As I write my column on Tuesday, I am watching the clock with a growing sense of both anticipation and trepidation. Why, you might ask… well, it’s the last day of school in Martin, Tennessee, and at the moment I have about an hour and a half of peace and quiet left until the unholy ruckus that only three young boys can make is unleashed on my household for three months of summer shenanigans.

I’m thinking that calls for an extra cup of coffee this morning, and sitting out on the kitchen patio to savor the final moments of sanity and serenity to be found until school starts back up in August.

Completion of the first school year in a brand new place is a momentous occasion, and celebratory cookies and Capri Suns were waiting on the counter to commemorate the day.

Less celebratory, but also on today’s to-do list for the older boys are the dog baths they managed to avoid doing over the weekend. A lesson in procrastination will precede any last day of school water fights or adventures.

I am already mentally preparing for the barrage of noise and unending requests for snacks that signals summer is here. I’ve stocked up on popcorn kernels, since Sam is a master on the air long as he doesn’t overfill it!

Also, making a to-do list of chores to choose from an “I’m bored” jar before the inevitable lamentations begin seems like an idea of the genius variety. Thank you late night scrolling sometimes pays off!

I don’t think Samuel will have too much of a chance to be bored though, as an extended visit back home is on the calendar in the upcoming weeks. I think someone is more than ready for some spoiling by Vavie, Grandpa and TiTi. Honestly, I am sure some of those same people are absolutely ready to do some spoiling as well. There is more than a little excitement, besides the litany of questions about flying, packing and plans, for any 11-year-old to handle!

Here in Tennessee, plans are under way for a slip and slide to be set up in the backyard. Not just any slip and slide mind you, but one worthy of the attention of two 11-year-olds and a 7-year-old.  At least for more than 10 minutes, hopefully. Stepson Vincie is in charge of the project, with numerous suggestions from the boys being taken under advisement. I am just saying prayers that injuries which require trips to the emergency room are avoided,. And no, there will be no viral videos of me trying it out. Not even if you paid me.

I am hoping that is the only grand idea in play for the summer… other than me trying to cover the play room walls in comic book pages. Fingers crossed that one doesn’t go awry… because there are many possible scenarios worthy of an “I Love Lucy” episode just waiting to play out!

Summer is the time for political shenanigans as well, if the Democrat primary is any indication. After all the jokes about the Republican primary field in 2016 - and comparisons to the circus sideshow that politics have become - there is a certain irony in the air.

If politics is a circus, then the Democrat field is the proverbial clown car with a never-ending string of candidates… the number currently standing at 24.

The political cynic in me knows that over half of these candidates are just fund-raising, and promoting name awareness for future campaigns where there is more than a snowball’s chance that they could actually garner enough votes to win a seat.

The Democrats are now getting to experience what the right did four years ago, namely a field of reactionaries and second-tier candidates present to raise their personal stock and push their pet projects.

And the other fun one… gaining press attention in a field so liberal even Marx would blush requires semantic gymnastics and basically zero shame.

Kamala Harris, esteemed California senator and favored candidate of Eric Holder and Barack Obama, re-branded her campaign recently after making a big splash proceeding her announcement and then promptly losing momentum with the entry of candidates like Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden. Now, her candidacy is centered around equal pay for about living in the past.

Craven pandering to identity groups is prevalent, as well as the impeachment calls that seem to be vexing Congressional leadership.

A newer development, after calls by some candidates to boycott Fox News, are town halls with Bernie Sanders and Buttigieg. Both produced clarifying moments for the candidates, at least for those on the right. Sanders wanted to not just give voting rights to convicted felons, but thought that all inmates, even those currently serving, should have full voting rights. Under that scenario, they could vote on changing the very laws that they are jailed for breaking.

Makes total sense, doesn’t it?

It is also completely hilarious to watch an avowed socialist preach against the monied masses....while he lives the lifestyle of the elite. Three homes, cushy jobs for the wife and daughter - complete with claims of public corruption - and other perks gained through book sales and other capitalist ventures are a little harder to swallow for the ideologue supporters of his 2016 campaign.

Buttigieg came out against restrictions on late-term abortion and for raising all kinds of taxes, all the while touting his experience as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, with it’s increasing crime rate and decreasing quality of life. That’s not really the kind of practical experience I would want spread from coast to coast.

Candidates such as Congressman Eric Swalwell and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand have struggled to hit the donor thresholds set by the Democrat National Committee for inclusion in the primary debates. Swalwell ran a social media campaign asking supporters to forego a bag of chips and send his campaign a dollar before more blatant and desperate pleas for donors. I guess if if your gun control policy isn’t moving the needle, begging is the next best thing.

Swalwell has been a loyal colleague to Rep. Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee and earnestly told a gun rights advocate that gun confiscation could absolutely happen in the United States because any resulting war between gun owners and the government would be short because “The government has nukes. Too many of them. But they’re legit.” Of course, he later backtracked the statement as sarcasm. I am more concerned about the judgment of a politician who thinks flippant joking about turning our nuclear arsenal against our own citizens during his quest for the power to wield said nukes.

Not at all difficult to conjure up images of a clown car lurching down the road in fits and stops, belching black smoke, with horn-honking characters spilling out the windows as they try to out-shout the others above the it?

Yep, it’s going to be an interesting summer.

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