THUMBS UP: Wednesday was inauguration day, and Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. No matter what side of the political sphere you find yourself, Wednesday marked a distinct day that is sure to bring many changes. One of those changes I was most excited to see, firsthand, was the swearing in of the first female vice president — who also happens to be the first Black and first South Asian vice president. Watching her make the oath to our nation was powerful and tear-provoking. I grew up believing the presidency was “a man’s job,” and now, I am empowered with the fact that anyone — no matter race, sexuality, gender or religion — has the ability to serve this great nation in any and all capacities. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say this historic moment took far too long to happen. Women represent over 50% of the population and yet have relatively little say in the goings on of government, at least, until recently. I hope, in my lifetime, to see the first female president, as well.

THUMBS UP: To all the memes circulating today of a shivering Sen. Bernie Sanders at the inauguration. If anything can bring the nation together, it is the unbridled hilarity of meme creators everywhere, placing cutouts of the frigid senator in the most unlikely of backgrounds. 

THUMBS DOWN: Far too many people have died during vehicle collisions in the last couple of weeks. Two Utah County men in the month of January died in single-vehicle rollovers. Please slow down, buckle up and take into consideration any weather conditions that could make roads treacherous. We have been blessed with a relatively mild winter thus far, but mornings are still cold and icy. On another note, Utah County’s search and rescue crews also have been incredibly busy, helping injured or stranded recreationalists who are getting out and about. Utah County has many beautiful locations that can be enjoyed all year round, however, hikers and climbers need to be prepared when venturing out. While mid-day temperatures are enjoyable and mild, weather conditions can quickly change — as we have seen with the latest windstorm that blew in Monday evening. Consult local news outlets or the weather service to see what the day’s weather may have in store, and prepare for anything that might happen along the way. When in doubt, do not engage in risky behavior. Call first responders.

THUMBS UP: To Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old inaugural poet selected to recite her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday. Born in March 1998, Gorman is the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. The young activist from Los Angeles stirred the hearts of most in attendance and listening or watching the broadcast. We suggest readers listen often to her words as citizens will continue to be asked to raise people up, not put them down and to find the best in each of us so the country can build using positivity, rather than oppress through negativity.

THUMBS DOWN: To the Utah delegation. A statement released this week condemned President Biden’s executive order to reinstate lands that were stripped from Bears Ear and Grand-Staircase Escalante by Donald Trump. The move by Trump endangered the archaeological and environmental aspects of the land. While Republicans may say that public lands should be maintained by local entities, I do not think that shrinking the size of some of the most beautiful desert terrains in the world was the way to transition. The truth is, the move to make those lands more available is an attempt to allow fossil fuel companies to drill and use the beautiful land Utah is blessed with. A similar move was just made by the federal government prior to Trump leaving office, which tripled the amount of people who can hike to The Wave on a daily basis. Moves like these damage the amazing landscape and scenery Utah is known for.

THUMBS UP: In the run up to Wednesday’s presidential inauguration, it was so refreshing to not hear complaints from a couple members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (or the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square as it is now called) refusing to perform at such an important national event because of personal political differences. It will be even more meaningful when the same thing happens and the choir is actually invited to perform.

THUMBS DOWN: To governing by executive order. There may be some, very few, times when it is necessary, but there’s something inherently off-putting about a president doing away with — or mandating — by presidential signature things that should be done via the normal checks-and-balances channels of Congress. As the old cliché goes, “What one president giveth, another taketh away.” (Wait, that isn’t an old cliché???) It was wrong when Barack Obama did it. It was wrong when Donald Trump did it. It is wrong now that Joe Biden is doing it. And it will still be wrong in another year (or two) when Kamala Harris does it. 

THUMBS UP: To the pyrotechnic engineers that lit the Washington, D.C. sky Wednesday night with a cavalcade of colorful fireworks. We wonder if these were not only purchased but some donated from Disneyland, that for nine months has not had a firework display at the theme park. Not even our local Stadium of Fire could reach these grand proportions.

THUMBS DOWN: To Antifa protesters in Portland and Seattle who sullied an otherwise unicorns-and-rainbows inauguration day vibe across the nation via riot and vandalism, which included the attacking of police officers and their bikes. In Portland, the site of civil unrest throughout the summer, protesters even vandalized the Democratic Party of Oregon’s headquarters — an initial inkling, perhaps, that more may be required to heal our country than just calls for unity. We can be grateful, at least, that the National Guard was not called in to further inflame matters, as many freely jumped to conclude during the summer, seeing as how they were mostly deployed at the U.S. Capitol and state capitols throughout the country — where, as near as we can tell, nothing sinister happened Wednesday.

THUMBS UP: To palindrome dates, which, as far as we know, are completely apolitical. Not sure if anyone’s noticed, but we are flat dab in the midst of a string of 10 straight days with numerical dates that read the same forward and backward. So here’s to you, 1-20-21 through 1-29-21. Our calendars — and the corners of our computer monitors — salute you.

THUMBS DOWN: To Donald Trump. My father always told me that you see a person’s true character during tough times. Trump fought endlessly against the results of the election and when he realized he would not be able to retain office, he went out without following traditions that his predecessors had followed for decades. Not allowing a full transition prior to inauguration day, not attending the inauguration and more showed that he is a sore loser. Through all my years in youth sports and life, never once have I not shaken the other team or person’s hand after a defeat. The lesson to be learned, win or lose, you always act with class and respect.

THUMBS UP: To transparency in government, from the federal to the local level.

THUMBS DOWN: So, we see where some Georgia Democratic voters are looking a gift horse in the mouth regarding the next round of proposed stimulus checks. Two weeks ago, then-President-elect Biden was in the Peach State literally promising $2,000 checks to Americans across the country if Georgians turned out the vote for the two Democratic candidates in the much-ballyhooed runoff election, which had the potential to (and did) sway the balance of power in the Senate. However, now, Biden is proposing $1,400 stimulus checks — which anyone with a modicum of math skills realizes is a $600 per person shortfall. We realize that there is usually a wider time gap separating a campaign promise from its breakage, but c’mon, man, Biden’s team is just that more efficient than your average gaggle of politicians.

THUMBS UP: To President Joe Biden for, in one of his first moves in office, signing an executive order asking the U.S. Department of the Interior to review the boundaries of southern Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, which President Donald Trump shrank in 2017. Federal protection is essential for preserving these unique cultural sites, and it is exciting to see the new president get to work on issues that impact Utah. It’s too bad that most Utah officials oppose the review.

THUMBS DOWN: To the Utah State Legislature for continuing to put pressure on the Salt Lake City School District for not providing in-person learning options for students. While it may be true that many students throughout the state are struggling with online learning, punishing teachers by threatening to withhold funding is hardly the best solution.

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