Trump Keeps His Promise…

Which promise is that?  His promise to recognize Jerusalem as Isreal’s capital if he were to sit in the Oval Office.  He made that promise on the campaign trail and he stuck to it…and now he is accused of all sorts of things.

It seems that predecessors made similar promises but then failed to keep their word once they sat in the Oval Office.  President Trump is different from any President we’ve had to this point.  I think everyone agrees on that point.  Most cannot figure out just where to place him in their minds.  Some prefer to think of him as some jerk that decided he wanted to be President and somehow found his way to the swearing-in ceremony.

Trump is a good deal more complicated than he was given credit for being by many.  He has shown he keeps promises, and that is both refreshing and somewhat different than past Presidents.  That is so different from the press’ point of view that they know there is some ulterior motive other than simply keeping a promise.  The New York Times has decided that this scheme was the result of a meeting between President Trump and Sheldon Adelson (casino owner) and Morton Klein (president of the Zionist Organization of America).  That meeting occurred some ten days before the inauguration, and it was at that meeting that he reaffirmed that he would restate his intention to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Isreal.  This is reaffirmed in a December 8th article titled “Who’s Playing Politics on Israel?” by Jonathon S. Tobin.

Donald Trump is going to continue to confuse and confound those who thought they knew exactly what he would do as President.  He has already demonstrated that he has the will to take on Congress as he sees fit on various subjects.  He has shown that he can withstand the daily criticism, often completely off base, of his political enemies and the nation’s press.

Tobin points out that Trump’s instincts “almost always lead him to distrust the experts and actively seek out the advice of dissenters from the conventional wisdom”.

I think that hits this whole subject matter right on the head.  President Donald Trump is not what we usually elect as our President.  That isn’t because we don’t want that but moreover it is because, bluntly, we’ve not had this choice in candidates before.  We have had the choice between the regular flavors.  Do we want vanilla or do we want butterscotch?  Suddenly we voters found that we could make a different choice this time, and we selected a much more complicated but interesting flavor for the Oval Office.

We now have one of the consummate business builders as our President and he is running his office in just that way, a deal-maker extraordinaire.  Congress is, of course, apoplectic with this outcome.  They rumble/grumble around the hallways talking to themselves about finding some way to get him out of office sooner than in four years…and oh my gosh, what if he gets re-elected?

I have to think the other leaders in the world find this all very refreshing, if not also a bit disconcerting since he doesn’t play by the usual/normal rules of world leaders.  He is not a pussyfooting, couldn’t say ‘crap’ if he had a mouthful kind of leader.  He calls ’em like he sees ’em…and that simply is altogether uncommon.  This has to be as refreshing to many of the world’s leaders as it is also unnerving to the dictators like that dude in North Korea.

How long has the diplomatic community worried itself over the Jerusalem question only to have this new brand of American leader put it all on the table early-on in his Presidency?  That he defies the usual approach to diplomacy, I think, makes him all the better at that business.  He simply places his thoughts out on the table and announces what he is going to do on this, that and the other of the array of issues confronting a new President of the United States of America.

This anything-but-ordinary person in whom we have entrusted the Oval Office is driving some people nuts.  He is almost the complete opposite of Barack Obama.  He is unorthodox, outspoken, willing to get into a fight with his opposition from time-to-time, and seemingly able to discern what he ought to be doing in each and every situation that finds its way to the Oval Office.  He has the benefit of a wonderfully qualified Vice President who knows the intricacies, and he seems very willing to listen to Vice President Pence’s advice on various matters that need to find their way through the ‘halls of Congress’.

We and the world are in for quite a ride, and I feel confident that it will be a better world for the experience.

Listen & Silent…

A good friend reminded me that these two words are spelled with the same letters.  I had never noticed that.  That struck me as interesting in that without heeding one of them, we are unable to effectively engage with the other.  We cannot listen while we are talking.  Oh, we may think we can talk over another in a heated conversation, but that simply is not possible.  How many times do we witness politicians talking over one and other thus paying no attention to what each other has to say?  The volume goes up almost in direct opposite proportion to the quality of the content.  Some so-called political ‘debates’ are perfect examples.

Somewhere a long time ago, I heard from a wise person that we should be careful to use our ears twice as much as we use our mouths since that is why we have two of one and only one of the other.  That is an admonishment worthy of remembering before we engage our mouth, but too many seem to pay little or no attention to the quality of their verbosity, only to the quantity and volume of same.  Heated arguments are perfect examples, and both parties tend to regret having engaged in a heated argument.

There are times when silence is much more compelling than mere words.  We are unaccustomed to silence in return for something we’ve uttered.  That might well be the ultimate ‘put-down’ in any argument.  Imagine that you have just ended a particularly voluable tirade when the other person simply refuses to engage any further, maybe shakes his or her head slightly and turns to walk away.  That may well qualify as the ultimate response to the other side’s argument.  The ultimate ‘put-down’.

Better that we hold our tongue when our temper threatens to take over for our brain.  If that were up there with the Golden Rule, how much better would we get on with the others in our lives?  How many times have we “won” an argument?  In reality, simply engaging in an argument means that one or both participants have already lost.  How much better might it be to simply say, “Let’s end this before we are sorry for what we said and come back to discuss our issues another day.”  Maybe what we were fired up about will seem far less important with a little bit more thought.

When I thought about this as a blog topic, a picture of Ronald Reagan came to mind.  I do not recall ever seeing him having the need to raise his voice, and yet I think of him as a consummate orator.  He made his points and never once felt the need to raise his voice.  That simply showed the class he possessed and the control of self he obviously exercised.  If anything, the lack of added volume to his normal speaking voice served to amplify the importance, the value, of what he had to say.

And, imagine how angry an opponent might be who had made the error of ‘acting out’ in the face of calm and quiet from his opponent.  He or she would be angry at self for having once again fallen into the trap he or she had set for self many times before.  Those who rely on the volume of voice over the quality of content to win arguments are soon seen for exactly what they are: ignorant verbal bullies who know no better.

“Listen while silent”.  Almost another Golden Rule.

 

December 7th…

December 7th has seen its share of occurrences over the course of time.  Just in a lifetime of many still living there was the Long Island Railroad commuter train shooting by Colin Ferguson resulting in 6 dead and 17 wounded.  The last Ford Model A was produced in 1931 and that company was about to introduce the Ford V-8 engine.  Reagan and Gorbachev met in the U.S. in a summit in 1987 that resulted in an arms control agreement.  And, likely most memorable, the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor in 1941, just a few weeks before I was born, took us into World War II where we fought battles on multiple fronts and emerged the victors if there are victors in such conflagrations.

We have learned much in some ways and, seemingly, learned very little in other ways.  Today we live in fear of what North Korea’s leader might decide to do that could easily find Hawaii, or apparently even our mainland, in the crosshairs.  President Trump has announced our recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, an event that could have implications on the peace of that area, but was something that needed to be stated.

We are now in the world of electrically powered automobiles and driverless vehicles.  We still have issues that confront us in the Far East, although that emanates from North Korea today.  We go back and forth with Russia on various subjects but are friendly with that country in most of the respects that count.  Arms control is still an issue as North Korea demonstrates.  The recent shooting in Las Vegas makes the Long Island commuter train shooting pale by comparison.

This shows us the human condition up close and personal.  Us humans are complicated creations.  We supposedly are intelligent by most standards and yet we can be the virtual opposite in some of our actions.  We are able to be selfish on one hand and display great compassion and sharing on the other.  We are obstinant sometimes and easily convinced to change the next day.

We are anxious to reach agreements mostly if those agreements favor us while appearing to be bilateral.  Our Congress is a display of freedom at work BUT can be extremely upsetting at times.

People are the root cause of all our problems just as they are the root cause of our triumphs as occupants of this earth.  We are simultaneously selfish and benevolent.  We say one thing often even though we believe another.  Our Congress is a display of the best and the worst in government.  There is both pettiness and magnanimity to be found.  There is the raw display of power over weakness.  Our form of government is at the same time the best in the world while it can appear to be among the worst given some of the pettiness that poses as politics.

Power seems to be at the root of all things both good and bad.  We learn that strength can breed a pride that blinds us and it is through this that our faith in an all-powerful God helps us.  Wisdom comes as the result of recognizing our strength as a country while also seeing how we can be of benefit to the rest of the world.  We tend to place ourselves at the risk of being taken advantage of by others, but, so far at least, our power that underlies any appearance of weakness in our will has saved this country.

There seems a necessity every once in awhile to assert our power in order to help to maintain peace here on this earth.  North Korea might be a good example today of an imminent need.  The bellicose juvenile leader of that country sees only that military power is his ticket to staying in power.  He governs with the iron fist we’ve seen before in history.  His people suffer so that he can triumph, at least in his own mind.  He can use them as he sees fit for they have no real choice.

December 7th has many connotations, not all the kind we’d prefer.  But, just as we came through the last time there was a dictator who thought December 7th was the right time to show his dominance, I am confident we can and will if forced to do so, defeat that dictator.  His sense of power might just be what would cause him to use a day such as this day that has been used similarly before to demonstrate his supposed power.

There will likely be no easy diffusing of that situation.  He is irrational.  He sees himself as some kind of a God figure.  He kills easily.  Those are dangerous signs and they must be taken at face value.  I, very frankly, am happy with our current President versus our last President in such a situation.  None ever wants to lead his or her people into a war, however, there have come times before and there will come times again when that must be done and done preemptively.

I fear we are confronting just such a situation today on this December 7th.

Person of the Year?

TIME magazine has picked its ‘Person of the Year’ for a long time, so long that sometimes it picks other than a ‘person’.  This year is an example in that it picked the Silence Breakers representing all forms of harassment and those who have finally begun to openly fight back.

That, of course, starting me thinking about my various “____________ of the year”.  There might be a person, or a happening or a significant personal change or something that happened to jar me out of the humdrum of daily life.  That led to me wondering about those in my life and just what they might think was their particularly dominant happening, revelation, meeting, etc. of the year.

What if I picked a daily “best of _______”?  What if, at the end of each day, I took a moment or two or three to look back at each of my interactions of that day and tried to choose the one that had the greatest impact for me or that simply seemed to be first in my mind’s eye?  It finally dawned on me that choosing the “best of” for any time period greater than a day was futile; that would be akin to taking a sip of water from a fire hose.  There are so many ‘transactions’ we each have in the course of a day as to make us almost dizzy trying to reflect on each even if we do that at the end of each day.  There might be that stand-out on one day but stand-outs are not often encountered and that depends on how we are feeling about things that day.

How would I go about picking that one person that represented something so unique or powerful or ridiculous or beautiful or ugly or whatever the subject was to be?  Frankly, there probably is something/someone every month or week or day that might qualify if I were but aware at that level.  That, finally, seems the best solution to my self-induced dilemma.

This exercise finally led to the one thing I could control about all those daily interactions.  If I made up my mind to be that “thing”, that interaction that stood out for any and all with whom I had contact that day, I’d solve my problem.  It is easier for me to be that someone who brightened a day for another than it is for me to run around all day trying to find that “best of the day” person or thing.

I actually do try to be that person for others but sometimes find I have a little difficulty thinking about anyone but me.  About how I feel about this or that or the other.  About how I am going to get everything done that I had on my “to do” list for the day.  My usual solution is to think about God and Him watching over me and to realize that I can open up to others without any fear if I just listen rather than talk.

Most people are happy to find someone who will listen to them and not just listen so they can talk, but who actually will listen to hear their issues and concerns and what they might need help working through, and all those daily ‘issues’ we tend to let derail us each day.

I have found that doing this daily is my solution.  It helps another person who may just find the solution he or she was seeking by talking through that issue with another person.  I feel better having had these chats with others knowing that I might’ve helped just by listening versus actively finding a solution for them and their problem.  If it is as simple as finding a ride for someone on a certain day, I can help.  If it is something about their relationship with another, I can listen, but I cannot solve the problem other than to mention what I think I might do in a similar situation.

Simple interactions with others might be the best thing they experience that day.  A smile or helpful hint might be the highlight of their day.  Each of us has the power to be the Person of the Day if we are but willing to expose ourselves to those needing a shoulder or a simple assist or even a prayer.  We’ll likely never know but that is not important.  Simply to have been recognized as a real person might be the very best thing about their day.

So, being the “person of the day” might just be the solution to our problems as well as the problems of others.

Travel Ban – Latest & Greatest…

President Trump finally seems to have somehow eked out a small victory from the U.S. Supreme Court given that it, yesterday, said the third version of a travel ban by Trump can go into effect while it goes through the review process in lower courts.  What that means in the longer term remains to be seen, but it does appear to represent movement in the direction those of us favoring our borders be well protected have desired.

Executive Order 13769 was the first effort and that was almost immediately challenged in federal courts.  The second version of that order was generated in the White House and it came under fire immediately.  What is being called Travel Ban 3.0, for now at least, will be permitted to go into effect while appeals make their way through federal courts. This order blocks travel of virtually all citizens from Iran, Chad, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.  Venezuela came in for special consideration.  Government officials and their immediate families are banned from entry.  Venezuelans who already hold visas will be subjected to additional screening, whatever that means.

The naysayers are still going after what they see as red meat that just can’t be ignored.  The ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union, made the statement that “this is not a ruling on the merits, and we continue our fight.”

I wonder if this signal from the highest court in the land will temper the various more liberal branches of the federal court system.  The highest court appears to stand 7-2 in favor of the edict to leave the borders restricted during the various court hearings that are underway.  If that majority continues to stand, the outcome of these lesser court cases seemingly bear little if any on the ultimate decision.  In June just three justices (Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy) on the Supreme Court were willing to let President Trump implement his travel ban policy.  The swing to a 7-2 block (all but Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor) seems to signal a fairly sound majority and would require quite a judicial opinion breakthrough in order for that to change.  It is unusual for the highest court to jump into the fray before a case reaches it.

Of course, the cry over “Islamophobia” rang loud and clear from critics without regard to what I see as a very solid set of facts that support the opposition to those uttering that outcry.  We are not very open to banning certain parties entry into our country, and that, from my perspective, invites the flow of more and more who have as their interest the destruction of our country, albeit maybe slowly but destroying it nonetheless.

We seem to easily lose sight of realities that exist in this world whether or not we want to acknowledge those realities.  Liberal bleeding hearts and solid conservatives do not see eye-to-eye on this or many other subjects for that matter, but this subject is critical in nature.

Not every person desiring access to our heartland is doing so to plot against us from within.  A majority do not do that.  But, there is a very dangerous blood-thirsty minority that is sworn to destroy us and our system of governance and religious worship.  That group does not accept Christianity as a valid faith, and that belief is inculcated from the moment that little person can begin to understand, and is supported and made stronger every step of the way from being a youngster to becoming a young man or woman capable of significant violence that they earnestly believe is the command of that they worship.

We cannot comprehend sufficiently such an inbred hatred of us, and our faith basis, that would lead to the kinds of scenes we’ve become accustomed to seeing in Europe with trucks intentionally crashing into crowds of innocent people for the sole purpose of killing as many as possible to add to the fright and fear of those remaining.  If we think we are impervious, all we need to do is look back at the still somewhat isolated such occurrences in our own country.

This ‘issue’ of travel bans for people from certain countries makes a great deal of sense; at the least, these potential immigrants need to go through a stiff vetting process to provide us with the comfort they are not a security threat and that they are going to be able to support themselves and not become an addition to welfare rolls the day they get here.

Our law enforcement agencies need to continue their focus on such groups.  The FBI needs to pay particular attention to this realm.  We cannot seem to agree on the discussion of a better form of protection along our Southern border, and yet it is still very possible for a person to stroll across our Northern border at will.  It is porous if one wishes to cross with an ulterior motive.  Traffic rolls across that border day and night.  Minneapolis and suburbs have become a magnet given the in place population of immigrants of similar faith and histories.

All this and yet liberal courts move with seeming blindfolds in place to the realities of our world today.  This move by our nation’s Supreme Court seems to say that they (at least a majority of them) recognize the potential for problems if the borders are not fully controlled.

A Man Called Tom…

A Man Called Tom…

A man called Tom introduced me to the book A Man Called Ove who, as you know if you’ve read that book is an interesting, sometimes confusing and confounding and always human character; a man who cared about things you and I might’ve passed over without a thought.

This man called Tom was even more complicated than Ove.  He had a very well-developed sense of humor which, coupled with his sense of drama, life in general, personal experiences and timing led to stories that had me laughing so hard that tears came to my eyes.  He was that special sort who was not a giant in stature but who had easily mingled with giants of the business world, and yet found an interest in me as I had found in him.

We were brothers since that was how he developed his friendships.  Before you knew it, you were ‘all in’ in the vernacular of poker.  That was part of his magic, and I could easily see how he had been so effective developing relationships with those of all levels of society, selling, whether product or service or his version of love and a life well-lived, throughout his business career and his lifetime.

The book I am reading today, just a day or so after Tom’s final breath, is similarly important. ‘Scalia Speaks’ obviously concerns our Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  That book also came to me as a gift from Tom.  That gives you an idea of the breadth of his personal interests.

If you never had the opportunity to meet my friend Tom, I know you can easily picture him always with a smile, a certain gleam in the eye that made you know he was thinking of something, and a sense of devotion to family, life, and friends that is seldom found in this too-busy world in which we live.

These are the kinds of people that God put here for reasons that we’re only too happy to come to better understand.  He was not without his problems as we all have problems.  But, he was, with me anyway, almost always able to transcend whatever that problem du jour might’ve been often with a jokingly casual statement that belied the depth at which he personally felt the problem.  He was not about to accept any pity, and if you felt that way he’d set you straight pretty quickly…but always in a lovingly jocular way.

This ‘Man Called Tom’ has left us for the moment, but he left many of us with memories we’ll carry for so long as we breathe on this earth.  If you think of how many people we interact with as we course through this lifetime, and then think of the impact a very special handful of those people had on us, you will be able to conjure up your own image of my dear friend Tom.  If you can’t see that image, work a little harder on finding additional friends who give you what Tom gave me.

The effort will be well worth the time you expend in the quest.  And smile while you are on the way.  If nothing else, it’ll make them wonder what you’re up to and it’ll help them find their smile, too.

Nothing Burger…

Joseph DiGenova, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia was quoted as saying that the plea deal that Michael Flynn agreed to is a “nothing burger”.  He went on to say that this simply shows how little the Justice Department has to show for its investigation of ‘Russia-hacking’ during our 2016 national election.

Further, Di Genova said on “The Ingraham Angle” show Friday evening Flynn is guilty at worst solely of the failure to register as a lobbyist for a foreign power under the ‘Foreign Agents Registration Act’  that is RARELY enforced.

Working on the incoming Presidents’ foreign relations as the foreign policy advisor to the incoming president is not a crime.  This seems to leave the investigation by Michael Flynn in a tough spot.  This is the guy who was supposed to be tough enough to ‘get something’ on the President, even if only on an advisor to the President since the President has all the authority necessary to do what he did.

That brings us to the Logan Act that was instituted in 1799 which prohibits private citizens from negotiating on behalf of the federal government in a dispute with a foreign state.  That law has never been invoked to date.  Di Genova pointed out that a private citizen officially part of a presidential transition team is what is classified as a “special government employee” and that, as such, he was in the position to communicate with anyone he wanted.  The Logan Act has never before been enforced.

Quite simply, it seems there is no “there” there, especially if the only thing that the Liberal’s tough guy could come up with was this relatively feeble finding.  President Trump’s opposition will obviously stoop to any low to attempt to get him, and if they can’t get ‘him’, then they’ll go after people who were close to him.

So, what do you suppose will be next in this continuing charade?  The left almost certainly will not stop.  The entrenched Washington insiders will certainly not give up.  The effort to further muddy the President is certain to continue.  The idea that a tough guy like Joseph diGenova will stop with such a small bird-in-hand that he could only muster this paltry charge will stop seems impossible.  He sits in the ultimate catbird’s seat with all kinds of power, and an apparently intense dislike (being kind) for the sitting President that he’ll exercise in any way possible.

These people simply cannot seem to come to accept that President Trump is the duly-elected President of the United States of America.  The self-absorbed egotists on the left are very nearly apoplectic (in this usage meaning ‘filled with rage’) in their quest to topple President Trump.

What in the world will happen if we “dopes-with-the-vote” re-elect him to a second term?  Where will they take this angry disbelief in that case?  Conservatives have been painted with virtually every nasty epithet to be found in the language, and yet the Left continues to pursue the ouster of President Trump.

It seems to be getting clearer by the day just where the true political vitriol lays.  Their caustic speech and thought are actually frightening.  That these on the left and the far left cannot find the means of more proper self-control and simple etiquette within themselves in the face of this defeat is troubling for me.

We need for Congress to get on with governing the country rather than laying ambushes around every political bend in the road.  The Dem’s actions to date ought to be embarrassing for every person calling themselves a Democrat.  Frothing at the mouth is not governance.