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I Have Some Opinions About Stuff

Holy smokes–a lot of stuff happened today.

Let’s start with the United States Navy. Apparently we lost the USS Carl Vinson and its battle group.  No kidding. Read about it by clicking here. The White House didn’t know where it was. Weird, because for several years I could see the Carl Vinson outside my window at home. Now, to be clear, I am sure the Navy knew where the vessels were. I am also sure the ships knew where they were. What is unclear is where the White House thought they were and where they really were. The whole things sounds like the plot to a James Bond movie. Tomorrow Never Dies comes to mind. Salon had the best take on it, calling it “Schrodinger’s U.S. aircraft carrier.’ USS-Carl-Vinson-Honors-Sunken-UK-Navy-Ships

What I am trying to figure out is whether or not it was purposeful. You know, did they actually never intend for it to go to North Korea, but it was a media disinformation bluff? I’d like to think so. I’d like to think so, until I think about it some more and decide no, I don’t want that because that is the kind of thing totalitarian regimes do. I decided that either way, this is not really a good story.

636281013629153981-Unicorn-FrappuccinoStarbucks has wowed the American non-coffee drinking public with yet another goofy drink. Apparently it is called the unicorn frappuccino. It looks like whipped Pepto Bismol. No thanks. I prefer coffee. However, I applaud the marketing folks at Starbucks. You’ve done a great job getting people who don’t like coffee to buy stuff from a coffee shop. Reminds me of some churches that are trying to get people who don’t want to go to church to enjoy church. Takes a lot of pink stuff, sugar, marketing, viral campaigns, and probably isn’t very good for you. But hey, it works.

Georgia-special-election-heads-for-runoff-as-Democrat-falls-shortPeople are making a big deal about a runoff election in Georgia. Apparently Democrats think it is a sign that people are tired of Trump or something. As I have stated often, I’m not POTUS’ biggest fan and have grave misgivings about both his character and abilities, but this is silly talk. The Georgia 6th Congressional District has no bearing whatsoever on national politics for 2018. The electorate–the people who vote in this country–have become firmly Republican. Republicans control all three branches of government, most state houses and most governors’ mansions. The only thing that will help the Dems is for them to alter their uber-progressive message and bring some young leadership in front of the country.

More military news–The United States scrambled military jets in response to Russian bombers in Alaskan airspace. I am pretty sure this kind of thing happens all the time. I mean, I saw Top Gun. The frightening part, to me anyway, is that we know about it. We shouldn’t know about this. Can anybody in the government keep a secret anymore? What worries me most about this one is that it is probably the most important news story of the day, but so many other ‘sensational’ things grabbed the headlines. bill

Fox News finally did the right thing. They fired Bill O’Reilly. I don’t say that as a political move. Sometimes I agreed with the guy, especially early on. I even enjoyed his first book–the one he wrote before he started killing people in the titles. Nevertheless, he was clearly a womanizing abuser of power and privilege. He had to go, and that is no spin.

Another shooter. This time in Fresno, California. Apparently he shouted “Allah akbar” as he shot three people. Last week he killed someone else, for a total of four. he fired 16 rounds. Authorities are saying it was a racially motivated crime and not religious. I seriously doubt that. But that is not what my key opinion is here. The media and the police are calling this a ‘hate crime.’ Can I tell you how much I deplore that label.  Does it matter what his motive was? He killed four people, and tried to kill more. What matters I that he had a motive. If he’d been trying to steal money from them it wouldn’t have mattered. They would still be dead and he would still be guilty. The whole ‘hate crime’ motif is stupid and useless.

 

President Trump and Tomahawks

I am not against the use of Tomahawk missiles against Syria.

I am not for it, either.

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This issue is so terribly complicated that I’m pretty sure I’ll never fully understand all the variables at play. The use of that awesome and effective United States Military power changed the course of Trump’s presidency. For me, that calls for a little Monday Morning Quarterbacking and analysis of what might be going on.

First, let’s examine some facts.

  1. Assad used chemical weapons.
  2. President Obama told Assad not to do that.
  3. President Obama failed to enforce the ‘red line’ in Syria.
  4. Donald Trump vehemently protested any action in Syria in 2013 and while campaigning.
  5. Syria is under Russian hegemony.

Now, let’s amass some opinions. Opinions aren’t bad, they just must be viewed differently than facts.

  1. Most everyone in the world agrees that using chemical weapons is a crime against humanity.
  2. Some people think POTUS should have come to congress before taking action.
  3. Other people think POTUS had authorization for this under previous resolutions in congress.
  4. Militarily, Syria poses no threat to us, however Russia’s presence makes things sloppy.
  5. The United States is one of the few nations on earth with both the ability and the moral authority to act.
  6. Many of the ‘hot spots’ in the world, particularly ISIS, are so hot because Barack Obama was not aggressive on the international front and projected weakness. This is evidenced from Ukraine to Iran to Nigeria.

Having some facts in hand, and some opinions, now let’s think about the politics.

  1. A lot of Trump voters were for him because he advocated a policy that indicated he would not entangle himself in international messes. Repeatedly he said things would be better if we just left things alone.
  2. POTUS and Putin have an interesting relationship, one that has been under a great deal of scrutiny.
  3. Trump has criticized the United States’ intelligence gathering communities.
  4. Last week North Korea launched a missile.
  5. China’s leader, President Xi Jinping, was in Trump’s hotel in Mar-a-Lago when the missiles were launched against Syria.
  6. There is some kind of power struggle going on in the White House between the globalist son-in-law Jared Kushner and the nationalist Steve Bannon. It appears in this issue, POTUS went to Jared.

Perhaps now we can do some analysis.

  1. It is possible that POTUS changed his opinion based upon intelligence information, policy arguments, and the weight of the office of President. Perhaps he had a legitimate change of mind because of the evidence presented to him from the intelligence communities. This would be encouraging.
  2. It is also possible that POTUS recognizes he is in trouble over Russia and the internecine struggles within his staff that have resulted in an administration that is undisciplined, disconnected, and unsure of itself. To fix this image problem and divert attention, he did what others (remember Reagan invading Grenada, or Clinton bombing aspirin factories?) have done, and that is trump up (no pun intended) a national security issue. This particularly gives him cover on the Russia issue. A person friendly or beholden to Putin would not have done this. This line of thought is very discouraging.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, the real target of the Tomahawks was not Syria, but North Korea. I think the America people possibly feel this in their gut, because we recognize what a fighter does. A fighter punches someone in the face to get everyone’s attention in order to send the message that if they don’t fall in line, they are next. Last week POTUS said, “If China doesn’t fix North Korea, we will,” and then, as if to add some muscle to that, he bombs Syria while the leader of China is eating dinner at the Florida White House. This line of thought is chilling, but clever. Clever in its churchillian approach, but chilling in that it signals a heightened military presence around the world.

Now, for some Greenbean opinions.

  1. The Middle-East is not a puzzle to be solved. Something should be done about Assad, but it will not really solve anything. We are still trying to figure out how to put things back together after they broke it all following World War I. What is broken in that part of the world is the culture, and politics can’t really fix culture.
  2. If there were no oil there, no one would care. Look at Africa. No one is worried about the refugees coming over to Uganda from Sudan because of the violence. There is no oil there. No one cares. This seems to rob much of these issues of their moral clamor.
  3. Tomahawk missiles do nothing in the struggle in Syria. If we really wanted to make a difference in Syria, we must land ground troops, overthrow Assad, and build a national coalition. Of course, that is what we did in Iraq, and we see how that works. Again, there are no good solutions.
  4.  If this continues, it is only a matter of time before we are in a proxy war with Russia in Syria (or Iran) as well as a proxy war with China in Korea. Again.

Robots-Creepy Little Robots

I don’t take the newspaper anymore. I don’t have time to read it. The Sunday paper is usually more ads than news. I cancelled my subscription about two years ago. My neighbor, down the sidewalk here on the cove, does take the paper and graciously brings it to my back porch, sometimes with a couple of bananas or a candy bar, every Sunday morning. It is a pleasant comfort to have it in the afternoons after church.

I flipped through yesterday, and saw this horrifying and ridiculous picture on the front of the business section.

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Several thoughts simultaneously rushed into the mushy matter between my ears.

  1. Why didn’t they make this creepy little robot average human height. They built a hobbit robot, not a human robot. Notice how both the humans in this picture have to look down at the little guy. They are breeding a robot that will have a built-in Napoleon complex before it ever gets started. Is hard white plastic that hard to get that you didn’t have any extra to make it a little longer?
  2. You can’t fool me. This is not really a robot. Look at it closely. It seems to be a plastic doll on a Rhoomba that has an iPad taped to it. Reminds me of Phil Dunphy’s homemade Skypebot. UnknownFor reals, I saw something like it at the hospital a couple of months ago. A doctor on FaceTime was taped to a remote controlled mannequin and making rounds. No lie.
  3.  Never in a million years would I buy something like this. Never. Have the people who make such things never seen the movies? It is just a few years between that cute plastic walking emoji and The Terminator. They’ll be back.
  4. This robot’s name is Pepper, and according to the caption under the picture (because I am not about to read the whole article) it is designed to assist seniors. I assume that means senior adults rather than seniors in high school or college. If so, then NEWSFLASH–senior adults don’t adapt real well to technology. This thing would be a very creepy and expensive statue in the corner. Seriously, you should see my mother work the Dish Network screen. I can only imagine her with this thing.
  5. Check out the link to the article here. If you do, you’ll see the picture of the robot looks just like the crazy robots form the Asimov-inspired Will Smith thriller I, Robot. They could be twinsies.   To save you time, I put the side-by-side here.
  6. What’s with all the power cords this thing is plugged into. I don’t get it. An electric car can drive from here to Dallas nonstop. Why does this thing need to be plugged in to go across the carpet and harass the woman who looks like she wants to kick it?

 

Sorry to take up so much of your time ranting, but I had to tell someone, and no one else is in the office right now.

 

Luke 15–A Poem

 

I stopped writing poetry because no one wants to read poetry. We’re not a very reflective culture. Nevertheless, I wrote this several years ago, and as I preached Luke 15 (along with Luke 19) on Sunday, I thought I would share this with you.


Luke 15

A little girl wanders the path from home

Like a lost sheep in the wilderness astray

All alone and so far away

someone should leave the others and show her the way

A family slips and bounces around

Like a coin it rolls out of the light

Not far but still not in sight

someone should sweep the floor all night

A generation claimed inheritance and left

Like a prodigal child it wandered afar

Chased after the sun, moon, and every star

Someone should wait ’til it remembers who they are

Children, siblings, friends and parents–lost

Like a scent on the nose of a persistent hound

Christ love to them for ever will abound

someone wants the lost safely found