Monthly Archives: August 2016

So Is The Rebellion On Hold?

So wait…I’m confused.

I had my torch lit and my pitchfork resting against the wall by the front door last night, all ready to go. This was it. Part two of the great Republican uprising. Another chance to give the giant middle finger to the GOP establishment.

But then?

Arizona Republicans re-nominated John McCain for the Senate by a double digit percentage point margin. Arizona!!! The state whose GOP voters back in March supported Trump by a resounding margin. How could this be? I thought the whole message, the whole take away from the 2016 election was the need to recognize the unstoppable tide of burgeoning anger that is today’s Republican party. So I couldn’t help but wonder where all that anger had disappeared to as Arizonans watched the poster child of Republican Establishment politics give his acceptance speech.

Apparently it was sitting in its underwear on the couch watching reality television.

It seems voter turnout in yesterday’s GOP primary contest statewide held steady at a non-angry, one might even suggest apathetic, 24%. TWENTY-FOUR PERCENT!!! From an electorate that was so fired up with unrestrained fury that they couldn’t wait to stick it in the eye of every presidential candidate who didn’t promise a wall or insult a random minority group every fourteen hours.

So what’s the message here? Are we not angry anymore? Or are Republican GOP voters such sadists that they want to force these establishment politicians to stand front and center on the capitol steps as their party’s chances of taking back the White House are crushed by the latest misstep of the Great Orange’s massive appendages. (And trust him, any and all of his appendages are truly massive.) Because what happened in Arizona is not unique to our state. It happened in Florida last night too with the re-nomination of Marco Rubio. And earlier this year, new establishment face and tea-party whipping boy, Paul Ryan, received 81% of the vote in his primary. That’s an 8 followed by a 1. Which means four out of five GOP voters were so mad at the establishment in his Wisconsin district that they voted for…wait for it…the arguable leader of said establishment.

This election just gets more and more priceless by the minute.

Meanwhile, I continue to get e-mails explaining to me why I need to vote for Trump. How this election is by far the most important election, not just in my lifetime, but in the lifetime of my children and my children’s children and so on and so forth until we get to Buck Rogers. I even got one yesterday that tried to explain to me how I should be forgiving of Trump’s past because if I’m being truly fair, voting for Trump and his policies is the ONLY avenue a good Christian like myself should be able to follow. Never mind the racism filled pot-holes or the misogynistic road signs, when it comes to good Christian values, Trump is it.

Seriously? I want to vomit. If this election is so freaking important, why oh why did the GOP nominate this side-show circus freak? If winning was that important why would a political party nominate the only person who guarantees a loss?

And I don’t want to hear one more excrement-filled explanation from Eric Bolling or Sean Hannity or any other right-wing information huckster about how the polls don’t matter because we should be looking at how large the crowds at Trump rallys are. We went through that four years ago. We should be smarter than that. Because here is the truth. Donald Trump is going to lose. It doesn’t matter if I, and every other disenchanted Republican comes back to the fold. He’s still going to lose. As a party, the GOP did nothing this election cycle to expand their base. And if you don’t expand your base after you lose, guess what!!! You lose again! In fact, you lose even worse than the last time.

So can we stop with the hand-wringing over e-mails? Can we quit pretending that over 50% of the country can be made to actually give a crud about the Clinton Foundation? Can we let poor Vince Foster rest in peace? And can we please stop with the platitudes that state if Hillary is elected our country will never recover? Because anyone who actually believed that would not have been making such asinine statements eight months ago like, “Well, I don’t necessarily like the language Trump uses, but he makes good points.” Because no…he doesn’t now and he didn’t then, make good points. He is a walking cancer that destroys anyone and everything he touches. So instead, if people truly felt this election was that important, they would have been doing everything within their power to drive a stake through Trump’s heart before he sucked the life blood out of the GOP’s chances of winning this “Monumentally Important” contest.

But instead, a majority of GOP voters spent the entire primary season snickering at the latest incarnation of the school-yard bully and talking about how important it was to recognize the anger of the voters. Well, I hope you’ll apologize while I take a moment and roll my eyes back into position from the back of my skull. Because last night, Arizona joined the rest of the country in proving just how pathetic and fake that “anger” really was.

So buckle up, boys and girls. We get Senator McCain for six more years and we get to watch him do battle with the 2016 version of President Clinton. I’m so thrilled.

Nevertheless, I hold out one hope. Maybe, just maybe, after this latest fiasco of trying to please a bunch of far right ignoramuses throughout the primary season, hopefully we can move past them and have a primary season in 2020 that actually sees the GOP expand their outreach to independents and moderate Democrats. Because that is the only road for Republicans that will actually lead them to the White House.

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The Folly Of Raising Awareness When You Are Unaware

There are a few things that will forever be engraved in my memory. Most are good, but not all. And one of the worst is as clear in my mind as the day it happened. At least it feels that way.

It’s the memory of me sitting on my couch in my little condo on the evening of September 11, 2001.

I was staring at my television as coverage raged on regarding the attack on the twin towers. By this time, I had heard everything there was to hear. We had been attacked. Thousands had died. All air travel in the country had been grounded. We would all be forever changed.

And yet I sat there…feeling profoundly sad.

But sadness wasn’t my only emotion. For some inexplicable reason, I felt crushing guilt. I was alive. My family was safe. When I woke up the next morning, for all intents and purposes, my life would go right back to normal. I didn’t know anyone who had died. I didn’t have any connection to the suffering going on in New York, Washington, or around the country other than I was an American in an America that had just endured tragedy. So many people had suffered unbearable loss and yet, me? I hadn’t really suffered anything.

My initial reaction was that I wanted to help. I wanted to get to New York and assist with rescue operations. My problem? I had no means to get to New York and no training with regard to rescue operations. I was essentially useless. The news did say anyone willing to help should go and donate blood. But even this option left me wanting. Due to my having lived in England for over six months in the early 90’s, my blood wasn’t even worthy of helping because of the slight possibilities I might have Mad Cow disease. (I don’t, by the way…at least I’m pretty sure.)

In retrospect, I realize how ridiculous my feelings of guilt were. But in the moment, they were very real and very demoralizing. And their effects had me on the edge of depression.

With that in mind, I have watched the story of Colin Kaepernick not standing for the national anthem with a lot of mixed feelings. I will not pretend to have any idea as to what is going on in the head of a biracial quarterback who was adopted as a baby by well-to-do white parents in Wisconsin. But just like everyone else in this age of social media and 24-hour coverage of the inane, I’m going to take my turn and guess.

In so many words, Colin has said that he is not standing because he will not show allegiance to a country that is guilty of oppression when it comes to people of color. He has not ruled out standing for the anthem in the future, but it will only happen, he says, when he feels we as a nation have made the proper improvements in this arena.

And suddenly, a 28-year-old kid (and yes, because of the sheltered life he has lived as a college and professional athlete I would still consider him a kid in many ways) who has excelled at just about every aspect of life that’s been thrown at him up until a couple of years ago is about to find out just how fun it is to be the eye of a media firestorm in a country that has enough time on its hands to give hours and hours of airtime to such important controversies as what could possibly have been going on behind the scenes at the daytime talk show Live with Kelly and Michael, and whether or not Ellen Degeneres is racist because she made a joke about how fast she could get things done if she were able to ride on the back of Usain Bolt.

In other words, I think he thinks he wanted to attract this kind of attention. And when he talks, I think I understand why. I would not be surprised to learn that deep down inside he feels guilty.

His father was African-American. His whole life he has had darker skin than his family. I’m sure he has felt some of the difficulties that come with being part African-American. But at the end of the day, he has no idea. He wants to. But his life has never been and never will be like those for whom he is trying to speak.

He’s had hundreds of opportunities denied most who grow up in the black communities of our country. In some ways, he’s experienced more “White Privilege” than most WHITES will ever experience in their lifetime. And for someone living in that $61 million ivory tower he has earned for himself, a constant barrage of news stories telling him how oppressive and brutal the police forces around this country (and by extension, the country itself) are, it undoubtedly has to create similar feelings of guilt to those I experienced fifteen years ago-and along with that, a need to do something about an issue that you feel should affect you, but in reality doesn’t at all. There’s only one problem.

In this instance, Colin Kaepernick is dead wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to join the chorus of those who say there are no problems with oppression in this country and I’m not going to say that we don’t have issues that need addressing when it comes to the use of deadly force by a very (and I mean VERY) small percentage of police officers around this nation. I’m just going to suggest that Mr. Kaepernick’s efforts are shortsighted, misplaced and in the long run, likely to do more damage to the very conversations he’s endeavoring to help.

First, let’s take a look at oppression. It’s true. The United States of America oppresses people of color. As individuals, I don’t believe most of us mean to. It’s just flat out impossible to right all of the wrongs done to a race of people overnight that were brought to this land in the bonds of slavery. And yes, I know we ended slavery in the 1860’s, but it then took us an additional 100 years to get to the point where we would allow African Americans to…use the same water fountains…sit in the same section of a theater…eat in the same restaurants. So to suggest that in the intervening 50 years we have undone all that damage and that everything is now hunky-dory is ludicrous. Too many of our inner-cities resemble urban reservations like those we’ve created for Native Americans. (Another fine example of American oppression that we don’t like to talk about.) We are losing thousands upon thousands of young lives in our black neighborhoods because no one knows how to fix all the problems that stem directly from oppression.

But to suggest that police violence is the single biggest pressing issue? C’mon!

According to The Guardian, 1,134 deaths occurred in America at the hands of police officers in 2015. Of those 1,134 deaths, The Guardian estimates that 107 were unarmed minorities. Not just African Americans, but all minorities. The number of African Americans alone was not provided. However, according to the website, 975 black men are killed by gun violence each year. Taking the number of unarmed minorites killed in 2015 and estimating that 90 out of the 107 are black, that would still indicate that 10 times the amount of black deaths due to gun violence are not related to police brutality. It’s true there is an epidemic in the African American community when it comes to gun violence, but the epidemic doesn’t necessarily wear the face of a policeman. It wears the face of a nation that doesn’t know how to lift a community out of the oppressive pit it has existed in for generations.

On the other hand, we are at least a nation that is willing to have the conversation and then try.

You see the other problem with Mr. Kaepernick’s one-man crusade is that he is choosing to ignore some realities about humankind. In America, things may not be entirely as we want, but we’re willing to work at it. However, if he is concerned about oppression of the African race, he might consider this.

According to Business Insider, of the 20 countries with the highest rate of homicide, 13 are predominately black countries with black leadership and eight of those are in Africa. Sadly, the remaining seven are all Central and South American countries. And not one of those countries is interested in talking about police brutality nor ending oppression.

On the other hand, for all of its faults, America is the one place on earth where an African American, a Native American, an Asian American, an Hispanic or Latino American or a White American can get a college education if they are willing to make the effort to do so. It is not always as easy as it should be, but it is possible. It is also the land that pays millions of dollars to individuals who are gifted enough to play an athletic game at an insanely high level. But really…it’s still just a game. A game loved by a country full of people who will now look at Colin Kaepernick and his $61 million of guaranteed money and wonder why this “ingrate” is allowed to stay. That’s not a correct attitude either, but it is a reality.

What is even more sad is that Colin Kaepernick is currently not playing well. He didn’t play well last season. His current team, the 49ers, and the NFL will say all the right things about supporting his right to free speech, but at the end of the day, they are a business. And successful businesses are not generally about supporting workers who are 1) a distraction, and 2) mediocre at their jobs. Before this controversy, Colin Kaepernick might have been able to improve his game and extend his career in the NFL, but now? I believe he will be benched this season, released at the end of the year and then he will disappear from the game. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

And is this new kind of oppression he’s about to face reserved for just African Americans? Not hardly! Just ask the Dixie Chicks. You see, this country is willing to work through and forgive a lot of things. But dissing patriotism generally isn’t one of them…regardless of your skin color.

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There’s More To This Election Than The Top Of The Ballot

I am treading into a gray arena today. By the strictest definition, I guess I am a public official which means that I have to be somewhat careful when commenting on certain political happenings that affect the local population directly. On the other hand, I am the lowest face on the totem pole of importance when it comes to public officials. I’m not the proud buck or the noble mustang. No, I’m more like the bucktoothed beaver that everyone has to grudgingly acknowledge.

Yeah, he’s got a good work ethic I suppose. But dad gum, does he have to keep clogging up the whole flippin’ river? He’s totally screwing up my irrigation system.

My point is, since being elected to the town council of Thatcher two years ago, I have tried to be a little more careful in my words and in my criticisms. I still try to be clever here and there, but maybe I have toned down the sarcasm…at least a notch or two.

Anyway, I have heard much talk about how this election is the most important of mine, or any generation. (I suppose we’re all supposed to forget that we heard the same declarative statements regarding the 2012, 2008, 2004 and 2000 elections, but, whatcha gonna do.) And the truth is, it is very important election. But the importance goes much deeper than the two names that are going to appear at the top of the ballot.

With that in mind, I’m going to share my thoughts on many of the races and issues that will be decided either in two weeks in Arizona’s primary election, or the general election to be held on November 8th. It is not my intention to start various and sundry debates although I am not opposed to them. And furthermore, I accept that these are my views and mine alone. I was not asked nor in any other way encouraged to share any of what I am about to share. If you agree or are inclined to consider a little closer the ideas or people I advocate, great. If you don’t or are not so inclined, then we have the opportunity to exercise that great freedom we were granted in 1776 which is to agree to disagree. It’s democracy at its best. So, let’s get on with it, shall we.

President of the United States – None of the Above

Remember that old Richard Pryor/John Candy movie, Brewster’s Millions? If not, you should look it up. Anyway, that’s kind of where I am with this race. I can’t in good conscience vote for either one. Now as I have mentioned before, I have heard repeatedly that if I don’t vote for Trump it is the same as voting for Hillary. That is simply not the case. If this election was an Olympic event between Democrats and Republicans…well, that argument might hold more water as I face plant on the beam and put up a score of zero for the GOP ticket. But it’s not an Olympic event and I am not on a team. Neither candidate has articulated positions or acted in a way that has earned my support. So I will be supporting neither. I could go on, but I won’t.

US Senate from the state of Arizona – John McCain

You have no idea how painful it is for me to write those words. But in reality, for what I believe is best for the country, he is the best candidate I have to choose from. You see, I believe Donald Trump is going to get slaughtered and that Hillary Clinton is going to win. To my mind, the best scenario should that happen is for Republicans to retain control of the House and the Senate. Therefore, I will be voting for the Republican over the Democrat in this race regardless. It also doesn’t hurt that I don’t care much for Ann Kirkpatrick who has been our US House Representative off and on for the past eight years. Now the other contestant in this race is Dr. Kelli Ward who is a tea party-backed candidate. At this point, I would like to pause because I think now would be an opportune time for a tangent on the tea party.

I have a two-year-old daughter. She is adorable and I love her with all my heart. But she is at that age where she can voice her desires and opinions but has no ability to be rational or reasoned with. To illustrate, let me give you an example. Often she will make a statement like, “I want a Nutella sandwich.”

To which I will respond, “We don’t have any Nutella because you ate it all.”

Instead of saying, “Oh, well that is unfortunate because I was truly craving a Nutella sandwich. Nevertheless, I recognize that not having any in the house would make it impossible for you to make one, Father,” she will more than likely begin wailing, throwing herself on the floor in anger and behaving in such a way that disciplinary action is often required.

I view many in the current 2016 tea party caucus much the way I view my two year old. Lately, I have heard their argument of, “We need to throw out the establishment because they don’t do what we want. We gave them the House and we gave them the Senate and all they do is hold fake votes on repealing Obamacare and then give that (fill in your derogatory name for President Obama here) whatever he wants.”

At worst, you could argue that none of that is true. At best, you would have to say it is inaccurate from beginning to end. It is true, Republicans were given control of the House and Senate. But Republicans do not hold a 60 vote majority in the Senate and they do not control the White House. So in reality there are a number of things they can’t do including: Repeal Obamacare, Cut Everyone’s taxes down to zero, Impeach President Obama, Throw Hillary Clinton in jail, or any other ridiculous expectation imposed on them by people who don’t remotely understand how government works. They did shut down the government one time and…as usual, Republicans came out looking bad to most everyone except their delusional cheerleaders on talk radio and Fox News. And in truth, even that didn’t work out for them because the tea party crowd and the right-wing media was mad because they didn’t hold out longer and make themselves look even worse to country’s majority.

Long story short, I believe many in today’s tea party caucus are little more than temper tantrum throwers. It is my hope that like my daughter they will eventually mature in their approach to government, but for now, they are not all that valuable in their contribution to the process. For further evidence, look no further than the Republican nominee for president who is the epitome of a temper tantrum thrower. So from here on out, if a candidate is more interested in “destroying the establishment” than governing, I will refer to them as a tantrum thrower and will not really bother with further explanation on why I am discounting their candidacy.

Dr. Kelli Ward – Tantrum Thrower

US House of Representatives District 1 – Ken Bennett

The favorite in this race is Sheriff Paul Babeu. To be honest, I don’t know a lot about Paul Babeu other than the knock on him seems to be that he has corruption issues that could hurt him in the general election. However, from what I know of his politics, I would vote for him over the Democratic nominee for this seat. Again, divided White House and Congress. But my preference would be to see Ken Bennett elected. I have heard him speak and his number one priority is not a border wall, but rather finding ways to be fiscally responsible without being fiscally severe. You might call him a conservative moderate. Also, I very much like his temperament. He is not one who shoots off insults at the opposition with the belief that such statements ought to be enough to get him elected.

The other names heavily involved in this primary are Dave Gowan and Gary Kiehne. First of all, Dave Gowan has been serving as one of our Arizona State representatives for this area and he’s frankly been terrible. He loves to put on his cowboy hat (which isn’t even really a cowboy hat) and come to our county fair, but when he gets to Phoenix, he has seemed much more interested in playing lapdog to his Maricopa County friends instead of looking out for the interests of rural Arizona. I can’t stand Dave Gowan’s politics and, in line with the old saying, I wouldn’t vote for him for dog catcher.

However, it seems I wouldn’t get to even if I wanted to. You see, Dave Gowan suspended his campaign last week and endorsed Gary Kiehne. My only interaction with Gary Kiehne was at our local Pioneer Day celebration two years ago. I had been assigned to work the soda trailer and had just spent about three hours straight putting my hands in ice cold water to pull out soda cans to hand to approximately two thousand of my closest friends. The fireworks had finally started and I was leaning against the soda trailer next to my dear friend, Bishop Nicholas, when a man in a cowboy hat ambled up beside us. Yes ambled. He pointed to a drone in the distance that was being used to film the festivities and made the comment, “Think that’s Obama’s drone up there keeping tabs on us?”

What??? What is that even supposed to mean? No, I don’t think the President of the United States is so concerned about Thatcher, Arizona and their Pioneer Celebration that he is sending drones to keep tabs on us. Secondly, High-tech surveillance really took off under President Bush. And thirdly, I’m trying to enjoy a holiday celebration devoid of political garbage. The only way I could imagine being more put out was if we had woken up on Christmas morning to open our presents only to have Gary Kiehne burst through our front door and say, “Did you know Obama would have wanted to crucify Jesus?” Anyway, he then handed us a vote for Gary Kiehne flyer and moved on. End result – Not Impressed.

Overall, I think Ken Bennett is the best candidate and it’s not even close. I don’t hold out much hope for him, but that is where my vote will go.

Arizona State Senate – Jamie Alvarez

Bottom line, I am voting Democrat in this race because issues facing rural Arizona are not working out along party lines. Gail Griffin has represented us for the last four years and she is abysmal. I sat across from her on one occasion and expressed my concerns that her vote to not expand AHCCCS (Medicaid) spending in Arizona (even though hospitals would be covering the costs, not tax payers) would cost the state $4 billion in federal funds which could significantly hurt and possibly even close a number of rural Arizona hospitals. Her response was a blank stare while the recorder in her brain reset and then she spat out the same tired Republican talking point about irresponsible federal spending. It had nothing to do with the question I asked. I tried again. She again gave me the same talking point without addressing the concern that hospitals could close. She has held the same line when it comes to cutting corporate taxes at the expense of education. She is part of the legislature that has refused to obey a court order to pay money owed to schools at the mandate of voters. I am not calling her a crook, but I am saying that she is a part of the Republican led coalition in Phoenix that is willfully defying the laws passed by Arizona voters. She is a disgrace to this district and should be shown the door as quickly as possible.

Arizona State House – Dennis Barger, Drew John

See the above. Gail Griffin has aligned with Becky Nutt and Anthony Sizer and per their campaign promises intend to continue with the policies that ignore the needs of rural Arizona while filling the pockets of Phoenix based fat cats (See Charter School owners and operators and follow the money trail). I believe Drew and Dennis, on the other hand, understand what it means to represent rural Arizona. You can’t function without some form of income. They are not for raising taxes on Arizona citizens, but my understanding is that they are for letting some tax breaks for corporations expire. Arizona needs money. We can’t continue to function on ten cents here and five cents there. Our current trend in Arizona tax policy that started years ago led us to selling our capital building to make ends meet. That’s embarrassing and a travesty. We need a more moderate approach and I believe Drew and Dennis will provide that. In a separate note, if either of these gentlemen fail to make the general, I will be voting for Democrat Mike Holmes, a former Republican veteran who is much more closely aligned with what I believe than tantrum throwers Anthony Sizer and Becky Nutt.

Recreational Marijuana Use In Arizona – No

Despite the additional tax revenue it might provide to our state, I still have to say no. We don’t need additional ways to legally impair potential drivers. The only way I would consider this is if it was done in conjunction with making Recreational Pokemon Go playing illegal.

Graham County Superior Court Judge – Gary Griffith

This is in no way a slight on Michael Peterson. I believe Michael is a very good man who would probably do a fine job should he be allowed to continue as Superior Court Judge. However, I have known Gary Griffith for over twenty-five years and I believe him to be exactly what a county would want on their bench. He is highly intelligent with an extensive knowledge of the constitution. In short, the kind of person I would want leading the Superior Court in the community where I live.

Graham County Supervisor District 2 – Jim Palmer

I firmly believe that if someone has done a good job over a long period of time, you should continue to let them do that job. And I believe Jim Palmer has done a good job. Having said that, I want to make clear that I believe John Howard could also do a good job. But in my opinion, Jim has done nothing to warrant removing him from office. I don’t believe in term limits for the simple fact that sometimes, relationships and knowledge gained over time can be beneficial. To discard those in the name of arbitrary time limits seems short-sighted to me. In four years if Jim chooses not to run again could I vote for John Howard? Easily. But this time around, I am going to reward someone I believe has done a good job with my vote.

Well, there are other races and issues that I could discuss, but the truth is, this post is already too long. I hope everyone will take the opportunity to think long and hard about what they believe is best for our country, our state and our community; and then take those beliefs and go to the polls on August 30th and again on November 8th. We may not all come to the same conclusions, but it’s the opportunity to disagree and have those disagreements decided at the ballot box that makes this country great. Good luck everyone and may God bless us.

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Blogging Memories

So…I have a senior this year. My first in fact. And with that senior comes the realization that we are doing some things for the final time. In truth, I realized this a couple years ago and started planning and saving on my own for our FINAL FAMILY VACATION!!!

I know, I know. That is waaaayyyy over dramatic, but I realized that we would not get many vacations that include our entire family since Maggie is only 2 and Abby is getting ready to make her own way in the world. Anyway, I began thinking about what would be best to do. Lots of different ideas came up including: Hawaii, Church History trips in either New York or Nauvoo, Alaskan Cruise, and of course, if I actually asked anyone what they wanted (especially Abby) the answer was always Europe without a moment’s hesitation.

But since I am a member of the humble working class, the truth is I could save until retirement and not afford a trip for seven people to Europe. It just ain’t happening. And don’t think it is because I don’t want to go. I served my mission in England for heaven’s sake. Of course I want to go. I just don’t want, nor have the ability, to pay for it.

Regardless, amongst all these options was the idea that we could repeat one of our favorite “Once in a Lifetime” vacations and go back to Florida. This was especially appealing to Kate since she was too young the last time we went and got left at home. I have to assume this was also a popular choice for Maggie since all she would really say on the subject was, “I wanna see Mickey.”

So yesterday we made it official. Sometime next summer, we are going back to Orlando. But not just Orlando, we are going by way of New Orleans. We will fly into Louis Armstrong Airport, spend the night in New Orleans and then drive to Orlando where we will spend a week before returning to New Orleans and spending a couple of days there. I am SOOOOO Excited!!!

Anyway, what this has to do with this blog is that by pure coincidence, Maggie went to one of our book shelves on Sunday and pulled out a book of my old blog posts from back in 2010. That would be the year we went to Orlando last time.

Now I want you to think about that for a moment. That means that I have been blogging somewhat regularly for six years. That’s a freaking long time. What could one person have to say over that long of a period? Well, after reading the book, I realize…not much.

But I did enjoy getting the chance to read about that trip in detail. In fact, it was so fun, Shannon read it to the kids for Family Home Evening last night. Now so you understand, at that point in my blogging life, if we had recently gone on vacation, I liked to detail each day of that vacation, minute by minute. It was a fun family tradition that forced us to keep really good notes on our trips.

Don’t quite get it? Well never fear. For my own pleasure, and my own pleasure alone, I will now go back in time and share with you my blog post from November 17, 2010. Read if you dare!

November 17, 2010

Orlando Trip Day 1: I Don’t Want To Go

For months, Shannon and I had been planning a huge surprise trip to Orlando for our kids. We had asked them several months ago that if they could go anywhere in the country, where would it be. Logan said Disneyland. Abby said Harry Potter’s Wizarding World and Braden wasn’t sure, but wanted to go somewhere associated with Space. Disney World is pretty similar to Disneyland and is in Orlando, Harry Potter is in Orlando and the Kennedy Space Center is 45 minutes from Orlando. So we quietly booked a trip to Orlando for the Week of Nov. 7-14 and didn’t tell them. In fact, we hardly told anyone. But the day of the trip finally arrived and we had a good reason to be in Mesa as Shannon had run her triathlon the day before. Our kids still had no idea what was happening. So the morning of Nov. 7th arrived and it went something like this:

5:30 a.m. – The Hawaii 5-0 theme song starts playing on my cell phone. I don’t have a good reason as to why that is my ring and alarm tone, but I just think it’s a cool song. Not so cool at 5:30, but what are you going to do? We get showered, dressed, packed and loaded in the car.

6:40 a.m. – It’s really nice that kids, at least my kids, are not perceptive at all. First we loaded three suitcases into the truck that hadn’t been used the entire weekend. Secondly, we took Lamar with us in the truck to go “pick up Uncle Larry” wink, wink. Actually Abby did ask why Lamar was going and we said he needed to help Larry get his rental car. Pretty weak cover story, but for children ages 11, 8 and 5 who are just happy for a weekend in Mesa with their cousins, it did the trick.

7:12 a.m. – Arrive at the airport and line up the kids to tell them the truth. And…Not exactly the response we were expecting. My dreams of being featured in a Disney marketing spot were dashed as I repeatedly replayed in my mind Braden’s response of, “I don’t want to go!” Oh how I’m loving the fact that we just spent this small fortune. Get on the plane, kid. We’re gonna have fun whether you want to or not.

7:32 a.m. – Get our one larger bag checked in. That leaves three carry-ons and two parents. I am quickly realizing we neglected that all important crash course on using the handles and wheels on small suitcases with our children.

7:41 a.m. – Begin what can only be described as the torture that is airport security with three children. Forgot to mention to Shannon that you can’t have clear liquids in your carry-ons. Say goodbye to our shampoo, my aftershave and many other needful things. Cost of items thrown away at airport: $22. Seeing the fury in my wife’s eyes at a bureaucratic system we can do nothing about: Priceless. We are off to a GREAT start!

9:05 a.m. – We are on the plane and it begins barreling down the runway. Both Braden and Abby are a little freaked out. Logan? Loving every minute. As the plane begins to pick up speed, he can’t contain his energy any further and begins clapping wildly.

9:10 a.m. – Braden realizes he isn’t going to die and loosens up. Realizes there is a stranger sitting next to him and feels he must rectify this situation immediately. He meets Kathy and they begin a conversation that Braden somewhat dominates. Kathy now knows more about our family than any perfect stranger should. As it turns out, Kathy is a fascinating woman who has worked with the military her whole life. She has traveled the world and had a lot of interesting stories for Braden.

9:15 a.m. – Scariest flight attendant in the world alert. One of our flight attendants had luxurious black hair that had to be at least 3 1/2 feet long. Jet black. It wasn’t until she walked directly by our seat that I noticed she also had to be at least 67 years old. I would guess older. Definitely not her real hair color. I am suspicious as to whether it is her real hair period. She wore all black. Bottom line, she freaked me out. It was kind of like Morticia Addams had decided in her golden years to go out and get a job. As one who has had to accept the aging process at quite a young age (started shaving my head at 25 to beat male-pattern baldness at its own game), I don’t relate well to those who completely deny its existence at all. This really has nothing to do with anything, but even sitting here a week later, I still shudder when I think about her.

10:38 a.m. – Shannon, my brilliant wife, pulls out travel Yahtzee to help the time go faster. Or maybe it was to save Kathy. Yeah, come to think of it, that actually makes more sense. Braden creams her while never once slowing his constant dialogue about time zones.

11:00 a.m./12:00 p.m. – Braden is fascinated by time zones and is desperate to know what time it currently is directly below our plane. At around this time, we see the Mississippi River out the window.

12:23 p.m. – Logan is excited that he has joined the mile-high urinating club.

12:52 p.m. – Braden is tired so he…lays on Kathy. The woman is a saint.

1:12 p.m. – Land in TN. As we exit the plane and walking to the gate of our connecting flight, Braden begins speaking in a southern accent. As his elocution is somewhat lacking in realism, we caution him that he might be offending people by mocking their accent. He explains he isn’t mocking them, he’s simply living in TN at the moment and speaking as someone who lives there normally would. This is definitely logic I haven’t encountered before, but in its own way, somewhat solid. I guess. We still tell him not to talk so loud.

2:00 p.m. – We are definitely waiting on a flight to Orlando. Kids are swarming around us at the gate like crazy. Feel a definite urge to reach out and trip two little boys who are running circles around the chair that include us and our luggage. I manage to refrain. Or maybe Shannon refrained me, I can’t remember.

2:30 p.m. – Get loaded on our new plane and we are off to Orlando. Woo HOOOOO!

5:09 p.m. – Land, get luggage, get rental car and we are on our way to the hotel. Or not. We can’t really tell. The roads here are SOOO confusing and unlit to the extreme. We pray we are going in the right direction. No, I mean we literally said a prayer at some point.

6:01 p.m. – Good news, we are headed in the right direction. Bad news, that means we get to pay our first of two tolls on the way to Disney World. Kids cannot grasp the concept of having to pay to drive on a road. I have a hard time explaining the concept, because I think it’s pretty stupid as well. You’re about to make a bazillion dollars off of us in sales tax on over priced items and you feel the need to stick it to us on the roads before we even get there? I guess this is what you get in a state with no income tax.

6:20 p.m. – The badly lighted finally take their toll (ha, ha. Take their toll. Toll road…never mind.) We think we just passed the road to our hotel, but we can’t be sure because we can’t see any signs. Also, Florida is not big on exits or turn around spots on their divided highways. We know we’re not supposed to actually enter Disney World…and yet…Here We Are! Welcome to Disney World, kids! However, this does not improve our situation. There’s still no place to turn around and no signs directing us as to how we get out of Disney World in the direction from whence we came.

6:30 p.m. – We end up pulling into the Epcot parking lot and getting directions from the people who collect the parking fee. Look Kids, there’s Epcot!

6:41 p.m. – Yep, that road we thought we should have taken was the road we should have taken. Finally reach hotel.

6:56 p.m. – Get to the room and…it was totally worth the wait. There may not have been a lot of things I did right this trip, but this was one of them.

7:03 p.m. – While inspecting the room, Abby and Shannon go out onto the balcony through the master bedroom. I’m dealing with something at the kitchen counter when I hear a massive crash. I whirl around to see that Abby has walked directly into the glass door leading into the living room from the balcony. As she described it, she had never seen a cleaner door. Well, not anymore as a massive forehead mark can be seen about 5 feet up on the glass.

8:00 p.m. – After getting Subway in a very dodgy looking strip mall right next to a Hookah Bar (still not sure what that is), I make it back and we all gather in the living room to watch The Amazing Race. We all felt a little like Amazing Racers ourselves today.

9:18 p.m. – It is getting a little cold in the condo so we turn on the heater. We must have been the first people ever to do this (Stupid Arizona tourists, its Florida. It’s not that cold.) because the heater burns off the dust and sets off the fire alarms. Braden, who hates fire alarms with a passion, informs us we will have to do without a heater for the duration of the trip. When we refuse to turn it off, he refuses to take his fingers away from his ears even once he is in bed.

9:30 p.m. – Get kids to bed and get ready to go down ourselves. After a full day of travel we are all plenty tired.

11:00 p.m. – Shannon and I finally get to bed and are soon asleep with visions of fun in the coming days running through our brains.

12:00 a.m. – The alarm clock goes off for no reason. *@$&#@%!!!! What the heck? Add this to the getting lost, having to throw all of our stuff away at the airport and the fire alarm issue from earlier, and suddenly a bad vibe begins to settle into the back of my brain. I hope this all this stuff isn’t an omen.

Yep, there you have it. I am so excited. Just think of all the things that can happen with five kids instead of three. Bring on next summer!!!

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You Can’t Have Your Cake Without Having It Shoved Down Your Throat Too

I’m going to admit something. This whole Donald Trump candidacy has been very liberating for me. Having grown up in an extremely conservative home and having adopted many of those extremely conservative values in my own adult life, I have by default been part of the right-wing chorus on many an issue for quite some time.

But now…not so much. In fact, I’m beginning to see a lot of things without a “Rush Limbaugh” filter and WOW does the view look different!

Case in point, take the clamor of the last forty years over the vast “liberal” main stream media. We on the right have been lamenting that life and politics in this country is so unbelievably unfair because of the incredibly biased reporting we see on behalf of liberal causes and candidates. In fact, you could argue that the rise of talk radio and Fox News is a direct result of that belief.

Now before I go any further, I need to explain before my conservative Republican friends completely go ballistic on me, that I still believe this to a certain degree. I think the evidence over the decades would easily suggest that most media outlets tend to be harder on Republicans and Republican candidates and ideas than they are on their Democratic counterparts. Examples? Sure!

  • The most blatant example would have to be Candy Crowley inserting herself into the Romney/Obama debate in 2012 when she “corrected” Mr. Romney by stating that the president HAD referred to what happened in Benghazi as terrorism in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Technically, she was correct. But there is no denying that for 13 days after the Benghazi attack, he avoided the term terrorism and instead focused on placing the blame on a video that supposedly had incited Muslim riots.  That was Mr. Romney’s point and she knew it. And she knew his point was a valid one. Regardless, it shouldn’t have mattered either way. She was the moderator, not the fact checker. And she felt no need to insert herself at any other point during the debate when things said about Mr. Romney were taken out of context or mischaracterized, specifically his 47% comment. It was blatant and it was brutal. That interjection cost Romney that debate. He looked flustered in the moment (as any of us would) and…lost.
  • Another glaring example is that of Clarence Thomas vs. Anita Hill. Or more appropriately, Clarence Thomas vs. Teddy Kennedy. I believe the truth is, we will never know exactly what transpired between Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. But according to the media then, and according to the media and their counterparts in Hollywood now (see HBO’s most recent entry into this affair entitled Confirmation) Anita Hill was telling the entire truth and Justice Thomas was lying. But what was more troubling to conservatives everywhere was the level to which the media went after Clarence Thomas over an alleged throw away comment about a pubic hair on a Coke can while, ironically, sitting on the Senate Judiciary panel was a man who was never made to answer adequately for his actions regarding the death of Mary Jo Kopeckni in the Chappaquiddick River.
  • A silly but illustrative example, I believe, of the media’s tendency to give liberals a little more leeway than conservatives or Republicans would be misstatements by George W. Bush and Barack Obama. With full recognition that Mr. Bush had more “Bushisms” than Mr. Obama, you can’t deny that the media was more than willing to sell the idea that Mr. Bush was…well not the sharpest tool in the shed. Yet, even though Mr. Bush said among other things that there were “rumors on the internets”, one cannot deny that Mr. Obama had his fair share of verbal slip-ups as well, the most notorious probably being that he had visited 57 states with two left to go. Nevertheless, the media narrative on Mr. Obama has consistently absorbed his gaffes while continuing to highlight how brilliant of an intellectual he is. The truth is, both men are incredibly gifted in their own right and people who have worked next to both men have expressed how intelligent they are.

But having said all of the above, I can’t help but laugh at the hand-wringing that is going on over at Fox and on social media. The issue? How unfair the media is being to Donald Trump.

Let me repeat that…How unfair the media is being to Donald Trump!

Are you freaking kidding me? This is the man who won the Republican primary because the media, both conservative and otherwise, wouldn’t talk about anybody else. He sucked the air out of every room with his bombastic statements and arrogant refusal to back down or apologize for anything. And has the media’s coverage of him changed since then? Not a bit. They are simply continuing to report on the asinine things he says with abandon.

But, but…he gave a speech on his tax policy and all anyone wants to talk about is the Khan family or the fact that so many Republicans are jumping ship on Mr. Trump. It’s not FAIR!!!

So let me get this straight. Someone finally shot Mr. Trump with enough tranquilizers to put him in front of a teleprompter so that he could “Presidentially” explain to America that he is going to cut taxes without explaining how he is going to pay for the deficits his tax cuts will cause. Well I’m sorry, but that’s not news. That’s basically the same thing we have heard from every Republican candidate for the last thirty-five years. To make out like this is some major news story would be similar to cutting into daytime television to announce that a Democrat has pledged to raise federal spending. It’s not a news story. It barely requires more acknowledgement than breathing.

The Khan family and GOP defections, on the other hand, are a very different story.

Let’s take the Khan family controversy…which is ENTIRELY a story because of Mr. Trump. You have the Republican nominee for president criticizing and insulting the family of a United States serviceman who died while trying to protect his fellow servicemen from a suicide bomber. The REPUBLICAN nominee, you know…that’s the party that claims to be the only institution in America who cares about the military.

Now, it didn’t need to be a story. All Mr. Trump had to do was take a lesson from Mrs. Clinton who tried to be as gracious as possible to the mother of the serviceman killed in Benghazi. There is no doubt that Mrs. Clinton’s statements in no way made the victim’s family feel any better, but she was at least complimentary of the young man’s service and tried to sound sympathetic toward the mother’s loss. No one has to believe that she means it, but simply by responding in this way, Mrs. Clinton guarantees that the issue stays low key and doesn’t become a major news story dominating headlines for days. But that isn’t Mr. Trump’s way is it? No, he has to say that he has sacrificed just like the Khans. Now Mr. Trump didn’t serve in the military because, according to his own words, he had spurs in his foot. When asked which foot, he couldn’t remember, but…whatever. Nevertheless, he has sacrificed. He sacrificed by inheriting millions of dollars and going into business. That’s the same as losing your son, right? Then he compounded the issue by insulting Muslim Americans everywhere by suggesting their religion did not allow the serviceman’s mother to talk because she chose to stand silently at her husband’s side. Unbelievable…except it’s Trump so…Totally Believable!!!

This single misstep with the Khans, I believe, will bury Mr. Trump. And it is what thousands of us on the moderate/conservative side of the aisle have been saying from the beginning. He Can’t Win! Because eventually, when all you can do is hurl insults and vile put-downs at everyone, it will eventually cost you. And now, it has. The media is simply reporting what he is saying. They don’t need to do anything else. There is no bias and there is no need to slant the truth. They just have to print what he says, and in the same fluid movement, hand him a shovel to bury himself with.

Now furthermore, dozens of well known Republicans defecting from USS Trump is also a major news story. When in the history of this country have we ever seen this kind of mutiny happen within a political party heading into a general election for president? I would venture to say it has been over a century if it has ever happened at all. Those kind of events are what we call news. Again, the media doesn’t have to lie or slant or show their bias, they just have to report what is going on. What is even more ironic is that Trump supporters will say it is just the establishment trying to seek revenge. To which I would say, then maybe it isn’t so smart to try and whack the establishment when your candidate is a verbal machine gun of ineptitude. You end up looking silly. But whether you like it or not, the defections by so many GOP stalwarts is news. It just is.

Here’s the hard and fast truth my Trump supporting friends. Trump was never going to get elected. EVER! The only reason he got traction was because the media was having the time of their lives playing and replaying his latest soundbite of jackassery. The same jackassery many of you found so appealing. No reasonable candidate could get a word in edgewise because suddenly Mr. Trump was “telling it like it is.” And you liked it just as much as the media did…just for different reasons. But now we are at the point when it is time to start talking about how we are going to fix some pretty significant problems in this country. But instead, what is Mr. Trump doing? The same thing he’s always done. He’s playing the role of eighth grade bully at a level worthy of an academy award. And guess what. Now it’s starting to sound as stupid to you as it did to us all along.

Well…I’m sorry, but this is the guy you wanted. This is the guy you chose. And if you think the media is responsible for his sudden lack of favorability, then I guess that makes you somewhat delusional. Because this guy, the first Republican nominee in over 50 years who might actually lose the state of Utah, is the same buffoon we’ve been seeing portrayed in the media from the beginning.

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