Tag Archives: Don Bacon

Don Bacon is a Republican Congressman representing Nebraska’s second district in the House of Representatives. He was first elected in 2014. We get to run into him quite frequently, particularly at the Garden Café, walking in parades, and at the Elmwood Park Fourth of July pancake breakfast.

Let the Race Begin

It’s an exciting time to be a political junkie in Iowa, as another Presidential election is ready to kick off and we’ve got candidates wandering into town every other here down in Council Bluffs. Naturally, that means I’ll be crossing the river every change I get to snap some photos (when I’m not dodging rainstorms and stray turtles while biking the Keystone Trail).


On Wednesday, Ron DeSantis kicked off his campaign by with his wife Casey on a four-city swing through Iowa, stopping by The Grass Wagon around noon. It all seemed familiar to me, chatting with people while in line outside and seeing the folks selling political buttons and other merchandise as we waited to get inside. Dasha Burns from NBC news was there interviewing guests in line, and I was interviewed by both Channel 3 and the Tokyo Broadcasting System about my thoughts on DeSantis — so you may see me on TV either in Iowa or Japan.

Around 200-300 enthusiastic people in a sweltering hot room there to greet him, including my parents, who I got to introduce to a few of my political friends. I had the unique vantage point of being able to snap photos from the media platform, thanks to my friend Stephen, who got me a press pass. Both Ron and Casey DeSantis stayed a few minutes afterward, meeting and greeting guests and getting selfies. Ron eschewed questions form the press but talked with regular folks about issues such as ballot harvesting.


Then on Friday, Tim Scott had a town hall event down at Barley’s Bar & Grill. Barley’s is the place lower-tier candidates go when they want to fill out a room more easily. Scott’s enough of a draw, however, that the place was standing room only before the door even opened. I was able to stake out a fairly good spot on a bench where I cold stand up and snap photos of Scott and the packed room when he finally arrived. Congressman Randy Feenstra (who replaced Steve King in 2020) introduced him, and Scott gave a brief stump speech before taking a handful of questions form the crowd. He was asked about Ukraine, illegal immigration, de-funding the FBI, and other topics. He refused a question from a reporter with The Daily Nonpareil, saying “I’ll catch you later.” (He didn’t.)

Scott stayed a few minutes to chat with guests and shake hands afterward, and I got to ask him if he’d heard of Scott Presler and whether he was investing in ballot harvesting. (He has, and he is, he said.) I also managed to bump into Byron York, chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner and a Fox News contributor. I chatted with him for a few minutes about the crowd and also managed to get a selfie with him before he left. I often forget when Presidential candidates travel to our humble little metro area that the national spotlight follows them.


The next morning, I went with Hannah down to Bennington for a parade with Don Bacon. Hannah threw out fistfuls of candy as we walked along with his crew along Bennington Avenue and then 156th. Don shook plenty of hands of friendly spectators along the route as Cole Lumsden (of the High School Republicans) led the Bacon Brigade in a set of chants. I trotted along snapping photos along with Skip DeBusk, of course. It was around 82 degrees but the relentless sun made it feel over a hundred by the time we were done. Then Derek gave us a ride back to our starting point in his truck.

While we were in town, we stopped by to see our friends Jenny and Kody to talk about bikes and upcoming events, like her annual Fourth of July party before we headed home.


Then that evening, we visited the Henry-Doorly Zoo once again for an evening visit courtesy of Autism Action Partnership. We finally got to see the new baby elephant and the baby giraffe, though the kids seemed to enjoy playing on some of the statuary and the fountains a bit more. It was also a decidedly smaller, quieter crowd, which meant we had the aquarium nearly all to ourselves. Aaron seemed to have a completely renewed excitement about seeing the sharks and sting rays swimming overhead, along with all the colorful fish and sea life in the walls around him as we walked through.

Then we got some ice cream from Burger King on the way home before calling it a day.

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Then on Sunday, we kicked off the summer a little more officially by making our first family trip to a splash pad. We got some pizza at Little Caesars for dinner and then drove on up to Looking Glass Park for a couple hours of getting wet (as a storm rolled by but mostly wandered east of us). I got wet with the kids for a bit under the bucket, and Aaron had some fun playing with a few stray squirt guns.

Hannah, in the meantime, became the most popular kid on the playground making balloon animals and swords for the kids wandering around, handing them out and collecting a few unsolicited tips for her trouble. That was a particularly fun experience for her.

Political Drama, Comic Books, & a Pho Crawl

We’ve had a couple of busy days catching up with family and friends and then diving headfirts into some political events happening in the Omaha metro. (It was also Berkshire weekend, and as a shareholder I could have attended had I taken the initiative to figure out how. Maybe next year.)


On Thursday, I had lunch down at the Pizza Ranch with Don Bacon. Though he’s technically not my Congressman, I always enjoy hearing updates from him on what’s going on in the House, and he talked ab it about the debt ceiling, military spending, foster kids, and the war in Ukraine. He also listed his favorite candidates for 2024, with Tim Scott at the top of the list (and not Donald Trump), followed by Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis. He didn’t mention Vivek Ramaswamy, who I’m hoping to see on Tuesday.

Then that evening, my dad and I drove on down to Gretna for a Sarpy County GOP “open house” at the VFW. What we got instead was some kind of contentious meeting, which had started an hour earlier. Nebraska’s Secretary of State Bob Evnen was slated to speak but didn’t get the chance as there was argument over membership among other things. My dad wound up taking an empty seat netx to Evnen in the back, so I introduced the two to each other during the proceedings. It was still interesting nonetheless, and perhaps next time I should consider becoming a “member” (whatever that entails) so I can take part in this hubbub.


The next day, I rode my bike by Taco Bell for Cinco de Mayo. Then that evening, Vivian and I got to attend the Elephant Remembers dinner once again. We’d gotten a pair of donated tickets from a friend at the Pizza Ranch and got to attend for free, which was nice. Vivian and I got to dress up and run elbows with a handful of elected officials and then have some chicken, potatoes, and zucchini for dinner while hearing from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, among others.

There was a strong undercurrent of drama at the dinner, however. Gov. Jim Pillen talked about “falling and having a hiccup on the vote for 626,” the “heartbeat bill” killed by Merv Riepe during the second cloture vote. Pillen talked about this as Riepe himself sat stone-faced at the dinner, saying “we will get more people in there who are pro-life, and we will have way more than 33 votes.” In other news, Charles Herbster and Julie Slama were also both at the event — the latter having accused the former of sexual assault at a previous Elephant Remembers dinner in 2019 (which Vivian and I also attended). The honoree for the evening was Dan Welch, who had been ousted form his position in the NEGOP the previous summer and joked about his “early retirement.” It was an interesting mix of guests to say the least, and you can read more about it in my political blog.

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Saturday was Free Comic Book Day, so I took the kids to Ground Zero Hobby in Bellevue to get a couple free comic books to take home. I also browsed some of the toys and games and found a D&D starter set that might make a nice birthday present (hopefully Aaron isn’t reading my blog yet).

I then spent the afternoon at my parents’ house with an estate sale agent named Shayne. My parents walked her through a handful of their valuables in the house as they talked a bit about plans eventually to downsize and move into an assisted living facility down the road. Afterward, I had some pizza and wings with my brothers while watching a few more home movies before heading home. Then Vivian made us a belated Cinco de Mayo (or Seis) dinner that evening.


On Sunday, the kids at Wildewood ran a lemonade stand and bake sale in-between services, selling brownies, cookies, and lemon bars (and lemonade) to help fund an Appalachian missions trip for the youth ministy.

Then that afternoon, Vivian and I spent the day in Lincoln with Phil and Jen and a few of their friends stuffing ourselves with pho. Jen had wanted to go on a “pho crawl” in Lincoln for some time, visiting three of the various Vietnamese restaurants along 27th street through the afternoon and comparing their pho with one another. We started at Pho Ngyuenn, always a favorite of mind, and had some chicken pho and spring rolls. We were also introduced to Vietnamese iced coffee, which was quite strong and made with sweetened condensed milk. We moved along to Pho Factory a block north after that, having some steak and meatball pho with a Vietnamese crepe (bánh xèo), which was kind a salad you roll up and shove into your face. We had a quick break at the Asian grocery store next door to stock up on various sauces and other Asian things not available at Aldi.

Then we finished the crawl at the Vung-Tau Pho Grill for some egg rolls and more beef pho. I decided to finish our crawl by literally crawling out of the restaurant afterward, though I was surpised not to be quite as stuffed as I expected. Either rice noodles and broth isn’t as substative as I thought it would be, or I’m just that much of a glutton (probably the latter).

Election Night & the Morning After

Another Election Day has come and gone, and I’m still busy recovering from it. The Red Wave we’d been hoping for didn’t happen, but pretty much all the candidates I voted for on my own personal ballot did quite well. All politics is local, at least for me this time.


On the day before Election Day, I got to hear from Eric Underwood, the new Executive Director of the NEGOP, down at the Pizza Ranch over lunch. He was elected in the tumultuous convention this summer that ousted the previous Executive Director, Dan Welsch. I got to ask him personally what that was all about, and he talked briefly about the kind of top-down authoritarian nature of the previous NEGOP, which notoriously refused entry to five duly-elected delegates ans even had one of them arrested for “trespassing” when they showed up anyway. He talked at length about building relationships with voters and having the new NEGOP adhere to such things as a written Constitution and Robert’s Rules of Order rather than dictating to the grassroots from the top.

I enjoyed hearing his talk, which you can watch in its entirely on my political blog. Toward the end, he said “most Nebraskans aren’t moderate are just trying to live our life devoid of politics, not be a part of any of this, but there did come a point where we said all right, enough is enough.” That definitely summarizes where I am most of the time.


Then came Election Day! I donned my patriotic tie and walked up the hill (with Hannah) to vote for a handful of candidates and a few resolutions on the docket. I even went so far as to put a sign out for my friend Doug, who was running for the Learning Community.

Then that evening, I went down to the Regency Marriott for Don Bacon’s election night party. I’d been hoping for a “Red Wave” and a short evening for the District 2 Congressman, but it unfortunately didn’t materialize. I still had a good time hanging out with a bunch of my political friends. Some of the candidates I’d gotten to meet personally down at the Garden Café or the Pizza Ranch, such as Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine and Douglas County Assessor Walt Peffer, gave victory speeches once their races were called. The race between Don Bacon and his opponent was ridiculously close throughout the night, with only 20 votes separating them for about an hour. Toward the end of the evening, Don began pulling away and gave a “thank-you” speech sometime after eleven, even though the race hadn’t been called. I got to shake his hand (and get a selfie, of course) before heading home for the night.

I spent most of the next day recovering, having planned ahead and taken the entire day off. I got a little laundry done and was able to surprise Hannah down at her school when it was time to pick her up. I also leafed through more of Jordan Peterson’s book when I took Aaron to Royal Rangers that evening. Then I turned in early to get about nine hours of sleep before preparing to head back to work on Thursday.

I’m still not sure what to make of the Midterm results, which I’d expected to be a whole lot better for Republicans than they turned out to be. I’ve heard a lot of people online and elsewhere blaming weak candidates, Trump’s involvement, and decidedly left-wing youth voting bloc, but I’m waiting for the dust to settle before thinking much more about the future.

What I am interested in a 2024 election season that will look a bit more like 2016 — with several Republican candidates making the rounds in Iowa doing meet-and-greets, which I enjoyed doing so much six years ago. Even better, this time Hannah (and maybe Aaron) will be old enough to better understand what’s going on they they did back in 2016. We’ll see.

On to 2024!

Bacon, Eggs, and the Start of School

Summer vacation is drawing to a close after passing by in what seemed like a blur. Hannah and Aaron are gearing up to start a new school year, and we did a few things to celebrate.


On Tuesday, I attended a luncheon with the Business and Professional People for Life at the Garden Café, and getting to hear from Don Bacon over lunch. It was the first time the group had met since Roe v. Wade had been overturned, so there was naturally a lot to talk about. I also got to ask him about the FBI raid of Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago, to which he responded, “if the FBI does not have 100% solid justification, they’re in trouble.”

You can read about the luncheon on my political blog and even see the live stream of Congressman Bacon’s talk on Rumble.

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On Wednesday, I dropped Aaron by Spirit Life Assemblies of God Church at 48th and Harrison to sign up for a year of Royal Rangers. The Royal Rangers are a group similar to the Boy Scouts that our mutual friends the Mills have been a part of for a number of years, and we thought it might be nice for Aaron to join in with his friends August and Gabe on Wednesday nights. They had some root beer floats and Matchbox car races, but Aaron mostly had fun in the gym with a few of the others boys.

We also bought a dozen eggs from our the Mills while we were there — eggs made by the chickens they have roosting in their yard. It interesting to have a dozen of farm-fresh eggs of many colors rather than the store-bought ones we were used to, and it was particularly interesting seeing the difference inside and out.

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On Saturday, we had a cookout down at Hickory Hill Park with our friends the Lenarts. The weather had cooled off a bit, and it was nice to grill some hamburgers and hot dogs under some thick, shady trees while catching up before the start of a new school year. Our kids had fun playing together on the playground and exploring the creek a bit, traversing a fallen log that had been turned into a bridge.

Then the next day, we took the kids to downtown Papillion to have some ice cream at Graley’s. Then we went to get some pizza up at the Little Caesar’s before heading home to eat and watch The Land Before Time with the kids.

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Monday was the last day before school started (for Hannah at least), so we had one last trip down to Elmwood Park with the kids. Vivian brought some lunch for the kids, and despite the light on-and-off rain, we all had fun being outside together one last time. The kids got some extra time on the swings (once or twice with me and mommy) and playing hide-and-seek with a couple other kids.

Then we finished off our visit by heading back down to Aksarben Village together to have some end-of-summer cupcakes at Jones Bros. I used to take the kids there all the time when they had free cupcakes of the day every week or so, but since then it’s become something more of an annual treat.


That evening, we down to Chandler View Elementary to meet Aaron’s new teacher for his Second Grade year and get a look at his new classroom.

Then the next day, Hannah had her first day at Abiding Life Christian School, an independent little outfit Vivian recently learned about through our homeschool co-op. It’s the first time Hannah’s ever been part of a more “normal” school setting, but she seems to be acclimating to it quickly. She’s made a couple friends and even had a part of putting together her own lunch for the day. We celebrated that evening with some Uncle Jonny Pops before Aaron started his first day of school on Wednesday.

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Welcome Back to School!

Soaking up the Sun


It’s that time of year again, the corn is tall, temperatures are pushing 100, and Memorial Park welcomes thousands of people for a free concert. Vivian and I brought our kids back to the park for the first time since 2019 and shared a blanket with our friends Sarah, Jenny, Kody, and the “other Matt Johnson” for a steamy evening of music and fireworks. The opening acts were a local group called “Da Crabby Blues Band” and Dave Mason, who first found fame with the rock band ” Traffic.” The headliner this year was Sheryl Crow, whose music I heard non-stop on the radio from the late 90s to early 2000s.

The kept hydrated as the sun went down, and I was able to take Hannah close to the stage to see some of the singers up close, and take photos, just like daddy. Many of the other concertgoers were very happy to let Hannah sneak up close with me, which was nice. Vivian kept the kids occupied with snacks and a few funny rounds of Mad Libs, which the kids seemed to enjoy. Then we got a lovely fireworks show lasting at least ten minutes to finish off the night.


I spent some time the next day mowing the lawn and scraping paint on the house in preparation for a fresh coat. I also dragged Vivian and the kids down to Walnut Creek for an ice cream social with the Sarpy GOP. It was around 100 degrees but still nice and breezy. Our kids got a couple scoops and then sat and played nicely as a series of politicians gave brief speeches to a couple dozen people in the pavilion. Among the guests were our new Congressman Mike Flood, Sen. Deb Fischer, Lt. Gov. candidate Joe Kelly, Congressman Don Bacon, Secretary of State Bob Evnen, and several people for city council, OPPD, and other county or city level positions. Bacon also brought along with him two Members of Parliament from the UK, who he was showing around Omaha for some reason.

My parents were also there, course, as was our friend Luke and the Sandines. Mostly, it was nice just to introduce Vivian and the kids to some of these chat it up again with some elected officials I keep talking to them about.

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And because we didn’t feel quite busy enough, we decided to take the kids to a week-long VBS (our third this year) at Wildewood Church. I came along this time to keep an eye on the kids as they participated in various Australian-themed activities, such as making boomerangs and learning about Ayres Rock and the Aboriginal people of the area.

The fun never stops!

String Beans, Bacon, and Memorial Day Weekend

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Hello, summer! We had a nice last week of school with the kids as another academic year came to a close. Aaron and I had breakfast on the porch a couple times, and then he literally had a field at school on Thursday. In the meantime, Hannah got a few patches from her troop with American Heritage Girls, and I got to attend a little end-of-year ceremony with all of them.

In other news, I got to have a free gyro lunch at work thanks to a friendly benefactor. Then on Thursday, I hung out with my friend Stephen for his birthday at Herbe Sainte with a few of our mutual political friends. It was nice to catch up after the primary with a handful of people involved in the Lindstrom campaign (as well a Congressional candidate I voted for). I also heard a rumor that a certain Governor may be running for Senate in 2024, whether or not the incumbent Senator is running for re-election or not. You heard it here first!


The weather went from cold and rainy to sunny and warm just in time for the Salute to Summer parade in La Vista. Hannah came with me to help hand out handfuls of candy for Don Bacon, and got the chance to introduce her to the Congressman as well as Mike Flood, La Vista Mayor Doug Kindig, and Governor Ricketts. I also saw Judge L. Steven Grasz, who was there with Miss Nebraska Volunteer Aubrey Grasz (who I’m guessing is related).

It was a hot little walk down Park View Boulevard, but Hannah held up with me as we walked along with the crowd. Then we caught a ride back to our car on the Sarpy GOP bandwagon before heading home.


Then that evening, we went to the opening night at the SumTur Amphitheater. We try to visit the little outdoor “movie park” at least once a year, and this time they had some special guests performing. First was a magician named The Amazing Lindy, who brought a few kid volunteers up on stage to do various tricks with cards, lemons, and a plush Herbie Husker (in various colors). He also had his grandkids “Dinky and Stinky” doing various goofy tricks beforehand.

Then came The String Beans, a trio from Lincoln (who we’d seen previously at the Eclipse). They sang songs about Nebraska, goofy dances, and beans, and they seemed to be a big hit with the gaggle of kids in the audience. They had several moments of audience participation, inviting dads up to “air guitar” and moms to do the “Nebraska Hula.” They also had a limbo line for the kids and a giant tarp to make a giant “pizza.” Vivian and I got some tacos from the Papillion Taco Guy for dinner along with popcorn and ice cream sandwiches for the kids, and then we watched the Pixar movie Soul to make for a very late night.

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Sunday was relatively low-key by comparison. We still made it to church despite sleeping late, and Hannah made a birdhouse in her Sunday School class. I broke out our tiny wading pool for the kids in the afternoon as I spent some quality time cleaning our gutters (and getting exercise going up and down the ladder).

Then that evening, I drove by Tap Dancers Coffee for a “wake” for their coffee business. I’ve been drinking Maxine’s coffee ever since I started at the Institute some nine years ago, and it’s been a part of my workday ever since, so I was a little sorry to see it go. They had plenty of food for their goodbye party, and Dan Wondra came by for a dance or two with Maxine. I also got to learn about Tom’s new post-coffee adventure, which apparently involves traveling the country in an RV playing music before heading down to Puerto Rico to retire, all of which he plans to livestream on YouTube.

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Then came Memorial Day! I put up an American flag and took a lovely bike ride up and down the Keystone Trail in Bellevue. There were some scattered thunderstorms, so I got a bit wet, but it was a lovely little ride. I’ll be enjoying bike riding a bit more that Aaron is out of school and I can take off early for a ride to work nearly every weekday.

Then at lunchtime, we headed to my parents’ house for some smoked burgers, potato salad, and baked beans, which we ate in the backyard picnic style while trying to keep the wind from blowing things away. Grandpa also got to measure our kids to see who was taller. It’s still Hannah by 2/3 of an inch, but that will likely be changing soon.

Bacon, a Bowl Game, and a Birthday

It’s been a fairly quiet week or two as we tip-toe into 2022. I managed to haul away our Christmas tree and took down our decorations as we finally said goodbye to the Christmas season. Hannah and Aaron have been having fun making levels in Pixicade and playing with their other Christmas presents.


On Saturday, I got to attend the kickoff for Don Bacon’s 2022 campaign, along with a handful of noteworthy VIPs such as Mayor Stothert, Former Gov. Heineman, and Senator Fischer. Bacon’s gotten some heat lately for voting with Democrats on the infrastructure bill and even got a shout-out from Trump calling for a primary challenger. Bacon didn’t mention any of this in his stump speech, instead focusing both on Biden’s failures as President, particularly in the hasty and deadly surrender in Afghanistan, and also an emphasis on bipartisanship. I was able to chat with Bacon briefly afterward and said I appreciated seeing as much of him as we do in our district, and I said the same to Sen. Fischer. Agree or disagree, I appreciate being able to talk directly to those who vote in Washington whenever possible.

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In other news, we celebrated four years with our lovable little fuzz-butt Zoey the Cat. It seems like just yesterday we picked her up from the Pet Smart down on 72nd Street and invited her into our home. We had a couple toys and treats for her, including a whole bowl full of salmon to eat for dinner.

Monday was also the night of the College Football championship game, so I went by my parents’ house with some Cowboy Caviar and got to watch Alabama to watch the game. Uncle Nathan and Cheryl also brought by some red and white strawberries (which Cheryl cultivated) and some green tea cookies, which we enjoyed while watching Alabama lose spectacularly to the Georgia Bulldogs. It was a disappointing outcome, but I still enjoyed an excuse to hang our with my folks for a few hours.

Baseball, Splash Pads, and Labor Day Weekend

We got to have some culinary fun in the week following my birthday, with some VooDoo tacos with alligator meat, jalapeño poppers, shrimp tacos, and some rambutans all making their way into the menu — and most (hopefully) burned off on the bike trails.

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Then we had a fun little Labor Day weekend. We started on Saturday with another baseball game with Aaron. He got to hit a few balls and high-five a couple team members once again, and he even got to hold the flag during the National Anthem, which was very special! Then afterward, we had one last splash in the spray ground before it gets shut off for the season. Aaron managed to pull me into the spray as well, jeans and all, for a good soaking.

That evening, Vivian went to her annual WAG retreat with her female friends, and I decided to walk the kids down to McDonald’s for a couple Happy Meals for dinner (and ice cream from Subway for dessert). It was a lovely day for a three mile walk, round trip, and bets of all, I didn’t have to cook.


On Sunday, we took both the kids down to Werner Park to watch the Stormchasers narrowly lose to the Toledo Mud Hens. It was the first time we’d had both kids to Werner Park to see a baseball game (and not just fireworks), and the first time Hannah had been there since 2015. We had seats in the fourth row by third base, but it was so hot and sunny that we soon retreated to the shade of the Centris kids’ pavilion. I think Hannah and Aaron had a little more fun in the bounce house, on the carousel, on the slide, and climbing in the play area than actually watching the game. We did eventually take them down to watch a few more innings with some ice cream to keep cool (and some cotton candy).

Toward the end of the game, we took a walk down to the berm and a line where kids could run the bases once the game was over. We let Hannah and Aaron head down to the field to make their way around the diamond as I snapped photos from the bleachers, and they each got some coupons for free chicken tenders from Hardees for making the trip. That naturally meant grabbing dinner there, since it was just down the street, and I got to have a Frisco burger for first time in ages.

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On Labor Day, I kicked things off with a long ride up to Schwer Park and back. Then at lunchtime, I went with my folks to a 9/11 Memorial Luncheon down at the Garden Cafe. We got to hear from a handful of speakers over hamburger steak and mashed potatoes, including former Gov. Dave Heineman, Don Bacon, Aaron Hansen from the Omaha PD, Omaha firefighter Michael Davenport, and Mike Conolly, a retired NYC firefighter who was there on 9/11. They all had stories to tell, mostly about where they where on that day twenty years ago and some thoughts on the situation in Afghanistan now, particularly from Congressman Bacon.

My folks got to chat with a few of the speakers afterward, which is always my favorite part of events like these, particularly when it seems like both a pandemic and partisan politics has divided us more than ever.


Labor Day marked the last day of the season for spray-grounds and splash pads to be open, so we decided to spend our last few moments of summer getting wet down at Looking Glass park with the kids. We got some Little Caesars for dinner, which was conveniently along the way down. Then the kids had a few hours to run around in the spray getting wet, stomping and playing with a few squirt gadgets and towering sprinklers on site. Mommy and I even got into the spray for a little bit before the sun went down and we headed on home.

It was a great three-day weekend with the family, though part of me can’t quite accept yet that summer’s supposed to be over. Maybe once the leaves start changing color, I’ll change my mind. (And please, no Halloween crap yet — that’s just obscene.)

Election Day and Autumn Fun

Well, election day turned out to be more like an election week — with margins far narrower than any poll predicted and results much different on election night than they appeared days later. It wasn’t nearly as much fun as it was four years ago, but I’m still glad most of the people I voted for — particularly Congressman Fortenberry and Senator Sasse — will be returning to Congress.


Last week, Vivian and I participated in the democratic process and cast some ballots down at Calvary Christian Church. I expected long lines and crowd, so my parents were kind enough to watch Hannah and Aaron while Vivian and I did our civic duty. There were a couple dozen people in line when we finally got inside to vote, and not much more had arrived by the time we were done. In the meantime, Hannah and Aaron build a few things with blocks and Lincoln Logs before we returned took them home.

Then that evening, Don Bacon and his crew were doing some last-minute sign-waving down at the corner of 72nd and Dodge. Because I work not far from there, I drove down to say hello and grab a few pictures. Among the sign-wavers was Senator Ben Sasse, who must have felt pretty confident about his chances to spend the waning moments of the campaign giving Congressman Bacon a hand. (I even mentioned this on my Twitter account.)


We had some delightfully warm weather over the weekend, so we spent as much of it as we could outdoors. On Saturday, I raked up some leaves so the kids could have some quality time jumping into them. Hannah also brought a few of her stuffed animals — reconfigured into Pokémon, since she and Aaron are currently enjoying that show — into the pile with them.

On Sunday, Hannah and Aaron made an herb garden and some no-bake cookies in Sunday school, respectively. Then we spent the afternoon down at Dreamland Park across the river. The place was very busy with people enjoying some nice weather before wet and cold hit us this week. They got some more time on swings and a merry-go-round or two before we headed on home.

Thoughts on the election

I’ve had a lot of thoughts about this election, which still feels up in the air despite everyone knowing what the outcome will be. I’m not, however, going to join with many of my friends in saying the election was stolen. I don’t think it was. The margins were ridiculously close in a handful of states, particularly considering what the polls were saying. There may have been some shenanigans that need to be looked into, but I highly doubt there was enough ballot-stuffing going on to flip the margin of victory.

This was an election where the Democrats were supposed to make major gains, and at the moment, it looks like the GOP will gain several seats in the House when they were supposed to lose them. Even if Trump had won, he would have had his hands tied with a divided Congress. Now, the Republicans look poised to take Congress back in 2022 and perhaps the White House in 2024.

So now, I’m focused now on the future, and the potential of meeting and greeting a whole new slate of candidates in a few years. And for now, the goal I had several years ago of getting a selfie with a POTUS was finally realized — just not in the way I expected. How do you like that, you dog-faced pony soldiers?

See you in “four more years,” Joe.

The Week before Caucus Night

The Iowa Caucuses are finally being held today, so it might be worth a quick look back at a busy, busy week in Presidential politics if you happened to be living within a stone’s throw of Council Bluffs, where we had a candidate visiting pretty much every day of the week (some of whom I missed, such as Amy Klobuchar on Tuesday and Joe Biden on Wednesday).

IMG_7164First up was Andrew Yang, who held a rally with around 300 at Abe Lincoln High School on Monday. Our friend Nate had wanted to visit either Yang (or Tulsi — the two sanest Democrats running, IMHO) before the primaries started, so he came along with me to hear what he had to say.Yang was introduced by a few local Democrats and then his wife Evelyn before taking the stage in front of a very friendly crowd, which happened to include Alex Wagner from Showtime’s The Circus. As before, the focus of Yang’s stump speech was on helping workers displaced via AI technology through his “freedom divided,” and I found his keen focus on the economy to be what set him apart from his more socialist-leaning competitors. He took a few questions afterward, including one from a woman whose sister died of an opioid overdose (who Yang also called up front so he could give her a hug). He stuck around afterward for a quick series selfies with everyone who came (including me, of course), and I had the chance to thank him for appearing on the Ben Shapiro show — and that both sides need to listen to one another.

IMG_20200130_143955074Then on Wednesday, the Vice President himself paid Council Bluffs a visit on his way to a rally with President Trump in Des Moines. Nate’s son Jake had expressed interest in meeting President Trump, which I told him was a tall order. A meeting with the Vice President, however, was far more doable. The event was held at the Thunderbowl’s Gathering Room, which was a fairly small venue, so we showed up around two and a half hours early to help ensure we got good seats (in the second row)! The Fox News Channel was among the media there to cover the VP’s visit, along with a handful of local media and even Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, who came with the motorcade. There was an opening invocation and a recitation of the pledge of allegiance before Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds took the stage to introduce the Vice President.

IMG_20200130_144052666I’d seen (and shaken the hand of) Mr. Pence three times before, but this was the first time I’d been allowed to bring my good camera with me, so I happily snapped photos as the VP gave a brief stump speech highlighting Veterans’ issues and the economy. The real excitement happened in the moments afterward, of course, when Jake and I were quickly able to make our way to the front to meet the Veep himself. Jake was easily able to get a handshake and a selfie with Pence. I brought along a copy of A Day in the Life of the Vice President, a book written and illustrated and Pence’s daughter and wife, respectively, which Pence seemed very happy to autograph for me when I asked.

Among the familiar faces in the crowd were the Halliburtons — David, Mason (the Button Boy), and Haley — who had met the Veep multiples times before but this time brought previously-snapped photos of themselves for him to autograph. We stayed just long enough to watch the motorcade make its way out of town before heading home.

IMG_7449The last Presidential candidate to visit Council Bluffs before the Caucus was Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who held a rally in Ballroom-B the Mid-America Center. Since I’d gotten to see the first candidate visit more than a year ago, I thought it was nice to be able to see the last one as well.

He gave a stump emphasizing the need to bring Democrats, Republicans, and moderates together while also stumping unapologetically for abortion and criticizing Christians for being too selfish to sign onto his social welfare programs. I only stayed long enough to snap some pictures and rub elbows with a few other familiar faces before watching the 2020 Caucus draw to a close.

IMG_7593Then on Saturday, I was up bright and early to attend a nine o’clock town hall with Don Bacon. He’s held more than a dozen of these since taking office in 2017, and as always it drew people from both sides of the political aisle. The left-leaning members of the audience asked questions about climate change and the impeachment, the latter of which seemed a sore spot as the Senate had just voted to draw their proceedings to a close. The event was moderated by KFAB’s Scott Voorhees, who kept things moving along even as some members wanted to ask more than their share of questions — some of which got heated as one guy spontaneously started screaming out of turn. Even though things got heated, the Congressman stayed cool. When accused of voting to end Obamacare with no replacement, he pointed out that he had, in fact, voted for the AHCA, and when one audience member accused Trump of soliciting a bribe, Bacon pointed out that bribery should have been included in the articles of impeachment in that case — and it wasn’t.

I mostly enjoyed the back-and-forth, and at the end of the event, Congressman Bacon said, “Agree or disagree… we’re all Americans.” I’m glad we live in a country where the folks in power — whether a candidate, a Congressman, or the Vice President — are so easily within reach of a nobody like me living in Nebraska. I just hope the Iowa Democrats didn’t screw up their Caucus so badly this year that they’ll pick another state to go first in 2024.