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A Tale of Two Years

It was the best of years, it was the worst of years.

To hear some folks tell it, 2017 marked a hideous cataclysm in the affairs of man.  “So long 2017, you won’t be missed,” wrote Robert Schlesinger in US News & World Report. “Little went well in 2017,” this sage confided in his threnody, “but maybe 2018 will be better.”

Mel Robbins, writing for CNN, sounded a similar note. “This year,” Robbins wrote, “I heard so many people ask, ‘Is this really happening?’” 2017 was “bizarre,” an “alternate reality.”

What happened in 2017 to mark it out as a year that will live in infamy? Dear Reader, I hope that you are sitting down. You will hardly believe the hideous truth. Quaff a bit of brandy. Have the smelling salts at hand. What was the unspeakable reality that sent almost the entire U.S. media, the academic establishment in toto, nearly all of Hollywood, and Democratic politicians from Washington state to Florida into hysterical mourning? Are you ready?  Steady on. Take a deep breath. OK, here it is.

Someone those repositories of virtue did not favor was elected president of the United States in a free, open, democratic election. Can you believe it? Their candidate lost. Even worse, the opposing candidate was elected without their permission, over their strenuous objections, unremitting ridicule, and against their hermetically sealed certitude that such a thing was impossible, impossible Kemo Sabe!

Now you know the worst. The 2016 presidential election worked as the Constitution said it was supposed to work, not the way Hollywood millionaires, Ivy-educated pundits, angry feminists, or partisan opponents wanted it to work.

There was other bad news in 2017.  On November 8, 2016, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at 18,332. “Little went well” this year, so it is no surprise that the market closed on Friday, December 23 at 24,754. In other words, the market rose 6,422 points, or 35 percent, in little over a year. I’m told that represents more than $6 trillion in shareholder value.  Horrible!

There were other terrible things in 2017. The United States, thanks in part to the exploitation of fracking technology, is now the world’s largest energy producer.  Oil prices, to the chagrin of the Middle Eastern petrostates, and to Russia, are less than half what they were just a few years ago. (That’s one way the cunning Donald Trump kowtows to Vladimir Putin, by supporting policies that enhance America’s energy production.)

“Little went well in 2017,” quoth the scion of Arthur “see-no-evil-among-the-Kennedys” Schlesinger, except that unemployment is at 4.1 percent, consumer confidence is at a 17-year high, and 1.7 million jobs have been added over the course of this annus horribilis.

“Little went well in 2017”—unless, that is, you think that GDP over 3 percent is a good thing or that cutting 16 business-strangling regulations for every one new federal regulation is something to write home about.

“Little went well in 2017,” especially when you consider that the American military, with a $100 billion increase in its budget, is modernizing and strengthening.  Meanwhile, illegal immigration is down more than 50 percent, even though Trump’s promised border wall has yet to be built.

Really to understand why Schlesinger fils could write that “little went well in 2017,” you have to understand that the tax-reform bill that Trump signed last week was “the worst bill since the Fugitive Slave Act” of 1850. Nancy Pelosi was not so cautious or understated in her assessment. The bill, according to her, is “the worst bill in the history of the United States Congress,” “Armageddon,” “the end of the world.” Former Obama functionary Larry Summers, noting that the bill repeals Obamacare’s provision that forces people to buy insurance or pay a fine, predicted that 10,000 people a year would die because of the bill. In fact, the bill, by cutting corporate taxes from 35 to 21 percent, will spur economic growth which will create jobs, which will increase America’s prosperity.  America’s middle class are the chief beneficiaries. The new plan doubles the standard deduction to $12,000—$24,000 for families—and also doubles the child tax credit from $1000 to $2000 per sprog. While the new act keeps seven individual tax categories—Trump wanted to reduce it to 4—it lowers the rate of all seven, maxing out now at 37 percent instead of 39.6 as before.  Look at your paycheck in February: you’ll see the difference.

“Little went well in 2017,” except that the United States now has an ardently pro-American president who puts the country’s interests, not the interests of the permanent bureaucracy and its media and academic echo chambers, first.

How does that work on the ground? Donald Trump, in fulfillment of a campaign promise, announces that the United States will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The United Nations goes into full snit mode. The Security Council votes against the plan, and the United States vetoes that resolution. Then the General Assembly votes to declare the plan “null and void” by a margin of 128 to 9 (with 35 abstentions).  The votes, like most things the UN does, is utterly meaningless, but Nikki Haley, our ambassador to the UN, warned that the United States would be taking note of who voted against us. The first fallout was just announced: the United States will be cutting its contribution to the UN by $285 million. “We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked,” she said.  Good for her.  Surely that’s one little thing that went well in 2017.  I expect a lot more of the same in 2018, though I don’t expect senile politicians like Nancy Pelosi or wimpy commentators like Robert Schlesinger to notice.