Notes on Trump – 5

Things still drifting along as weirdly as ever but an increased flow of articles starting to notice some aspects while still ignoring others.

Here’s WAPO’s Aaron Blake continuing the daily obsession with the latest incitement from Trump to please keep talking about Russia.

Why did Trump meet with Putin again? Here are three possibilities.

1. There is something nefarious going on

(preferred explanation, with several paragraphs of the usual)

2. Trump is oblivious to how this might be perceived

(Trump is so stupid he does not understand that being perceived talking to Putin with no other Americans present will cause journalists to blather endlessly – the default explanation of why they keep on blathering about Russia whenever he tells them to being Trump’s stupidity, not theirs)

3. Trump is simply addicted to causing controversy and/or sees it as a GOP base play

“Whenever a politician does something suspect, the analyst in me is trained to look for the political advantage. Trump’s unexpected victory in the 2016 election had plenty of folks hailing his little-understood political genius and suggesting the media simply missed what appealed to Trump supporters.

There is also a significant chance that Trump loves the kind of coverage that ensues from these kinds of meetings. He’s got plausible deniability that anything unsavory happened — after all, who is going to contradict that? Putin? The interpreter? — and it gets the media in a fuss about what may have happened. Trump seems to love the idea of wielding all of that fuss and using it to decry the “fake news media” to rally his base.

And perhaps that’s the calculation. But at this point, Trump and his team have to be wondering: What’s the payoff? What is he really getting out of it? Trump’s approval rating is the lowest in modern presidential history, the GOP-controlled Congress hasn’t passed any signature legislation, his party split on one of his major promises on the health-care bill, and all Trump has to show for it is a mostly intact group of Republican voters who say they still like him.

If Trump has designs upon being a great president and winning so much that people would get tired of it, stuff like this sure doesn’t seem to be paying dividends.”

The above shows a faint glimmer of understanding. But only faint.

This guy’s job as an “analyst” depends on him not understanding the following:

  1. The media did not fail to understand what appealed to Trump voters. They actively helped him wipe out all the mainstream Republican candidates with masssive free publicity about what an outrageously anti-establishment outsider he was, knowing that this appealed to supporters and expecting it would result in the Republicans nominating him as a candidate so grotesque he couldn’t win even against Hilary Clinton and the completely degenerated party she represented.
  2.   Trump’s overall approval rating is indeed very low. But still well ahead of the media, Hilary Clinton and BOTH parties in Congress.
  3. Trump’s party has not split on health care. He DOES NOT HAVE a party in Congress. Pretending that the Republican representatives in the House and Senate are Trump’s party goes together with “forgetting” that the media helped him defeat the Republican party in the presidential primaries.
  4. The payoff for Trump is that by consolidating his base and keeping them fired up about the biased media he will keep his opponents in Congress intimidated for fear of defeat by Trumpist candidates in the 2018 primaries and will replace many of them, emerging with a large Trumpist party in Congress (even if the Democrats get a majority in the House of Representatives). Obviously having a party in Congress is a necessary preliminary to doing any “winning”, including on healthcare.

I haven’t got much new to add since I figured out this much in the first article in this series, written before inauguration day.

But it is really quite illuminating that six months later, even after starting to notice that their coverage helps Trump consolidate his base, the “analysts” still don’t get it. Their livelihood depends on them not understanding. How could they continue doing their jobs if they did understand?

Here’s a slighly less faint glimmer. The Atlantic explaining What Congressional Republicans Really Think About Trump and Russia

“Even as alarm has reached fever pitch among Democrats, most in the GOP see the reaction as little more than partisan noise.”

Reasonably clear that no chance of removing Trump from office with this Russia stuff that only strengthens his base.

As editor David Frum said It’s Trump’s Party Now.

A positive feedback loop is now well established that will ensure it remains Trump’s party at least through the 2018 primaries. Not only the “Never Trumpers” like David Frum, but many mainstream Republicans are simply giving up and ceasing to consider themselves part of the same party.

As usual, the New York Times can only look at this from a Democrat perspective Why Trump’s Base of Support May be Smaller Than it Seems

No doubt the 85% to 90% of Republicans who approve of Trump could be the same fraction of a shrinking Republican base as they drive others away. Great news for Democrats and the New York Times! But they are the people who will be voting in the 2018 Republican primaries. If any of these analysts had a clue they would be analysing the consequences of that. It doesn’t even require far sightedness. A completely different political situation is less than two years away.

Here’s Janet Albrechtson in the Australian on The Genius of Donald Trump: Liberal media in a frenzy over president it created

She gets it pretty well about how the liberal media is playing into Trump’s hands. But her obsessive hatred of her political opponents and delight in them making idiots of themselves results in her not even noticing that it is her own “conservative” side of what passes for mainstream politics that has been completely humiliated and wiped out by Trump.

“Normal programming cannot resume until the media starts reporting news and offering considered analysis rather than trying to get even with a modern-day President it helped create.”

But why then does she not attempt some “considered analysis” rather than merely endlessly celebrating the stupidity of her opponents? She could for example consider and analyse the consequences of a large bipartisan majority supporting isolationist and protectionist policies that she and other conservatives oppose. With a Democrat majority and a mainstream Republican wipeout by Trumpists is she still going to be celebrating?

 

 

 

 

Notes on Trump – 4

Interesting interview with GOP Senator Lindsay Graham:

(1) Supports my view that Trump intends to offer path to legalization for undocumented immigrants after announcing success in cutting flow of illegal immigrants so that legalization does not become a magnet for more.

” It’s frustrating for me to want to help a man who I think will do big things no other Republican would do, like immigration.

Believe it or not, I think Donald Trump may deliver us from a broken immigration system.”

That alone could swing enough votes for a second term (less hispanics voting Democrat).

(2) Also supports my view that healthcare outcome will be a single payer improvement on Obamacare supported by Democrats – nothing like the House GOP bill that was rejected by Trump’s base and never intended to be passed by Senate, (and would have had to be vetoed by Trump if it did).

“The bottom line is, the Senate is divided between Medicaid expansion states, non-Medicaid expansion states, the proper role of government. Mitch is trying to bring this together. It’s going to be tough. My advice is if we can’t replace Obamacare by ourselves, to go to the Democrats and say this.

10% of the sick people in this country drive 90 percent of the cost for all of us. Let’s take those 10 percent of really sick people, put them in a federal managed care system so they’ll get better outcomes, and save the private sector market if we can’t do this by ourselves. That’s a good place to start.”

(3) “He can’t collude with his own government. Why do you think he’s colluding with the Russians?”

 

No soft Brexit

I haven’t been following British politics.

But after reading mainstream articles about the British election I feel just as entitled to bloviate.

Even the Economist is blithering that May’s campaign for a hard Brexit has been rejected but there are no grounds to reverse the referendum result.

My recollection is that May opposed Brexit and was given the job of recovering from Cameron’s blunder. She was forced to abandon the pretence that Britain could become the only member of the single market that did not comply with free movement of labor. There never was an option for “soft Brexit” nor any preparations for a “hard Brexit”.

So I assume there will now have to be a second referendum to cancel Brexit. The only reason I think this might be  worth mentioning is that none of the articles I have read agree.

Notes on Trump – 3

Looks like I will be preoccupied with other things for quite a while and won’t be able to keep up with current affairs well enough to write even half-baked articles.

Meanwhile, I will still try to do quarter-baked incoherent notes occasionally.

Latest developments still leave me convinced Trump is overwhelmingly focussed on keeping his base angry enough to mobilize for 2018 primaries and his opponents in the Democrats and media are actively assisting by their cluelessness. Trump’s opponents in the Republican party (the overwhelming majority of the GOP establishment) are not as clueless as the Democrats and are not actively helping him win but still don’t seem to have come up with a viable strategy to prevent a Trumpist takeover of the GOP.

Georgia special election in what used to be a very safe Republican district is a pointer towards mid-terms. Democrats are running a candidate who emphasizes bipartisanship, support for infrastructure spending etc backed with massive funding from Democrat establishment committed to that strategy (for contestable districts – with an opposite “identity politics” strategy for safe Democrat districts). The Republican candidate is mainstream GOP – avoiding any close identification with Trump. Serious possibility of a Democrat victory resulting in one more vote for the economic policies Trump needs to win a second term (jobs growth via big deficits, infrastructure projects etc) and one less traditional Republican blocking such policies.

Whether or not the Democrat actually wins in such a safe GOP district, that pattern is likely to be repeated in seriously contestable seats likely to swing to Democrats in the mid-term – doing Trump no harm whatever. (With side benefit that a Democrat majority in the House of Representatives not only guarantees less coherent opposition to Trumpist economic policies but also impeachment with no evidence that could result in actual removal from office by two-thirds majority of Senate and plenty of opportunities for Democrats to continue making idiots of themselves and really annoying everybody else as they just did with Comey).

In most safe GOP districts Trump opponents will be challenged by Trumpists in the 2018 primaries, whether or not Trump openly backs those challenges and whether or not the incumbents suck up to Trump or openly oppose.

The result can be expected to be a large Trumpist Republican party in Congress,  smaller and thoroughly disoriented traditional GOP still committed to being in the same party as the President, and badly split Democrat majority with hopelessly inept leadership.

Only one third of Senate seats up in 2018 most vacancies in Democrat States. No major change expected since nobody gets a 60% majority or an ability to abolish that requirement for legislation. But a small Trumpist faction might arrive there too and Democrats might become more split.

On foreign policy I still don’t feel confident in any prediction.

Trump’s declarations of support for Saudis against Qatar contrary to actual policy of State Department and Pentagon is very strong evidence for a plausible theory that Trump is ONLY interested in mobilizing his base (by shouting at terrorists as excuse for cosying up to Saudis) and not really coordinating a coherent foreign policy – which is being largely left to the establishment. Likewise for tweets annoying everyone by blaming Iranian regime for Daesh terrorist attack on it.

Europe becoming more nervous and spending more on defence won’t do any harm. Leaving the climate change agreement is also sensible as well as popular with Trump’s base. Isolationism and protectionism are still a “work in progress” – the real dangers more likely to emerge in a second term.

But the last superpower is now even weaker than before and therefore even more heavily into both strategic and tactical deception. I am still impressed with the fact that the George W Bush administration managed to convince the Iraqi Baathists they were only going to get rid of Sadaam even though that alienated the Shia and Kurdish forces they were actually allied with – and managed to get Turkey to stay out by asking it to join in – and managed to convince everybody including me that the war wouldn’t start until the 4th infantry division had arrived in Kuwait after being blocked from coming through Turkey.

There is some complex stuff going on in alliance with the Iranian supporting militias in liberating Mosul while negotiating ceasefire and transition from the Assad regime with them and getting Saudi support for safe zones and occupation of Raqqa. Having just confirmed the dropping of sanctions against Iran, the US may simply be sending confusing messages to keep the Saudis confused.

Some of the “derangement” that left me unable to figure out what having Mike Flynn as National Security Advisor implied is topped by confirmation that he was an unregistered foreign agents working for the (Muslim Brotherhood) Turkish Government. That is so cognitively dissonant that the media have hardly mentioned it and focus on “Russian connections” instead.

Conceivably the indisputable incoherence is once again, deliberate. Certainly Trump has a good grasp of such deception strategies as demonstrated by making it completely irresistable for the Democrats to go crazy over Comey by contradicting Trump’s staff reminding them that Comey should have been sacked over Clinton emails, suggesting it was to block the Russian inquiry (when in fact he knew and actually SAID he knew that the result of the sacking would be to prolong and intensify that utterly weird demonstration of extreme liberal bankruptcy). Inviting the Russians into the oval office the next day, and allowing their media in while excluding the US media was a bit of overkill, but it certainly confirmed there is no danger of liberals paying attention to any warnings that they are being played as their heads really and truly have exploded, splattering their brains all over the walls and carpet.

So I only feel confident in having a good theory about what’s happening domestically. Not at all confident about foreign policy (which is opposite of my usual situation).

Notes on Trump – 2

Just a quick update. Expectations that Trump won’t get a second term seem to be peaking again, so this seems a good moment to stick my neck out and say I still think my analysis in part 1 of these notes (and subsequent 100+ numbered comments) has held up reasonably well. Still possible for opponents to get their act together and win in 2020 but no sign of it so far and still looks like a shift from two globalist parties to two anti-globalist parties regardless of which one wins.
Here’s an indication that Trump opponents just don’t get it:

If the Trump administration were not plagued with stunning incompetence, someone might have realized that welcoming Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, on a day when Trump was being accused of trying to quash an investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia, was an extraordinarily stupid thing to do.

CNN Frida Ghitis

If Trump’s opponents were not plagued with stunning incompetence, someone might have realized that getting sucked back in to blithering about Russian conspiracies was an extraordinarily stupid thing to do. Even after having got nowhere with that and at least attempted more plausible lines of attack like “incompetent failure blocked at every turn”, “crazy” and “sold out his base and joined the swamp”, they unhesitatingly rush down every rabbit hole Trump provides.
Especially bizarre since they blamed the head of the FBI’s grandstanding for Hilary Clinton’s defeat and are now simultaneously revelling in the new opportunity to step up investitigation  into Trump campaign ties with Russia provided by Trump having sacked the FBI head while also claiming that the sacking was an attempt to quash such investigations rather than an encouragement to keep on blithering.