Saturday, December 31, 2022

2023

 

I used to make predictions every year.  Covid was such a disruption that I finally just waved the white flag and gave up.  But, now I’m ready to give it one more shot.  The 2023 predictions:

_1 The Ukraine-Russia conflict gets resolved. Probably before the end of March.  Russia gets something out of it and the world agrees that Russia did not lose the war (even if they did.)

_2 With the Ukraine-Russia situation settled world energy markets calm down and the European economy starts a slow recovery.  2023 will not be great and we will have a recession.  But it won’t be very deep nor will it last long.  Inflation eases up.

_3 The 2024 Presidential campaign is in full swing by the second half of the year.  The Democrats are stuck with Biden/Harris and the Republicans try to figure out how to make Trump go away.  I predict Trump does indeed fade out.  Barring a scandal of some sort, DeSantis is the favorite going into 2024.

_4 The Stock Market surges in the second half of 2023.

_5 2023 will be a big year for M&A activity, especially in transportation/logistics and food/grocery.

_6 Georgia repeats as college football national champs. Kansas City wins the Super Bowl.

_7 As evidence mounts that Covid originated in a Chinese lab, the “Covid Story” goes away.  Republicans will push it, but it will be to a dead end.

_8 There will be some Federal response, at last, to the border crisis.  It has become a nasty loose end going into the 2024 elections and the Democrats recognize the need to do something.

_9 The United States, along with other Western industrialized nations, continues to move further to the left on climate, economic and social issues.  Conservatives will object and continue to issue dire warnings.  But the tide has turned and isn’t likely to change until there is some sort of cataclysmic event.

_10 And lastly, I have one prediction that is guaranteed to be correct: Expect the Unexpected. 

"A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both." - Milton Friedman


Saturday, December 24, 2022

2022

 

2022 has been interesting.  If you like roller-coasters, you may even have enjoyed it. On the Chinese Zodiac calendar 2022 was The Year of The Tiger.  But not just any Tiger.  This was the year of the Water Tiger.  This “water” concept is part the ancient Wuxing philosophy that sees all of creation being subject to the cycle of Five Elements: Wood, Earth, Fire, Metal and Water.  Water is the low point.  It is the most “Yin” of the five elements.  Its motion is downward and inward.  Its energy is stillness and conserving.  Its color is black, its time the night, its light the moon.  It comes from the north and it brings cold.

 

As a Christian, I take seriously the warnings not to delve too far into such things.  Not because they are not real; but because they are real and come from a place where dark spirits work against God and those created in his image.  I would say those dark spirits have been hard at it in 2022.  The world is in chaos, nations are struggling with inflation and access to reliable, affordable energy.  The shadow of Covid and the fear of what comes next is ever present.  The cultural divide between progressives and conservatives has never been greater.  The basics of civilization are up for grabs.  We can’t agree on energy, food, education, housing, work, sex, gender, marriage, giving birth, dying, law and order, art, literature, humor or even what words are permissible.  Morality is relative and God is whatever one chooses “it” to be or not at all.

 

Obviously, this didn’t all just start in 2022.  It’s been building up forever, since The Fall or The Beginning, wherever one chooses to plant that stake.  But it has been accelerating and 2022 feels like the bands are about to break.  We can only do so much and we can only take so much.  2023 will be The Year of the Rabbit.  But it’s the Water Rabbit.  So, we are still under water.  I suppose the world can hope it does not get any deeper before we run out of air.

 

As for me, I will cling to The Faith and look to Jesus.  There is only one Truth.  I know that’s not popular to say these days.  But it doesn’t make it any less so.  2000 years ago, God became one of us in order to save us from the dark powers of this world.  Those powers do not want us to believe that.  But it doesn’t change the facts of the matter.  In the end, all of the elements, including Wood, Earth, Fire, Metal and Water will be consumed and replaced by a New Heaven and a New Earth.  The lion and lamb will lie down together as will the tiger and the rabbit.  And there will be Peace.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

We Will Run Again

 

I walk my dog most days.  Usually we walk the fields, but when it’s too wet we take to the pavement.  Barney is a two-year old English Springer Spaniel.  We often call him Barney Two or B2.  We had another Springer named Barney but that was years ago, a different time and many different places.

 

When Barney One was with us I could still run.  We ran many miles together.  And when we lived in Montana, he would go up into the mountains with me.  I would let him off the leash.  But he never ventured too far away and would come running back when I called him.  I always worried that he would run into a mountain lion someday or maybe even a bear.  But he loved being off the leash whenever possible.  So, I let him run.

 

But the years and a bad knee have ended my running days.  The bad knee has been replaced, but I’m a big guy and the doctor said it would be best if I did not run on it.  I might run if I was being chased or in an emergency.  But for exercise it’s down to walking.  With some recent back problems, even the walking is not what it used to be.  I reckon it’s not more than 3 mph and sometimes less.  Barney Two loves the walks, but I know he wants to run or at least walk faster.  It’s taken a lot of hard tugs and hard words to make him quit pulling.  But when something excites him, he still wants to take off.

 

At times during our walks he looks back at me as if to ask “Is this the best you can do?  Can’t we just pick up the pace a little bit?”  I think he somehow knows that once upon a time I could do better.  When we show him old photos of Barney One, I wonder if he knows that we ran together, that I wasn’t always old and slow.  

 

We have a large fenced back yard and Barney will run the fence line barking at birds in the field or squirrels in the trees.  Sometimes when I go out in the yard, he will run up and jump as if to say, c’mon let’s run.  It feels great.  Then he will stop and just stand there waiting for a hug because he knows that’s the best I can do until it’s time for our walk.  But as I hug him, I always tell him that someday I will run again and that he and Barney One will be running with me.  Just not today.





Friday, November 11, 2022

Not The Same Game

 

If Conservatives want to win more elections they must play a different game than their Progressive opponents.  Red meat rallies and attacks on Progressive ideologies, institutions or leaders will only be turned around and used against them.  When conservatives go after Progressives, it becomes hate speech, or it is somehow inciting violence; or it’s racist or homophobic or misogynistic.  In the end it becomes a threat to Democracy. 

 

On the other hand, when Progressives start calling out Conservatives; it’s filtered as main-stream news, fodder for talk shows, a skit on SNL or receives a  tweet storm of approval.   We just need to accept that Progressive criticism of those on the Right is mostly considered accurate, constructive, relevant and moral.  But that’s not how it works in the other direction.

 

Conservatives are forced to play a different game.  Essentially offer positive solutions to the problems most people are facing without blaming, shaming or finger-pointing at those mostly responsible for the problems in the first place.  Better yet take some responsibility for the problems and apologize.  Seriously, just say you’re sorry.

 

The playing field is not level.  Don’t feed the narrative.  Play nice and don’t make it personal.  The other side has already made up their minds about you…don’t keep reminding them. 

Monday, October 31, 2022

What Matters Most...

 

Early voting has begun in what might be one of the most contentious mid-term elections since the last one....and the one before that one...and the one before...I’ll stop there.  In all honesty, this might be the most contentious mid-term election ever.  It’s just where we are these days.  Divided on so many fundamental issues that there seems to be no middle ground left to stand on. 

So who wins and who loses?  It all depends on what matters most to the most people.  And that depends on who is voting. And it will look a lot different in “blue” states than in “red” states.  Even within those colors, the voting will vary by county and region.  Even Texas is starting to increasingly reflect shades of blue.  Winning and losing in today’s divided nation comes down to the margins.  Which side can control the House and Senate.  In Presidential elections and close Senate races it can come down to a few key counties in a few key states that determine the outcome. 

Both parties can rely on their solid cores.  The Democrats traditionally struggle with turnout, but they’ve done a better job since Trump’s big upset win in 2016.  The blue core is going to vote.  The Republican core will always turn out.  But demographics are working against them.  Republicans must convert independents as well as members of traditional Democratic “identity” groups such as Latinos.  Even some Blacks are starting to lean right, but for the most part they are going to vote Democrat.

So what moves the needle for those voters who are not “hardcore” in either camp?  The Democrats are banking on Abortion rights and lingering anti-Trump sentiment to motivate independents to vote Democrat.  Gun Control, Climate Change, Diversity-Equity-Inclusion issues are foundational to hardcore Democrats.  But it’s Abortion and Anti-Trumpism that really matter at the margins.

Republicans must push the buttons on inflation, crime and kids while creating some distance from Trumpism.  Border security tends to be more of a regional issue, important but not so much for the majority of independent voters.   The number one pain point for most people is inflation.  That should be a winner for the Republicans.  Not because their hands are clean on the issue, but because the Democrats have really lost control of the economy. 

Crime is a clear winner for Republicans.  People are just fed up with the surge in criminal activity.  The Democrats have earned their reputation for being soft on crime and it will be a major factor for independents. 

And with kids, it’s about education vs indoctrination and a growing awareness that something is “off” in the way kids are being taught and what they are being taught.  Parents of all races, ethnicity and religious backgrounds are pushing back on CRT and progressive gender/sexuality ideologies being taught to their children.

But, Republicans must not underestimate the impact of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that essentially pushed the abortion issue back to the States.  And with many Red States passing extremely restrictive abortion legislation, this has become a rallying point for women including many in the center who might otherwise be inclined to vote Republican.

And then there is Trumpism.  Outside of his hardcore followers, one finds very little support for Trump even within the Republican party, much less among independents.  At some point, Republican leadership must rip the band-aid off and be done with Trump once and for all.  Even if it means the Trumpers start a third party movement and cripple the Republican party in the near term.  A Republican Party that allows itself to remain hostage to Trumpism cannot survive. 

In a two-party system both parties must remain viable.  The Democrats are allowing far left Progressives to push them into a 30-40% support corner from which they can only win if there is no better alternative for moderate, middle of the road voters.  Now the big question is which is the lesser of two evils?  Far Left Progressivism or Far Right Trump Nationalism?  If those are the only two options, The Left has the advantage.  They are standing on the moral high ground of our postmodern secular culture when it comes to women’s reproductive rights, social justice for the “marginalized” and fighting against The Fascists (aka Trumpers).  

These mid-term elections are likely to determine the direction of both parties for at least the next ten years.  If there is a “Red Wave”, Trump will claim much of the credit.  He will either be the Presidential candidate in 2024 or determine who will be.  If the Democrats can find a viable candidate, they will win the White house. 

However, if the Democrats were to do better than projected and the Republicans finally realize that Trump is more of a liability than an asset, it might trigger a major shift for the party.  Two more years of Progressive policies and chaos would almost certainly open the door for sweeping changes in 2024. A more moderate, inclusive Republican Party would likely win the White House as well as seize control of both the House and the Senate.   

We will soon see how this all plays out.  It should be interesting, even if it's only more of the same.


“Politicians are like bad horsemen who are so preoccupied with staying in the saddle that they can’t bother about where they are going.” – Joseph Schumpeter

Monday, October 10, 2022

Growing in Grace

 

Two weeks ago I wrote about how our plans are never certain.  God may not laugh at our plans, but he does not bless them either if they are not according to his plans or his purpose.  I still don’t know why God allowed my back problem to become disabling just before we were to head off for two weeks in Italy.  Even more baffling, my pain level started going down last week and by the time we would have arrived back in the States I was probably back to 80% of where I was before this episode began.  Candidly, if I had felt no worse than this on September 22, we would have boarded that flight to Italy and taken our chances. 

Perhaps God in his wisdom knew that the long flight, sleeping in strange beds, dragging luggage around, walking up and down old stone pathways, standing in line to view the “must-see’s” one must see when one is in Italy, too much good Italian food and drink; or some combination of these would have triggered the disabling pain.  Certainly not a thing one would wish to experience while on an overseas trip. 

Now based on the MRI and the back specialist’s assessment, this problem may be treatable without surgery.  Especially given that the pain has subsided and there are no signs of lost strength or nerve damage.  But my lower back remains in need of professional therapy and treatment.  That this painful event was going to happen at some point is almost certain.  That it happened when it did I believe was providential.  We had asked God to bless this trip and watch over us.  I think he did just that. 

The lesson here is that God sometimes answers our prayers in ways we would not have expected nor wished for.  He knows more about us, and for that matter everything else, than we do.  He knows that our bodies are breaking down as we age and that some of us accelerate that process be it through pride or pleasure or just plain stupidity.  Our journey in this life is short.  That we experience some pain and suffering along the way is simply part of that journey.   But, thanks be to God that we are not alone.

 "I am certain that I never did grow in grace one-half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain." – Charles Spurgeon


Sunday, October 2, 2022

Unspeakable

 

The other day a friend of mine posted a report on the world’s largest social media platform regarding newspapers cancelling the Dilbert comic strip.  The issue has become somewhat controversial. (Was Dilbert 'Cancelled' as Comic Creator Scott Adams Suggests? (newsweek.com).   

 

Was Dilbert, in fact, too politically incorrect?  Did Scott Adams, Dilbert's creator just in end up on the “wrong side” of the political divide in this country?  These are good questions.  But in all fairness, newspaper comics have been dying for a long time and newspapers are cutting back on that space.  So maybe Dilbert is just one of many…or maybe not. 

 

 I simply responded to his post with an old quote from Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda: “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play”.  I credited the quote to Goebbels for context.  This prominent social media platform promptly took it down and notified me that I was banned from making comments or posts for thirty days.  Interesting.

 

I guess I got a digital time.  But this action simply confirms the very issue in question.  If I had made some sort of “Woke” endorsed comment about Dilbert being canceled,  I am confident there would have been no backlash. But even the hint that perhaps our government, directly or indirectly, is influencing what we read, hear, write or speak is somehow forbidden.  And having the audacity to connect such practices to those of the Nazi’s is just a line you do not cross.  Nazi is the other N word these days…unless, of course, it happens to be The View using it to describe a white gun owner.  History is only relevant if it can be used to support certain agendas. Otherwise, it’s off limits.

 

And just to put a fine point on it; you may have missed this story if you only follow mainstream media, but it’s a very real and very scary example of what’s going on these days:  Groundswell of Support for Mark Houck, Catholic Father of 7 Arrested in FBI Raid| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com).  

 

Once upon a time I could not have imagined federal agents showing up at a citizen’s front door to haul him off for purely political purposes.  But it’s happening these days. This is McCarthyism on steroids. Be warned, it’s not a big leap from social media cancellation to things like this….or much worse.