You Did This

It has been a while since I last wrote, but I’ve been thinking about this post for quite a while.  After the presidential primaries, I kept asking myself how we came to be in a situation where Hillary and Trump were our major party candidates.  Ever since Trump was elected, I’ve tried to understand how he won.  I honestly did not expect him to win. With the media squarely on her side and not even bothering to pretend otherwise, I thought it was a forgone conclusion. I personally felt like he was the “least terrible” of the choices, but that’s about it.  Now that he has taken office, I’ve seen several conversations discussing why he won.  It’s usually chalked up to Hillary being female, the FBI, Russians, aliens, or any number of other ridiculous excuses.

So what led us to a point where Trump seemed like the better choice?  How could he win a free election when very few people honestly liked him?  Sadly, it comes down to anger; an anger that has been simmering and building over the last 8 years as the social fabric of this country has been torn apart.  What does that mean?  It means that the Obama administration and all of the people that supported him are directly responsible for the election of Donald J. Trump to the office of President.

The so-called Affordable Care Act is a case in point.  There was a completely unnecessary rush to pass that bill that completely ignored alternative ideas that were put forward.  We end up with a giant bill that not one person read prior to having to vote on it.  It got crammed down our throats and now thousands of people that were paying for their own health insurance either can’t afford it or are getting half the benefits for twice the cost.  If you supported that, you did this.

The left lost its collective mind when the president of Chick Fil A stated that he supported traditional marriage. He didn’t say that he hated gay people.  There was no indication at all of any sort of discrimination toward the company’s employees or customers.  But that didn’t matter.  Those that do the most yelling about tolerance once again showed that their rhetoric doesn’t apply to themselves.  Boycotts and demonstrations were held in an effort to damage his company, never mind that the damage would be felt only by his employees.  And don’t forget that many of those employees were getting help paying for college by this hateful company.  But that didn’t matter.  If you were one of those boycotting Chick Fil A, you did this.

In 2014, 18 year old Michael Brown assaulted a convenience store clerk in Ferguson, Missouri, and stole a handful of cigarillos.  As he strolled down the middle of a public road, he was stopped by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.  Brown chose to ignore the officer’s instructions, then decided to fight him.  The result was that Officer Wilson had to shoot Brown, who was killed.  As it happens, Brown was black and Wilson was white.  Instead of waiting to find out what actually happened, the media immediately assumed that shooting was racially motivated.  There was no evidence of that being the case, but it made a good story and they went with it.  Their attacks on Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department helped fuel riots that destroyed numerous businesses and led to several nights of violence.  Obama called for the nation “to remember this young man through reflection and understanding” and offered sympathy to his family.  No such sympathy was offered to Officer Wilson, whose life was destroyed because he did his job.  The entire incident was investigated, as it should be, and Wilson was found to have not been at fault.  All of this was just a waste.

Sadly, this scenario would become all too familiar in the months to come.  Every time an officer, who happened to be white, had a violent confrontation with a criminal, who happened to be not white, it was assumed that the officer was a racist pig and vilified immediately.  The media went out of its way to show video out of context to convict the officer in the court of public opinion and this was continuously supported by Obama.  This shameful situation has led directly to the deaths of police officers across the country as militant thugs feel justified in attacking those whose job is to protect them.  Those of you that supported the unrest in Ferguson and Obama’s handling of that mess, you did this.

Gun owners constitute a major block of voters, and tend to actually do just that.  They also tend to be responsible, law-abiding citizens.  But if you actually believe anything that was said about gun owners by the Obama administration and his pets in the media, you’d never know that.  During his administration, he lost no chance to place the blame for any crime committed with a gun squarely on the estimated 44% of Americans that legally own a firearm and never commit a crime with it.  It wasn’t the criminal, terrorist, or maniac.  It wasn’t the deplorable state of mental health care.  It wasn’t activist judges releasing criminals from jail.  No, it was you, the legal gun owner.  The only solution ever discussed by his administration was expanded restrictions on ownership.  And since very few people actually supported those ideas, he tried backdoor attacks in the form of pressuring banks to illegally deny loans to businesses in the gun industry.  His justice department thought it was fine to send guns to Mexican drug lords in some crusade to prove that American gun shops were supplying the guns, which proved to be false and directly resulted in the death of at least one American Border Patrol agent.  If you supported any of this madness, you did this.

In 2009, a US Army officer murdered 14 of his fellow soldiers in cold blood at Fort Hood, Texas.  As he started shooting, he yelled “allahu akbar”, the favorite battle cry of Islamic terrorists everywhere.  It was proven that he had been in contact with Al Queda operatives just prior to his attack.  But Obama declared it to be a case of “work place violence”.  It was only years later that he finally admitted that it was terrorism.  In July 2015, four Marines and one Sailor were murdered in Chattanooga, Tennessee by a young, Islamic devotee of Anwar Awlaki. His attack was obviously carefully planned.  It would be months before the administration would finally admit that, yet again, US citizens had died at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists on US soil.  Now, it is an absolute fact that the vast majority of American Muslims are peaceful citizens.  We all know that.  But there are cases where the worst of their faith have influenced others, convincing them that they are somehow doing something righteous by committing murder.  But the Obama administration was too busy trying to convince us all that terrorism wasn’t happening here, and if there was, it was somehow our fault.  If you think that calling a radical Islamic terrorist a radical Islamic terrorist is somehow intolerant or somehow anyone’s fault but his own, then you did this.

After 8 years of Obama and his cronies, there were a whole lot of us that were tired of it.  We were tired of being made the scapegoat for every bad thing that happened while no attention was paid to those that actually caused the problem.  It was obvious that Clinton promised only 4 more years of the same.  For me personally, I voted for Trump only because I did not think that the best thing for this country was four more years of wedges being driven between us based on race, religion, or economic status.  For some, Trump’s angry rhetoric mirrored their own anger at the situation that we find ourselves in, and I understand that, too.  So how did Trump get elected? If you supported Obama and his administration and their divisive policies, you did it.

A friend’s rant

A friend of mine from college posted what follows recently. It captured the attention of the Executive Staff here at The Frustrated Americans, and after an emergency board meeting, publishing rights were soon procured. Now, my friends, please read Robert Kirby’s words – I think you may enjoy them.

I probably shouldn’t even be saying this, and I’ll probably regret this later, but some things are bothering me. I’ve been seeing posts all over Facebook by many of my friends concerning Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration and presidency. Several of my liberal friends were obviously anti-Trump throughout the election, and my conservative friends were predictably very anti-Hillary. Hillary seemed to be leading the pack, so to speak, so on November 8th, I believe folks from both camps were surprised when Trump won more than the required number of electoral votes to win the presidency. In my opinion, this is when the wheels fell off.

The Electoral College process is actually written into our constitution. One of its purposes was to base the election on the will of the states rather than on the popular vote. I’ve heard it said that if not for the Electoral College, a few large cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, would essentially decide our next president every four years. I don’t know if that’s true or false, and I’ve had doubts about the process of using the Electoral College for years. Nevertheless, it is our current process. Trump was elected LEGALLY by our current system. I realize Hillary won the popular vote by a long shot, but under our current system, the popular vote is irrelevant.

Now I have a few confessions to make. I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I tend to have conservative leanings, but to most of my conservative friends, I would be considered a liberal. In the past few years, I’ve voted across party lines. To me, the party itself doesn’t matter. However, I’ll admit that I was never a fan of Obama. (I am not a fan of Hillary or Donald either for that matter – I believe they are BOTH corrupt in their own ways.). Now when Obama was first elected in 2008, many of my conservative friends threw a Facebook tantrum, saying they would never accept him as their president. Some of you may remember that there was even talk around the nation about states seceding from the union again. ABSOLUTE SILLINESS!!! I decided then that, while I didn’t agree with much of Obama’s agenda, I would pray that he would be the best president this country has ever seen. I decided to put politics behind me and pray for our new president – not for Obama’s sake, but for the sake of our nation, because at the time, we needed the best president ever.

Looking back on his presidency, I don’t believe he has been the president we needed. That’s just my opinion, and only history will tell, but I don’t believe I’ll “miss this guy”, as I’ve seen others posting on Facebook. If you loved him as a president and think he did a great job, and if you will miss him when he’s gone, I TOTALLY respect your opinion. I just disagree with you – that’s all. I believe we can still be friends and not agree on everything.

Now for another confession… I am a selfish voter. I vote based on which candidate I believe will benefit ME and MY FAMILY the most. I know… very self-serving and self-centered, but I guess that’s how I roll. So for me, Obama wasn’t a good president. His policies tended to help other folks at a cost to me. Health care for those with steady jobs became more expensive and lower in availability and quality. Race relations have declined, and police officers have been demonized. Police shootings have resulted in all-out riots. Lots of folks blame these things directly on Obama. I don’t believe he’s directly to blame… cell phone cameras, social media, the news media, a few bad cops, and individuals and their are to blame. But I don’t believe Obama has done anything to help the problem, and has, in fact, only added to the divide with some of his own statements, actions, and inactions.

I have no doubt that many folks have benefitted from “Obamacare” and other initiatives started by Obama. But the fact is that most of his programs end up punishing those of us who work hard to earn a living. It’s that whole Robin Hood storyline. Take from the rich and give to the poor – only the working class are not rich – most of us are just squeaking by. And while I have no problem with the government helping those who are UNABLE to work, I have a HUGE problem with the government helping those who WON’T work! I have a problem with the government helping people who have as many babies as they can and then get a government check, but won’t raise their own kids, or send them to school, or teach them how to be decent human beings, or be otherwise involved in their life. There are men out there who impregnate as many women as they can, moving on to the next woman each time rather than sticking around and being a father to their kids when they are born. Our country doesn’t need sperm donors – it needs fathers! And there are just as many women who welcome this type of behavior and then don’t teach their kids right from wrong. I have a problem with the government supporting people who can’t buy food without food stamps, yet they can rent a flat screen TV that is bigger than they are. I have a problem with rewarding a few people who are too lazy to get a legitimate job to bring in a steady income, yet they have the energy to prostitute, or sell drugs, or gamble all day at those machines in the convenience store, or buy lottery tickets with their welfare money, or steal what others have worked to acquire, or join gangs, or rob and shoot one another, or lie to the police, or run from the police, or fight with the police, or shoot the police, etc. There’s the argument that many folks are set up for failure from the start by poverty, and maybe that’s partially true. And yet, I know many folks raised in poverty who rose out of it by choice and by determination. They took their FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION seriously rather than squandering it, and then found a way to move on to bigger and better things. Through choice and determination, we can make lemonade out of lemons! But I digress.

To me, Obama was unsuccessful because he refused to budge and meet others halfway. You might say, “Good! He stuck to his beliefs and refused to lower his personal standards!” But that is the problem. Personal beliefs and standards don’t really work in government – you have to be willing to listen to others and play nice in the sandbox if you want anything to last. Worse, when Obama couldn’t get Congress on board, he just signed things into law by executive order. Nice and easy – except that when somebody else becomes the president, they can rescind the executive order with another executive order. If you can’t get others to believe in your cause and you make it happen anyway with just the stroke of a pen, it only takes the stroke of a pen to do away with it when you aren’t around anymore. How temporary!

Folks say how awful Bill Clinton was, and he certainly had some scandals when he was in the White House. But the man was a genius at getting support from others. He was a great negotiator and would meet people in the middle of the road. Overall, I think history will judge Bill Clinton as successful. Obama should have taken notes. Will Trump be any better? I’m very doubtful. Maybe if he would shut his mouth so that everything coming out doesn’t sound like a belligerent middle schooler, his chances would improve. I realize he’s a businessman who has worked with thousands of other businessmen, but if he doesn’t tone it down, my fear is that he will have no more cooperation than Obama – only Trump will be much louder, boisterous, and embarrassing about it. After all, he won’t be dealing with businessmen. He will be dealing with politicians and their agendas. So I’m doubtful, yet hopeful.

The bottom line here is that the folks who were happy about Obama being elected were astounded that conservatives didn’t want to accept him as their president. Fast forward to today. Now conservatives are astounded that liberals refuse to accept Trump as their president. Liberals tried to derail Trump’s election by starting a movement to push the Electoral College to vote against Trump. Now they are boycotting the inauguration and refusing to recognize him as president (John Lewis, for example), which is a rebellious symbolic gesture, I guess, but still totally irrelevant. Heck, I’ve already seen Facebook posts from some of my friends that talk about impeaching Trump his first 100 days in office. REALLY? That’d be like sending someone to prison because you BELIEVE they might commit a crime. Hell, let’s just throw out the whole constitution and start all over because somebody didn’t get their way. And while we are at it, if your team loses the Super Bowl, just call “DO OVER”!!! Example: I don’t like the results of this election. DO OVER!!! And then the entire country would have to vote over and over until you get the result you wanted.

That’s not how this works, folks. And before conservatives point fingers, they should remember that they acted similarly when Obama was LEGALLY elected by the same system as Trump. And let’s not forget that both sides acted this way all through the election. I guess BUTT HURT can make anybody act like an ass. Trump couldn’t guarantee that he would accept the election results – until he won. And Hillary’s side criticized him for this – until she lost. Now HER side won’t accept the results. Everyone is pointing fingers at their fellow Americans, saying how horrible anyone must be to vote different from them. My God, I’ve never seen hypocrisy on so grand a scale. I tell you, it makes me sick to my stomach! Debate is a healthy thing. Tantrums and finger pointing and hatred towards your fellow man are not.

Look, it’s a free country. If you didn’t accept Obama, that was your prerogative, and if you don’t want to accept Trump, that’s also your prerogative. But this isn’t a productive approach – it does NOBODY any good. Accept him or not, like it or not, next Friday Trump will be THE PRESIDENT – yours and mine. Not happy? I’m not thrilled about it either, but that is the situation we are currently in. Rather than bitching and griping, or crying and wailing, or cowering in fear in your safe place, or planning to violate the principals of the Constitution of the United States of America, or even rather than triumphantly beating your chest in triumph over your liberal neighbors, why don’t you constructively join me in praying that Donald Trump will be the best president we’ve ever seen – just like I did when Obama was elected. Not for the sake of Donald Trump, but for the sake of our country. Because just like last time, that’s what we need our new president to be.

Now if you want to unfriend me for my comments, please feel free to hit the button. I will remind you though, that if you are reading this, I never unfriended you – even if I strongly disagreed with what you were saying. If you’d like to engage me in debate, please feel free. That is the TRUE American way – although I will warn you that it is unlikely you will change my opinion. My empty wallet can speak louder than your mouth can!

There. Rant over.

Context Matters

In my opinion, few if any aspects of human behavior are more weaponized by media than the first impression. An example could be made from the title of our blog, The Frustrated Americans. If all one did was read the title, a derogatory response could be formed by simply dismissing us as just some angry old guys yelling “…get off my lawn!”. There would likely be no lack of those eager to jump on that bandwagon with much more vituperative criticisms. The issue, you see, is the next sentence: “Voices of reason and logic in a world often lacking reason and logic.” Read a little more, look for the author’s intent just a bit, and context is established. We’re not angry – we’re frustrated by the frightfully small amount of reason and logic in our national discussions. One more sentence, and one could avoid an incorrect assumption. If you haven’t heard the old saying about what happens when you assume, it is easily found and very appropriate here. That tendency, exacerbated by our excuse for an education system, is very much weaponized by modern propaganda to craft desired responses rather than report truth.

Derogatory information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

One need not be a Mensa member to see this has been the primary focus of American media for many years now. Quoting out of context is but one of many techniques which are used. My aim with this post is to illustrate how one might learn to recognize it and be less subject to being mislead.

EXAMPLE ONE: Ben Jacobs is a reporter for The Guardian, which is a British newspaper. “Latest US news, world news, sports, business, opinion, analysis and reviews from the Guardian, the world’s leading liberal voice” is how they describe themselves. On 6 NOV 16, he tweeted the following:

       “We are going to deliver justice the way it used to be in this country”

Those who didn’t bother to check the source of the quote responded in a predictable fashion, with dire predictions of violence, dictatorial behavior (behaviour?), and accusations of various ‘-isms’. Here are his words in context:

       “We are going to deliver justice the way justice used to be in this country,

at the ballot box on November Eighth.”

In my opinion, Ben Jacobs intended to mislead readers and malign Donald Trump. Take note of the day he sent this tweet. Mere days before the election, he is irresponsibly and purposefully spreading misinformation. It is remarkably clear what was actually meant by the comment when taken in context. It is also remarkably clear words were taken out of context in order to forward an agenda.

EXAMPLE TWO: Lest one think me a fanboy of The Donald, he has been accused of doing the same. The Hill accused him of quoting Michelle Obama out of context when on the campaign trail he said this:

       “I see how much his wife likes Hillary, but wasn’t

       she the one that  started the statement: ‘If you

       can’t take care of your home, you can’t take care

       of the White House or the country’?”

Trump was accused of implying Michelle Obama was saying Hillary is incapable of running the White House due to the well-known domestic issues between her and Bill. Here is her full quote:

     “Our view was that, if you can’t run your own

       house, you certainly can’t run the White House.

       So, so we’ve adjusted our schedules to make

       sure that our girls are first, so while he’s

       traveling around, I do day trips.”

The Hill is alleging it was deceptive on Trump’s part to use those words in that fashion because Mrs. Obama wasn’t talking about Hillary, she was talking about her own family. Yes, she was — about how her family is run better than Hillary’s, don’t you think? Isn’t Trump’s implication the same as Michelle Obama’s in the big picture? This was more about The Hill stretching to make an accusation than anything else, if you ask me.

It would not be hard at all to cite dozens, if not hundreds of additional recent occurrences of this practice. My aim with this post was not to exhaustively document examples, but to hopefully open a few eyes and spur some thought. This American is frustrated because this phenomenon should be the exception, but it seems more and more to be the rule.

Question what you read. Anytime you are being presented the words of an individual from any source other than that same individual, I advise a little research before forming an opinion. Don’t be fooled by today’s ever more present propaganda.

Yes, Lydia, there is a Santa Claus

I knew that last year would be our last year for a visit from Santa.  My daughter was 12, and I suspected that she had things figured out.  She had the good sense to keep it to herself, but she knew.  This year, she has made no bones about it, she no longer believes in Santa.  I knew it was coming, but it still makes me a little sad.  Sure, it’s just part of growing up and I’m glad that she is maturing and starting to behave more like an adult.  But they get to believe in the magic of Santa for such a short period of time!  They’ve got their whole lives to be realistic, cynical adults, but only a few years to enjoy the wonder of Santa.

But, I do believe in Santa.  She and I talked about it a little yesterday and I told her that I still believed.  She gave me that sideways look that those of us with young teens know well, so I explained myself.  Sure, there is no fat guy in a red suit flying around in a sleigh and sliding down chimneys.  And yet, Santa is very real.  Santa is the embodiment of the spirit of giving that is such an important part of Christmas.  Santa is the fun of watching the eyes of younger kids sparkle when they talk about him or see him.  He’s the joy of giving gifts which is even greater than receiving them, and helping those who need it.

I love this time of year.  Yeah, it’s hectic and stressful and expensive, but it’s fun and fulfilling, too.  That’s what we try to focus on.  So, yes, I believe in Santa Claus.  I hope she always does, too.

Merry Christmas, friends!

Aunt Lou’s House

I’m fortunate that my job sometimes involves wandering around and exploring places where most people don’t, or won’t, go.  Sometimes that means woods, swamps, or forgotten corners of old farmer’s fields.  But sometimes it means places right out in the open where people have just stopped looking.  Every now and then, these explorations result in finding something interesting; maybe not significant in terms of the legal definition of that term, but important just the same.

Last week, we were heading to an area to survey by crossing over a large clearing where a housing development is being constructed.  In the middle of an area that has been cleared down to the bedrock in places, stood a small farmstead.  The house was very small, just three rooms.  Two of the rooms were part of a frame house that looked to have been built sometime in the early to mid-20th century.  The third room was a hand-hewn log pen that formed the rear of the house.  It was still standing, but in poor condition.  The windows were mostly gone so the elements have begun to take their toll.  There was no sign of indoor plumbing and no fireplace.  A flue marked the location of a wood stove in the corner of one room.  The only thing that we would consider a necessity that we could see was electricity.  The farm buildings around the house were constructed of small logs left in the round and rough-sawn lumber.  All were obviously built by the farmer and showed that ingenuity and adaptability that most farmers seem to possess.  I could tell that they made do with what they had.




Looking around the interior of the house was a little disturbing at first, as the entire floor in all three rooms was covered by what appeared to be trash.  There were some pieces of busted furniture, cans, and jars, but most of it appeared to be paper.  We could see newspapers, magazines, and lots of unidentifiable stuff.  But we could also see envelopes that held letters and cards, coloring book pages, and school work.  Two small school portraits were found on the stove just inside the log pen, one of which was inscribed to “Aunt Lou”.  This house wasn’t just full of trash; it was full of somebody’s memories, full of their history.


I’ve seen this kind of thing before, and I always wonder about the people who lived there and what happened for all of this stuff to get left behind.  Did “Aunt Lou” have to leave her little farmstead to live with relatives or in a facility in her later years?  Did her family move away before she passed?  Did they not have the means to go through it all?  Did they just not care?

I don’t know how this place came to be the way it is and I don’t know what happened to “Aunt Lou” and her family.  I’ll probably never know.  But part of my job is to record this exact kind of place, and it’s a part that I take very seriously.  It’s very easy to say, “eh, it’s just another little farmstead”, write my report, and go on to the next project.  Honestly, that’s just the reality of this business.  But I know that I may be the only person who cares about this place at all.  I may be the last person who looks at it as anything but an obstacle.  This house isn’t a mansion or a plantation house, and as far as I know, no one who you’ve ever heard of lived there.  But it’s a place where someone’s Aunt Lou lived.  It’s a place where tough people worked hard in rough conditions to make a living.  It’s a place where kids were raised and came to visit.  It’s a place like thousands of others in the rural South, but like no other to the people who lived and visited there.  Yeah, it’s important.

By this time next year, there will be beautiful new homes, with manicured lawns and HOA fees where Aunt Lou’s house used to be. I suppose that’s progress.  But somebody out there remembers Aunt Lou’s house, and I’ll make sure that it’s remembered in the historical record, too.


One of my friends (an actual friend, not just a Facebook friend) told me this week that I have nothing to worry about from a Trump president, seeing as how I’m a straight, white male and all.  Basically, I was told that my white privilege would save me.  In a week where I’ve been called many names based on my vote, this is the only one that really made me mad.  One of the concepts so widely pushed by the left that makes me the maddest is that of some sort of privilege based on skin color, gender, or whatever.  I hate it.  It makes me crazy!

But I’ve been thinking about it, and honestly, I am privileged in a lot of ways, but not the way that my friend meant.  Here’s what I mean.

I am privileged to have been raised by two loving parents that worked their butts off to provide us with everything we needed and a lot of stuff we just wanted.

I am privileged to have had great educators that were willing to share their knowledge about their subject and life in general.

I am privileged to have had the opportunity to work my butt off to educate myself and pursue a career that I love.

I am privileged to be married to an amazing lady that has supported me always, no matter how stupid the decision!

I am privileged to be the father of a great daughter and have the challenge of raising her to be a decent person.

I am privileged to get to work my butt off in a career that challenges me every day.  I am privileged to have the scars, callouses, bad knees, sore shoulders, and gray hair that go with it.

I have the privilege of having a mortgage, a car payment, and a kid that is going to need braces and will be going to college before I know it.

I am privileged to live in a country where I have the opportunity to do these things.  I am privileged that so many have been willing to sacrifice to protect that opportunity.

None of these things is the result of my skin color or gender.  I had the privilege of putting in the work to capitalize on that opportunity.  Don’t come at me with any ‘white male privilege’ crap.  Because here’s the truth of the matter.  We ALL have that privilege, if you’ll get past the excuses and just take it.

We all lose

I voted this week.  I didn’t want to.  I don’t feel good about it and I’m not proud of it.  I’m one of those 8 out of 10 voters that say they are repulsed by this campaign.  Repulsed by both major party candidates.  I don’t think that either one is qualified to run this country or is deserving of the honor that the office once held.

When you boil it down, I felt trapped.  There is no way that I will ever vote for Hillary Clinton.  I don’t care who she is running against.  I don’t care for what she is running.  I will never, under any circumstance, voluntarily help elect her to any office.  With that said, the alternative this election was nearly as objectionable.  I think, at best, Trump is an actor.  But, when it came time to flip the metaphorical lever, I had to make a choice.  I had to ignore that both individuals are terrible human beings and cast a vote.  I really had no choice other than to vote for Trump.  I’m not happy.  I’m not proud.  I just didn’t feel like I had a better option.

This election has been like no other that I’ve experienced.  I’ve never seen one that was more contentious or made more personal by people on both sides.  So many times, I’ve seen people say something like, “If you vote for Trump/Clinton, then you’re a (insert insult here)”.  I’ve seen this from people that have friends and family that did just that.  I think people need to think about things before they make that kind of a statement.  They need to remember that a vote for a candidate does not necessarily equal support for that candidate.  I have never actually voted for a presidential candidate; always against their opponent.

In spite of my vote for Trump, I am none of the following:

  1. Racist
  2. Sexist
  3. Misogynistic
  4. Xenophobic
  5. Ignorant
  6. Islamophobic
  7. Hateful

If you think that I am any of these things, then we probably aren’t actually friends.  I don’t care who you sleep with, where or if you go to church, what color your skin happens to be, where you’re from, or what your political leanings might be.  If you’re a decent person, we’ll probably get along.  Treat me with respect, and I will reciprocate.   I think most people are that way.  The idea that who you vote for immediately classifies you as some sort of “deplorable” is nonsense.  Friends, we are all smarter than that.  I hope that your love for your family and friends runs deeper than any political allegiance.

I don’t know who will win next week.  I do know that regardless of the outcome, if we let it come between friends and family, we all lose.

What I Carry

When I first started to consider actually carrying a handgun, I began looking at the various models that fit that role.  I knew that I wanted a semi-automatic pistol rather than a revolver.  I love revolvers, but the cylinder creates a lot of bulk for the ammo capacity that it gives you.  I wanted the caliber to be .40 Smith and Wesson (.40 S&W), as 9mm ammunition at the time wasn’t great and I didn’t want the bulk of a .45.  At 6′ 1″ tall and 175 pounds, I’m not a huge guy, so that pretty well meant that full size pistols were not going to work.  Not long before that, Smith and Wesson had released Compact versions of its Military and Police (M&P) series pistols.  They came in the major defensive calibers, including .40 S&W.  The M&P 40c came with a 3.5″ barrel and a 10 round magazine.  Two magazines were included, one with a flat floor plate and one with an extension so your pinky finger had a place to go.  I decided that I liked it and was able to buy one.  It was a great little gun!  It was relatively accurate, easy to shoot, and easy to conceal.  It shot well enough that I actually used it when I started shooting competitively!  I don’t recommend that you do that, but that’s what I had at the time.

In the meantime, Ruger released its LCP, a tiny little .380 pocket pistol that started the current craze for little bitty guns.  I thought that it made a lot of sense, especially since I had discovered that concealed carry was more work than I thought it would be.  It seemed like a great idea to have a smaller pistol that I could just stick in my pocket if I didn’t want to deal with the bigger gun.  And it filled that role nicely.  But with its size came issues.  It was very hard to shoot and impossible to shoot well due to its short barrel, light weight, and incredibly long trigger pull.  I get it, you don’t want a sensitive trigger on a pocket gun, but this was ridiculous.  The .380 ACP round is pretty marginal as a defensive round, but it produces recoil all out of proportion to its size.  That, combined with the pistol, meant that I hated shooting the thing and didn’t practice with it.  I ended up selling it.

So, fast forward to last year.  The Action Pistol group at my club does a big match every year as a benefit for Toys for Tots.  Part of your entry fee is a toy that goes to this very worthwhile program.  Its a lot of fun and we always have a great turn out.  The prize table is also pretty impressive.  I wasn’t too concerned with the prize table last year as I had a terrible match.  I had some ammo issues on one stage and messed up some others on my own, so I wasn’t expecting much.  The way we do the prizes, however, worked to my advantage.  The final scores are divided into thirds; Gold, Silver, and Bronze, with Gold being the top third, etc.  The top finisher in each third gets to pick from the prize table first, that way everyone has a shot at a great prize.  Just by blind luck, I was the top Silver and won a gun!  I could not believe it!  I honestly thought they were yanking my chain, but it was true.

The gun was a Walther PPQ M2 in 9mm.  My first thought was that I could sell it for enough to buy the AR-15 that I was coveting at that time.  But then I picked it up.  I was immediately struck by the ergonomics of this gun!  The grip was very comfortable and angled in a way that lends itself to getting on target quickly.  I liked the way it pointed and the balance was correct.  None of that top heavy feel from which many polymer guns suffer.  Then I tried the trigger.  Wow! Light, but not too light for a defensive weapon, crisp, no creep or grit, and an extremely short, tactile reset.  Yeah, it had the makings of a real shooter!  I decided to keep it and sell my M&P, which ultimately funded the AR, but that’s a post for another time.

The new Walther in the box. It came with 2 magazines, a magazine loading tool, 3 interchangeable backstraps, an empty chamber flag, and a lock, all in a plastic case.

The PPQ M2 is the second version of Walther’s PPQ.  The original had the weird European magazine release lever at the base of the trigger guard.  The M2 has a button on the grip behind the trigger guard like God and John Moses Browing intended it to be!  Otherwise, the controls are very familiar to anyone that has every fired a polymer striker-fired pistol.  The barrel is 4 inches long and it holds 15 rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber.  It isn’t a small gun, but it isn’t a full size service pistol either.  There isn’t a lot of wasted metal or polymer on this gun, so it isn’t difficult to conceal most of the time.  It compares in size to the Glock 19, which is a very popular carry gun.  I think it strikes the perfect balance of capacity, concealability, and shootability.  Click here if you’d like to see the specs on the PPQ M2 or any of Walther’s other offerings.

At the range, I really started to like it!  The first group that I shot out of it impressed me.  From a rest at 10 ft it put 5 rounds into just under an inch!  I’ll take that anytime out of a 4 inch barrel with factory ammo.  The group was  centered to the left, but that’s pretty typical for me.  A quick adjustment to the rear site and it put round 6 dead center, as you can see.  It showed a definite preference for the factory 115 grain bullets over my 147 grain handloads.  I’m not sure what the issue is, but it may just prefer the lighter bullet.  Either way, it is more than capable of putting the bullet where you want it at any normal defensive range.  walther-group

As for ammunition, the 9mm cartridge has come a long way over the past few years.  In the past, the 9mm was not known for its accuracy or its ability to stop bad guys quickly.  A quick trip to your local gun store will clearly demonstrate how much that has changed!  There are dozens of good, accurate, 9mm loads out there now, made with bullets that will ensure that your assailant leaves you alone from now on.  My personal favorite and what I keep in the Walther is Hornady’s Critical Defense round.  Hornady is really on top of the ammunition world right now, and this round is one of their best.  It is made with a 115 grain FTX bullet that has a polymer insert where the hollowpoint cavity is usually located.  This helps produce consistent expansion of the bullet at a wide range of velocities and through barriers, such as heavy clothing.  The recoil is very mild and the round is accurate.  I’ve never had a failure to feed with this load, although I’ve never had a failure to feed with any ammo in the Walther!

That’s what I carry and why.  I’d love to hear from you about your weapon of choice!  Next time, we’ll talk about how I carry.

Thanks for reading!

Why I Carry

I’m tired of writing about the sad state of politics, so I’m going to shift gears a little, if you’ll indulge me.  Most people that know me well know that I carry a concealed handgun most of the time.  The number of people who are getting their permit to carry is on the rise as more states remember that we live in a free nation.  With that in mind, I thought I’d do a series of blogs about my experiences as a permitted concealed carrier.  We’ll talk about why I carry, what I carry, and how I carry it.  I hope you’ll respond in kind so we can all learn something.  Please keep in mind that I am no sort of professional when it comes to concealed carry or firearms in general, so everything presented here is my opinion based on many years of shooting and carrying handguns.

I decided in 2007 to get my concealed carry permit.  In Tennessee, you are required to take an 8 hour class that consists of 4 hours of classroom instruction and 4 hours of range time.  You are required to pass an exam in the classroom and on the range.  I took the course at the Loudon County Sheriff’s office from a SWAT officer who was very serious about his job.  My class was made up of men and women with very different levels of experience with firearms.  The lady sitting next to me had a revolver that she had been given.  I had to show her how it operated, including how to open the cylinder!  The class was very well done, touching on most of the questions that I had coming in.  The range session was pretty easy since I had experience with handguns already.  Needless to say, I passed both exams.

With my class done, I got my fingerprints sent to the state and submitted my application and fee for a concealed carry permit late in 2007.  Honestly, it was a while before I carried after I got the permit.  It is an unnerving experience until you get used to it.  I felt like the gun was standing out a foot and that everybody around me was looking at it.  After a while, I realized that no one was paying any attention to me.  The gun became part of my daily routine, part of my wardrobe.  I’ve learned to dress to effectively hide it and have improved my rig over the years so that its more comfortable.  Now, I feel awkward without it, kind of like when you forget your wristwatch and keep looking at your arm.

So, why go through all of that? Why incur the expense and put up with the discomfort and inconvenience?  There isn’t a simple answer to those questions, and I think everyone that carries probably has different reasons.  The most obvious reason is simply for safety.  We all carry to protect ourselves and our loved ones.  In my case, its not so much about my safety as it is that of my wife and daughter.  They mean everything to me and I will do whatever I have to do to keep them safe.  Obviously, we avoid places and situations where trouble is more likely to occur, but trouble has a way of sneaking up on you when and where you least expect it.  Part of my job as a husband and father is to be ready if it does.

That leads me to another reason that I chose to carry, a sense of responsibility.  I am responsible for my own safety, as well as that of my girls.  I have nothing but respect for law enforcement and I am more than willing to let those brave men and women deal with the evil that lurks in the world.  Unfortunately, though, when seconds count, the police are minutes away.  That’s not criticism in any way, just the truth.  They can’t be everywhere all the time and I personally don’t want them to be.  That leaves me.  At another level, I feel responsible as a citizen to be available if trouble comes calling on someone around me.  I made the decision to get training and to make myself proficient in the use of my weapon.  I feel like I almost owe it to society to be prepared.  I’m not Matt Dillon and I’m not out looking for trouble in which to involve myself. I hope I never fire a round other than at the range.  But I am going to be prepared.

One question that I’ve been asked is could you actually take a human life?  My answer is yes.  I don’t answer that way lightly or without considerable thought.  If the choice was between the bad guy and either of my girls getting hurt, then there is no question.  I know having to shoot somone comes with a heavy emotional toll, regardless of the circumstances. I sincerely hope that never happens.  But, here’s the bottom line; I could live with shooting someone that was trying to hurt me, my girls, or someone else.  I could not live with it if one of them got hurt because I couldn’t prevent it.  That’s the real reason.

Next time I’ll tell you about my current carry gun, how I came to own it, and why I love it!

Springfield Armory SOCOM 16 front sight replacement

I’m moving away from strictly the political with this post to share an informational article about one of my new toys. Please feel free to comment.

Springfield Armory’s venerable M1A has been available for many years in both the original 22″ barrel length as well as a more compact version with an 18″ tube dubbed the Scout Squad. A few years ago, an even shorter 16.25″ variation was introduced called the SOCOM 16, now available in three variations.

I wanted a Scout Squad, but I found a really, really good deal on a SOCOM 16. This sale was likely motivated by an overstock situation on the camo-colored stock, but I didn’t care. It was enough of a deal that I decided to take it even though it wasn’t the exact version I wanted.

While there are many who debate the usefullness of the shorter versions, my intent here is to discuss just one issue and how I chose to tackle it – the front sight. It is ridiculously wide.image

You could land remote control aircraft on this thing! It subtends about a half an acre at 100 yards, which just doesn’t lend to as much precision as I would prefer. All the other versions of this rifle have interchangeable front sights. SOCOM versions appear to be the same, with the front sight being dovetail-mounted and easily removable. The problem is, the SOCOM has a version-specific gas lock which renders the use of standard M1A/M14 front sights a no-go due to a height difference. Below is how I chose to address the issue.

Smith Enterprises to the rescue! They offer a new gas lock which accomodates standard M1A sights, part 2001-GL.

Smith Enterprises gas lock

This is their gas lock with a National Match front sight (easily sourced from many suppliers) already installed. It’s a wee bit narrower…

Sight comparison

This gas lock differs from the one coming on the rifle in that instead of having the muzzle brake an integral part of the unit, it is threaded so you can install the muzzle brake of your choosing. I chose another Smith Enterprises part, the Good Iron 1002-RR

Good Iron

Using the appropriate gas cylinder wrench to hold the lock steady, I used a 3/8ths socket to remove the gas plug, and the gas lock/muzzle brake assembly spun off with light finger pressure.

Gas lock removed

Here is a shot of the assembled Smith Enterprises parts alongside the factory originals…

Smith vs S.A. parts

Installing the new gas lock was a revelation in that the thread fit of the Smith Enterprises unit was quite a bit tighter than the original parts. I had to use a gas cylinder wrench and a touch of colorful vocabulary to spin it flush.

Sadlak wrench to fit

After aligning the new gas lock, I installed a Schuster Adjustable Gas Plug.

Here’s the final assembly:

New installed alongside old

A range session will be in order soon to adjust the gas plug and evaluate the other changes. I expect the front sight to be much more to my liking, and wonder if the new muzzle brake will be more effective than the stock part.

Perhaps a report in another post!

As always, I hope you have found this informative and I welcome rational/adult commentary.