Notes on Trump 23

0. Gallup overall approval of Trump touched 40% again 4 Feb. Been below since May 2017 and above only briefly after inauguration.

The increase last week was coincident with the president’s Jan. 30 State of the Union address, in which he touted the strength of the economy and reminded Americans he kept his pledges to cut taxes and reduce business regulations. Although it is impossible to determine definitively whether the address was a factor in the approval ratings uptick, his approval among Republicans did rise to 90%, the highest rating from this group since he took office. Republicans’ approval had been at 87% the week before the speech. Democrats’ approval [of Trump] remained extremely low at 6% last week, while independents’ 33% approval [of Trump] was unchanged.

http://news.gallup.com/poll/226736/snapshot-trump-weekly-job-approval-edges.aspx

Seems to be widespread acceptance that Trump and GOP incumbents are reconciled and will be defending each other against Democrats in midterms incuding primaries. This is consistent with the significant uptick to 90% Republican approval among potential Republican primary voters following more “Presidential” speech to Congress and lots of analysts claiming he has been delivering a traditional GOP agenda (especially taxes) and not the populist measures promised to his base as feared.

That could be right but I doubt it. He can’t win in 2020 without delivering on populist policies that are opposed by GOP incumbents over remaining 3 years. Even when only 80% approval among Republican primary voters the incumbents had little chance in a direct confrontation with Trump so had to avoid it. With 90% approval he can afford to just pose as party leader against Democrats and leave those incumbents he needs to get rid of unsupported against their Trumpist (and/or Sanders Democrat) challengers, without having to openly campaign for Trumpist replacements. It seems to me mainly Democrats fantasizing on what would suit them best who believe he will just deliver unpopular GOP policies instead of the populist policies he was elected on.

Update: Everything up in the air with stock market developments. Have lots of other Trump links open from last couple of weeks which I intended to add to those below, but will put this out now as there may be too much else going on for next couple of weeks that could clarify or obscure things.

1. Had to pass on guessing what Democrat leaders were up to with doomed shutdown. Still perplexed on what they have in mind for Feb 8.

Schumer has just withdrawn offer of token funding for token portion of Trump’s bullshit wall. If serious that implies they have to do another shutdown shortly since both sides understood that was to be the deal. Here’s Trump spelling it out late last year.

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/29/trump-dreamers-daca-deal-border-wall-319627

and again right now:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/23/politics/mick-mulvaney-daca-exchange-cnntv/index.html

Here’s Talking Points Memo right now saying that withdrawing offer of wall funding will placate outrage from liberal base. This is the site for “Talking Points” discussed by Democrat staffers and their “activist” colleagues. They should have a far better grasp of maneuverings to placate outrage from liberal base than I do. But this doesn’t make much sense to me.

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/schumer-takes-back-wall-funding-offer-immigration

If Democrats were actually willing to fight on the absurdity of wasting money on the wall they would not have gone through the elaborate ritual of pretending that Trump wants to deport dreamers when that was never plausible and he had already admitted it.

Majority of Americans know a border wall won’t work. But they also know the opposition cannot shutdown government based on having different budget priorities. So do the Democrats base.

But oddly, the fight is still being reported as about DACA and whether GOP will agree to it – by Murdoch press as well as liberal media.

Plainly silly as only a small minority of GOP need to agree with Democrats on legislation for DACA in order for it to go through both Houses. However big the nativist wing of GOP incumbents might be they could not sustain deportation even with Trump’s support, let alone without it and there is already an interim injunction removing any urgency.

Not sure why Murdoch press is also pushing this. Perhaps to entrap Democrats? If they were really as stupid as they appear to be they might imagine that near unanimous focus on DACA instead of actual differences over border security in all sides of the media means they could hope to score some “win” with another shutdown?

Or perhaps its supposed to help make it easier for them to announce that they won some concession of DACA in negotiations and call off the next shutdown?

They have just given their base an opportunity to digest how futile a real shutdown would be. So how does withdrawing offer already made help placate anybody? Seems more likely to fire up expectations from “the resistance”. So my guess is that they still seem to be going down a path that leads straight to another shutdown soon with no plausible expectation of healing rather than exacerbating their divisions when they have to cave again.

Anyway, if they do another shutdown on this I can confidently predict it will do them no good at all.

Here’s the sort of pathetic arguments coming from the very few still pretending it was a defeat for Trump instead of a blunder by Schumer:

https://www.theringer.com/2018/1/23/16922100/trump-immigration-government-shutdown

Some others are still spouting the line taken before the shutdown – that it confirms Trump’s lack of skills as a negotiator:

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/17/trump-credibility-capitol-hill-lawmakers-negotiating-342989

The sheer effortlessness of maneuvering Democrats into making idiots of themselves is quite remarkable. No skill required. But one does have to admit that enabling them to keep their focus on how clueless Trump is while they do it could not just be sheer luck. He does have real skill.

Trump already has the TV ads to roll again:

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/369952-new-trump-ad-calls-democrats-complicit-in-all-murders-by-illegal

Above was only a couple of weeks ago and already seems out of date.

2. Even CNN could publish an oped late last year doubting that the FBI is the repository of all Americans hopes and aspirations.

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/29/opinions/fbi-leadership-to-blame-for-tarnished-reputation-callan-opinion/index.html

But TPM remains outraged at the sheer lack of patriotism of anyone hostile to FBI.

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/devin-nunes-will-do-anything-to-protect-donald-trump

Five hours earlier the same guy persuading himself that latest “revelations” from Mueller are “bigger” than anything for months.

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/todays-mueller-revelations-were-the-biggest-in-months

But he couldn’t quite say what was revealed. These are the people who actually draft Democrat “talking points”. It must be soul destroying to be have to deliver them with a straight face. Trump seems to enjoy keeping kayfabe. But his opponents clearly don’t.

Fox news Judge Napolitano is really enjoying himself discussing the “deep state”:

https://radio.foxnews.com/2018/01/23/video-judge-napolitano-donald-trump-was-victimized-by-the-deep-state/

Some GOP staffers writing a “bombshell” memo touted as likely to end the Mueller investigation has liberals in pre-emptive hysterics, even before release. If that is all it takes to provoke them, how could they NOT continue to believe Trump doesn’t want them to keep hoping Mueller will be their messiah?

Meanwhile the Atlantic heads towards identification of “dividing our national unity” with “the Russians”. Doesn’t spell it out but clearly inclined towards measures to protect national unity from both “black lives matter” and “blue lives matter” tweeters as Russians support both sides of this “divisiveness”. The Russian social media accounts theme also at TPM above. Tends to confirm my suspicion that the outrageous involvement of intelligence agencies doesn’t point to actual “deep state” effort but just some Obama admin clowns going nuts.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/01/trump-russia-twitter/551093/

What’s this about? “Russia linked twitter accounts” are pushing hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo. Some dastardly member of Congress has enlisted the Russians after memo was circulated to Congress members. How do we know? Twitter messages with that hashtag link to Wikileaks page requesting a copy. Wikileaks of course is “Russia linked”. The plot thickens.

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/release-the-memo-campaign-russia-linked-twitter-accounts-2018-1?r=US&IR=T

Here’s an indication of actual relations between Trump and “deep state”:

https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/20/16913534/president-donald-trump-signed-fisa-amendments-reauthorization-act-of-2017-section-702

Update: Unexciting House GOP memo has been released. Also more interesting Senate member referring author of “the dossier” for prosecution. House Democrats memo about to be released. Media has once again succeeded in remaining distracted about “Russia”. Not sure whether they can keep it up or return to “mentally ill/incompetent” but no sign of anything from them that doesn’t help Trump.

3. If the Democrats keep on the way they are going, they could even manage to not gain a majority of the House of Representatives at end of 2018.

I still don’t expect that. But nobody can seriously expect them to get a 60% Senate majority to even get their legislative agenda vetoed by the President, let alone leaving Trump with less than one third of Senators willing to block impeachment.

So the best they could hope for when they get a House majority is endless hearings and subpoenas in one or both houses. Without both Executive and Supreme Court support they could not even enforce compliance with subpoenas. But they have neither. So their current orientation is headed towards just providing two years of daily confirmation of the Trumpist meme that Washington will remain gridlocked until there is a solid Trumpist majority.

Nevertheless they seem to be locking themselves in to that course.

Here’s an La Times oped on how Steve Bannon claim that sacking Comey was a spectacular blunder confirms how right they are to keep going for impeachment, even while ending with the prospect that it won’t actually result in removal from office:

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-litman-russia-year-review-20171229-story.html

4. Some perceptive analysis of “Trump Trauma”:

Donald Trump is staking his presidency, as he did his election, on nothing less than destroying the credibility of the news media; and the media are determined to do the same to him. This is not just a feud or a fight or a battle. It is scorched-earth warfare in which only one side can achieve victory. To a stunning degree, the press is falling into the president’s trap. The country’s top news organizations have targeted Trump with an unprecedented barrage of negative stories, with some no longer making much attempt to hide their contempt. Some stories are legitimate, some are not, and others are generated by the president’s own falsehoods and exaggerations. But the mainstream media, subconsciously at first, has lurched into the opposition camp and is appealing to an anti-Trump base of viewers and readers, failing to grasp how deeply it is distrusted by a wide swath of the country.

These are not easy words for me to write. I am a lifelong journalist with ink in my veins. And for all my criticism of the media’s errors and excesses, I have always believed in the mission of aggressive reporting and holding politicians accountable.

But the past two years have radicalized me. I am increasingly troubled by how many of my colleagues have decided to abandon any semblance of fairness out of a conviction that they must save the country from Trump.

I first got to know Donald Trump three decades ago and never made the blunder of underestimating him during the campaign. I saw all his weaknesses — the bluster, the bullying, the refusal to admit mistakes — but I also saw strengths that most of my colleagues missed, especially an ability to channel the anger of millions of voters who despise the press — including the old-guard conservative press — and other elite institutions.

This is, at bottom, a battle over the truth. Who owns it, who controls it, who can sell their version to a polarized public that increasingly cannot agree on basic facts. Everything you read, hear and see about Trump’s veracity is filtered through a mainstream media prism that reflects a lying president — and virtually never considers the press’ own baggage and biases. Everything you read, hear and see from the Trump team is premised on the view that media news is fake news, that journalists are too prejudiced, angry and ideological to fairly report on the president. Trump and his acolytes use these attacks on the Fourth Estate to neutralize their own untruths, evasions and exaggerations. What many journalists fail to grasp is that Trump’s supporters love his street talk and view the media critiques as nonsense driven by negativity. They don’t care if he makes mistakes. As paradoxical as it sounds, negative coverage helps Trump because it bonds him to people who also feel disrespected by the denizens of the mainstream press. The media take everything literally, and Trump pitches his arguments at a gut level. It is asymmetrical warfare.

Every president gets pounded by the press. But no president has ever been subjected to the kind of relentless ridicule, caustic commentary and insulting invective that has been heaped on Trump. I have a name for this half-crazed compulsion to furiously attack one man. It’s called Trump Trauma.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/how-trump-trauma-is-crippling-news-media-guest-column-1077062

Am reading related book “Media Madness” by Howard Kurtz. Torrent hash 759A0821B0AE7DC3C055F538C3F334E45789F533

includes small epub 1.1MB and large MP3 audio 261.4MB (torrent client can select either or both)

Am only one third way through but recommend it as more plausible than other accounts. (Though does only partially confirms my view that Trump actually wants the media hostility while also saying opposite).

5. If the “Russia thing” doesn’t seem to be working out, wait there’s more:

Jared Kushner is China’s Trump Card

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/29/jared-kushner-is-chinas-trump-card

PLUS a free set of steak knives!!!

6. More “breaking news” from CNN on Trump’s affair with porn star. Apparently she denies it and Fox had the (complete absence of) story before the election and failed to publish it. Source is impeccable – “four people familiar with the matter”.

The latest devastating bombshell is that Fox has failed to immediately respond to inquiries as to why they don’t behave like CNN.

Does Trump fear that the four are male eyewitnesses so he could get convicted of rape in a Saudi court?

http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/16/media/fox-news-stormy-daniels-trump/index.html

Ok I made that up, CNN said nothing like that. Far less creative.

In fact they even mention that their colleagues at Slate and The Daily Beast had the same “story” and also failed to publish it.

But now, after “Fire and Fury”, there is precisely nothing that liberal media won’t do to discredit themselves.

7. New York Times editorial board on January 19 – “Syria is now Trump’s War”.

Follows low key announcement that U.S. forces will remain in Syria indefinately.

Seems quite resigned to it. As far as I can make out Trump adinistration is only marginally better than Obama’s on this but is in a better position to avoid mobilizing opposition if they ever do decide to do something useful.

8. Newsweek doubles down on Trunp’s mental health. Outdoes TPM and Atlantic. Security of the nation doesn’t just need measures against “divisive” twittering. The National Emergency reuires a telepathic Psy Corps with psychiatric prisons to ensure public safety.

http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-mental-health-exam-unsufficient-785818

9. George Monbiot at the Guardian announces the end of civilization. Not just “western civilization” he stresses. Today there is “nowhere to turn”.

But wait, there’s more:

The wild lands and rich ecosystems that once supported hunter gatherers, nomads and the refugees from imploding early states who joined them now scarcely exist. Only a tiny fraction of the current population could survive a return to the barbarian life. (Consider that, according to one estimate, the maximum population of Britain during the Mesolithic, when people survived by hunting and gathering, was 5000).In the nominally democratic era, the complex state is now, for all its flaws, all that stands between us and disaster.

So what we do? Next week, barring upsets, I will propose a new way forward. The path we now follow is not the path we have to take.

George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/24/end-civilisation-take-different-path

Who could have possibly guessed that this was a Guardian columnist if they had not been so honest about it?

Another columnist “There is still hope amidst the horror”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/20/year-donald-trump-hope-horror-women-hillary-clinton

10. “Is Money-Laundering the Real Trump Kompromat?”

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/01/theres-a-potential-for-russian-leverage-here/551024/

Leaving aside the the “Russsia” angle it does seem plausible that a special investigator ought to be able to come up with some financial crimes committed by Trump or even any milder con artist. Would tend to alarm the rest of the swamp and I haven’t seen any sign of prayers being answered. Seems more likely that Mueller will just end up with a “straight” report that leads nowhere.

11. Another State of the Union met with 70% approval by simply reading the usual boring “Presidential” tripe from a teleprompter.

A year ago a similar effort to make Trump look “Presidential” with a teleprompter address to a joint session of Congress was promptly countered by media hysterics over Sessions recusing himself from Russia investigation, Trump criticizing that and Trump twittering that Obama administration had wiretapped his campaign. More recently Trump presiding over televised “Presidential” bipartisan discussion of comprehensive immigration was promptly countered by hysterics over reports he privately referred to immigration from “shithole” countries.

But this time they seem to be too exhausted to come up with anything. So far all I’ve seen to counter 70% approval of the speech is:

11.1 More pre-emptive hysterics about Trumpists intending to declassify a memo hostile to FBI surveillance. Curiously this seems to be related to a continuation of the stuff used to counter Trump looking “Presidential” a year ago by expressing outrage at him claiming his campaign was put under surveillance. Now even more outraged at documents said to confirm it!

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/01/politics/donald-trump-fbi-justice-department-memo/index.html

Meanwhile Andy McCabe, Deputy Director of FBI has steppedaside, apparently because Trump’s complaints of Democrat bias are about to be confirmed either by an internal FBI Inspector’s report or by the memo.

No less than “9 historians” confirm that President undermining FBI is “uncharted territory”:

https://www.vox.com/2018/2/1/16956422/numes-memo-release-fbi-trump

Apparently most prefer the great tradition established by Herbert Hoover in which the elected government feared the secret police.

Actually buried in there, one of them, Ivor Greenberg, got it right:

The claim that the FBI’s “independence” is a thing to preserve is misguided. In the past, much of that so-called “independence” allowed the bureau to go rogue in its spying on Americans and evade congressional or Justice Department accountability.

Update: looks like FBI Inspector General starting to move against Obama administration clowns in FBI. Also one of the missing text messages from Clinton supporting FBI agent Strozk assigned to investigating both Clinton and Trump show him expressing reluctance to join Russia investigation because there doesn’t seem to be any big “there” there.

11.2 Ongoing breathless discussion of affair with porn star who has gone on TV to smirk while interviewer speculates about whether her signature was forged on the denial issued and confirmed by her lawyer.

11.3 Some twittering about Melania Trump travelling separately to the “Presidential” address which is “unprecedebted” and perhaps related to “revelations” about the porn star. This could also explain her wearing a “white dress” which might be joining the #metoo campaign in protest against Trump and/or showing ethnic white nationalism/racism against blacks.

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/01/politics/donald-trump-fbi-justice-department-memo/index.html

If you follow a link from there you too can know what present Melania Trump gave Michelle Obama:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/entertainthis/2018/01/31/michelle-obama-reveals-trumps-gave-her-frame-explains-awkward-inauguration-day-exchange-trumps/1082139001/

Fox responds with analysis complaining that the fake media is at it again – Melania’s dress was cream not white and their attempt to undermine her reputation for superb fashion taste has failed.

11.4 Democrat speech in reply was given by a Kennedy. Even if he had actually said something memorable all that could possibly have been conveyed would be their dynastic helplessness. Even the daily roundup of the late night “comedy” version of Democrat talking points had this from Colbert:

“Nothing says ‘party of new ideas’ more than deploying the latest model Kennedy,” Colbert quipped. “Kennedy gave a stirring, thoughtful speech about the importance of fighting for all Americans.

But of course main “comedy” theme was also the main Democrat talking point – item 1. Defend the FBI from Trump (or the Russians).

(Lots of scope for comedy there, but it seems they just said it straight and meant it straight)

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2018/feb/01/late-night-hosts-call-trumps-state-of-the-union-a-glass-half-full-of-cyanide

12. So my guess is that Trump will successfully execute a switch to “Presidential” whenever he wants to. May have set the scene for attempting to defend GOP majority in 2018 then attempting to implement populist program together with Sanders wing of Democrats and Trumpist GOP minority and running as bipartisan unifier in 2020.

13. Bipartisan agreement on ending the budget caps and sequester ritual that GOP imposed on Obama administration. So Trump will get whatever deficits he needs for relection. First instalment 300 billion increase in budgets for next 2 years. With the basic pretense of attempting to reduce deficits gone, this will increase for many reasons (infrastructure, healthcare etc). Still has to go through House but that just means deficit hawk GOP rump can posture against comfortable Trumpist GOP and Democrat majority.

Update: Several reports that the last item above was major trigger for stock market “correction”. Some “investors” finally realised that Trump would succeed in getting big deficits to help with 2020 and this could result in subsequent major problems inconsistent with current absurd stock and bond prices and yields, so some started getting out now. Presumably they had thought the legal budget caps would be harder to remove.

So posting this now as stock market likely to drown out interest in other news.

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