A Simply Grand Lady . . .

Tuesday night it was announced that Mrs. Barbara Bush passed away. As the news of her death circulated, Americans remembered her and did so fondly. In both news reports and social media, folks remember the dear lady for her strong presence, grace, dignity, and unwavering devotion to her husband, former President George H. W. Bush, and her family.  She was the model wife, mother, and grandmother.

She died only a few days after her family had announced that she was in failing health and had declined further medical treatment in favor of what was called “comfort care.”

Her funeral will take place Saturday at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, which she and her husband regularly attended. She will be laid to rest on the grounds of the Bush library at Texas A&M University in College Station. I am sure her services will be well-attended as she was well-loved and respected.

I can still picture her in the theatre of my mind with her cloud of snow-white hair, signature three strand pearls, and compelling presence. Her image was what she laughingly called “everybody’s grandmother.” But she was also feisty, outspoken, a tireless advocate for literacy, and both wife and mother of a U. S. president. She was quite witty and charming.

View “images of Barbara Bush” for some beautiful, elegant images of her.

It was reported that President George H. W. Bush was understandably “brokenhearted” over the loss of his “beloved Barbara” and was said to have held her hand all day. He was “at her side” when she passed away, his chief-of-staff said. They were married longer than any presidential couple in history.

I heard a long-time friend of the Bushes on TV last night describe the President’s and Mrs. Bush’s life journey that took them from living in a boarding house in Midland, Texas, in the oil-boom days to the world stage and home in the White House.

It seems to me . . . that one of the reasons we loved and admired her was that she was just one of us. She actually wrote a book about her little dog. The book’s title was simply “Millie’s Book.”  Now that is a genuine lady who never took herself and all of the trapping Washington and politics too seriously.

R. I. P. dear lady . . . you truly exhibited class and dignity in a culture in which such virtues are sorely needed.

The World of High Finance and Foreign Investments . . .

I have a good friend who has been an Engineer with AEP, the area electric provider. In fact, his job description has long been development engineer. He runs the large department that works with business and industry coming into the area and increase the power-grid to meet the demand. He has a huge job and responsibility. We had lunch a while back and he told me that there is over $55 Billion in foreign investment being made within a 30-mile are of my home.

One such investment is a very large structure at the 4-way to Ingleside/Taft/Portland/Aransas Psss. Work on that building seems like it has been going on forever. Some say it is over 1,000,000 square feet in size. There has been a huge amount of shipped-in goods along the road. It is widely rumored that it is to be a Chinese plant to build seamless steel pipe. I met a couple of guys in the pool this afternoon. They said they were from New Jersey and had been working at the huge building. I asked when it was ever going to open, hire workers, and begin making pipe. One of the guys said that it might never open and they were being told that the group doing the venture was out of money and had quit paying its bills.

Luke 14: 28 says, “For which of you, wishing to build a farm building, does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it?”

It seems to me that they surely have already invested over $100 Million (figuring cost at $100 ft). Heck of a time to throw in the towel. After thinking about it some, I bet the recent proposed tariff on steel has suddenly become a factor and caused them to bring everything to a halt. Of course, the attraction for them to this area was inexpensive land and the cheap natural gas that is so plentiful here. In addition, there is both a shipping port and rail head close by to ship their goods. The local current industrial price for that natural gas is $3.19 Mcf. I have been told that same gas would cost as much as 20 times as much in China.

Changing fortunes in the world of high finance. It seems to me . . . that this could be a story for Forbes or the Wall Street Journal.

The new book of the Fired and Humiliated FBI Director . . .

Newt Gingrich is a really smart dude, and in my opinion is one of the most efficient and decent elected representatives in the past 100 years. I admire him. His wife is now the Ambassador to the Vatican and he plays a wonderful support role. I acknowledge that he has struggled with some of the things that decent but flawed men often struggle with and has had a couple of marriages. But in recent years he has quite obviously demonstrated significant spiritual growth as a man seeking after the Lord, and as a husband.

I subscribe to his newsletter, and always find him compelling and thought-provoking. Here is part what he had to say about fired and disgraced former FBI Director’s new tell-all book.

“My first reaction to fired FBI Director James Comey’s book is to demand that Rod Rosenstein release the still secret Comey memorandums. After seeing hundreds of pages of Comey’s self-serving version of reality, the American people deserve to see what he actually wrote at the time. I suspect it will undermine a lot of his case. In fact, it is hard to understand why Rosenstein is keeping these memos hidden—unless it weakens the deep state’s case against President Trump.

‘There are two striking things about the initial leaks of the Comey anti-Trump novel. I call it a novel because it will be amazingly discredited after the elite media is done fawning over Comey and people actually look at what he wrote and how he positioned himself.

‘It is, of course, the angry diatribe of an embittered, fired employee. Anyone who has had to fire someone who was convinced they were right and you were wrong can appreciate the intensity of Comey’s anger. That intensity and that bitterness flows throughout the book.”

I think once again Newt is spot-on in his evaluation, and I find it quite interesting and troubling that the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General has just concluded its year-long investigation of the FBI’s leadership and issued its report in which it exposes serious corruption over recent years at the highest level of the once highly respected FBI.

It Seems to me . . . that the old adage, “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely” . . . is once again proven true.

In the final analysis I would argue that the natural man is a flawed and troubled character, and that rings true regardless if he is a panhandler dressed in rags on the streets, or if he is wearing a $3,000 Savile Row suit, a $350 hand-made shirt, and $500 Italian, alligator shoes. It also Seems to me . . . that we as a population are just inclined to accept unsavory behavior from the panhandler . . . but have high expectations from the well-educated, well-dressed “respectable” servants.

 

 

Sanctuary Cities . . . Now a Sanctuary State . . .

There is a battle brewing . . . the battle lines are being drawn more and more each day by the opponents. The battle is over immigration and compliance with federal law. The opponents are local- and state-elected officials and citizens in California. While illegal immigration from the south has been increasing over the past three decades, it has been something the past several Administrations have addressed only in a minor way—verbally. It had been something politicians campaigned on, but never took much action. Then President Trump is elected and he calls on his Administration to enforce immigration laws that have been on the books for years, and suddenly it triggers rebellion by many local politicians.

The crazy thing is that those officials took an oath of office to “obey and defend the Constitution of the USA.”  Now, it is as if they think they get to choose which parts of that constitution they like and don’t like.  John Q. Public in California has sat by and taken it all in . . . but as their state is being overcrowded with illegals, many of whom are violent criminals, the public is beginning to step forward and speak out. Recent public meetings have shown an increasing frustration and anger as citizens confront officials over their putting personal desires to protecting illegals over the needs and interests of citizens. The Department of Justice has brought legal action against California . . . and a growing percentage of Californians are on the side of DOJ.  Many of the towns and cities are rising up in protest of the State’s decision to become a sanctuary state.

“It’s not clear whether the state of California will push back against this wave of local revolts immediately, or ever,” says Rick Su, a professor of local government and immigration law at the University of Buffalo. “It will be much harder for them to split their energy over a two-fronted attack from above and below.  The only question is whether or not the state is going to fight them directly by filing lawsuits against these localities, or whether or not they’re going to put their effort into fighting the lawsuit against the DOJ exclusively,” he said.

The notion of sanctuary cities comes from the Old Testament as it ordered three cities of refuge to be on the west side of the Jordan River, and three on the east side (Numbers 35:9-15).Read more at https://theisraelbible.com/cities-of-refuge/#oxDTUlDM6KeW5rdr.99. The cities of refuge were to be places where one who had accidentally been somehow involved in manslaughter could remain safe. But the protection clearly did not extend to willful and intentional crimes against other humans or the state. It was a method to protect the innocent.

It is peculiar that the officials of state government in California can reach into the Old Testament and extract one principle . . . twist and misapply it, and then tirelessly trample all over the rest of the Holy Bible. Interestingly, Proverbs 14: 12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its way leads to destruction.” History reveals that ancient cities that implemented cities of refuge improperly ended up with a serious mess as they became hotbeds of criminal activity (Athens).

It seems to me . . . that the state of California has trouble enough without becoming entangled in such a crazy battle that will prove very costly on many levels. The state is broke, overburdened, and deep in debt, grossly over-populated with all of the social issues that go with overcrowding, its citizens, grossly over-taxed, business and industry grossly over-regulated, and the state is suffering from a gross shortage of housing . . . but because of high costs, taxes, and regulations that are needed, housing simply cannot be developed. The state has dug a very deep hole for itself, but it foolishly just keeps in digging at a demonic pace. Go figure . . .

It is not surprising that I receive letters of interest from California almost monthly from folks seeking to buy my properties out in West Texas. There are many clearly looking to exit that troubled state.
 

Confusion . . .

Many folks are confused about the meaning and purpose of the life experience. That confusion has long been part of the human experience. I suppose it demonstrates that a human living outside of a spiritual relationship with the Creator might best be described as ‘being adrift.’ The Apostle Paul described that person as being “dead in trespasses and sin.”

I am convinced that the soul that is adrift is easily ensnared by foolish things, beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors. One can certainly see that on full display in today’s culture. It just amazes me to no end that many people who seem well-educated can be pulled by such ignorant things as evolution, rugged individualism, socialism, and buy into beliefs espoused by mis-guided people from centuries ago (Dante and his radical thoughts of Cocytus and the 9th and deepest level of hell, Virgil, David Strauss, Bruno Bauer, Albert Kalthoff, and so very many others who are surely in torment in the after-life because of their unbelief).

We see so many today being swayed over foolish arguments and issues that were long ago determined to be pagan, unnatural, and clearly sinful (offensive to God). As those poor, misguided, and helpless folks join into the fray they are made to look extremely ridiculous and foolish.

Here is a succinctly stated truth: humans were created by God to live in relationship with Him . . . and anything other than that testifies to the absolute truth of original sin, and vanity. Moreover, life lived outside of a relationship with God leaves one subject to the mercy of the enemy of the human soul, and history screams out that that enemy has no mercy. That life leads to a fate too horrific to even attempt to describe in this small space.

The greatest truth ever uttered from a mortal tongue is that God loves people. He has made a way for sinful man to be redeemed, and enabled and empowered to live in relationship with Him. That way is through God’s own Son . . . His name is Jesus. I challenge any reader to read the New Testament book ‘The Gospel of John’ and view and consider it all through the lenses of John 3:16. I hope and pray that if you are adrift, you might find your way back to the One who gave you life.

The Ides of March . . .

The Ides of March is believed to have been the date on the Roman calendar that would correspond with our March 15. It was used in a warning uttered by a soothsayer who was letting the Roman leader Julius Caesar know that his life was in danger, and he should probably stay home and be careful when March 15th rolled around. The quote is from Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar (1599), but could well have served as a warning to President Trump as he struggles in his quest to:

. . . drain the swamp

. . . Make America Great Again

. . . correct the imbalances in trade with other nations around the world

. . . de-nuke North Korea

. . . renegotiate NAFTA

. . . renegotiate the Iran deal John Kerry, Hilary, and Obama made

. . . have his appointees confirmed to office

. . . get us out of the messy Middle East’s conflicts (which will clearly continue until Jesus returns)

. . . get his infrastructure package approved and moving

. . . rebuild our military back to war-ready status

. . . galvanize the Grand Old Party and get those dudes in the Senate to stop posturing each one running for the office of President and just do the job they were elected to do

. . . re-energize American business

. . . get the unemployment rate to under 3%

. . . revive confidence in the USA . . . and of the USA

What a bold agenda he has set out. Pretty much makes one wonder what his predecessors were doing. The warning to the President might well be to be on high alert as he moves about . . . as the swamp is filled with swamp monsters who love the swamp and are fiercely resisting efforts to drain it . . . and the Mueller witch-hunt, unrestrained fishing expedition which is filled with enemies of the State.  Moreover, all fueled by the tragedy occurring in the 1st Amendment as the liberal media works tirelessly to trash him and his Administration every step of the way. Beware Mr. President . . . there are forces out there who frankly just don’t want America to be great again. It seems they seek socialism as a preferred system over capitalism.

Imports . . . Exports . . . and Tariffs . . .

I do not have a degree in economics, but I do know something about buying, selling, trading . . . and economics. Furthermore I know a little about money . . . how to make it, invest it, and spend it. That sure doesn’t make me an expert, but it seems to me that a bunch of folks are speaking out and they are not experts either. So here is my two-cents worth.

The debate today is about tariffs and some folks are quite troubled over what President Trump (DJT) is doing. He has made reducing the U.S. trade deficit, which has expanded significantly in recent decades, a priority of his administration. He educated the American public about the huge trade imbalance between China and the USA, and spoke of how China unfairly devalues its currency throughout the election campaign. He was elected President and is now working at keeping his promise. He proposed tariffs on a couple of the larger items we import from China. Suddenly, one would thing he had declared war . . . and the critics step forward and explain his error.

DJT and his advisors argue that renegotiating trade deals, promoting “Buy American” policies, and confronting China over what they see as its economic distortions will serve to help shrink the trade deficit, create jobs, and strengthen national security.

Many economists and trade experts argue that trade deficits hurt the economy, and warn against trying to “win” the trade relationship with particular countries. Many of them foolishly declare the trade war “as being over” and announce that “China won it long ago.”  Others believe that sustained trade deficits are often a problem, and there is substantial debate over how much of the trade deficit is caused by foreign governments, as well as what policies, if any, should be pursued to reduce it.

A trade deficit occurs when a nation imports more than it exports. For instance, in 2016 the United States exported $2.2 trillion in goods and services while it imported $2.7 trillion, leaving a trade deficit of roughly $500 billion with China.

The balance of imports and exports, or the trade balance, is part of the broader measure of the U.S. economy’s transactions with the rest of the world, known as the balance of payments. The economy’s balance of payments consists of the trade balance, or current account, and the financial accounts, or the measures of U.S. purchase and sales of foreign assets. The financial accounts include assets such as stocks and bonds, as well as foreign direct investment. These accounts generally balance, since a current account deficit—the trade deficit—results in a corresponding financial account surplus as foreign capital and investment flows into the country.

The fundamental cause of a trade deficit is an imbalance between a country’s savings and investment rates. Many economist explain the reason for the deficit can be boiled down to the United States—as a whole—spending more money than it makes, which results in a current account deficit. That additional spending must, by definition, go toward foreign goods and services. Financing that spending happens in the form of either borrowing from foreign lenders (which adds to the U.S. national debt) or foreign investing in U.S. assets and businesses—the capital account. Hence, China today holds $1.2 trillion in U.S. issued Treasury Bonds.

The exchange rate of the dollar is important in that a stronger dollar makes foreign products cheaper for American consumers while making U.S. exports more expensive for foreign buyers. Therein lies the purpose of China devaluing its yen.

DJT’s companies have done business successfully in China for years. He knows that nation and its economic system. I would argue that folks should just be quiet, watch as Trump does that thing he does as he moves to Make America Great Again. It has been many years since we have had a President who really understood business and trade. I can’t recall ever having a President recognized for his ability to negotiate business deals. The guys we have had were poor traders who always left us sucking hind-tit.

As the debate began upon DJT’s announcement of the new tariff, I watched as a former financial advisor to President Reagan was asked his opinion on the matter. He smiled and said, “I am just going to shut up! I have been opposed to everything Trump has done since he has been in office, and each and every time he has been right and I have been wrong. Now, I am just going to watch and learn!”

That would be pretty good advice for many of his vocal critics. The last thing that China wants is a trade war with us, or a troubled U.S. economy . . . they hold much of our debt. I bet they will come to the table and deal.

Six Years . . . and Counting . . .

Courtney texted me about daylight one morning this week and reminded me that it was six years ago today that I started writing this blog. She and I were at the Dallas VA hospital with my older brother, Willie. As we sat and chatted, Courtney asked me to write the blog so that some of my stories and experiences would remain after I pass from this life experience. I agreed and she had it set up by a lady who creates web sites and such. Ever further, she has paid all of the fees involved.
I am not sure how good of a blog it really is, or how many folks actually read it, but I have enjoyed writing and intend to continue.
Thank you, Sissy! I love you and appreciate you asking me to write it and all of the help you have been in the process.
Concerning my brother . . . he went to live with Jesus that same week.

A Sorry, Embarrassing Ending to What was Once a Charmed Life . . .

Jury selection started yesterday in Norristown, PA, for Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial . . . amid a powerful MeToo movement. That movement has swept across the nation and caused many men to be embarrassed and forced to step down from some lofty, high perches. Moreover, many of those men have been seriously hurt financially, professionally, socially, and their families humiliated and injured.

You can ‘bet the farm’ that said movement has surely pierced the consciousness of the men and women who will sit in judgment of the 80-year-old, former comedian/actor.

Jury selection was said to have gotten off to an exceedingly slow start, with one single juror seated and three-quarters of the jury pool dismissed for cause — primarily because the prospective jurors had already formed an opinion about Cosby’s guilt or innocence. In contrast, five jurors were picked on opening day of Cosby’s first trial.

I predict that Mr. Cosby and his lawyers are extremely nervous about going to trial in today’s political climate . . . and they clearly have a reason to be nervous. One notable change that reflects the current climate is that the Judge has agreed to allow several other women (I believe five more) to testify about their past experience with the naughty old rascal (the previous judge only permitted one other lady to testify).

I further predict that this trial will not end with a hung jury, and the dude will go to the big house for perhaps the remainder of his life.

It seems to me . . . that regardless of race, color, creed, social class, financial status, background, life experiences, successes, or family connections . . . a man can make some really stupid decisions, do some crazy and evil things, and fall victim to his own lust. There is a powerful enemy on the prowl . . . seeking whom he might devour.

Would you argue that I ought to rightfully reserve judgment until the trial is completed . . . arguing about an individual’s right to presumed innocence? Perhaps . . . but I would argue that there is far too much smoke in the works for there not to be any fire (there are dozens of women telling the same story about the same man). I would also remind you that we witnessed just recently a decent and respected man in Alabama accused by a couple of ladies of sexual indiscretions over 40 years ago . . . and it cost him certain election to the US Senate. Mind you, there was not one ounce of evidence to support their claims. This is a new day . . . a new and brutal way of dealing with what has long been a serious issue between men and women.

 

It was 50 Years Ago . . . Today . . .

Martin L. King, Jr. remains frozen in time for many Americans . . . seared into some of our consciousness is the man who battled Southern segregation.

Many see him standing before hundreds of thousands of followers in the nation’s capital in 1963, proclaiming his dream for racial harmony. They see him marching, arms locked with fellow protesters, through the battleground of Alabama in 1965.

But on this 50th anniversary of his death, it is worth noting how his message and his priorities had evolved by the time he was shot on that balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in 1968. Dr. King was confronting many challenges that still remain with us today.

He was battling racism in the North, too, not just in the South. He was pushing the government to address poverty, income inequality, structural racism, and segregation in cities like Boston and Chicago. He was also calling for an end to a war that was draining the national treasury of funds needed to finance a progressive domestic agenda.

This may not be the Dr. King that many remember, but it is who I remember. His words resonate powerfully – and, perhaps, uncomfortably – today in a country that remains deeply divided on issues of race and class. In spite of that being true, M.L.K. made us think . . . and think about things of which we already knew the answers, the right and wrong of it all. Jesus, long ago, came to dwell amongst men to show us the Father. He taught the world that God loves us all . . . and commanded us to love one another, to be sensitive to others and kind to one another. He told of the Good Samaritan . . . and his kindness to one of a different ethnic culture . . . actually a culture that despised him and his kin because of their ethnicity, yet he still did the right thing. You better believe an important element of Jesus’ parable certainly included race.

Frankly, we are still far from where we ought to be on this social issue as a Christian nation, but for those too young to remember that troubled time in our history, let me assure you that we have come a long way. I just read a news article of a black athlete signing a $200 million contract to play sports . . . that would not have happened back then. Today, we see many movies and TV programs with Black actors . . . … that was not permitted back then. Amazingly what was shown in that era was white men with black shoe polish applied to their faces trying to talk like black people. Sadly, folks thought that to be both acceptable and funny.

Those wheels turn very slowly . . . shame on us.