Walt Aikens, Formerly of LU, Gets Surprise Gift after a Good Deed

walt aikensFormer Liberty U. footballer Walt Aikens was the recipient of a good deed, the doer of one, and received an amazing, totally unexpected gift in return.

Now a free safety for the Miami Dolphins, Aikens reckoned he was too macho role to grab a shopping cart during a days-before Christmas visit to Walmart. Instead, he intended to simply collect and balance in his arms his selections of wrapping paper and other supplies, The Blaze reported on December 29.

It turned out, his eyes were bigger than packaging-balancing, and he was visibly struggling when he joined a checkout line.  One who saw him not quite managing to keep everything under control was an older lady who, feeling sorry for him, offered to let him park his packages in her cart. After refusing once, Aikens accepted the lady’s kind offer.

He noticed her cart contained a lot of the types of things one would need to do some Christmas baking — chocolate chips, cake batter and sprinkles – plus some baby clothes. She confirmed that, yes, baking was on her agenda.

Aikens paid for her entire shopping order!

The 24-year old 3024 draftee certainly could afford his good deed: His 4-year contract is worth as much as $2,646,908, with $415,908 fully guaranteed.

The lady shopper simply asked that he give her his name and address so she could send him some cookies. She noted that nobody had ever been that nice to her before – especially in Florida!

He didn’t think another thing about it.

Then, a few days after Christmas, his apartment building’s front desk buzzed to advise him he had a ‘strange’ package, as The Blaze put it. The front desk man said, “It’s from some lady at Walmart.”

“Then it hit me,” he told The Blaze. It had to be the about-to-do-baking lady.

Her good-sized package of home-baked goods was accompanied by a note:

“Dear Walt,

I’m not sure if you remember me [from Walmart]. I just wanted to tell you again, thank you so much. Your mom I’m sure is very proud of you.”

She added – having looked him up: “Not only are you a professional football player for the Miami Dolphins, but most of all, a wonderful kind person, too.
“Here are the cookies I promised you. I hope you enjoy them!”

He told The Blaze he wanted to thank the woman and her husband “for being so thoughtful.”

“I hope you and your family had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year,” he said.

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China Adds New HSR Line – 308 Km long at 300 Km/hr

HSR_1

China’s latest-generation of HSR (High Speed Rail) trains.

High speed rail (HSR) lines first zoomed onto the scene in Japan in 1964. It took a while for other countries to join the HSR club, but there now are no fewer than 18 countries offering passenger service at speeds in excess of 160 kilometers per hour (km/h) (99 mph), and some, including the latest addition to China’s range of offerings, have the potential for speeds as high as 300 km/h (186 mph).

China, with 16,308 km (10,133 miles) of HSR service, presently accounts for 60% of the world’s total super-fast train offerings. The latest – the 308 km (191 miles) cited in its total – was added last week. The new line began service on Saturday, Dec. 26. It connects Chengdu (home of pandas and capital of Sichaun Province) and Chongqing, both in southwest China, the Xinhau News agency has reported.

The news service said in September, when announcing the start of testing on the new line, that it will initially cut the travel time between the two cities from two hours to one-and-a-half hours. (The implication was that the potential full speed won’t be employed just yet, so the travel time between the cities could eventually be trimmed even more. Further evidence of that is the fact that the travel time cut is, at the start, only ½ hour, on a line where speeds of 300 km/h are possible over most if not all of a distance of 312.6 km [194 miles]. The air km/miles distance, at 268.6 km / 166.9 miles, is considerably less, indicating the rail route is hardly a straight line.)

An article on the blog-web site chengduliving.com, says the Chengdu-Chongqing trip took as long as 12 hours as recently as 2005 – before the initial (2-hour) bullet train was introduced. The article’s author, identified only as Charlie, after noting “the entirety of the trip is as fast and smooth as you’d expect a bullet train to be,” adds that, “seats are large and comfortable and in each there’s a readout which displays current speed and indoor/outdoor temperature.”

The Chengdu-Chongqing line “is part of a major east-west high-speed rail corridor project included in China’s national high-speed railway development plan,” the September report noted.

Given that China’s population is substantially larger than that of other countries with bullet train, or HSR, services, it may be no exaggeration that when attempting to buy bullet train tickets at Chengdu’s North Train Station, where these trains depart and arrtive, on busy weekends “you can see a queue of hundreds or even thousands playing games on their cell phones (or just yelling into them),” as Charlie put it.

Fortunately, China – Chengdu, at any rate – offers a convenient alternative, in the form of “dozens” of train ticket offices scattered around the city. Each offers “a computer readout of all the tickets available, making [your] choice easy,” Charlie said.

Other countries offering HSR/bullet train service include Austria, Belgium France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, the U.K., the U.S. and Uzbekistan, according to Wikipedia. (The latter’s Tashkent-Samarkand HSR line is 344 km [214] miles long, connecting the two largest Uzbek cities, the Wiki web site says.)

A separate Wikipedia entry notes that China has a total of 16,755 km (10,424 mi) of HSR lines planned or under construction. The same article declares that the world’s longest HSR line is the 2,298 km (1,428 mi) link for the Chinese cities of  Beijing and Guangzhou. A 36 km (22) mi) cross-border extension, will take the line into Hong Kong’s new West Kowloon Terminus (now under construction) by way of a dedicated tunnel connecting Hong Kong with mainland China. That extension is scheduled to open in 2017.

(Personal note: I’ve enjoyed one amazing HSR trip, from London’s Victoria Station to Paris’s Gare du Nord. [London departures now are from a sparkling new St. Pancras station (pictured below),

st_pancras_stationbuild to mimic Victorian-era station styles – which were large and very high-ceilinged because smoke from the coming-and-going coal-fueled engines would have been, in a lower-ceilinged structure, suffocating.]

(Now part of the Eurostar-branded system, which connects London with a spectrum of destinations on the European continent, the HSR train I rode through the then-new ‘chunnel’ – tunnel beneath the English Channel – was completed in 1994, at a cost of more than $21 billion.

(Having crossed from England to France [and vice versa] via relatively fast and somewhat slower air routes and a significantly slower rail-to-ship-to-rail that consumes half a day or more – even the by-air trips were long, because of journey times to and from airports at both ends – being able to travel from central London to the center of Paris in 2.5 hours was nothing short of a miracle. It would have been more so if, when we arrived in Paris, street sweeper types hadn’t been on strike, resulting in a Gare du Nord littered almost ankle-deep, it seemed, with trash that ordinarily would be regularly swept up in any of Paris’s six major train stations.)

HSR lines are incredibly costly, because curves must be ‘softened’, and continuously-welded rail is a must. And the trains that run on those lines need to be engineered (no pun intended) for air-pressure sensitivity (because of the high speed), a way-better-than-‘traditional’ concern  than designers of earlier trains seldom considered.

But their economic worth is huge: Halving the time of a trip is immensely important to businesses and for tourism, which tends to rise sharply as ‘getting there’ gets faster. Resulting efficiencies, and resulting higher profits, in the long run, pay off for government sponsors of HSR in the form of increased tax revenue.

And at the end of the day – public service be damned – that, the revenue factor, is the driving force in many municipal, state and national actions in support of infrastructure. (The latter is Rachel Maddow’s favorite word – with good reason: When it’s supported, good things happen. When it isn’t, a raft of problems are right around the corner.)

‘Reasonable Job’ Covering Up Monks Having Sex With Kids?

st_johns_monk_McDonaldDonald Trump has made some totally outrageous comments this year, as he (possibly sincerely) puts himself forth as a candidate for president of the United States. But his most outrageous remark – whatever it was, as this is written – pales in comparison to one by a spokesman for St. John’s Abbey, in Collegeville, MN, when he declared that the Abbey “did a reasonable job of managing . . . the problem” of a resident monk, “the Rev. Finian McDonald (pictured above), who told a psychologist that he had about 200 sexual encounters as a priest” – many of them with children, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

That paper/website also noted that “another [priest] recorded the names of dozens of boys he brought to a cabin, some of whom he sexually abused.”

Whether that individual was sanctioned, rebuked, ‘managed’, dismissed and/or reported to authorities wasn’t mentioned.

But the article did mention that “another abuser was paid $30,000 by St. John’s Abbey to support him as he left the clergy.”

This and a lot more came to light after the Abbey was court-ordered to release internal files on “priests credibly accused of child sex abuse as part of a lawsuit settled earlier this year,” the Minneapolis media outlet’s web site reported. Despite priests there having been accused of sex offenses since the 1960’s, the Abbey consistently refused, over the past two decades, to release to investigators any of its files of implicated priests until it was recently forced to do so.

Among the 200 or so sexual assaults committed by the Rev. Finian McDonald, his file revealed, were prostitutes in Thailand who were 13- or 14-years-old at the time. He also admitted to having had 18 victims in St. John’s dormitories, when he served as a prefect there – a role he played for roughly 29 years – and that he abused alcohol during most of his time at the Abbey.

The alcohol abuse, in his case and perhaps others, no doubt was in mind when Abbey spokesman Brother Aelred Senna prepared a statement regarding the files that included the following text:

“There are documents in each file which may be quoted and framed in a lurid context, but the huge majority of the documents in each of these files acknowledges the very real failures of some monks while showing each of the accused monks as a fallible, relatable person.”

He added that the files “show that the Abbey did not try to cover up allegations and did a reasonable job of managing the monk and the problem.”

He did not explain how a religious institution goes about “managing” matters that, aside from being illegal, represent a gross abuse of the rights of victims and, no less important, the trust placed in the institution by the victims and the parents or guardians who permitted and encouraged their attendance at St. John’s.

The Star-Tribune didn’t note if, or what kind of, charges might be brought against the victimizing priests or their employer, the Abbey.

 

What’s With The Increase In ‘Authorities’ Sexually Assaulting Their Charges?

 

KEYETV-screenshot

Haeli Noelle Wey, seen here in a KEYE-TV screenshot, is among the latest teachers charged with having sex with students — two in her case, in Austin, where she was arrested on October 30. She’s among 48 similarly-charged teachers seen  in this CBS News rogues gallery.

A cop was convicted earlier this week of raping thirteen Black women in Oklahoma City, and another one, a New Orleans cop sentenced this week to life in prison for raping a seven-year-old child – a SEVEN-year-old!!: The Daily Beast reported earlier this week that, “Former prison chaplain Kenneth Dewitt has reportedly been charged with 50 counts of third-degree sexual assault for sex with inmates at the McPherson Women’s Unit in Newport, Arkansas.”

These are far from isolated incidents: Prostitutes often are made to perform sex acts with men with badges – men too down-and-out-stupid – to realize that, duh!, many such women have sexually-transmissible diseases. These types of acts are ‘reported’ often in movies, and as or more often, by cops who get hauled up on charges for ‘getting a charge’ from an unwilling victim or several of them. Not just prostitutes, either: As in the case of Daniel Holtzclaw in Oklahoma City, his victims may or may not have been randomly selected – but the fact that all were of a minority race says something – but all of them were placed by him in situations where they felt their lives were at risk. One victim, the first of two who appear in this video, described how she really feared he was going to shoot – perhaps kill – her.

Holtzclaw was convicted on 18 of 36 charges, and the jury recommended he serve 263 years in prison. Cost aside, it would be nice if he could be made to do so!

It’s true, of course, that there are female prisoner watchers – guards – who have all-too-frequent desires, and find opportunities to, have ‘sexual encounters’ with male prisoners. Or female ones. Either way: When a person is being paid, and given both responsibility and authority to oversee other people who are not free, the ‘not free’ person’s rights remain intact, under the Constitution, as a matter of law in every individual state.

It’s also true that teachers – like guards and ministers, people in positions of trust – far too often violate that trust and their students. This week’s paper in  a town near mine had a page one story about a 36-year-old male teacher who is accused of a pornographic interaction on the phone, via text messages and  on Facebook, with a teenaged male student, who apparently texted a nude photo of himself to the teacher. The article says there was no physical contact between the two, but the teacher is subject to a charge of pornography simply by possessing a revealing photo of the boy.

And the stories just keep on coming:

  • A Florida teacher, 26, has been placed on unpaid suspension after being accused of having sex with a 16-year old student;
  • A 35-year-old teacher in Utah whose sexual exploits with students “were a running joke” in the her high school has plead guilty to two second-degree sexual assault charges in exchange for having eleven similar charges dropped;
  • A 32-year-old English teacher in Louisiana – now a former teacher – has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old (male) student – and with having a threesome with a teen and another teacher;
  • An upstate New York teacher died in a supposed ‘hiking accident’ after being charged with child pornography, including spreading a close-up photo of a child’s genitals.

An Associated Press investigation found more than 2,500 cases over five years in which educators were punished for actions from bizarre to sadistic, according to www.komonews.com in Seattle. That amounted to more than three assaults per school day, KOMO noted.

“Students in America’s schools are groped. They’re raped. They’re pursued, seduced and think they’re in love,” the TV report said, “in a system that is stacked against victims.”

The AP report, based on a seven-month investigation, found 2,570 educators “whose teaching credentials were revoked, denied, surrendered or sanctioned from 2001 through 2005 following allegations of sexual misconduct,” KOMO said. And sadly, that may represent only the tip of the iceberg where sexual assaults on students by teachers are concerned – because “most of the abuse never gets reported; those cases [that are] reported often end with no action; cases investigated sometimes can’t be proven, and many abusers have several victims.”

And many abusers have several victims.

There are 3 million public school teachers nationwide, most devoted to their work. Yet the number of abusive educators – nearly three for every school day – speaks to a much larger problem in a system that is stacked against victims.
And no one – not the schools, not the courts, not the state or federal governments – has found a surefire way to keep molesting teachers out of classrooms.
AP reporters sought disciplinary records in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The result is an unprecedented national look at the scope of sex offenses by educators – the very definition of breach of trust.
The study’s result are, no matter how you look at them, pretty scary. Just as the overall issue is scary, whether or not you have children in school.

NYC to Fast Feeders: ‘Na’ To Excess Salt

salt_shaker

For reasons that defy gravity, there are opponents to New York City’s new rule that items in chain restaurants containing more than the FDA-recommended daily allowance for sodium – chemical name NA – be specially labeled with a salt shaker emblem. That recommended daily maximum of salt intake is, by the way, 2,300 milligrams – roughly a teaspoon.

Foods with that much sodium are plentiful, and plenty popular, in many fast food facilities. But that’s hardly news: It’s always been so, since Ray Kroc did a deep-discount deal with the McDonald brothers and turned a small quick-service restaurant into a monster that has, in the interval, nearly engulfed the world.

(There presently are more than 35,000 McDonald’s restaurants spread across no fewer than 119 countries. Their 1.7 million employees serve some 68 million customers daily, according to Wikipedia. A large portion of their fries probably comes close to offering up that daily maximum recommendation of sodium.)

Put into effect earlier this month, the new rule doesn’t have to be reflected on chain outlets’ menus until March, 2016, before they face fines of $200.

The Associated Press says that, “Public advocates cheer the measure [because] experts say Americans consume too much salt, raising their risks of high blood pressure and heart problems.”

The AP also notes that, “Salt producers say the city’s policy is misguided and restaurateurs” – a rather highfalutin term to associate with purveyors of fat-rich meat patties on buns – “say the city should leave the matter to federal regulators.”

The National Restaurant Association (an NRA not associated or affiliated with the gun-or-three in every household one) believes – and has asserted as much in a suit against NYC – that the salt-warning rule is “another in a series of burdensome, costly and unnecessary regulations the city has heaped upon local restaurateurs,” the NRA’s web site asserts.

“Customers should,” they went on, “have the same access from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon” – a sentiment the crafters of New York City’s new regulation undoubtedly would heartily agree with.

So, as it happens, more than like would the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), if anyone bother to encourage them to extend NYC’s rule nationwide.

“But,” the FDA’s web site and that of the National Kidney Disease Education Program declare, “nearly all Americans consume more salt than they need, according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines are published every five years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.”

Significantly, the FDA also notes that, “The natural salt in food accounts for about 10 percent of total intake, on average, according to the guidelines. The salt we add at the table or while cooking adds another 5 to 10 percent. About 75 percent of our total salt intake comes from salt added to processed foods by manufacturers and salt that cooks add to foods at restaurants and other food service establishments.”

And there – in the last sentence – is the rub: Processed foods of all sorts, particularly those processed for fast food feeders, have, in addition to their ‘natural’ salt, at least two doses of it added along the way from field to our digestive track: During the processing phase, as a preservative, and at the table, for a (truly unneeded) flavor boost. Fast feeders compound the excess-salt problem by employing even more of it in their food preparation processes – most notably (but hardly exclusively) in the preparation of fries.

(For people such as yours truly, who have CKD [Chronic Kidney Disease], not only is a low-salt diet a must, we’re similarly advised to stay away from the likes of potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, oranges and a broad assortment of other food items with high potassium.

(CKD sufferers are advised to have no more than 1500 mg of sodium per day. On average: And it’s the latter fact that allows for a bit of cheating – say, the occasional order of fries, or a tomato slice on a burger, or pasta with tomato sauce on it.

(Passing on many off-limits things, on a CKD diet, isn’t all that hard, generally speaking, when you’re eating home-cooked, carefully-chosen foods. But meals out and holidays present a host of problems, because much of what people most crave for on such occasions is salt- or potassium-rich.)

Another ‘villain’ among salt-adding enterprises is the movie-screening field. Their mission is similar to that of the fast-feeders: Because salt makes you thirsty, when you eat movie theaters’ popcorn, you’re also inclined to buy their similarly-over-priced drinks.

(Most movie theaters make most of the little profit they enjoy through the sale of candy, snacks, popcorn and, yes, drinks. They make very little on ticket sales, because producers have to rake in the most they can to support the outrageous sums they pay performers. And if one could get an exclusive contract on cars to be blown up or wrecked beyond repair in movies, a car manufacturer could do quite well on that business alone, thank you very much.)

In addition to raising blood pressure and adding to the potential for heart problems, excess salt can do a lot of damage to kidneys – more than most diets acknowledge. Because I have CKD, my dietitian and my nephrologist (kidney specialist) recommend I take in even as little as 1200 mg of sodium daily.

It’s a struggle sometimes to determine how much a portion of this or that contains, particularly when one’s portion size is not typically the size – often distorted, compared to how people normally eat – described on a package’s mandatory Nutrition Guidelines.

It’s a rare occasion when I eat in, or from, a fast food restaurant. When I do, I always choose from the low-price menu, and request no condiments (mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, relish, etc.) be added. All of those are highly processed, and hardly what you’d call ‘healthy’ for someone with kidney issues. And Chinese food is, for all intents and purposes, a no-no, as are such other highly-spiced ones as Indian food.

I happen to love some Indian foods – the combination of spices they involve are so unlike what you find in other cuisines – and some Chinese dishes. So I cheat – by making my own, minimizing the potentially harmful ingredients and boosting, if I care to, others. (You’d be surprised how readily available most of the spices used in Indian foods are.)

A really good ‘cheat’ for a CKD sufferer is – if you’re fortunate enough to have a Vietnamese restaurant nearby – to stop in, sit down, and order a vegetarian pho (a kind of soup) . . . then, after consuming half of it, take the rest home and ‘build’ your own pho, complementing their broth and some of their ingredients with your own.

Rice noodles – a very healthy choice for CKD sufferers – can be found in any store specializing in foods for people from, or descended from people from, the far east – China, Vietnam, Korea, etc.  As well as eating them with sautéed vegetables, I also use them as a rice substitute in various dishes – including my home-made chili, which I can’t eat a lot of at a given sitting both because it employees a lot of tomato (a no-no) and as it’s bean-rich (most beans are off limits). And while I enjoy it with rice, which always is a healthy choice for me, the rice noodles make an interesting change.

Change: That’s something that, one way or another, a lot of us – most of us – should be doing to improve or retain our health through our diets.

While no one wants ‘big brother’ to be telling us what to do – and that certainly proved true when former NYC Bloomberg tried to limit the size of to-go soda containers that could be sold – there is something to be said for the likes of New York City to ‘advise’ consumers about how much sodium their food contains.

Wendy’s restaurants, like some others, posts a chart spelling out that and much more about the nutritional values of what they serve. That’s a good start. But forcing a salt shaker alongside a really-heavy-salt-bearing item seems like an even better idea.

 

Trump, Sanders Similarities Explain Poll Standings

U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump holds up a signed pledge during a press availability at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York
U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump holds up a signed pledge during a press availability at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York September 3, 2015. The pledge is an agreement with the RNC to not to run as an independent candidate if he loses the Republican Party nomination, a party official said, despite Trump’s earlier refusals to rule out a third-party bid. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson – RTX1QZ9K

Vermont’s Bernie Sanders and New York’s Donald Trump may not seem to have a lot in common – not least because they actually don’t, except for one thing: As long-shot outsiders when they declared themselves to be candidates for president, both have done surprisingly well in crowd-pulling and fund-raising. Bernie’s has been the amazingly simple matter of raising relatively small sums – compared to what major, vested-interest donors provide – from individuals. Fund-raising by Trump – still, surprisingly often ID’d as “The Donald”, a pet name or faux epithet bestowed by a while-back wife –has been, as you’d expect of someone totally oriented toward tugging dollars out of hidden crevices, via the sale of the likes of hats bearing his likeness or a campaign phrase.

Sanders redefines – or harks back to – how politics is supposed to be: Oriented toward actually serving the people as a ‘public servant’ president is sworn to be. The (or just plain) Donald defines the opposite extreme – serve the candidate and his opinions, anticipating the ‘great unwashed masses’ will follow.

[Please see the link for an interesting history of the cited phrase, leading as well to the acknowledged originator of the phrases “the pen is mightier than the sword” and, of all things, what’s been described as “a literary tragedy”: as the worst novel launch ever: “It was a dark and stormy night.” Most times, references don’t get more interesting than this!]

Donald Trump’s best qualification for being president seems, so far, to be his status as “I’m very rich.” That he’s opinionated – very opinionated – is a given. It’s amazing that more than 90 percent of the all-too-numerous photos of him exhibit his mouth in an open, opinion-spewing mode!

Bernie Sanders has a relatively long, quite distinguished history as one of two senators of a small, up-against-the-wall-please Conservative state – where seldom is heard a discouraging word . . . and practically never is someone ordered up-against-the-wall.

Vermont is a pleasant place. A peaceful place. A place where neighbors get along. Where visitors marvel at the local cheese, and opportunities – as I once took, in the mid ‘60’s – to enjoy same with a nice bottle of wine alongside a country byway. Very much like a wine/cheese picnic my then wife and I enjoyed on a few years later on a Swiss hillside. Much as I love Vermont, I’d far rather be, and reside, in Switzerland! So close to Italy, and to France, and to Monaco, where I once actually won at the casino. (Well, not actually in the casino, but in the entranceway, where there were a couple of slot machines. My wife and I agreed to dedicate one franc to ‘the game’. Hers failed to score. Mine hit for two – putting us in the ‘break-even’ column – a  ‘plus’, given that we could have been two francs down!)

Vermonters don’t, for the most part, have significant political differences. Theirs is a ‘live and let live’ environment.

Sanders’ appeal to voters primarily is his appearance of honestly, his straight-forwardness toward goals he (rightly) sees as necessary to right a lot of the wrongs several recent congresses have foist upon us.

Trump, well, he’s something else again: A non-politician who expresses in sometimes excessively strong ways, opposition to things – such as immigration reform – the country needs, collectively, to address.

He is, as the head of a ministry said to me a couple of days ago, “divisive”.  He talks of a 100-foot wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and banning all Muslims who might want to come here from doing so.

He says “look at that face” about one of his Republican competitors, and degrades others in assorted other ways. He takes ‘outspoken’ to an entirely new, rude level!

Were the eventual ‘real’ race – in which, of course, no vote will be cast for roughly eleven months – to boil down to a race between Sanders and Trump, all bets would be off: Trump has a huge and apparently growing following, and he can personally support any spending he feels he needs to do – beyond benefiting from all the ‘free’ coverage the national media is providing.

Sanders, too, has a strong following, largely comprising people with views diametrically opposed to Trump’s, but Sanders isn’t independently wealthy, and no matter how many small contributions he get, he’d have a tough time competing in the ludicrous, and criminally expensive national advertising ‘race’. (THAT, cost-wise, is this country’s main ‘race problem’).

Neither would have fun trying to win legislative victories in Congress, thanks to the hold the Republicans are likely to still hold – despite defeats they’re likely to suffer – a year from now.

But then there’s this: A Trump opposer crashed a Trump focus group a couple of days ago, intending to be both a disrupting factor and to learn what is driving people into Trump’s camp. He succeeded on both counts – and came away hoping, in an odd but understandable twist of logic, that Trump will win the Republican nomination . . . and be soundly beaten in the general election.

“I want him to get the nomination to get completely destroyed in the general. The older generation in my party needs to understand we can’t have this pro-war, anti-immigrant nonsense anymore… we need to lose this [election] in order to ever win again,” said Michael Wille, a former Romney campaign staffer.

Not that I’d ever want to see Republicans with the mindset of the current ‘leaders’ of the party or their supporters win even a single election, but Wille has a point: His party is close to a breaking – as in breaking-up – point, because the extreme right wing goals it is pursuing really, are truly not what the majority of Americans want.

If old Abe, credited as the founder of the current Republican party, can roll enough in his grave to wish up for his present-day successors a sensible candidate, one who actually pays attention to the wants of people not on the outer fringe of the party, there’s an outside chance the party could again win the White House – and win back all the Congressional seats they are otherwise likely to lose next November.

I once sent a note to Eric Cantor, one of the most extremely conservative members of that party until he was soundly beaten by an upstart in 2008. I said that I really wished I could move one voting district east, to be in his, so I could – as an actual Cantor constituent – fight his every action in Washington.

I couldn’t move, but it didn’t matter: His loss was surprisingly decisive: His constituents did not agree with his positions – meaning, he wasn’t fairly representing his district.

There isn’t, truly, one strong Republican candidate – one who might actually win the general election. The odds that Hillary Clinton will be the next president are increasing daily.

I don’t trust Clinton – her or her husband. But, more importantly, I don’t fear what she might do as president. I most definitely fear what any of the not-particularly-gifted Republican candidates might do if elected.

It’s a sad state of affairs when anyone in this country – including recent immigrants – truly has a lot to fear from a potential president from a party that’s clearly demonstrated, over the past seven or more years, how uninterested and unable it is to serve the best interests of this country’s citizens – existing and aspiring.

The new beard of that party’s new leader, House Speaker Paul Ryan, doesn’t make him appear more ‘Lincolnesque’, wiser or too busy with his newly expanded duties to shave. It makes him look like someone desperately anxious to capture the attention of a younger generation that, for whatever reason, considers either tended or untended facial foliage to be ‘cool’. Nothing that Paul Ryan, or any other leading member of his party, has or might do will ever make them look or appear to be ‘cool’.

From right now, that party has about two, maybe two and a half years, to rethink its strategy, find a couple of potential-candidate-like-people who can really who can live and breathe the ‘new message’ – or Hillary will be a shoe-in as a two-termer – the first of her gender to ever officially serve as something more powerful than First Lady. (In Reagan’s waning years, as Alzheimer’s snuck up on him, Nancy more than likely came pretty close, on many occasions, to acting in his stead.)

‘Odd that no one’s studied that!