0. Not attempting to cover Syria in this Notes on Trump series. Will post any comments to other articles. Focus here on Trump, whose focus is on domestic politics. There is a relevant connection – I see far more advantages than disadvantages for Trump in mid-terms and 2020 if he does more than token gesture about Syria. Also I view recent announced appointments of Bolton and Pompeo as not shedding direct light on foreign policy but indicating that it will feature in domestic politics, and needs people who can present well on cable TV. Likewise for CBS commentator Larry Kudlow appointment for domestic TV coverage on trade issues. As AP reports, Trunp is staffing for TV just as he twitters for TV. His TV skills are what got him where he is:
Here’s Brooking’s think tank expecting and advocating that after November Democrat Congress will try to take control of foreign policy from President – which would of course give an isolationist President the best of all possible worlds. Not having to do anything much and blame the results on paralysis from Congress.
And here’s the sort of words of wisdom that the State Department is being deprived of because so much of the foreign policy established is now is now stuck in think tanks instead of actually running moronic policies.
1. Most important recent development is on steel and alumininium tariffs. Unlike other policy issues like immigration, gun control and North Korea, there are quite a few news and opinion articles about this that actually focus on policy rather than just spreading more hysteria. However these are mainly from Republicans, business people and economists. Democrat politicians not even spreading hysteria. Democrat unions openly backing the tariffs as usual. Too early to be sure what is actually happening. But reinforces my expectation of a two party system with both parties protectionist instead of both parties globalist.
I was expecting Trump to wait longer before moving beyond posturing and just keep promoting an atmosphere shifting towards protectionism worldwide. That may still turn out to be the case, for example he could just be aiming to intimidate negotiations over NAFTA and with China while provoking more GOP incumbents into quitting or getting primaried and/or attempt avoid losing the special election in Pennsylvania, a steel state.
Timing and chaos may also have been influenced by knowledge of internal discussions having started to spread widely enough for plausible accusations of insider trading.
Either way it does already seem clear that protectionism will be a big issue in GOP primaries and subsequent mid-terms. Predictable result is more globalist GOP incumbents replaced by Trumpists in “red” states, and more globalist GOP incumbents being replaced by anti-globalist Democrats in “purple states”. For example the Democrats ran (and won) with a very pro-union candidate who doesn’t rave on about Trump in the Pennsylvania special election and will presumably do the same in other “purple rustbelt” contests.
With strong union support for protectinism Trump could even get some Democrats replaced by Trumpists in “rustbelt” purple states or at the very least some incumbent GOP replaced by protectionist Democrats who will more reliably vote for his agenda.
As usual, this just confirms to liberal media and Democrats how stupid Trump is, though there does seem to be significantly more seriousness in concern from business people. Too early to tell whether they will actually get their act together. If they do they have left it awfully late and will be faced with recovering from a very different House of Representatives in 2019 with both their parties having basically collapsed. In some ways that makes it easier to establish a viable third party like Macron in France. But Trump has successfully maintained the extremely intensified partisanship between the two parties that preceded his emergence. So splits from both parties still look more likely to result in a four way contest than in the GOP and Democrat spin-offs uniting into a single party. In a four way split Trump’s party would be the largest and a deadlocked Electoral College in 2020 could result in Trump winning in the House of Representatives voting by States.
Alternatively Bernie Sanders or a younger version could win, again ending up with a Presidency and two major parties both supporting protectionism.
This is the most damaging realistic outcome of the Trump saga. Actual disruption of globalism does slow down the historical forces making capitalism obsolete by maintaining barriers dividing an increasingly international working class. The other stuff is basically “noise”.
Lots of indications that there won’t actually be a trade war any time soon and with Trump letting worried interests know that he isn’t serious about withdrawing from NAFTA and could even join TPP etc eg:
His new cable TV economic advisor saying China tariffs may not actually happen:
But that isn’t the problem. By whipping up support for protectionism to appeal to his base he is already shifting the whole spectrum of views on it and opening the way for Democrats inclined that way, with likely result of two protectionist parties in Congress and a protectionist President when it becomes a more live real issue with global crisis some time after 2020. That does real damage.
Here’s the extremely mainstream and extremely anti-Trump USA Today editorial board endorsing Trump’s tariffs against China:
2. Most interesting recent development is Trump v Sessions saga. Here’s the first sign I have seen of anyone else presenting a similar analysis to mine. It is from a Trumpist which makes the lack of any such insight from opponents of Trump all the more interesting:
“…I always see Donald Trump as a master of the video narrative, an expert crafter of story arcs that work to his advantage, and which often lure his opponents into positions that redound to his benefit once all the facts and drama have played themselves out before the nation’s eyes. Never forget that Donald Trump is the most successful reality television producer in the history of the medium. And never forget that he played the media like a Stradivarius violin during the campaign, exploiting their predictable outrage.
“What if A.G. Sessions is already conducting serious investigations and has developed evidence that will result in indictments for misbehavior in the surveillance of the Trump campaign and in the FBI? The very last thing Sessions (or Trump) would want is for Sessions to be seen as Trump’s hit man, going after his political opponents. Wouldn’t it better, instead, for Sessions to be regarded by the mainstream media as someone sympathetic, because the POTUS has attacked him?”
“This dispatch from Trump-hating CNN makes my point:
Here’s what is actually disgraceful: The president of the United States is engaged in a one-sided smear effort against the man who, less than 18 months ago, he nominated to be the top law enforcement official in the country.
In May 2017, following the news that Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, Trump, according to The New York Times, called Sessions an “idiot” and said he should resign.
Professor Larry Schwiekart yesterday posted an interesting Twitter thread in which he made the same case I am making here. Read the whole thing, but the key points are:
Trump MUST avoid the perception that he is “going after” political opponents. (I know, it’s ok for DemoKKKrats to do this – but that’s not an argument[.]) …
That was shortly before Sessions sacked McCabe on recommendation of Obama appointed FBI Inspector General. Duly reported as Trump sacking McCabe and/or Sessions in fear of Trump.
3. Very detailed recent Poll from Morning Consult/Politico shows significant increase in both Trump and GOP support and decline in Democrats.
Not directly comparable to Gallup polls previously noted here but potentially more relevant to outcomes as only registered voters.
Full (273pp) details in last link at bottom of story.
The Atlantic worried that mid-terms already no longer look like an easy win for Democrats.
Gallup polls this year have not provided breakdown separating Conservative Republicans from all Republicans.
Weekly results for all Republicans peaked at 90% Jan 29 to Feb 4 then 2 weeks each of 86% and 85% up to 87% then down to 82% Mar 12-18.
Latest is 89% April 2-8:
I’m not paying attention to overall approval ratings as irrelevant until after mid-terms. But its interesting that Rasmussen recently reported approval of 50% at end of February.
This was an outlier with others at around 40% and below. Rasmussen consistently higher for Republicans as reports on people who say they are “likely voters” only (more selective than “registered voters” used by some and everyone used by others). Also said to be higher for Trump because uses automated phone calls instead of personal calls (said to disinhibit some people too embarassed to admit approving of Trump, perhaps also difference in willingness to respond to robot calls). But that just makes Rasmussen likely to more closely reflect election outcomes which are decided by actual opinions of people who actually vote – just as direction of politics in period leading up to 2020 will be determined by outcome of mid-term primaries not overall approval rates.
Interesting thing is that this blip to majority approval and greater approval than Obama at same stage wasn’t even mentioned in US media among the 10 pages of Google news on Trump I just scan. Only item included was from UK Daily Telegraph.
Two most recent Rasmussen polls also reached 50% as of 13 April. Peak this year was 51%. (4 April):
If he isn’t careful he might not get a Democrat majority Congress in November. (But Democrats will still be mobized to turnout in unusually large numbers in November and won’t get fully demoralized until after a year or so of having a Democrat Congress).
All time Rasmussen peak was 59% approval just after inauguration:
Nearly all the “news” on Trump reflects a picture of the world in which it would be quite difficult for the authors to imagine a majority approving him. The US media has gone way beyond cognitive dissonance to outright derangement. To the extent that they are aware a lot of people disagree with them or have stopped paying attention to them they regard those people as either deranged or victims of Russian propaganda (which has currently displaced concern that Trump is mentally incompetent as the “existential threat” against which the U.S. media is mobilizing).
Lots of reports confirming that GOP now Trump’s party, though not much on actual primary contests so still unclear how many GOP incumbents currently keeping their heads down and collaborating with Trump will be replaced by active Trumpists. (Some will be replaced by Democrats who could actually be more cooperative on deficits etc).
Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement is a very big deal. Adds to unusually long list:
Focus of article is that many of these incumbents in purple states will be replaced by Democrats. True, but they will be protectionist Democrats and GOP replacements will be Trumpists. Next leader of GOP in House likely to be Trumpist which makes a huge difference whether they are speaker or Minority leader. Senate GOP retirements far more likely to be replaced by Trumpists than Democrats of any kind.
4. Anybody remember the Democrat memo drama? Has been released:
As unexciting as the GOP memo. Refutes suggestion FISA surveillance of Page was effort to monitor Trump campaign for electoral purposes. Does not dispute that FBI publicity given to Steele dossier was partisan warfare against Trump.
Stuff about not releasing this memo briefly dominated media as intensively as theme that Trump is mentally incompetent and now that it has been released with agreed redactions it has disappeared even more quickly than the “mentally incompetent” theme.
Current theme (when drafting this) is that Trump might be about to sack Mueller, which seems to be the last hope they have for actually getting him. Quotes Republicans explaining to idiot reporters that doing so would end his presidency as signs of GOP revolt against Trump rather than attempt at explaining to idiot reporters that they are just fantasizing.
Trigger for this was that FBI Never Trumper Deputy Director McCabe who got fired after internal inquiry which once again proves whatever…
Who knows what next week’s theme will be? Possibly back to Stormy Daniels. Or danger of nuclear war with Korea, or whatever…
(Update looks like mid-April theme will be “grave danger of war with Russia in Syria”. Plus “Mueller will get Trump on intimidating stormy Daniels” or perhasps “Access Hollywood pussygrab tape”. Hard to keep focus on all of these with a straight face, but they don’t seem to be even trying to look as though they take themselves seriously any more.)
5. Now trying again to just dump lots of open windows.
6. Trump conspiracy theories are becoming a global meme. Al Jazeera (Qatar) has “connected the dots” and found a connection to its enemies in the UAE for Mueller to investigate. Russians in there too, but UAE looms far larger in the Qatari interactive slide show and extensive breathless coverage:
7. CNN explains that Trump is a lying demagogue. Seems accurate enough. But only talking to people who already knew that.
8. Here’s a rather mild description of the media’s state of denial about there being no sign Trump is in danger from Mueller investigation.
Its getting pretty difficult to sustain anybody’s interest in this total diversion, but FBI raid on Trump’s personal lawyer should be enough to keep them fantasizing for at least a few more weeks. (Trump has dodgy lawyers who are paying off women he had sex with, what a breakthrough, “who knew?”)
Here’s a fairly solid analysis of the reality that the bizarre media focus on “Russia” has and will work to Trump’s advantage and that his seeming blunders in handling it help immunize him against more plausible attacks:
9. Fox news analyst predicting doom for GOP due to Democrat turnout against Trump this November. Seems plausible, which would give Trump two years of presenting himself as the anti-Washington elite President while the Washington elite confirms it by spending most of their energy doing nothing but trying to get rid of him. If that doesn’t get him re-elected in 2020, nothing could.
A rather trivial analysis by Australian “experts” on US politics does get one thing right – post November Congress will have more Democrats and be more protectionist than before:
Will also be more inclined to run the bigger deficits that Trump needs for re-election. But they don’t mention that.
10. Former bank of England Monetary Policy Committee expert expects “overheating” leading up to 2020 election followed by crash. I wouldn’t know, but that strikes me as more likely than other scenarios. Trump needs all the overheating he can get for re-election, is likely to get it from 2019 Congress dominated by Democrats and Trumpists and he doesn’t have magic powers to avoid subsequent consequences, which will as usual be regarded as both a complete mystery and (truthfully), long overdue.
Here’s the Atlantic boasting that the huge budget just passed is what Obama would have dreamed of but could not get from GOP Congress.
Of course that doesn’t stop Trump from also complaining and threatening to veto the Bill and using it to campaign to replace GOP incumbents with Trumpists at the primaries:
11. A reasonably objective summary of the Stormy Daniels saga:
A more typical example of the attempts to explain to jaded cynics that it is really all about abuse of power:
and of course, not prurient interest but concern that the POTUS could be blackmailed by a foreign intelligence service.
Short response from Trump supporters in Boston Herald:
Stormy Daniels? Read our lips: we don’t care.
Tonight’s the night that the former porn “star” will be appearing on “60 Minutes” to reveal what we already knew, that she had a, gasp, consensual extramarital affair with Donald J. Trump more than a decade before he became president.
Stop the presses!
Fact check. Actually it wasn’t an affair, it was a one-night stand.
But according to liberals, Republicans are supposed to get really upset about such things. They simply don’t get it that above is a natural response from people who despise liberals to the liberal hysteria (and that Trump’s non-denial and sueing on non-disclosure agreement instead adds to his credibility).
It reminds me of the “Australian Republicans” so desperate to get a head of state of our very own so that they go to garden parties and look up to “our” sovereign as a national figurehead (to be worshipped like POTUS Obama rather than ridiculed like our future King Charlie). They are far more monarchist than their the rest of us.
12. Clinton’s running mate for Vice-President says John Bolton should be refused a security clearance for advocating that Russians should have the right to bear arms:
Masses more windows still open but I had better post this now.