Notes on Trump 10

Now trying to dump links as I find them. Still have huge backlog.

1. Gallup approval rates were still 80% for Republicans and 86% for Conservative Republicans (day 254 of term, polled Sep 25 to Oct 1). Then still 81% and 86% (day 261, Oct 2-8). Now 79% and 85% (day 268, Oct 9-16).

Slight decline perhaps due to latest flurry over seeming to want worse healthcare than Obama. But so far much smaller decline when a more serious case could be made about the GOP legislation that Trump nominally supported. 

Basic stability of Trump’s base implies no successful challenge from incumbent GOP this term (and no impeachment), general capitulation and large Trumpist party after 2018 mid-terms (including replacements and turncoats). That will be totally different political situation from the current President with no party in Congress, still not widely grasped.

2. This wapo/fairfax article does partially get it:
As usual focus is on need for Democrats to get their act together. Could be just wanting to avoid complacency by acknowledging he is on track to win second term. Incredible levels of complacency among most commentators who just outraged they cannot remove him by sheer indignation rather than contemplating that they could lose again. Does not mention implications of Republican incumbents collapse in 2018. But does see multiple candidates (eg Democrats split and more small party Independents rejecting both does favour Trump who will still have a solid base for a large party). Not aware of the implications of House voting by States when Electoral College deadlocked. Avoids mentioning increasing rejection of political system with low turnout to vote.


We have entered a new era in American politics. The 2016 election exposed how economic, social and cultural issues have splintered the country and increasingly divided voters by age, race, education and geography. This isn’t going to change.

What have changed are the political fault lines that have driven the debate since the early 1980s. Until now, the ideological divides between the parties were largely differences around social issues, defense spending and trade, as well as tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. Today, the central issue has become populism as voters have moved away from the two political parties and increasingly self-identified as independents.

In 2016, Trump capitalised on this changing political environment. He consolidated the growing number of angry voters who felt let down by the people and institutions controlling power in the country. Trump’s support from these voters is personal, not ideological. That explains their willingness to stick with him despite his failures of leadership.

Since Trump’s inaugural address, his focus has been on maintaining his support among this loyal base rather than expanding it. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, this could be a winning political strategy.

I have highlighted the ridiculous claim that Trumpists support is personal (which shows total incomprehension). But rest of it basically gets far closer to understanding than I have come to expect from a “Democratic political strategist” (Doug Sosnik).

3.  “Calm before the storm”. CNN does know that Trump is running a reality TV show always aimed at attracting attention. They know because he is their main source of their ratings (and they are a major source of his). They treat this as just his narcism rather than a successful means to keep his base mobilized and his opponents totally discombobulated. But I cannot tell whether they also share the widespread fears that something might blow up over North Korea or Iran or it is just part of CNN’s contribution to the show. The hysterical commentary on those “dangers” does not seem to differ much from the hysterical commentary about anything to do with Trump nor bear any relation to anything actually (not) happening in the real world, like actual changes in force posture, let alone deployments.
4. I haven’t been following Brexit details as it seemed clear to me that the last British election must inevitably result in reversing Brexit. This article from the anti-Brexit Guardian tends to confirm that this is getting closer. Whatever the legal situation, “Outer rim” like Norway and Switzerland might well be a feasible intermediate stage, but long term the “core” that will become a European Federal State will include both them and Britain.

5. Meanwhile the Catalan referendum may provoke more breakouts of nationalities into independent States. But this is in a context where the nationalities remaining part of the EU reflects growing assimilation of nations rather than increasing nationalism. Could happen with Scotland if reversing Brexit delayed too long. Bizarre contradictory trends in Poland and Hungary that espouse strident populist nationalism but need EU.

6. This level of imbecility was quite common in liberal and pseudoleft blogs during Iraq war. Now it is mainstream media.
7. Here is a former speech writer for George W Bush disintegrating. Trump is so stupid and ignorant he doesn’t know why he won in 2016 so he won’t win in 2020. His opponents who lost on the other hand are very clever.
8. Trump is clearly nuts. Convincing people of that will save us from imminent nuclear catastrophe.
(People who understand this are sane, cool and rational should be put on a panel to decide  whether people elected to political office should be removed from it for being so insane as to not agree with them.)

9. New Yorker ridicules the psychiatrists above. Seems quite rational (unlike New Yorker) until the last paragraph that suggests it is is Trump voters who should be diagnosed and prevented from installing such dangers to humanity in positons of power. I am honestly not sure whether it is being sarcastic.

10. On the other hand this satirical item from New Yorker is unmistakably sarcastic.
It would not be possible to write and laugh at that piece without getting how utterly ludicrous the impeachment “campaign” has been.

10. Here’s a fairly detailed analysis of the recent healthcare announcements.

As far as I can make out it demonstrates plausibly that the results will be:
* talking points of Democrats claiming that funding cuts will hurt poorer voters in Trump’s base most.

(Media is indeed full of articles repeating those talking points – so far with surprisingly small decline in Trump’s approval rate among Republican primary voters).

* actual substantial rise in Federal tax rebates to those voters (as premium rises for poorer tax payers are automatically refunded directly to the taxpayer) so as usual no actual substance to Democrat talking points.

* thus massively increasing the fiscal deficit that Trump needs for an economic climate conducive to second term.

* substantial rise in premiums for better off voters that don’t get tax rebates for poverty

* thus putting major pressure on GOP to fix the problem or get wiped out by Democrats in mid-terms

* no pressue whatever on Democrats who have every incentive to offer nothing or split over whether to demand a single payer system that would be a real improvement.

So natural question would be, “what is there for Trump not to like?”

But since they still don’t get it that Trump is at war with the GOP and the Democrats are still irrelevant they are deeply puzzled as to why Trump would do such a thing. Some complicated theory that preserves their assumption that he is so stupid he doesn’t realize that his claim to be putting pressure on the Democrats rather than the GOP is nonsense.

Still got a huge backlog, but will leave it there for now.

Kirkuk, Catalonia, Brexit, Scotland and Syria

I haven’t been following international affairs in any depth, but will risk some bloviation.

The title combines numerous disparate issues. I don’t know enough about any of them to shed much light.

But others who know as little or less tend to view them from a nationalist perspective pretending to be the perspective of national liberation struggles in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution.

I view them from an opposite perspective. The reason why communists supported and always will support revolutionary democrats fighting against national oppression was and is that it is the only road towards the union and assimilation of peoples in which the international “shall be the human race”.

The basic principles expressed by Stalin in Marxism and the National Question are now widely accepted by most bourgeois democrats, let alone revolutionary democrats. Even Trotsky paid them the backhanded compliment of pretending that Stalin could not possibly have been the author.

There is still reactionary opposition, but neither oppressor nations nor minority nationalities are as likely to go to war over competing national identities.  “Identity politics” in the developed world is only stirred up by the pseudoleft and far right.

I suspect this is well illustrated by all the recent “national” issues listed in the title.

In Kirkuk, the Kurdish peshmerga has in fact accepted Iraqi government authority over the city as it was obliged to do following the collapse of Daesh in Mosul.

Hot headed denunciations from Barazani’s faction at Rudaw do not reflect reality. The two Kurdish tribal federations that speak different dialectics and administer different territories have not yet formed a basis for a nation state. The referendum was a factional move, not a national one. The Kurdish autonomous region will not be invaded and its authority will not extend to Kirkuk without a full settlement. The minor skirmishing and small scale loss of life that has just taken place reflects both the absurdity of the posturing and the actual restraint of all sides.

For Kurdish nationalism far more important things are happening in Syria with implications for Turkey and Iran as well as Iraq. It is natural that as the end of the regime gets closer (and its victory and permanence are duly announced by “analysts”) that the various opponents are less united and more inclined to fight each other for territory. But in the long run the national and nationality issues throughout the whole region will have to be settled democratically, as outlined by Stalin and as they largely have been in Europe.  The fate of Kurds requires solidarity, not enmity with both Iraqi and Syrian Arabs, as does the fate of democracy throughout the region.

In Catalonia the “nationalist” skirmishing has been even less dramatic with even less loss of life. If both sides had the same grasp of democratic principles as the English and Scots there would be even less drama. But certainly there is no more appetite for war between Catalans and other Spaniards than there is between say Flemings and Walloons in Belgium.

The various European states may separate as Norway did from Sweden or unite as Scotland did with England, or thrash around pathetically as with “Brexit”, but they are already part of a European economic territory and already part of a “Western” culture (with English as a common second language) that makes it largely irrelevant whether they do or don’t. There will be no more national wars in Europe.

What remains criminal is the lack of solidarity from the advanced West to the rest of the world and especially Syria. War was and is required to end war wherever those democratic principles do not prevail.

If the Dutch had taken the same attitude to the English revolution it would have taken a lot longer and been a lot bloodier than the 48 years from 1640 to 1688.

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?”