Notes on Trump 15

1. CNN poll. Favourable opinions of both Democratic and Republican parties lowest ever. Unfavourable highest ever.
More important is inclination of registered voters to vote in the mid-terms, which may point to their inclinations to vote in primaries. Needs careful analysis. I wasn’t struck by any obvious trend. (Both wings of both parties would be doing detailed private and localised polling on those numbers and correlation with voters inclinations towards the position of each wing).

Only small numbers indicating intention to vote for a party other than Republicans and Democrats. But of course there isn’t a serious contender as neither has split yet. (I would expect splits after rather than before mid-terms).

Gallup Trump approval day 296 (6-12 Nov) Republicans 82%, conservative Republicans 87%. Day 303 (13-19 Nov), 81%/87%.

2. Interesting detail in Virginia result:

Gillespie received more votes than Bob McDonnell, the GOP’s victorious 2009 nominee for governor. What buried Gillespie was a 700 percent increase, nearly 600,000 ballots, in votes for the Democratic nominee
Despite having to agree with Slate, it does seem clear that this points to Trump’s approach resulting in big Democat win in mid-terms as the Democrats will still be angry and turnout in a year. The increase in GOP votes points to increased GOP mobilization too that is more likely to swing primaries to genuine Trumpists rather than imitations such as Gillespie.

So I still expect GOP incumbents to be defeated by Democrats and Trumpists except where they have a strong base that could be used in a split that leaves large Trumpist GOP and small ex-GOP rump in Congress with a Democrat majority that leaves things paralysed with impeachment dramas and no legislation that can get through Senate and Presidency unless it happens to suit Trump. Likewise still expect the angry mobilized Democrats to turnup at their primaries that will be vigorously contested between their two wings intensifying split.

3. Not much likelihood of Democrat divisions actually being healed:

Ralph Northam’s gutless, politically senseless, and morally debased decision yesterday to openly backtrack on his commitment to standing up for immigrant families is a picture-perfect example of why Democracy for America never endorsed him in the primary and focused the entirety of our efforts in Virginia on down-ticket races, like Justin Fairfax’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor.  It’s also why, today, we’re announcing that we will no longer do any work to directly aid Northam’s gubernatorial efforts.

“Despite our profound reservations about Northam’s commitment to the inclusive populist agenda Democrats need to embrace to win, following the conclusion of Virginia’s Democratic primary, we have continued to work alongside the Virginia Democratic Coordinated campaign for our endorsed candidates, raise tens of thousands of dollars in grassroots donations, and make tens of thousands of calls to voters to expand the electorate.

“Those concerns proved justified when, a few weeks ago, the VA Democratic Coordinated campaign (dominated by Northam operatives) bought literature for canvassers that purposely left off Fairfax, who, if elected, would be just the second Black man to ever serve statewide office in the Commonwealth.  Following that racist action, we decided to remove Northam’s name from the tens of thousands of volunteer Get-Out-the-Vote calls our members are making in Virginia, but, for the sake of Democratic comity, we refrained from publicly discussing that decision.

“However, after seeing Northam play directly into the hands of Republicans’ racist anti-immigrant rhetoric on sanctuary cities, we refuse to be silent any longer and even remotely complicit in the disastrous, racist, and voter-turnout-depressing campaign Ralph Northam appears intent on running.

“The fight for racial and economic justice are core Democratic values, not talking points for convenient moments. This isn’t some arbitrary purity test either.  Public dithering on basic issues of racial justice, like the need to protect immigrant families targeted by a bigoted Federal government, isn’t just morally bankrupt, it’s precisely why many Black, brown, and progressive white voters that should make up the base of reliable Democratic voters don’t believe Democratic candidates have their backs and sit out elections.

“Let’s be really clear: If Ralph Northam wins next Tuesday, it won’t be because he publicly backtracked on his commitment to protecting immigrant families, but in spite of it.  And, if he loses, the blame should be placed squarely on the shoulders of the consultants who urged the campaign to cave on core Democratic values in the face of a virulently racist Republican campaign – and whose obsession with flipping white, Republican-leaning votes and ignoring voters of color has consistently failed.

“As we have from the start, we are committed to supporting DFA’s endorsed candidates in Virginia through election day, but we cannot remain silent as an outdated faction of national and state Democratic Party staffers and consultants run the same old, broken, and racist playbook that lost Democrats over 1000 elected offices since 2008 and allowed a bigoted billionaire to squeak into the White House last Fall.  Our country and our party deserve much, much better.” — Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director, Democracy for America

The liberal group Democracy for America had abandoned Virginia’s gubernatorial candidate, Ralph Northam, over immigration policy, then celebrated his win days later.

“The plus of a tidal wave like this is it washes away the stains of all the campaigns,” DFA executive director Charles Chamberlain said.

4. Bernie Sanders on how to fix the Democratic party. Again no mention of anti-globalism or isolationism. Also the tone of a winner internally – implicit threats if his opponents don’t let go of their organizational grip, but very politely “inclusive”.

5. This makes explicit the blindspot I see pretty well everyone else not noticing:

Most of what Ezra Klein says is true or at least plausible. The one line summary is both accurate and obvious:

Trump can keep his base and still lose reelection in a landslide.

But what it misses is far more important. This article makes it clear the following simply has not occurred to the author.

  1. Trump is unpopular because he cannot deliver anything at all through the current GOP in Congress. Not because he has done anything to upset his base.
  2. If Trump had lost his base he might be impeached by now and would certainly not be able to get rid of the GOP incumbents in Congress who he explicitly ran against in 2016 and therefore would remain unable to do anything much and would inevitably be defeated either by the GOP or the Democrats in 2020.
  3. Consequently he has from the day of the election (months before inauguration) been totally focussed on keeping his base. Any effort to build a winning coalition would have been pointless and wasted while the GOP incumbents remain in his way.
  4. For many months “analysts” didn’t even understand that he isn’t a Republican and was rallying his base to take over the GOP. They concentrated on triumphantly celebrating the stupidity of every unpopular GOP policy he could be saddled with. This article illustrates the sheer inability to think about the different situation that will exist when he DOES start to try to build a winning coalition.
  5. Since he HAS kept his base, that situation will include a large Trumpist party in Congress whereas currently he has essentially NO party in Congress.
  6. It will also include a thoroughly divided Democratic majority in Congress, many of whom will have run and won on an opposition to GOP policies that they actually share with Trump and his base (even though they don’t know it). In particular lots of Democrats will vote in favour of big infrastructure programs, improved healthcare and reduced taxes for workers despite an increase in the deficit.
  7. The Democrats may get the credit for that, and they may win in 2020. But Trump could also get credit for it and could also win. There wasn’t any other scenario in which he could win so he is doing remarkably well.
  8. There is NO sign that his opponents have even thought things through this much, let alone having a viable strategy to counter it.

BTW the “Trump country story” linked to as one of the “best” of that (useless) genre is actually more oblivious than usual -oozing liberal bewilderment at encountering people wearing different filters.

6. Thomas Frank at the Guardian shows some actual insight:

They have been at it every day for a year now, and the literature of Trump-denunciation they have produced is enormous, a vast Alexandrine library of lamentation and deploring.

Pundits pronounce him dangerous, if not “F*cking Crazy”. They explore the depths of his stupidity. They apologize for him to Muslims. They compile long lists of the man’s falsehoods and misrepresentations. They look to the past and compare him to Hitler, to Mussolini, to Nero and Caligula. They look to the future and try to imagine the exact nature of the apocalypse the dunce will surely precipitate.

They are aghast, almost every one of them, and they compete fiercely with one another to say just how aghast they are. It is a “parade of the aghast”, as an acquaintance calls it, with all the skills of the journalist reduced to a performance of perturbation and disgust.

The parade of the aghast is the obverse of the gullible way our pundits usually contemplate American leaders – lionizing them as men of crisis, admiring their gravitas as they go from international summit to emergency bank bailout. And now the buffoon Trump has exposed it all as a fraud.

A solid year of the aghast has been a good thing overall. It’s healthy for the country to have pundits periodically choose to despise our leaders instead of honor them.

But declaring it all so ghastly isn’t going to halt these trends or remove the reprobate from the White House. Waving a piece of paper covered with mean words in Trump’s face won’t make him retreat to his tower in New York. To make him do that you must understand where he comes from, how he operates, why his supporters like him, and how we might coax a few of them away.

The parade of the aghast will have none of that. Strategy is not the goal; a horror-high is. And so its practitioners routinely rail against Trump’s supporters along with Trump himself, imagining themselves beleaguered by a country they no longer understand nor particularly like.

They denounce people who tell the truth about how the Democratic party operates on the grounds that such knowledge is an “obstacle” to anti-Trump efforts.

A year of this stuff, and never has mainstream opinion journalism seemed so inconsequential, so powerless to envision anything useful about our national predicament.

Look at the grand sweep of history: this is an angry, populist age, and with every year – with every little tightening of the inequality index – it grows angrier and more populist still. To the satisfied and comfortable American pundit class, these are alien and deplorable sentiments, and so they fall back on high-decibel moral aghastitude. They scold and they scold and they scold. But if they really want to send Trump and the Republicans packing, they will make an effort to understand.

That’s a good start. But “they” will never make an effort to understand. “We” need to understand and help angry people replace the system that angers them and is aghast at them rather than trying to reconcile them to it or leaving them to Trump.

7. Meanwhile, Time bewildered that Trump’s chief of staff doesn’t follow Trump’s tweets.

Isn’t EVERYBODY required to be completely distracted and aghast about them?

But LA Times isn’t bewildered. It simply tells Trump’s Chief of Staff to face reality and concentrate on those tweets which have “real consequences” in the world inhabited by LA Times.

Not paying attention to Donald Trump’s tweets is a luxury all of us wish we could indulge in more often! But the White House has been clear whatever he posts constitutes official statements. So perhaps Kelly could come back on down to reality town, where there are real consequences whenever the guy decides to take his 280 characters out for a spin.

[L.A. Times]
Now just dumping old links again. I have a ridiculous number of open windows.

8. “Do Trump’s Liberal Critics Increasingly Seem Unhinged?”

YES! Ok, I have sufficiently lost objectivity to continue spending hours each day on it since I was first struck by how unhinged they seemed on election day. But it IS my impression that they are actually getting MORE unhinted as time passes.

Here’s a liberal blog analysing a nutter trumpist conspiracy blog to convince itself that the attention it pays to nutters isn’t nutty and that the liberals responding to Trump having said stupid things about an opponent drinking water doesn’t make them responding in kind look similar:
9. Some insight into the bubbles and filters:
But seems to hope for a return to the happy medium rather than for both ends to wake up.

10. Christie admits he was surprised that Trump remained in “campaign mode” after winning election. No wonder he was immediately removed from the transition team. Did he seriously imagine they can govern without first successfully campaigning to obtain a party in Congress?
11. Trump tweets about particular companies causing major stock price fluctuations in particular stocks he singles out despite the overall pre-crisis eerily low volatility levels:
Now if they stopped looking for Russians and instead tracked down connections between Trump associates with possible prior knowledge of tweets and traders who make money from them they might get somewhere…

12. Wikileaks communicating with Donald Trump Jr by unencrypted twitter messages once again proves how dumb the conspirators are!
(Doesn’t even bother to explain the necessary intermediate step – in  order to conceal the fact that they were both secretly conspiring with Russian intelligence they have cunningly communicated publicly to confuse everybody, just like Trump openly begged Russians to find Clinton’s emails to hide the fact that he was colluding with Russians in stealing DNC emails. That level of subtlety doesn’t need to be explained. The overiding principle is that they are all really really dumb and so the nightmare will be over soon).

The New Yorker gets back on message:
(Goes straight to the heart of the matter. No point claiming that Assange and wikileaks are dumb conspirators. The point has to be that Donald Trump and his associates/family are dumb conspirators).

The law here is somewhat murky…”

But not for CNN:
If we can’t prove collusion with Russian intelligence then lets try to ramp up indignation about collusion with wikileaks.

(If it isn’t actually illegal to receive and exploit information about the Clinton campaign rigging the Democrat primaries then it damn well ought to be!)

13. Long thoughtful analysis by Frank Rich in NY magazine.
I think he gets it right about Trumpists wiping out GOP and bigger danger from what follows Trump.

Writes off a third of Americans as “authoritarian mindset”. (Perhaps true, perhaps far larger than one third).

But his answer? …. CELEBRITIES

The liberal elites who continue to argue that Democrats can win by meeting Trump voters halfway don’t seem to realize that those intransigent voters have long been hardwired to despise them. William Rusher, the publisher of National Review who tracked Wallace with admiration in the 1970s, presciently envisioned a GOP that allied workers and the party’s corporate donors against what he called “a new class” of “essentially nonproductive” Americans like academics, the news media, and government workers. That’s the exact Trump–Fox News–Breitbart culture war we have today.

The Democrats’ growing demographic advantages mean nothing if their voters stay home. Those who didn’t vote in 2016 have to be given a reason to turn out in 2020 with the same fervor that Trump instilled in rural white Trumpists. The party might have to fight celebrity with celebrity. The novelty polls favoring the fantasy candidacies of Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne Johnsonshouldn’t be dismissed as a joke. After Trump, no one can question a show-business star’s qualifications (or almost anyone’s) to be president; some of them could deliver a political message with more conviction than the professional politicians in either party. And the Democrats may well have to fight anger with anger. The rage of the Trumpists will intensify in direct proportion to Trump’s downfall, which will surely be attributed within Trumpism’s ecosystem to a Mueller–Clinton–Goldman Sachs deep-state conspiracy. That anger will be further inflamed by the economic insecurity that will continue to afflict most Americans as long as the inequality compounded for decades in the age of globalization remains unaddressed and unchecked. The Democrats can’t respond with the usual ten-point policy prescriptions culled from the comfortable platitudes of a liberal think tank.

Looking to the future in his 60 Minutes White House exit interview, Bannon said, “The only question before us” is whether it “is going to be a left-wing populism or a right-wing populism.” And that is the question, he added, “that will be answered in 2020.” Give the devil his due: He does have the question right. But there is every reason to fear that our unending civil war will not be resolved by any election anytime soon in the destabilized America that Trump will leave behind.

(Clearly the “left wing populism” this “elite” proposes to mobilize are assumed to be at least as prone to authoritarian demogaguery from celebrity TV stars as the Trumpists).

14. Correct analysis that Trump has effectively forced GOP in Congress to legalize the “Dreamers”.

15. Democrat demanding that GOP stop Trump.
Sort of spoiled by smug admission at the end that whichever way the GOP goes the Democrats (“America”) wins.

16. This is NOT a sendup of a liberal blogger pathetically unable to cope with weak irony. It is REAL:
17. Meanwhile items about the wealth of billionaires are sneaking into my daily feed of Trump news.

This article and its links below are worth careful study:

The three richest people in the US – Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett – own as much wealth as the bottom half of the US population, or 160 million people.
(link to .pdf report within – really bizarre)
Here’s the UBS Billionaires report for download:
UNCTAD calling for coordinated fiscal expansion:
(Includes LOTS of discussion of rentier capitalism)

On that note I’ll go back to studying economics…

Whoops… I meant to publish this last Tuesday or so but have accidentally left it as a draft. Been busy on economics so haven’t got much to add except old links and will leave those for now and get above out.


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