicos.

For a Mitt Romney 2012 campaign fundraiser, it was a bad week as he was busted in a prostitution sting.  While surely putting his money where his mouth is in supporting entrepeneurs.

For Jeb Bush, it was a bad week in which he said "When you thought I was being racist about Latinos, you had me all wrong.  I am not racist against Latinos.  I was being racist against Asians."

For Republican politicians, it was bad news when this weekend, the Des Moines Register poll said it was Donald Trump and Ben Carson and no one else was even close.

I get it, believe me.  Looking at myself, my family and my close friends - we've supported Anderson in 80, Ron Paul in 88, Perot in 92, and Nader in 00.

So, I get Deez Nuts.  Really.  I came of age to The Chronic (The 1992 Dr Dre album which is the high waterpoint until now of "Dez nuts" in culture via a skit by Warren G)

He has been all over the internet, but I thought I might share this interview via the Des Moines Register

It all began last month when the two brothers sat on the sofa, watching Comedy Central. Brady remarked that he might run for president.

“I didn’t think he was serious,” Tyson said.

But give the little brother due credit: He suggested the name.

The boys had noticed the popular online video meme that cropped up earlier this year, based on a rap album from the early 1990s.

It took Brady all of 15 minutes to file his candidacy July 26 with the Federal Election Commission.

“I can’t believe he came up with an assumed name but used our home address,” said Brady’s mom.

Brady did casually mention his candidacy to his parents before all this blew up. As I might have done, they shrugged it off.

“When your 15-year-old tells you that he’s filed to run for president of the United States,” Mark said, “you just kind of — yeah, this isn’t going to go anywhere. They probably won’t even accept it or really look at it.”

It wasn’t until the Huffington Post phoned that Mark and Teresa realized there might be broader implications.

“Sometimes we get upset with our kids for not listening,” Mark said, “and I guess we’re not a very good example sometimes.”

The authentic Brady describes himself as a political moderate — leaning Libertarian — being raised by a pair of strict Republican parents who attend the local Wallingford Lutheran Church.

Brady has said that among realistic candidates, Democrat Bernie Sanders, Republican John Kasich and Libertarian Gary Johnson are his favorites.

The family lives on a farm that has been in Mark’s family for nearly a century. He tends to about 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans and 1,500 head of cattle.

But Brady isn’t much of a “farm boy” — has no interest farming, doesn’t do a lot of farm chores.

He’s also not an aspiring politician. He’s been eyeing a career in sports administration.

He figures that half his Deez Nuts “supporters” are in it for the joke, and the other half to protest the political norm.

“I didn’t think it was going to catch on,” he said. “But now I’m sort of braced for impact.”

Copycat candidates

By this week there are nearly 900 candidates — including waves of joke candidates no doubt inspired by Brady — who have filed a presidential bid with the FEC.

Limberbutt McCubbins is a cat — and candidate — from Kentucky whom Brady has cited as a potential running mate.

Other pranksters courting your vote include His Majesty Satan Lord of Underworld Prince of Darkness (apparently a Texas Republican who filed Aug. 20), Captain Crunch (Aug. 20) and Cranky Pants (Aug. 24).

Even fictional “House of Cards” character Francis J. Underwood has signed up — with the White House already listed as his home address.

And of course there are plenty of more obscene candidate names that I can't reprint here.

Unsurprisingly, all this has renewed calls for even a modest filing fee ($5?) for candidates.

Speaking of hip-hop, Deez Nuts is yet another example of rapper Dr. Dre — whose N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton” is a huge hit — ruling the summer. His classic 1992 gangster rap album, “The Chronic,” includes a skit by fellow rapper (also his stepbrother) Warren G called “Deeez Nuuuts” in which Warren utters the phrase while on the phone with his girlfriend.

Brady isn’t a hip-hop fan. His mom doesn't listen to Dre, either.

“Never heard that before,” Teresa said. “Never even thought that it would be part of my vocabulary.”

Our political discourse has gotten to the point that Warren G has endorsed Olson/Deez Nuts for president.

“It was a trip just to know that something you just did on a humbug could just get taken 21 — over 21 years later — and made into something that has to do with the presidential election,” Warren G told MSNBC. “That’s crazy. But the kid is a cool kid and I just — that was pretty smart thinking. Reminds me of ‘Brewster’s Millions’ back in the day.”

Yes, a West Coast rapper has compared an Iowa "farm boy" to Richard Pryor.

The ultimate compliment for Brady probably would be an interview on “Last Week Tonight,” the comedy news show on HBO led by “Daily Show” alumnus John Oliver.

“As long as it stays light, we’ll all be happy,” Mark said of his son's newfound fame.

2015 Where the Buffalo Roam Tour- Hanging with the Presidents
PawnseumWe spent a week in the Rapid City area of South Dakota.

I was very taken with the place. I did not have it on my radar, but it's close to Mount Rushmore, and has become a tourist destination.

In fact, it's this area in 1927 where President Calvin Coolidge decided he would take a summer vacation. Read Bill Bryson's excellent "One Summer: 1927" for more details. Hard to imagine in a world where people throw a fit when Dubya or Obama take even a weekend off, that the President, would say "*&^% it! I am going to spend 3 months in South Dakota."

No doubt that President Coolidge loved the fishing and hunting. Even moreso when unbeknownst, the city boosters were stocking the ponds so he always was catching something.

Between the Coolidge visit, and obviously the four famous faces, Rapid City is all in with the Presidents.

Downtown Rapid City has all 40-some presidents in statue form.

There's not one for Obama, but there will be, and they say, when that's done, they're done.

It was interesting in that the sculptor tried to catch each President with their unique features.

Interesting facts
-As this took many years to compete, Bill Clinton was the only President who actually posed for his.

-The sculptors realized that Dubya would be polarizing no matter how he was portrayed- with both sides having strong opinions, and so they tried to make a nonpartisan statue that captured his friendly demeanor

-While tempting, the sculptors did not want to cheapen the project by hiding a cat on James Garfield or anything similar.

Here's an assortment

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Also, while in Rapid City, we stopped by the World's only Pawnseum

The Pawnseum obviously owes some debt to the idea that a Pawn Shop can also be a historical collection of relics a la the popular show "Pawn Stars."

He is off to a good start with a Michael Jackson white glove, the negative of that famous pic of John John at JFKs funeral, and a periscope lens from Friendship 7.

I got to talking to the guy and he is off to a good start and wish him luck with what should be a good tourist destination for the area (we mainly stopped by for the air conditioning, but I did really want to see it.)

I had my Kurt Vonnegut Museum shirt and so he said "Hey, I did a book report on "Catcher in the Rye".....)


In any case, friendly guy, interesting place, and so you don't correct him.

2015 Where the Buffalo Roam Tour: South Dakota Problems
These are things I saw on my vacation that are not normal to me.

In the Badlands

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I did not see any Rattlesnakes, save one that was hit on the road dead.

Some nice tourist did mention that it was hot outside and so on some of the wooden steps we were standing on, there probably were snakes underneath us hiding from the sun.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This was probably a mile away from where we stayed and was on a major roadway.

I was looking for Bighorns the whole time.  Conversely, if I did see one cross in front of me, I dont excatly know how I would react.  It is quite possible that I would have had to change my pants.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

These signs were everywhere.  After awhile, I thought I would look up to see if these were exactly what I thought they were.

Indeed, the South Dakota DOT confirms that they are spots where drivers have died.

I do recognize that in the Midwest, that often when there has been an accident, sometimes survivors and friends will erect makeshift memorials.

Also, as morbid as it seems at first blush, i suppose this is a smart way of making people aware. The state does use some reasonable caution as explained on their webpage

2015 Where the Buffalo Roam Tour- Things I saw
These aren't the highlights of my summer vacation, but they are things I saw..

I can say with a great deal of accuracy that things I observed.

Andy Williams- he of "Moon River" fame, and Branson fame, and bringing the Osmonds to the world, was born in Wall Lake, Iowa.  This is certainly his birthplace

Sioux City, Iowa is home of Trinity Heights, an inspirational location for those of the Catholic faith.

They have a thirty foot Mary and a thirty-three foot Jesus.  You don't see those every day.

They have a life-size wooden sculpture of the Last Supper.

There are four (I believe) of these in the World, and this is the only one in which the sculptor is still alive.

The sculptor  used townsmen to model as the men he sculpted.  For the disciples who were boys (you may know this better than me), he used women.

This is something that you can be flippant or jest about, but it's an incredible piece of work.

As commentors have said on that wonderful archive Roadside America, the women who work there are friendly and the Jesus and Mary sculptures look nice and not tacky in any way.

Another place visited in Sioux City was Palmer's Candy- a candy shop slash museum- light on the museum aspect, but heavy on the candy.

Not worth a trip in it self, but if you are in the area, it's worth the trip.

Palmer is famous for the Twin Bing- sorry I am not familiar with the Twin Bing- I assume it's regional- but it is  a chewy cherry flavor nougat with peanuts and chocolates.

We opted for fudge and fancy chocolate.

More details on my vacation to come, but wanted to clear some of the later stops first

2016 Election Starts Now: Common People
Another conversation I had this week was with some Californians who said they hardly recognized Carly Fiorina in her State Fair clothes.

Courtesy NPR

Indeed, it is a good joke to imagine Fiorina asking friends and advisors what one wears to a State Fair.

Still, Fiorina escaped the Fair unscathed.

Remember Fred Thompson.

Thompson was a 'tell like it is' television celebrity outsider candidate who for a moment was our surefire next President (sounds familiar).

Fox News reported that Thompson had 'walked' the Iowa State Fair via golf cart and was decked out in Gucci loafers (a claim Thompson fiercely disputes)

Indeed, history tells us that Fox News's version of the story did not actually occur, but it stuck to Thompson, and sticks to him even now.

Thompson was not the first, nor will he be last.  As far as Iowa missteps go, John Kerry looking butch in his hunting gear ranks near the top.

In any case, Fiorina seems to have it figured out, striking a balance between businesswoman multi-millionaire and common person.  She is surging in the polls and if the Trump train derails, a Fiorina nomination doesn't sound too impossible.

2016 Election Starts Now: When Candidates Attack
I have told you that it's not safe in Iowa around this time of year.

There's HillRod going faster miles per hour. Or Mike Huckabee making a beeline to the buffet.

Still neither of these were as close to home as the dangerous Marco Rubo


This happened in my town, Per google maps, this is 2.4 miles north of my house.

The danger is real.

Marco Rubo hits 4-year old in head with football.

<span class=&quot;image-component__caption&quot; itemprop=&quot;caption&quot;>Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) reacts as a child fails to catch a football during a Family Night event at Dean Park in Ankeny, Iowa, Monday, August 17, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)</span>

It of course went viral, and ended with a video of the four year old saying he's ready for next time.

The backyard fundraiser is a mainstay of caucus politics, but never has it been so dangerous.

Also, news worth mentioning this week:

While I did not make it to the Iowa State Fair, it was home of a few big incidents this week- first, Ellen Page confronting Ted Cruz,which is a bit surreal.  I have not watched any footage, but have read comments from the left and the right, and I guess this is a win-win as bothsides claim they totally owned the other.  We will see if it gives Cruz a bump in that Conservative Republicans may like this.  There was also Chris Christie acosted by animal rights protestors.

I have watched this footage and thought that Christie did a good job of keeping his cool.  I suspect the protestors aren't local or maybe not hardcore politicos, as this was probably the only footage Christie was going to get this news cycle.  Christie has become a non-entity, with what are starting to become abyssmal poll numbers.  If anything, he can use this news story to get his face in the news.

I am afraid this will hurt the Iowa State Fair Presidential soapbox, which I love.  Hillary and Trump both skipped it.

Speaking of which, I did hear a secondhand anctedote of someone who was at the Fair and was looking at the Butter Cow sculpture, which is kept in a barn, and was locked in the barn while Hillary's entourage moved outside.

That person, I am told, said Hillary and Trump's security detail was outrageous, and whoever that person votes for, those two will not be one of them.

2016 Election Starts Now: Deez Mutha...... ....
Obviously, i have to say something about Deez Nutz.  Mr. Nutz is the top trending item in Social Media.

I don't know that I need to add anything.  You probably arrived at the same conclusion as I, and you probably wish you had thought of it when you were 15 too.

The Daily Beast covered it best, and is the definitive article on the subject.

If anymore develops, I will be there

2016 Election Starts Now: Jackie for First Lady
I am occasionally praised for my writing on the Presidential primaries, though it should not be surprising. For months (especially around now) politicos are hanging out in Iowa and New Hampshire waiting for the latest news. I am already in Iowa, so......

So I know what is going on right when it happens.

So when a bunch of "Kelso for President" signs show up in West Des Moines, I am there.

First of all, I am not surprised. He is an Iowan, so he already has an in with local voters. Second, Mila Kunis would be a great First Lady; and lastly, it's not any crazier that Ashton Kutcher could be President than Donald Trump.

Oh, not that Kelso.

Ok, so you know me, and I always have a good laugh at those Quixotic folks who make a run for President.  Just think, politicians with name recognition and sizable resumes and qualifications like George Pataki and Jim Gilmore and even Chris Christie - as known and qualified as they may be- have little to no chance of being President.

Also, with apologies to Lloyd, we haven't voted for a President with Facial Hair since Taft.  Ever since Marx, Lenin and Hitler, we haven't been able to commit to anyone but a clean shaven politico.  I'm not saying that won't change, but it hasn't.

In any case I usually make fun of these little-known contenders, but I am not making fun of Kelso, and here's why

1- He is running a Democrat.  While this race started as a sure Clinton nomination, that looks to be less and less of a possibility.   This may mean the eventual nominee is someone like Joe Biden or Al Gore or even someone like a Jim Webb or Martin O'Malley.  in any case, there are some serious conversations that a 70-year old Jew who has spent the last two decades self-identifying as a Socialist may be the nominee.  That an attorney no one has heard of from North Carolina has any less chance doesn't seem to ludicrous.

2-  While most longshots have websites that look like those Geocities sites and often full of misspellings, and usually some flashing text and bright colors and random capitalization.  Kelso seems to be pretty spot on in making a point and being well written

3- Kelso's platform seems to be mainly about reforming tax laws to put the responsibility on taxing the ultrarich (such as removing the cap on Social Security).  So he's got some well-thought out ideas on income equity.  interestingly, his social platform is Conservative.  He talks about closing the border, preserving the 2nd Amendment, repealing Obamacare, getting tough with Iran- real Conservative issues.

So, I am not sure that I am totally on board  with all of his views, but I appreciate the heck out of them.  I am reading a bio on William Jennings Bryan,  Bryan was very liberal in terms of "Free Silver" but also as we saw from the Scopes Trial, deeply Religious.

Bryan quite simply couldn't exist in today's politics.  It's hard to imagine a Democrat  who would take a strong Conservative social stance.  On the Republican side, things are even less likely to vary.

Take for example, Common Core.  This is something that was supported by several GOP governors - Jindal, Jeb, Christie, Kasich- but as it is out of favor, those same governors (with the exception of Kasich) are falling over themselves to try and distance themselves from it.

Indeed, it seems to be you are agreed on all issues of the Party or your out.  This could be Newt Gingrich forced to go hardline on immigration or Ben Carson pulled to make a strong Gun Rights stance.

Life is gray, but our politics are black and white in 2015.  Can you be pro-gay marriage and anti-abortion?  Could you be for gun laws but against income tax?  Quite simply, there only seems to be 2 stands and you must fit in one.

Anyway, that's a convo for another day.  Here's a shout out to Lloyd Kelso- at least consider him

On the Shelf 151: Rhett Miller
People who have known me for awhile know I am a huge fan of Rhett Miller both in and out of his band- the Old 97s.

You have likely heard this before, but I think the Old 97s are one of the great unheralded bands of our time.

Reviewers and critics have often spoke of the dichotomy of Miller's solo work and his group work. It has generally been true. The Old 97s are what you might call Outlaw Country- rollicking country rock birthed from the rock side of Johnny Cash, cousin to bands like Wilco and the Bottle Rockets, descended from post-punk legends like X and The Replacements. Miller's solo albums largely have fixated on his pop side- the Beatles and Big Star- albums like the Instigator and The Believer are prime examples. Not miles apart from the Old 97s obviously, but differentiated enough to let Rhett do something more power pop than what he could do with his band. (His last album, The Dreamer in 2012 was way more in tune with what he has been doing with the 97s. It also may be his strongest solo platter to date, as he seems to grow in each solo effort)

It might not be a surprise that I prefer Old 97s head and shoulders over the solo work, but it is also a fact that Miller's solo discography is a nice enjoyable and generally consistent and yes, overlooked piece of art.

Built on all of this, i was very interested in seeing what was next for Rhett. The last Old 97s albums have been very strong, and I enjoyed The Dreamer a lot.

In this case, the next move is The Traveler.

The Traveler is an interseting next move for Rhett. I suppose it is alt-country but it is not the X(Exene-and-John)- inspired fire of Old 97s. It is folky and intimate, maybe closer to Ryan Adams than any previous Rhett project.

It is still a worthwhile listen, though I prefer the rock side of Rhett. It is interesting to see him develop this side of his music. It's not power pop as he has explored before, nor is it the Replacements inspired recklessness of last year's Old 97s disc "Most Messed Up". Part of the sound may be attributed to backing from Black Prairie, which features members of the Decemberists.

Opener "Wanderlust" shows some of the 97s fire, but opens an album that goes down some different paths, and you can catch a glimpse of some of the directions he is headed.

2016 Election Starts Now: Not quite "Free Helicopter Rides for Kids"
not butter
In a normal election cycle, i would be talking about the Iowa State Fair and some of the more unusual aspects.

Still, when Donald Trump is there with free helicopter rides and telling kids that he's Batman, well, that's your lead,

Ok, well, now I am sold. 

If you think I am joking about Trump, consider this.  If you told me there was a candidate who had donated money to Hillary and Harry Reid, rips on Lindsay Graham, and says we should spend money repairing infrastructure, I would have been all in. 

So, obviously, nothing tops that.

Not even the annual Butter Sculpture- which this year, is a tribute to Monopoly.

Image result for butter monopoly iowa

Butter Mr Moneybags picture courtesy of the local NBC affiliate WHO-TV which also is keeping track of the Cast Your Kernel poll.

I love the Cast Your Kernel poll, which is a totally unscientific poll in which everyone gets a corn kernel and puts it in the jar of their favorite candidate.

There's a few things that keep this from being a scientific barometer, and I think Daily Kos captured most of them.

It's terribly unscientific, because there's not much control - while kids can't "vote", it's not like they're checking ID's for ages, and of course someone could come back back a couple of hours later and probably vote again if they had a mind to with a decent chance they wouldn't be recognized.

It's also of course limited to people attending the Fair who happen to pass the booth on the Concourse and are interested enough to take a moment to vote, and there are no controls on whether one is actually a likely or even a registered voter.  And finally, the jars are clear glass, so it's easy to see what candidates are getting the most kernels, which might influence people on their vote ("follow the herd" and vote for the one with the most votes, or be a contrarian and drop a kernel in a jar with only a couple in it).  Also, it's not like a private ballot, so a person might drop a kernel for a candidate even if they don't care for them just to keep the peace with the father-in-law watching them vote.

With the fair moving towards its end on the 23rd, here are the results so far:

GOP 68%
Dems 32%

The Donkeys:
Clinton 56%
Sanders 38%
O'Malley 5%
Webb 1%
Chafee 1%

Which I suppose is what to expect.  Martin O'Malley has done the most to distance himself from the other '3rd choices' but clearly has a way to go.

The Elephants:
Trump 34%
Carson 20%
Fiorina 9%
Bush 6%
Rubio 6%
Cruz 5%
Walker 4%
Jindal 4%
Paul 2%
Kasich 2%
Christie 2%
Santorum 1%
Perry 1%
Graham/Gilmore/Pataki 0%

So, the Trump momentum is real.  I also feel there is certainly a buzz around Carson and Fiorina, so I am not surprised.  Still, it's telling that the two-thirds of the vote (and the top 3 places) are going to non-politicians.  Indeed, Congressmen seem to fare the worst.

I am not surprised, but it was only a few weeks ago that this was Scott Walker's race to lose.  I am not surprised by any of this, outside of Walker's 4%.

There was Trump's rocket rise and the debate surely boosted Fiorina and Kasich.  One wonders if Walker sounded good on paper, but after seeing him and finding out that he looks like Chris Parnell with a bald spot, maybe he looks less desirable.

Indeed, it's too soon to say, and he will have moments like today where he was heckled at the Fair Soapbox that will define him or destroy him.

Of course, before we swear Trump into office, we do have the benefit of perspective, so let's talk the 2011 State Fair.  I remember that Fair quite well, as it was the one where I saw Sarah Palin among others.

I remember that time quite well, and that was the height of Perry-mania.  Right now, Perry has a less chance of being President than fellow Texan Kinky Friedman but at that moment- August 2011- there was no one more popular.  He announced his candidacy shortly afterwards, and as we know, it was downhill from there. 

In any case, for perspective, your 2011 results:

Bachmann 26%
Perry 23%
Paul 15%
Romney 15% (the guy we thought had won the caucuses when we went to bed on Jan 3)
Palin 6%
Cain 5%
Santorum 3% (the guy who actually won)

Going back even further to the last time Hillary ran, she was also in the lead

Clinton 33%, Edwards 28%, Obama 22%
Romney 36% Huckabee (the caucus winner) 17%

So we still got quite a ways to go.



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