My problem with Trump…

My friends on the left like to opine regularly that President Donald Trump is some combination of crazy, evil, a nazi, morally bankrupt, criminally corrupt, beholden to the Russians, or all of the preceding. In the same breath they want to believe he is simultaneously dumb as a stone as well as the mastermind of the greatest con in the history of the republic.

My actual problem with Trump isn’t any of these things, though. From my wheelhouse, I agree with a fair number of his basic policies. Even here in over-taxed Maryland I benefited from his tax reform plan. I believe the we ought to have tight control over who is allowed into the country and a strong defense on the southern border… and the northern border… and at all the air and seaports in between. I think the federal government would best served by getting out of the education policy business – funding schools through block grants to the states if we collectively insist that the federal government absolutely has to be involved in some way. 

By the same token I soundly disagree with his approaching the State Department and international diplomacy as an afterthought. I question his positions on when and how to employ the mailed fist of the US military. Unlike some people, though, I somehow manage not to slobber all over myself while articulating what I believe.

At the heart of it, I suspect that’s what I find most troubling about the age of Trump. He’s a man with no indoor voice and no filter. There are ways to get most of his agenda accomplished – or there were when his party held all the reigns in congress. Most of those ways, though, required some deft maneuvering, horsetrading, and not saying much – basically old school political wrangling.

I never found Donald Trump a particularly appealing candidate. His approach to politics is boorish and largely ineffective and that’s my biggest problem with him. You’d think The Art of the Deal would have included a chapter on subtilty, keeping your own council, and the value of working the system behind the scenes. As for the shrill crowing of the “progressive” left, well, I discount a fair amount of that noise as more or less what they’d be casting at any candidate who dared not share their particularly skewed view of the world. 

Unsatisfied…

The arrival of spring has created plenty of angst and gnashing of teeth here at Rental Casa de Jeff. The biggest change, of course, is that instead of staying holed up avoiding the sub-zero temperatures of the polar vortex, there’s outdoor maintenance to do. Now, I’d much rather be working in the yard than scrubbing the kitchen, but there’s a problem this year that that I haven’t dealt with before – for the last month, there hasn’t been any real indoor cleaning because pushing the vacuum or bending over with a dust pan sent near-blinding pain rocketing up my back. It’s better now than it was, but bending is still something to be avoided if at all possible. With that said, it basically means the inside of this joint is “grubby” to put it politely.

With the rain and warm weather the past two weeks, the grass and weeds are growing, the shrubbery needs cut back, and the whole yard needs a good going over to get it looking a little less like a foreclosure waiting to happen. Of course, the yard is also a victim of the same problem that plagues the inside – anything that requires me to bend more than 15 degrees off vertical is a fiesta of pain.

I think the compromise is going to be getting the yard cut as best I can with the tractor and trying to hit the most unsightly bits with the weed eater this afternoon. Next week, if the weather holds, I’ll lay down a coating of suppressive fire with weed killer along all the other edges. I hate the idea of things looking less than manicured, but that seems to be the only middle ground between letting the whole damed thing go to seed and well and truly crippling myself getting to 100%. As with all manner of compromise, I find it deeply, deeply unsatisfying.

The trouble with compromise…

I’ve been told from time to time that I have a tendency towards being an uncompromising bastard. I’m fairly sure that wasn’t meant as a compliment at the time. It occurs to me, though, that we spend an inordinate amount of time looking for the win-win solution. At best, most people accept a win-lose proposition where at least one person gives up some part of what they were trying to achieve. More often, we tend to settle into the lose-lose option where everyone walks away equally dissatisfied with the result.

It seems to me that life is too damned short for half measures. When’s the last time you remember anything great happening because someone settled for “enough”? If you said “never,” you’re on the right track.

Maybe that does make me uncompromising. I think I’ll find a way to live with it.

What they don’t teach at business school…

So, I’m thinking of writing a book about all the things they don’t teach you at business school. The problem with business schools, or mine at least, is that it is taught by instructors and populated with students who desperately believe that the world is full of puppy dogs an lollypops and that all that hard decisions can be a “win-win-win” for everyone.

I call bullshit. Want to guess why it’s a hard decision? Because if it were an easy one, some schmuck further down the corporate food chain could have made it. It’s a hard decision because in the end someone is going to walk away with less than they wanted. Paint it any way you want, but losing still sucks even when the whore is dressed up and called “compromise.”

Why are we afraid in this society of head-to-head competition? We love to watch it on television… check out the ratings for programs like Survivor© or the NFL© or any of the other hundred shows that pit one person against another. Competition is human instinct. It’s why we climb over the next hill. It’s why we crossed ocean. It’s why we hurtle brave men and women into space strapped to the bombs we affectionately call rockets.

When we as a society stopped competing and started worrying about everyone’s special sensitivities, we sounded the charge for our own slow descent into mediocrity. The situation is grave, but not hopeless, provided we are not yet too timid to once again stand on the shoulders of giants and dare to do great things.