Sunday, July 25, 2010

An Average Ending

What? Doth mine eyes deceive me? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it an overly-long, drawn-out, poorly worded treatise on nothing?

Why yes. Yes it is.

After a several month hiatus, the Average Joel is back. And what message of good tidings do I bring to my avid and devoted reader? Well, to the both of you I have only this to say: so long suckers!

Allow me to 'esplain.

12 years ago, I found myself on a flight from Houston Texas to Bogota Colombia to begin my two-year Mormon mission. While all the other passengers calmly looked out the window as we crossed the Caribbean in twilight, I sat in a cold sweat, nervously clutching the air-sickness bag in the hopes of catching the remnants of dinner I was sure was about to come back for an encore. Did all these people on the plane not realize where we were going? COLOMBIA! SOUTH AMERICA! I was only minutes away from stepping foot in a country where I did not know a living soul and I could not speak the language. Heck, I could not even pronounce the name of the capital.( It turns out, Bogota does not rhyme with Dakota, seriously, who knew?). As if that wasn't bad enough, I was about to spend the next two years of my life in a country whose penchant for narco-terrorism and kidnappings had scared away every tourist since Romancing the Stone was made. Over the last twenty-years, the only movies made about Colombia have been written by Tom freakin' Clancy! Does this sound like the kind of place where you would want to sell religion door-to-door?

Well the plane, as all good planes do, eventually landed. And, unlike Hawaii where you are greeted by Hula Girls with flowers around their necks, I was greeted by sub-machine gun toting soldiers with bullets draped across their chests who surrounded the plane as soon as it pulled up to the gate. Bienvenidos, indeed.

As everyone else calmly filed out of the plane I stared blankly ahead of me like a nine-year- old boy at the top of a water slide he is sure will kill him. Too afraid to go. Too stupid/proud to turn back.

Then I remembered why I was there: to answer the call. So I stood up, walked off the plane and, in so doing, committed to serve the Lord whenever and wherever he wanted me to. Even Colombia.

That decision to serve has shaped every facet of my life ever since.

A few weeks ago, I discovered something scary and disconcerting. I was content with my life. And every time I have ever felt content with my life, the Lord has always decided to through me a pitch I haven't seen yet.

And then the phone rang.

To understand what I am about to say you need to know a little bit about the Mormon church. All you Mormons can go ahead and skip this paragraph and get back to eating your green jell-o. For you non-Mormons, please keep reading. Each LDS congregation is called a Ward and constitutes a set geographic area (usually a couple square miles). As Mormons, we do not have paid clergy. Each member of the Ward, is assigned a role and we rotate through these roles. It can be anything from teaching Sunday School, to leading music, to organizing church activities. Even the leaders of the Ward serve on a volunteer basis and are not paid. The leader of a Ward is a called a Bishopand he is assisted by two counselors. Together, these three men constitute a Bishopric. The Bishopric is responsible for the spiritual and temporal well being of all the people in the ward, usually about 100 families. Their role goes far beyond overseeing the church administration and organizing Sunday services. They help struggling bread-winners get a job and pay the mortgage. They help families get food through a special grocery store called the Bishops Store House. They counsel struggling marriages. They tend to the sick and needy. They help people overcome sin and addiction. They assist in the total well-being of every person in the ward. It is a tremendous responsibility, requires a large time commitment and, oh, did I mention it does not pay a dime?

Well, the phone call came from Stake Presidency (the guys who are in charge of the Bishops. Try to keep up.) The Stake Presidency needed to meet with me and right away I knew what was coming. We were due for a new Bishopric and there was really only one reason why they would want to talk to me.

Sure enough, at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, July 11th, I heard the words that would change my entire life. Will you serve as Second Counselor in the Bishopric?

Just like 12 year ago, sitting on the plane, every sensible part of my screamed no and frankly, the sensible part of me made some pretty good arguments. I am only 31 years old, isn't this a job better suited for someone older and wiser? I have five kids under the age of seven, how is this fair to my wife? I have a demanding job, how am I going to find the time necessary to serve effectively?

Despite all this, I could not ignore my decade-old commitment to serve. Anytime. Anywhere.

So I said Yes.

Now each Sunday, while the rest of the world sleeps, I get up early for my 6:45 a.m. Bishopric meeting, to be followed by 3 hours of church service to be followed by more meetings to be followed by in-home visits to be followed by...well, you get the picture.

Where does this leave me? Well, it leaves me saying good bye. For almost two years now, it has been the highlight of my week being able to stir up my thoughts and throw them out onto the internet like a Jackson Pollock painting. With the birth of the twins this has become next to impossible. Getting called to the Bishopric, I am afraid, was the last nail in the Average Joel coffin.

Before I ride off into the blogosphere sunset, let say thanks for reading and especially for commenting. I am a feedback junkie and I appreciate all the kind words, even when we disagreed. This site will remain up if you ever care to peruse my thoughts but new content will have to stay trapped inside my head, where it probably belongs.

However, before your internet- induced ADD compels you to click on something else (oooooh look..LOL cats!) allow me the chance to unmask myself and reveal my not-so-secret identity. My name is Joel. I am married to Wonderwoman. I have five children who, despite my best efforts, are as beautiful as they are smart. I am a proud, unabashed and vocal member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. I am a child of a loving Heavenly Father who knows and cares for me. The same hands that made the sun, the moon and the stars made me.

Maybe I am not so average after all.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mr. Obama: What Can Brown do for You?

"Ted Kennedy's Karmatic Comeuppance". In a perfect world, that's what headlines across America would have said the day after Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts. Alas, most headlines tended to side with some sort of spin on old revolutionary themes, such as "The Scott Heard Round the World" or "The Boston Massacre." No matter what you call it, there is no questioning the magnitude of a Republican victory in such a historically and culturally left-leaning locale. Watching Scott Brown get elected to a Massachusetts Senate seat is like watching Rosie O'Donnell get elected President of Weight Watchers. This is certainly not the change Barack Obama hoped for.

Nevertheless, Scott Brown's victory could be the best thing that ever happened to Barack Obama. Just as Bill Clinton now gets credit for Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" (balanced budget, lower taxes, welfare reform) Scott Brown could be just what Barack Obama needs to save himself from...himself. So, Mr. Obama, what can Brown do for you?

Lesson #1: Time to Ditch Obama Care. Scott Brown's victory shows that America wants Obamacare as much as a person with bowel incontinence wants a pet tarantula. ( Sorry, obscure metaphors and Rose O'Donnell jokes are all I have to offer this world). Our healthcare system is broken, nobody denies that. But nobody in their right mind thinks that the solution to government-induced problems is more government involvement. Would anybody struggling with their car insurance company expect the DMV to make it better?

Obama's healthcare solutions show that he views public policy like a large McDonalds, where you can order whatever you want and make the guy behind you in line pay for it. Obamacare certainly started out with the best of intentions but what he ended up with was a trillion-dollar boondoggle wrought with union favoritism, and special interest buyouts. Comparing the fabrication of Obamacare to the making of sausage is an insult to sausage everywhere. What Obama ended up with was a pork-filled tube of government-largesse that not even the most obese progressive could swallow.

So what should Obama do? Cut that sausage into the pieces America can stomach. Focus on pre-existing conditions, making insurance cheaper (by allowing it to be purchased across state lines) and include tort reform to bring down the cost of healthcare.

Lesson #3: Rhetoric Makes for a Great Candidate but a Lousy President. President Obama loves to point out that words matter. After all, it was words (certainly not experience) that got him elected, right? But you know what matters even more than words? Action. Results. Success. While President Obama loves to attack the failed ideas of the past eight years, he so often neglects that Democrats ruled congress for two of those years. Blaming all of the problems he inherited on Bush may have worked for the first few months, but Democrats have been calling the shots in Washington for three years now and what do they have to show for it? We have the worst unemployment rate in decades and record deficits that will burden our country for generations.

For all his talk of bipartisanship, President Obama has done nothing conciliatory. He accuses Republicans of cow-towing to special interests while at the same time he is allowing insurance companies and unions to build his healthcare bill. He accuses Republicans of fiscal recklessness while at the same time proposing the largest budget in American history. He accuses Republicans of unprecedented obstructionism when he holds a filibuster proof majority. It is difficult to set a reconciliatory tone in Washington, Mr. Obama, when you spend most of your time accusing Republicans of, well, acting like Democrats.

Lesson #3: The Tea Party- It's ALIVE!. Considering Scott Brown was the first Republican elected to a Massachusetts Senate seat in a generation, you would think it would be worth mentioning this convenient fact in his victory speech. Alas, Scott Brown droned on and on about the importance of his victory without once mentioning the Republican party. The Republican Party, as an ideology, is dead. Stating you are a Republican no longer means you are a social and fiscal conservative. The meaning of Republican has become so muddied by the reckless spending of the Bush administration that it no longer has any actionable power or authority. President Obama needs to realize that the Republican party is beginning to function only as the administrative and organizational arm for the Tea Party.

Mrs. Pelosi's arrogant, down-her-nose sneering at the Tea Party movement notwithstanding, Scott brown proves that the movement has real power and real force. Far from being an Astroturf movement, the Tea Party is true grass roots with people of all shapes and sizes uniting around conservative principles. What distinguishes this from conservative movements of the past is the willingness of the Tea party to act out. Conservative activism used to be a complete oxymoron. Protests and petitions used to be the exclusive domain of people on the left. Conservatives were too busy, you know, working. However, enough people are concerned about the direction President Obama is taking this country that they were able to take Ted Kennedy's seat. As much as you may despise them, you can't ignore the termites when the roof caves in.

How bad is President Obama? Less than a year into office his actions have given rise to the fastest swing in political pendulum history. Conservatives have always outnumbered liberals 2-1, yet we are seeing in the Tea Party movement the silent majority finally come to life.

If President Obama wishes to have any success, he and the other Democratic leaders of congress, need to recognize the legitimate force of the Tea Party movement. This is no longer about getting more Republicans into congress than Democrats. This is no longer a political football game where we spend all our time pushing the ball back and forth along strict party lines. With the defeat of Republican Dede Scozzafava in upstate New York a few months ago, the Tea Party movement proved it is more content taking a risk on an unelectable conservative over an electable liberal. Because candidates will need the endorsement of the Tea Party masses in order to win election in this current political climate, you are more likely to have true conservatives, regardless of party, headed to Washington. If Barack Obama wishes to salvage his Presidency, and in essence, the country, he has to pivot to the center.

Unfortunately for Democrats, Obama's presidential victory was more like the Japanese victory in Pearl Harbor: momentous, short lived and serving only to wake the sleeping conservative giant. Scott Brown's election is the moment where Barack Obama needs to decide if he is going to be a permanent political force, or a short- lived kamikaze.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Maybe I am Just High on HopeyChangey

Mormons are crazy. Anyone who has read even three sentences of the ill-conceived drivel I contribute to the blogosphere on a not-so-regular basis already knows this. But on this particular day, this particular Mormon is particularly crazy. Why? Because I am fasting (Mormon custom of abstaining from food and water for 24 hours) but I did drink enough water to slide a Claritin-D down my throat to combat the fact that I am Allergic. To. Texas. Shoving jitter-inducing drugs into an already jittery guy is like feeding pixie sticks to a ferret. The low pitched whirring you hear is not the fan from your computer, it is my heart desperately racing to keep up with the low-blood sugar drug fueled semi-panicked state I now find myself in.

The previous paragraph, my peeps, was totally random. And unfortunately, because of the ferret like stupor I now find myself in, so will the rest of this column be. Or so will be the rest of this column. Or the rest of this column will so be. Pick whichever grammatical construct best suits you. It's like a choose your own adventure but with grammar instead of, you know, adventure.

Wow, even the paragraph describing how this column was going to be random ended up being random. Now, let the randomness commence, if it has not already.

Everybody keeps giving President Obama credit for appointing the first transgendered person to his cabinet. Oh how quickly we forget Janet Reno.

It is good to see President Obama keeping his campaign promise (which he re-iterated over eight times on the campaign trail) to allow C-SPAN cameras into the healthcare bill deliberations. Wait..what? You mean he has not? You mean to tell me that the most significant legislation in the past 30 years is being deliberated exclusively behind closed doors and the American public won't even have 24 hours to look at it before it is approved along a strictly partisan line? That Obama campaign was like a fun night out on the town, getting drunk on HopeyChangey only to wake up next to the Reid-Pelosi Healthcare love child. How much HopeyChangey do you have to drink for that to look good? Answer: Ask Keith Olbermann.

I have said it before and I will say it again: worrying about the American Health care system while unemployment hovers around 10% is like worrying about watering the plants while the house burns down.

Considering the last two would-be terrorists on American-bound planes have smuggled explosives in their shoes and underwear, I think the answer to our security problems is rather obvious. Forget the full body scanners, just ban footwear and undergarments. It would be like flying through the sky on a plane full of Mathew McConaugheys.

As Jeff Jacoby from the Boston Globe pointed out this week, the Mayo Clinic, which Barack Obama has touted as a model of efficiency and compassion that the whole healthcare system should emulate, announced that it will no longer accept patients using Medicare. Why? Because Medicare only covers 50% of the cost to deliver service. This is particularly important in light of the fact that much of the proposed healthcare bill is paid for by slashing Medicare payouts to doctors. I guess once everybody on Medicare is unable to find a Doctor to treat them, the costs of Medicare really will go down. After all, the cheapest healthcare is the healthcare you never receive.

It turns out Barack Obama is against gay marriage after all. If you look into the details of the healthcare bill being bandied about in the shadows of congress, you will find that some couples could pay up to $2,000 more in health insurance premiums just for having the gall to be married. Barack Obama is trying to combat gay marriage by making the institution of marriage as unattractive as possible. Well played Mr. President, I knew there was a heartless conservative in there somewhere!

So I went to a home football game for the University of Texas and I noticed a few things:

1) The longhorn really is the perfect mascot for the University of Texas. After all, with Bevo by your side you are never more than a few feet away from a potential BBQ.

2) The University of Texas needs a choir director in the stadium. Every time they "sing" the fight song, all you hear is a conglomeration of chanting and swearing (mostly swearing) that vaguely resembles a biker-gang initiation. I probably heard the Texas fight song 20 times and the only words I could decipher with certainty were "Texas", "Fight" and "Sucks". No seriously. Maybe they just need to sing "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree" to get warmed up.

If you just got that last joke then you are a full on BYU-lovin, green jello eatin' Mormon. I salute you.

3) Do not laugh when Colt McCoy gets hit hard and stays down on the ground for a while. Even though I was wearing full on burnt-orange (when in Rome) and I was sitting in the faculty section surrounded by 75-year old professors, I still almost got a good-old Texas tarin' and featherin' for that one.

4) You know you are in Austin when you walk into a gas station and there is a guy wearing 6-inch platform shoes, white bell-bottoms and a silver sequined shirt unbuttoned to the navel and no one even takes a second glance.

Just for the record all you University of Texas football fans: Brigham Young University has as many national championships and Heisman trophy winners in the last 25 years as you. Recognize!!!

Avatar was the awesomest version of Pocahontas I have ever seen.

When we elected Barack Obama, we elected a good looking, eloquent ideologue. Basically, we elected Sarah Palin without the experience.

One of my good friends, the Contemplative Tulsan, recently wrote about the decade that was and all the things that happened to him. Which got me thinking about the last ten years of my life and all I can say is HOLY MOTHER OF MARVIN THE MARTIAN! I've done a whole lot of livin'! Consider that in the last ten years I have: Returned from a mission to a third world country, met the love of my life, gotten married, received both a bachelors degree and a masters degree, stood on the Great Wall of China, floated in Hong Kong harbor, squatted in a Viet-cong tunnel, ridden a Cambodian elephant, gotten a full time job, moved seven times, bought my first home, saw every episode of Firefly twice, and brought five of my own children into this world.

Now one final word before I pass out from my Claritin-D'licious induced haze: desultory. Why? Because it is random.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fans of the University of Utah: Proving Max Hall Right since 1892

You may not have noticed it, but last weekend, my beloved BYU defeated its archrival Utah in overtime, 26-23. The score itself has become secondary to the endless brouhaha surrounding the post-game comments made by BYU's quarterback, Max Hall.

After the game, when asked about his feelings towards the University of Utah, Max stated ""I don't like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, their fans. I hate everything. It felt really good to send those guys home. I think the whole university and their fans and the organization is classless."

Apparently it is no longer okay to hate your rivals. This blunt statement has resulted in weeks worth of hand-wringing and guilt trawling by the U of U faithful who are shocked SHOCKED to hear such "hate speech" coming out of someone from a school run by the Mormon church. From talk radio, to newspaper op-eds, Utes all across the nation escaped to their parents basements to express the new-found hatred for such hatred.

This reaction by the Utes is nothing short of disingenuous. The only thing the Running Utes actually run from is reality. In 2004, Utah Quarterback Alex Smith, in discussing BYU said "I really hate them. Playing in the game helped me understand. They are the most arrogant people." in 2004, Utah defensive player Morgan Scalley said " I hate those pricks. I hate them with a passion." In 2002, Utah quarterback Brett Elliott said everybody hates BYU because "they're so cocky, it's ridiculous."

Apparently, the University of Utah only discovered its hatred for hate when BYU said it.

Let me say that I do not condone Max Hall's words. Max clearly paints with too broad of a brush and Max Hall himself said as much in his apology the following day. I do not hate the University and its fans, nor do I consider them all classless. I have too many friends and family members who cheer for Utah to possibly feel anything other than respect for the school. It is important to note, however, that Max Hall's comments did not occur in a vacuum and, while his comments do not apply to all fans, they do apply to a disproportionately vocal minority.

When pressed to explain his feelings Max Hall stated "They threw beer on my family and stuff last year and did a whole bunch of nasty things. I don't respect them and they deserved to lose." And what are those other "nasty things?" During last year's game at the University of Utah, some Utah fans managed to smuggle in a blow up doll on which they wrote the name of Max Hall's mother. They then found Max's family and had simulated sex with the doll right in front of them. Couple that with the hundreds of obscene text messages Max's wife got from Ute fans and the beer throwing proclivities of the Ute faithful and it is easy to understand why Max uses the word Utah and hate in the same sentence. Would any of us do otherwise?

University of Utah fans need to understand that these incidents do not represent a tempest in a tea pot. These are not isolated incidents.

I have every reason in the world to cheer for the University of Utah. I was born and raised 30 minutes from the campus. Both of my parents graduated from the University of Utah. My cousin used to be the coach for the University's cheer squad. However, shortly before I was born, my father took my older brothers to a Utah home football game against BYU. There he witnessed BYU fan after BYU fan being harassed by the vocal Ute minority. He watched Utah fans hurl obscenities at them. Cut them off on the streets to and from the stadium. And yes, pour beer on them. My father was so disgusted by the actions of his University that he switched allegiances and ended up sending all five of his kids to BYU.

Apparently, my fathers disappointment with the University of Utah is not exclusively his. This fall, Sports Illustrated conducted a nationwide survey of College Football fans. Fans were asked questions like "What is your biggest conference rival" and "how would you rate the tailgating scene on game day." Answers were them split out by conference. Here are some results that Utah fans should find as interesting as they are embarrassing:

Fans of the nine schools in the Mountain West Conference, when asked which school has the rudest fans, selected first Wyoming (28.2%) and then, drum roll please, the University of Utah (19.7%). When discussing who has the rudest fans, you don't even need to bring up Wyoming, it is a given. It is like when discussing the best movies of all time you don't even bother bringing up Star Wars because everybody knows they are the best. The real battle is for second place and Utah wins the battle of the classless hands down.

When asked "what is your favorite stadium to visit in your teams conference?" BYU came in first with 19.2% of the vote. Utah? 5th place with 10.9%.

When asked which school has the most polite fans for visitors? BYU came in second with 16.5% (behind only Air Force). Utah? They ranked 7 out of nine teams with 2.2% of the vote. When your fan base can only out class urine- tossing hooligans in Laramie, you have got issues.

So, in terms of actual fan perceptions, the University of Utah is considered to have some of the worst fans, while BYU is considered to have some of the best.

So, Ute fans, rather than focusing on the hate-spewing mote in BYU's eye, maybe you ought to pay a little more attention to the beer-tossing beam in your own.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Becoming Jim Bob

I finally understand Jim Bob.

Jim Bob Duggar from the TV show "18 Kids and Counting" could surely be enshrined in the Paternal Pantheon of the Prolifically Potent. As the name of his show suggests, his family has 18 kids and then some. What would drive a man to want 18+ children? The food bill alone would be enough to make Bill Gates start clipping coupons. So why does he do it?

Well, now that the twins are here, I am responsible for a family of almost-reality show sized proportions. And finally I understand why Jim Bob does it. What I haven't figured out is how to explain it.

You may have heard your friends compare being a parent to being a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. For those of you have heard this from your friends let me be perfectly clear: your friends are hillbillies. But those hillbillies you call friends are right. Being a parent is a constant scramble to keep balance and kick butt.

Having newborn twins, however, is nothing like being the afore mentioned mono-pod and his misplaced athletic interests. After all, as unfortunate as his disability may be, he does have the one leg. With newborn twins, you simply have NO useful appendages. Every possible limb is consumed in the relentless labor of keeping those two mouths fed and those two butts wiped. One of my favorite Far Side comics involves a man who, while looking into a mirror, discovers he has grown a mouth on his forehead. In disgust this bewildered man mutters "Great, another mouth to feed." For some reason, every time we have a child, this image goes through my mind.

As a new father of multiples I have found the most daunting aspect to twins is the logistics. Have you ever tried picking up a newborn baby with one arm? It is like trying to pick up a squishy bowling ball without using any of the finger-holes. I find myself setting the kids down and picking them back up again just so I can practice. Have you ever tried carrying two full car seats without hitting the frame of every door you pass through? Have you ever tried cramming three car seats into the back of a mini-van? Lets just say the three older kids are really getting closer now that half of the arms on their car seats have been removed.

Newborn twins also have a domino-effect impact on the other that can cause no shortage of consternation. For example, the other night I had changed their diapers, gotten them into their pajamas, fed them, burped them and gotten them to sleep when the twin boy let out a small cry as I set him down. This small cry caused his sister to grunt. This simple grunt created just enough force to get her to explode in her pants. This meant I had to change her diaper again and in the process of changing her diaper, she cried enough to wake up her sleeping brother. Thus with one small cry and I went from having two sleeping children to two wide-awake cry babies—half of them poopy. It is like the butterfly effect, only I always end up elbow deep in crap.

The twins also enjoy going for the hat trick as much as possible, where during one diaper change they manage to poop on me, pee on me and spit up on my one decent tie. They are like the Wayne Gretski's of bodily fluids.

And if you think I have it bad, you should see my wife. Not only is she still recovering from major surgery—not to mention spending nine months carrying around enough children in her belly to be considered a litter—but she is also the one responsible for feeding this thirsty brood. And being the true pioneer stock that she is, she is insistent on nursing them. This has turned her into the very personification of Las Vegas: a 24/7 topless buffet.

And yet I could not be more happy. You see, what me and the other Jim Bob's of the world have found is that happiness is not purchased, it is born and raised. The true measure of a man is not found in the soft leather seats of a sleek sports car; it is found in the torn up seats of a mini-van filled to the brink with your own children. There is no trophy you can hold that can match the joy of holding your newborn children. There is simply no law, no foundation, no organization, no governmental body that can have as profound an impact on society as one well-raised child. And I've got five of them.



I have included a great video produced by the Mormon Church about one amazing father. It does a good job of driving home my point (assuming my ramblings even have a point). I encourage you to check it out and promise you that watching it will not result in your conversion to the church. You will not come away renouncing coffee and wearing a "Joseph Smith is My Homeboy" T-shirt.(Unless you want to, in which case I know some missionaries who can totally hook you up.) It is just an inspiring message that will make men want be better and women want to marry garbage collectors. Seriously.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Adventures in See World

Neitzsche once said that when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. I hope this is not true of gazing long into the under-dressed churning masses at Sea World. I know what I saw in the churning masses (i.e. 99% of women who wear bikini's shouldn't) and I would hate to think of what the churning masses saw in me (i.e. I shouldn't be wearing a bikini either). Here are some more of my observations, by the numbers, from yesterdays foray into Sea World with the kids.

1,000,000-grains of sand that managed to work their way into my toddlers diaper after one minute of playing in the sand box.

10,000- people with tattoos. Sometimes I feel like I must be the only person left on earth who has not seen fit to bedazzle his body with Chinese doodles.

300-weight, in pounds, of the girl whose bright red shirt read: "If you were me, you would be awesome." Clearly the literal nature of this shirt had not occurred to her.

60-soaked people sent scrambling up the stairs at the Shamu show with crying infants in their arms who discovered first hand that Shamu swims in water with a temperature hovering around true zero. This is, of course, my favorite part of the Shamu show. Before the show begins, they provide ample warning that those sitting in the first 16 rows will be soaked. Yet sure enough, after the first big splash, you can see waves of humanity scrambling up the stairs with expensive cameras and crying infants shocked- shocked!- to find themselves suddenly turned into a salt water slushy. Shamu is a Killer Whale people! Expect no mercy.

22-size in inches, that one's waste must be in order to use the middle seat of the monkey ride. All the other large seats were taken and my toddler really wanted to go, so alas, I crammed my generously endowed hind-quarters into that seat and rode on till my legs were numb.

20-seconds needed by that guy sitting on the curb to change the diaper of the infant precariously laid across his lap. As a father, you come to admire such displays of parental prowess. To you Mister Curb-Sitting-Lap-Using-Twenty-Second-Diaper-Changer I tip my figurative cap. You are now in league with the Across-the-Room-Baby-Poop-Identifier and the One-Handed-Child-Puke-Catcher.

12-times, while watching the large whales interact with their uber-skinny trainers, that I thought we had accidentally walked into the Rosie O'Donnell- Clay Aiken show. The only difference, really, is that Shamu is rewarded with fish instead of Twinkies.

3-wet wipes needed to clean up the kids before they could eat their Cheetos.

3-wet wipes needed to clean up the kids after they ate their Cheetos.

Zero-Penguins caught displaying their, ahem, procreative proclivities. The great fear of any young parent when taking his children to a place with animals on display, is that intended lesson on the animals in nature will turn into a lesson on the nature in the animals. I remember visiting the zoo with my wife, long before having children, and coming across two tortoises amorously engaged for all the world to see. Just then, a mother called to her young children and said "hay kids, come look at the turtl…….oh!" By then it was too late. Now mommy had some serious 'splainin to do. Who could ever expect such behavior from the tortoise? Monkies, sure. But the tortoise? Luckily, yesterdays penguins where cute, cuddly and purely platonic.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Now is the Summer of Our Discontent

For President Obama, calling this summer a disappointment is tantamount to calling Transformers 2 demure and introspective. For the current administration, this summer has been a bombastic, glittery display of ineptitude and failure. No amount of CGI could put a positive spin on Obama's poll numbers where he is losing ground among all possible constituents- Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

Since World War II only two other President's (Ford and Clinton) saw their approval ratings go below 50% faster. In fact, it took George H.W. Bush three years for his approval ratings to get anywhere near where Obama is at a mere 8 months into his first term. Regardless of the statistics, this much is clear: America is rejecting Obama faster than a black-market kidney and here is why.

School Speech or Rallying Cry?

Let me state up front that I have no problem with President Obama asking for an opportunity to speak to America's youth in their schools. In fact, I welcome it. As President, he should be reaching out to the next generation and encouraging them to do better. I applaud him for the speech and I certainly hope it is taken to heart by those who heard it.

What I do have a problem with are the suggested lesson plans forwarded on to schools from the Obama administration prior to the speech that included such loaded questions as "How can I help President Obama?" or "How will he inspire us?" These questions turned a speech about staying in school into a rallying cry for the Obama Youth. Maybe for the next speech, they can just forgo the lesson plans all together and send each child their own Obama Youth arm bands. In classic Obama form, he managed to clutch failure right out of the jaws of success.

Background Check Czar

All those Czar's and President Barack Obama doesn't have a single person in the White House capable of running a background check? You would think with all his technological savvy, President Obama would at least Google the names of his staff before declaring them special advisors. Alas, this lesson is too little, to late to save the former Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones.

In Van Jones, Obama thought he was getting an experienced environmental advocate, but what he ended up with was an admitted socialist and supporter of cop killers like Mumia Abu Jamal. That much, however, Obama could live with. It turns out Jones's cardinal sin was not his support of an economic system that has led to the impoverishment of billions of people, but rather his support for a petition that called 9-11 an inside job. I guess President Obama is okay with communists in his cabinet, but he draws the line at having anybody near him who would blame the government for anything.

The Grassroots are Never Greener on the Other Side

Conservative activism used to be an oxymoron. Holding up signs, disrupting meetings and shouting down the opposition used to be the exclusive domain of leftist protestors. Then Barack Obama mentioned the words "Public Option" and suddenly every townhall meeting in America turned into ground zero for conservative anger and angst. Now it is conservatives making the signs, shouting the chants and getting their faces on the evening news.

Nancy Pelosi and much of the other Democrats on Capital Hill wrote the protests off as "Astroturf" movements organized by special interests. Suddenly, it turns out, dissent wasn't patriotic. Looks like San Fran Gran Nan is going to have to scrape that bumper sticker off her car.

If Nancy would just look closer (assuming all those botox injections still allow her to squint her eyes) she might see that the opposite is true. It is the pro-Obamacare crowd that is being organized and cajoled into action by special interests. For Nancy Pelosi, the grass isn't greener on her side. The grass isn't real at all. All you have to do is look at the signs.

For example, one photojournalist in Denver (http://www.lookingattheleft.com/2009/08/pelosi-astroturf-healthcare/) took pictures of all the pro and anti-Obamacare protestors who showed up for Pelosi's visit to a local clinic. If you look at the pictures of the conservative, anti-Obamacare activists you will notice they all have one thing in common: they are all home made. If you look at the signs for the liberal pro-Obamacare protestors you will see that they are all holding the same professionally made signs that point you to a common website. Subsequently this photojournalist points out that three of the pro-Obamacare liberal protestors are actually Mexican day laborers who don't even know what the signs they are carrying mean.

Lets see, one side is using unorganized, homemade signs while the other is using manufactured, professional signs held aloft by hired hands. Which side would you say is true grassroots?

President Obama has just not been able to wrap his mind around the fear most American's have of a government run healthcare option. President Obama, in attempt to ease peoples concerns, only made them worse when he compared the government run option to the U.S. postal service. Yes, that is just what people want out of healthcare: long lines, substandard facilities and damaged goods. The harder President Obama pushes for healthcare, the faster his approval rating falls.

Endure us, Honduras

No action taken by the Obama administration is as wrong, ill advised and out right foolish as his actions towards Honduras.

Quick recap of the facts. President Zelaya, in direct defiance of the Honduran constitution, sought a special election to allow himself to serve another term in office. He had special ballots for the referendum printed in Venezuela (for the record, ballots from Venezuela are about as trustworthy as spring water from New Jersey) and shipped in to the country. The Honduran Supreme Court declared the referendum unconstitutional (because under the Honduran constitution a referendum could only be ordered by the legislature) and seized the ballots. Zelaya, following the example of Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez, then led an angry mob into a military base to reclaim the ballots and distribute them illegally. The opposition had already stated it would refuse to participate in the election so any results Zelaya could achieve from a farcical referendum would be a misrepresentation of the people. Because of his aggressive acts and willful violation of the law, the Supreme Court ordered the military to arrest Zelaya and the legislature voted to provide Roberto Michelleti (a member of Zelaya's own party) with temporary presidential powers until an election could be held in November.

Despite the obvious democratic and legal justification for Zelaya's arrest, the President Obama has preferred to officially sanction Honduras until Zelaya is returned to power. At first the sanction came in the form of non-recognition for the new government, but now they have taken more drastic measures such as revoking government visa's and finally denying hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the impoverished nation.

There is simply no justification for Obama's actions other than a desperate attempt to seek favor from the South American thug-in-chief (and fellow book club member) Hugo Chavez. We should expect our President to courageously stand for Freedom and Democracy, instead, President Obama has chosen the cowards path in favor of the thugocracy currently ravishing South America.

That raspy sound you hear in the distance? That would be FDR and JFK rolling over in their graves.

If this summer of our discontent has proved anything it is this: when you elect a man President who has no idea what he is doing, you end up with a President who has no idea what he is doing.