The Democrats Dinner

Another new experience.

I should start off by saying that although technically I’m now a Democrat, I’m not really a Democrat. I vote for who I think would be the best candidate for the office. These days, it’s usually a Democrat, but there may be some time in the future that it’s a Republican or third party candidate. The only reason I’m technically a democrat is because I had to check a box on the primary form to vote for a Democrat candidate. At least that’s my understanding of what I did and what it means.

I honestly don’t care.

Anyway, a like-minded friend of mine invited me to join her for the annual Democrats dinner. The dinner, which was to be held at the Wenatchee Convention Center, was for Chelan County and Douglas County Democrats. It was $50/person and included a three-course dinner, no-host bar, speakers, and door prizes. I figured it might be a nice way to meet other like-minded people. After all, although Washington state is “blue,” I live on the red side. I can’t tell you how many Trump signs there are on lawns here, but I can tell you how many Hillary signs there are: 0.

At the Dinner

I met my friend at the Convention Center at 5:30 PM. She’d already gotten very good seats for us at a table near the front, facing front. Another friend of hers joined us. They were both retired teachers, both union members, both Democrats. The real kind — not like me.

Cocktail hour was a bit disappointing. There was a full bar with a bartender. Just one. By about 6 PM, he was overwhelmed and the wait for a drink had gone up to at least 20 minutes. I know this because my friend went back for a second drink and that’s how long it took her to get back. There were no snacks. I was famished.

The walls were decorated with election signs not only for the presidential election but for all the other races below it. People I’d never heard of but would likely get my vote anyway. (More on that in a moment.)

Trump's Small Hand Soap
Why couldn’t this be a door prize?

Trump Voodoo Doll
It comes with pins!

Trump Press Cartoon
It’s all about ratings.

A long table stretched down one side of room. On it were signs with photos of every single president, from Obama back to Washington, along with a brief summary of his presidency. The tabletop was decorated with some Democrat candidate memorabilia — for example, a still-sealed book from Obama’s inauguration and various campaign buttons — along with cartoons mostly lampooning Trump. My favorite was the Trump Small Hands bar of soap. I was hoping that would be a door prize. Someone at our table also had a Trump voodoo doll, still wrapped. Very cool.

I’m sad to report that our table companions were not necessarily the kind of people I was hoping to meet. My friend’s friend was very pleasant and I think the three of us had a lot in common. We had some nice conversations. But the two women on the other side of me were older women — late 60s? 70s? — from Grand Coulee in the farthest reaches of Douglas County. One of them showed me photos of her cat, and all I could think about was cleaning all that hair off my furniture. Another man at the table bragged, at one point, very loudly about a very large gun he’d bought. (Yeah, some Democrats do own guns.) My friend’s friend did a bunch of eye rolling and told us about the gun-toting Republican she’d dated for a short while. The one person who I thought might be interesting to talk to was a semi-retired merchant marine, but he was opposite me at the big table and conversation would have been difficult.

The presentation started with an introduction, pledge of allegiance, and prayer. The usual political thing. Even Democrats stick to the formula. Then dinner was served. Salad, steak and salmon (for those like me who didn’t want the vegetarian option), and a berry cobbler that was mostly apples (go figure). The food wasn’t bad but definitely not worth $50. I didn’t really expect it to be, though, so I wasn’t disappointed. At least it was edible.

The cat lady had brought along what seemed like used washed ziplock bags and bagged up half her meal. I like to think she was going to give it to her cat — do cats eat green beans? Later, when we realized that one of our table companions wasn’t going to show and his vegetarian meal was up for grabs, she produced a stack of used bags and offered them to us. (I wish I was kidding.) She then packed up most of the veggie meal, too.

Meanwhile, the parade of speakers began. I’m sorry to report that most of them were pretty dull. Even the ones that were young and exuberant — and there were more than a few — didn’t really interest me. You see, I had already made up my mind about who I was voting for and I had no intention of knocking on doors or making calls to convince others. The way I see it, if this country isn’t smart enough to vote for the best, most qualified candidates, we deserve whatever we get. And if someone hasn’t decided by now who they’re going to vote for, they’re likely brain dead and not worth wasting time over anyway. (More on that in a moment, too.)

I should point out here that most of the speakers were in support of state and local candidates. There was little said about Clinton, most likely because voting for her was such a no-brainer.

There were two videos, one of which was from the Governor, who, until that point, I would not have been able to recognize in a line up. The videos were obviously created especially for the Wenatchee gathering; both candidates referred to specific places and people and things in the area. The Governor apparently has some strong ties to Wenatchee. It was interesting to see these videos — sort of like personalized commercials. I wonder how much time these people spend recording videos like this for other community gatherings and events.

One thing I did notice throughout the event is that there was remarkably little Trump bashing. I think I see more Trump bashing in 30 minutes on Twitter than I got at that dinner. A few jokes, a few one liners, a few warnings that he would take our country and the world in the wrong direction. That’s it. Not even a single chant.

The door prizes went last and they were mostly donated items. No Trump soap or voodoo dolls.

Flowers
Despite the wild ride home on curvy roads in my Honda, the flowers look pretty good the next day.

Finally, the woman who organized the event mentioned that the money we’d paid basically covered the cost of the event — which, if true, is unfortunate because I’m sure they could have had it catered for less — and suggested donations. She also mentioned that the flowers on the table had been provided at a cost of $15 each by a local floral design shop and were for sale. I liked the flowers on my table so I stuck a $20 bill in the donation envelope, wrote “For Flowers” with my name on it, and handed it off to one of the organizers before grabbing the flowers.

Hillary Poster
My souvenir from the evening.

There were lawn signs at the back of the room, including quite a few for those lower level candidates I’d never heard of. We were invited to take as many as we liked. There were even stakes to put them in the yard. I got there just as a vertically challenged, overweight man was counting off a short stack of cardboard Hillary signs. I reached for the last one, but he grabbed it first.

“Are there any more?” I asked.

“No,” he replied smugly with a grin that made me want to kick his teeth out. “I got the last ones.”

Not to be deprived of my souvenir, I pulled one off the wall. And no, it won’t go on my lawn. Do you think I want Trump supporters throwing garbage at my home?

By reading all this, you might think I’m sorry I went. I’m not. It was an interesting evening out — a new experience. But will I go next year? Hell, no.

My Vote

It should be pretty obvious to anyone who knows me or reads my blog or has just read this that I will be voting for Hillary Clinton. It’s not because she’s a woman, either. It’s because she is, by far, the most experienced and qualified candidate for the job of President of the United States. Anyone who doesn’t see this needs to wake up and look at the facts.

And yes, I know we live in a “post fact society.” What a shame.

As for the down-ticket candidates, I’m voting for Democrats. Why? Because I’m sick and tired of Republican obstructionism in the House and Senate. I’m tired of them fighting Democrats just because they think it’ll score points with their supporters. I’m tired of them spitefully failing to do what’s right for this country because it’s the same thing our President or Democrats want. I’m outraged that they have failed to even discuss the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice, leaving a very important seat unoccupied.

I’m also sick and tired of Republicans trying to regulate women’s bodies and health care. I’m tired of them fighting Planned Parenthood, which provides affordable health care services to both women and men. I’m tired of them inserting God and Christianity into government and education. I’m tired of them passing laws that help the rich at the detriment of the poor. I’m tired of them keeping their supporters in line through the use of fear and hate.

At this point, I wouldn’t vote for a Republican if he or she was the only candidate on the ballot.

As for Trump — well, I still can’t believe he’s the candidate that Republicans chose to run for president. Pardon me, but are they fucking kidding us? Has the GOP completely lost its collective mind? The man is a clown. Even the top Republican weasel, Ted Cruz, summed it up correctly:

Of course, Ted eventually caved in to support Trump. After all, you have to toe the Republican party line to get any support from the GOP and Ted doesn’t want to be unemployed. I won’t even go into the moral implications of his support for a man who insulted him and his wife and tried to implicate his father in the JFK assassination just a few months ago. What an unprincipled weasel.

How can anyone in his right mind support trump? Oh yeah. Trump supporters are not in their right mind.

And I’m not talking about “the deplorables.” I’m talking about are the poor, misguided souls who believe everything their other right wing friends and Fox News tell them — whether it’s true or not — and disregard all the negative facts about Trump. The deplorables are driven by hate, and Trump feeds them the doses they need. Like addicts always strung out on crack or meth, they are too far gone to save.

It would be nice to hear a Trump supporter intelligently discussing why he’s voting for Trump without resorting to bashing Clinton — because that’s all I’ve heard. No one seems able to support Trump without turning to the same old tired lies about Clinton — lies that have been disproven again and again. And no, I don’t give a flying fuck about Clinton’s email, especially when so many of her predecessors also had their own private email servers. And I don’t want to talk about Benghazi, either. In fact, I’m sick of Clinton conspiracy theories, all of which have been disproven multiple times by multiple investigations. And I’m sick and tired of seeing my tax money spent on witch hunts led by the GOP.

In his own words.

Any logical argument a Trump supporter could come up with would serve only to convince me that he actually believes the documented lies of a narcissistic conman who regularly stiffs contractors, sues people at the drop of a hat, and uses other people’s money to buy off politicians, settle his legal obligations, and contribute to charitable causes under his name. So even if a Trump supporter isn’t stupid, he’s definitely gullible.

So anyway, I’m voting Democrat right down the ticket this year and I urge people who care about the future of America and the world to do the same. The President is only one part of the picture. Her hands will be tied if we can’t clear out the obstructionists preventing the country from moving forward.

And if you’re an ardent Trump supporter who is deeply offended by what I’ve written here today, I’m sorry for you. But I think this article pretty much sums up what I’d like to say to you beyond what I’ve said here.

And yes, I’ve closed comments on this post. I know it’ll be impossible for Trump supporters — who will likely show up here with something to say — to follow the comment policy and keep things civil. I have better things to do than play moderator for people idiotic enough to support Trump.

The Sticker on the Coffee Cup

Logic, U.S. government style.

Last week, I was in the North Cascades National Park. On a whim, I stopped by the Visitor Center at Newhalem. In addition to the usual interpretive displays, they have an excellent three-dimensional map of the area that identifies rivers and lakes and dams with lights; push a button and a red light appears on the map to show you where that thing is. They also had a ranger standing at a table with a bunch of reproduction animal skulls (wolverine, wolf, and bear) and corresponding paw castings and pelts. And a gift shop.

I went into the gift shop before leaving because … well, that’s what I do. I found some interesting kids’ stuff and picked out two gifts for my neighbor’s grandson, who has some learning disabilities. Then I saw a large coffee mug I liked — I like a big cup of coffee in the morning — and thought I’d buy it as a little gift for myself. But it had a paper sticker on it that had nothing to do with the mug. I reached for another, hoping to find one without a sticker and that’s when I realized that they all had stickers.

The sticker, which is shown below, says:

The North Cascades has an annual rainfall of over 200″ in some areas, which feeds the many cascading waterfalls of the region.

Sticker on Mug
This sticker was on every single coffee mug in the shop.

On a side note, I can definitely believe that rainfall figure because it rains every single time I go there. Although I like rain more than most people — probably because it rains so seldom where I live — I prefer getting rain at home instead of when I’m traveling. (Yeah, I know: whine, whine, whine.)

Of course, being the inquisitive person I am, I had to know why this sticker was on the mugs. So when I went to pay for my purchases, I asked the ranger at the check out counter.

He didn’t know. He said he’d never even noticed the stickers. He said he’d ask the guy who stocked the shop.

PFDs when flying across the Grand Canyon?

This brings to mind another side story that is related to this.

Years ago, the FAA changed its rules regarding personal flotation devices (PFDs or life jackets) on board flights conducted for tours. The new rule said that if any part of the flight crossed any body of water, a PDF was required for each passenger. This extended to Grand Canyon tours, which, of course, cross the Colorado River 5000 feet or more below the helicopter’s flight path. When I was a Grand Canyon tour pilot (which was before this rule came into play) the pilots often discussed that in the event of an engine failure, we should autorotate anywhere except to the water. The river was about 55°F, flowing at 10 mph or more, and full of rapids. When you’re doing an autorotation from 5000 feet, you have plenty of time to find and navigate to a more suitable landing zone; believe it or not, there are quite a few inside the canyon.

I spoke to the woman who created this rule — an aging FAA pencil pusher who had likely never flown across the Grand Canyon and reminded me of my sixth grade teacher, Miss Dumphy — and tried to tell her how silly (actually, idiotic, but I toned it down) her rule was. She didn’t care. Water was water; the way her rule was written, PFDs would be required when crossing a 3-foot-wide stream.

I didn’t have long to wait. That ranger walked by a moment later and the guy I’d asked called him over and asked him. He seemed almost embarrassed when he told me that they weren’t allowed to sell anything in the gift shop unless it provided some kind of interpretive or general information about the park.

Apparently, just having a logo on the mug wasn’t enough to satisfy some decision maker higher up on the food chain. The sticker was the solution.

I bought the mug as a practical memento of my visit to the park. I didn’t mind paying the price — which I honestly can’t remember — because I figured that it was another way to support the National Park Service. I didn’t need any additional information about the park to help me justify my purchase. And I definitely didn’t need a sticker that I had trouble scrubbing off once I got home.

But it makes me wonder … what other things are National Park Service employees being required to do to meet government guidelines established by someone in Washington who may have traveled to only a tiny fraction of the parks?

A Day of Silence at the Aerie

I just can’t listen to any more of it.

I’m home today, catching up on paperwork, yard work, and home construction chores that I’ve been putting off for too long. When I’m home — unless I’m writing — I almost always have the radio on with NPR (specifically NWPR) tuned in. I get the news from Morning Edition; listen to news analysis and opinions and learn about new books on The Diane Rehm Show; get more of the same from On Point, Here & Now, PRI’s The World, Fresh Air, All Things Considered, and Marketplace; and learn interesting scientific things on Science Friday. If I’m up early enough, I hear BBC World Service, which offers an interesting perspective on current events throughout the world and if I’m still tuned in late in the evening (at home or in my car), I listen to q from CBC. On weekends, if I’m tuned in, I really enjoy Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and a bunch of other entertaining and/or humorous shows, many of which I also listen to on podcasts so I don’t miss them. (I actually listen to quite a few NPR podcasts, but that’s a whole different blog post.)

NPR, which they say leans left politically, gives me a solid basis of information for me to form my own opinions. Because yes: I am one of the few Americans who can tell the difference between fact and opinion. And I’m among the group of even fewer Americans who actually cares.

But today things are different.

The Orlando shooting happened early yesterday morning, and it’s all over the news today. It’s the same old collection of politician and religious leader “thoughts and prayers,” ultra liberals demanding all guns be banned, ultra conservatives trying to place blame on Muslims, crazy Christians praising the killer for murdering gays, et cetera, ad nauseam. There’s a constant rehashing of what’s known and what’s suspected as the media and public try to figure out whether it should be labeled as terrorism or a hate crime.

As if it really matters.

50 innocent people were killed on Sunday morning and many others seriously injured by a man who apparently had only two guns on him. How does that even happen? How is it that we’re legally allowed to buy guns capable of killing that many people in that short a time?

And who cares whether this was jihad or he was Muslim or white or a citizen or hated to see men kissing. Who fucking cares?

The fact is, he was on an FBI watch list but because our laws don’t prohibit possible terrorists from buying guns, he was able to do so. That’s a fact. There’s no opinion there. He was on a watch list. Period. He was able to legally buy guns that he then used to kill 50 people. Period.

Am I the only person who sees a problem with this?

And the American people are powerless to make the killings stop. Why? Because the NRA buys more politicians than we can ever hope to. And those politicians kill any bill that would limit firearms sales.

Because back in 1791, after fighting a war to get our independence — a war that depended, in great part, on a citizen militia — the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted and it said:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Apparently, many people seem to think these 27 words mean that any American has the right to own any kind of weapon for any reason.

I don’t think automatic assault rifles used to kill 50 people in a bar is what our founding fathers had in mind.

But it doesn’t really matter what I think. I don’t have enough money to buy members of the Congress and Senate. The NRA does. And it gets that money from people who apparently think it’s okay to arm anyone with any weapon they like.

Because Second Amendment.

So the radio is off at the Flying M Aerie today. I simply can’t bear to listen to the news I’m powerless to do anything about.

It didn’t start that way. I listened to about 10 minutes of Morning Edition before I’d had enough and turned it off. I’ve got my aviation radio on instead. I can hear the few planes and helicopters call in as they land or take off from the airport 3 miles from my home.

Otherwise, silence.

Silence for the 50 people who will never speak again.

And the thousands of people killed in senseless gun violence in this country before them.