Happy New Year to all.

By Brett Pharo (January 1, 2018)

It was quite a ride in 2017.  Not always fun, but certainly interesting.  Much of the interest has been due to it being the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency.  For better or worse, whether you like him or hate him, his election has illuminated much about America.  As has been said, the election of Trump did not cause the hatred and intolerance of the “Liberals.”  It just exposed them.  Believe me, there were people equally upset about the election of Mr. Obama, but they reacted like adults.  They didn’t riot in the streets, didn’t attack liberal speakers on campuses, didn’t need “safe places” or time off from college or work to recover from the loss of an election.  There have been times in the past when a majority of the major news organizations have opposed a sitting President, but I’ve never seen such open contempt, hatred, and effort to oust a President as we’ve seen in the last year.

What’s my opinion of Mr. Trump?  Well, early in the primaries I stated that I thought he was a bombastic narcissist.  I’ve seen no reason to change that opinion.  I think he’s far from being a tower of Christian virtue.  On the other hand, he’s far more personally charitable to those in need than his predecessor; he’s far less racist than his predecessor; he demonstrates far more love for the country he leads than his predecessor.  Not being a politician by nature, he doesn’t tend to concern himself with political fallout.  That can be good or bad.  A bombastic narcissist he may be, but he may also be just what America needs at this time to shake up a political establishment that is completely out of touch with everyday America.

How has the first year of Trump’s presidency gone so far?  Some good, some bad.  Not the best, but far from the worst.  It’s way too early to come to any final conclusion of how good, or bad, a President he is.  Time will tell.  For my money, though, he’s better than the last two we’ve had to put up with.  What has been done has been while facing the strongest of head winds of opposition from most of the news media, Democrats, and establishment Republicans.

Trump’s penchant for using social media to communicate seems quite juvenile at times.  I think he probably does it at times just because he’s bored, but also because it bothers his opposition.  Given the obvious negative coverage he faces by the regular news sources, their open disrespect for him and his supporters, and their overt desire to cause him political harm, I’m sure he feels this is the best way to communicate directly with the American people.  With as many people as he has following his tweets, I suppose it makes it hard to twist his words, though it’s still attempted regularly.  Me thinks that maybe a regular televised fireside chat would be more appropriate.  But then again, probably more people read the tweets than would see a TV talk.  Such is the world today.

I’m very disappointed that Trump listened to whoever he listened to and decided to send arms to Ukraine.  That’s not our sphere of interest and the problems in Ukraine are directly traceable to our having supported an overthrow of the elected Ukraine government that happened to be pro-Russia.  With a couple of exceptions like this, though, Trump seems to understand better than most of the establishment that just because we are global competitors with Russia and China for power and influence, doesn’t mean we have to be enemies.

This understanding, along with discontinuing the arming of our enemies done by the previous administration, has gone a long way toward defeating the ISIL caliphate dream.  About half the territory held by ISIL has been taken back by the US led coalition and the other half taken back by Russia and Syrian forces.  That’s a good thing, as those nut cases are pure evil.  One thing that should be noted is that Russia, it’s job basically done in Syria, is pulling it’s forces back home.  We could really learn from that.  Unbelievable that we still have forces actively involved in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then there’s North Korea.  There just don’t seem to be any good options here.  Given what has happened to other dictators that have given into our demands that they stop dangerous programs – think Gadhafi in Libya – it’s not likely that Kim is going to abandon nuclear weapons.  He has nothing to gain by doing so, and in his mind at least, much to lose.  To those that call for just bombing them back to the stone age, or other such comments, I’d say, “grow up.”  You’re likely talking about a minimum of hundreds of thousands of people killed and maimed.  That kind of disregard for human life is reprehensible – unless you for some reason think they are not human or are less human than you.  What is the answer?  I don’t know.

This last year has seen some improvements in some areas domestically.  One is the appointment of federal judges.  Neil Gorsuch was an outstanding pick for the Supreme Court.  He understands that, regardless of his own personal views, it’s not the position of the court to legislate from the bench.  It’s not the court’s job to decide cases based on what they think the law or the Constitution should say, but upon what it does say.  I don’t know much about other judiciary appointments Trump has made, but I hope they are cut from the same cloth.

Another area that has seen improvement, though much more is needed, is the reduction of regulations.  Business, and especially small business, in America has been crippled by overbearing regulations.  Freeing entrepreneurial Americans to spend their time and capital creating, producing, and imagining rather than conforming to heavy government regulations is a very welcome development.  It’s a good start.

Trump also, to the consternation of some, has reversed Obama’s illegal DACA program.  It’s not that Trump opposes the idea that DACA is designed to do, but that he has asked Congress to pass a law to do it.  As done by Obama, it was an unconstitutional action.

Finally, Congress has done something.  They passed a much-needed tax reform.  It’s not perfect – far from it, but if they had done nothing but cut the corporate tax rate as they did, it would have to be considered a great thing for America.  Our corporations have not been spending so much capital overseas because of labor costs. Primarily, it’s been due to the huge tax burden they would face by bringing the money back here.  We have been for some time now very uncompetitive in this area.  This should, over a period of time, bring much investment and many jobs to the US.  That will generate some tax money to offset the cuts, and probably much more.  The rest of the tax reform, which for most people will be a gain, is gravy.  Now to get to cutting spending.  Countries, like families, don’t balance their red-ink budgets without cutting spending.

The stock market is booming.  In my opinion, it’s way over-inflated and will likely have a significant traction.   We’ll see.  Certainly, investors have liked what they’ve seen happening.  I think their group enthusiasm is a bit overdone.

Was 2017 better than 2016?  Maybe.  Will 2018 be better than 2017?  Maybe.


Maybe (Taoist story)

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years.  One day his horse ran away.

Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.  “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.  “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg.  The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army.  Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by.  The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

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