sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, December 24, 2018

Looking Toward 2019 from Christmas

The stock market has been plunging, due in party to the sort of hysteria that plages that particular marketplace. Because of that, there have been people who are predicting immediate doom. I have a slightly different take. 

We enjoy freedom of speech (sorta), freedom of religion and the ability to worship or not based on our own faith. There are disturbing trends in the way people live their lives, and the tendency to worship money and goods more than God - but that's been going on since Cain slew Able. 

It all comes down to being kind, a humble and a contrite heart and following the example set by Jesus Christ on a daily basis. Even if you don't believe, it's still a good way to live your life.

I'm optimistic in the short term. Longer term predictions are more difficult.

There has been subtle pressure from the Chinese to 'school' the United States, the Federal Reserve decided to push up interest rates for the seventh time during the Trump Presidency, and the uncertain issues of America asserting itself in areas where trade has been unfair. All this has caused the endemically jittery stock market to respond in a negative way.

At the same time, things are going remarkably well in the United States. Income is up, unemployment is lower than it's been in a generation, and taxes are lower as is the cost of doing business. Yes, the deficit is worrisome, but all of the major developed nations in the first world are in worse shape than we are when it comes to borrowing. I know, cold comfort, but it is something.

The US is beginning to decouple from the role of "world's policeman" that we chose for ourselves. Yes, CNN is hysterical, but they were also apoplectic about the First Lady's choice of Christmas decorations. When everything is a 10, nothing is.

The US has the largest proven reserves of oil, oil shale, natural gas on the planet. We don't need the Middle East. Yes, I know that it's about market forces and the Saudis have the production capacity to pump more than we do. Now. But their oil will end long before ours does. Likewise, the US can feed itself easily. There is no threat to us in this hemisphere. Two oceans provide a buffer. We have not relinquished our control of Space above the planet, and soon we'll have a Space Force which will pull more of the budget in that direction.

China is the only significant global threat to the US and if we stopped all trade with them, they'd be in much worse shape than we'd be in. We have more in common with Russia and were it not for the deep state attacking President Trump on the fake news topic of collusion, we'd have been closer to them now than we are. And China fears that. Think on that for a moment if you will.

We're a bigger threat to ourselves than any outside power. We may be the only nation on the planet that can say that. 

So be joyful this Christmas Eve. Things are going well in the macro sense. You may not like the Farm Bill or you may be unhappy with the lack of progress in building the Wall, but we're ok despite all of that.

When you wake up tomorrow it will be Christmas. And that's pretty cool (or cold, depending on where you live). I'm going to crack open a craft root beer and drop a hunk of vanilla ice cream in it and toast you all. 

Merry  Christmas

Christmas Eve Thoughts

Thank You

Christmas is about observing the birth of Jesus Christ, some 2019 years ago. But it's far more than that to most of us. It's about thinking of the things and the people that matter to us. Some of those people have died, and others remain. As important as money is to our lives, it comes and goes and hearses don't have luggage racks. 

So amid the worship, the family gatherings, the nice meals and the bright decorations, I want to take a moment to thank those few of you who follow this blog. Some of you, such as Lone Star Parson, Juliette, Old NFO, DRJIM, Odie, etc. I have met in person over the years as a result of this blog and the people who visit the blog. Others, such as John D. from Norway, I've worked with or continue to work with from time to time. Most of you are known to me either from your own blogs or from the messages you leave here. This blog exists because of you. 

I use this as a sounding board, and to share thoughts from time to time and the extent to which you participate (or don't) shapes what you read here. Most of you don't share all the same politics, the same backgrounds or the same personal histories, but your opinions are welcomed and appreciated here. Disagreement (though how could you in all good conscience disagree with my slurred words?) is useful. It's constructive. It helps us to lens what's going on around us through the eyes of others, and I find that input valuable as I try to make sense of things.

So at this Christmas time, this family time, I thank you for being a part of me and a part of my family. Thank you for being people who matter to me. And thank you for sharing interesting times. Now, I'm going to go on a rant and beat a few familiar themes once again, like an old dog chewing on a shoe...because you've grown to expect it.

Interesting Times

I find the times we live in to be fascinating. Just read this summary of disgraced, former FBI Director Jim (Big Jim) Comey's testimony before Congress. I've never held the FBI in particularly high regard, but this testimony (in a nutshell) explains a level of incompetence, most, including me, find shocking.

Retrospective Review

On December 11, 2009, when this blog was still new, I wrote this:
Robert Kaplan wrote a very interesting book titled, Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos. In that book, Robert Kaplan argues that the bedrock of sound foreign policy should be "comprehensive pragmatism" rather than "utopian hopes." Kaplan calls for a reestablishment of American realpolitik, one distanced from Judeo-Christian (or private) virtue and closer to a "pagan" (public) one. He aligns himself with America's Founding Fathers, who, he says, believed good government emerged only from a "sly understanding of men's passions."
I'll let that comment stand as this blog enters its tenth year.

On Syrian Policy

I've heard a lot about President Trump's mistake in pulling US Troops from Syria. These complaints are hogwash, and I don't care who is doing the complaining, what their titles are, etcIt is time to let the locals go back to killing each with the same exuberance they’ve shown since the Ottoman yoke was lifted a hundred years ago. 

If the cynics are right and we’re still only there to protect the global oil market, then all the more reason to excise ourselves. The Turks, the Syrians, the Kurds, Iraqis, and Iranians - and the Saudis and UAE filling the vacuum left by the USA have more than enough manpower and weaponry on the ground to finish the fight. No reason for Americans to die there or to go into combat next to people who would just as soon kill Americans soldiers as their hated neighbors. It is not a question of “ultimate victory”, but of who should bear the cost in blood. It’s their fight; let them fight it.

Small Wars Rationale

There is a vocal group of Beltway insiders who pay people like Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) a lot of money to beat a drum. The current jibe is that if we don't stay in Afghanistan with at least a division of soldiers supported by USAF fixed wing assets, that we're inviting the "next 9/11". What they forget is that no Afghans participated in the attack on 9/11. They were mostly Saudis with a few Packs. Yes, bin Laden showed up there to build roads and later to meet with other bad guys. But the bad guys could have been trained anywhere including Pakistan (an American ally). You will recall that Pakistan was home to Osama bin Laden who lived down the road from the Pakistan military academy and near police headquarters when we eventually caught up with him. The claim you hear is a red herring. The military industrial complex will be denied billions of dollars we we pull out of Afghanistan. (war is a racket)