The untitled post to end 2016…

Before I slip away into a world of making dinner, mixing drinks, and settling in for a quiet night with the various creatures here at Fortress Jeff, I wanted to take a few minutes and wish everyone a safe and happy new year. 2016 has been a real mother and I don’t know anyone who’s going to be sad seeing it disappear into the rear view. I’m envious of all those posting online in the expectation that 2017 will be better. The realist in me… well, the realist opinion isn’t one that really needs shared on New Year’s Eve. There’s a whole new year coming for that.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say thank you too all those who supported me over the last year – your comments, emails, and occasional raised eyebrows mean more to me than you’ll know… and more than I’ll ever be able to adequately express. This little site, whether you think of it as a passion project or a vanity exercise, has let me express myself in ways that I would never, ever be able to do otherwise. The fact that so many of you come back day in and day out means everything to me.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.

Fight like hell…

In an interview with CBS yesterday, Donald Trump’s comment that “I fight like hell to pay as little as possible” when it comes to taxes has apparently stunned the internet.

Uhhh… Really?

I’d have been alarmed and suspicious if he said he loved writing million dollar checks to the IRS, or that he paid more than he had to, or that he thought Government was a bastion of effective and efficient financial management. Am I supposed to hate a guy who says he doesn’t like paying taxes and uses the avenues available to him to decrease his yearly tax liability?

While the scope and scale is decidedly different, I do the same thing. I’d have to be a certified lunatic to hand back the savings from mortgage deductions, property depreciation, charitable donations, and tax deferral mechanisms… and because I’m not a tax or accounting expert, I pay a guy to find those savings for me and make sure I’m within the bounds of the law. If you’re filing anything more complicated than the 1040EZ, you’d be a fool not to at least consider some expert advice. Bashing a guy, especially one in business, because he employees lawyers and accountants just makes you sound like a moron.

But, but “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization” and everyone needs to pay their fair share. Sure. That’s fine. I like civilization and I’m absolutely open to a discussion of what it means for everyone to pay a “fair share.” But that dialog needs to start by accepting that having half the population whose cut of the fair share is $0.00 is patently ridiculous.

The internet, HuffPo, WaPo, and a host of other outlets may find his statement outrageous, but damned if his stock didn’t go up a few points in my book.

Fruitcake flavor…

fruitcakeAs a passingly interested watcher of the political arena, I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the arrival of The Donald, at long last, as a declared candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

Sure, he’s arrogant in the way only a guy with $8 billion in assets can be, but for sheer entertainment value, a Trump candidacy is the thing of dreams. His financial history and inevitable string of shady dealings yet-to-be-revealed aside for the moment, some of what they guy is talking about aren’t awful in and of themselves – currency manipulation, infrastructure improvement, the desire to punch ISIS in the face, and what appears to be an actual interest in securing the country’s boarders. They’re all issues I’d want my candidate to talk about.

Oddly I don’t find myself hating the idea of a Trump candidacy. I’m fairly sure that says more about the current crop of candidates than it does any hard support I might have to offer. That being said, his entering the fray does add a heavy helping of the fruitcake flavor that I’ve come to expect from Republican politics.

The next 17 months are going to be fascinating… or horrifying. Possibly both simultaneously.

The long cycle…

In my wildest ideations I can’t fathom a situation in which I would ever willingly vote for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. Secretary Clinton has a fine resume, a solid education, and years of experience operating inside the beltway in both the executive and legislative branches. On policy issues, though – starting all the way back in 1993 with the Democratic Party’s first run at nationalized healthcare and running all the way through her tenure as Secretary of State and her “What difference does it make” moment – we have deep, abiding, and fundamental disagreements about the scope, task, and purpose of government.

Could and should a woman be president? Sure. For most gigs I don’t think knowledge, skills, and abilities are based on genitalia. The idea of a woman in the top job doesn’t cause me any consternation. The idea of this particular person in the top job, however, causes no end to my angst…

In the interest of full disclosure I should admit it might be fun to watch Bill figure out how to be First Lady and the antics he’ll be able to get up to when he’s not also occupied with trying to run the free world. Bill Clinton in the White House with time on his hands feels like something that could be deeply entertaining.

In any case, my only prediction at this stage of the game is that we’re all in for a very, very long election cycle.