Write Him In: I Nominate Sam Pfiester for POTUS

Sam, Sam he's our man! Pfiester for President!

Sam, Sam he’s our man! Pfiester for President!

I am over the upcoming presidential election. Over it. Trying to choose the best of the worst is giving me a headache. I am not sure why none of the parties can come up with a decent, middle-of-the-road contender – someone who is honest, with a history of hard work and common sense – but they just can’t seem to do it. Politicians have successfully polarized this nation, and I resent feeling like I have to make a choice based on a single issue such as abortion, immigration, gun rights or healthcare. Like most of you, I am not a one-issue person these days. This election year has just given me a big old case of the “I don’t wannas.” Trying to be a good person AND a good American shouldn’t feel this … unsavory.

Last weekend, I was bemoaning this year’s presidential candidates to my favorite Midland politico, retired attorney and teacher, Cliff Hardwick.

“I just don’t know who to vote for,” I whined. “The longer I am a mother and a Christian, the more Socialist I become. The longer I am a woman and married, the more I dislike Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The more money I make, the more Republican I am. I just don’t know who to vote for.”

That’s when Cliff told me about his old friend, Sam Pfiester. Some of you may remember Sam from his youth in Fort Stockton, or the years he spent in the Permian Basin working for Clayton Williams. Others may know him as a Vietnam War hero turned author.

Texas elections officials know him as Cliff’s write-in candidate of choice.

If you know Cliff, you’re familiar with his sharp wit and his love of a really good joke. He is the scholarly version of Lonesome Dove hero Gus McCrae.  He has this slow, Cheshire cat grin that I just love. As that smile spread on his face, I knew I was going to hear something funny. “Melanie, whenever I am faced with a race and don’t like my choices, I write in my old college buddy Sam’s name. I have voted for him in all kinds of elections.”

I was tickled! But the longer I thought about this, the more I liked it. I don’t know Sam from Adam, but I was willing to bet I would rather have him as a president than my other choices. I decided to learn more about him and judge his potential to be my POTUS write-in.

I left a voicemail for him, explaining my political quagmire. My call took him by surprise. Apparently, up until that very moment, he was blissfully unaware of his political prowess. He called me back the following day, after he had some time to examine his thoughts regarding the issues facing our nation.

He did not disappoint me, because he knew exactly where I was coming from when I expressed my frustration.

“Everyone is in the same dilemma about the candidates,” he said.

But Sam had some big ideas, and he was ready to discuss his platform with me.

“I am for eliminating the deficit, free tuition and free day care,” he said. “I also support social security and veteran’s benefits.”

Now, my fellow tax payers, you may wonder how Sam intends to fund these programs. Not to worry. Like Donald Trump, Sam is a successful entrepreneur and business owner. He, too, understands commerce, growth and money management.

“I have a simple solution,” he said. “Make the rich richer.” According to Sam’s projections, the top 1 percent of earners pay 40 percent of the US income tax. “So if we incentivize them to make another $4 trillion a year, we could eliminate the deficit … and use the left-over to fund the other programs.”

For those Bernie Sanders fans out there, Sam also feels deeply about our environment. He runs an oil and gas exploration outfit in Georgetown, so he knows plenty about energy, geologic change and the impact of our carbon footprints.

Sam wants to heat things up a bit. “Here’s where I stand on climate change. I want to increase carbon dioxide emissions because animals need oxygen. The plants and algae will consume co2 and release more oxygen.” If you’re concerned that Sam’s plan could trigger a planetary melt down, don’t worry. He’s got that covered, too. “We’ll change the planetary Milankovitch cycles.”

Now, I’m not exactly sure what that meant, he suggested I Google it. It’s something about wobble and tilt and burying cities in 5 tons of ice, but he assured me it would all be just fine! Sometimes, a fresh start really is the best way to approach a project. Those are words our current political landscapers should heed … .

Hilary supporters mention her previous political experience, law degree and name recognition as some of the feathers in her cap. Sam also has previous political experience, having served on the Georgetown city council. His brother is an attorney, so I figure that’s just as good, and he has authored several successful books.

Unlike our other Presidential hopefuls, Sam served with distinction in the US military, completing two tours in the Vietnam War. He was senior advisor to a Vietnamese river patrol group along the Cambodian border during his second tour and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Vietnam Service Medal, First Class. His book, The Perfect War, is based on his experiences there.

He takes a bold stance in regards to the arms race. He said that instead of the “Star Wars” dome-style strategic defense system, he would instead construct an iron boomerang-style defense system.

“We should unilaterally give up our nuclear weapons, give them all to our enemies – because they will hit the red button. But when they do, they trigger the boomerang and get all the weapons back at them. Surprise!”

Now, in all fairness, Sam has not had much time to firm up his stance on all the issues facing the United States. Racism and rights for the Lesbian/Bisexual/Gay/Transgendered community are also on his radar.

“If elected, I would tackle those issues as well,” he promised.

Now, according to my hasty research, Texas is one of the states that allows write-ins on the Presidential ticket. I think I have provided all of you with the best alternative to Trump, Clinton and Sanders that you are likely to get. I suggest you sharpen your pencils and take advantage of this West Texas native. We could use a little humor and good horse sense in the White House.

If you happen to be in Alpine next week, head on over to the patio at the Reata Restaurant. Sam, a self-described radical moderate, his two brothers (a liberal and a conservative) and Cliff, a lifelong democrat, will be meeting there for a summit talk, their own version of Camp David.

“I suspect I will be the referee,” Sam joked.

See? He’s just what I am looking for! Pfiester for President!

Stinky cheese: Parting is such sweet sorrow

Here I am, dancing with my dad. This is  one of my favorite pictures of the two of us, and I miss him terribly.

Everything changes once you add a child to your life. Everythchanges_logo2ing. Your body changes, your relationships change, your priorities shift. Our new series, This Changes Everything, explores the beautiful, messy, surprising juxtaposition of what once was and what now is becoming. Parenthood – this changes everything.

by Rachel Biggerstaff

Rachel Biggerstaff

Rachel Biggerstaff

I am a big fan of cheese. Not just cheese in general, but good cheese. Stinky, crumbly, aged cheese from mammals of all kinds. I actually have a Pinterest board entitled, “Goat Cheese is My Love Language.” If I were on death row and had to choose my last meal, you can bet your big bippy that it would include some cheesy covered pasta and big ol’ ribeye just bathing in butter.

So I can assure you that it came as quite a shock to many, including myself, when I decided to dramatically change my diet three months ago and become a vegetarian. It started out as a bit of a test. I was gauging my own self-control and ability to make a big change in my life without losing my ever-loving mind. I decided to start on Ash Wednesday, the first day in the Christian season of Lent when followers customarily give up something precious in their lives in hopes of self-betterment and a deepened relationship with the Divine. I used this as my excuse for giving up meat, as I had been successful for many years at giving up something for the 40 days then slurping down a gallon of coffee on Easter morning or spending five hours straight on Facebook to catch up with everything I had missed. I would give myself a pat on the back for a job well done and then go back to my life as usual.

Cheese plates. Gorgeous, stinky cheese plates. Image from http://www.bonappetit.com/

Cheese plates. Gorgeous, stinky cheese plates. Image from www.bonappetit.com.

I knew from the beginning that becoming a vegetarian was a goal that I wanted to adopt long-term, and, over time, continue to transform my eating habits until I had eliminated all animal products from my diet. That’s right – no more cheese. No more greasy chips and melty queso. Forget the crisp Pinot Grigio and buttery gruyere. And the goat cheese. Oh, the goat cheese.

Why would I do a thing like become a vegan when it seemed like the most torturous deprivation I could possibly inflict upon myself?

In years past, I wouldn’t have been able to make this change successfully. But my motivation has changed in ways I never thought imaginable. You see, I have two beautiful daughters and a dear and loving husband who have made me realize that I want to live for as long as I can so that I can spend every possible second with them (whether they like it or not). What greater act is there than giving up cheese in the name of love? Continue Reading

Bullying hurts parents, too

“I would do anything for you. Anything to keep you from harm. I would burn cities to the ground. You are all that matters.” Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones image from GameofThroneswikia.com.

‘I would do anything for you.
Anything to keep you from harm.
I would burn cities to the ground.
You are all that matters.’
Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones
image from GameofThroneswikia.com.

Once again, Little Son has attracted the attention of the class bully. All. Year. Long. And what started out as minor annoyances – poking, tripping, shoving – have now escalated into punches, kicks and a knock-down on the playground slide.

And still. Little Son keeps trying to be this child’s friend. He thinks if he is nice, the bully will be his friend. He read that in a book last year, that bullies are really just misunderstood and will respond with kindness when given the chance. It is hard to explain to a 7-year-old that some people are just plain ol’ mean. Though I think in this case, there may be some underlying reason that the school can’t discuss with me. I am not a trained medical or mental health expert. I know next to nothing about child development, but it seems to me that this is a kid that misunderstands social cues and is quick to respond with violence.

I have been a reasonable and practical mother, doing all the things I need to do. I emailed and met with the teacher, asked that they be separated during floor time and at their work tables. I called the principal. I met with the principal – twice. We have role played, practiced using his “big voice” to say stop. I have told him to avoid playing with or standing near the other child. I have tried everything I know to help him. The only thing I can’t seem to help my sweet little boy do is stand up for himself. Apparently, the only person Little Son is willing to hit back is his little sister. I called Mack Daddy, the most terrifying and overly protective parent I have ever known. I told him everything, including that I instructed my son to hit back the next time something happened. Not my proudest parenting moment. But all I can see in my mind’s eye is my son being attacked at the top of the slide and him crashing to the ground, crumpling like a baby bird that falls too soon from the nest.

If anyone would understand me, I knew it was my dad.

“Melanie, you can’t do this. You can’t tell him to hit another child. He is too little, and it is not his personality. It is not his job to protect himself, it is your job and his school’s job.”

I was so sure my dad would join me in a Game of Thrones-like parenting moment. But somehow, I felt even worse after I talked with him. But not as bad as I would feel two days later when Little Son and I discussed his upcoming Nerf War-themed birthday party.

He wanted to invite the neighborhood kiddos and his whole class to the party. The whole class, if you get my drift.

Continue Reading