Vol. 12    No. 25
DECEMBER 25, 2017
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                 Looking back at 2017
Usually at this time of year, we look back at the year that was. And often times — perhaps every year — I might look back and say, “That was the
worst year ever.” But if I really think about it, I have probably been saying that every December at least since my college days. I guess it has
looked worse and worse since I entered the “real” world and became aware of what the “real world” really is.

And while I am sure some of that is in play this year, I can’t help but feel that 2017 was indeed the worst ever; I mean really the worst ever. After
all, it started out with the inauguration of Donald Trump as President 45 of the United States, or at least that minority of the United States that voted
for him. Someone informed me the other day that Scott Walker is the 45th governor of the state of Wisconsin. I think we need to skip the number 45
like some buildings skip the 13th floor. It’s just bad luck.

Donald Trump — I know he is delighted that I am writing about him, narcissist that he is — has fulfilled almost all of our most deepest fears. I say
almost because as of this writing, Trump has not engaged us in a major war. Trump has engaged in a form of repression that only a demagogue
who is used to having his every command followed in his own private company can dictate. He has dumped on the free press — Lord knows the
press isn’t perfect — claiming it disseminates “fake news” in order to allow him to control the news and decide what is true and false. That’s
pretty dangerous power to have in the hands of the person considered to be the most powerful person on earth. Doesn’t he control enough
already?

And by attacking Robert Mueller who is running the investigation into the alleged Russian interference with the U.S. election and then saying he
supports him, Trump has set up the grounds for him being right no matter what the outcome. Mueller has to be concerned with Trump’s public
pronouncement of support for him. After all, Trump has expressed support for other past aides and then cut the rug out from underneath them and
fired them.

Donald Trump is already pretty good at manipulating the media. He makes pronouncements and statements that allow him to control the perception
of future events. He’s a real spin-meister. He will say that he is for and against a person or policy and then claim that he was right because it did
go the way he said it would even though he also took the opposite stance.

I think many people consider Trump to be a clown who is unfit for public office. Trump may be a clown, but he is a clown with a purpose. Trump
might even be a magician, distracting the public with such nonsense while picking their pockets with an “invisible” hand. Perhaps Trump has
been distracting people with his outlandish comments about NFL player protests — kissing up to his ever diminishing base — while setting the
stage for tax cuts.

Trump has even set the stage for being right about the impact of the tax cuts. He has stated that he will be hurt by the tax cuts even though every
indication short of being actually able to review his tax returns shows us that Trump will benefit a lot from the “tax reform.” Even if he is wrong,
he benefits. Trump really knows how to have his cake and eat it too.

And with the tax cuts, it’s a matter of “Middle class families, you get $50. One percenters, you get $1 billion.” Even my Republican-leaning brother
who didn’t vote for Trump stated that he will be hurt by Trump’s tax cuts.

And with all of this newfound money, the one percenters will be creating jobs in the United States in 2018 — in the media, political consultant and
other sectors needed for them to buy the 2018 election, inundating us with messages on the Internet, on billboards, on the radio, in newspapers
and on television telling us that the sun sets in the east and that the tax cuts benefitted equally.

And then Trump will pay them off with policies like Trump did with Sheldon Adelman, the billionaire casino owner in Las Vegas, who supported
Trump and was recently rewarded by Trump proclaiming that Jerusalem was the true capital of Israel. Apparently there weren’t enough Palestinian
billionaires contributing to Trump’s campaign.

And just think what Trump and his fellow capitalists have turned the Republican Party into. The “family values” Republican Party is headed by a
man thrice divorced and accused of sexual harassment by at least six women. Its policies are dictated by someone who makes a tremendous
amount of money off of the vice of gambling. It has proclaimed itself the party of fiscal conservatism even though it has passed a tax cut that is
projected to increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion. Trump has bought and traded the Republican soul for money that it is even starting to eat
its own in its rush to pass a bill to please the one percent controllers of the Republican Party.

And what do they care? If they have all of the money and own the process that encourages less and less voting and will be able to literally control
the political messaging in 2018, they can make do with fewer Republican voters. They have made an art out of retaining majority control with as
few voters as possible.

My son and I went to see “The Last Jedi” over the holidays. And even though the Empire was in just about complete control at the end, one was
still left with a glimmer of hope.

Thank God for human nature. When people begin to attain almost absolute power, they find some way through human frailties to goof it up and lose
that power. We can only hope.