2017 American of the Year: Donald Trump

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It’s hard to imagine any first-year American President having to cope with partisan trials such as Donald Trump was forced to endure in office during 2017.

Trump was sworn-in back in January as the first-ever President of the United States to not previously have been an elected politician or serve in the American military ranks.

The new President was under attack from the opposition Democratic Party and liberal-slanted media outlets from day one.

On the television airwaves, networks such as CNN and MSNBC, programs like “The View”, and talk hosts led by Jimmy Kimmel continually bashed the President and his ideas and programs. While these same outlets and individuals had treated the last Republican President, George W. Bush, in much the same way, they chose to take it to a new level with Trump.

Meanwhile the Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren attacked Trump through their media friends as often as possible, and on every issue. Their hatred, and that is what it is, pure hatred, came largely due to their shock that Trump was in office at all.

They had collectively believed that their idol, the socialist-leaning Barack Obama, would be followed to the highest office in the land by Hillary Clinton. The first black POTUS to be followed by the first female President. Even more importantly to them, the liberal progressive agenda would continue on.

When it didn’t happen, the Dems and the media were legitimately shocked. They responded by lashing out in an open, obvious, childish tantrum never seen previously. It is a whining, crying, stomping feet tantrum that continues today.

Trump had established during his campaign in 2016 that he was never just going to sit back and take it from the media. He continued taking to Twitter to get out his message unfiltered. Often those messages were direct counter-attacks at the media.

The media had never experienced anything like it. They were used to controlling the message heard by the vast majority of Americans. Here was a President not only going around them to deliver his program and policy ideas, but also his personal thoughts on a wide range of issues.

Donald Trump is the first POTUS to make such aggressive use of social media to reach the masses. It has backfired on him occasionally. He has at times come across as petty and vindictive.

However, there is not doubt that he has also kept his base fired up. And there is no doubt that his Twitter account has been a major public relations and messaging tool.

Thanks to the President’s past as a businessman rather than a politician, he is beholden to far fewer special interests than normally chip away at the energy of other administrations.

His personal wealth allows him an independence of thought, speech, and action rarely seen in occupants of the Oval office. And his life experiences as a public figure for decades have left him unafraid of how he is perceived.

Because of the uniqueness of the man, he has won the year by successfully labeling as “fake news” that old school media. That the moniker has stuck is largely their own fault.

The media has often gotten away from its reporting responsibilities to actually become a second form of opposition. So instead of simply battling Democrats, the President has to battle an ego-shattered media.

However, defeating a biased media that has largely abandoned any expectations of impartiality in reporting is not the reason that he has been selected as the 2017 American of the Year. That’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but it’s really a minor factor.

There have been a series of big victories during this first year for President Trump that have led to his selection for the honor. In many ways, his has been one of the most effective freshman season’s in POTUS history. Let’s examine this substantive list of accomplishments.

We’ll begin from the end: the President was a pivotal voice in getting tax reform done for the first time in more than three decades. As Sarah Westwood and Gabby Morrongiello at the Washington Examiner stated: 

“In addition to slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, the landmark legislation cut individual rates for all income tax levels, doubled the child tax credit to $2,000, and dramatically increased the standard deduction.”

President Trump also began to change the face of the American judiciary, consistently and insistently pushing the courts toward the right with his nominations and appointments. This was led by the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, an originalist in the mold of his friend and idol, the late Antonin Scalia, to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The appointment of Justice Gorsuch, a dozen judges to the federal appeals courts, as well as a host of lower court appointments made and to come, will be a legacy that will positively effect the nation for decades after he leaves office. And again, that’s only year one.

All year long, Trump signed executive orders rolling back Obama-era regulations which had handcuffed the American economy. He had promised during the campaign to cut two regulations for any new regulation put in place. Here at year’s end, the administration has announced that it has saved billions by actually slicing 22 regulations for each new one.

Trump pushed for the FCC to end so-called “net neutrality”, withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate deal and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and set aside policies aimed at normalizing relations with the dictatorial Cuban regime.

These were all in keeping with another of Trump’s campaign pledges: “America first.” Those Obama-era programs, policies, and deals were not good for America. We were always being asked to carry the burden for the rest of a world that often seems disinterested in changing to help themselves.

President Trump showed the leadership spine necessary to call out the international community, as well as to once again set free the vital communications and information services of the Internet.

In perhaps his boldest statement to that international community, the President finally did what numerous predecessors had promised but fell short in having the courage to actually deliver. I’m talking here about his public recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In his statement announcing the move, the President also let it be known that he planned to have the United States embassy in Israel moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:

“In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act, urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that city — and so importantly — is Israel’s capital.  This act passed Congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago. Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.”

Key themes during his campaign were tougher immigration policy, increased border security, and more aggressive action against criminal illegal immigrants. Check, check, and check.

President Trump immediately removed the handcuffs which had been placed on ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) by Obama. As reported by Avery Anapol at The Hill, this was made plain in a statement made by ICE director Thomas Homan in early December:

“This president has done more for border security and public safety than any of the six presidents I’ve worked for. Just since his leadership in January, border crossings are at a 45-year low. Now that’s not a coincidence. That’s because this president has let the men and women of Border Patrol and ICE do their job.”

The goal of radical Islam is nothing less than the establishment of a worldwide caliphate under Sharia law spread through jihad in its various forms. The U.S. military virtually dismantled ISIL (also known as ISIS) this year, largely thanks to greater freedom provided through President Trump’s leadership.

All year long, the President battled liberal judges on the federal bench over the issue of a travel ban aimed at restricting traffic into the U.S. from a number of Muslim-majority nations. Despite the best efforts of these jurists, a version of Trump’s ban is now in place. Per Mark Sherman of the AP through Fox News, the ban “applies to travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

The President formed a lasting, positive relationship with a number of foreign leaders during the year. However, he also battled it out with a number as well, none more publicly and menacingly than North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

In the administration’s list of foreign policy achievements for 2017, the actions against the North Koreans are front and center. They include designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, banning more than 90% of that country’s exports, and encouraging other nations to join with tougher actions, especially China. 

During his first year in office, the President visited the Middle East and Europe, met with the Pope in Vatican City, and undertook the longest trip to Asia by any POTUS in the last quarter century.

Through his own statements and those of his appointed U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the President made it known that America would always act in its own self interests first.

The President is still fighting to get a full, secure wall built along the U.S. southern border with Mexico. But not waiting, his unleashing of the Border Patrol has resulted in the fewest attempted illegal crossings in decades. His newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, let it be known that going after the violent MS-13 gang was a top priority.

President Trump has delivered on many of his promises already, and it was only the first of at least four years. Shackles have been removed from both the economy and homeland security that will benefit all Americans. The courts are gradually returning to the Constitution. The world is learning that “America first” is real, not just a campaign slogan.

The President has accomplished all of these things with absolutely no help from that opposition Democratic Party. He has accomplished them despite mischaracterization and at times outright character assassination from leftist media. 

For his accomplishments on behalf of the United States of America this year, President Donald J. Trump is selected as our 2017 American of the Year.

The following are the previous 11 honorees (there was no selection in 2014 or 2015 due to a temporary change in direction by the website):

2004 – Pat Tillman, 2005 – Bill O’Reilly, 2006 – Rev. Billy Graham, 2007 – P/O Chuck Cassidy, 2008 – President George W. Bush, 2009 – Glenn Beck, 2010 – Senator Ron Paul, 2011 – U.S. Navy Seal Team 6, 2012 – Michael Phelps, 2013 – Senator Ted Cruz, 2016 – Kellyanne Conway

Articles written on these prior honorees can be viewed simply by clicking on the “American of the Year” tag following this article.

2017: Year in Review

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The year 2017 is about to slip fully into the annals of history, and what a truly historic year it was. For good and bad, the news headlines were dominated by one man. But there was still plenty more to make this past year memorable.

On January 20, Donald J. Trump was sworn-in as the 45th President of the United States. Trump, a New York City businessman, thus became the first person to ever hold the highest office of the land without having served previously in the political arena or the U.S. military.

Trump’s wife, the former Melania Knauss, became just the second First Lady born outside of the United States and the first-ever naturalized U.S. citizen to take on that role.

Mike Pence, the former Governor of Indiana, was sworn-in as Trump’s Vice-President. He would provide a stable, measured, traditional balance to Trump’s bombastic style in office.

Much as he had in winning the Republican primaries and then the general election, Trump rallied support for his initiatives through the use of social media. The use of his Twitter account produced some notable gaffes, but also galvanized his loyal followers.

The President and those in his administration pushing out his first-year agenda would run into a number of roadblocks, most publicly from the Democratic Party and from liberal court jurists. However there were a number of big victories for the freshman POTUS.

Neil Gorsuch was nominated and confirmed, putting a jurist with a conservative record on the Supreme Court of the United States. Trump utilized the power of his office to roll back numerous Obama-era regulations, as well as some on Cuba.

It was Trump leadership that led to FCC repeal of so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules. The President pulled the United States out of both the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate deal. Under his direction, ICE had its most active year ever in combating illegal immigration, and the Border Patrol has similarly had a banner year in stopping illegal border crossings.

And as Christmas approached, the leadership of the President was key in getting tax reform done for the first time in decades. The act to reduce and reform taxation in the country would also eliminate the Obamacare individual mandate, basically killing that program. In addition, it opened up areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, creating more economic opportunity for the nation.

On the day following the inauguration, millions took to the streets in the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. Though it was known as the “Women’s March”, it was actually anti-Trump, with American leftists rallying against the new president’s stated campaign goals.

On February 11, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the Sea of Japan. This began a year-long war of words and military posturing between Trump and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un.

March 29 saw more major international news when the United Kingdom began Brexit negotiations aimed at withdrawing Britain from the European Union.

On April 13, the U.S. military dropped MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) on ISIL (also known as ISIS) troops in Afghanistan. This was the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used, and resulted in the deaths of 94 militants along with four commanders.

By years-end, the U.S. military, loosed by President Trump from reigns imposed under his predecessor, had virtually destroyed ISIL. On the last day of the Barack Obama administration, some 35,000 ISIL troops controlled 17,500 square miles in Afghanistan. Today there are only about 1,000 fighters left controlling some 1,900 square miles.

Mass casualty violence reared its ugly head at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England on May 22. Islamic terrorists set off a homemade bomb, killing 22 people and injury over 500 others.

Tensions with North Korea heightened even further on June 12 when an American student, Otto Warmbier, was returned home following a year and a half imprisonment there. In January of 2016, Warmbier had been accused of attempting to steal a political propaganda poster from the hotel room where he was staying as a tourist.

On his return, Warmbier was in a coma and found to have suffered severe neurological damage. He never regained consciousness, and died on June 19. It is believed that at least three U.S. citizens are still being held in North Korea.

On July 4, both Russia and China urged the North Koreans to halt development of their missile and nuclear weapons programs. Then on August 5, the United Nations hit North Korea with sanctions on trade and investment.

These developments came after North Korea successfully tested its first ICBM. Not to be dissuaded, the North Koreans would conduct their most powerful nuclear test to date on September 3. It is now estimated that their missiles are capable of hitting targets anywhere in the United States.

Cyberattacks became a late-spring, early-summer phenomenon. On May 12, computers around the world were hit with ransomware cyberattack. Then on June 27, the Ukraine suffered from a series of cyberattacks.

News was made in the heavens on August 21 as The Great American Eclipse took place. Passing from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts, the total solar eclipse was the first in the United States since 1979.

On September 13 it was learned that the Summer Olympics would be coming back to the United States. The city of Los Angeles, California was awarded the 2028 Games, with Paris awarded the rights to the 2024 Olympics.

In between those two feel-good happenings, Hurricane Harvey brought death and destruction as a Cat4 storm. There was tremendous loss in the Houston, Texas area as the storm lingered for nearly a week. With just under $200 billion in damages, it was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. There were at least 90 deaths reported from the storm.

Mother Nature wasn’t done with the Americas yet. One week after Harvey moved out, Hurricane Irma slammed through the Caribbean and struck the United States at Florida. The storm caused at least 134 deaths and $63 billion in damages.

And there was still more of nature’s wrath to come this year. A pair of earthquakes struck Mexico in September, with a 7.1 quake striking on September 19. There were more than 350 deaths and 6,000 injuries as a result.

Puerto Rico and Dominica took major hits from Hurricane Maria on September 19-20. There were at least 94 deaths and over $103 billion in damages. The islands are still trying to recover now, more than three months later.

Death did not take a holiday in October. In fact, the month began with the deadliest mass shooting ever perpetrated by a lone gunman in American history. As the Route 91 music festival was taking place in Las Vegas, Stephen Paddock opened fire from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel overlooking the festival. His attack left 58 dead to date, with 546 injured.

On November 15 the art world was rocked when an original painting titled ‘Salvator Muti’ (Savior of the World) purported to be by Leonardo da Vinci himself went for $450 million during an auction at Christie’s in New York. The price was the most ever paid for any work of art.

On December 5, Russia was banned from the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, scheduled to be held in South Korea during February. The Russians were banned following an IOC investigation into state-sponsored drug doping of athletes.

A day later, President Trump kept a campaign promise when he formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This was something that the U.S. Congress had called for, and that a number of previous American presidents had pledged. Trump was the first to back up his words with actions, standing up for the United States’ greatest ally in the Middle East.

In one of the largest entertainment media deals in history, the Walt Disney Corporation announced on December 14 that they were acquiring 21st Century Fox for $66 billion dollars.

As December was winding down, the Thomas Fire in southern California was finally, mercifully being brought under control. Lasting nearly the entire month, it was the largest such fire in California history, burning away nearly 282,000 acres, or 440 square miles. It destroyed more than 1,000 structures, damaged hundreds more.

The fire caused $177 billion in damages, and forced more than 100,000 residents to flee their homes. At the peak, there were more than 8,500 firefighters battling the blaze in various locations. Miraculously, but still tragically, just one firefighter and one civilian were killed.

We had to say goodbye to a number of celebrities and public figures known to many Americans during this past year. Those who have died in 2017 (with still a few days to go) include the following: Hugh Hefner, Mary Tyler Moore, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lewis, Glen Campbell, Tom Petty, Fats Domino, Don Rickles, Roger Moore, David Cassidy, Erin Moran, Jim Nabors, Bill Paxton, Al Jarreau, Gregg Allman, Chester Bennington, Walter Becker, Prodigy, Adam West, Miguel Ferrer, John Hurt, John Heard, Powers Boothe, Sam Shepard, Mel Tillis, Chris Cornell, Malcolm Young, Della Reese, Dick Gregory, Jana Novotna, Monty Hall, Mike Connors, Robert GuillaumeBarbara Hale, Frank Vincent, Martin Landau, Glenne Headley, Jay Thomas, Stephen Furst, Richard Hatch, Judge Joseph Wapner, Richard Anderson, John Hillerman, Jake LaMotta, Bobby Heenan, Terry Glenn, Bobby Doerr, David Rockefeller, George Romero, Jonathan Demme, William Peter Blatty, Dina Merrill, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Helmut Kohl, and Manuel Noriega. Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, also died this past year.

I’m from Philly, and a huge baseball fan. My hometown Philadelphia Phillies baseball franchise lost three of their historic figures this past year: Hall of Famer and former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning, pitcher Roy Halladay, and catcher Darren Daulton.



As you can see, 2017 was a momentous year. I began my look back at the year yesterday in a piece on yet another loss, my biggest personal loss with the death of my father, Matthew J. Veasey Jr.

I’ll conclude this year at my blog in the next day or two with the annual naming of the 2017 American of the Year. Last year’s honoree was perhaps the key architect of the historic Trump campaign victory, Kellyanne Conway. She was also the first-ever female winner of the honors. Who will it be for this past year? Stay tuned right here to find out.

 

2017: the year that I lost my Dad – but in the end, not really

Mike, our Dad, and myself in the late 1960’s

The calendar is about to flip not only to the end of a month, but also to the end of another year. The end of December causes most of us to take a glance back at the events of the past year. As usual, this one was filled with many good times

But the calendar year of 2017 was a year of goodbyes for me as well. The biggest goodbye of all was one of the hardest of my life. This was the year that I had to say goodbye to my Dad.

I’m sure that many of you can say something similar to this regarding your own fathers. My Dad, Matthew Joseph Veasey Jr, was my hero. He was also very much a role model and inspiration. But it wasn’t always that way.

Many of the memories that I hold from childhood and my teenage years regarding my relationship with my Dad are way too personal to share publicly. The specifics of those memories belong kept between he and I, and a few close family members.

Suffice it to say that I was the test case for challenging my Dad. I have a younger brother, Mike, and I’m fairly certain from conversations that we all had in later years that he would back me up on that fact.

I grew through my teen years and tried to spread my wings away from the control of this tough-guy U.S. Marine and Philadelphia Police boss. It didn’t always go smoothly.

But through those difficult years we learned a greater respect for one another. And the fact that I had already softened him up made things a little easier on my brother coming up right behind me. You’re welcome, Bro.

As I said, my Dad was a Philly cop, rising through the ranks to retire as a Captain after three decades of service to the community. I took the test at the age of just 18 as well, and passed through all of the preliminaries. Unfortunately for me, this was the one time in the last half-century that the PPD was going through actual layoffs and not hiring anyone new.

Despite taking that test and my father’s career choice, I never had some overwhelming urge to become a police officer myself during my 20’s. After that early test, I never even considered that line of work.

Dad (L) with Mike & I and our families, summer 1993

I began to draw closer to my Dad during the decade of the 1980’s. He got much more political in his 40’s, and recruited me to help out with those efforts. This involved volunteer work on a couple of Philly mayoral races, and his move into the presidency of the Philadelphia Emerald Society, a local Irish organization.

Conversations that we had during those years definitely can be given credit for at least planting seeds of change in me. I was a liberal Democrat to that point in life. He had become much more conservative.

While I disagreed with many of his positions in our discussions, which at times bordered on arguments, he forced me to think and to defend my own thought process.

Over time, I would challenge myself in my worldview, leading to more open-minded self-education on my part. This ultimately led to a wholesale change that was much more in line with his thinking.

I made him a grandfather twice over in those 1980’s, and at a young age. This allowed him to enjoy decades with his granddaughters, who he loved unconditionally. He wanted to be called “Grandfather” by them, because he felt it was more regal. Though we busted his chops on that choice of title over the years, the girls embraced it and him, returning his love completely.

That ‘busting chops’ aspect would become a staple of conversations involving him, my brother, and I during the 1990’s. Over the last three decades of his life, those little dining table discussions among the three of us will always remain some of my own life’s favorite moments.

Following his retirement in late 1989, our Dad moved down to Florida. He would spend the last quarter-century of his life there, but returned to the Philly area for regular visits. Even though we all eventually gained a greater ability to stay in close touch via access to the Internet and cell phones, he stated “I need hugs”, and would make his way up to Philly for a visit.

As he was retiring, I had decided to take another shot at the Philly police test myself. At age 28, I aced the test and was in the Police Academy by April 1990. My brother had already done the same a year ahead of me.

Dad, with myself and Mike at my Police Academy graduation 1990

I know for a fact that nothing ever made our Dad prouder than having both of his boys serving as police officers. He loved passing along advice in the early years of our careers, and then just listening to our own ‘war stories’ as those careers unfolded. We both advanced to supervisory positions, which only made him prouder. And of course, that shared experience in uniform only drew us closer.

His last visit north had come in the early summer of 2016. Then at Christmas a year ago, our Dad began to experience symptoms from the rare form of lung cancer that would eventually take his life. He struggled all through 2017, back and forth to various doctors, in and out of hospitals.

Mike and I finally flew down to Florida to visit him in mid-August. Dad had been in the hospital for two weeks that time, and we were both feeling serious apprehension.

We got to visit with him on a Saturday, spending much of the day together. Though it was in a hospital room with Dad obviously laboring to breathe rather than sitting around a dining room table, he was still as feisty of spirit as ever.

At that point, he was still holding out hope. He knew that he was battling a terminal condition. But there were tests results still to come. His hope was that he could be stabilized, go home, and begin some form of treatment that would give him a few months, if not a couple more years.

It wasn’t to be. He did return home with his loving wife Vicki just a couple of days later, but it was to hospice care. There was nothing more the doctors could do. He died the next weekend.

Unlike when our Mom passed away suddenly back in 1998 at just age 58, I was much more emotionally and spiritually prepared for this one. But it was still a gut punch. I let my tears out just once, with my wife Debbie.

Taking part in his funeral services down in Florida and back up here in Philly was cathartic. I was honored by Mike in allowing me to speak on our behalf at both ceremonies. Both church communities were fantastic. Here in Philly, both the USMC and the PPD presented him with honors. Dad would have been moved and proud.

Dad’s USMC flag presentation and PPD Honor Guard gun salute in Philadelphia

‘Matthew J’ was a tough guy, but he was always an emotional man. Life threw difficult challenges his way as a child, as a young father, as a veteran police boss, and as an older man. He fought his way through all of them with tenacity, a refusal to back down or surrender that would be a lesson that absolutely wore off on me.

On one of his visits north just a few years back, I went along with him to the cemetery outside of Philly where much of his family was buried. This included a visit to the graves of his mother and father, some aunts and uncles, and our brother Joseph, who was stillborn in December 1960.

He also did some preliminary genealogy research on his family tree back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the results of which he turned over to me. This spurred me on to include my Mom’s side of the family, and take much of those tree branches back some four and five generations.

Those things mattered to my Dad: family history and memories. As long as he was alive, the people who mattered to him during his life were still alive. They were alive in him, in his photos and stories and memories.

One thing that I’ve found over these last few months without him, going through “firsts” such as my first birthday and Christmas without him, was that his feelings on the importance of preserving family memories really are important.

You see, what I’ve (strangely to me) found is that I “feel” him now more than I ever did when he was alive. Maybe that was because I took for granted during his life that he was out there. That he would be back up to Philly for a visit in a few months. That I could pick up the phone and talk to him any time.

Our last picture together in June 2016

Now, he seems to be constantly with me. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. Very few hours pass in a day that I don’t hear his voice in my head. It’s not a bad thing, or a sad thing, or a somber thing in any way. It’s a good feeling.

So what I’ve found is that, while I absolutely miss him terribly, he is still with me. He is always going to be with me. Death didn’t take him away. I see and hear him constantly.

And one more thing. He was a man of faith, something that was always with him, but that developed more fully later in life.

That aspect of faith, a knowledge of the truth of Jesus Christ and of God’s love, is another lesson learned by watching my hero. It may be the most important lesson that he ever passed along, in fact.

And because of this one, I know for a fact that one day I will again see my Dad. When I get to wrap my arms around him for one of his hugs again, what a great day that will be.

While 2017 is always going to be remembered by me as the year that my Dad died, I won’t really ever have to think of it as the year that I “lost” him.

Matthew J. Veasey Jr is not lost. He’s not even gone. He’s right here with me now. I would venture to guess that the same goes for any of you reading this now who knew him. It will remain that way for at least as long as any of us remain alive.

Why Democrats don’t want you to have nice things

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The Republican Party-controlled United States Congress led by Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky passed historic tax reform legislation this week. This tax relief will lower the tax burden for nearly every American individual and business.

The Tax Policy Center is a nonpartisan joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. They are an organization made up of nationally recognized experts in tax, budget, and social policy who have served at the highest levels of government.

Howard Gleckman at TPC had this to say about the changes:

“About 80 percent of households would get a tax cut while about 5 percent would pay more in 2018 (the rest would pay roughly the same as under current law). Among middle-income households, about 90 percent would pay less and 7 percent would pay more.”

So then why would every single Democratic member of Congress, Senators and U.S. Congresspersons led by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, vote against the legislation? Why would not one single Democrat want middle-class workers and families to keep more of their own hard-earned money?

The answer is simple: control. It is the answer to the same question asked in the headline accompanying this piece. That answer lies in the fundamental difference between today’s American conservatives, found mostly in the Republican Party, and Democratic Party liberal progressives.

Conservatives – and trust me, not all Republicans are true conservatives – want you to keep more of your own money and power. They desire more familial, local, and state control over your finances and your personal lives.

As Republican ad-maker Brad Todd put it per James Hohmann at The Washington PostGod created Republicans to cut taxes. Big bills are always complicated, but in time the truth comes out when something costs them (the American people) more or less money.

Liberal progressives want greater state control. The lib-progs believe themselves to be fundamentally more capable than you to make decisions regarding how your money is spent, what your children are taught, and in fact, what you as an individual should think and feel.

Liberal progressives want businesses taxed and regulated so as to have more control over their product output and direction, regardless of the impact on the economy or society. With taxes lowered and regulations loosened on businesses, the worn and tired lib-prog talking point of Republicans “helping only the wealthy and corporations” is once again foisted on the gullible.

The liberal progressives have taken control of the Democratic Party over the last century. Today they are moving ever leftward, marching towards outright Socialism as publicly proclaimed by one of their most popular leaders, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

(Milton Friedman on capitalism over socialism)

Why don’t publicly proclaimed socialist Democrats such as Senator Sanders want businesses to receive even greater tax and regulatory relief? Why are even supposed “mainstream” Democrats voting against tax relief for middle-class Americans workers and families?

Dems don’t want business to receive such relief because it will mean profits will increase. Profits increasing will result in business expansion and hiring. It will result in job creation and technological innovation. Middle-class tax relief will mean more real money in the pockets of the average American individual and family.

Those are nice things, but not for Democratic Party pols. That’s because they have come out publicly in opposition to the tax cuts and regulatory relief. Republicans will get credit for an increase in American wealth at all levels, resulting in election wins and less power for Democrats.

And there it is, the answer to why the Democrats don’t want you to have nice things. Control. The Republicans, led by President Donald Trump, are giving Americans the Christmas gift of tax relief. It is a gift that returns a measure of control to all of us. It is a gift that has been decades coming, and one that will keep on giving well into the future.

 

Carlos Santana: bad signing by the Philadelphia Phillies

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The Philadelphia Phillies agreed to terms with veteran free agent first baseman Carlos Santana this past week.

Per a report from Phillies insider Jim Salisbury on December 15, the formal signing will take place pending the results of a physical exam.

This was a wholly unnecessary signing, and I believe that in the end it will prove to have been a waste of $60 million dollars.

The Phillies are mostly a young team. They are finishing up a rebuilding program that has seen major changes within the organization over the last few years. Now the club is trying to find a few more talented veteran pieces that will help their young nucleus move forward in the standings.

Santana (Twitter: @TheRealSlamtana) would appear to fit the bill in a handful of ways. He will turn 32 years old by the first week of April. He has seven full years of big league experience. Santana certainly fits the “veteran” bill.

He also fits in a couple of other ways. The Phillies could use a bit more power and patience in their batting order. Santana has averaged 24 home runs over those seven full seasons, which were all spent with the Cleveland Indians in the American League. His career .365 on-base percentage demonstrates plate discipline that is generally lacking with the Phillies lineup.

Defensively, while Santana will never be an NL Gold Glove Award winner, he does field the position well. His 6.7 rating on the SABR Defensive Index led the American League, and ranked fifth among all MLB first basemen.

Bleacher Report ranked Santana at #12 in their Top 25 First Basemen of 2017 list. Their Zachary Rymer stated the following:

 “Swing-wise, Santana was once again one of the most extreme pull hitters in MLB. This made him vulnerable against shifts, but his pickiness allowed for consistent contact and his strength and solid loft allowed for relatively easy power.”

Santana is a veteran who hits home runs, gets on base, and fields his position well. So what’s not to like?

First would be his age, and the contract. As previously stated, Santana turns 32 years old at the start of the season. The Phillies have reportedly offered him a three-year, $60 million deal with a team option for a fourth year. The contract commits the team to him at least through his age 34 season, and makes him one of the top 50 highest paid players in baseball history based on average annual value.

That 24 homers per year? It’s just an average, one that is propped up by a 34 homer campaign in 2016. He has never otherwise approached that number. He also has a pair of 27 homer seasons upping that average. Those two seasons came four and seven years ago, respectively.

Santana is not an elite middle-of-the-order offensive performer, but he will be paid like one. He has just a career .249 batting average, and has failed to reach the .260 mark in six of those seven full seasons. He has averaged just 80 RBI per full season. That’s not bad at all, but nothing special for a 3-4-5 hitter in your lineup.

From what I have seen in my 47 years following Phillies baseball, Carlos Santana does not appear to be the kind of player who is going to sell tickets and merchandise. There will not be a boatload of Santana shirseys and jerseys flying off the Majestic Clubhouse store shelves. This is not another Jim Thome signing. Not even close.

The Phillies are paying $20 million per year for the next three years (at least) for a guy who has received MVP votes just once. A realistic best-case season for Santana would be a .250 batting average with 20-25 homers and 80 RBI.

Finally, the Phillies already had a strong first baseman who appeared set there for years to come. Rhys Hoskins banged 18 homers, drove in 48 runs, scored 47 times, and had a .396 on-base percentage in less than half the number of plate appearances as Santana was given.

Hoskins only turns 25 years old during spring training in March. He is not arbitration eligible for another three years, and cannot become a free agent until after the 2024 season. He is clearly a big part of the Phillies future.

Also, Hoskins is a first baseman, not a left fielder. He can passably play left field, sure. If the Phillies could stick Greg Luzinski, Pete Incaviglia, and Pat Burrell out there and win pennants, then they can probably do the same with Hoskins.

But Hoskins best position is first base, he was already there, and the team has not upgraded that position with the Santana signing. For me, and many others, defense is a key component in winning championships. Hoskins in left field weakens the overall defense.

The Phillies should have entered 2018 with Hoskins as their first baseman. If they wanted to spend big money, they should have done it on the mound or elsewhere. If there was nothing available elsewhere, then should have saved their money for another opportunity, either at the trade deadline or next off-season.

There is an argument being made in some circles that this will free up the Phillies to deal one of their other corner outfielders for that much-needed starting pitching. Really? Who would that be? Who is going to give you a valuable starting pitcher in exchange for Aaron Altherr or Nick Williams? Really.

I am not saying that Altherr and Williams are not good players. Both are good outfielders and solid hitters. But neither is a difference maker for another lineup. Neither seems the type to get another club to come up off a legitimate starting pitcher.

To me, the Phillies would have been better off keeping what they had and letting them play in the 2018 season. Keep Hoskins at first base, let Altherr and Williams play full-time on the outfield corners. Largely with that configuration, the Phillies went 23-19 after mid-August in 2017.

Pocket that $20 million until a chance came to add a Manny Machado or a Bryce Harper, or a big pitcher. Maybe a couple of those. Sure, it will take more than $20 million for those guys. So apply the $20 million towards that cost.

The Phillies MLB insider, Todd Zolecki, speculated that the Phillies may be hoping for a run at .500 with the Santana signing. That would make them more attractive next off-season for big free agents like Harper or Machado.

For me, the Phillies lineup without Santana was ready to make such a run. Standing pat would have kept $20 million in the bank that would have been better spent elsewhere.

I get the sense that the Phillies spent money here simply because they had it to spend, and didn’t want to be accused of once again doing little or nothing to improve the club. They saw a move that they could justify, and made the best deal that they could.

The Phillies picked up a couple of nice right-handed bullpen pieces in Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter. They also made a move that I have been hoping for, trading away the over-rated Freddy Galvis to open up shortstop for J.P. Crawford. Those moves, I can get behind.

But the Phillies did not sign a 27-year old Carlos Santana, one who was going to be with them for the next half-dozen years as they became a consistent contender while he played in his prime. They are paying a lot of money for a good, not great, player who will be on the back end of his career.

Had they signed Santana for one year, I could have accepted it. Maybe even one with a mutual option, with less guaranteed per year. But three years and $60 million for a 32-year old player at a position that was already covered? If finalized, this will prove to be a bad signing by the Philadelphia Phillies.