Notes on Trump 9

1. This report regarding Cobb, Trump’s personal counsel for Mueller inquiry and White House official counsel McGahn is consistent with my view that Trump wants the Russia stuff prolonged as it only helps consolidate his base:

Mr. Cobb was heard … saying Mr. McGahn had “a couple documents locked in a safe” that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to….Mr. Cobb argues that the best strategy is to be as forthcoming as possible, even erring on the side of inclusion when it comes to producing documents, because he maintains the evidence will show Mr. Trump did nothing wrong. Mr. McGahn has told colleagues that he is concerned that Mr. Cobb’s liberal approach could limit any later assertion of executive privilege. He has also blamed Mr. Cobb for the slow collection of documents.

(Not suggesting it is strong evidence, but consistent. If I am right, it could not be admitted even to Trump’s personal lawyers, that Trump has an interest in delaying release of anything that could prematurely end the drama so other explanations would have to be provided to them and would annoy them as rejections of their advice on how to best achieve their assumed goal of clearing it all up as quickly as possible. Steve Bannon agreed in a public interviewew that sacking FBI Director had been a huge political blunder, most likely because he cannot reveal the opposite but conceivably because he also does not know.)

2. Trump’s declining gallup approval has stabilized and may be starting to move back up. Now 81% among Republicans and 86% among conservative Republicans. That is for September 11-17. These are the important figures for 2018 primaries and consequently for mid-term elections and subsequent political developments leading up to 2020 presidential elections. Overwhelming opposition among Democrats and others continues and remains irrelevant until after primaries.

3. Above drafted a week ago. Latest gallup for September 18-24 has 82% and 88% so trend clearly back up where it counts for 2018 primaries. I am doing a link dump now for items accumulated over the past week, although Alabama primary tomorrow will be an important indicator.

4. This serious analysis suggests a strong correlation between (“red”) states with higher approval of Trump and larger recent decline in approval. This could of course just be “regression to the mean” but they suggest it correlates with “reluctant Trump voters” who voted Republican against Clinton but might not turn up to stop Democrats in the mid-terms.

That sounds plausible to me but it is natural for Democrat analysts to focus on only the direct implications for Democrats and not look more deeply. They describe it as “suggesting the president’s base isn’t as solid as it once was.” What it also suggests to me is that these “reluctant Trump voters” might well include traditional Republicans who no longer identify as much as Republicans and are therefore less likely to vote in Republican primaries.

Those “reluctant Trump voters” are certainly not Trump’s base. What it suggests to me is that Trump’s (possibly smaller) base is becoming more dominant in the GOP as others leave. (That would not show up in most polls which weight the actual samples according to previously verified assumptions regarding the usually stable proportions of Republicans, Democrats and Independents as well as genders, ethnicities and various ranges of income levels and ages). 

Here’s their conclusion:

We’ve also seen that House Republicans are picking up very few supporters among people who disapprove of Trump’s job performance in national polling. That is, there aren’t a lot of voters who dislike Trump and are still willing to say they’re going to vote Republican.

If red state voters who dislike Trump but voted for him in 2016 abandon the Republican Party in 2018, it could lead to some unexpected electoral results. It’s another reason that Democrats, if they want to maximize their chances of winning back the House, should compete in a wide variety of districts.”

What they don’t notice is that it is another reason to expect that even if Democrats win a House majority they could be faced with a very different GOP and an overall political situation that they are completely unprepared for because the Trumpists could be overwhelming in the Republican primaries.

6.  Meanwhile Trumpists have made it clear that there will be challenges to all incumbents, with or without Trump’s endorsement:


Democrats have attacked the president every which way, but polling and focus groups show none of it’s working.


I think that gets it about right.

10. Democrats are responding to collapse of old GOP by nominating candidates closer to Trump on immigration and other issues. They will certainly be closer to Trump’s party in voting for the big deficits, infrastructure programs, tax cuts (excluding rich) and improved healthcare that he needs for another term in 2020.
11. NBC news explains that Trump wins either way in Alabama primaries.

If Trump’s endorsed candidate, the traditional GOP incumbent Strange, wins despite being massively less popular than his opponent the former Chief Justice of Alabama they know that being loyal to Trump and winning his endorsement could be a hope for surviving the 2018 purge. If he loses to a candidate more deranged than most Trumpists they know they are really stuffed but sucking up to Trump is still their best hope.

12. But Trump is sincerely going all out for Strange because he really is better off with incumbents who will vote as required than with independent crazies who get themselves sacked for defying Supreme Court orders to implementing gay marriage and taking down statues of the 10 commandments from their courts. His method is really simple. Whip up an Alabama crowd by denouncing failure to stand patriotically during the national anthem as a protest that “black lives matter”. Strange thinks that could actually tip the result his way:
13. I can’t even be bothered looking at the vast numbers of items reporting various sports stars and other celebrities joining the protests and the media celebrating how much he is pissing people off by such an outrageous attack on the very foundations of American freedom. But here’s one drawn to my attention by a good friend, that actually notices Trump’s position is shared by a large majority of Americans:
Doesn’t even mention Alabama, but gets it a lot better than the hyperventilation.

Still got lots of old links to dump, but will leave it there for now.

Notes on Trump 8

UPDATE 1 below

1. Level of bewilderment among “analysts” seems to be increasing. Scott (Dilbert) Adams has a good description of recent “mass hysteria”:

2. Scott also does not rule out Trump inviting Kim Jong-Un over for a hamburger:

(Certainly more plausible than the imminent danger of nuclear war touted in media).

Here’s some more links on the general discombobulation as Trump more or less openly works with Democrats to endanger Republican incumbents in 2018.

3. BBC concludes that Democrat establishment won’t cooperate with Trump, because it would outrage their “resistance” base. More realistically it will intensity the split on Democrats side, since they cannot afford to oppose popular measure but base will continue to be outraged.

4. Why would Trump want to weaken the GOP?

5. This one (from a less ant-Trumpist conservative) is more perceptive, explains why and also why Democrats will cooperate in creating the economic conditions he needs for 2020:

(Oddly ends with idea that Trump only just now starting to grasp the situation accurately described by the article).

6. New Yorker quotes possible outcome from above analysis of Trump/Democrat convergence on populist policies:

“What does that look like?” he wrote. “daca for e-Verify. Minimum wage increase for welfare work requirements. Cutting payroll taxes while raising the phase out. Infrastructure billions for employee labor reforms. Universal catastrophic coverage in exchange for regulatory relief to drive down health care prices.”

New Yorker dismisses that sort of outcome as “fanciful” on bizarre grounds that it would be inconsistent with that magazine’s story that Trump wades “further into the cesspool of white identity politics by ordering the rescinding of Barack Obama’s policy of providing legal protections to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors, which is known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or daca? (Trump’s subsequent tweets and verbal statements urging Congress to take action didn’t alter the fact that the government is no longer accepting daca applications, and the program will expire in six months.) ”

7. Anti-Trump nativist conservatives are under no such illusions about what Trump actually did by giving Congress six months to deal with “Dreamers”:

8. But liberals just don’t get it:

9. Neither do mainstream GOP analysts:

10. I would have expected Obama to get it, but apparently not:

Actually it may have been the Guardian taking Obama to be just saying what they want to hear. He was, but on looking at the end of his actual statement I think he does also know that the inevitable result will be that Congress will give Trump the legislation that they would not give Obama:

11. And NYT explains how Trump doing the opposite of what they reported he was doing about “Dreamers” is due to his inconsistency and sudden switch:

12. Here’s a quite serious and thoughtful Democrat analysis:

“Stay tuned for a probable civil war within the GOP pitting feuding factions against each other, and a resurgent Democratic Party making a strong bid to regain control of Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.”

Obsessive focus on Democrats vs GOP ignores entirely new situation that would result from Trump winning the GOP civil war. Democrats regaining control of House more likely to help Trump win in 2020.

13. This item from Slate seems to have noticed that Trump has just illustrated how he can govern as a bipartisan populist:

“And yet a majority of Republican members who voted—133 out of 223—supported the deal. Likewise, when the Senate approved the deal on Thursday, 33 out of 50 Republican senators supported it.

That’s an encouraging sign for President Trump as he considers making more deals with Democrats down the road. He can simply agree to Democrats’ opening offer, collect all of their votes, and still get about two-thirds of Republican votes, as apparently these people don’t want to oppose their president. He can even send a Wall Street-via-Hollywood smart-ass to insult GOP members ahead of time, just for kicks, and still get their votes. Seems like a model worth replicating in December, or forever”

(But since it was in Slate, maybe it was just being sarcastic about GOP rather than actually noticing. I cannot tell).

14. But this GOP analysis does seem to get some of it:


UPDATE 1 (Minor typos above plus item numbers above, new items below 2017-09-10T1140)

15. NYT notices Trump represents a third party that has upended the two party system:

(But still no mention that he cannot do much without party in Congress and that is why his focus is on the GOP 2018 primaries).

16. “Business analysts” demonstrate their sophistication compared with the ignorant Trump:

““Trump might understand real estate deals, but he’s a rube when it comes to dealing with Congress. The Democrats want more spending, no tax cuts for the rich, and protection for the ‘Dreamers’ — and those goals now look attainable in a mega-deal this winter.”

Should be obvious that Trump wants more spending, populist not GOP tax cuts and comprehensive immigration reform. Business wants that, Trump wants that, Democrats want that. But “analysts” know he is a conservative Republican so they know he cannot be doing what he plainly is doing:






Notes on Trump – 7

This is the first article I have seen explaining that Trump’s focus on Republican primaries is working.

Still does not discuss likelihood that MOST GOP incumbents will face Trumpist challengers whether or not openly backed by Trump, that many of these will be successful and likely outcome is a large Trumpist party in House of Representatives (including both newbies and intimidated incumbents as well as pure opportunists).

Does mention the Democrat shambles and implied possibility of Democrats not having a majority after mid-terms.

Does not mention that even if a Democrat majority is likely the four way split would be favourable to Trump getting populist measures through conducive to an economic and political climate that could result in a second term.

No mention of large wing of Democrats convergence towards anti-globalist and isolationist policies that would jointly have far more impact in creating a climate for real damage by implementation than the gestures towards such policies that Trump has been able to make so far with no party supporting them in Congress, let alone two.

Still this is as clear a shift towards agreement with my basic analysis as I have seen so far:


I’ll add some other background related links below without explanation. Don’t have time now to include in a coherent post but may be useful to anyone interested in the meantime.


















Notes on Trump – 6

Healthcare seems to have ended up where Trump needs it to be. Pretty well everyone now knows there will have to be a bipartisan solution, even if they still pretend otherwise.

Of course people can keep pretending and blame Trump for trying and failing to make things worse, or not trying to make things better. But healthcare has now reached a joint House/Senate conference from where it can only be resolved with bipartisan support for proposals that actually make it better.

Any such measures will also require increased deficits that are also needed by Trump for economic conditions conducive to re-election.

Meanwhile both wings of the Democrats are converging towards Trumpist popularism – with even the “lite” version preparing for a two party system with both parties isolationist, and protectionist:

Before that consolidates I would expect a 4 way split in 2020 with Trump in the strongest position for a second term (from House of Representatives voting by States after Electoral College deadlock).

Other recent developments are easier to fit into the prevailing assumptions that Trump is blundering helplessly into oblivion.

(1) The appointment of Scarramucci certainly fits. Even a stopped clock gets it right a couple of times a day. I gave up trying to guess where Trump might go on international affairs after concluding that Mike Flynn was deranged. My guess is there is no better explanation than that this appointment was a total blunder:

(2) Trump’s campaign against Sessions also looks like a blunder and one less easily corrected and more plausibly indicative of the wheels falling off.

But I’m not convinced of the popular explanations:

  1. It isn’t preparation for sacking Mueller to stop the Russia inquiry by first getting an (acting) Attorney-General that isn’t recused from interfering. Trump wants the focus on Russia as explained in previous notes in this series. Conceivably Trump is worried that Mueller may need to be stopped from going outside Russia issues to look into Trump’s shady financial dealings generally. But that doesn’t explain an approach that irritates so many Trump supporters that he needs for his primary focus on mobilizing his base.
  2. General craziness, stupidity and thuggishness isn’t an adequate explanation for anything. He doesn’t mind being “misunderestimated” as George W Bush would say.

I don’t have a good explanation but strongly suspect it isn’t just another blunder.

Best I can tentatively come up with are:

1. Reminder to “movement” activists that he’s the boss and the base they organize is his, not theirs. Both Fox and Breitbart can grumble but they have just confirmed that they have no potential to rally behind some alernative leader.

This could become important as we get closer to an open fight around 2018 primaries. (Also for subsequent pivot to immigration reform that Sessions won’t support).

2. Now that Sessions is everybody’s hero could be a good opportunity for legal counter-attack against the fairly open coup-mongering by the deep state/Obama holdovers. Certainly if Sessions doesn’t start some prosecutions of leakers and investigations of Democrats “collusion” etc soon he would be confirming Trump’s complaint about “weakness”.

Could also be fun appointing a special counsel to investigate Democrat collusion with Ukrainian retaliation against US and Russia waging proxy wars in their elections. Comes just after hysteria that Donald Jr was willing to accept evidence of Clinton collusion with Russians from Russians!



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.

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