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The purrfect cat

“But the cat came back the very next day. The cat came back, he just wouldn’t stay away. They thought he was a gonner, But he wouldn’t stay away. Oh, the cat came back!”

“Oh, there he is again, our little friend.  He just keeps coming back.”   The voice of the secretary at my school is exceptionally sweet for someone with the vision and hearing of a raptor. “Who? What little friend?” I peered out the glass doors trying to figure out who was this recurring entity. “The cat. Every morning he joins the kids when they come across the road at the crosswalk, and he goes back with them at the end of the day.”  Then I spied the cat sniffing the grass around the roots of a gigantic sycamore tree.  He was an elegant fellow, festooned with long, ginger-colored fur, his feathery tail unfurled as he jauntily followed some children to the basketball courts. By day three this pertinacious puss had become a campus celebrity.  He effectually owned the place.  He would wander the playgrounds, saunter into classrooms, or the gym when the opportunity arose.  He was a dear young tom.  Teachers and students alike could pick him up, flip him onto his back and scratch his tummy without preamble.  He purred loudly and nuzzled with pleasure.  This cat was the purrfect cat.

The approach of the weekend made the kitty caper a little problematic.  He would cross the street apparently to return to the trailer park at the end of the school day.  But the office manager at the park had been interviewed about the cat and they knew nothing of his comings and goings or of  his people.  It appeared that he had been dumped or abandoned.  So when Friday afternoon rolled round I became uneasy about just leaving our ginger ragamuffin to the whims of the weather and his own wanderings.  Vehicles were filling up the parking lot, the bus loop was teeming with traffic, and cars were whizzing back and forth on the two major streets that frame the campus.  I loathed the possibility that this tender-hearted tomcat  might meet his end underneath a car or bus, or that he might trek to less hospitable environs, never to be cuddled again.  I scooped him up, in the middle of his afternoon preening, his legs stretched out like a ballerina en-pointe, as he licked his tummy, and took him to the office where I told our secretary that the cat would probably not be back on Monday.

Sitting on a couch in the atrium was a little boy who had missed the bus was waiting on his mom to pick him up.  He was about seven and his face was wet with tears of distress.  I sat down next to him and said, “What name do you think we should give this cat?”  The little boy’s sobs were hard and strained and he could not answer. “Well, I think we should call him Aslan.” I took his hand and placed it on the cat’s back and drew it down in a soft stroke.  A little smile creased his eyes and popped out his forlorn cheeks.  “Do you know why I think we should call him Aslan?”  I asked as he wiped his face and shook his head side to side.  “Because he keeps coming back!” Aslan is the central heroic character in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia books.  Aslan is the King and Creator of the realm of Narnia and he takes the form of a resplendent lion.  Aslan is the Christ figure who, in a not-so-subtle fashion, is resurrected from death in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. This powerful reference to Christian theology was fully intentional on the part of C.S. Lewis.  Aslan leads the Narnians against the forces of evil.  He is the epitome of wisdom and royal grandeur.  And if Aslan must leave for a time, he always, always returns to protect and inspire his subjects. Monster and Princess are my two other cats, both past their primes, persnickety, and preoccupied with napping.  But when Aslan came to my home he melted into its surroundings as if he had always been its sovereign.  My cats were mildly put-out, but the interruption in their routines was barely worth noticing.  They twitched their noses a bit and returned to their kneading and kibbles.  I daily searched the classified ads for notices of a lost kitty that fit Aslan’s description.  I called the animal shelter and reported that I was harboring a stray.  And for three days I waited with no response and no leads.  Aslan had graced us with his loud purring.  He had draped himself across every piece of comfy furniture in the place.  And, most charming of all, he had bonded with my aged cockatiel.  Aslan would stare at the scraggly bird and the bird would stare back, seemingly mesmerized and completely in love.

There was another teacher at my school who had shown an interest in the Christmas kitty.  She had no pets and lived alone with her young son.  And as much as my family had come to love Aslan, this young, divorced teacher, would grow to love him more.  He would be the perfect companion for her.  I had my daughter drop the ginger kitty off at the end of the school day and I presented him to this young teacher as she was lining her kids up for dismissal.  “Merry Christmas cat!” I announced as I placed him in her arms.  Her cheeks were ablush and her eyes were moist as I departed her classroom. Every once in a while a humdrum day hatches out an occasion of wonderment, a moment in which all goodness, love and meaning crystallize in a revelation of truth.  This time it came in the form of a stray cat, a guileless feline, who embodied, through his enduring affection, and his given name, the spirit of Christ at Christmastime.

Liam Neeson is the voice of Aslan in the Narnia movies.  He was apparently attempting to appease all, and ended up standing for nothing, when he spoke the following regarding the Lion; “If all I knew about The Voyage of the Dawn Treader came from the general press conference I attended after the Premiere in London last week, I would come to a pretty startling conclusion: Aslan is like Christ, but could just as easily be like Buddha or Mohammed.”  I would expect more from a nice Irish lad like Neeson, but he does, after all, work in an industry that persecutes Christians and Conservatives as a matter of practice.  So I have to credit Disney and 20th Century Fox for bringing the first three Narnia movies to theatres.  Of course it all makes financial sense to make some of the best-loved children’s fantasy tales into a theatrical series.  Parents and kids alike flock to see these family-friendly, uplifting and timeless stories.  And, are you listening Liam, the Christian message is not lost in the movie making.

This time of year has a way of yielding up little treasures; not trinkets in boxes or stockings, but remembrances of why we bustle, and sing, and celebrate Christmas.  The persona and spirit of The Lord, Jesus Christ is the essence of these treasures.  A treasure may appear in the form of a story penned by a former atheist who became a key, unapologetic Christian author of the 20th century.  Such a treasure may be in a little smile that surfaces through the tears and panic of a little boy as he strokes the fur of a contented and comforting kitty.  Such a treasure may be the gesture of giving something which one has in abundance to another who lacks, even the company of the world’s best  feline sidekick.  And the most impressive treasure of all may be in the innocence and trust borne by a stray cat into over 400 human hearts at an elementary school is Colorado.

Aslan, the cat, the lion: abandoned, betrayed, left alone, left for dead, like the Savior.  Still Jesus Christ bears a perfect love, an innocent optimism, and a regenerating hope into the hearts of all of God’s children.  He is the treasure.  And like an adorable orange cat, and an exultant  lion King,  He too will come back. A message of the light and love of the Living Christ from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

…But today my burden is light and sweetly scented. It is Joseph’s wife, Mary, young and gentle, and her words in my ears are like music compared to the clanging and pounding of the builder’s craft. Joseph has put away his tools and seated Mary upon my back, and we have set out for a far city. This is my first journey away from home.


I am Lazaro. My master, Joseph the carpenter, gave me the name “Lazaro” when I was a colt and he was not very old himself. It means “God has helped.” Perhaps he knew that I would need a little help from God each day, to pull the sledges stacked with timbers, and the baskets on my back heavy with carpenter’s tools and nails. But today my burden is light and sweetly scented. It is Joseph’s wife, Mary, young and gentle, and her words in my ears are like music compared to the clanging and pounding of the builder’s craft. Joseph has put away his tools and seated Mary upon my back, and we have set out for a far city. This is my first journey away from home.

From my birth I have lived in Nazareth. When not in Joseph’s service, I like to roll in the dirt and bray at the crows that patrol my feeding trough.  I watched as Joseph and his pretty wife, Mary, became friends, and grew in love. Now, with child, she pats my neck and encourages me on while singing a nursery song. The paths out of Nazareth are worn, but rocky. My feet, unaccustomed to long travel, are already sore as Joseph searches for a grassy place to spend the night. On a verdant hillside we make our camp. It is spring and shepherds lead their flocks to folds beyond the hills, carrying the new lambs across their shoulders, silhouetted against the squinting sun. Mary and Joseph are quiet as he sits next to her under a tree. His hand traces the shape of her round belly before the kisses her good night.

I awake when a lark hops around in the grass close to my muzzle, plucking up grubs. I bray loudly to startle the lark. Joseph cries, “Lazaro, you foolish beast. Be quiet!” But Mary has awoken and she says, behind a soft giggle, “silly donkey.”

How long we must walk, I do not know. How many days, we can only guess. The food and water in my packs have already grown lighter, but Mary, sitting upon my back with one leg folded in front of her large belly feels heavier than the day before. I plod a narrow trail up the rim of a high plateau. I’m not a mountain donkey, I am of the plains and fields and village roads. Joseph grows impatient. “Get along Lazaro! Mary cannot wait forever!” Suddenly, Mary leaps down and tells Joseph, “I will walk. He’s a small donkey, and my legs need to move and the child needs to stretch. He’s growing as impatient as you!” In Mary’s voice there is life–a mastery of enjoyment–rare to one so young as she. Her sweet voice impels me to pick up my pace. My legs ache, my rib cage heaves with great breaths, but up I go, for many hours and many miles.

“Lazaro, stop!” Joseph’s voice jars me to a halt. I look back and see that Mary is kneeling, one hand on her belly, and the other hand cupping her forehead. “Lazaro, come back. Mary can walk no farther.” I hear Mary’s voice, so tired and worried, “My time is growing near.”

Joseph heaves her upon my withers and looks back in the direction of Nazareth. “I shouldn’t have brought you…” Mary stops him with, “Shhhh. I will not be without you, nor will the child.” We trundle to the top of the rim, and there on the other side of the hill is the largest valley I have ever seen. I see smoke from a few distant fires, wadis and copses of trees, but mostly space. There is water, I smell a spring that runs down the hill to the valley below. I snort and bray to tell Joseph that here, there is refreshment for Mary.

We go on. Another day, another sunset. My flanks quiver with the exertion as I kneel down to lie on my side when finally we rest. Joseph leaves Mary to find wood for a fire, and while he is gone, Mary begins to weep. She puts her arms around my neck and buries her face behind my ears and through her stuttering sobs I hear. “Oh Lazaro, you are only a beast, but I cannot let Joseph know how afraid I am. I feel a great burden. My child is coming very soon, and here we are on the plains. Bethlehem is so far away. Oh, donkey, I feel alone with such a great task. What will happen should I fail?” She holds me fast, stroking my neck and weaving her fingers through my short mane. I take her robe in my teeth and tug gently. I want to tell her that my name, Lazaro, will be my promise that God will help us get to Bethlehem. Otherwise, she may forever call me ,” foolish beast.” She calms, and wipes her face and straightens her robes when Joseph returns with some sticks for a fire. I nuzzle her belly as she stands, and she laughs gently and goes to Joseph and holds him as if she will never let go.

The morning light reveals Mary’s face, serene but tired. Joseph looks worn, his hands calloused and cracked, and his back stooped. The spring from the hills has grown into a rushing stream. The water is cool and sweet and I crop the watercress and grasses along its edge. Mary washes the sleep from her eyes, and Joseph fills the water bags and drinks his fill before we continue on toward Bethlehem, the early sun warming us. We pass the great city, Jerusalem, and travelers pour onto the roads.  Some are young like Joseph and Mary, others old, some walking, some riding asses, and a few Roman soldiers patrol the peopled trails. Two Roman horses, their masters stoic, pass me, they snort, then they pause. They look at me with disdain, but their eyes soften and heads lower when they look upon Mary. A soldier commands his horse onward. The horse goes on, reluctantly. A walking man, old, lame, his eyes pale with blue clouds of blindness, traveling with his son, nears my side. His face turns to Mary, his sightless eyes lock on her form. The old man feels for my mane and grabs it so that I may guide his way for awhile. Mary speaks gently to him. “Sir, are you going to Bethlehem?” “Woman,” he answers sheepishly, “you would speak to me?” “Of course. We are but travelers on the way to Bethlehem. You may walk with us if you like, but we must make haste for I am with child and my time is nearing.”

The old man grabs my halter and yanks at it to stop me. “Woman,” says he, “the child you carry…He is a king.” Crazy old man, I think. Mary is the wife of Joseph, the carpenter, and the blind old man thinks she is a queen! But the old man persists. “Woman, God be with you. God bless you. The child in your womb…He…is the chosen one…the Messiah.” Mary does not rebuke the man, though she should because he appears to be drunken or mad. The Messiah! I am a carpenter’s beast, and to think that I could carry the mother of the Messiah on my back. Who would believe such a thing? “Good sir,” says Mary, “God be with you as well. We must hurry on, apace.”


Another day. The noise of the roads troubles my ears, the strange smells from the travelers fill my nostrils, and the flies make saltlicks of my eyes. Mary is silent. Joseph is silent except when he asks for directions from passing strangers. Dust gets into our eyes and throats, and my body is breaking down with weariness; a weariness I have never before felt.

I hear it before I see it, a viper in the road, sunning itself. But my brain is slow and I react before I think about where I am and the burden on my back. I begin to rear up at the sight of the snake, but then I remember Mary. I stop myself, but my back hoof catches on a rock, and my weight falls up on my fetlock. I stand quickly, but the pain is great. Mary grabs my mane as Joseph runs to her to help her down. I fall heavily on my rump as pain blazes up my leg. No! I think to myself. No!

“Joseph, He is hurt! Did the snake bite him? Will he die?” Joseph calms her, “No, he is not bitten, but he is lamed. He cannot walk.” There is fire in my leg. I bray for the pain, and I bray for the dark thought that I have failed Mary and Joseph, and my promise that God will help us get to Bethlehem has been broken. I am a foolish donkey. I am a broken donkey. If Mary was a queen of the Romans or of the Jews, I would probably be a dead donkey!

Joseph paces back and forth along the trail. He finds the viper and lifts it with a stick, flinging it far off into the brush. Mary looks at him strangely. “I shall not kill the snake, it is not guilty of a thing. And I shall not kill Lazaro, though he is no good to us. I must find a place to stall him, and a family to keep you, Mary, until I can meet you upon my return from Bethlehem.” Her words shake me with their power as she reproves her love. “No! No, you shall not leave me. We shall not leave this beast. There is a promise in his very name, there is a promise in the Name of the Child, Emmanuel, that God will be with us, God will help us.” Mary speaks through hard tears, “I believe the promise, Joseph. We shall ask God to heal his leg. Lazaro can be made whole. I know it. Please Joseph, pray with me in faith to heal this beast.”

My donkey brain, convulsing in pain and fear, is calmed as Joseph takes Mary’s hand, and they kneel beside me, Joseph’s hand on my tortured leg, their heads bowed in quiet prayer. I stop braying and close my eyes to listen. There are pleas, there are tears, and Mary and Joseph are talking to God as if He is beside them, like a Father come to their aid. Everything is peace and dark. I awake, for I have fallen asleep. There is an aching in my rear leg, but the fire of pain is quenched. Mary gives me a handful of sweet dates, and I am revived.

I stand, and now, acquainted with sorrow and pain myself, I recognize the same in Mary’s eyes. I walk a few steps. Soreness, yes, but I can walk. Can I bear the weight of Mary and the packs? I stop and look back at her, and grunt, “Get on, let’s go.” Joseph once more lifts her upon my back, and my mind is cleared of all thoughts of snakes and pain and stinking travelers and Romans on arrogant steeds, for the lights of Bethlehem begin to appear as we round the crest of the final hill.

The hills outside of Bethlehem are watched by shepherds with many sheep. They fold their sheep, but some stand dumb, looking to the East. Joseph looks to trace their gaze, and a strange smile comes to his face. We hurry on. Mary is quiet in her thoughts, her breaths fewer and deep. Many people are upon the roads. Some have set up camp along the paths. There are makeshift shops, coopers, potters, farmers and others have set up a bazaar for the travelers coming to Bethlehem from all directions. The smells are strange to me, there is filth on the roads, strange languages, and grumblings about “Herod,” and “Caesar,” and the hated “publicans.” When we enter the city the noise crowds upon my donkey ears and both Mary and Joseph gasp at the sight of so many people, many who are strange and dangerous looking. “Where will we stay?” Joseph answers Mary with, “I will try to find an inn. I didn’t expect…I didn’t know there could be so many people in the whole world, let alone Bethlehem.” I bow my head and watch my feet as Joseph leads us on. I must trust him, for my urge to bolt is strong. Dogs nip at my legs, cats, chickens and little children run along the streets. And it seems that every house, every inn, every space within the little town of Bethlehem is filled with travelers. Some of them stop for a moment to gaze, like the Shepherds, at the Eastern sky. Mary cries out, and we move.

Joseph goes to an inn, it is filled. Another, and there is no room, even the stalls along the streets are crowed with people bedding down for the night. We reach the far side of Bethlehem, and there is a last inn. Mary whispers to Joseph, ” We must stop. The child is coming whether we have a bed or not.” Joseph steps away from us and knocks hard upon the door. A tired man answers, a cacophony of sound and smell  come from behind the open door. “Sir, my wife is with child, and we need a bed. We cannot wait. There is no other place. Please!” The man ponders Joseph, steps out from the door and looks at Mary. His face grows pale. He runs back into inn, then returns with a woman and a boy. “I am Avda, this is my wife Hasna,” a boy of the age of Joseph when I first worked for him joins them, “and my son, Nahor. There is no room in the inn.” Hasna speaks to Mary, “This is no place for you…” Mary moans and a look of stern anger tightens Joseph’s face, but the woman continues, “… The travelers are filthy…” Nahor chirps, “…and stinky!” Joseph looks to the plains outside Bethlehem, “But where shall we go? Our child will be born this night! Can’t you help us? Just one bed, PLEASE?” Hasna, goes to Joseph. “There is a better place for you, a quiet place, without the dirt and noise of the strangers. Nahor, lead the beast to the stall. Avda, get a broom, I will fetch some robes.”

The woman orders us and we obey. On the edge of the city, within its rocky cliffs is fixed a cave filled with straw and feeding boxes for animals. Chickens roost along the mud shelves, a few ewes with new lambs rest in a corner, and an aged ox stares curiously as we enter. Avda sweeps and gathers out the old straw as Joseph helps Mary off my back. Nahor brings fresh straw and piles it up for a bed in the corner, Hasna lays some robes upon the straw and takes Mary by the hand and helps her to lie down. She again commands her husband and son, “Avda, bring water, Nahor, get more straw and meal for the beast, and put it in the manger. This young woman will bear a child within the hour.”

With sweet straw in the manger, I munch happily, save for the cries coming from Mary. The innkeeper’s wife lingers near Mary, and calms Joseph with words of instruction which I do not understand. But Mary’s cries are hard to bear. They are cries of deep distress, her body is erupting in agony, and I ache with her, I mourn the hardship with her. My burdens have been heavy to bear, but the coming forth of Mary’s child is a new and fearsome things to me. I wander out of the cave and stand on the path outside. The sun is a thin strand across the Western plains, but it is light, such as mid-day. Such a long day, I think, in my simple way, and the hours drag on so. But the day is night and a star in the East, so bright that it casts shadows, is defying the sleeping sun! Strange, very strange. I bray at the star, and see that I’m not alone in my wonderment. The people of the village have gathered outside their homes to gaze up. They murmur, some fearfully, some in reverence, and some kneel, whispering something about a “sign.” Mary’s cries grow quiet, and there is soft speaking in the cave, and then, the keening cry of a newborn babe! My masters’ son cries and Mary laughs in her soft fashion, thanking God that her hour of extremity is finished. “Praise God! Glory to God!” cries Hasna. Joseph is weeping softly, Mary and the baby wrapped tightly in his arms as he rocks them gently.

Avda and Nehor appear again. They bring food that smells delicious. “Here I have some bread for you Joseph, and a bowl of warm pulse for you, Mary. Eat and be strong,” says Avda.  Joseph thanks them and wolfs his bread. “Would that we could do more for this child. Hosanna! Glory to God.” Avda and Nehor try to linger but Hasna urges them back to the inn.

I think to myself, so many strange things; a strange light, a village girl mistaken for a queen, an innkeeper’s wife crying out as if the Messiah himself has appeared! I am weary, and the aches of the day creep into my muscles. I lie down by the opening of the cave. The chickens, sheep, and old ox are strangely quiet, peace and darkness overtake my donkey brain and I sleep.

“He is here! Wake up, wake up! The angel of the Lord has told us, He has been born.” I awake as lads run up and down the village roads, banging on doors and calling to the people. “The King has been born. The star! Come see the star, for it is the sign.” The villagers are restless, for the strange star, brighter far than a full moon, has disturbed their sleep. And now these lads are using their shepherds’ crooks to knock upon doors and call out strange words. The lads begin to gather near me by the cave. They whisper, “Can you see him? Is the mother pretty? Does the baby look like a king?” Patient Mary sits up on her bed of straw and lifts the tiny babe so the shepherd boys may gaze upon him. They are nearly silent, but for some deep sobs and whispers of, “Praise be to God! Hosanna in the highest!”

What of this king? The babe is a carpenter’s son. Mary is an ordinary girl. What is this all about? But as I, Lazaro, ponder upon these strange things in my simple way, I remember the old man upon the road, the blind man who talked of a king carried in Mary’s belly. He talked of a Messiah. Could it be true? A healing prayer that took away my lameness. Is Mary the mother of the promised Messiah? Is Joseph the chosen father of the Son of God? As I think about these things a great warmth enters my heart. The desire to worship God consumes me, and with irresistible joy I step onto the road and bray, in my own language, “Praise God! The chosen Messiah is born! I am His beast! I carried the mother of the King of Kings on my back! Glory to God in the highest. Hosanna to His name.” A cock fluffs his neck feathers and joins me in praise, crowing loudly. My braying wakes the sheep and ox. The chickens begin to cluck, and from the stable cave there arises a joyous noise as the world of animals joins in worship of the Newborn King!

“Lazaro! You mad beast! Quiet now, Mary must rest,” comes Joseph’s voice from the cave. “It’s alright, Joseph. He knows. Lazaro and the other animals know, just as the shepherd boys know. This is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

I hear Mary and Joseph talking and so, hush my braying. The cock settles down and the hens return to their nests. Mary calls to me and I step softly toward the manger from which I had earlier eaten sweet straw. The babe, wrapped in swaddling robes, opens his eyes and makes a strange sound. I snort, and he smiles. “Lazaro, you silly beast,” Mary speaks to me in the same gentle tone which has always pleased my ears, but now with utter certainty and consummate love, “you kept your promise to me and my little family. You carried us here, to Bethlehem. Thank you Lazaro. I know that God chose you, you silly donkey, to help bring His Son into the world. Never again shall you be called ‘foolish beast.” I watch, my head bowed, a sweet peace warming me through, as Mary and the babe fall asleep. Joseph leaves the cave to do the business which brought him to Bethlehem. He rubs my neck vigorously and says, “Lazaro, you have proven yourself. Wait and watch here until I return in a little while. You are a beast with great heart. Now keep Mary and my son safe.” I will, Joseph, I will, I think in my simple donkey way, I will because God is with me.

by Marjorie Haun  

Ladies, did you ever find yourselves strangely attracted to the rugged virility of Yukon Cornelius? Get all the dirt on him and Mrs. Santa here. 5 Newly Uncovered Weird Moments in the History of Christmas!


The “Green Pants Revolt”

5. Scientist will tell you that penguins are endemic to the Southern Hemisphere, but that’s not the whole truth. In 1827, penguins of all sorts were driven from the Arctic in what has come to be known as the “Green Pants Revolt.” Penguins were once found in dense populations at the North Pole, attributable in-part to Santa Claus’ daily deliveries of smelt, shrimp, and Cracker Jack (a penguin favorite) to the bustling colonies. The sleep-deprived elves, relegated to a scant 3 hours of sleep per night due to a rigorous schedule in the toy factory, complained to Santa that the squawking birds were keeping them up at night. Legend has it that Santa urged the elves to be patient until they could take their annual post-Christmas junket to Cancun, but the irritable elves had other plans. In a midnight raid the elves captured the penguins, boxed them up in chicken crates, and sent them, via slow boat, to Patagonia. And that, kiddies, is why there are no penguins at the North Pole.

No Forgiveness for Mrs. Claus?

4. What is the origin of Santa’s jolly “Ho, ho, ho?” The year was 1950 and a dauntless Arctic frontiersman named Yukon Cornelius passed through Christmas Town while filming a documentary titled, “Finding Bumble.” The ruggedly handsome Yukon Cornelius lodged in the guest house located on the grounds of the Claus manor. Finding the warm hospitality of Mrs. Claus irresistible, he stayed on as a gamekeeper. Tabloids of the day speculated that Santa and Mrs. Claus were experiencing marital problems, and that she found excitement and really great sex in the hairy arms of Yukon Cornelius, thus fomenting a scandal of polar proportions. Overcome by wanderlust following the Christmas rush, Cornelius packed up his video equipment and left in the dead of a January night. Mrs. Claus, heartbroken, and Santa, depressed and beset with eating disorders, sought marital counseling. It is believed that they made amends and renewed their vows in a Las Vegas ceremony, and that Santa’s jolly “Ho, ho, ho!” was heard for the first time in the days following the Claus/Cornelius affair. One must wonder, however, whether Santa’s “Ho, ho, ho” was the exclamation of a happy man, or the rumblings of a bitter old fellow who just couldn’t seem to forgive his wife for errors of the past.

Bindlestick’s Camel

3.The year was zero, and a caravan of nomadic Wise Men were traveling from the Orient, westward to the Mediterranean region then known as Judea. The organizers of the caravan, Hopscotch, Bindlestick, and Flapjacket, all wise kings from Eastern countries, rode patiently atop their dromedary beasts-of-burden for months. Following an exceedingly bright star that appeared night after night, they made their way toward the place where they believed they would find the King of Kings; the prophesied Son of God. Bindlestick’s camel, however, had an odious weekly ritual of announcing that it was Wednesday by repeating, “Guess what day it is…” and carrying on in a most annoying fashion until, near madness, one of the wise men would scream, “It’s Humpday!” Somewhere on the plains of Syria, Bindlestick’s camel met an unfortunate end when Hopscotch, having reached the end of his proverbial rope, choked the poor beast to death precisely at 11:59 p.m. on a Tuesday night. The Wise Men entered the land of Judea minus one camel, but having rescued their sanity.

Santa Psyops over Germany

2. The Allied Forces had invaded Europe and were beating back Hitler’s Army, and freeing millions from the oppression of the Nazis. It was the spring of 1945. But Hitler’s propaganda machine was still going strong and Germans felt confident that Der Fuehrer would win the war for the homeland. The American Office of Special Services (OSS) planned to conduct a massive psychological operation (psyops) in German cities and villages that would cause the people to question Hitler’s ability to lead them to victory. The OSS, the forerunner of today’s CIA, created pamphlets to be dropped from the skies over Germany, but conventional aircraft would be detected and possibly engaged by the enemy. A silent, nighttime drop was required, but there existed no airplane, at that time, sufficiently quiet to go undetected.  Clive Weedle, a savvy young OSS agent from Humptulips, Washington, decided to give Santa Claus the call, and assign the dangerous mission to him and his intrepid team of flying reindeer. Santa, being a supporter of the Allied Forces and a freedom-loving patriot, accepted. During the dead of night in mid-April of 1945, in the silent skies over Germany, Santa, his team of flying reindeer, and three elves dropped, from an altitude of 1,500 ft., 20,000 pamphlets, complete with colorful illustrations, which said, Hitler ist ein Daumenlutschen Transvestit! Translated: Hitler is a thumbsucking transvestite! History informs us that the devastating pamphlets dropped by Santa had a profound psychological effect upon the German people, especially those in Hitler’s inner circle. Just days after the Santa psyops pamphlet drop, Hitler killed himself inside a fortified bunker in the heart of Berlin. It is said that when his body was recovered, he was wearing a bra, panties, fishnet stockings, and pumps which belonged to his wife, Eva Braun.

Santa Claus at Valley Forge

1. Valley Forge served as quarters for George Washington’s Continental Army during the brutal winter of 1777. Despite the fact that most of Washington’s troops had been good little boys during the months before that terrible December, they were disqualified from Santa Claus’ delivery route because of age restrictions. But Santa was concerned about the fledgling republic for which the Americans were fighting and he wanted to help without breaking his own rules. George Washington, exhausted and disheartened by the unspeakable conditions at Valley Forge, took to the drink and was spending his hours lolling about, drunk, in the livery stables. Alarmed, Santa Claus took a sabbatical during the peak toy-making season, to fly down with a few trusted reindeer and have a heart to heart with the general. Concerned that the men would give up if their leader lost his hearty optimism and faith, Santa donned Washington’s uniform and sat in his stead for a few days. Santa tended to the men, and dined alongside them, eating their typical fare of cabbage and vinegar soup. The team of reindeer flew George Washington to Mount Vernon for a much needed weekend with Martha. Upon his return, Washington asked Santa Claus in what manner he could repay the kind deed. The story goes that Santa simply asked the sober and reinvigorated leader of the Continental Army to promise that once they had won independence for the colonies that he would establish a nation where people would be free to live their lives and produce lots, and lots of children. Santa then introduced the general to an old friend from Prussia, named Friedeich Von Steuben, who proved instrumental in Washington’s eventual victory over the British. George Washington took the tales of the secret meetings with Santa at Valley Forge to his grave, and the lone witnesses to the events, Martha Washington and General Von Steuben, provided only cryptic indications in their diaries about how Santa helped win the Revolutionary War.

Things are not all merry and bright at the North Pole. Rumblings of revolution among Santa’s Elves are causing unrest, and Santa’s Chief Elf is planning insurrection. Watch what happens when our favorite fire-breathing, Capitalist, psychotherapist chicken, The Little Red Hen, offers a frustrated short guy a little elf-help advice.

2lrh egg

Setting: Doctor Little Red Hen’s office

Characters: Doctor Hen, Collywobbles the Elf (foreman of Santa’s Workshop, LLC)

Doctor Hen: Bug, bug bugaawk, welcome Mr., uh, Cablewaders.

Collywobbles: That’s Collywobbles, COLLYWOBBLES!

DH: Oh my! Why so testy, Mr. Wollycobbles?

CW: Are you messin’ wit’ me, hu, chicken? Don’t mess wit’ me, you’ll be very sorry.

DH: Excuse me for a minute. Bug, bug, bugaaawwk, bugaaawk. (She reaches underneath herself and pulls out an egg) Mess with who? Are you trying to threaten me? (throwing the egg violently at the elf’s head) Take that you little shit!

CW: OOOOWWW! What the…dammit! You hit me with a friggin’ egg!

DH: Sit down, and take one minute to tell me why you’re in my office, threatening me. Do you think you’re tough, you runt?

CW: Okay, lady, er, Ms. Chicken, I get it. I’ll just sit right here.

DH: My name is Doctor Hen, Little Red Hen if you want to be formal. You pay me for an hour of my time not to threaten me, intimidate me, or vent your hatred in my general direction, but to gleefully accept my guidance and advice on how to make yourself a little less loathsome.

CW: (wiping egg off his face) Yeah, I get it.

DH: Why are you here?

CW: I’m a little low, you know, feeling kinda heavy.

DH: Well, you’re abnormally short, and pretty fat. You should feel low and heavy. Do you have any feelings other of the expected self-loathing that is natural to someone as squat and unattractive as yourself, Mr. Cobbywaddles?

CW: Wow, you are one tough broad.

DH: Very good. That’s the first thing you’ve gotten right so far. Now that you seem clear about my boundaries, go ahead and tell me, what problem brings you to my office?

CW: Well, ya see, things aren’t going so well at work. There’s a lot of tension. A LOT of tension.

DH: And, where do you work?

CW: Well, this is all very top secret stuff. Can I trust you?

DH: Depends.

CW: Please don’t let this get out. If I blow Santa’s cover…erp!

DH: Oh, Mr. Clobberwadder, I think I understand now…are you an elf? Are  you one of Santa’s helpers? Bugaaawk! Hot damn! I have an elf in my office. HA!

CW: Oh geeze, Mrs. Doctor Chicken, please don’t let this get out. It would be really bad for us…us elves.

DH: No need to worry. I suspected it anyway. Who the hell else wears pointy green slippers with bells, and speaks like Richard Simmons sucking helium? So, tell me about the tension at work. How does it make you feel?

CW: Believe you me, it makes me feel very, very pissed. You see, I’ve been kind of agitatin’ the other elves, you know, reminding them that Santa…uh, the large fat guy who employs us, doesn’t pay us what we’re worth. They’re all gettin’ shafted by big fatty, and they don’t even realize it!

DH: Reality Therapy is one of my specialties, so let’s get real. You are extremely short, fat and malformed. You have a voice so irritating it gives me a rash just to hear you talk. Think about it, who else would hire you? SERIOUSLY! Santa Claus is your god-send. You would be working in the circus or in production at MSNBC if it wasn’t for the kindness of the old guy.

CW: Oh, you don’t know the half of it. Let me tell you about the hardships I endure for San…ugh…I can barely say his name without gagging, Santa! I sew the button noses on teddy bears. Day in, day out. My back aches, my fingers are calloused, and all I get for my effort is $32K plus benefits. Who can raise a family on that, hu?

DH: And…how many weeks a year do you work for Mr. Claus?

CW: Umm…

DH: Out with it!

CW: From the end of October until January 11.

DH: Ten weeks! TEN CLUCKING WEEKS! You have it really good elf, perhaps you should leave before I change all of that.

CW: But, what about my problems?

DH: Uh, hu. I have to be straight with you, Mr. Clabberwaffle, workplace issues are not my field. I help people with their psychosocial issues. You come to me whining about getting shafted by your boss when half of the country is unemployed and 60 million chickens are on food stamps, and you want sympathy? Ain’t gonna happen. I’ll be nice and just charge you for half an hour. Please pay nurse Henny Penny on the way out.

CW: No, no, uh, Doctor Chicken lady. This ain’t really about workplace issues. It’s about my innermost feelings about making more money per hour for the toil I put in to make frigging toys day and night. Can I tell you something?

DH: Shoot.

CW: Me and the other elves…we’re planning a walk-out the day before Christmas. Shhhh. Very confidential.

DH: Were you born an idiot, or did your mother use your head to tenderize her minute steak?

CW: An elf labor strike is the only way to get Santa to pay attention to the injustices of his work conditions. An hour for lunch is too short. We want fresh donuts in the break room. It’s only fair. And bigger bonuses. Yes! BIGGER BONUSES!

DH: You should be wishing for bigger penises.

CW: Hu?

DH: Excuse me for a moment. Bugaaawwwk. Oh, look at that, I dropped my pen and I must bend over to pick it up off the floor. Buugaaawwwk, buugaaww, buu, BUUGAAAAWK! (while stooping over, an egg shoots out of her butt with great force and hits the elf in the head)

CW: OUCH! Son of a…what the…holy just shot a frigging egg out of your butt and hit me in the head! That hurt!

DH: Good! Now, sit still while I slap you around a bit.

CW: NO! Please, no! Look, I just came here looking for a little emotional support. This is a very stressful time!

DH: Stressful? Look, punk, I know your boss. He’s a friend of mine, we go waaay back. Now, Santa Claus knows stress. Think about it you pea-brained puke. The happiness of every child on the planet is on his shoulders. Every year he visits every hopeful kid in the world, and NEVER disappoints. Sure, some kids get toothpick dolls and some kids get ponies, but everyone gets something, all thanks to Santa. All he asks from you, you little maggot, and the other elves–who are paid very well, by the way–is ten weeks of effort to make the world a happy place for one little night. Santa is no young man. He’s old, very old. He has aches and pains, he’s a little forgetful, but he loves all those little kids, and you know what Mr. Collywobbles, he loves you too. Now suck it up. There’s nothing wrong with you but your crappy attitude and union membership. If you want a little elf-help advice from me, I say drop them both.

CW: Yeah, I guess you might be right, Doctor Hen. To be honest, maybe I’m not cut out to be an elf.

DH: What would you do if you didn’t work at Santa’s Workshop, LLC?

CW: My real passion…um, I’m a little embarrassed.

DH: It’s okay, tell me what you want to do with your life.

CW: Ballroom dancing. I really wanna teach ballroom dancing.

DH: Hmmm…Let me tell you a true story. Now this was a long time ago, you probably hadn’t been hired by Santa’s Workshop, LLC, when this happened because you obviously lack that old-timey work ethic, but hear me out anyway. Santa had a little elf who, though he worked hard and never complained, really didn’t fit in with the whole toy-making thing. You could say he was a misfit elf. His name was Hermey. Now this elf suffered in silence, while is real passion boiled inside him for years, maybe centuries. You know what this little elf really wanted out of life?

CW: Uh, Hermey? No, what did he want, Ballroom dancing?

DH: Dentistry, oral surgery, anything having to do with mouths. He loved it; pulling teeth, fillings, veneers, root canals, bleaches, crowns, implants, you name it! He even did some work on very large mammals…but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, Hermey repressed his desires for a while. After all, he was treated well, fed, housed, paid an excellent wage, and given good benefits by Santa’s company. But eventually he had to follow his dreams of Dentistry. He took a risk and left the workforce; no agitatin’, no planned walk-outs, no union shenanigans, no “Elves of the World Unite” bullshit. Hermey tendered his resignation, Santa accepted it, tearfully yes, but he loved Hermey like a son and supported his career move. Hermey eventually married a pretty little elf named Angina, fathered 10 or 20 elflets, moved to Orem, Utah, and now runs an international chain of dental clinics, “Bumble Dentistry, Inc.”

CW: Mmm…sniff.

DH: Why the tears? What are you feeling right now?

CW: Oh, Doctor Hen, I feel so…so empty, like someone just cut out my heart.

DH: Those feelings are appropriate to the moment and circumstance. Think about it, you’ve lived your life being an asshole. You should feel bad.

CW: I don’t really know what to do. Now that I think about it, Santa’s Workshop is really a pretty good company. I mean, he sizes everything to us elves, and every Friday Mrs. Claus make a homemade feast for us to eat during lunch break. Maybe I’ve been petty, ungrateful. But…the other elves might mock me if I come back to work…different.

DH: Trust me, you couldn’t be anymore “different” than you already are, you’re an elf remember. Let me give you a little more advice. No more of the “Community Organizer” crap. No more whining and moaning about how hard you have it. No more hating the Jolly Old Elf who takes such good care of you. You’re going to go back to work, tell the other elves what an ingrate you’ve been, work through your contract with no walk-outs or agitation, and you’re going to do the best job you can for Santa and all the little kids he works so hard to make happy for one day. Got it.

CW: Okay, Doctor Hen.

DH: Do all these things with exactness and a good attitude, and come back to see me on January 12th. I know this guy named Arthur Murray, he’s an old friend. I’ll set you up with your ballroom dancing dream.

CW: Really? Oh my gosh, Doctor Hen! That would be so wonderful.

DH: My pleasure. You’re a changed elf, Mr. Collywobbles. Now go and do something nice for Christmas.

CW: I don’t know if you realize it, Doctor Hen, but I think you’ve saved Christmas.

DH: Bugaaawk, thanks. But it’s not the first time. Back a few years ago I had to do an intervention when Mrs. Claus got just a little too chummy with Yukon Cornelius, but that’s a story for another time.

by Marjorie Haun  12/11/13

Meet your favorite neighbors, the Carbuncle family. After reading this, you will never, ever again skip over a Christmas letter.



Well, the year started off a little rough when, on the first day back from Christmas break, little Latrina got kicked out of school for sending her math teacher to the hospital. She says he called her a “stute,” and that’s why she threw the chair at him and walked out of class. I raised my little girl not to be a stute. She is a good girl. I do believe she did the right thing. But not being in school and all, Latrina went to work making about $70 a day standing on the corner by Walmart, holding a sign that said, “I’m not homeless but my mama’s too lazy to get a job so she makes me do this bulls***.” Latrina is an honest girl just like I taught her to be.


Latrina did well making money on the corner by Walmart but unfortunately one week it got real cold and the thermometer dipped below 0* for a few days. Latrina had to go to the hospital to have all her fingers and toes removed since they turned black from the frostbite. But she’s a fast healer and as soon as it warmed up again she went right back to work, and talk about a cash cow! My little Latrina, without fingers or toes, is pulling in twice as much cash as before. Thank God for small miracles! Uncle Sputum came down with an incurable skin disease and so he got an early release from the state prison! He moved in with us but we don’t have a lot of room bein’s Bubo, Boyle and Blain live here with Latrina, me, Aunt Edema, and the 7 dogs. Uncle Sputum don’t mind sleeping in the shed, which is preferable to us because he smells kinda bad, especially on warm days. But he does some cooking for us. The ingredients are a little strange, since he gets most of them from a chemistry catalog, but he’s making it just fine for now and always seems to have a lot of pep!


This was a sad month for us as Uncle Sputum was killed in a shoot-out with cops right outside the trailer on St. Patrick’s Day. I swear, he was just celebrating when he got naked, took my shotgun and started shooting the crows in that tree across the street. He didn’t mean to aim that gun at the cops. He was a good man. We will all miss Uncle Sputum. I put an ad on Craig’s List for to sell his chemistry equipment and weird cookbooks. He spent an awful lot of time cooking, but it weren’t food. But that’s okay cause I lost 100 pounds while Uncle Sputum was living here. God rest his gentle soul.


Well, we like it when the weather warms up this time of year, but the snow melts and the neighbors tell us to clean up all the dog crap the snow has been hiding since October. It’s not a pleasant job, but Bubo, Boyle and Blain do it for me, and it’s easy just to scoop up the dog dirt and toss it over the fence–into the neighbor’s yard. That’s where my brother’s ex-wife’s cousin’s niece lives and she’s not a nice person. Back in 1998 she tricked my brother’s ex-wife’s cousin’s best friend into knocking her up cause he’s a professional cage fighter and she lives off the child support he pays her for that baby. Oh, how I hate these low-life people. They got no class at all. For Easter we all loaded up in the van and went to Pea Ridge to celebrate with Aunt Edema’s daughter, Biopsy, who is also my favorite cousin. She filled up plastic Easter Eggs with things like used cotton balls and twisty ties and such and the kids just had a blast hunting for them. Biopsy don’t have much property though, so she hid them in the cemetery across the highway from her place. But good things can go bad, and apparently somebody called the cops on Boyle, who was havin’ so much fun he forgot himself and took a pee on a tombstone. Easter came to a sad end when I had to post bond for all three of my boys, since Bubo and Blain were arrested along with Boyle for trying to tip over the patrol car. They’re good strong boys. I can’t believe all this happened just because Boyle had to relieve himself. But it’s a great blessing that Latrina had enough money saved up so I could bail my boys out of county lock-up. It’s enough to make you want to kill, skin and cook the danged Easter Bunny.


This was a month to celebrate! Cousin Phlegm’s boy, Ryot, was the only boy in his class of the age of 15 to graduate from 6th grade! We were all so proud. The family, except Latrina ’cause she was working the corner next to Golden Corral downtown that day, met at Phlegm’s place where we had a real big party for Ryot. Phlegm’s wife, Listeria, got some food from the salvage food store and there was music and a wading pool and more beer than you could believe. Aunt Edema wore her favorite tube top and that made her back cyst real obvious. Ryot, a real smart boy, had the great idea that we should drain her cyst so everybody could watch. Then Bubo piped up and said, “hey, let’s film you poppin’ her cyst so we can put it on Youtube!” We spent a good 30 minutes watching Listeria drain Edema’s cyst. Oh, it stunk, and you had to stand back so it didn’t squirt on you, but that kept everybody entertained for the whole afternoon.


Some gifts just keep on givin’. Bubo put the video of Aunt Edema’s cyst drainin’ on Youtube and guess what? We got 2,346,702 views and, you know what that means? We got enough money from the ads that WE WENT TO DISNEY! Latrina stayed home and took care of the trailer and dogs while the rest of us went on vacation. She’s such a good girl. I raised her that way. Plus, without any fingers, I knew it might be hard for Latrina to keep a grip on those adventure rides. And I would feel just awful if anything bad happened to that girl.


We got some real sad news on the 4th of July. Apparently Uncle Phlegm and Aunt Listeria’s boy, Ryot, tried to shoot off some homemade fireworks. He had good intentions and all ’cause he just wanted to relive the wonderful fireworks shows we saw at Disney every night for two weeks. I don’t know why he thought a welding torch would be good to light his homemade fireworks but it didn’t go very well. Poor Ryot, one of the only kids in the family to graduate 6th grade, lost both arms up to the elbows in the explosion. While Phlegm and Listeria were in the hospital with Ryot, their komodo dragon, Marlin, escaped and hasn’t been seen since.


If there is an angel on earth it would be Latrina. That girl is such a sweetheart. She really wanted to cheer Ryot up since he was feeling kinda down, being armless and all. As soon as that boy got out of the hospital she put him to work with her asking for money at the corner by Applebee’s. He learned how to hold an old ice cream bucket with the handle in his teeth and when people would see these two precious children; a girl with no fingers or toes and a boy with no arms up to his elbows, they just load them up with cash. I tell you, sometimes bad things happen, but then it turns out better than winning the lottery. Phlegm and Listeria both quit their jobs at the convenience store and that gives us some real good catchin’ up time. Especially since we all love to play cards.


Boyle, my middle son, is a special boy and I always believed he was star material. I don’t know if I mentioned this before but he spends a lot of time pretending to be a dog. He will play with the dogs, roll around with them in the dirt, chase cars, sniff their butts and such. Well it got really heartwarming when one of our mongrel bitches had a big litter of pups that she couldn’t care for all by herself. Boyle, bless his heart, got in the box with that mama dog just like he was a bitch himself. He cleaned the pups with his tongue. He let them nurse at his nipples–he really seemed relaxed during nursing time–he was just an excellent dog. Well, then we heard that TLC Channel was looking for people to feature in their reality program called “My Strange Attention-Getting Behavior” and we all immediately thought of Boyle. Guess what? He met with the producer of the show and got all set up do his own episode! My boy was set to be a television star! Unfortunately, the filming had to be delayed when Boyle came down with a real bad case of tapeworms.


What a crazy month. I spent a couple of weeks helping Boyle nurse his tapeworm infection.  I heard about this real expensive medicine the doctor wanted Boyle to take but instead of spending the money, I just had him swallow his chewing tobacco instead of spitting it out. With poor Boyle sufferin’ and all I completely forgot about my precious angel baby, Latrina. One day Bubo noticed that the housework was behind and piped up and said, Mama, “It looks like Latrina is slacking on her jobs. Where is she anyway?” Then my heart just  about stopped when I realized that I hadn’t seen her or Ryot since that TLC Channel producer feller was looking at Boyle to be the next big TV star. Blain, the calm one, just said if we wait long enough Latrina and Ryot would show up. So we sat down on the couch and clicked on the TV to the TLC Channel, and GUESS WHO WE SAW HAD THEIR OWN TV SHOW? You know it! Latrina and Ryot were right there on the TV screen in their own television reality program called, “Amputee Panhandlers.” Poor Boyle was just heartbroken. But for now, Aunt Edema is going back to work at the water plant and I guess the boys will have to pick up the chores.


Well, sometimes you think things can’t get any worse then your own kid turns on you. As if it wasn’t bad enough that I had to go get Bubo, Boyle and Blain out of jail on Halloween night for nothing more than borrowing a police patrol car and collecting jack ‘o’ lanterns off folks’ porches and donating them to the poor folks here in the trailer park. Those boys were just doing charity. You’d think the cops would give them credit for being kind to people. Well, while I was still trying to recover, the day after Halloween I got a letter from Latrina. Only, it wasn’t from Latrina. It was from some fancy lawyer representing her and Ryot. It said my baby girl and her cousin Ryot got legally emancipated and are now in charge of all the money they make on their TV reality program. Here, this is what it said; “Heretofore wherewith Ryot Sluge and Latrina Carbuncle, having been found to be self-sufficient with adequate means for support, will herewith put their forthcoming funds in a trust to be held forever for their personal benefit into perpetuity, having severed all ties forthwith and from this day forward and shall have no contact with members of either the Sluge or Carbuncle families.” Don’t that just break your heart. I was so good to them kids. I just saw on the TMZ website that “Amputee Panhandlers” was the biggest new thing since Jersey Shore. I bet those kids are millionaires. S***!


Trying to take my mind off Latrina and the way she did us wrong, the boys and I spent the time making Christmas ornaments out of stuff we found around the house since we’re poor because Latrina cheated us out of our happy life. It’s amazing what you can make from used paper plates and Copenhagen cans. We have a lot of Copenhagen cans around as Boyle still struggles with his tapeworms. Aunt Edema isn’t here to help me with the house cleaning since she went back to work at the water plant then moved in with Cousin Biopsy. Uncle Phlegm and Aunt Edema were so broken up over what Ryot and Latrina did that they moved to Oregon in their 5th-wheel. Their komodo dragon, Marlin, got his pictures all over town in the post office and police station and dog pound. Apparently Marlin had a habit of eating litters of new puppies. Good thing Boyle still sleeps with our dogs and keeps them safe from that damn lizard. Well, as you can tell, we’re feeling kind of down and we don’t expect this Christmas to have much cheer. But if you would like to help us out we sure would appreciate it. Cash is really what this little family needs. After all, Christmas is about givin’.

Happy Christmas from Mama Candida Carbuncle and sons (’cause I don’t got a daughter anymore)

by Marjorie Haun  12/12/15




November 7, 2016

Hillary’s Email Debacle Leaves More Questions than Answers


Last October I had a conversation with a senior F.B.I. attorney at a public fund-raising event who I have known socially for a number of years. And being afforded the opportunity, I just couldn’t help but ask: So, what’s the status of the Hillary email debacle? Of course, initially I got what we all have come to recognize as the F.B.I.‘s auto-response apologetic: I’m sorry, but you know I can’t comment on any investigation that remains ongoing, etc., etc., etc. But then, to my astonishment, as my friend prepared to return to their table, our conversation ended with what I have since thought to be a remarkable statement on their part. This is from memory, not notes, but I’ll put it in quotes for easy reading: “But… I can tell you this. We both know that, if you or I had ever been caught doing even a fraction of what we all already know that she did in mishandling state secrets, you or I would most certainly be in federal custody by now.”

At the time I found this statement to be refreshing, in that, coming from a government official, it was disarmingly honest. Americans have become so conditioned to expect less from our government. We are amazed, even excited, by the rare occurrence when they do us the honor of rising above those expectations and actually give us the unvarnished truth. I left the event that last October night thinking: Is there any more I need to know?

But with the passage of time, my friend’s statement has become increasingly unsettling. Now, five months later, it has left me with more questions than answers.

Let’s put aside for the moment the question of why Hillary has yet to be indicted. Why, to date, hasn’t she even been officially interrogated by the F.B.I. about her emails? Thousands of emails on her unofficial and unsecured server have been found to contain classified material. Yet, they have not even approached her to discuss the matter. Why?

Is it because they know Hillary is a known congenital liar and that such an interrogation would virtually guarantee her exposure to charges for obstruction of justice, just like Martha Stewart, General Petraeus, Scooter Libby and others were, long before Hillary came along? As the latter all soon learned, it is a crime for a person suspected of violating federal law to lie or even give misleading information to a federal investigator. Yet, with the ball in their court, the F.B.I. has failed to take even this minimal action with respect to Hillary in what is now almost a year since the story broke. Why? Does it evidence a decision by someone in the Administration to isolate Hillary from any further prosecutorial exposure, while the Justice Department can focus upon finding a way to make her current exposure disappear in a politically acceptable manner?

Hillary herself recently declared with frightening confidence in the course of a nationally televised debate that she will never be indicted. The glaring  question that remains unasked of her, however, is: How does she know that? It certainly leaves one to wonder if a deal has already been cut with the present Administration for her to obtain some kind of a disguised equivalent of a pardon. Certainly using the cloak of secrecy that envelopes federal grand jury proceedings, the system could be manipulated by the Administration to allow them to present her exoneration to the public without any particular Administration official having to take the blame for the decision.

Even so, are we not still left with the over-arching questions that have remained unanswered since the email debacle began? Are we, or are we not, supposed to be a nation of laws, and not man — where all are to be considered as equals in the sight of the law? And if not, when did our country change? But, more importantly, why do so many not seem to care? Have we as a nation lost sight of the fact that a two-tiered system of justice is more indicative of a dictatorship than of a democracy?

A government of the people, by the people and for the people, cannot long survive as such where there is allowed to exist a separate tier of justice reserved only for an elite few wherein those elite are allowed to manipulate, if not torque the system at will to extend mercy, if not absolute immunity, to their fellow club members for their violations of laws that are otherwise enforced without mercy against the multitudes. Sadly, however, if my friend in the F.B.I. was correct, is this not exactly what appears to be playing out in the Administration’s handling of Hillary’s emails?

Of course, my hope is that it is not. But, if it is, at least those of us out here among the multitudes will now be able to better understand how two people in America can violate laws intended to protect our national security with opposite results. One — like Hillary — can remain free to run for President — while the other — like Snowden — must run for his life as long as he can remain free.

© 2016 Clifford C. Nichols. Cliff Nichols is an attorney licensed to practice law in both California and New Mexico. He may be contacted at

Image result for cliff nichols law

Reposted by  11/7/16

October 27, 2016

As usual, the Daily Sentinel told only part of the story. In today’s issue, Gary Harmon did a story on tensions and divisions in the Grand Junction area related to this year’s presidential election. The photo accompanying the story was of a slightly bent Hillary sign, with an intact Trump sign in the background. The front page photo misrepresents the truth about what is actually happening in Mesa County, and the thousands of dollars worth of damage done to large Trump signs which have been placed on private property.

The following photos were sent to the Sentinel, but the editors chose not to use them. Please share, and contact the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel editorial staff and ask them to publish the photos below.


This is the photo the editor chose to publish with Gary Harmon’s story.

THESE are the photos sent to the Daily Sentinel by the man who has repeatedly put up, taken down and replaced Trump signs across the Grand Valley during this year’s persistent cycle of vandalism.

trumpsign2 trumpsign3 trumpsign4

Sign @ 12th and Horizon cut from top to bottom

Sign @ 12th and Horizon cut from top to bottom

Harley Hill

Harley Hill

Posted by   10/27/16

October 26, 2016

Jankovsky guest opinion: Acha, Democrats smear county

The smear campaign, muckraking and dirty politics of Democratic candidate John Acha and the Garfield County Democratic Central Committee has directed accusations not only at John Martin but the entire Board of Commissioners, county government and county employees. Mr. Acha states rules are optional at Garfield County, that there is waste, fraud, abuse and corruption at the highest levels. His outrageous rhetoric is a direct attack on all of Garfield County and is directed at the very foundation of our county government.

Before I go any further, I need to defend our county government and its employees. The employees at Garfield County are hardworking, conscientious, professional, dedicated and well-educated. Garfield County and its employees provide a good service and a good product.

Tom Jankovsky

Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky

As commissioners, we are public servants who took an oath to serve the health, safety and welfare of the citizens. As commissioners, we are not saints, we are human, we make mistakes and we do our best to correct them. We are also not sinners, as the Democratic Central Committee portrays us. The central committee has had four lawyers and spent hundreds of volunteer hours going over thousands of pages of documents. The best they can find is an audit where Commissioner Martin did the right thing and paid back per diem funds in question to protect the county and his integrity.

Let’s get some facts on the table. The $1,800 in per diem Commissioner Martin received from Colorado Counties Inc. covered three years, nine different meetings and a minimum of 45 days of travel and meetings. The average per diem would be $40.

CCI does not require Commissioner Martin to provide receipts of expenditures, and no county policy was violated by accepting per diem advances or by not reporting it to the county. There is no evidence to support the accusation that the per diem expenses were also charged on a county credit card. Any reasonable person would understand that $40 per day does not cover meals and travel expenses in Washington, D.C., or any other major metropolitan area.

Image result for john martin garco

Garfield County Commissioner John Martin

By reimbursing the county, Commissioner Martin more than accounted for any errors in record keeping. In fact, Commissioner Martin most certainly overcorrected any spending discrepancies.

As an example, I have traveled with Commissioner Martin to the National Counties Association meeting in Washington, D.C. Commissioner Martin, instead of taking the cab from the airport to his hotel, paid cash and took the subway.

Because the commissioner overcorrected in paying back the county, Commissioner Samson and I paid back a portion of those funds. We did not think it was right for Commissioner Martin to have to pay back the entire amount himself. Then through the Democratic Central Committee’s open records request, they somehow got ahold of our reimbursement checks. Candidate Acha then posted those checks on his website, with our routing numbers, account numbers, addresses and signatures. This action victimized not only us but our families. You can take this as disrespect, poor judgment or breaking the law.

This is probably a combination of all the above and gives a little insight into the character of John Acha. When the Glenwood Springs Post Independent characterizes John Acha as “Unready John,” that is probably an understatement. His actions and his words are an insult to the reputation of Garfield County, the reputation of the county management and its employees.

As county commissioners, we do our best to represent the county with integrity and strive to be good public servants. In addition, we understand that politics —even local politics — can get ugly. It goes with the territory. However, this scorched-earth campaign is over the top and does not represent the good people and character of Garfield County.

Finally, take a good look at Mr. Acha’s platform. Other than negative criticism and portraying himself as a government official you will find there is not much there.

Tom Jankovsky is a Republican Garfield County commissioner.

Reposted by  10/26/16

October 7, 2016


Colorado Amendment 71 tries to cut down on constitutional red tape

County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, pictured here in front of the County Courthouse in Breckenridge, is helping lead efforts on the "Raise the Bar" campaign. Should Amendment 71 pass in the face of some opposition, it would require that citizen initiatives to amend the constitution include signatures from throughout Colorado to reach the state ballot.

County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, pictured here in front of the County Courthouse in Breckenridge, is helping lead efforts on the “Raise the Bar” campaign. Should Amendment 71 pass in the face of some opposition, it would require that citizen initiatives to amend the constitution include signatures from throughout Colorado to reach the state ballot.

In a battle that’s being billed as rural versus metro areas, Colorado voters are being asked this election season whether it’s too easy to rewrite the state constitution.

If approved this November, Amendment 71, dubbed “Raise the Bar” by its bipartisan backers, would change the process for signature collection in attempts to amend the state’s founding document. Proponents note the immense number of times the constitution has been revised since the initiative process began more than a century ago, while objectors argue that landing a measure on the ballot is already difficult enough and, as is, allows voters to more directly impact the state’s laws.

One of the issues that supporters point to, however, is that the current system requires only a set number of signatures — 5 percent of the total cast for secretary of state in the prior election, or upwards of 100,000 — and nothing that necessitates they originate from different parts of Colorado. The new law would demand that signatures be amassed at a rate of 2 percent from each of the state’s 35 Senate districts.

“What we’ve seen in the past are people hanging out at the 16th Street Mall (in Denver) for signature gathering, we see people in the Pearl Street area (in Boulder),” said Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, a co-chair for Amendment 71. “We never see people up in Summit County, we never see people in Sterling, in Durango. Having constitutional policies be dictated by people in Denver, in my opinion, is not right. It requires a statewide discussion.”

So rather than just accumulating signatures in Denver, Boulder or other large population zones, Summit County, part of Senate District 8, could expect its 19,000 or so active voters to be more frequently polled for ballot permissions. The law would also entail getting about 1,600 of Mesa County’s approximately 80,000 voters in Senate District 7 during the 2014 election to meet the new standard.

In addition, Amendment 71 would call for a 55-percent threshold for passing a constitutional ballot measure rather than the simple majority currently required. The minimums for statute revisions would remain unchanged.

Many opponents — several environmental groups, Libertarian organizations and government watchdogs — say the problem is that the petition process is hard enough, let alone then also putting it to voters often just to see it fail.

“It is difficult to go out and gather signatures,” Elena Nunez, executive director of Colorado Common Cause, explained during a recent forum. “What this is about is making it so expensive and so onerous that voters don’t even get the opportunity to decide. To set standards that may not be possible to meet, I think that deserves a closer look.”

Some estimates assert that current signature gathering campaigns can top $1 million, let alone if one is taken to court over contested signatures. Insisting on signatures from a larger geographic region would involve training more volunteers or hiring additional professional signature collectors to cover more ground, they say, and result in further inflated — and possibly prohibitive — costs.

For Gibbs, a veteran of a number of political campaigns, it’s a small price to pay to prevent unwieldy and ultimately burdensome laws from hitting the state books. That the Colorado Constitution has been changed 150 times compared to just 27 for the U.S. version, he said, is unacceptable.

“We don’t want to limit an opportunity if there’s need to amend the constitution,” said Gibbs, “but we’ve clearly seen this phenomenon in Colorado where it’s turned into this legislative mechanism for people to put things in our constitution that is very problematic for our state. If you have something that’s that important, grassroots can gather 2 percent of the registered voters in each of the 35 state Senate districts.”

Challengers contend that voters throughout the state already get a chance to have their say — by reviewing information in the proposal and voting in November. And they’ve by no means wholeheartedly sanctioned whatever appears on the ballot.

According to the Colorado Independent, fewer than a third of those amendments proposed on Colorado’s ballot in the last 30 years have gone on to be passed by voters. And the constitution has been amended by citizen-initiated ballot measures 48 times since the initiative process was approved in 1910.

What Amendment 71 might also grant, foes protest, is a single Senate district having the ability to block a desired measure entirely. Without added safeguards in the proposal for the statutory process — one in which the state’s General Assembly can modify laws that are passed by voters, a reason why many people instead choose the constitutional option — changing the law is unwarranted.

“If the voters decide to go the statutory route,” said Nunez, “the Legislature could turn around and change it the next day because there’s no protection, and that’s the reason we see a lot of initiatives go the constitutional route. That’s not addressed by Amendment 71.”

Raise the Bar’s list of supporters reads like a Who’s Who of Colorado politics. Every living governor from both sides of the aisle, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Bill Ritter, Bill Owens, Roy Romer and Dick Lamm are counted among them, as is current Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and a few of his predecessors, Wellington Webb and Federico Peña (Hickenlooper also served in the position from 2003-11). Their primary bone of contention remains that since just 1990, citizens have attempted to amend the state constitution 68 times. Per the movement’s data, just two other states across the nation, California and Oregon, have tried to do it more.

“Being a former legislator,” said Gibbs, “I’ve seen firsthand some of the conflicting provisions in our constitution that I think create a juggernaut, if you will, of challenges for Colorado. Things with real fiscal components, in my opinion, don’t belong in a foundational document. Fundamentally, I think that if we’re having a discussion on amending our state constitution, that Summit County voters need to have a say. And right now I feel like they don’t.”

Reposted by  10/7/16

October 6, 2016

The Caucus system for determining local, state and national primary races was established first in 1910, then repealed by an act of the State Legislature in 1992. But after 10 years of a primary system, Colorado voters, by defeating Amendment 29, restored the Caucus system in 2002.

Proposition 107, introduced this year by a coalition of progressive interests, would establish a presidential primary in Colorado beginning with the presidential election year 2020.  It is a statutory amendment to state law, and thus would be subject to amendment by the general assembly.

Why do folks want to hold a Presidential Primary in Colorado?

  • Colorado’s current caucus system is open only to members of each political party. Unaffiliated voters feel this is discriminatory, giving them no say in the selection of presidential candidates.
  • Citizen participation in party caucuses is very low because of the non-participation of the large unaffiliated voting bloc, and does not represent a good cross section of Colorado voters. A presidential primary would allow all Colorado voters to participate in selecting presidential candidates.
  • In both the 2015 and 2016 sessions of the state legislature, party insiders killed proposed legislation to reestablish Colorado’s presidential primary. Proponents feel Proposition 107 is the only way to overcome the establishment’s opposition to giving ordinary citizens a voice in the process of selecting presidential candidates.

 Why folks don’t like Proposition 107

  • Proposition 107 is too broad and has many features not essential to establishing a presidential primary. The legislature has plenty of time to write and pass a good bill before 2020 once we reach a consensus on the best way to do it.  There currently exists no consensus supporting a presidential primary.
  • The additional, holding a separate March presidential primary will cost Colorado taxpayers over $5 million and there will be substantial costs to local taxpayers. This could strain already cash-strapped local governments.
  • Unaffiliated voters already have the opportunity to participate in any party caucus simply by changing their voter affiliation 60 days in advance of the caucus meeting. Every unaffiliated voter receives a notice informing him or her of that option.
  • Both the Republican Party and Democrat Party have the option to establish a binding “straw poll” for the 2020 presidential election. Each party should decide that for itself, and the need for a binding poll may change from one presidential election cycle to the next.
  • Proposition 107 allows the Governor to set the date for the presidential primary without any consultation with either the Secretary of State or state party officials. That is a bad idea because such unilateral authority is subject to partisan abuse.
  • Another bad feature of Proposition 107 is mandating a “winner-take-all” formula for awarding delegates to the national convention instead of a proportional allocation. A candidate who gets 45% of the primary vote should get 45% of the delegates, not zero. Adopting a winner-take-all allocation by statute is inherently unfair and undemocratic.
  • The poorly drawn language on “binding” of convention delegates will bind Colorado’s delegates not only for the first ballot but for all subsequent ballots as well. That is a really dumb idea because it could disenfranchise the entire Colorado delegation if the candidate who won Colorado’s primary in March is no longer a viable candidate in July or August.
  • The mandated “combined ballot” for unaffiliated voters likely will result in widespread confusion, voter fraud, and possibly tens of thousands of spoiled ballots, which could go uncounted.
  • The state’s previous presidential primary system was abandoned in 2003 because of the taxpayer cost after participation in the 2000 primary declined to only 17% of eligible voters, and the 1996 turnout was only 22%. Let’s learn from history and get it right.

Proposition 107 has the right intention, to get more Colorado voters involved in the electoral process. But this ballot proposition was hastily crafted without sufficient thought given to voting patterns, and elections costs in Colorado. Vote NO on Proposition 107. It’s an unnecessary measure that will further muddy Colorado statues. Answers to the problems Proposition 107 purports to fix are already found in Colorado’s elections rules and processes.  10/6/16

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