Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 17, 2018

While China would attempt to send the US out of its backyard by shocking the US with an invasion of Taiwan, that motive in itself would not be enough to push China to war. Beijing believes that controlling more territory is the solution to current problems with its own territory. In urban terms, it would be like believing the reason you have problems in your home is because you don't own the home nextdoor—you deserve to own it, after all; so take it, "by force if necessary." That part of Chinese culture—needing to occupy more surroundings in order to solve problems at home, rather than after solving problems at home—is the part of the Beijing mindset that will actually push China to invade. The time of the invasion will come when Beijing believes that solving its problems at home—specifically with Western press and free speech—can wait no longer. Then, China will invade Taiwan while genuinely believing that all of China's problems within its current borders will thus vanish over night.

But, the US doesn't think the way Beijing thinks the US thinks. While many Americans will be surprised by China's invasion of Taiwan, Beijing will be surprised even more by the American electorate's response to support recompense against China.

In Chinese media, a Chinese Air Force colonel's recommendation that PLA Navy ships ram US Navy ships is not an actual recommendation for strategy as much as it is an attempt at repulsive rhetoric. Chinese culture presumes that a public suggestion is an indirect warning with no intention of follow-through, and because it has no intention of follow-through, it is therefore a "powerful-polite" way of attempting to tell the US to leave. That is how cultural, indirect communication with the Chinese works. Though it is possible that the Chinese might become enraged enough to follow this action by ramming US ships at sea, it would take less rage for China to decide to invade Taiwan. From Beijing's view, unlike retaking the well-deserved Taiwan, ramming a US ship would be an actual assault. If the Chinese-American war begins with a rammed ship, that would indicate a very angry China.

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Symphony

Encore of Revival, America, December 17, 2018

Every accusation against Trump so far sets a precedent to indite James Comey for refusing to prosecute Hillary for worse crimes. Trump's actual crime was unwritten, that he threatened the comfortable cash cow machine run by a parasitic establishment accurately referred to as "the swamp". These increasingly petty, evermore numerous, and parabolically dramatic accusations will not end in turning votes against Trump, but toward him. The only turnings against will be the masses revolting against the establishment for its attacks against Trump and a revolt against the media that reports the attacks as "fair". The public will see this as quite unfair because of greater priorities going unmentioned, including a multi-million dollar hush-slush fund in Congress.

So, the swamp's machine attacked a dirty lawyer and sentenced him to prison. Now, that lawyer has suddenly turned to saint because he wants to get out of jail by speaking against his own client—a president hated by the same swamp. Can a lawyer that the DOJ has worked so hard to imprison as a sleeze bag suddenly be deemed a credible witness without any ill motives? Connect the dots. The swamp always wants everything both ways.

The swamp is indeed ramping up the assault against Trump, but not because of any new position of strength; the swamp is on attack because the swamp is desperate. What we're about to see in the next two years will be Kavanaugh all over again, only this time it will push Trump to re-election, better than before.

Then we have the Brexitexit. Questions needs to be asked about what connections nay-voters in Parliament have to Brussels. British politics work differently from American. Prime Minister Chamberlain allowed Hitler to rise in power while Parliament kept Winston away. Once the feckless mess grew intolerable, the king had to intervene. After Winston won the war—with the help of some extremely profitable former colonies in America that the Britons claim they carelessly misplaced—the Britons ousted Winston after his warnings that Russia was a rising danger. No doubt many in Great Britain will forget their frustration with past attempts to unite Europe, or the recent attempt—the EU—in squandering British tax dollars on socialist promises to solve self-made problems, such as more recently seen in France.

One of the few wise prime ministers, Margret Thatcher, said, "The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." Now, the EU has run out of the Britons' money and "will allow" the Britons to stay in if they want—and some Britons are actually talking about staying in. The American way—which defeated the Nazis for the British—would be for British Parliament to pass its own terms first, giving the EU the ultimatum. If May wants to keep her job, she should tell Parliament, "Give me whatever terms you accept, then I will defend them before Brussels." But, that would require the strong spine of a cowgirl, not the tender skin of true gentlemen. There are many smart people in Great Britain, just not any that we can see from the decisions being made right now.

The way things look, America will need to come to the rescue of our British brothers yet again. Given America's improving situation, it looks like we'll be able.

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Columns

Take Your Leap

Don't wait always. Waiting and calculating can be good, but not when the oceans open up a way forward.

Sometimes you'll have to interpret signs in the universe spoken without words. A sunny day and a break in your schedule might mean you need to take a walk outside. Who knows where your journey could lead. A bold knock, a new friend, a changed law—anything could open one path into another. But, you'll only know if you keep walking.

So, consider the invitations given in nature's native language. Watch for circumstance as they explain an open invitation, then accept.

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Letters

Mixing Promises with Faith


I have been meditating, unexpectedly, on Hebrews chapter 4 for a while, the second verse in particular. I was listening to it in The Message when it first hit me.

“We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith.” TMB

This is a topic that Father and I have been cogitating on together for many months. Now, I know that The Message is not the most literal translation of the scriptures, so I wanted to see if the same idea existed in a more precise translation.

“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” NKJV

Yep. It’s still there.


The topic I have been working on for a while is this. That God’s promises are not the whole story. There’s more to this story, than just God declaring wonderful promises to us.

Clearly, there has to be. There are so many amazing promises, in Scripture, in public prophetic words, and our daily devotions. If God making the promise was all that was needed for that promise to be fulfilled, we would be living in a Heavenly Utopia right now.

But we’re not. Therefore, ipso facto, there must be more to it.

And this verse tells us what that “more” is. If we don’t mix the promises that he has given us with faith, then the promise goes unfulfilled. The limitation is not his. It is ours.

Hebrews four declares that it has been this way for thousands and thousands of years, since the journey to the promised land. This is the reason that Israel did not inhabit some of the things that she was promised.

And this is a reason that you and I have not experienced the fullness of every one of our promises.

It is probably worth mentioning that the thing that is holding us back is almost certainly not the thing that we *think* is holding us back. It is almost certain that what we think is responding in faith to our promises is not actually the same as what God thinks “mixing those promises with faith” actually is.

We think we are responding to the promises with faith, but either we are mistaken, or God is a liar. I know who I am going to believe in this situation, and it’s not me. I’m going to believe that God is not a liar. So I clearly have missed it on this one.

It is beyond the scope of this brief missive to discuss what actual faith really is, what really will empower all of our promises. But if it was the thing that we call faith, that we have called faith all of our lives, then we would not be living the life that we are currently living, would we?

For the record, it’s pretty obvious that my own definitions of mixing promises with faith have been inferior, or insufficient, also. I suspect that this will be a topic of conversation between Father and myself for quite some time. You are invited to join in this search with me.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 10, 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBKrheGIxY4

The "Huawei arrest" sends yet another a irritatingly mixed message to China. China believes that a "strong response" concerning Taiwan will convince the US to back away from support for Taiwan. Conveniently for China, the recent provincial elections in Taiwan seem encouraging and Beijing has reached out to Taiwanese cities that just elected pro-Beijing party candidates.

Premier William Lai intends to resign at the "right time". Could that time be what is necessary so he can run for president? Taiwanese politics are quite unpredictable. All we should expect is a series of surprises before, during, and after 2020. Considering where things stand in the world, we must remember that there is no way the UK could be on Taiwan's side, especially since the UK has concerns about Taiwanese fisherman illegally killing dolphins as shark bait. With opportunity seeming to open, and the increased possibility of the loud-spoken, pro-independence William Lai to run for office, Beijing may be feeling put in an ever tightening situation that compels action.

As concerned as the Chinese are about security, they are far more concerned about insult. Without any sympathy from Western news audiences, an extradition of the Huawei executive from Canada to the US could push China over the edge. China believes that its horrific past justifies its conduct today. It is only a matter of time before Beijing decides that a strike against Taiwan, supported by cooperation with Taiwanese city governments, would send the US out of the region. Taiwan may not be seen by Beijing as the irritant of tensions, but the solution to them. The US might have a different opinion.

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, December 10, 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHQ-tTArRUE

The theory presented on September 10 and November 19 proved useful enough to predict White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's departure. No one announces in advance that someone is leaving—before the departure, without also announcing a replacement. Nobody cares about a boss whose boss already announced would be leaving. That's how to cripple any malevolent powers of an administrator that can't be quickly unplugged, but needs to go—and do so without raising suspicion that the administrator did anything wrong. Even in his dismissal—not a "retirement"—Kelly fits the bill as the author of the "New York Times essay", right down to getting tossed out in a way that no one would suspect a darned thing.

France is in trouble. The president who snubbed Trump has fallen into disfavor with his own people. This largely comes down to grandiose promises made by socialist agendas that everyone should have known could not deliver because of foresight rooted in hindsight. Socialism never delivers anything but what we see in France now. As for ado about Brexit, there's no point in worrying so much since the queen can decide anyway, if she wants to. That's what the British always tell Americans is so wonderful about the UK's constitutional monarchy. But, acting like this is a problem helps keep the British press afloat.

A Trump campaign payment is now being compared to a situation with 2004 Democratic candidate John Edwards. But, that has three major holes in its boat: 1. The accusation encircles alleged campaign finance violations surrounding the Trump organization's lawyer, Cohen, whose job it was to give legal advice; Trump is not a lawyer, Edwards was. Can a lawyer be witness against the client he advised, or secretly recorded? 2. The Mueller investigation sought to understand whether there was wrongful involvement with Russia and Trump. The Fourth Amendment limits the scope of search and seizure to a probable cause and any seized items must be specified by the warrant in advance. By starting with an investigation between Trump and Russia, but ending with a campaign finance accusation against a candidate accused by the lawyer who advised him, this has gone well beyond the scope that the Fourth Amendment was intended to limit. If courts allow this, it shows how much our legal justice system has wandered from the Constitution. 3. The electorate will want a good explanation for why Hillary wasn't treated this way. The best reason so far would be that the courts have been usurped as a cudgel for political rivals. It's not Trump who needs to be worried about an indictment; it's the legal justice system itself that is about to go on trial.

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Columns

Fame Quests

Today presents too many quests for fame. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, Snapchat, Linkedin, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr—the many corners of the sprawling social "bragosphere" have everyday, average, ordinary people hungry for fame.

We grow up being told to watch the TV. Then, the TV tells us to try to be famous like the people trying to be famous on shows like "Star Search" or "Britain's Got Talent". But, fame doesn't always seem to turn out so well. Just ask any of the actors who played Anakin Skywalker.

Don't seek fame; seek to build your character first. When worthy, you'll shine.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, December 3, 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwSy14mS9k0

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen apologizing after a mid-term defeat at the provincial level will not demonstrate strength on her part, but she shows respect and stability in maintaining her appointees and policy toward China. Having not stood her ground on information about proposal that would have set Taiwan's team name at the Olympics in Japan as "Taiwan", instead of "Taipei", she lost important support from the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, a group that seeks to have Taiwan internationally recognized as an independent nation.

Taiwan's premier, William Lai, does stand for Taiwanese independence, held remarkable popularity in his reelection as mayor, and is the shoe-in candidate if he were to run in 2020 instead of Tsai. Tsai's re-election is uncertain. What happens will depend on Taiwanese politics, which are too adolescent to not be surprised by. Main matters at stake include Taiwan developing faster responses to correct disinformation given to the public and a focus on better quality with internal governance and infrastructure. Interestingly, information and governance—not China itself—are at the heart of resistance to China.

If Taiwan declares independence from China, or takes too many steps to join international bodies like the UN, as Beijing has stated, we could be looking at all out war. Some in the political "news-o-sphere" call Taiwan a "flashpoint". China hangs onto hopes of retaking Taiwan like King John's suicidal siege of Rochester Castle. All the US does is provoke.

The latest provocation came late last week when Japan opened the path to retrofitting "helicopter carriers" into fixed-wing aircraft carriers. Japan looks to acquire 142 F35s—42 As and now 100 Bs; the UK eyes 138, about half of them to go to the Royal Navy. There are too many high-tech American aircraft in China's backyard for China's comfort. And, the US did two more sail-bys—one near China's man-made islands, the other through the Taiwan Strait. China lobbed another "demarche" protest with Washington, presuming the action to be "provocative".

Then came the US-China 90 day cease fire between Trump and Xi at the G20 this past weekend. A lot can happen in 90 days, whether politically, economically, or militarily.

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, December 3, 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1npPzJly1ZY

Former President George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president, is dead at 94.

While the Bush family and the nation mourn, politics continue as usual.

The "Mark Meadows Plan" for Congressional Republicans foreshadows political posturing of the next two years: Democrats will be a powerless foil supporting the re-election of Trump. Just how Democrats harassed the Regan administration with the Olly North investigations, harassed Supreme Justices Kavanaugh and Thomas with sexual harassment allegations—just how the House Republicans harassed Clinton with the Kenneth Star -led investigation—so will this Democratic House irritate the electorate over the next two years. Even if the House impeaches the president as it did Clinton, there isn't foreseeable traction in the 52-seat strong Republican Senate.

The latest "shock and faux" campaign from the press attempts to scare readers with the notion that Russia did not exercise leverage over Trump—but they could have—because Trump decided not to build a project in Russia that everyone knew about him not building when he would have been allowed to build it anyway. The reason, as this latest "wow" campaign goes, is because Trump is now reported to be the center of the Mueller investigation. Really? That's news?

The next two years will be as entertaining as watching a cat who thinks it's a god, but just can't figure out why it can't get anyone to obey.

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Columns

Which Expert?

Everyone can become an expert in some field. An awesome counselor becomes a renowned authority because of people well-counseled. A pro-golfer becomes a moral role model for young people. A basketball star becomes a hair style trend-setter and informal international negotiator with North Korea. A Rubic's cube tutor becomes a famed blogger that network news wants to interview about social-political matters.

But, is it wise to hire life coaches or psychotherapists to help set and achieve our life goals, rather than product managers who know profitable scalability? I wouldn't ask my neurosurgeon to clean my kitchen; better a house cleaner.

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 26, 2018

Taiwan held something akin to a "mid-term" election this past Saturday. The people revolted against the previous revolt. When electing the DPP two years ago, the people were fed up with the capitulation policies of Ma. Now, they are fed up with bad management of infrastructure, also an "establishment culture" surfacing in what should be the "opposition party", among other grievances. Taiwan's government cautioned China to wait and see how the election affects cross-strait policy before jumping to any conclusions—because they think China can't figure that out.

China's government and the Western press are going head to head. China held the American children of an estranged father and money laundering defendant. The New York Times made sure to plaster the picture of the young adult brother and sister at the top of the story. Exploiting children to sway outcomes just isn't fair.

But, it didn't stop at children. The New York Times also posted about cheap labor building Chinese AI. And, Forbes published an article with a graph that makes it look like China's economy has bottomed out. The battle between China and its great and powerful foe—the Western press—rages on. China is at an unfair disadvantage, but presses forward fearlessly and valiantly.

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Symphony

Encore of Revival: America, November 26, 2018

The US faces politics within and without. President Trump refers to judges appointed by a president; Chief Justice Roberts rebuts, effectively, that judges aren't owned by presidents. Trump never said they were, he was referring to who appointed them. Who makes an appointment is relevant, even in a court trial. Unless the question, "Who appointed you?" has never been answered by a plaintiff or witness in court, Roberts' misunderstood. It would be best that the chief justice accurately understand the commander-in-chief's "original intent". As for Roberts' claim that courts are impartial, that certainly is what we all hope for. Trump's predication is that perfection is a humanly unreachable destination, which is why we need courts in the first place.

At the border, Mexico allowed the so-named "caravan", now reported at over 8k people, to march through its country seeking immediate help, instant protection, urgent safety, emergency respite from political persecution—or some other timely need that is required to receive "asylum". Asylum is not a fun thing to receive and often means never being allowed to leave the country once inside. Edward Snowden wasn't allowed to walk from Hong Kong to Moscow, picking and choosing which country he could seek asylum from; he had to get it right where he was, before leaving the international terminal. If anyone in that caravan can prove that the kinds of protection an asylum specifically grants could not be provided by the many countries they marched through for many weeks, then they should be granted an asylum. They would also need to prove that they would never return to their home country to visit family, no matter what. That's a tall order. But, if they can do it, they deserve it, but only if.

The Russianewsgategate scandal scandal is still barking and honking, predicting drama and awe, while quietly reminding audiences that there will probably be no indictment. 'Tis no more than theater at this point, but an act that needs to be kept up so that the cast won't be accused of having been pretending the whole time. After Kavanaugh's unfair trial dubbed a "hearing", avoiding the appearance of fakery in DC theater is important these days.

Whatever is going on in the US is a lot better than what's going on in Europe. We are witnessing ancient, Biblical prophecy fulfilled in our day: The winged lion of Daniel 7:4 had the eagle's wings removed and has now been given the sane mind of a human. While eagle's wings internationally represent America's mascot, the lion represents Britain's. While Prime Minister May gave her speech about the Brexit status, she stood behind the crest of Britain's lion. It is clear from her speech—by leaving the EU, Britain is no longer part of the madness festering in Europe.

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Columns

‘Jackal Barking’ Defined

Marshall Rosenberg called it "jackal language"; Satir called it "blamer mode". Whatever flavor you like to call it—using negative descriptions, declaring one-word final opinions about the person arguing with you, and saying things like "you always/never..." isn't smart if your goal is peace.

But in that, there's another pattern we often miss: "verbal cannonballs" or "barking". When we're unhappy, we tend to add words like "anyway" or start sentences with "well". We don't normally do this, only when feeling "barky". When words add no more meaning than a bark, they should be classified as "barking", more specifically, "jackal barking".

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Symphony

Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 19, 2018

In Taiwanese politics, a mayor candidate's comments about his own benefits from drinking honey-lemonade sparked retribution from the medical community. After a lump under his eye went away, apparently from a vegetarian and honey-lemonade diet, he actually said so. A professional from a hospital was quick to weigh in. It's understandable. If people learned that honey could cure disease, hospital profits would plunge. More importantly, Taiwanese political debates would become outright boring without the ability to, as the saying goes, make lemonade from political debates.

But, lemonade really is important. Google search results even saw a spike after this essential talk of Taiwanese politics made news.

Meanwhile, at the ASEAN summit in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for nations to come together at a time when Southeast Asian stability was under threat. In anticipation of APEC after ASEAN, Mike Pence started talking tough, wanting results and genuine action from China concerning an even-flow of trade. He elaborated, that the US has a quarter of a billion dollars in tariffs and isn't afraid to go twice as high as well as take more "diplomatic" action. It was a strong "they know that we know that they know what we think" remark, the kind that precedes otherwise objectionable action to make the action unobjectionable.

Later, at APEC, Pence warned of returning to a "cold war" while making plans for a US-Australian naval base in Papua New Guinea. Rather than dropping its tilted tariffs on goods, China has been openly gearing up for all out war three weeks. APEC ended without a written agreement between member nations for the first time ever because of the disagreements between the US and China.

This past weekend, Taiwan did something that China despises every bit as much as it cannot identify with: Taiwan hosted democratic election campaigns. With all the strong rhetoric concerning Taiwan, independence, and China's loudly and often-spoken determination to invade Taiwan, there shouldn't be any question where China's war-in-preparation will start and why America will easily get involved.

America is already involved in Taiwan to quite an extent. AIT, the unofficial yet de facto US embassy in Taiwan, had an interview scheduled for release with a large TV network in Taiwan. But, after the interview, the TV network, TVBS, scrapped the interview. So, AIT shared the interview in its Facebook page, rather than relying on TVBS.

With the history lessons about Taiwan in almost every Taiwan-related story in the Western press, Americans will take an advancement against Taiwan as an advancement against themselves. China would be perceived as an aggressor and rightly so. Everything the US has done to provoke and irritate China would have only worked if China possessed the old school "Asian Pride" that Sun Tzu warned against, a pride that can't be permitted in a world's superpower because such pride is easily provoked just as much as it is easily shattered. Hardened pride makes for brittle peace. That's something that the entire West won't allow, the US notwithstanding.

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