Show 084 – The Cuisine of Slovenia

In honor of our new First Lady, we celebrate the cuisine of Slovenia and discuss what’s next in America with an unprecedented and unpredictable President Trump waiting to take office. Our guest is copywriter and marketing expert Jared Kessler.

Reject discord, embrace love

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Last night we held a truly historic election with many firsts, some of which we should celebrate, some which we should lament, and some that just are. The first female candidate of a major party is a first we should celebrate, regardless of who that woman may be or what she may represent. The first president to be elected without prior service in either government or the military is something which may be cause for celebration, lamentation, or neither. Only time can tell. And while far from being the most divisive election in history it has been a rough road these past many months. (For more on the history of divisiveness in politics, read up on the elections of 1800, 1828, 1860, 1884, and 1928; the feud between Vice President Aaron Burr and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton which ended in the death of one; or the tumult of the 1960s, when political assassinations were all too commonplace.)

For many, this election did not go the way they had hoped, but for all of us, whether enjoying victory, grieving loss, or just wondering what happened, we should all remember that politics is still local. The president is still just one man and while that man may be, in many ways, the most powerful on Earth, his power still pales in comparison to the power you have over your own life and even the power you have over your community. If you seek change, let it begin with you.

And I plead most dearly to what I hope is a tiny minority so filled with anger that you are willing to lash out with violence, be it physical or even just verbal; resist that urge. Many, whether rightly or wrongly I will not judge, opposed our next president on the grounds that he would promote hate and violence. This may or may not be the case, but know that, whether he will or will not, you alone have the ultimate power over your own actions. You do not have to give in to your own desires to be hateful or divisive. Meet hate with love. Meet violence with peace.

In the history of the world, the men and women we admire most are the ones who have risen above the fray; Jesus Christ, Susan B Anthony, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela. Be like these men and women. Continue to fight for what you believe in and fight hard, for it is spirited debate that makes us all better. But fight civilly. Fight graciously. Fight respectfully. Fight peacefully.

Perhaps my greatest joy is that President-Elect Trump, Secretary Clinton, and President Obama all delivered some of the best speeches of this campaign season the day after the election. They were messages filled with magnanimity, unity, and support made all the more powerful because of the rancor that existed over the past many months between them. We should all take heed of their call.

And know that, whether you “won” or “lost” last night, things are not going to be as great or as dire as you hoped or feared. The sun will come up tomorrow and the day after that. Our nation will get through the next four years, and in the decades to come, this day will be largely forgotten. I promise you there are more important things happening today than what the news is reporting on; things so wonderful they give me great hope for our nation and our world. Children are being born. Young love is blossoming. Mothers and fathers are celebrating a child’s first steps of the final moments together before their child goes off to start a life of their own. And people are rejecting violence. Blacks and Whites, men and women, immigrant and native born are setting aside what are truly paltry differences and working together to better their communities with deeds as large as million dollar fundraising campaigns and as small, but equally important, as a smile or a door held open. These are the things that truly impact our lives. Let these be the things you build your memories upon. Let these be the things you celebrate today and in the weeks and months to come.

And for those of you who are in despair, know that I grieve with you, not because I despair over the outcome of last night or even the future, but that, simply, you despair and the fact that you suffer, regardless of wthe reason, grieves my heart. To be sure, we are in trying times and the divisiveness which we have thus far experienced and the uncertainty many have about the future serves as a catalyst for fear. And while that fear is not for all the same reasons – some may fear what measures President-Elect Trump and our new congress will pass and how those measures will directly impact their lives while others may fear whether those who have already called for violence against our next president are truly serious or simply venting as they process what was a shock to their expectations – I urge you all to join with me in choosing not to give in to that fear and its resultant divisiveness.

Tangibly, seek out a friend who differs with you and let him know that, despite your differences, you know that there is far more that unites you in friendship than could ever divide you in opposition. Tell her that, regardless of how she views our collective path forward, you understand that, like you, she only has the best of intentions and that, regardless of who may be in power, his power will never have the power to overcome your bond of friendship or the power of love.

Finally, take heart for the future, for I know that our best days are ahead. I know this because, while presidents, kings, and even capitals may come and go, Jesus was, is, and always will be Lord and as long as that is the case, we never have reason to despair.

May God bless you all and may He bless this nation and this world, for it is His blessing that has charted us through the past 400 years of our history and His blessing which will chart us through the coming four.

Show 083: The Cuisine of Wonderland

The Political Bistro is back! (At least for one week.) Friend of the show, Jack Greer was in town, the GOP convention was going on, so we thought, why not? Hoping to be back on a more regular schedule and back on broadcast radio again soon, but until then, enjoy, as Mark, Steve, Shelley, and Jack go “down the rabbit hole” and discuss the GOP convention and other oddities.

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Course 1: Cocktails anyone? Unidentified bottles of liquid with a label that says DRINK ME.

Course 2: Tea and your choice of crumpets with orange marmalade or hot buttered toast

Course 3: Roast turkey with onions, magic mushrooms, and sneeze-inducing ground pepper.

Course 4: Choice of….
1. Pineapple custard with treacle
2. Cherry tarts
3. Un-birthday cake
4. Cake with EAT ME spelled out in black currants on top.

As always, playlist available on our YouTube channel.

Show 081 – The Cuisine of the Dominican Republic

Tonight your Maitre d’ Mark Griswold and your sommelier Jacques Greer celebrated the cuisine and culture of the Dominican Republic and spent most of the evening debating Trump and whether he would be the better choice over Hillary should it come to that.

Chris Christie, Jeff Sessions and Saruman the White

saruman-christopher-lee-300x159In the epic novel, Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien, there is a group of wizards sent down from on high to combat the forces of evil by inspiring the people of Middle-Earth. They are led by Saruman the White, a good and decent wizard but, like all of us, one with a soul that can be tempted by evil.

In the beginning, Saruman, it can be argued, is just being pragmatic. He seeks power not because he is evil, but to defeat evil itself in the form of the Dark Lord Sauron. But, in the end, the power he seeks is too intoxicating and he is overcome by the very evil he vowed, whether just to others or to himself as well, to destroy. It is a story as old as time and one which will be repeated until the end of time.

Politics is, first and foremost, the study and practice of human interaction and humans, being the imperfect beings that we are, are faced with imperfect choices. We are faced with supporting a bloodthirsty dictator in some far off country, but only because he’s less bloodthirsty than the militant jihadi terrorist he’s keeping at bay. We joke about having to choose between the lesser of two evils when we go to the ballot box every November; a joke we tell ourselves is a joke because the truth can sometimes be far more real than we’d like to admit.

And politicians tell themselves that their choice to support a particular piece of legislation or to join forces with another politician they often disagree with, while on its face may seem abhorrent, is in the end, a choice made for “the greater good.” After all, “if I don’t vote for this bill, a far more harmful bill may be passed or, worse yet, I could lose my bid for re-election and the other guy, who is far worse, will win.”

These rationalizations are just that; rational. In a world of imperfect choices what a wide-eyed idealist sees as irrational is, in fact, the only rational choice. But as the decent among us are forced to make decisions that are increasingly indecent, we continue to rationalize those decisions to the point that we can forget what the decent thing was to begin with. Sometimes the means can justify the ends.  It is an imperfect world after all so there are very few pure actions we can take anymore, if we ever could. But what we must never forget is that those actions are, in fact, impure and we may very well be sacrificing our souls for what many may deem the greater good. (It’s why so many soldiers are haunted by PTSD; the greatest sacrifices they must make are often not physical or even mental, but spiritual.) More importantly, we must not forget that the closer we get to the power we once sought to destroy, the more and more we mirror that power.

I don’t know Chris Christie, Jeff Sessions, or the scores of evangelical preachers who have endorsed Donald Trump. I’ll assume that their motives are pure even if I believe their actions aren’t. Maybe they all believe that the GOP has become so watered down ideologically that the only way to save this country is to “shake things up”. Maybe they think the greatest threat to this nation is an influx of immigrants, be they terrorists or simply folks seeking to “take our jobs.” Maybe they view Trump as the inevitable candidate and believe we must get behind him now so we can take down the greater “evil” that is Hillary Clinton. All of these arguments have at least some merit to them and that’s exactly what makes them so dangerous.

At the end of World War II we dropped a pair of atomic bombs on Japan. All but the most naïve or ideologically stubborn believe that was the best course of action. Had we not, the war would have continued on for months, if not years, and resulted in far more death on the side of not only the Allies but the Japanese as well. Somewhat counterintuitively, dropping “the bomb” was the humane thing to do. But in doing so, the “collateral damage” done to tens of thousands of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have been the least egregious. The Cold War was anything but cold and the nuclear age remains with us, perhaps even more dangerous now with actors like Kim Jong Un and the Ayatollahs on the world stage. Was the Manhattan Project worth it? Probably. After all, if we, the “good guys” hadn’t invented “the bomb” the Communists would have been left to march freely across the rest of Europe and the rest of the world. But despite the threat that we curtailed because we went nuclear first, we must never forget that the genie we let out of the bottle can never be put back again.

And so it is with Trump. Forget that his claims of conservatism or Christianity are laughable (or at least they were until he started winning primaries). The man is just far too dangerous. In our desire to defeat Hillary Clinton or the lukewarm politicians in the Republican Party, we are employing a nuclear option that can never be undone and, hear me now, believe me later, will not defeat the opponents of the true conservatism that we all seek to defeat, but only embolden them after the Republican Party is left decimated by the mockery it has become with Trump at the helm.

So we have a choice. We can refuse to give in to our temptations to seek the “One Ring” that gives us the immense power to destroy the Dark Lord Sauron, whatever threat, real or imagined that may be; or we can stand with the light, however dim it may seem (and I do agree that it pales in comparison to what it once was or should be).

Pragmatism is important. In fact, in the game of politics, it may be the most important. But it is not so important that we must sacrifice our ideals completely in order to “make a deal,” especially a deal with a man like Trump, so utterly devoid of character and full of narcissism that he feels no need to seek forgiveness from God and threatens to sue anyone who dares insult him.

Reagan was a RINO!

This latest piece of mine was posted at AmericanThinker.com yesterday. In reading the comments there, I realize that either AT readers have a very poor grasp of sarcasm (and blind loyalty to Trump) or I was not clear enough about the title of the article being sarcastic. Make no mistake; I do not believe Reagan was a RINO. I believe knee-jerk purists that would rather cut off their noses to spite their faces than win an election would call Reagan a RINO were he running for president today.

Various groups across our great nation have many traditions. Latino families may celebrate their daughters’ quinceañera. Marathoners may travel to Boston or New York. Hippies may attend a myriad of outdoor festivals, from Burning Man to Banaroo. And Republicans, or should I say a subset of Republicans, engage in a quadrennial event referred to by some as the conservative litmus test, or the circular firing squad, in which they enjoy comparing their chosen Republican presidential candidate to Ronald Reagan and comparing every other Republican candidate to Karl Marx (or possibly Groucho Marx). The length of this festival of futility usually runs from late November in the year preceding a presidential election and can end as late as the first Wednesday in November of the following year if the Democrat ends up winning the general election.

Republicans did this in 2008, when the party nominated “that RINO” John McCain (Lifetime ACU rating of 82.13) instead of the “true conservative” Mitt Romney. They did it again in 2012, when the party nominated “that RINO” Mitt Romney instead of the “true conservative” Rick Santorum (or maybe it was Rick Perry; the consensus among firing squad members is still out). And Republicans have trotted out the tradition once again. This year the “Establishment” candidate (aka the “RINO foisted upon us by the RNC”) seems to be either Marco Rubio (who, along with Ted Cruz, is the only candidate beating presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the one beating her by the greatest margin) or Jeb Bush.

Besides citing things like the “Gang of Eight,” “RomneyCare,” and “McCain-Feingold” during this period, these “true conservatives” pine over their memories of the 1980s and that gold standard of conservatism, President Ronald Reagan.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge Reagan fan. I don’t know any self-proclaimed Republican who isn’t. And, by and large, Reagan was quite conservative. But, were he to run today, it’s quite possible he’d have already gone the way of Lindsey Graham and George Pataki. Why? Well, let’s just imagine some of the things today’s “true conservatives” may bring up about Reagan were he making the rounds:

“Reagan is pro-gay-rights!” He vigorously opposed the 1978 Briggs initiative [CA Proposition 6], which would have banned homosexuals from teaching in public schools.
“Reagan is pro-abortion!” Six months into his term as governor, he signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act, which led to a rise in abortions in California from 518 a year to an average of 100,000 during his last two years in office.
“Reagan is pro-tax!” He raised taxes more than $1 billion during his term as governor.
“Reagan is pro-illegal immigration!” He signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act while president, which led to a rise in illegal immigration.
Reagan is a RINO (Republican in Name Only). He didn’t join the Republican Party until 1962, before then being an ardent supporter of FDR and the “New Deal.”
I raise these points about Reagan not to sully his good name and memory, but simply to point out that you can take nearly anyone and cherry-pick from his record to make him look liberal.

Besides being just poor form and inaccurate, chastising one Republican candidate over another is just bad politics, for when the nominee is eventually named, it leaves him open to attack not just from the jaundiced views of the Democratic nominee herself, but through the proxy of his supposed ally, maybe even his VP nominee. (Anyone remember all that footage of Biden commenting on Obama’s shortcomings?)

So Republicans should keep their eyes on the prize. Any one of their candidates would be vastly better for the conservative cause than Clinton or Sanders (with the possible exception of Donald Trump). Any Republican who doesn’t believe that needs to take an honest look in the mirror and ask himself: what would Hillary do with ISIS and Iran? What would she do with taxes? (Even if you believe that Rubio would be feckless in the face of a proposed tax-hike bill from a Democrat-controlled Congress, isn’t it logical to assume that Clinton would do even worse?) Whom will she appoint to the Supreme Court?

The choice is clear. As conservative activist and founder of the Leadership Institute Morton Blackwell is quick to point out, “Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.”

And if Reagan were alive today, I am fairly certain he’d pull out at least one of his old standards. “That person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally, not a 20-percent traitor.”