CURRENT EVENTS – JUNE, 2018

It’s been a busy month with lots of activity which may prove important and meaningful in our lives.  So, in no particular order, here’s my report.

Singapore Meet and Greet

It was not a summit in the usual sense, but a successful meeting of President Trump with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.  They took each other’s measure and signed a pre-drawn agreement to begin the long process of getting North Korea out of the nuclear arms business.  The naysayers are right; this kind of general direction has been set before with poor results.

This meet must be judged a success because it now includes the photo ops and personal commitments of the two leaders.  In addition, China is in the wings encouraging North Korea to follow this direction.  That’s never happened before.

Trade Conflicts and Tariffs

Let me tell you what this is all about.

According to Canadian economic statistics, that country sells $15 billion dollars a year more in the USA than we sell there.

Mexico sells $55 billion dollars a year more; China an unbelievable $375 billion a year more.  The European Union is up by $95 billion a year (latest stats available).

Nevertheless, President Trump and America gets hammered by elements on both the left and the right when the statement “enough is enough on trade” is proclaimed.

The cold truth is that neither President Bush, the younger, nor President Obama wanted anything to do with trade imbalances; they simply weren’t interested.  So, the developed world ran wild at our expense.

President Trump, as usual, has brought a gun to a knife fight.  His threats of tariffs and unnecessary personal darts are rattling our trade partners who are used to doing what they want unchallenged.  The proposed tariffs are driving the narrative but how else will anything change?  Shouldn’t the press be explaining exactly how the USA is being taken advantage of economically and the toll that takes?

IG Report Released, sort of

Finally, after numerous unexplained delays, the Justice Department has released the Inspector General’s report on how the FBI handled several political controversies.

Amend that!  Only half the report came out.  The Hillary Clinton email part.  Nothing specific yet on the Trump Campaign-Russian Collusion matter.  Former Assistant Director Andrew McCabe was outed in April and fired for violating FBI standards.

Since Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel, the IG left out that part, apparently does not want to embarrass itself about its investigators and destroy whatever credibility Mueller still has.  What a mess!

But back to Hillary.  The IG report agreed the FBI went a little light on her misuse of classified information on her personal server while she was Secretary of State (a crime).

Former FBI Director James Comey strutted around selling books and doing TV shows, as if he was the puritan angel.  Now that the IG has called him insubordinate (whatever that means) for leaks and violation of FBI standards, will he start making refunds to all his book buyers?

One snippet of the report quotes FBI lead investigator, Peter Strzok, in an email, “Trump is not ever going to be president.  We will stop it.”  Not sure who the “we” is and how can the IG conclude there was no evidence of political bias in these investigations?  Are you kidding me!

The Economy is Running Strong, but Higher Growth is not in the Cards

Former Microsoft CEO, and Founder of the nonprofit USAFacts.org, Steve Ballmer was on CNBC arguing that the best he could see for real GDP growth was 1.5%!

He reasons that population growth is 0.3% and real GDP per capita growth has been 1.2%.  Together, that gives us 1.5% growth.  That’s not even close to the 3% to 4% growth rates the White House and economists keep forecasting.

Economist Harry Dent says his numbers show a similar result; slowing growth rather than booming growth like we’ve been promised.

Workforce growth will slow to zero for many years to come, and even negative in the next several years.  Productivity rates have been 0.5% and falling.  How do you get 4% growth out of that, especially now that we’re at or near full employment?  Quite simply, you don’t!

Any way you add up the numbers, there’s no way to get sustainable, real growth rates of 3% to 4% over the coming years or decade.

The Credit for Bringing North Korea to the Table

President Trump deserves a lot of credit for engaging Kim Jung Un of North Korea to reconcile with South Korea, release the three Korean-American citizens and pledge to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

The summit between the two in Singapore on June 12th was a small feat.

To be clear, the key player in all this has been China President Xi Jing Ping, who laid down the law to North Korea—step up and negotiate the dismantling of your nuclear fireworks or risk our cutting off your oil, food and other support.

That President Trump built a cordial relationship with his Chinese counterpart proved to be a big assist in making all this happen.

Please Stop Talking—Do Something

It’s time—way past time—to stop talking, protesting and lobbying for more restrictive laws about guns.  All the talk is going nowhere, but the school shootings go on and on.

It seems obvious that all the talking, marching and lobbying have done nothing to stop the violence, the mayhem and the horrifying deaths and injuries.

The only changes in the gun laws have been minimal and objectively ineffective.  It’s all an exercise going nowhere.

The time has come to pony up the money and bring in the security experts.  If we can’t control the use of guns, we can make the schools safer by limiting the ingress to the campus of schools and having armed guards inside.

This isn’t brain surgery—we must do what we can do and stop wasting all the time and energy trying to lobby for more gun controls.

Wake Up America—Time’s up on the Grand Pension Bargain

Public pension issues are NOT just a problem for states.  The financial woes drive down to your county, your school district, and your city.  No one is talking about that…yet.

Just a few years ago, the public pension liability was pegged at roughly $600 billion.  Today, that number has ballooned to $1.378 trillion, and that’s only if public pension funds earn their unrealistic stated rates of return.

Using more conservative estimates, the unfunded pension liability explodes to at least $4 trillion.

Now we—states, cities, towns—have to pay the price.  There’s no way around it.

We will have to finish up next week.

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UNDERSTANDING LIBERAL AND CONSERVATIVE THINKING

With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, I thought we might listen in on one father’s explanation to his daughter about the differences in thinking between people with opposite political/philosophical viewpoints.

A young co-ed was about to finish her first year of college.  Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be very liberal.  Along with other liberal ideals, she was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs; in other words, whether  she realizes it or not, that is redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply alarmed that her father was a rather staunch conservative, a feeling she openly expressed.  Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years felt a somewhat selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs.

The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father.  He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go off and party like other people she knew.  She didn’t even have time for a boyfriend, and didn’t really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, “How is your friend Audrey doing?”

She replied, “Audrey is barely getting by.  All she takes are easy classes, she never studies and she barely has a 2.0 GPA.  She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast.  She’s always invited to all the parties and lots of times she doesn’t even show up for classes because she’s too hung over.”

Her wise father asked his daughter, “Why don’t you go to the dean’s office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0?  That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.”

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father’s suggestion, angrily fired back, “That’s a crazy idea!  How would that be fair?  I’ve worked really hard for my grades!  I’ve invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work!  Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree.  She played while I worked my tail off!”

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, “Welcome to the conservative side of the fence.”

If you ever wondered what side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test!

If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.  If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.  A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.  Liberals demand that those they don’t like be shut down.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.  A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and Jesus silenced.

If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it or may choose a job that provides it.  A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

If a conservative reads this, he’ll forward it to his friends.  A liberal will delete it because it is “offensive.”

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BLENDING LEADS TO HARMONY

Those struggling with work-life balance may be better off blending the two—a mindset that is growing more popular with working professionals.

This is an article (edited for space) written for Meeting Professionals Int’l by Jason Hensel, freelance writer and speaker with an interesting approach to the problem of balancing one’s work and personal life.

Amy Vetter runs and operates her own yoga studio, plays music and is the mother of two teenage boys.  At the same time, she’s a technology corporate executive who frequently travels and works remotely from another state.  She’s able to do all this because of work-life blending.

“I often blend work and life by calling into conference calls and responding to emails from my home office or car while taking my children to their games or lessons,” Vetter says.  “I often work off hours in the evenings when needed to be able to collaborate with people in different time zones or complete deadlines.  I create flexibility in how I schedule my day in order to accomplish my work and family commitments, but also create space for my personal hobbies so I can be the best person I can be at work and at home.”

Vetter’s blending of work and personal life isn’t unique.  Technological advances have helped create more opportunities for remote employees, as well as an always-on, 24-hour culture.  Despite the negatives, being available is a good thing for working professionals with children.”

“For my family, blending became a necessity when I started traveling as a professional speaker,” says Bobbe White, a speaker and owner of Try Laughter Inc.  “To blend from afar meant to incorporate phones, videos, FaceTime, Facebook, Skype and any technology that pulls us together.”

What is Work-Life Blending?

The phrase “work-life balance” is popular, but blending is becoming the new norm.

“Expecting to turn off your phone at 5 p.m. is an antiquated view of work,” Lindsey Pollack wrote in her blog post, “What Does Work-Life Balance Mean?”  “Now, everyone—and Millennials in particular—realize it’s not realistic in most professional careers to expect work with be completed at 5 p.m. (or 6 p.m., or 7 p.m.).”

Vetter likes to describe work-life blending as “work-life harmony.”

“It ebbs and flows with the rhythm of your life, rather than being too structured,” says Vetter, author of Business, Balance & Bliss:  How the B3 Method Can Transform Your Career and Life.  “For example, there are some weeks when I devote the right amount of time to my family and personal hobbies as I do to work, and there are other weeks when I spend more time on work when deadlines are impending.”

Blending has certainly changed how work gets accomplished over the last decade.

Why Blend Instead of Balance?

Vetter says, “It means that you strive to always spend a scheduled amount of time with your family, personal hobbies and work,” she says, “But this just isn’t always realistic, nor should it feel forced or stressful.  Work-life blending is much more feasible and means that you engage in work and life at the rhythm that makes the most sense for you at any given time.”

Younger professionals have embraced blending too, unlike generations before them,

“They will spend a few minutes during the work day shopping online or reserving a bike for SoulCycle, but they’re also not the least bit bothered by their boss calling them at 8 p.m. or having to answer some emails on a Sunday morning,” Pollack wrote.

White found a successful way to blend by bringing one of her children with her when she spoke at events.

“Our son would even sit at my book table and speak to attendees,” White says.  “On several occasions, we combined my speaking with a family vacation.  Those were some of our best efforts and memories.”

Not everyone has the means (or desire) to take their children to work with them.  Maybe you like keeping work and personal life apart.  If so, Vetter suggests setting boundaries.

“While I do blend my work and life, I make sure to set strategic goals to help me prioritize what’s important, where I should be spending my time and when I need to say no,” Vetter says.  “I also treat my personal and family time just as seriously as my work.  I schedule it on my calendar, and it’s off limits just like an important meeting.  During this time, I don’t take calls or respond to email—I need that time for grounding.”

The tricky part of blending happens, White says:  Most meetings and conferences are scheduled far in advance but school and social activities are more apt to pop up with less notice.

“We’ve succeeded marvelously and we’ve failed horribly—they both come with the territory,” she says.  “You try to do the best blending possible.  Sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss.”

How to Blend Successfully

To have more hits than misses in blending your work and life, turn to technology.

“I use Slack and instant messaging on my mobile phone, tablet and computer to respond to employees and keep projects on track,” Vetter says.  “I also use project management tools like Trello to make sure that project timelines are maintained.  This way, not only to my employees and colleagues know what tasks they need to do next, but I can see an overview of the project status at any time.  Google Hangouts is invaluable for me to easily plan or jump on a conference call or quickly have some face time with people I work with.”

Vetter recommends that employers create a culture of blending for employees.

“Adopt the mindset that as long as they get their work done by the deadline, it’s not important that they be physically in the office eight hours a day or have “face time,” she says.

“Come up with a plan and schedule how work-life blending can work for you and benefit the company.  Sit down with your boss to discuss it,” Vetter says.  “Communication is key to making these relationships work.”

“When we love what we do—whatever that is—we will naturally go to extreme efforts to blend work and home life.”

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OH GOODY, IT’S PRIMARY TIME AGAIN

The California so-called “Open Primary” Election is here for a visit next Tuesday.  Fortunately, this time we have only five ballot measures to deal with so it’s not as bad as usual.

Before we get to the propositions and what to do with each of them, let’s talk about our ill-conceived primary system.

Six years ago the voters of California bought a “pig-in-a-poke,” promoted by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, called the top-two primary system.

The seismic shock changing the rules for legislative and congressional primaries promised to tone down the extreme candidates from either spectrum and produce more moderation in our elected officials.

In the 2016 primary races for 80 assembly seats, we got 20 (25%) where two Democrats were on the November ballot, in addition to six races where two Republicans faced off.

Voters of all persuasions choose from a single list of candidates, no matter the party.  The two who receive the most votes, even if from the same party, move on to the general election.

I’m not sure that’s what we hoped to accomplish with what some call the “Jungle Primary.”  What we did accomplish was we now appear to attract many more candidates to get into the fray, and maybe that’s a good thing.

In a state where one party overwhelms the registration numbers, this system will never work.  It was a system conceived in theory with too many practical pitfalls to achieve its goals.

It has helped diminish the strengths and role of the political parties, which I think is counter-productive to a functioning democratic system.

It has attracted a much longer list of candidates that may seem like a good idea, but practically with all the costs and all the candidates, it’s hard to find a candidate you want to support.

The bottom line is this top-two primary system has not led to more moderate candidates or increased voter turnout.

This year, the top two vote getters for governor who will face off in the general election may well likely be both democrats.

Now let’s go on to the propositions.

Keep in mind my predisposition in all ballot measures is to vote no, unless I see a definite need.

Prop 68:  Authorizes $4.0 billion in bonds for parks, resource protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply, and flood protection.  Vote:  YES.

Prop 69:  Requires new transportation revenues be used for transportation purposes—legislative constitutional amendment.  Vote:  YES.

Prop 70:  Requires super majority legislative vote to approve use of cap-and-trade reserve fund—legislative constitutional amendment.  Vote:  YES.

Prop 71:  Sets effective implementation date for ballot measures—legislative constitutional amendment.  Vote:  YES.

Prop 72:  Permits legislature to exclude newly-constructed rain-capture systems from property tax re-assessment.  Vote:  YES.

That wasn’t too bad.  Wait until November when we see more propositions and perhaps the most hair-brained scheme of all time.  It’s called Cal 3 and proposes to carve California with the fifth largest economy in the world into three separate states; California, Northern California and Southern California.

Suffice it to say, it will be a huge waste of time and money.  We’ll talk and explain more about it in the fall.

So, be sure to vote next Tuesday.

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SHOPPING IS A FUN PART OF TRAVELING

A good part of traveling is “shopping.”  To see different products, fashions, art and accessories in various parts of the world is definitely part of the adventure.

You can find some shopping excitement in small towns and out-of-the-way-places everywhere.  This week we outline the biggest and best shopping areas.

BAHNHOFSTRASSE, Zurich, Switzerland

The Banhhofstrasse, Zurich’s resplendent, tree-lined exclusive shopping avenue, stretches almost a mile.  You’ll find some of Switzerland’s top shopping along its length, from leading clothing designers to high-end options for shoes, furs, accessories, china, and jewelry.  And, of course, Swiss watches.

RODEO DRIVE, Beverly Hills, California

Rodeo Drive manages to pack in enough audacious glitz to qualify as one of the world’s most glamorous and expensive shopping stretches.  Just off Rodeo Drive lies Two Rodeo, a strip of boutiques modeled after European boutiques, with cobblestones, fountains, and bistros.  Perhaps its least known amenity is the free two-hour valet parking.

LAUGAVEGUR, Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik’s main shopping street hosts numerous clothing boutiques and an assortment of shops offering accessories, leather goods, cosmetics, lingerie, books, music, and the finest handmade knitwear and woolen goods.  If you buy an outfit from one of the local fashion houses, rest assured it will be original.

THE GINZA, Tokyo, Japan

The Ginza, comprising eight blocks, is Tokyo’s most exclusive shopping area.  It boasts some of the most expensive real estate on Earth.  Luxury and exclusive retailers stand side by side with Tokyo’s landmark department stores, Mitsukoshi,  Wako, and the 14-story Marion.  The latter actually houses seven movie theaters and two department stores.  Many store windows feature elaborate displays that showcase typical Japanese culture.  At night colorful neon and fluorescent lights flood the Ginza with light, bringing the otherwise gray city to life.

FIFTH AVENUE, New York City, New York

Large landmark department stores (Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s) and small high-end designer name boutiques (Ferragamo, Harry Winston, Versace, Emanuel Ungaro, Gucci, Henri Bendel, Tiffany, Christian Dior) make New York’s Fifth Avenue a shopper’s paradise.

In December, the stores mount elaborate displays—doormen dressed as toy soldiers at FAO Schwartz, 26-foot sparking snowflake floating over the street outside Tiffany, winter wonderland scenes in Macy’s windows—that attract holiday shoppers and sightseers.  Strolling the crowded sidewalks of Fifth Avenue at this time of year is a special treat.

MAGNIFICENT MILE, Chicago, Illinois

Just a few blocks off Lake Michigan, North Michigan Avenue is home to such shopping greats as Gucci, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Brooks Brothers, and Hermes, as well as Bigsby and Kruthers, both renowned local retailers.  Be aware that the Magnificent Mile can be overwhelming on weekends.

AVENUE MONTAIGNE, Paris France

Avenue Montaigne, in the “golden triangle” between the Champs-Elysees and the Seine River, is the fanciest avenue in Paris.  The fashionable and the well-moneyed shop in the myriad luxury boutiques—Bulgari and Louis Vuitton among them—and haute-couture houses—Emmanuel Ungaro, Guy Laroche, Christian Dior, Nina Ricci, and Chanel—that lie within the avenue’s elegant buildings.

AVINGUDA DIAGONAL, Barcelona, Spain

World-famous fashion houses, jewelers, and art galleries line the sweeping Avinguda Diagonal.l which forms part of Barcelona’s five-kilometer (three-mile) shopping line.  Some of the finer shops are found on Passeig de Gracia, Augusta, Carrer de Tuset, and the exclusive Avinguda Pau Casals—small, elegant streets just off Avinguda Diagonal.  You will stroll through a mix of Gothic and modern architecture.  The avenue has fun and fine cafes to stop in for tapas.

VIA MONTE NAPOLEONE, VIA DELLA SPIGA & GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE, Milan, Italy

Milan is a fashion paradise and the center of style, with matching high price tags.  In the Duomo area, Via Monte Napoleone, Via della Spiga, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele house elegant boutiques and posh cafes inside romantic landmark Victorian buildings.

In addition to the internationally known fine fashion names, the area has inside favorites, such as La Rinascente, Milan’s most famous department store; Peck, a renowned food store; and Provera, a favorite for its vintage wine selection.  In the streets, there’s always a parade of well-heeled Italians casually modeling the latest fashions.

BOND STREET, London, England

Bond Street is home to the most elegant and expensive shops in London.  You will find designer clothing, perfume, art and antiques, jewelers, and more Royal Warrant holders (supplies to the royal family) here than anywhere else in London.  Old Bond Street, the short section at the southern end of Bond Street that joins Piccadilly, has been distinguished by the poshest shops since the 1850s.  Asprey and Agnew, Sotheby’s, and Phillips, to name but a few, all appear against a backdrop of elegant houses turned shops that once were home to a host of distinguished politicians, artists, and writers.

Our home in Marina del Rey is full of art and artifacts and memories collected in small villages, on ferries, in duty alleys, in town squares and even major department stores.  Our many travels come back to us as we walk around our house.  It was fun to acquire these momentos and just as much to reconnect with them regularly.

Keep looking everywhere you go, you’ll be surprised and delighted at what you’ll find.

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CURRENT EVENTS – MAY, 2018

What a month!  The news and events of this last month have been as volatile as the stock market.  Trump, Comey, Mueller, Stormy, Rosenstein; it’s been a war of words and innuendos, as well as a torrent of unethical (maybe illegal) leaks and claims.  Along with it has come an ongoing turnstile of White House and administration nominees and officials.

It’s amazing with all the turmoil how much has been accomplished.  More on this later.

Views on the Holocaust

The conference on Jewish National Claims Against Germany released the results of a survey of 1,350 American adults with some disturbing facts.

  • 2/3 of Americans did not know what Auschwitz was.
  • 11% of Americans and 20% of millennials were not sure they had heard of the Holocaust.
  • 30% of Americans and 40% of millennials believe no more than three million Jews died in the Holocaust. Experts believe the number is six million.

Best Airline

Qatar Airways nabs title of world’s number one airline.  Qatar Airways was tabbed as the world’s best airline in 2017, according to the annual World Airline Awards published by Skytrax.  Gulf rivals Emirates, which finished first last year in the rankings, dropped to No. 4 this year, behind No. 2 Singapore Airlines and No. 3 All Nippon Airways.  Cathay Pacific rounded out the top five of the rankings.

U.S. to Exit Iran/Nuke Deal

Keeping another campaign promise, President Trump, as well as Israel, Saudi Arabia, and a number of other observers, felt we gave away too much in the 2015 deal.  The only thing they did was put their nuclear arms program on hold—nothing more.  They have continued to enrich uranium and develop their ballistic missile program to carry nuclear warheads.

We removed all the crushing economic sanctions and gave them $11.9 billion over a two-year period, which they have spent spreading more terrorism throughout the Middle East.

Since the deal, the mullah’s in Iran have increased their military budget 40% while their economy and their people continue to suffer.

Comments on the Economy

According to Gregory Daco, Chief U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics, the U.S. economy is doing pretty well.

Despite an uncertain outlook for the future, the U.S. economy activity remains solid.  Consumer confidence remains strong.  Employment continues to grow strongly.  Wage growth is gradually picking up.  There’s a stronger growth in exports and business.  The travel industry has been outpacing the economy and the trend appears positive.

Based on hard data readings, the U.S. economy is growing at a 2%.  Although the growth percentage is not as high as expected, Daco provides some encouragement.  He will “take 2% any day if it’s sustainable.”

Changes at the “Scouts”

After about 108 years the Boy Scouts of America, more familiarly known as the Boy Scouts, has made a significant change.  In February, girls can join the Scouts, now to be known as Scouts BSA.

Much to my surprise, the membership of the Girl Scouts is three times the size of the Boy Scouts.

I am puzzled by the name change and even somewhat incredulous that girls can or want to join the Scouts—in their own units.

So why did they bother with these changes?  I think to avoid the harassing of the politically-correct police led by the ACLU.

BlackRock Wants CEOs to Show They do Good

Larry Fink of BlackRock is sending a letter to CEOs of public companies saying that they must show how they contribute to society, or risk losing the money-management firm’s support.

The leverage:  BlackRock has $6 trillion under management, making it the biggest investor in public companies in the world.

Mr. Fink’s letter pits the investment mogul against many of the companies that he’s invested in, which hold the view that their only duty is to produce profits for their shareholders, a position long held by Nobel Prize economist Milton Freidman.

IG Report Delayed Again

Michael Horwitz, the Justice Department’s Inspector General, has once again delayed issuing his report on the conduct of the FBI and its top executives.  Maybe’ he’s waiting for a new suit.  This is long overdue.

A snippet of the report was leaked in April excoriating Andrew McCabe, one of Comey’s key deputies, for his unethical work in the Clinton email probe and violations of FBI policy.

It seems almost certain when the final report is released Comey will get similar treatment.  Releasing the report a little earlier could have cost Comey some book sales, but saved the rest of us a lot of noise and commotion.

In Spite of All the Battering

With all the Trump haters and a hostile antagonistic media trying everything they can to derail the Trump presidency and his administration—like nothing we have ever seen, in at least my lifetime—has still managed to accomplish a fair amount of positive governing.

Since the election of Mr. Trump in November of 2016:

  • The economy has grown almost 3%
  • The 2017 tax plan appears to be generating positive results in raising wages and creating economic expansion
  • The 3.9% unemployment rate is at its lowest point in almost 20 years
  • Hispanic and black unemployment are at the lowest point in history
  • Our military has put ISIS on its last legs
  • The stock market is up over 20%, although quite volatile
  • Positive steps are unfolding on the Korean peninsula. Three Americans just released and a summit planned in Singapore on June 12th.

Pretty good for someone the haters claim is unfit to govern.

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THANK YOU TO ALL OUR MOTHERS

Please acknowledge your mothers this Sunday.  She brought you into life, nurtured you into adulthood, and has been something of an inspiration ever since.

The origin of Mother’s Day, as celebrated in the U.S., dates back to the 19th century.  In the years before the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start Mother’s Day Work Clubs to teach local women how to properly care for their children.

At the end of the conflict, the clubs became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War.  In 1868, Jarvis organized Mother’s Friendship Day, at which mothers gathered with former union and confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

Another precursor to Mother’s Day came from the abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe.  Howe, who wrote the stirring theme of the Civil War “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” later became a fervent anti-war activist.  In this regard, in 1870 she published an anti-war Mother’s Day proclamation which we have excerpted here:

“Arise then, women of this day!  Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be of water or tears!

“Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

“Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience.

“We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

“From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own.  It says, ‘Disarm, disarm.’

“As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

“Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.  Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar but of God.

“In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions and the great and general interests of peace.”

Other early Mother’s Day pioneers include Juliet Blakely, a temperance activist who inspired a local Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan in the 1870s.

The official Mother’s Day arose in the 1900s as a result of efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Jarvis.  Following her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.

After getting financial backing from John Wanamaker, the Philadelphia Dept. store owner in May 1908, she organized the first official.

In 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday.  Jarvis’ persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

There is some evidence that the Greeks and Romans celebrated their mothers long before the U.S. made it official.  Today, like most holiday commemorations, Mother’s Day has become a bit over commercialized.

More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year.  These chats with mom often cause phone traffic to spike by as much as 37%.

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