Newspeak

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The horrendous event of the past weekend in Orlando deserves a special capability of expression that is beyond my ability.  Murder, as always, senseless and evil,  in the instantaneous elimination of innocents whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, to be unwitting  participant actors in some twisted individual’s immorality play.  We are living through example after example of a particular kind of hate, that hates us for what we are, our willingness to express the truth about our selves, our need to be individuals.  It is a malign virus that continues to infect, because we struggle to understand its etiology, and refuse to initiate and follow through on the means of its eradication.  In the simple clarity brought by the battle for survival when facing devastating infection, we will either eliminate it, or it will eliminate us.  It is our choice, and our burden.

Unfortunately, what is following as we distance ourselves from this event, as has been our want for some time, is our willingness to allow the subversion of free thought and free speech by those in authority to bend the truth to their predestined conclusions.  George Orwell, the nom de plume of English essayist and novelist Eric Blair, achieved his greatest fame sadly at the very end of his life, in creating a literary dystopian world in 1984.   His masterpiece best described the potential epilogue of the very real dangers Elliot saw in the world he lived in, from the clashes of idealism and gross manipulation of the Spanish civil war, the show trials of Stalinist Russia, to the calamity of Fascism and the destruction of truth it created.  Orwell was one of those unique individuals who lived in the transitional zone between the world of oppression and the means of oppressors, and still was able to recognize the tools required to defeat both.  The primary tool to defeat oppression, that of free expression, he presciently saw under dangerous assault, and battled his rapidly deteriorating health to give us the ability to discern through the novel  the dystopian future we needed to be on guard against.

Orwell brought special clarity to the tools of authoritarian  control and its need to rewrite and subvert history to fit the authority’s ever changing narrative, destroy truth, and reduce expression that does not fit the excepted narrative.  Orwell’s everyman anti-hero Winston Smith, works at the Ministry or Truth, whose job is to constantly to constantly rewrite previous history, so that it fits with current thought.  The weapon of destruction is Orwell’s Newspeak:

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we will make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. ”                                                                                        George Orwell     1984

Our current process is to effect our narrative by making thought expressions a crime, a thoughtcrime, thereby distorting the truth.  For our current story, it is the unwillingness to identify radical Islam, to avoid saying it and therefore avoid recognizing its existence.  If it is not said, it does not exist, and its elimination is unnecessary.  Clarity of understanding of last weekend’s slaughter, requires recognizing the truth, as it did with the slaughter at San Bernardino, the slaughter in Belgium, the slaughter in Paris, and the innumerable clarifying events before.  Instead we focus our narrative on the gun as apparently an active participant, willing an otherwise conflicted individual with undefined motives to kill for the sake of killing and applying the opportunity the gun provides.  We block our minds to the true linking theme to each horrible event, the nihilist philosophy that this unique religion underwrites, and do not connect our events to the pressure cooker bomb of Boston, the throwing of bound homosexuals off buildings in Syria, the burning alive of Yasidi women who refuse to be raped slaves in Iraq, and the stabbing of Israelis in Jerusalem.  The weapon is immaterial, the truth is the philosophy of dominance and death.  The authorities seek through doublethink to criminalize those who obey the law and wish to defend themselves, decriminalize those who break the law but are seen as a protected class, and ostracize those who are willing to speak openly.  The narrative replaces truth, the ‘science’ becomes settled,  and the willingness to ignore objective facts that don’t fit the desired narrative ingrained.  All refugees are deserving.  All moralities are equal. All crimes are suffered upon a society that has created a state of victimhood, and therefore a narrative of justification to every appalling event, large and small.

Orwell saw his world becoming progressively immune to great horrors, acceptant of an ‘arc’ of history that makes sacrifice of individuals an unpleasant but accepted consequence of those unwilling to accept the arc. Our society is progressively becoming an ugly reproduction of Orwell’s vision, and the sacrifice of our freedoms on the altar of accepted correctness of thought a very real impediment to actually solving any of our societal ills, much less defending ourselves against the unwavering malignity of our sworn civilizational enemies.

If you need a reminder of how close to Orwell’s dystopia we are evolving and the extent to which our civilization’s values are cratering, look not to our leaders like Obama who will not speak the truth. Look to how our society has educated those into Newspeak on our campuses, the sources of our future leaders.  Watch the recent event at Yale University below in its entirety, and understand that the thoughtcrime committed by a dormitory leader was that he made the mistake of defending the right of individuals to self express and wear Halloween costumes on campus.  Watch it to the end, and realize we are close to the world of Oceania.

 

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People We Should Know #29 – Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov - Chess World Champion....and Human Rights Champion

Garry Kasparov – Chess World Champion….and Human Rights Champion

The loneliest place in the world is likely at the chess board in a grandmaster world championship chess match.  Sitting across is the greatest computational foe imaginable, a fellow grandmaster, who is probing for any weakness in conception, multi-dimensional thinking,  preparation and study,  courage, and stamina.  One hesitation, one casual move, one momentary weakness, and the match is good as lost. The match may extend hours, or days, the competition-months.  The crushing pressure has been too great for some, and destroyed the health of others.  To play grandmaster chess requires an intellect and a will that is present in very, very few of humanity.  53 year old Garry Kasparov is one of the greatest ever grand champions, and the number of people who could claim a capacity to compete with him on at his level at chess, are able to be counted on one hand.  Garry Kasparov retired from competitive championship level chess in 2005, but he has since 2005 taken on his greatest opponent ever in the ever more dangerous game of chess that is Russian politics.  He has determined to take the white pieces championing democracy and free speech. His opponent, Vladimir Putin, the dictator of Russia, is most comfortable with the black pieces, and cares not one wit for the rules of civility.  He has worked to eliminate Kasparov’s fellow pieces one by one, working toward a final deadly check mate.

Garry Kasparov is in the match of his life and is courageously willing to play through to the match’s conclusion.  As one of the great defenders of civilization’s ramparts,  Garry Kasparov is Ramparts:   People We Should Know – #29. 

Garry Kasparov was born in 1963 in the Soviet Union’s Azerbaijan Republic to jewish and armenian parents.  His father died when he was seven, and consistent with prodigiously talented children of the soviet, the state provided further paternal guidance.  His tremendous talent for chess and its challenges became known very early, and in a country that valued superiority in chess as another example of the superior societal model, Kasparov received exceptional training.  By age 15, he was a chess master, by 17 a grandmaster, and at 22 years of age, the youngest world champion up to his time ever crowned. But training wasn’t Kasparov’s secret – it was his soaring intellect and indomitable will.  He played for the world champion ship in 1984 against one of the great Soviet chess machines, Anatoli Karpov, in a brutal match that saw an incredible number of draws that left Karpov ahead but exhausted, and the match was called mysteriously before a conclusion.  A rematch was set for 1985, and this time Kasparov broke Karpov’s defensive style and became at 22 years old the youngest champion ever.  For 15 years, Kasparov fought off every great world champion, including multiple challenges by Karpov, relinquishing the title finally in 2000.  His run was considered one of the most dominant in chess history, and his 2005 retirement from world competition allowed many fellow grand masters to breathe a sigh of relief.

Kasparov’s true awakening occurred however, in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union.  Flush with the vitality of new found freedom and one of his country’s most important ambassadors,  Kasparov found himself contributing to Russia’s nascent development of democratic institutions.  He was one of the founders of Democratic Party of Russia, which morphed into a centrist party of Russia’s Choice promoting  Boris Yeltsin against the communists attempting a resurgence.  He became intimate friends with Boris Yeltsin’s first protege Boris Nemtsov.  When the ailing Yeltsin was pressured away from naming the liberal democrat Nemtsov as his successor, and instead handed it to a little known KGB apparachnik named Vladimir Putin, Russia’s future became dark and progressively totalitarian.  Kasparov, seeing the predictable pattern of dictator in Putin, attempted to marshal political forces against him, working with Nemtsov and others to form the Other Russia as a democratic political alternative to Putin’s autocracy.  Kasparov attempted to run for President in opposition to Putin in 2007, but the Putin machine prevented any momentum, and Kasparov progressively saw his life straying onto thinner and thinner ice. He was sham arrested several times, and many of his friends were harassed and more ominously experienced violent deaths. Many were among the most prominent Putin opponents and defenders of human rights and free speech in Russia.  The dogged anti Putin investigational reporter, Anna Politkovskaya, was murdered in Moscow.  The Putin antagonist Alexander Litvinenko, a British citizen, was poisoned with nuclear material and painfully killed in London. Most brazenly, Nemtsov was murdered right in front of the Kremlin. The message could not have been more clear. Behind all the events, the common thread – opponents of Vladimir Putin.  Kasparov realized his best chance for survival and continuing the message of freedom for Russians would be outside the country, and he has taken residence in New York City since 2013.   His lectern is as head of the Human Rights Foundation, whom he succeeded the sainted Vaclav Havel as leader.  Despite the enormous personal risks, he has continued to speak out against Putin’s dictatorship and his thuggish mafia like record of assassinations, beatings, arrests, and one party rule. He recently was interviewed by Jay Nordlinger at the Oslo Freedom Forum.  Jay through his interview show on Ricochet , Q&A , has often highlighted the many courageous people who attend the Oslo Forum and are often the sole spokespersons for freedom in the dangerous totalitarian countries in which they reside.  Below please take in Jay’s interview with Garry Kasparov, who locked in mortal combat with his most dangerous opponent ever in Vladimir Putin, is one of freedom’s brightest lights, and justly Ramparts: People We Should Know  #29.

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Memorializing Memorial Day

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President Obama on May 22nd, 2016 in Hiroshima, took measure of the Memorial Day weekend to attempt to memorialize the tremendous loss of life that occurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945 as the extreme spasm of a world lost in aggressive impulses without steadying institutional control.

The wars of the modern age teach us this truth. Hiroshima teaches this truth. Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well.

That is why we come to this place. We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry. We remember all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war and the wars that came before and the wars that would follow.

Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.

He stated further:

And since that fateful day, we have made choices that give us hope. The United States and Japan have forged not only an alliance but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war. The nations of Europe built a union that replaced battlefields with bonds of commerce and democracy. Oppressed people and nations won liberation. An international community established institutions and treaties that work to avoid war and aspire to restrict and roll back and ultimately eliminate the existence of nuclear weapons.

Still, every act of aggression between nations, every act of terror and corruption and cruelty and oppression that we see around the world shows our work is never done. We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations and the alliances that we form must possess the means to defend ourselves. But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.

A horrible event occurred in Hiroshima seventy-one years ago, but is what President Obama describes really the means to assure the prevention forever of passive death of innocents in the face of ever more destructive technology?  Was the absence of institutional control the reason for the advancement to actual use of an atomic weapon? Would more institutions and treaties to eliminate weapons present prior to a war provide the means to prevent war or development of such weapons?  The tough historical truths are that global organizations such as the League of Nations were useless in preventing global conflict, and the atomic weapon, though no more objectively destructive in lives than any number of other catastrophic weaponry used before it, proved philosophically the precise tool to end  the global conflict and prevent large scale conflict for the next seventy years.

The prevention of war and avoidance of death for countless innocents has too many times been left passively in the hands of organizations that looked at vigilance and strength as mechanisms for starting wars, not preventing them.  President Obama sees the start of WorldWar II for America, the surprise attack on  Pearl Harbor and the climatic end of the war, the atomic bomb dropped on Japan, as equivalent evils of aggression against innocents.  The avoidance of the concept of good and evil is an important foundation for all liberal progressive thought.  It is important to see all conflict as primeval genetically driven aggression of individuals, requiring the continual regulation of more objectively minded institutions to suppress the baser reflex. Aggression is driven by animal greed, need for dominance, religious and nationalist fervor that clouds any rational human thought.  The idea that a moral dilemma would arise, that would require recognition of evil, and the need to surmount and defeat evil intent, is alien to progressive thinkers like Obama.  All versions of society are relative and need only understanding is what has been responsible for many of the darker periods of human conflict.  The society that evolved the evil that led to the tens of millions of deaths prior to Hiroshima, was finally stopped by the society that marshaled its goodness into the overwhelming might of the atomic weapon.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”           Edmund Burke

The brilliant British parliamentarian Burke got to the core of human conflict that progressives like Obama always fail to grasp, that it is the value system, not the weaponry, that defines momentum to conflict.  The individual soldier does not defend a series of treaties or a constellation of institutions, but a bedrock of ideas.  The American Revolutionary left his home to defend the abstract cause of free will against a distant tyranny.  The Civil War soldier on both sides felt he was defending his homeland against invasion, the southerner from the federalist north, the northerner against the rebel insurrector. The World War II soldier saw the spectacular evil of totalitarian society impressing its collectivist values against the individual freedoms to such an extent that genocides were institutionalized and remorselessly codified.  The atomic bomb was achieved in a race between the defenders of freedom who achieved the technology by an chronological eyeblink over the evil, genocidal societies that would not have hesitated for a moment its use.  The soldier defending individual freedom and free will, is there to defend, and at times die, for a concept larger than life itself, if it means that  liberty survives for others to benefit and propagate.  No treaty will have such power to defend against evil, or to assure its destruction.

On this Memorial Day we do not glorify the treaties that were designed to suppress aggression, or the wars that were fought to promote institutions.  We memorialize the individuals who recognizing their own humanity, could grasp the greater values that life offers, and propel themselves to serve and at times sacrifice for the survival of a good that would many times outlive them.  Wars are not won by old men protecting present realities, but by young men envisioning a better world they, through their sacrifice, personally can secure for others.  President Reagan was the great communicator and visionary  that President Obama could never remotely be, because Reagan could articulate this basic truth, and recognize this basic good. Obama’s moral equivalence only permits the seeds of future conflicts by creating passivity when vigilance and preemption is necessary.  President Reagan understood what elevates men and women beyond their own survival instincts toward a greater truth that in the end protects us all from the slide to oblivion.   In the larger sense, it is not sacrifice that is memorialized, but the individual life that briefly burned so bright for an abstract value that might possibly build a better, freer world.

God Bless all who serve. God Bless all who defend. God Bless all who feel the calling. We know what you have done for us, and we will never forget.

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The Magnificent Croissant and Jan III Sobieski

The Magnificent Croissant

The Magnificent Croissant

So, one starts the homage to the magnificent croissant with a story of its origin too good to be true – which of course it isn’t.  When it comes to food, however,  great stories don’t have to be true in order to be truly great, and this one has all the elements of greatness.  The wonder bread known as the croissant which forms the perfect meal through its irresistible airiness, flakiness, and buttery goodness has its origins in legend, but is the more likely descendant of more mundane bakery craft.  The concept of rolling plates of flour with intervening filling has many mothers of invention.  The ancient kipferl, a similarly shaped yeast dough based baked layered roll designed to be sprinkled or glazed, projected out of the misty depths of the ancient Hungarian lands of southeast Europe.  The recognizably modern croissant was essentially borne in a Parisian boulangerie in the 19th century that looked to mimic the pastry concepts of Vienna, achieving the lightness and richness through applying layers of butter between the plates of dough, battering the layers  into thinness and cutting them into triangles that are rolled and twisted, pulling the ends into a crescent shape and baked.  The wondrous magic is in the texture and taste, but the real romance is in the shape itself.

A pastry shaped as a crescent with origins in Vienna became linked with the city’s rich past.and a legend was born. Why shouldn’t such a glorious food have a heroic origin?  And thus we recall the croissant as an eternal reminder celebrating the moment when western civilization, on  the verge of submission to an alien culture, pulled itself together and emerged victorious.  In 1683, at the Gates of Vienna, history was at one of those balance points. The zenith of of a 350 year unimpeded march of ottoman islam into the core of Christian Europe culminated at those gates, as the very future of european culture tremulously looked for a miracle way out.

The Ottoman Turks pushed from their homeland in Anatolia in 1299 to become the dominant caliphate of the muslim world, tied together through the culminating 16th century conquests of Suleiman the Magnificent.  From Iraq to Egypt, Algiers to Budapest, the massive empire had consumed the previous islamic caliphates and put the final nail in the remnant of imperial Rome in defeating and subjugating the Byzantine Empire, its capital Constantinople and its provinces of southeastern Europe.  The jewel of central Europe, Vienna, lay before it, and with it, the gateway into the residual Holy Roman Empire through control of the Danube waterway.  Christian Europe of 1683 was an ungodly mess, barely through the devastation of the Thirty Years War, that left its economies devastated and a third of its population dead.  The squabbling power centers were constantly in conflict with each other,  plotting to take land and riches with the first indication of weakness of a neighbor. The idea that Europe could focus mutually upon a threat as unified, powerful, sophisticated, and confident as the Ottomans seemed the stuff of wistful dreams.

The Ottomans were led by the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha, a general in charge of an estimated 130,000 troops against grim city walls and a local Hapsburg Austrian force of an estimated 15000 led by an opposing general grandly named in hapsburgian fashion, Ernst Rüdiger Graf von Starhemberg.  Consistent with their desire to subjugate when possible rather than destroy captured value, Mustafa settled into a strangulating siege of the city, blocking all sources of food progressively starving the inhabitants.  The rings of siege were moved ever closer to the walls with tunnels dug to allow placement of explosive at the walls to take them down. From such facts the legend grew that the bakers of the city, first to rise in the night to prepare the bread of the diminishing food supply, heard the tunneling actions and warned the city guards sufficiently in time to prevent a breach of the wall.

Heroic bakers were not going to be enough to turn back the irresistible Islamists.  It would take a Polish King named Jan III Sobieski.  Sobieski, the leader of one of Europe’s largest states, the Polish Lithuanian Confederation, did not sit back when the threat presented at his southern flank.  He gathered his army led by Europe’s greatest heavy cavalry, the Hussars, and sought the cooperation of the multitude of less virtuous leaders that stood between him and Vienna. The Hapsburg , Holy Roman , and French royals had to not only resist combatting his effort but additionally underwrite its enormous expense.  Hordes that had invaded Europe had a way of focusing their attention, however, and having a King willing to fight when all others were fatigued by war was a godsend.  On September 12, 1683, the Ottomans determined to have it out and settle the issue.  The battle was vicious and extended with the outcome in doubt, until twilight when, out of the Viennese woods, Sobieski came into the late afternoon sun, and smashed into the Turkish flank.  In the largest recorded cavalry charge, 18000 Polish Hussars crushed in the Ottoman flank and the rout was on.  The victory became total, Vienna was saved, and the defeated Mustafa Pasha met the end of defeated islamic generals, a silk cord garrotment of the neck by his own troops.

The city was said to have celebrated by commemorating the victory by having its hero bakers who had played their role in blunting the Turks prepare a pastry.  It was a baked good that would be shaped into a crescent to forever more remind all of the victory against the soldiers of islam, led by their crescent symbol.  The wondrous victory would always be associated wtih the wondrous pastry, and the romantic origin of the croissant was identified.

Except of course, that not how the croissant originated.  It would be an additional two hundred years before anybody would determine a recipe for the fantastic pastry we recognize  today.  No matter.  The glory of the croissant resonates with us, even if the story told is a wonderful myth. Me? I like my myths, with coffee, thanks.

Posted in FOOD AND WINE, HISTORY | 1 Comment

Donald Trump – Novice Maximus

Donald Trump salon.com

Donald Trump                             salon.com

You have to give the man his due.  Donald Trump entered the nomination process last June as a rejiggered Democrat non-politician running in the Republican Party nomination process alongside 16 other experienced, motivated, better funded and better prepared candidates – and with last Tuesday’s crushing of the final two pretenders in the Indiana primary – left all 16 in a pile of rubble the Trump bulldozer had cleared off the road. But not only the 16.  He additionally has created a meme where the power structures forming the fifty year edifice of a conservative movement that had at the beginning of the primary season demanded that Trump declare loyalty to the party and not go off the rails with a third party run, were now fumbling to say if they would declare loyalty to him.  The former Speaker of the House, who led the first  congressionally directed conservative takeover of American political philosophy in 1994, Newt Gingrich, enthusiastically supports Trump.  The current Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who was hostilely drafted to resurrect the conservative will of a corrupted leadership in 2015 and is the chairman of the party’s nominated convention, cannot bring himself to declare the undisciplined, unideological Trump as his movement’s standard bearer.  The brother of the President of the United States who Trump declared lied to the American people regarding Iraq vows Never Trump.  The former Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney, who championed the very Iraq policy that Trump says was a perpetrated lie upon the American people has come forward to support Trump.  It has resulted in the 1996 loser of the presidential election Robert Dole to vociferously endorse Trump, and the most recent loser of 2012, Milt Romney to scheme to get rid of Trump.  Down the line, governors and senators, congressmen and assemblymen, conservative think tanks and journalists, industry chiefs and regular tool box guys, wise thought leaders and talk show blatherers alike, are finding themselves aghast at the prospect of having to choose who they are, when they thought they already knew.  The meme is a question – If you are for Trump or you are against Trump, what does it say about you?

The American style electoral process to this point has been based on a party structure that looked for candidates who would represent the party members values, and attempt to convince the rest of America, on the values fitting the currents times and events.  It has been said and believed, all politics are local.  The party’s strengths are formulated through retail politics of local leaders meeting the constituents, kissing the babies, and fixing the potholes. Successful local leaders then take their local resumes to achieve state offices and learn the art of compromise and debate, interest groups and budgets that prepare them for the national stage.  At the national stage the lessons learned from a career of relationships with like minded people forms the party structure of a national vision that a fully vetted standard bearer must earn the right to represent, perhaps earning after having fallen short a time or two, and refining his or her understanding of the vision process to eventually be selected and succeed.   This was the structure that was built to prevent the hijacking of the party vision by an extreme version or transiently enthusiastic impulse.  The Pat Buchanons, Ron Pauls, George Wallaces, and Pete McCloskeys could not get through the obstacle course and subvert the party to their extremism. It was a protection against demagogues such as Huey Long or Douglas MacArthur democratically overwhelming the mechanisms of restraint.

However perfect the restraints, the parties would occasionally struggle to avoid falling in love with a relative novice, like Wendell Wilkie, Dwight Eisenhower, or Barrack Obama, on the basis of a single gift. Even then there was some logic.  The Republican candidate of 1940, businessman Wilkie was a sacrificial lamb against the massive Democratic machine that controlled all facets national politics led by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  The party had nothing to lose in trying a non-politician against the ultimate politician.  In 1952, Eisenhower’s singular gift was that he had adroitly managed the most massive military machine ever assembled and had helped save the entire world.  That certainly made him hard to turn down.  In 2008, the Democrat Party turned to a  state senator who became a one term US Senator only so he could become President.  As to his party’s nefarious recognition of his supposed singular gift, his eventual running mate and gaffemeister Joseph Biden  crudely framed it, saying  “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

Donald Trump has exploded all the constraints by being Novice Maximus.  He is not an industrial leader like Wilkie, he is a wheeler dealer business speculator.  He is not a leader of men and women like Eisenhower forged in battle, he is leader dealer  who sells to others his version of dealing, defining success and failure by how closely they adhere to the Trump model, firing non-acolytes in the Apprentice, or failing non-converts in a fraudulent “Trump University”.  He has not captured the media by superficially looking and sounding nonthreatening to them like Obama, but rather overwhelming them and enslaving the media through ratings success their previous biases had prevented them from ever achieving. Trump, the Novice Maximus, towers over all previous models, converting individuals who would not remotely respect his bizarre politics into ‘Trumpeters’ for the cause.

And thus, the dilemma for anyone who has an inkling as to the principles that make this modern republic great.  The Republican Party has positioned themselves to endorse a candidate who shows no identifiable message discipline or understanding, and is proud of it.  This party of limited government influence on people’s lives is about to underwrite an individual that declares he alone will adjudicate whether a company moves their business, a person of muslim faith can gain entrance, another sovereign country will be forced to pay fealty, or that the country he represents will resolve to default on its debt.  The Republican Party, wholly unable to control Novice Maximus in his inevitable drive to the party nomination, now asks its constituents who did not buy into Trump to ‘trust’ the party to be able to ‘control’ Novice Maximus once he has obtained the reins of power through ‘wise council’ and ‘checks and balances’.  This type of logic has been ludicrously promoted before against of demagogic figures, the most disturbing historical example being  the decision of the German right to believe it could ‘control’ Hitler by bringing him into government as Chancellor and having him mentored by Hindenburg.  Obviously, Trump is no Hitler, but the Republican Party is not even remotely Hindenburg.  Donald Trump refined modern social media control with the best propagandists of the 1930’s, and once in place of the ultimate bully pulpit, would be out of the reach of any stabilizers.

What to do?  Vote your principles, and your desire for forward looking, rational answers to our many problems goes down to defeat.  Jump on the Trump Train, and assure the complete destruction of ideological clarity to problem solving, while still going down to defeat, win or lose.  For me, principles trump Trump.  Losing one’s soul is not a reasonable price for defeating the less defined of two evils.  The 1932 german patriot who held on to his humanity and civility and didn’t join the lemmings, at least didn’t have to live the evolving calamity soulless.

Posted in CULTURE, POLITICS | 2 Comments

Checking The Box

The Ballot Awaits - What will you do?

The Ballot Awaits – What will you do?

Voting is one of the great privileges and responsibilities of citizenship.  The vote represents the compact a country’s people hold with its government to follow the agreed upon constitutionally ordained mandates, laws, security, and strategic investments.  It is the pat on the back for positive performance, the weedwacker for removing governmental congestion,troubled concepts and inadequate or corrupted leaders. The great arsenal of democracy is the ballot box, converting the performance chart into measurable, digestible time frames that allow an engaged citizenry to control their future.

The zenith of the American voting process is the vote for the Presidency.  Every four years, the country puts its prospective leaders through an onerous process that vets each prospect’s  capacity to articulate a vision, respond and modify to others’ criticisms, and engage and hold the attention of a majority of Americans who see the future as they do.  Its an intense process, and it should work at a level of outcome worthy of the great democracy it serves.

Yet, for years, the process has appeared significantly out of sync with the voter, and has time and time again positioned candidates that seem incomplete or unworthy, and that leave the voter with a choice of selecting the lesser of two evils.  Progressively, the Presidential vote has come to voting against someone we feel will be damaging to our future, rather for someone who positively represents our views and our vision. For the past thirty years, this has been particularly an unsavory process for the conservative or libertarian voter.  The Republican Party, positioned to represent the world of the individual initiative and limited government, has put forth candidates who are further and further removed from this philosophical pact.  It has demanded the conservative go into the booth, hold his or her nose, and vote against the other party rather than for the republican candidate, to protect a rapidly diminishing societal compact with those two pillars the party claims to be fundamental.

This year, the wheels have completely come off the wagon.  Short of a radical change in events, the two party nominees will be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Clown against the Criminal, and a huge segment of the Republican Party’s base are left with the impossible choice of voting for intolerable options, or abdicating their responsibility as the ground troops of democracy and staying out of the Presidential vote all together.

The Republican Party is wholly responsible for this approaching debacle.  Every four years, the process of selecting candidates has leached out the more principled conservative candidates on the premise that a principled conservative could not possibly appeal to the greater population.  The Voter got Bush instead of Kemp, Dole instead of Graham, Bush instead of Forbes, McCain instead of Romney, and Romney instead of Perry.  Each time, the consensus candidate either significantly let down their conservative base of support once elected (in case of the Bushes), or got clobbered by the ideologically purer democratic alternative in the general election.  On multiple occasions, the base got back of the floor and organized off year election victories and with the exception of 1994, had their elected legislators turn their back on the ideological struggle and give in to the statist Borg.

2016 was going to be different. This was to be the year in which the executive election ideology would match the legislative thrust, and the conservative voter could go into the booth and positively pull the lever for our version of an ideologically pure candidate. Perry, Jindal, Walker, Rubio, Cruz, Fiorina.  All are gone or nearly so, and the man left standing is Donald Trump, the anti-ideologue whose base instincts would fit securely into the Democrat Party’s vision of leading society through correct beliefs rather than correct facts if he had determined to run under his life long party, rather than his recent epiphany that he must be a Republican. Certainly a surprise to his children, who didn’t even have time to change their party allegiance in order to vote in the “other” party’s primary in New York for their father.

Instead the party of individual initiative and limited government will be represented by the             very candidate who has publicly declared these concepts an anathema to him.  The result has been a sense of doom and withdrawal that are normally foreign to the conservative voter, usually the most committed and engaged supporter of the constitutional process.  One can vote for Trump and pretend that what one believes doesn’t matter in governance, or stay out of the election and allow Clinton to be rewarded for a life of insolent behavior, statist, collective ideology, and lousy performance.  Peggy Noonan in her Wall Street Journal editorial of April 28, 2016, refers to this sullen recognition of  what she calls the Moment, when the lack of an out is expressed as a psychological wounding.  The Republican Party,clumsily looking to expand its appeal rather than firm up its convictions, set up the primary process so that an outside demagogue could parley minority anger into a majority delegate position. The Party is now desperately attempting to imply the conservative voter must once again “hold their nose” and vote to prevent a supposed worse outcome, or risk the shuttering of the party.

The final defenders of the Ramparts are being labeled the NeverTrump clique and are being set up to either be a hypocrite to their principles, or permit a final closing of the door  of a vision of a country once uniformly seen as a place of opportunity, self responsibility, and societally moral relations.  Well, a stark future awaits, and unless something unexpected happens, it is not clear  a way out of Peggy Noonan’s Moment can be formed out of the madness.

A difficult, tumultuous summer and fall looms.

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Unleashing the Whirlwind

Old North Bridge Concord Massachusetts

Old North Bridge                 Concord, Massachusetts   / thecrowleyconnection.com

Two coiled springs had been tightening, gaining immense potential energy for years. The question was simply where and when the spring would release, and whether it would be premeditated, or spontaneously let go. The overwhelmingly powerful British Empire, supported by the greatest military capacity present anywhere, was coiling against a perceived challenge to its authority that had consequences that were simply unacceptable for its very being. The opposite spring, a group of British subjects in the far away American colonies, saw a world that had yet to be invented, and like a prophet that had foreseen the glories of heaven, could not wait any longer to undertake the ascension.  On April 19th, 1775, the spring uncoiled, and the whirlwind was released.

Since the climax of the French and Indian War, that in 1763 left Great Britain in the dominant position on the North American continent, the seeds for strife between the British crown and its colonial subjects grew progressively, and inexorably.  This journey to the American Revolutionary conflict is (or at least was) an essential foundation of every elementary history course.  Following the French and Indian war, the British Parliament felt that a significant burden of the massive financial debt created by the war should be assumed by the American colonies given the tremendous advantages for growth and security that had been created for them with the victory.  The most direct was the Stamp Act, a tax that the colonists objected to not so much that it was oppressive in size, but rather in that it had been enacted without any representation and discourse with the colonies.  With the elite educated class in America, progressively enthralled with the momentum of what would be called the Enlightenment, the lack of ability to influence their present or future was intolerable to the concepts of personal liberty and freedom of initiative.

Particularly in the restive New England colonies, radical discussions and progressively organized dissent proliferated. One such group, the Sons of Liberty led by Samuel Adams, became recognized as driving for a world beyond British parliamentary representation.  The Adams radicals looked to kindle the fire that would make the world anew. The answer from Great Britain was to assert its authority, and progressively British regular soldiers were seen in Boston. The spark first showed itself in the so called Boston Massacre of 1770, in which a  platoon of British soldiers threatened by a snowball throwing mob lost its cool and shot into the crowd, killing three.  The Boston Tea Party of 1773 led by Samuel Adams was a direct affront, and the British government saw a local problem beginning to spiral out of control.  The response that turned the process into an irreconcilable mess were the Intolerable Acts of 1774 enacted by Parliament, that asserted a form of military dictatorship over the colonists, restricting assembly, seizing control of the critical Port of Boston, removing a legal authority over British troops by American courts, and allowing British troops to be housed in American homes without consent of the owner.  The response was predictable, for now the colonists that for 150 years had pretty much determined their own way in the Americas were forcibly notified of their subservient position in the British hierarchy.  The colony of Massachusetts exploded in fury, and initiated a shadow government to the local British authority, a Provincial Congress that put forth the Suffolk Resolves, a group of acts that declared a boycott of British goods and public disobedience with the Intolerable Acts until they were repealed.  Even more worrisome and threatening to the British, a meeting of all American Colonies took place in September 1774, forming a continent wide shadow legislature known as the 1st Continental Congress, that suggested the local radicals had permeated the concept of disobedience to British authority across the entire continent.

The Suffolk Resolves suggested the detachment of British authority from its American colonies and was an Intolerable Act to the conservative parliament and the king.  Regular army detachments were sent to Boston to put it in a vise, and the reaction of the colonists were to form organized militia capable of rapid deployment with arms collected and positioned for maximum impact in case of conflict. The arms were distributed to allow 12000 militia to respond immediately to an aggressive British military maneuver, secured in 50 man units known as Minutemen.  The commanding general in Boston, General Gage, recognized he could not possibly stand by and allow an organized force to arm itself.  He determined to extend his forces into the countryside with strength, arrest the radical leaders, break up the militias, secure the arms, and send the leaders back to Britain for trial for high treason.

The when was April 19th, 1775 and the where was the public green in Lexington and the Old North Bridge in Concord.

The opening battle of the American Revolution - April 19th, 1775 Lexington and Concord

The opening battle of the American Revolution – April 19th, 1775 Lexington and Concord /wikipedia

Gage heard of massive stores of arms being collected in Concord, Massachusetts and selected the little town 24 miles from downtown Boston to be the sight to reassert British authority.  The goal was to send overwhelming force in a stealthy fashion, marching through the night, but Boston was rife with spies, and the rebels had already planned for an early warning system.  When it was determined that British troops were moving and their determined target, the Internet of the time sprang into action.  Horsemen, most notably the silversmith Paul Revere, left Boston in three directions to alert the many communities that contained the Minutemen companies, and for the most part succeeded in marshaling the rapid deployment force before the British could intercede. Gage sent a massive force of 700 regulars on the road to Concord, with a desire to break arm stores in the intervening towns of Monatomy and Lexington.

At Lexington green, just as the sun came up, the advance British forces encountered the first of Revere’s alerted Minutemen led by a grizzled Indian fighter named John Parker.  77 minutemen stood in formation on the green nervously facing a representation of the most powerful military on earth, led by Major Pitcairn of the Royal Marines, who demanded the “rebels” immediately disarm and disperse.  Parker, fully aware of the gravity of the moment and the importance of how it had to evolve to secure the right side of history, had told his men earlier,  “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon. But if they want to have a war, let it begin here.”  There appeared to be a brief moment of indecision as both sides realized what might result from a mistake, but a shot rang out, and the British fired a point blank volley into the Americans.  The damage was done. 8 Americans lay dead or dying and the British moved in and bayonetted.  The minutemen dispersed and retreated to Concord.  The British marched on to Concord and soon realized they were in a world of trouble.  Initially the town allowed them to search uninhibited, but it was obvious that the weapons stores had already been removed, and the British became frustrated and burned downed several structures in town.  British detachments moved to secure the bridges into town, and at the Old North Bridge it became clear the honeybees were being replaced by hornets.  Minutemen were waiting for them on the bridge, and this time they didn’t just accepted the punishment delivered at Lexington.  The volley was returned, and this time there were dead on both sides. As Ralph Waldo Emerson famously described,

By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to freedom’s breeze unfurled
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard’round the world

The British retreated, and it became apparent that a potential calamity was underway.  The officers began to retreat back toward the safety of Boston, and the extent of the hornet’s nest they had kicked over became apparent.  The march back to Boston became a Hell’s road, facing a fully aroused guerrilla force, having been made aware of the morning’s events and sacrifices, that sought nothing short of full annihilation of the 700.  Behind every rock and tree for twenty miles, a diffuse force of militia trained in the savage warfare of the Indian conflicts, snippered, ambushed, and harassed the beleaguered British force to massive loss, saved only by a rescue force from Boston that brought heavy artillery and cavalry to bear.  The proud British force had been decimated with 0ver 250 casualties compared to 88 for the American militia, and came within an eye-blink of complete annihilation.  The British, who hoped to assert complete authority, now found themselves under siege in Boston ringed by an entire countryside of furious hostility.

There was no going back from the brink, and the whirlwind was unleashed.  The fighting was more savage than anyone could have predicted, and the losses stunning to the British. The Americans recognized the next battles would be of epically greater scale and began to form a Continental Army led by a Virginian named George Washington.   The British saw that this was no longer a mob action led by a small minority, but a growing fire that could consume their hard won dominance in North America.

It would take 8 years of incredible sacrifice, amazing moments of heroism and initiative, epic mistakes, and a level of savagery of relative against relative that would presage the Civil War 80 years later.  At the end of it all stood a dream and a promise, of equality of men, freedom of thought, and liberty in action that is as close to anything that man can claim as inspired greatness.  On the 241st anniversary of the April events that shook the world at its foundations, we can only gaze in awe of the tiny contingent of brave men who stood their ground in a little town in Massachusetts  and were willing to make such an ultimate sacrifice, on the sliver of faith that a promise could support a dream and create a better world.  The impossible was made the possible, and the possible, happened.  The dream and the promise held by common men were able to surmount the greatest military force of their time and turn the world upside down.  Some felt it was Divine providence; it amazed even the most secular of men, when they looked back and realized what had transpired. As fellow Virginian John Page wrote to Thomas Jefferson after the after the Declaration of Independence was signed:

We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?

We are still in the whirlwind of history.  Maybe we will once again listen to our better angels, and find our way through our current storm.

 

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Ssshhh! …Still Some Clear Thinking Going On…

 

General Petraeus in Field - Roberto Schmidt getty images/cnn.com

General Petraeus in Iraq           photo Roberto Schmidt getty images/cnn.com

The political discourse these days is so trivial, hyperbolic, and lacking in thought that we might wonder if we are undergoing staging for a reality show rather than vetting potential Presidents of the United States.  The idea that there might be a philosophy of engagement for the most powerful nation on earth or an identified self interest is anathema to the candied brains of the current front runners.  The Democrat front runner sees the Libyan fiasco as a great accomplishment.  The Republican front runner wants to get rid of NATO and demands fools gold from other allies to maintain positions in the world that long have been critical to the nation’s self interest.  The current President uses political calculus rather than in-depth analysis to attempt a policy of retrenchment.  As a result, his concept of retrenchment waffles between red lines and withdrawals, disdain for his enemies capabilities and inept, pinprick reactionary responses to threats.  Is there anybody left who has thought this through?

Well, there is someone.  Someone who could have been President, but ruptured his bond with integrity and took himself out.  General David Petraeus, who served both Republican and Democrat Administrations and was the strategic genius behind the Iraq surge that finally won the Iraqi conflict, only to have it dissolve with the forced withdrawal of his carefully and painfully won stabilizing force.  The general committed political hari-kari when he exposed three classified documents to his biographer mistress, who as an intelligence officer additionally had classified document clearance.  It resulted in a very public humiliation by the Obama  Administration by Petraeus, who was forced to resign as CIA Director, and a Justice Department prosecution that led in 2015 to 2 years probation and a 100 thousand dollar fine.  The four star general’s career was over, and the unique means of his political demise takes on special focus when weighed against the massively larger security breach that was brazenly propagated by Secretary of State Clinton. Ms. Clinton, who could very well be our next President.

It is David Petraeus, not Hillary Clinton, who is banished to the wilderness.  We should remind ourselves however who General Petraeus is, because the old war horse has a soaring intellect and much yet to teach, if we are willing to listen.  David Petraeus was in the top 5% of his 1974 graduating class at West Point, the top graduate of his 1983 class at the 1983 US Army Command General Staff College, and subsequently earned a MPA and PhD in International Relations from Princeton University.  As a commanding intellectual, Petraeus proved equally adept at the real testing ground of soldiering, becoming a commissioned Army Ranger, promoted to commanding a battalion of the famed 101st Airborne Division, a brigade with the 82nd Airborne Division and eventually the commanding major general of the 101st in the second Gulf War combat assault on Baghdad, Karbala and Mosul.

What tied Petraeus’s unique balance of intellectual depth and combat assertiveness into success was the depth of his own philosophical development in concepts of counter insurgency.   Petraeus saw counter insurgency as requiring creation of security and stability by the twins of tactical force and political compromise, achieving the trust and the buy in of those he was asked to defend.  Nowhere did he succeed more profoundly then when he was asked to command the surge of US forces in 2007 in the desperate attempt to salvage the floundering US effort to pacify Iraq. Recognizing the Anbar Awakening for what it was, Petraeus presciently identified the appropriate winners and losers and supported his winners until they could assert their own control.  The success of the surge was so dramatic, that the key issue of the 2008 presidential campaign was lost to then candidate Obama. By 2010, the Obama Administration, noting that Iraq was so pacified that US Army deaths due to monthly training accidents exceeded combat deaths, declared a stable Iraq as their Greatest Achievement, and promptly threw it all away by not renewing the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq.  All of the hard work and sacrifices of the American effort in Iraq came to nothing as the black anarchy of death rapidly seeped into the vacuum.

Obama requested Petraeus’s help in Afghanistan and then the CIA in an effort to contain Petraeus rapidly rising political star, before Petraeus removed himself as a political foe through his own foible.  Nobody was more relieved then Obama.

Petraeus might have been the next in line of the perfect citizen soldier statesmen, such as Washington, Grant, Marshall, and Eisenhower that helped this nation out of its doldrums in the past.  Instead his personal vanity led to foolish weakness that has deprived us of this generation’s great leader.  Petraeus thankfully has not given up on helping format a way out of our current international morass.  In a Washington Post OpEd, Petraeus helps suggest the principles in countering the plague of radical Islam, that could direct future Administrations to a restoration of stability in this most unstable world.  His Five Big Ideas in the OpEd reflect Petraeus’s philosophical underpinnings he has previously described for breaking sclerotic impasses and achieving Institutional Change: First: Get the Big Ideas RightSecond: Communicate the Big Ideas EffectivelyThird: Oversee Big Idea ImplementationFourth: Capture the Lessons Learned, Refine, and Repeat the Process.  The current opinion piece mirrors the foundational Big Idea concept. Petraeus defines the Five Big Ideas as :

  1. Recognition that ungoverned spaces contribute the agar dish of chaos that draw radicals and allow them to flourish.
  2. Radical Islamists will not confine their attacks to their lairs or strongholds.
  3. The U.S. can not absolve itself of responsibility as the singular world leader capable of coordinating a counter insurgency
  4. The path to success will be comprehensive, multi-faceted, involve allies and friends,   and not just precision strikes and special operations.
  5. Victory ( and Petraeus does not see U.S. self interest in something short of victory) will require sustained U.S. effort for extended periods, defined by conditions on the ground, not enforced timetables.

What the general is describing is nothing more than the reversal of the last seven years of U.S. strategy of leaving the chaos of the world for others to solve, and retrenching to the role of leading from behind.  Such strategy has led to propagation of Syria’s catastrophic collapse, Iraq’s dissolution, ineptly permitted by  a puppet government of the Iranian mullahs that lost the Anbar to the ISIS monsters, sacrificed the Yazidis, offended the Kurds, and seek to destroy the Sunni ,  and the Libya, Mali, Somali, and Nigeria calamitous infernos of Mad Max warscapes.  I could easily see where it might be long past time to reverse such strategy.  Unfortunately, the political discourse would suggest we may  be willing to elect even more wrong way thinking approaching at its extreme, real bone headed logic.

There is real thinking out there.  If the country is willing to overlook completely profligately amoral and sustained behavior from its leading candidates, could it possibly overlook a brief lapse in a career of brilliance for our nation’s sake?

Where have you gone, General Petraeus, Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you woo,woo,woo…

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Down The Homestretch

Apr 25, 2010; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Klements Racing Sausages get ready for their race during the sixth inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. The Cubs defeated the Brewers 12-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Down the Homestretch with the Final Five                                                                                                      Photo : Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

 

The Great American Extravaganza that culminates in the election of a Chief Executive  of the United States is fully upon us.  There have been tens of scores of debates, town halls, fundraisers, greeters, and interviews.  Over half of the state party caucuses and primaries have declared their voters’ preferences.  The compression of the pack has seen the dropping out of the race of the O’Malleys, Chaffees, Walkers, Perrys, Jindhals, Rubios, Huckabees, Santorums, Patakis, Carsons, Fiorinas, Grahams, Gilmores, Pauls, Bushes, and Christies.

We are are left with the Not So Magnificent Five.

Every four years the  over-wise pundits that suggest an ideal candidate for the nomination of either party are left dumbfounded with the recurrent verdict of the electorate to select someone who is anything but ideal.  How does the vetting process designed to get us a Washington or a Lincoln, end up with Sanders, Clinton, Trump, Cruz, and Kasich?  When somebody famous was quoted as saying anyone could grow up to be President of the United States, they weren’t kidding.  The process has become a manipulable grind that removes measured considerations of a candidates bonafides in any discernible way the average voter can engage.   We are left with winners of ‘Survivor’, and the country is the loser.  Different from other years at least, some of the winners are not yet sure if they survived and some of the losers refuse to admit they are beat.  It makes for some superficially compelling drama. Let’s see how the Not So Magnificent Five are positioned as they approach the final furlong.

Hillary Clinton:  It was supposed to be a coronation.  The old war horse had the money, political machinery, and the pedigree to swat aside the ridiculously weak challengers she would face, and yet last weekend, the sure thing candidate lost to her opponent challenger Sanders in all three contested states by historically enormous margins.  Sanders won 82% of the vote in Alaska, 70% in Hawaii, and 73% in Washington.  Are you kidding me? What kind of sure thing front runner loses by margins 4 of 5 voters, and 3 of 4 voters respectively anywhere?  Where is the love?  Hillary Clinton once again has shown what a notoriously poor candidate she has always been, and the lack of connection she makes with people.  Add to her natural lack of political talent, the uncomfortable reality that in her own party, polls have shown only 36% of Democrats view her as honest or trustworthy, and you have the makings of an epic fail.   Clinton has a substantial delegate lead for her nomination becomes of the previously secured so called “super” delegates, but she leads Sanders only by 1243 to 975 in delegates selected by voters in her own party.  Facing a potential spring of squeamish and uninspired voters, and an elephant in the room investigation by the FBI of potentially both security breeches and influence peddling, the coronation may look more like a Charles I moment.

Bernie Sanders:  What do you do for an encore after a life of back bencher eccentricities and contrarian views acknowledged by no one in power? You at 75 years of age run for President, and install the Glorious Revolution on the strength of voters who weren’t yet born when you turned fifty. Pretty amazing for a self styled radical of the sixties who protested under the banner ‘don’t trust anyone over thirty‘.  Awards should be given for anyone who can stand the rigors of an extended election campaign at nearly 75 years of age, but then again, Bernie looks youthful compared to the irritable and forgetful nearly 70 year old he is running against.  The fountain of youth has struck this back bencher on a wave of unachievable dreams of tax rates of 90%, tripling the deficit and making everything free, but… at least it’s a plan for the future.  Having principles, even when they are this wayward, looks appealing to kids, who feel their only other choice is to support their mean grandma.

Donald Trump:  The whole thing was supposed to be a publicity campaign to support a flagging brand.  Spend a few months talking about how everyone else is stupid, you’re the smartest, and then get out while the going was good.  Who could have known that the cynical opinion of the average American held by the billionaire real estate pitchman from New York, was not remotely close to how cynical the voters actually were?  Now he finds himself the leading delegate getter in a party with which he has no philosophical commonality and people are starting to take notice that he actually hasn’t thought anything through.  At some point, talking about 80 foot walls, 45% tariffs, and taking countries’ oil was going to run into stiff winds when people began to realize the guy might actually win the nomination.  Well, he suffers rebukes not at all.  The race is such that even this realization may not be enough to stop a Trump nomination, but watching the whole edifice collapse in a cloud of dust and fire is going to make for real entertainment for those who thought conventions were boring, predictable exercises lost in distant yesteryears.

Ted Cruz:  Somewhere way in the past, teenage Rafael Edward Cruz decided no matter what the circumstances, if he simply hung in there with his significant intellect, unbounded ambition, and thick skin, even a person of his circumstance could become president.  Well, he is one of the few survivors of The 17, and probably the one no one would have predicted still standing, based on his narrow vision, and reputation for poor relationships with his comrades in arms.  Don’t look now, but he seems to have outsmarted and outworked all the more ‘deserving’ choices, and has secured the rail position as alternative to the Trumpzilla.  Would a one term Senator who has cut his teeth on irritating everyone he has worked with blossom into a leader who sees beyond the horizon and fashions a future for this suddenly uncertain giant of a country?  It likely comes down to Wisconsin.  A Cruz win, and it will be interesting how many hesitant travelers jump on board.  A Cruz loss, and the tenacious effort will have only delayed Cruz joining the Other 14 who have been booted off the island.

John Kasich:  I’m No.3!  hardly seems like a path to victory, but Kasich will not be denied.  A record of 1 win 24 losses does not exactly instill a veneer of inevitability but some people just can not be dissuaded.  The race for President is usually about seeing a potential path for victory, but Kasich is after something else entirely.  His idea apparently is to stand by and see if the other two candidates kill each other off, and leave the electorate yearning for the Ohio Everyman.  The problem for Kasich is, if the top two go, it is likely that everyones’ next up, will not be the current No. 3.

On April 5th Wisconsin votes, and from that point onward, the Great American sausage race will run for the tape.  Its times like this, I wish I was a vegetarian.

 

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Miracles

tombe-jesus-drap

In the darkest times, when it seems that the world has fallen from grace, and the way out has been obscured so densely that hope appears extinguished, miracles can occur. We live in such times, but these are not the first of those times.  Finding a way out of the morass is often predicated upon pressing onward, and having faith.

Evil feeds upon the angst and weakness that lies in the absence of faith.  It looks to declare the absolute certainty of a future, to remove all hope, and to force compliance.  Faith secures the ultimate freedom, elevated from the native fears and doubts that can bring such turmoil to human existence.  The faithful don’t need reassurance, because the present holds no sway over an ultimate truth.

The tests are everywhere among us.  A muslim shopkeeper seeks to bridge the cultural divide with simple respect for those who see things differently, and is killed for his generous spirit.  The President of the United States participates in a press conference with a Cuban dictator, standing by passively as Raul Castro denies keeping any prisoners of conscience.  The long hand of the current Russian czar snuffs out any opposition to his worldview.  Innocents are brought to slaughter to serve as examples of evil’s inevitable march.

A transcendent faith is the gift of that day so many years ago when the tomb was visited on the first day after the sabbath, the stone was found shunted aside, and the inhabitant of the tomb was nowhere to be found.  Those that gazed in and were dumbfounded showed expected human reactions, worrying where the body was taken and who would have removed it.  The truth was of course greater than any perceived before in human existence, in that the truth was amongst them as they wondered, and had been all along.  Those of the greatest faith could see the truth, and those who would doubt but were open to a better world, could still receive the truth.

The realities of our days bring doubts, but not certainties. The faith that good will triumph over evil speaks to the enormous power of good and the inherent weakness of evil.  In good is the future of enlightenment, love, and paradise.  In evil, lies the empty blackness of a world devoid of meaning.

The miracle of Easter morning is not only that it happened, but that it happens continuously, through the breath of spirit that infuses people with the strength to carry on through the darkness, and never given in to those who would surrender or desecrate our goodness.

Have faith. With it, all things are possible.

Happy Easter.

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