Opposition Research: Mitt Romney

With Romney’s win in New Hampshire, the pressure is on in South Carolina.  It is definitely the last hope for any challenger candidate.  As such, the campaigns are now doing their worst.  SuperPACs (not affiliated with the campaigns and certainly not in coordination with the campaigns) are funneling money like crazy in negative ads, and everyone is hoping for a Romney gaffe so that this thing can drag on into the spring.

Professional opposition researchers and national news media have now had over 6 years to do serious opposition research and skeleton digging with Romney, but they have met their match.  Recent smear attempts show that the worse they could do was:

#1. Romney, as a volunteer ecclesiastical leader, once counseled a single-parent to give her child up for adoption.  The woman alleges that Mitt threatened her with Church disciplinary action, but Mitt has denied that allegation.  Keeping a child conceived out of wedlock is not grounds for church discipline in the LDS Church anyways, so clearly there is a disconnect in the story.  It’s possible that Mitt informed her that continued sexual promiscuity on her part would lead to church discipline, as adultery and fornication are not especially encouraged (but are grounds for a church disciplinary council).

At any rate, take a step back – he is being attacked for — wait for it — encouraging an adoption.  Whoa.  The horror!  Imagine that, an ecclesiastical leader trying to encourage people to raise their kids in homes with both mothers and fathers.

If you think about it, this isn’t even a smart attack for the left.  President Obama himself has campaigned on and been outspoken about the need for both mothers and fathers in the home, and the importance of having both parents engaged.  He himself is a model of this, insisting to his scheduling staff that he be with his young family for dinner every night possible, only allowing missing up to two dinners a week.

#2. Romney, as leader of Bain Capital, laid people off.  Now Romney says over and over that he actually hired more people and saved more jobs than he laid off, but what baffles me is that his fellow republicans – the type of folks known for doing practically anything to make a buck (inside and outside the law, regardless of ethics or morality) – would be pounding him on that.  I doubt that many republican business owners struggled to lay a few people off in the name of saving their own business or increasing their profitability.  You can’t be the part that touts free-enterprise and unregulated economies on one hand and then punish your own for adhering to those principles.

So… that’s it.  That’s all they could find.  No mistresses.  No love children.  Just those two things and an odd religion.

Compare that to the recent competition between Herman Cain and Dr. Ron Paul (the obstetrician) to see who had more exposure in their lifetime to female genitalia…  If your decision for a presidential candidate is based largely on character or morals — not only spoken of but also lived by — I think you might have your man.

My Ornery New Year’s Blog

I just finished catching up on all my friend’s new year’s posts and photos on the blogs – and just can’t bring myself to complete mine here.  I’ve tried – three times – to write a new year’s post, and I’m not sure what’s wrong.

It’s not that I haven’t had good ideas.  I thought about creating videos of footage of WEJr to go with each paragraph.  I thought of creating a really cool interactive post.  I thought about creating personalized posts – like christmas cards.  I had one or two good starts – but – nothing.  Nothing.  I couldn’t bring myself to finish anything.  My effort and stamina ran out before I could even start any of my brililant ideas.

So I’m going to try something a little odd.  I’m going to post an ornery New Year’s post.  I’m just going to lay it all out here, and I pledge one thing – I will post this blog, come hell or high water, whether I finish it or not.  Why?  Because I’m just going to focus on writing some raw emotion here.  Editing will be minimal.  Cutesiting up with pictures?  None.  Giving it thought?  Not a chance.  You’re just going to get the ornery white guy’s pontification on all his problems.

Lately, we’ve had a cough running through our house.  This sounds as boring or mundane as saying something like “I clipped my fingernails” – everyone has boring colds all the time.  I realize I’m not special, here.  My sister’s family spends at least 1/2 the year with someone ill in the house.  (When you have 5 kids, the statistics just don’t fall in your favor that everyone will stay healthy all together for very long.)  But this cold, for me, has been a backbreaker.  For some reason, a lot of the time I feel like I’m constantly wiping a nose, picking up garbage that was pulled out of the garbage can (just to have it pulled out again as soon as it was replaced), and holding someone just right so they could go to sleep, then gently leaving them be so I dont’ wake them up.  Yes – I said them.  These things seem to apply to both of my lovely sickies.

I’m happy to be the less-sick person in the house, and I’m usually happy to do my part to help and serve, but right now – I’m struggling to not have a bad attitude.  I think it’s because only a few days ago, I had high hopes for the new year starting on a real strong “git ‘er done” note.  I was going to tackle my large projects and knock some real doozies out of the park that I’ve been thinking about for a long time.  I was in a good, execution mood – ready to jump back into work with full force!

Then January 2nd rolled around and the coughing started.  Ugh.  No progress has been made on my big projects.

 To give you an example – when Audrey and I were looking at our list of stuff we wanted to do last year, I took particular note that “back yard landscaping” had made it through year #3 with absolutely NO progress.  In fact, with the only tree dead and a hole in the fence where the gate once stood – I think it’s actually getting worse.  There are more, but I don’t want to plunge too deeply into ornery land.  I’ve had a bunch of large-ish projects just languishing on the to do list for years.

So this ‘stuck-in-neutral-ness’  has been my 2012.  In spite of getting zero traction on a long list of large projects that require a certain amount of concentration, I’ve been trying to compensate by hacking wildly at the leaves of the small to-dos – you know, the ones that you can easily check off your list in less than an hour’s work.  The routine auto maintenance is done on all the vehicles, the trash is taken out, the sheets are all washed, the beds are all made the carpet is vacuumed, and the kitchen counter is clean, and my email inbox is as pared down as it can get.  I feel like I’ve been putting in epic amount of effort to just keep this little bit of progress from falling back into disrepair.

So where do I go from here?  Well, I think I need to get a little more organized.  I need to get my kid and my wife back to health, and then I need to take a vacation to Tahiti.  Or somewhere.  I need an attitude transplant.

So maybe let me reflect on some 2011 memories…

2011?  It was a spectacular year.  If I had it to do over again, I’d do it all the same.  You probably know pretty much everything that happened to us in 2011 – and that it mostly revolved around welcoming our new little WEJr.  Boy does our lives revolve around him now.  And that’s a good thing.  He’s a fun little project.  He’s cute to take pictures of, and he’s fun to share with everyone else.

The best part of walking around with a kid is that it takes all the pressure and attention off of me.  No one is looking at you when you are holding a kid.  No one really wants to see you or talk to you too much.  No one wants to listen to your woes (or read your blogs) when there is a cute kid with cheeks to pinch and diapers to fill with poop.  In a way that’s a big relief, and in a way it’s a huge new burden.  But one that I’m getting used to.

And the poop doesn’t always smell bad.

Thankfully, our new ball and chain didn’t keep us too grounded in 2011.  WEJr is a great traveler, and we enjoyed trips to several places last year.  Eli met a lot of family members and drooled on things in 3 or 4 different states.

Both of our careers continue to grow and flourish.  I really can’t complain about anything there, except for the fact that we’re both starting off 2012 in the middle of large reorganizations at both of our workplaces.  This could all work out for awesomeness – or it could stick us in neutral there too… I’m going to remain cautiously optimistic for now.  I don’t want to tempt Karma.

Lets see… what else can I whine about??

I think that’s it.

I’d like to end this post on a positive note.  You know what’s amazing about our world?  I can shop from anywhere.  Anywhere.  Literally.  Home, work, the doctor’s office, the dentist’s office, the drivers seat of my car while traveling at 80mph down the freeway – and I can buy anything – and it will magically arrive on my doorstep a few days later.  Have you thought how crazy that is!  It’s insane.  We can get anything anywhere we want.  God bless the over-commercialization of America!

WhiteEyebrows vs. His Own Blog

I’ve been trying to figure out lately why I no longer blog like I used to.  Several theories have been advanced:

1. Marriage and children have scrambled my brains and exhausted my powers of thought.

I DO feel more tired, and I certainly have fewer hours in the day.  I’m waking up at 6am and going to bed at 10pm or 11pm or sometimes 8:30pm.  I have few precious, peaceful hours which aren’t work hours – and  I just have other things to do with them than think of something interesting and blog about it.  I used to think in the car and in the shower, but now I use that time to just not think, since I seem to be doing thinking most of the rest of my day.

2. My universe has shrunk so much that I have little external stimulation to prompt blog topics.

One of the themes of my blog since I got engaged 3 years ago was that I could feel my world shrinking.

You know, they say, throughout your young adulthood that “the world is your oyster.”  You can become anything you want.  You can go wherever opportunity takes you.  You can sieze the moment.  You are free.

However, marriage, family, career, and church have brought all those vast horizons down to a very local circle of concern.  I interact with, on average, the same 25-50 people every week.  If it weren’t for Facebook and other online communications, I would have very little contact with friends from earlier in my life.

I think this change has been slightly numbing.  Dont’ get me wrong – I’m very happy and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.  I love my wife and my son – they are the most important things in my life – and I’m so blessed to have such a great job and feel a part of a church community – but living in these chosen parameters has shrunken my exposure to expansive thoughts, new experiences, and groundbreaking changes in my life.  I’m solidly anchored with the full hand of cards I’ve been dealt, and it’s gonna take a while to play this hand out.

So since I feel very little change in my life (based on where I thought I’d go or do or be), I just don’t find much novelty to blog about.

3. I’ve grown bored with even my own rhetoric.

This one is scary, but I think I’ve grown too comfortable with how I think.  I’m no longer astounded when people don’t think like I do or agree with me, and it’s harder for me to get bent out of shape when things don’t go my way.  I don’t exercise my thought processes or challenge my own assumptions often enough to create any kind of epiphany or discovery in my own thinking.  (This is kind of sad now that I’ve typed it and read it, but I think it’s at least 80% honest and accurate)

4.  I don’t find it blog-worthy that my kid just figured out how to unroll the entire toilet paper roll onto the floor while I was in the shower this morning.

A cuter, “hip parent” version of me would take pictures of him in the mess, add it to his scrap book, and write him a letter about the event he could read later on – all awesome things, don’t get me wrong.  Me?  I’m just in ornery parent mode.  I just kind of cuss under my breath and clean it up rather than post it online and revel in the new discoveries.  The goal of my blogging was always to have larger appeal than just grandparents (though they’re probably the only ones reading this now – Hi Mom, Hi Dad.), but maybe I’m wrong here.  Maybe those types of discoveries are the flavor of life my blog has been lacking?

5.  I have to go to the bathroom more often.

As one ages, it becomes more important to have close proximity to a working restroom.  Twice during this post, I’ve had to visit the lavatory, and twice I’ve completely lost my train of thought by doing so.

Little reasons like this surely add up to why this blog isn’t quite as successful as it used to be.

6. I no longer obsess over TV shows.

American Idol was fun while it lasted, but it took a serious nose dive in Simon’s last season.  Deep down I will still love the talent-show-on-TV format and I will be opinionated and critical to the core, but I’m just not feeling like it’s worth following and critiquing any of those yahoos much anymore.

7. I’m not sure who my blog audience is anymore.

I think it’s mostly just family reading this blog now.  In my blogging heyday I had all kinds of strangers (friends of friends) reading this blog, too.  Heck, I had all kinds of hits from around the world.  Granted, most of them were from my top-ranked google keyword searches to posts like “top 10 most painful things” and “private island” and “wigwam song”.  (Don’t ask me why people are searching for a wigwam song online!)

So – I’m not sure what you people want to hear about, either.  Do you want me to bloviate about politics and national issues?  Do you want me to just share pictures and stories about our family vacations and funny things WEJr does?  Or do you want me to post more of my deep philosophies that I reserve the right to change at any time?  Should I go back to challenging topics and wrestling with the large issues of the universe?  Or do you not really care at all and you’ll commit to reading anything I post like some kind of blog-reading slave?  Or should I just close the blog and move on?

Post your comments and I’ll try to figure out a strategy moving forward…


This month seems to have been the month for plumbing mishaps.  First, I finally got fed up with the valves under my sink which had been leaking on and off for months.  After tightening and band-aiding the system for far too long, I decided it was time to just replace the fittings.  As I tore into the project, I realized that the plumber didn’t even use standard brass compression fittings to put the valve on.  He used some kind of crappy aluminum/plastic combo compression fitting.  On one of the sides, the plastic had basically disintegrated.  Three hours, one trip to Lowes, and plenty of muttered obscenities later, the sink was back in good order.

The good news was, I had my helper – who crawled over on his own volition to see what daddy was doing:

This morning, I woke up and smelled a faint smell of gas.  After poking my nose around, I found the source – the pipe next to the oven.  This same pipe had a leak about 4 years ago when I had overnight company visiting from my home town.  (It’s always heartening to company to walk into a house with a gas leak in it and know they are staying the night.)  Thankfully, the gas company has people on call 24/7 for fixing such issues – and they were called.  Now, the same spot is leaking again.  Argh!

I’m convinced that whatever crackpot plumber they got to plumb this house when it was built was high on PCP or something.  *Sigh*  The joys of home ownership!

Freakanomics: Economist’s Guide to Parenting

In the 1980’s the average young college educated mother spent 13 hrs per week on child care.  After declining for decades, in the late 90’s and early 2000’s the amount of time invested by parents has skyrocketed.  Now, the average is 22 hours per week.

But does it matter?  Is the extra time we are spending with our kids, chauffeuring them to and from activities, really making a huge difference?

In this freakanomics podcast, a group of economists spend the hour trying to figure out how much parents actually matter.

I strongly recommend taking the hour to listen:

What could economists know about parenting?


Settling Nature vs Nurture…


So what really does matter in the life of a kid?  If you had to focus on one thing that could have a huge effect on your child and on yourself as a parent, what would it be?


Seriously – best podcast I’ve heard… maybe ever.

GOP Field Analysis

Last night’s debate was enlightening.  Everyone’s campaign got the memo this week, with Herman Cain’s rise in the polls, that the electorate is very volatile right now, and that this debate would matter.  So everyone came out to try and make an impact.  Most of them just fell all over their own faces trying to do so.

Here’s my analysis of this week’s candidates:

Still in the lead, still making all the right decisions, and still too good to be true for the party is Mitt Romney.  He had a very refreshing response when responding when religion was brought up, and handled it far better than he ever has to date, though in my opinion he went too far in patting Gov Perry on the shoulder telling him his lukewarm apology for Jefferds remarks was “OK”.  I’m not sure if it made him look incredibly magnanimous (almost to the point of push-over) or made him look like he was in too much of a hurry to let Perry off the hook and get back to the economy.  Other than that, solid performance by Romney, and I was particularly impressed that he won every shouting match with another candidate trying to horn in on his reponse time.  I didn’t think Mitt had it in him.

As this week’s insurgent, Herman Cain got much of the focus with everyone decimating his 9-9-9 plan.  I really don’t like it either for all of the reasons that Stallion Cornell outlined yesterday – but mostly because it would be a huge tax increase for me as a citizen, a consumer, and a micro-business owner.  I’m just not sure where he gets off by saying we should look at his people’s scoring and his data.  I went to his website and the data is SKETCHY!  The truth is that the “fair” tax is a huge tax break for the wealthy and a huge tax increase on the poor and middle class.  Period.  End of sentence.

Michelle Bachmann’s best moment was when she trumped everyone else’s fence proposal by pointing out that her fence would be a double fence with a security zone in between.  I thought she was going to go one step further and explain how the security zone would be constantly patrolled by the 82nd airborne.  Hallelujah border security gods!

Sadly, Rick Perry was the only one who made a lick of sense about the border, denying the absurd idea that we need a fence or that a fence would deter illegal immigration.  I say sadly, because he was a hot mess the rest of the night.  He even merited a boo from the audience when he repeatedly called Romney a hypocrite for employing a lawn care company who hired illegals.  He’s trying harder, but not really getting better results.  I’m not sure if it’s because he’s that stupid or because he is surrounded with people who are that stupid.  I’m thinking it’s a bit of both.

Newt Gingrich continues to come out with reasonable ideas – like calling the super committee a stupid idea – but his time is sadly past.  He still subscribes to Reagan-style Republicanism that most of the candidates have abandoned for Tea Party style Republicanism.  (Clearly Reagan’s 11th commandment “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican” was thrown out the window last night)  Newt shows he has the even-keeled-ness to be a good party mover and shaker again, but I dont’ know anyone who really wants him to be their President.

When it comes to talking about things no one wants to talk about, I give the victory to Rick Santorum.  He has found a way to make himself the ‘values’ candidate for the approximately 1% of voters who care about social issues right now.  His most interesting allegation was against Ron Paul, asserting that the family was the center of our society rather than the individual, to which Paul replied something like, “I’ve given birth to thousands of babies and they call come one at a time.”  To which everyone rolled their eyes.   You can always count on Paul to say something completely sensible but that you completely disagree with the more you think about it.

Jon Huntsman did what no GOP candidate would, in their right mind, do at this point in their race: decline to be on TV.  I suppose he thought the high school cafeteria in New Hampshire would be more integral to his presidential bid; and he might be right.  If his strategy is to focus on New Hampshire, threaten to boycott any caucus that occurs before the NH primary, and try to come in 2nd or 3rd in New Hampshire, it’s the right strategy.  It’s really all he has left.  He’s gotta be running low on money and low on will to try and make himself look appealing as a moderate in this crowd of Tea Party panderers.  I know I would be.

After the debate, I watched NBC’s The Sing Off, which I had recorded from the day before.  and pictured all the candidates in an acapella group together…

Very Interesting Weekend for Mitt

It was a very interesting press weekend for Mitt.  First, the NY Times wrote a very interesting (and in my opinion, fair) article on Mitt’s various responsibilities in the LDS Church over the last few decades.  Non-Mormons (and the electorate at large) has no idea that while also building and running a super-successful business, Mitt was also spending whatever “free” time he had overseeing and running multiple congregations of LDS adherents.

As I suspected, the stories in this article represent both sides – both the joy and the difficulty –  of working as an ecclesiastical leader.  The young man’s story of wise counsel setting his life on a better path is just one of thousands that likely occured during Mitt’s tenure as Bishop and Stake President.  Those are the easy ones to talk about.  One the other hand, I would advise the world to reserve judgement about Mitt’s counsel to families making difficult decisions.  Sometimes an ecclesiastical leader will feel moved to counsel two different people about the same issue two different ways.  Though Bishops are instructed not to specifically counsel couples for or against divorce as a resolution to their marital difficulties, I’ve known instances where the leader was relieved by a divorce and instances where they were saddened by a divorce.  Context makes a world of difference, and no newspaper article could ever provide the full context for any such exchange between priest and congregant.

Also, my friend McKay Coppins posted an interesting (but unsurprising) article about leaked emails from the Perry campaign’s religious advisors have reacted and plotted in regards to Mitt’s religion, and their hopes of sinking his candidacy through its marginalization.

It appears that the inseparable siamese twins, religion and politics, are just heating up for the GOP primary.

Do you think it gets worse before it gets better?

Any of my non-LDS readers have a problem with Mitt’s religion or past as a lay leader of the religion?