It’s been a very long time since I’ve gone into a new year with hope from a political perspective… 16 years to be exact. The last time I expected good things to come out of Washington DC was 2001. Those dreams were crushed in part by a Bush administration that started off slowly. Then, 9/11 happened and all of the rules changed. Talk of war, loss of privacy, actual war, more government overreach, concern over a “President” John Kerry, a bad economy, and then the coup de grace of electing Barack Obama made the last 15 New Years politically concerning at best and absolutely abysmal recently.

Before I go into the things that I believe are very possible in 2017 that should give us all hope for a bright year, it’s important to understand what concerns me about it. The GOP has been marginally better than the Democrats over the last two decades and they squandered their majorities in both chambers of Congress the last two years. To add to my skepticism, I’ve never been excited about Donald Trump. That’s not to say that I wish Hillary Clinton won (God forbid!), but I was against him in the primaries and unimpressed through the general election. I still have major concerns, but three things supersede those concerns. First, I support many of his plans, particularly securing the border and renewing our relationship with Israel. Second, many of his cabinet picks have been impressive. Third, Mike Pence may be running more of the show than most previous Vice Presidents.

In short, Trump has a clean slate in my books. As long as he performs near the lofty expectations we all have for him, I will be the first to admit I was wrong. Until then, I will pray that I was wrong about him and hope for the best.

With those disclaimers out of the way, let’s look at the seven things Washington DC can do in 2017 that can truly make this the best year in a long, long time for America.

Immediately start addressing illegal immigration

You’ll notice that I didn’t say, “start building the wall.” Before anyone gets too uppity, we have to address this particular issue prudently. The wall will take a long time to build, to which most will say, “all the more reason to get started.” This is a massive project that must be done properly. More importantly, there are measures that we must take to prevent the blitzkrieg of border crossers that has already begun since Trump won.

Border security can be increased dramatically in weeks. By taking this first step, we will be able to then start building the wall. It’s imperative that we send a very clear message to those wanting to cross the Mexican border that we have men with guns waiting to apprehend them and send them back. If we start with the wall, we’ll only encourage them to rush to cross the border more quickly.

If the wall gets started in 2017, great! If it has to wait until next year, so be it. This is too important to rush, especially when tripling or quadrupling the manpower and resources at the border will be more effective in the short term.

Repeal Obamacare without compromise or delay

Kill this abomination. That doesn’t mean rush it, but a motivated Congress can analyze the situation and come up with a plan that will mitigate the damage of a repeal. However, that doesn’t mean that we should delay and it definitely doesn’t mean that we should embrace portions of it as Trump has suggested. Kill it all the way. Replace it with something better that doesn’t included taxes, penalties, or removal of choices. Allowing interstate commerce of insurance would go a long way towards making sure we get rid of it quickly with minimal damage.

Move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

As I noted in another article:

When the most powerful nation in the world takes a step that they’ve never taken before by embracing the Jewish nation’s right to the capital of their ancestors, the place where King David ruled 1600 years before Islam was even formed, it will change the way the world has to deal with both Israel and America. Instantly, we’re put back into a position of strength that we haven’t seen in eight years.When the most powerful nation in the world takes a step that they’ve never taken before by embracing the Jewish nation’s right to the capital of their ancestors, the place where King David ruled 1600 years before Islam was even formed, it will change the way the world has to deal with both Israel and America. Instantly, we’re put back into a position of strength that we haven’t seen in eight years.

If Trump does this one thing in 2017, I’ll consider myself fully chastised for not supporting him before.

Take a conservative approach to trade

I get it. “America first.” It’s hard to argue with those who believe that exporting jobs is caused by poor trade policies because that’s the line of thinking the GOP has taken. In reality, free trade is by far more beneficial to the U.S. economy as well as workers than fair trade. What people must understand is that jobs will be lost over tariffs or forced domestication. It’s basic economics. If companies are forced to pay more for American workers, they have three options: cut profits, cut jobs, or raise prices. As Carrier demonstrated, they allowed Trump to “save” jobs for now, but are now forced to replace those jobs in the near future.

The two biggest reasons we lose jobs overseas is innovation and incredibly bad economic conditions for business operating in the United States. The first reason, innovation, is going to happen regardless of trade policy. Science, technology, and an ever-changing style of consumer demand means we’ll always watch some jobs change. That means that old jobs are lost and new jobs are created as a result. As for poor conditions for businesses, a conservative approach to the free market economy and free trade will enable American businesses to stay in America. They’re not just driven out by higher domestic wages. Higher wagers are often a net wash with overseas wages when shipping and logistical costs are included. It’s the tax and regulatory systems that drives businesses away. Kill the unnecessary regulations, reduce the taxes, and you’ll find more companies flying their patriotic flags high and proud.

Come up with a trillion dollar infrastructure plan that doesn’t cost a trillion dollars

We have infrastructure problems. Unlike many conservatives in my circles, I’m willing to acknowledge that the problem is as big as Trump paints it to be. However, with a national debt nearing $20 trillion and a budget deficit that could hit a trillion dollars in less than two years, adding another trillion dollar program is insane.

Trump’s team has been relatively obscure with their plans, but if they can truly use investments and private industry to undertake a trillion dollar infrastructure fix without having American taxpayers foot the majority of the bill, I’m all for it. In fact, it may be the road map to privatizing future projects that Libertarians and Federalists have been seeking for a long time. This could be an extremely good thing if they can pull it off.

Stop the wave of attacks on the 1st Amendment

Free speech. Freedom of the press. Freedom of religion. All of these are under attack. Those attacks need to stop. Trump, Congress, and most importantly the Supreme Court must do what they can in 2016 to reverse the direction this nation is heading. Between Barack Obama and his social justice warriors, we’ve seen more attacks on the 1st Amendment in the last eight years than in the years we’ve been a nation combined.Stop the wave of attacks on the 1st Amendment Free speech. Freedom of the press. Freedom of religion. All of these are under attack. Those attacks need to stop. Trump, Congress, and most importantly the Supreme Court must do what they can in 2016 to reverse the direction this nation is heading. Between Barack Obama and his social justice warriors, we’ve seen more attacks on the 1st Amendment in the last eight years than in the years we’ve been a nation combined.

Acknowledge our enemies, including Russia

No, I don’t think Russia hacked the election. Whether or not they hacked the Democrats’ email is debatable, but it changes nothing. Russia has been adversarial to us for years. The only thing different in 2016 is that the Democrats, who laughed the Russians off four years ago, are now screaming about them while the Republicans, who called them the greatest threat to America four years ago, are now saying it’s no big deal and we can all be friends thanks to the Trump/Putin bromance.

Here’s the reality: Russia is our enemy. They have recognized this for many years while partisan bickering prevented most in Washington DC from acknowledging it. Trump’s connections to Russia won’t be a concern as long as Congress is able to keep Russia in proper perspective. From Syria to Ukraine to BRICS to just about every action they take, they clearly demonstrate that they are not our friends. Trump will realize this at some point. Then, we can start classifying them with Iran, China, North Korea, and Cuba.

Remember, enemies can cooperate. The old adage of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer applies today. The challenge is in keeping our guard up while sharing many spaces with these countries.

Real hope and change

Things are looking up for the first time in a while. There are so many things that need to be accomplished, but never since Ronald Reagan has there been an opportunity to actually accomplish them. Don’t let liberals get you down. If these seven goals can be achieved, even some on the left will realize that 2017 was a great year when all is said and done.

by baldilocks

 

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? And it should. Many famous people have died this year, some from old age, some from long-term conditions , some from freak accidents, and of course drug overdoses. Most heart-wrenching and thought-provoking were the deaths of mother-and-daughter superstars, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, within 24 hours of each other. But there were some non-famous deaths as well this year, including the mother of my Kenyan siblings, Jeniffer Dawa Ochieng (spelling correct).

The Truth is that most famous persons are famous for a reason. They accomplished something, if only to make a bunch of people laugh, cry, or tap their feet, making them a lot more useful than many. And many of the non-famous, like Jeniffer Ochieng, accomplished even greater things— being a loving wife, mother and grandmother, for example.

Another truth is that we all have to leave this existence; we all have to die. But what do we do in the interim? Live the best lives we can and count our blessing. For example, a friend who works for an airline gave me a ticket so that I was able to be with my American parents for Christmas. It was a great blessing indeed. (My American parents are in good health, but they aren’t getting any younger and neither am I.)

And after I returned to Los Angeles, I got thinking about my three parents, how happy I am to have hugged each of them this year, and what I can do to make them more proud of me. I found an answer.

In my tagline here at Da Tech Guy, I have been promising to finish my second novel, Arlen’s Harem—first in 2014, then in 2015, then this year. Well, I’ve decided to make a New Year’s Resolution to finish it not just next year, but on February 1st of next year. It’s what I’m going to do, hook or crook.

And if I die before I start my third novel, at least I can say to God that I stepped out in faith and invested the talents that He gave me.

What are you going to do in 2017?

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done on February 1, 2017! Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

baldilocks

As many Republicans finish basking in their victory over their Democratic relatives they only see at Christmastime, we’re looking at the final week of 2016. More importantly, we’re looking at the final four weeks of the Obama administration with new information that needs to be applied going further, particularly for conservatives.

For some of us, the future is about building on the successes of 2016 and applying our newfound DC dominance towards solving problems. For a number of stalwart conservatives who are still skeptical about what the future holds, there are lessons to learn and challenges to address in order to steer the Trump administration and GOP Congress in the right direction.

Some of the lessons from 2016 are obvious and won’t be covered here such as Obamacare (just repeal it), terrorism (do what it takes to stop it), gun rights (protect them), and mainstream media (don’t trust them). Other lessons need more focus if we’re going to have a productive 2017. Here are the top 7 lessons to heed.

Stick to our guns on abortion

The narrative of pro-life versus pro-choice has been shifted. We’re still addressing our movement with the same basic language, but the left is now pushing “reproductive rights” over “choice” because they simply couldn’t get around the idea that the baby must be considered in choices. In many ways, this leftward push towards politically correcting their narrative worked against them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll continue to lose.

Abortion is a cultural issue that has seeped into politics. It’s imperative for the pro-life movement to stay with the message of life beginning in the womb and not after birth. This stance will allow for more states to ban abortions at 20- or 24-weeks and will enable us to push those protections even closer to conception in the future. All we need to do is let science meld with emotion. This is political, but it must be fought on a cultural level if we’re going to continue to make up ground.

Democrats won’t be complacent again

The certainty the Democrats felt about winning the Presidency and the Senate left them absolutely shocked on election night. They didn’t lose so badly because they didn’t have enough supporters. They lost because in the key states there was enough complacency to prevent them from getting out the vote the way Obama did in 2008 and 2012.

It won’t happen again, at least not for a long time. They will come out hard in 2018. 2020 could be a bloodbath if Trump isn’t successful. They have the ammunition they need to get out the vote. They were overconfident; how many Democrats didn’t vote because they were so certain of victory? That will be the rallying cry going forward, so Republicans need to get their people out with as much fervor.

Free trade has enemies in every corner

It was once safe to assume that the Republican Party was the party of free trade. That simply isn’t so anymore as many party-line followers hear the message of fair trade and believe that it’s the new game plan. Fiscal conservatives who believe in the free market economy have to fight both the GOP and the Democrats to achieve the business growth and financial environment necessary for future prosperity.

Now more than ever, trade must flourish. It’s worrisome that so many in both major parties are fighting against this. It’s up to conservatives to hammer the message back in place before we start seeing the cost-expanding effects of “fair” trade.

Immigration is a winning issue

Remember that taboo of illegal immigration, walls, and deportations that allegedly helped doom Mitt Romney in 2012? Trump’s message was even harsher and it worked.

Illegal immigration is a major problem that most Americans can acknowledge. While more Americans lean in favor of some variation of amnesty, 2016 proved that it’s not important enough of an issue to prevent candidates from winning. Particularly when we tie it to the two biggest hot buttons – economy and terrorism – we’ll be able to continue to fight open borders, amnesty, and other liberal immigration principles without fear of losing elections.

Smaller-government needs further prioritization

Killing some regulations, pulling back on the reins in some departments, and eliminating most of Barack Obama’s executive orders is a good place to start, but doing so will only bring us back a decade when government overreach was still rampant. It will take a much more pronounced attack on big government to make a dent which is why I’m now a Federalist.

What’s worse is that many of the proposals coming from our future leaders in DC are pushing for bigger government. From a trillion dollar infrastructure plan to expansion of certain very expensive programs and initiatives, we have our work cut out for us. Reducing the size of government hasn’t been a priority since the last Federalist President, Ronald Reagan. We need to bring it back to the forefront quickly or continue to suffer through a two-party system where both sides increase budgets, bureaucracy, and power in DC.

Subsidies aren’t necessary for buying votes

One of the most important lessons that was forgotten by many is that subsidies don’t win elections the way they once did. Ted Cruz demonstrated that in the Iowa caucus by winning while being the only candidate against ethanol subsidies while Marco Rubio lost his home state of Florida while defending his sugar subsidies.

Now that we see this truth, it’s time to strike before everyone completely forgets. Subsidies are created to buy votes in local areas and they persist out of fear for losing votes. 2016 debunked the second part of the myth. That means we need to cut now.

The alt-right is a growing problem

Did the alt-right help Trump win? Absolutely. He brought out a slew of new voters in both the primaries and the general election, many of whom probably aren’t even aware that they embrace alt-right concepts.

Here’s the thing, and I say this knowing that it will be an unpopular statement to some who read this. The alt-right helped Trump, but they are not a positive influence on the GOP or American politics. The surface-level appeal that keeps them going makes their ranks easily manipulated away from conservative principles. The term “alt-right” is unfortunate because in many ways they have far-left views intermingled with the views that are considered far-right. This makes for a dangerous combination for any party that wants to address issues beyond the emotional surface.

2016 was a good year for Republicans and a potentially good year for conservatives. There’s hope, but let’s make certain that hope doesn’t turn into the same complacency that doomed the Democrats. If we don’t, we could be looking at quick reversals in 2018 and 2020.