Friday, April 14, 2017

In case my last post...

...was just a little too pessimistic, allow me to give you another view: Everything will be all right.

How do I know that? Well, I don't. But consider the stock market since President Trump was elected. (There I go again, writing "President Trump.") I've been as bearish as anyone since November (and actually sold some stocks for the first time in my life) but have been proven as wrong as all those bond market bears were for eight years under President Obama. I still think I'm right -- kinda, sorta -- and I bet there will be a minor freak-out when the Dow dips below 20,000 in the not-too-distant future (probably a big, fat buying opportunity though), but the message the stock market has been sending (loud and clear) to anyone who will listen is: Pay no attention to that jackass in the White House; the economy is bigger than any one person. And that's probably true.

What else? Well, let's see. How about this? The president is incompetent. Why should that reassure you? Because even if the American public were on board with the Republican Congress (which they most certainly are not), Trump couldn't get anything passed anyway. He's really a walking, talking argument for the value of experience. (Pssst: This is why you should always call a plumber when you have a problem with your plumbing.) And as for Paul Ryan and the rest of the Ayn Rand fanatics in Congress, remember: Trump was elected because he promised more, not less, socialism. You know, universal health care and no cuts, er, "reforms," to Social Security and Medicare. No one likes to think they get stuff from the government, but they do. (Whaddaya know? Turns out people don't want to repeal Obamacare after all. I guess they like health insurance. Who woulda thunk it?)

What about the Supreme Court? Well, I'll grant you I was pretty irritated (still am) by the whole Merrick Garland - Neil Gorsuch thing, but I have to let you in on a dirty little secret: the Supreme Court follows public opinion. (It's not the other way around.) Come on, did you really think there was a "right" to gay marriage in the Constitution? No; but public opinion shifted so dramatically in recent years that -- voila! -- the Supremes found one in the fine print. What about Roe v. Wade? Won't the Court overturn it now? I don't think so. First of all, the "right" to abortion has consistently polled well over the years. Its opponents, like those of Obamacare these last seven years, are just more vocal and better organized. But, you watch: if it comes down to it even someone like Neil Gorsuch will vote in favor of keeping at least some abortion legal. Remember John Roberts and Obamacare? He could have struck it down easily but probably thought to himself one morning while shaving: "You know what? The ACA passed by a supermajority in both houses of Congress and was signed into law by the president of the United States. I'm not gonna overturn that. Hey, lookee there! I found something in the Constitution that supports universal health care. How about that!"

Now, I know what you're thinking: That's all well and good, but what about foreign policy? What if there's a crisis involving Syria, Iran or North Korea? And I'll grant you that's a legitimate concern. But I have a pretty good feeling that Trump, Rex Tillerson and Jared Kushner will all defer to cooler heads like Mike Pompeo, H. R. McMaster, John Kelly and James “Mad Dog” Mattis on the subject. (Oh, I can't resist: did you ever think one of the most responsible people in a president's cabinet would be nicknamed "Mad Dog"?) While I'm usually a big believer in civilian control over the armed forces, this is one time I'd rather have the generals in charge.

So, to summarize: the economy will continue to chug along just fine, thank you very much; no goofy right-wing legislation will be passed in the next four or eight years; and the Supreme Court will magically find ways to reaffirm what we all want anyway. And, even if we blunder our way into another Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq we'll survive it somehow. If there wasn't a nuclear exchange during the Cuban missile crisis there won't be one now. Even a goof like Kim Jong-un will back down in the face of Mutual Assured Destruction. (Funny how that works.)

Now, for the pessimistic part: Trump is the odds-on favorite to win reelection in 2020 (if he decides to run again at age 74). So no one, Democrats or never-Trump Republicans (are there any besides Evan McMullin?), should get complacent -- it's nearly always the incumbent's to lose. Remember that.

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