My last post in this series:
was number 46 on 2019-04-19:
I got absorbed in following Brexit around then and have not followed US news on Trump in any detail since. I am not planning to resume following Trump again now.
This note is mainly to suggest a possible solution to the puzzle of why Pelosi agreed to an absurd impeachment of Trump after successfully resisting the Democrat clamour for so long.
Given the alternatives of a conspiracy or a stuff up its usually safe to bet on a stuff up. But this one seems unusually absurd.
The official Republican theory is that the Democrats are trying to reverse the results of losing the last elections. That is obviously absurd. Not even the most deranged Democrat could possibly imagine that the result would be a two-third majority of a Republican dominated Senate to replace Trump, even if they would actually prefer to hand Trup that ammunition for re-election, just to enjoy a year or so under Commander in Chief Pence.
Here’s Biden’s theory, answering the following question:
Q. “Isn’t the President going to be stronger and harder to beat if (!) he survives this?”
A. “Yes, probably. But congress has no choice.”
That absurdity is also the official Democrat position. Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanours so threaten the Constitution that they had no choice but to help make him stronger and harder to beat.
Given the extremes to which Democrats appear to be willing to go to help Trump win, perhaps such grotesque stupidity really is the explanation.
But here’s another one (purely speculative) suggested by the emergence of Bloomberg as a potential candidate to replace Biden as the candidate of Pelosi’s wing of the Democrats. What if Pelosi’s target is Biden, just as Trump’s target was Biden?
As far as I can make out the Democrat tactics have set things up for Biden to be called as a witness by the Republican majority in the Senate. That could be just more Democrat blundering. Impeaching Trump for obstructing them for trying to impeach him is what they were rather more than merely itching to do over “the Russia thing”. That desperate obsession still needs scratching. But they didn’t even try to issue an arrest warrant, or persuade a Court to do so, for the witnesses that Trump prevented from testifying by claiming the usual Executive privilege.
Here’s the official argument for demanding that the Senate call witnesses from Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer:
“this is not a fair trial … because there are no witnesses and documents”
One might expect that argument from the defence rather than the prosecution, if there was some dispute about the facts. Only an idiot could regard the prosecution’s lack of witnesses or documents as a point to be highlighted by the prosecutor.
Is Chuck Schumer really that stupid? Quite possibly. But it does set things up for Republicans to allow witnesses on both sides, with Democrats neither surprising nor impressing anybody by indignantly demanding that the only witnesses called be hostile Republican witnesses called by Democrats and no hostile Democrat witnesses called by Republicans since that would be even more unfair than acquitting Trump in the absence of witnesses or documentary evidence.
Even succeeding in preventing Biden being cross examined damages Biden as a candidate by helping Trump hammer home that he got impeached for trying to get Biden’s corruption investigated. Failing to prevent Biden’s cross examination won’t shed any light on his or his son’s corruption or corruption in the Ukraine or on Trump, but it will spotlight Biden’s inability to defeat Trump.
Biden does badly in debates, let alone under cross examination. That could be the point.
Warren is already playing the loser’s card by pretending Sanders had told her privately that “no woman can win”. That echoes exactly what the Clinton camp did say publicly about the impossibility of a black candidate winning in 2016. It backfired because Obama’s threat that blacks would stop turning out to vote Democrat was very real and serious from a real and serious contender. Warren has no such stature and had to pitch her lack of credibility against Sanders who is now well ahead. Once she drops out there is a very real chance Sanders could beat Biden in the primaries.
Bloomberg could be the only realistic hope for Pelosi’s wing of the Democrats. Openly buying a primary does not strike me as a very promising hope. But I still prefer speculating about possible rational motives rather than simply accepting they are all utterly clueless.
The end of last year seemed an appropriate time to summarize a couple of conclusions after a very quick glance. I gave up, but here are the notes I made then.
- Trump is still polling very well at nearly 50% among those believed likely to vote:
The bias towards smaller states in the US electoral college means Trump needs far less than that to win another 4 years. The campaign has not yet started and the Democrats have not yet picked a candidate and anything could happen with the economy, but I see no reason not to expect another four years of Trump.
- In particular I see no sign that liberals/Democrats have learnt anything. In number 46 I thought Pelosi had successfully avoided the impeachment trap after the Mueller report spectacularly demonstrated the bankruptcy of their “Russia” conspiracy theories. Impeaching Trump for trying to get Ukraine to investigate Biden may be the best she could do to get the obsession dealt with as soon as possible rather than dragging on into the election. It could also be the result of tactical maneuvers either to rally the party around Biden as the one Trump wanted to stop, or highlighting his vulnerability to Trump’s accusations of corruption (or, perhaps, since both wings of the party have united on the current idiocy, each wing supports it for the opposite idiotic reason). I wouldn’t know and could not even guess. (But have now speculated above).
- What everybody does know is that the Democrats are reduced to purely symbolic gesturing against Trump, knowing full well that they are only uniting the Republican party around him and that the Senate trial will not help them win any votes. The idea that is it is an impeachable “high crime” for the President to conduct foreign policy with a view to maximizing his chance of re-election appeals only to the US foreign policy establishment which is no more popular in the US than elsewhere. The US constitution explicitly puts foreign policy under the direction of an elected President, precisely so that it will be conducted that way, and it always has been.
4When I say “everybody knows”, I do not mean the liberal media. Here’s a quick sample of today’s (December) Google news items on “Trump”.
- Here’s CNN comforting its readers with the thought that the absolutely certain outcome of a resounding acquittal by the Senate is bothering Trump:
“(CNN)President Donald Trump is showing signs of increasing frustration with the uncertainty surrounding his Senate trial …”
- WAPO actually has some serious analysis:
Explaining that Trump has basically reversed traditional GOP economic poliy to win voters away from Democrats.
On trade protectionism and isolationism Trump still cannot outdo the Democratsin bad populist policies except that he actually does what they only posture about. But on anything to create a temporary economic climate suitable for winning the 2020 election he has surpassed Democrat demands (which they chalk up as victories for their policies).
- Bret Stephens also has an opinion piece at the NYT with some insight:
“In a contest between the unapologetic jerk in the White House and the self-styled saints seeking to unseat him, the jerk might just win….
… Too much of today’s left is too busy pointing out the ugliness of the Trumpian right to notice its own ugliness: its censoriousness, nastiness and complacent self-righteousness. But millions of ordinary Americans see it, and they won’t vote for a candidate who emboldens and empowers woke culture.”
But of course the bizarre antidote proposed is a return to the old Democrat establishment with a candidate like Bloomberg or Biden – exactly what Trump demolished last time.
- Here’s a psychiatrist explaining that Peolosi should get rid of Trump by compulsory psychiatric examination:
” In this context, almost anyone who actively takes the side of the president is likely to have some degree of the “shared psychosis.” If you were unaffected, you would be repelled. And this is why we often see a clear split, much like the binary division in our country.”
8. If a third party candidate was going to emerge from the GOP that could cost Trump victory I think there would have been some sign of it by now. There is likewise no sign of a split on the Democrat side. The electoral college is unlikely to be deadlocked. But if it was, the House would resolve the deadlock voting by state delegations and that would also be likely to favour Trump due to the concentration of Democrats in larger States.
9. I take comfort that in the US as in Britain the collapse is in illusions about “progressives”. Voters are staying home rather than backing them against the other side. It isn’t a right-wing resurgence so much as a collapse of the fake left. That still has bad consequences as the fake left merely postured against globalism while their opponents actually have the capacity to raise barriers against developing global solidarity. Nevertheless “the future is bright, the road is tortuous”.
Here’s a series of items from just one issue of The Guardian confirming that the complete inability of liberals to learn anything is not confined to the USA.
“The Guardian Weekly” v201 n2 2019-12-20
(p3) Introduces “The big story page 10” on UK general election:
“Two months ago Boris Johnson was penned in … and didn’t even have the numbers to call an election. Then, after three attempts, Johnson won out – with Labour and the Liberal Democrats confident they could do the PM more damage. Instead Johnson won the Tories their biggest majority since the Thatcher era…”
Simon Tisdall’s year in review has part 1 “Reasons to be fearful” (chaos everywhere, situation dreadful) and part 2 “Reasons to be cheerful”. (Greta Thunberg, Denmark did not sell Greenland, surge to far-right in Europe did not happen, Finland elected a 34 year old PM). By p25 we had a sub-head “America resists Trump” with this gem:
“…. the most serious damage was inflicted in Washington. First came the highly critical, albeit inconclusive, report by Robert Mueller into an alleged Trump campaign conspiracy with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. Mueller refused to exonerate Trump and later testified the president had told untruths to his investigation.
“Then came the impeachment inquiry … suggested Trump tried to induce a foreign state, Ukraine, to help smear Biden, a potential re-election rival. House Democrats advanced articles of impeachment alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. With the public divided and the Senate unlikely to convict, it remains unclear how badly Trump has been hurt.
“The year was encouraging for what did not happen as well as what did… (No US war with Iran, John Bolton sacked for opposing Trump’s “irresponsible” Afghanistan peace deal (!). No war with North Korea. No war between India and Pakistan.)
p9 “Reach ‘peak meat’ by 2030 to tackle crisis, say scientists”
“The world’s scientists agree… Production of meat, milk and eggs has increased from 758m tonnes in 1990 to 1,247, tonnes in 2017, research shows.”
This is so obviously a VERY BAD THING THAT MUST BE STOPPED that there is no need to even provide a citation to the “scientists” who have “warned” about it.
p10-19 cover the election
p32 “Less than an hour after she accused Trump of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours’, Pelosi said that congressional negotiators had reached a trade agreement with the administration, a top campaign promise for the President…..’If [Trump] has collateral benefits, so be it’.
Privately, she crowed to her caucus ; ‘We ate their lunch'”.
p33 “The climate crisis is the most urgent threat of our time”. “Planting and protecting trees is a positive way that we can help…..give generously and help protect the planet we share.”
p58 An opinion piece from columnist Aditya Chakrabotty:
what “made me almost sure Labour was going to lose, … and in precise those areas … called its heartlands”. Briefly trends streched back decades, inherited not not created by Corbyn. Working class in heartlands marginalised politically and destroyed economically while patronised into apathy by careerist bureaucrats. “Meanwhile the big gap in the electoral market that opened up was for a party offering a welfare state with reactionary social policy. That was Nigel Farage; now it’s Boris Johnson. Some in Labour might well think they can win back seats by beating up on immigrants and tacking to the right: Johnson’s party can do both with far more gusto.”
“Corbynism … started as an anti-austerity movement… is now a melange of ideas, most of which look and sound utterly absurd on a doorstep on a rainy morning… Corbyn offered yet more direction from Westminster, with utilities run from the centre and hundreds of billions disbursed from remove state institutions…”
But solution offered is the classic Labourism that failed and died many decades ago:
“… providing advice to those whose benefits are being slashed, legal support to tenants under the cosh from their landlords. haggling with the utilities to provide better deals. Add to that: teaching political and economic literacy to voters, not just activists, and asking constituents what issues Labour should be battling on…. Labout needs to renew its contract with its base. The big question is whether it wants to.”
A more typical columnist is Rebecca Solnit from the US on “The young will save us”:
“We must expand our imaginations and act on that bigger understanding of our place in the world and our impact on the future. That means making radical changes like [wait for it!]
our homes and transit being powered by renewables, our governments not plotting more extractivism. It means leaving fossil fuels in the ground. We need to remind ourselves why these changes are necessary: that the earth is finite ;;;
“We must make sweeping changes by the end of the coming decade, (by all bowing down before the very Reverand Parson Malthus and joining in prayer to the almighty).
Ok I made up the last bit. The youth will indeed eventual rise up against this reactionary bilge but at present it is driving them into the arms of conservatives less virulently hostile to all human progress, such as Trump.
p60-1 Andrew Rawnsley considers what Johnson will do in power and wisely decides not to even hazard a guess.
p61 “The existential crisis that confronts Labour has no simple solution” (no byline).
“The coalition between middle-class professionals, often working in the public sector, and the traditional working-class communities fell apart last Thursday. Without it, the party has no route to power.”
“A rush to premature conclusions should be avoided at all costs.”
Conclusion (rushed and randomly inserted in the last para):
“A more subtle politics of place, in which the revival of local democracy is championed, will help Labour begin to reconnect in the years to come… This was once Labour’s natural terrain. It can be so again.”
Not sure what that means. Best guess is running for local councils since nothing to say about national, let alone global politics.
10. So much for the Guardian weekly. Back to other random items.
11. Cartoon John Spooner, The Australian 2019-12-24 p11 “Unimpeachable” shows Speaker Pelosi having tea with another Democrat politician in a suit:
“We funded a fake dossier so that we could fool the FISA court so that we could spy on Americans so that we could…”
Pelosi “Uphold our values…”
With families coming together at the end of one of the most divisive years in recent memory, President Donald Trump‘s campaign has created what is intended to be a gift for supporters who might talk politics with a “snowflake” relative this Christmas.
Trump’s reelection campaign launched a new website Christmas Eve designed to help the president’s backers “win an argument” with liberal friends and family members.
“Nothing says Merry Christmas like hurling insults at relatives,” responded former DNC spokesman Mo Elleithee.
A 2018 Pew Research Center study found that more than half — 53 percent — of Americans thought it was “stressful and frustrating” to discuss politics with people they don’t agree with. That number was up from 46 percent in 2016.
“The change in opinions has come largely among Democrats: 57% now say that talking about politics with people they disagree with is stressful and frustrating, up from 45% two years ago.
By contrast, Republicans’ feelings about political conversations with people they disagree have changed very little. About half (49%) continue to find such conversations stressful and frustrating.”
The more liberal you are, the more stressful and frustrating it is to converse with people you disagree with.
“Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, 63% of liberals say such conversations are stressful and frustrating, compared with 51% of conservatives and moderates.”
“As was the case in late 2016, Trump is a more frequent topic of conversation for liberal Democrats than for other Democrats or among Republicans. Currently, 42% of liberal Democrats say Trump’s presidency comes up in conversations very often; that is double the share of conservatives and moderates who say this.
Among Republicans, Trump comes up more in conversation among conservatives (23% very often) than among GOP moderates and liberals (15%). The share of conservative Republicans who say Trump comes up very often in conversation has slipped since 2016, from 30% then to 23% now.”
13. China signing a trade deal now rather than after November might indicate they don’t hope for Trump to lose. More likely they don’t expect anybody else to be any less protectionist. They could be wrong either way if Bloomberg can buy the Democrat nomination. But I suspect that would drive large numbers of Democrat voters to stay home.
In short last year defies caricature, let alone summary or analysis.