Thursday, December 27, 2018


Disagreements.  Nobody should disagree with me as I am always right - or as my friend Gary says - if I want your opinion I will give it to you. Sometimes I am not sure he is kidding when he says that but that is a tale for another time.

Recently General James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense for the U.S.A., resigned his position because he has policy disagreements with POTUS 45. 25% of our federal government is currently shutdown because of disagreements between POTUS45 and members of Congress over the building of a wall for border security which POTUS45 is convinced will stop the flow of drugs as well as eliminate the drug dealers, rapists, gang members and other human detritus Trump is trying to convince us Mexico is sending to assault the U.S.A.

There seems to be basic disagreement over how many illegals are crossing the border these days as well. So many disagreements. The only thing the involved parties can seem to agree on is that there is disagreement.

Disagreement resolution has three potential outcomes - one of the  parties wins outright, a compromise is reached, no agreement or compromise is able to be agreed upon and thus there is no resolution (sort of an agree to disagree). Of course the magnitude of the disagreement gives different weight to any outcome.
Does the disagreement involve armed conflict? Is the disagreement between two individuals? Groups? Nation states? All of those impact the attempt at resolution.

How do you approach a disagreement or attempt to resolve a disagreement? I'd start by keeping an open mind. You need to recognize the other side has what they deem to be valid reasons resolution in their favor. All involved need to listen and carefully consider other points of view. You need to genuinely want to resolve the disagreement. And, you must be willing to accept the decision of the mediator/facilitator if there is one.

It's all pretty basic stuff in my opinion - be respectful of the other side in a disagreement, listen carefully with an open mind and look for common ground on which to build an agreement. While that may not solve 100percent of your disagreements, it will solve enough of the day to day disagreements and leave you with the time and wherewithal to handle the really crazy ones. And, if all else fails, there is Glenlivet.

Be sure to check Ramana's Musings to see what he has to say about disagreements. And Happy New Year to you all

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Is Competition Good for Kids?

This weeks topic came about after some discussions about participation trophies awarded to many teams in youth sports and  my observations over the years coaching youth soccer, baseball, softball and a few relevant life experiences.

Most people that know me know I spent most of my first 10 years in Pueblo, Colorado.That's where I was first exposed to both competition and youth sports. My first memory of competing is from second grade. My friend Dave Perkins competed in everything. Literally everything, We'd take a quiz in school (Carlile Elementary) and our custom was to stand when finished. The first thing Dave and I did upon standing was to check if the other was already standing.  Then we compared grades on the work, both seeking what passed for bragging rights to a second grader. We  both liked the same girl - Susan Taylor and both lost that one as she moved to California. About the only thing we did not compete on was eating lunch, though if memory serves Dave was a Coke guy and I was an RC Cola guy.

Our competition lasted until I moved to California the summer between 4th and 5th grade. Dave was one of the last people I saw before leaving Pueblo. Truth be told, in all of our competition we split just about 50/50. Dave quarterbacked the local HS football team to a state championship - no surprise to me. But all of that competition created a bond of friendship between us that would have lasted had I not moved away. In sports we got to play on the same Old Timers baseball team and Bantam League football team.

In California I continued with youth sports - Little League baseball replaced Old Timers baseball in Colorado. My days were nearly identical to the summer days depicted in the excellent  movie Sandlot. Not once were any participation awards passed out at the end of the year. If your team won the league championship you earned that recognition.

Fast forward a few years and Lynn and I coached my sister's softball team - 14-17 year old girls. No team I ever coached competed harder than Sheila's team and we did very well. We won our division and were rewarded with trophies for the recognition we had earned. There was a large pizza party for all. Another chance to hang out with their buddies on the other teams.

About that same time I got involved in youth soccer - no surprise there as both of my kids played in the league. Players were lumped into two basic categories - house and traveling. Other than tournaments, the house players all played within their league whereas the Traveling teams - the best players - played all around the area. They were as  serious about soccer as humanly possible whereas House players generally were in it for fun, and there was an  advanced house division to help develop players for the Traveling teams.

So what did the kids get from their participation in these teams? Starting as far back as my early participation I learned about competition, teamwork, winning and losing. I learned that it takes work and effort to develop the requisite skills to win. I learned there is a difference between winning and losing. I learned that winning is more fun than losing. And, I learned that as long as you gave your best effort, losing is not a crime. Nor is winning. If you lose you try to correct the mistakes that led to the loss and if you win, keep honing your skills. Be flexible.

These are all valuable life skills that apply daily. The world is growing more and more competitive. Kids must learn life skills at an early age and continue to hone those skills as long as they are part of the workforce. Be flexible. The days of working for a single company for your entire life have come a halt. Things are changing and developing at an incredible pace and will likely require a degree of teamwork and creative thinking unlike ever before.

Does exposure to competition assure success in this highly competitive world? Absolutely not. But it will create better prepared people to face the typical daily insanity we encounter.

Be sure to visit Ramana's Musings to see what he has to say about this topic.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Has liberalism failed? 2-on-1 12/14/2018

Has Liberalism failed? To proceed with this text there needs to be  an agreed upon definition of what Liberalism really is.  The far-right in this country has confused the situation by essentially equating liberalism with many historic evils, including communism, socialism, the devil, mental deficiencies and many more.

Merriam Webster offers this as one of its definitions - political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (such as those involving race, gender, or class).

On the surface that all sounds great. The elimination of social inequities. Wow. Liberalism  eliminates racism, race and gender discrimination and more. Wow. Sounds like a perfect world to me.

Alas, all "isms" share a common misconception - that they can be all things to all people. Isms and their followers seem to consider themselves one size fits all solutions to an increasingly complex world with extraordinarily complex issues which must be resolved to make progress. And that, my friends, is from whence the so-called Progressive movement emerged from the swamp into the  lexicon of modern politics. 

And, from the Progressive movement came the most infamous of all indicator Liberal/Progressive thought - Political Correctness. The stuff that gets sanctimonious do-gooders to want to remove everything that is offensive to someone from the airwaves, written page and consigned to the garbage can of life. If the Political-Correctness cops had their way all pages would be blank and the airwaves void of content.

Every right-thinking individual recognizes the folly in such thought and action. We function best and make progress within a system that does little or nothing to restrict or impede the acquisition of wealth. Vast quantities of it. Prices are to be determined by the market with no restriction on profit. And if you reject Jesus in any way, shape or form enjoy your short earthly stay because you will spend eternity in hell. Oh - and there are no AC units in hell. 

Clearly both liberalism and conservatism have been presented in very brief, extremes here. I could go on and on but this weekly exercise is not for War and Peace - we are more of a short story or for those of you who may recall them - the Cliff's Notes versions.

In the brief samples offered above, the liberal viewpoint offers empathy and concern whereas the right viewpoint is more of the Gordon Gecko greed is good notion. Both - if taken on their own are ineffective in the long run. It is when the two notions are combined that a real workable solution is offered. And when we hop into our very safe automobiles - made safe by liberal/progressive safety feature demands that the auto manufacturers screamed would put them all out of business because of the cost - and drive to our safe that back up to a marvelous river that we swim in and catch food from - thanks to restrictions placed on the lumber mill and coal mine handling of waste that was once simply  dumped into the river we should give props to those liberal folks.

When President Bill Clinton had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in the 1990s, right-wing evangelist Franklin Graham—son of the late Rev. Billy Graham—was not happy. As he saw it, Clinton had disgraced the presidency. And he wasn’t about to keep quiet about Clinton’s infidelity because the president’s “sins are not private.” But in 2018, Franklin Graham has a very different set of rules for President Donald Trump—and this time, he is ordering fellow Christians as well as the media to lay off the president or face God’s wrath and judgement. Isn't it amazing what the price for a couple of Supreme Court Justices can be.

This little ditty could become a large ditty very quickly but I do not wish to scare you off. Liberalism is not dead nor is its counterpart - Conservatism. A judicious application to both principles is required in nearly all instances for any semblance of a civil society. Back in the old days it was not a mortal sin, political suicide nor just plain wrong for our two political sides to get together and be civil to each other while working things out. I used to be what was known as a Rockefeller Republican. I have a liberal, progressive view of most social causes and a more conservative view of government.Smaller is better. These days I am most often called a RINO or libtard.

That's a wrap on this week's topic. be sure to check Ramana's Musings for his take. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Can a truly decent man be an effective leader?

We lost former President George H.W. Bush last week. Bush 41 - not to be confused with his son, Bush 43. Almost immediately, Bush 41 was hailed as a truly decent man and excellent leader, contrasted sharply with the crude, amoral current occupier of the White House.

What constitutes decency? Merriam Webster's dictionary for learning English says: polite, moral and honest behavior and attitudes that show respect for other people. That is perfectly acceptable for the context of this exercise.
41's legacy of decency was discussed by every network and most commentators from both parties. Twitter was alive with tweets extolling the decency and virtues of Bush 41. and even President Trump, who has blasted Bush 41 i n the past, restrained himself. Can there be a red lineeven Trump will not cross?

Bush 41 history is well known - born into substantial wealth,the youngest aviator in WWII, graduated from Yale University, successful businessman, elected to the House of Representatives twice, Ambassador to the United Nations, Chief of the Liaison Office in China, Director of Central Intelligence, Vice  President and finally President.
As happens with most politicians, Bush 41's position on various issues, among them abortion, evolved over the years. Bush could reach across the aisle and work with Democrats. almost unheard of in these days marked by some of the most acrimonious political times in history.

Bush 41 was a Republican - make no mistake about that. He was loyal to the cause but respectful to the other side. When Bush 41 spoke of reaching across the aisle he was serious about doing just that. There is very little of that today.
 Bush 41 likely was not elected to a second term due to his  famous "No new taxes" comment and then raising taxes. Bush 41 did what was right at the time, not the most expedient, and he paid a hefty price.

Many people are astonished at the friendship that developed between Bush 41 and Bill Clinton. Clinton is certainly not known widely as a decent human being and his connections with/to known pedophile Jeffrey Epstein (also a pal of Trump's) certainly have been seemingly ignored - as have Trump's ties to Epstein. Hillary Clinton? Her actions regarding Epstein and others are equally disqualifying for a decency award but Both Clintons are widely respected for their political savvy. Trump and his actions are an embarrassment but some of his policies have been well received so clearly being a decent human being is not a requirement to be an effective leader, though I would argue it is desirable.

And then there is Bush 43 - the self-proclaimed compassionate conservative. Bush 43  aka "W" is one of the most widely mocked people to serve in the White House. I consider him to be the Yogi Berra of politics. And, like Yogi, I believe W to be a truly decent human being - as is IMHO his brother Jeb, the former governor of Florida. I suggest their inherent decency came from their father and how he lived his life and the example Bush 41 and his wife Barbara offered their children. It is no surprise that the Bushes were much more welcoming to immigrants than their party today. Decency in and of itself does not necessarily dictate policy - it merely affects how policies are implemented.

Bush 41's presidency included military action dictated by foreign policy. Military action in Panama and the Middle East, and the Berlin Wall came down. Operation Desert Storm was a huge success.

When you add up the successes and failures in George H W Bush's lifetime it is clear he was a successful man and by extension a successful leader so yes - given the right set of circumstances a truly decent man can be an effective leader. I have no doubt the same holds true for a truly decent woman. But real decency is no guarantee of effective leadership.

That's my take on this week's topic.Be sure to check Ramana's Musings for Ramana's take on the subject.