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I was glancing through my Facebook feed this weekend and realized it had been a year since Sam and I packed up the car and hit the road to see a lady in Texas about a puppy with an attitude.

Well, the attitude has kept pace with the pounds and Sarek is a spitfire.

Close to 100 lbs. of it, in fact, with the energy only a 14-month-old puppy can manage.

Thankfully nap time is peaceful. And we are past the potty training stage.

I don’t know that we will ever get past the pillow shredding phase, as I discovered Tuesday morning on my way to refill my coffee cup. Sam gave me fair warning, since it was my suede elephant pillow that I kept on the living room sofa.

I’m definitely mellowing about puppy destruction. Mostly.

Though the baseboards and trim he chewed up under the staircase still has Vince cussing, I’m hoping some sanding and painting will hide the worst. The replacement will have to wait until we’re more than sure he’s finished... or he finds a better option than my picture windows.

I have yet to tell Vince this was round two for the trim... I already sanded and painted once so he wouldn’t notice the hound’s bad behavior.

It can be our little secret.

Sarek is normally pretty well-behaved for a 100-pound puppy who thinks he’s also a lapdog.

Training is entertaining and ongoing. Getting a stubborn dog to “come” when there are no fences and plenty of open fields is virtually impossible, even with the draw of peanut butter cookies and bacon-flavored treats.

Thankfully the neighbors are dog people who don’t mind puppy antics... or me yelling like a lunatic in my PJs when Sarek decides 7 a.m. is the best time for zoomies.

Yep, this dog has added to our household chaos by at least tenfold, but he never fails to make me laugh. And like most big dogs I’ve loved, he is constantly glued to my side.

Unless he’s destroying my pillows.

He’s got me figured out and completely wrapped around his enormous paw. And as Vince has remarked more than once, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

After the family visits I’ve been trying to get back into the political mode, but it all seems rather ridiculous and insane, if I’m being completely honest.

The messaging and actions of both political parties seems rather schizophrenic....from the top down. And, more often than not, with one opposing the other.

All this can make a sane person think they’ve gone completely crazy.

I make light of the cast of characters tasked with the operation and guidance of our country and our culture, and the direction both have been heading as long as I’ve been alive.

Humor is a better option. Better than elevating my already high blood pressure.

And it makes me a more pleasant person to be around. Usually.

But more often than not, my immediate reaction to politics is cynical disgust.

Some of it is tribal and reactionary, my own included. Some of it is human nature.

Most of it is due to the naive idealism that I unashamedly hold for our country.

The insane idea that a nation of men could rule themselves. Without nobility or a king’s decrees, and with rights that come from a power greater than any one person could amass on Earth.

A worthy idea, and one that was, dare I say, quite radical and extreme.

Even by today’s standards.

Today’s political ideas center around command and control. A ratcheting of freedoms under the guise of regulations where every crisis, real or imagined, must be capitalized upon with policy strategies run from war rooms on the Potomac.

There is no facet of public life that isn’t regulated or manipulated by the unseen hand of Washington, D.C.

And who’s in charge doesn’t really matter. Because no matter who is elected, the ratchet must be tightened.

The ruling class... populated with bankers, politicians, industry titans, academics and celebrities, are the decision makers. They make the ripples that create the waves downstream.

And the waves are starting to crash against our shores like a tsunami.

The Great Reset, The Green New Deal, Build Back Better.

Lofty messages that amount to broken bridges, $5 gas and Marxist race theory in schools across America.

We get a masked VP who won’t visit the border, but will tour Central and South America telling people to stay home after talking for months on the campaign about no walls.

The administration that scored campaign points with Trump’s kids in cages began shuffling unaccompanied minors who entered the country illegally into Chattanooga, against the orders of the state’s governor and under the cover of night. No comment is necessary about creating overflow holding pens under highway overpasses and taking over hotels at taxpayer expense (closed due to pandemic lockdowns) when bombarded with the consequences of their policies in action.

We have Republicans trying to jump through the left’s identity hoops, and failing miserably. No solutions for what amounts to a complete reordering of American society, just more endless debates, book deals and corporate tax cuts.

It’s all performative and absurd, and less well acted than Sam’s middle school theater club production.

Sadly, the consequences will be felt by all, not just those who voted for it.

This is what failure looks like. On a federal scale.

Well, that and abject corruption, mediocrity and greed.

Welcome to the bread and circuses stage of the empire.

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at or by calling (209) 862-2222.