Notes on Trump 28 – Does the Wall Street Journal get it?

This Wall Street Journal article has a similar analysis to mine.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-lose-the-house-strategy-1532990285

I have left in the boring details. But the main point is that Trump is fighting for a Senate majority and does not care about losing a House majority.

I would add he wants a senate majority with as much displacement of traditional GOP by Trumpists as feasible in both Houses without endangering the minimum one third of Senators needed to avoid impeachment so without unnecessarily antagonizing the non-Trumpist GOP senators that cannot actually be replaced.

I would also say positive advantage to non-Trumpist House GOP incumbents losing to Democrats if not to Trumpists even though that annoys the remainder of GOP House. They will still be just as or even more stuck with GOP base mobilized for Trump as now. Democrats will provide the margins needed to sideline anti-Trump republicans in both housess with Trump posing “bipartisan” (needs 60% votes in Senate anyway so paralysis can ONLY be overcome with such confusion)

Even without Pelosi as Speaker a Democrat House majority pointlessly trying to impeach him while also helping sideline the Koch brothers on trade and deficits will be optimal for the political paralysis and economic inflation Trump needs for 2020.

Trump’s Lose-the-House Strategy

He might not mind Speaker Pelosi as a political foil for 2020.

Does President Trump care if Republicans lose the House of Representatives this November? If that seems like an odd question, consider that Mr. Trump is running a campaign strategy that puts the House at maximum risk while focusing on the Senate. The latest evidence is Mr. Trump’s threat to shut down the government in September if he doesn’t get money for his border wall.

***

It’s always risky to use the word “strategy” about Mr. Trump because he’s so impulsive and capricious. Only last week GOP leaders thought they had his agreement to delay a wall-funding brawl until after the election. Then on Sunday Mr. Trump tweeted that “I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!”

Potomac Watch Podcast

Did Mr. Trump pop off on a whim, or did he consult Stephen Bannon, his former White House aide and strategist from 2016? The shutdown threat fits Mr. Bannon’s midterm election strategy, which is to stress issues that polarize the electorate to drive voter turnout among the Trump base. This means muting talk of tax cuts and the economy and talking up immigration and trade policies that bash foreigners.

“Trump’s second presidential race will be on November 6 of this year. He’s on the ballot, and we’re going to have an up or down vote. Do you back Trump’s program, OK, with all that’s good and all that’s bad? Do you back Trump’s program, or do you back removing him?” Mr. Bannon said recently, though Mr. Trump’s name won’t be on any ballot.

A shutdown brawl fits this polarize-and-hope-to-conquer strategy. Mr. Trump may figure that shutdown pressure would force Senate incumbents running for re-election in Trump-leaning states into a corner on voting for the wall. One problem with this strategy is that Senate Democrats have enough votes to block wall funding even if they give eight of their incumbents a pass to vote for it.

The bigger problem is that what works in Senate races in Trump states might boomerang in House districts where the majority will be won or lost. These are swing districts where moderate Republicans and independents determine who wins. Think Miami-Dade, northern Virginia, the Denver and Philadelphia suburbs. Hillary Clinton carried 23 of those seats in 2016, and Democrats need to gain only 23 seats to take the House.

Hostility to immigration and trade aren’t popular in those districts by and large, and a shutdown wouldn’t be either. Voters know Republicans control the Congress. While the polls typically show that voters blame both sides in a shutdown, the GOP risk is that they’d hold the party in power more responsible. This is all the more likely if President Trump is inviting a shutdown on Twitter.

The Bannon belief that this is a “base election” may work in Senate races in North Dakota or Missouri, where Republicans have a party advantage. But the opposite is probably true in swing House seats. A constant focus on immigration and making this a referendum on Donald J. Trump will drive up Democratic turnout.

Take Loudoun County in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Republican Ed Gillespie carried Loudoun by 456 votes in his Senate race in 2014 that he narrowly lost. Mr. Gillespie increased his Loudoun vote by 795 in the Governor’s race in 2017 but lost the county by an astounding 23,432 votes as Democrats poured out of the subdivisions to register unhappiness with Mr. Trump. This bodes ill for Barbara Comstock, who represents Loudoun in Congress.

Mr. Trump might not welcome a Democratic House, but he also might not fear it as long as Republicans keep the Senate. More than even most politicians, Mr. Trump always needs a foil, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be from central political casting.

A Democratic House would mean the end of most of Mr. Trump’s agenda of the last two years. But Mr. Trump’s policy alliance with House Republicans has been in part one of convenience. Mr. Trump could cut deals with Democrats on paid family leave, public-works spending and trade protectionism.

House Democrats would start up the impeachment machinery, and once underway the momentum would be hard to stop. But as long as he’s safe from conviction by the Senate, Mr. Trump might figure he could benefit from a backlash against impeachment the way Bill Clinton did. The President and Mr. Bannon also might think a Democratic House improves Mr. Trump’s chances for re-election as Republicans and independents conclude he’s the only barrier to a left-wing government led by a President Elizabeth Warren.

***

The biggest loser in all this would be a genuine conservative agenda. Judges aside, the House has been essential to Mr. Trump’s main achievements that have lifted the economy—corporate tax reform, deregulation—and whatever government-reform victories they’ve had. If they lose the House this year, Republicans aren’t likely to get it back until the end of the Trump Presidency.

The Bannon strategy is an incitement to Democrats to vote in precisely the places where House Republicans are most vulnerable. The more the election is a referendum on Donald Trump and his polarizing political style, rather than on a reform agenda for the next Congress, the better for Democrats

But I don’t think they fully get it. Their preoccupation with a “genuine conservative agenda” led them to previously moderate their hostility and conflate parts of trump’s successes as theirs.

It is particularly odd for them to be puzzled at Trump pushing for funding a wall that Democrats can easily block in Senate even without purple state Democrat Senators afraid to join the no vote. It should be obvious that Trump doesn’t need an actual wall. He only needs the issue and can find better things to do with the money saved while still campaigning on it in 2020.

The WSJ moderation has enabled a more serious analysis than from liberals, but that is a pretty low bar these days.

It’s always risky to use the word “strategy” about Mr. Trump because he’s so impulsive and capricious.

That is a long way better than liberals telling themselves Trump should be removed as mentally incompetent.

But it isn’t far from the latest psychobabble. Here is USAtoday persuading themselves Trump has no strategy with an elaboration of much the same thought that makes WSJ hesitant about belatedly seeing the obvious.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/07/30/trump-lies-reversals-rudderless-unprincipled-leader-psychologist-column/848728002/

Some liberals are also starting to think strategically and are even aware that their hostility to workers is helping them lose.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jul/30/donald-trump-worst-politician-ever-on-path-to-re-election-thomas-frank-says

Conceivably a more “workerist” Democrat could defeat Trump in 2020. But meanwhile they would only help get what Trump needs in deficits etc through the House, intensifying divisions with both the WSJ rump of the GOP and the rest of the Democrats. If elected their protectionism would have even more of a mass base than Trump’s and could do more to inhibit re-emergence of a genuine left.

As for “blundering his way to victory”. It takes real skill to convince one’s opponents that there is little point trying to understand your strategy.

The Blunder – Notes on Trump 27

Ok, with Newt Gingrich and the like demanding and getting an immediate retreat we can assume Helsinki was just a blunder.

Certainly not the biggest (not after appointing Flynn as National Security Adviser despite him being as deranged as Obama’s CIA head now raving about treason). Certainly the fastest reversed – even quicker than on separating immigrant families.

The mockery of the pathetic explanation of having misspoke the opposite and blaming press for quoting what he did say instead of what he now wishes he had said is quite understandable. Some of the responses to this are actually quite humorous instead of just the usual ranting.

I am of course rather less outraged about anybody not trusting US intelligence but it is understandable that the actual Democrat leaders Schumer and Pelososi would now join their lunatic fringe and ex-CIA head Brennan in screaming treason and insisting that Trump is both inept and an agent of Putin who is blackmailing him with compromising information.

I also agree with Putin that it is ridiculous to trust any of them and that whatever “russian patriots” may have hacked the DNC and exposed the fact that the Democrat primaries were rigged did a good thing. One should not expect Trump to admit that this help from “russian patriots” might have swung the election by reducing turnout for the Democrats who nominated a rigged candidate. This would be like either side admitting that Nixon won because his “dirty tricks” people successfully got an unelectable Democrat nominated

However it was not only understandable but entirely predictable and Trump has plainly been oriented to tipping them over the edge in this way.

What better could he hope for than for his enemies place their hopes in “the Russia thing” instead of actually solving their total lack of policies that could defeat Trump?

Its interesting how so much faith is still placed in each new outrage finally discrediting Trump despite the fact that this just keeps on not happening and that the same people paralysed with this stuff had already started to realise that they are mainly preaching to themselves with the unconverted tuned out from them completely.

My guess is that Trump really did “misspoke”. He intended to merely downplay obfuscate, cast doubt and encourage those of his supporters who want to believe in conspiracy theories as he usually does and continued to do after reading out the prepared correction for him. He probably did not actually intend to explicitly side with Putin against the US intelligence agencies but just got carried away in the moment.

After all Chuck and Nancy could have been relied on to eventually start raving without that. So why take the risk of doing it deliberately and unnecessarily annoying others and looking weak with the walk back?

Mistakes happen. But they keep not doing much damage because the Democrats really ARE as inept as they think Trump is. They should have taken the same solemn reasoned stand against Trump’s blunder (and trade policies) as say the Wall Street Journal. But they simply cannot do that and instead will keep right on insisting that demanding Europe builds up its defences against Russia instead of relying on gas pipelines from Russia is helping Putin because of blackmail.

Another aspect is that the latest Mueller indictments document in detail that the “Russian patriots” were senior intelligence officers whose activity was tracked in detail by US intelligence. Either this is giving away a great deal of information about US capabilities and Russian weaknesses to fix or it is confirmation that the 12 people identified were clowns rather than the careful operators that would have been assigned to do it without being monitored if it was an authorised operation. Russia is not a superpower but it does have competent hackers. It also has clowns and cowboys, as demonstrated by the use of novichok for a failed revenge operation which could only damage Russian interests.

Russians must (and will) be held responsible for the activities of clowns with access to prohibited weapons of mass destruction like novichok and with senior positions in military intelligence agencies just as the US has responsibility to prosecute former Director of National Intelligence Flynn and equally deranged former CIA Director Brenner.

Brexit, US Foreign Policy and Notes on Trump 26

It is nearly 3 months since Notes 25 and starting draft with items 1 and 2 below. Gap due to both not seeing much changing and other preoccupations (which are actually an improved situation but still don’t leave much time for following this stuff). My expectations remain pretty much as they were then so I dont have much to add.

1. Full transcript of entire ABC interview of Comey (more than the 1 hour broadcast)
http://abcnews.go.com/Site/transcript-james-comeys-interview-abc-news-chief-anchor/story?id=54488723

About 50 pages (157pp in .pdf file but only one third of each page was actual transcript).

Not sure what to make of it or whether it was worth reading but would certainly be better than watching full hour on video.

Comey’s book (zero day release):

http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=6B99F8765B2D92429B292650AB911216

2. From Rassmussen April 12 to 15 survey of likely voters:

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/april_2018/few_praise_comey_s_tenure_at_fbi_more_want_him_prosecuted

Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters believe a special prosecutor should be named to investigate whether senior FBI officials handled the investigations of Hillary Clinton and Trump in a legal and unbiased fashion. Comey was head of the FBI during much of this time.

Forty-six percent (46%) of all voters believe Comey should be prosecuted for leaking information to the media at the time he was director of the FBI. That’s up from 41% last June following Comey’s admission under oath to a U.S. Senate committee that he leaked memos of his private meetings with Trump as FBI director to The New York Times through a friend.

Just 34% disagree and say Comey should not be prosecuted, down 13 points from 47% in the previous survey. Twenty percent (20%) are not sure.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of Republicans – and 50% of all voters – believe senior federal law enforcement officials at the FBI and Justice Department broke the law in an effort to prevent Trump from winning the presidency in 2016.

Most Republicans (55%) believe the FBI is more likely than Russia to have meddled in the 2016 election.

Book and TV interview will no doubt reassure the voters that Comey is a model of integrity and not a slimeball at all. If not, rinse and repeat.

3. Still have masses of open windows but no time to post about them. No big shift in media or polls. Some increased disapproval from separating immigrant families. This was reversed MUCH quicker than previous blunders like Scaramouchi, and Flynn appointments. Not fully recovered yet but still indicates unlikely to implode from inability to change course.

Perhaps one item worth mentioning is this follow up to Notes 25 discussion of liberals falling for delusional fantasies about Trump v Sessions.

http://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/395776-memos-detail-fbis-hurry-the-f-up-pressure-to-probe-trump-campaign

Only a straw in the wind but I said very early after Trump’s election win that somebody should be imprisoned for the coup mongering from his opponents in the “intelligence community”.

4. Korea outcome was pretty much as predicted ( by Scott “Dilbert” Adams as well as me). Syria and Middle East policy still unclear to me.

5. Trade protectionism appears to be happening earlier and harder than I expected. But I cannot follow closely enough to tell how much of the appearance is also real. Certainly it will as expected be a very live issue in both mid-terms and 2020 and one that will split Democrats while consolidating GOP as Trump’s party with previously dominant GOP globalists as ineffective internal opposition. External business opposition has started to mobilize but they have left it very late and still show little sign of being able to get their act together before there is real damage.

6. Brexit and Italy confirm possibility of real damage. Brexit is currently falling to bits with expected most likely outcomes being:

6.1 Most likely outcome is a second referendum to stay in provided EU holds firm on no offering no concessions to UK not already provided to Norway (ie free movement required for customs union) and die hards dont succeed in mobilizing resentment.

6.2 Meaningless exit to same situation as Norway which does far less damage. Even less likely now.

But the levels of incoherence on display still leave open third possibility with real damage that sets things back a few years.

6.3 Continued blundering around till deadlines expire with no agreement.

Given what is going on in USA, Italy, Poland and Hungary and the unanimous inaction over Syria one should not understimate the levels of sheer irrationality. (Which makes it especially hard for me to get my bearings as I generally analyse with greater expectations of rational malevolence and less attention to irrational possibilities).

7. I still expect Democrat majority in House from 2019 with resulting paralysis, focus on impeachment, Democrat splits, media escalation from merely frenzied to outright insurrectionary irrelevance and increased deficits all working to Trump’s advantage for 2020. Economy too unpredictable for two year forecasts though I would expect a crash to become more predictable during any second term even though economy is also too unpredictable for 6 year forecasts.

8. On a lighter note there is an amusing article on Brexit from Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor, in The Australian, Tuesday July 10, 2018. Sheridan is usually an utterly predictable and vacuous name dropping “Little Sir Echo” for the US foreign policy establishment. But the implosive disestablishment of that establishment has left has him an Editor who remains “Foreign” but with no identifiable foreign homeland. His complaint against the hapless British government is that they should have made plans to walk away from the EU with no deal rather than make it so obvious that the EU has no incentive to offer them anything.

But the whole referendum “victory” was based on Brexiteers promising the voters that they could have their cake and eat it. Now all they, and Sheridan, can do is express outrage at their own stupidity having become as evident to themselves as it was to others.

This is very similar to Sheridan’s echo of US foreign policy establishment worries that Asian “allies” will stop believing in US “guarantees” now that Trump has made it obvious the US cannot be relied on against anybody that has nuclear weapons that can hit the US. After 8 years of Obama what was there left to pretend with? What was there left for Brexiteers to pretend with?

What is there left for Sheridan to pretend with? He stayed loyal for half a century after Kissinger explained:

https://quotefancy.com/quote/1275842/Henry-Kissinger-To-be-an-enemy-of-America-can-be-dangerous-but-to-be-a-friend-is-fatal

Is there nobody left who can brief him on an actual current declaratory policy with some “plausible deniability”?

9. On a happier note the Thai cave rescue was an uplifting success story.

10. And the Elon Musk show arrived in time to be told to piss off and sell batteries to Australian power grids.

“Factfulness”

Just finished this book and VERY strongly recommend it.

First do this quiz is at the main site for the book (with lots of other very useful material):
http://forms.gapminder.org/s3/test-2018

Do above first for quick preview without spoilers. Numerous surveys done with this quiz. Consistently show that most people including most “experts” do worse on choosing between 3 plausible answers to basic factual questions about the world than random one out of three guesses of “Chimpanzees”.

Continue reading

Iraq Elections

Polls have only just closed for the first Iraqi elections since defeat of Daesh.

Results will take 48 hours. Negotiations between parties and coalitions for formation of government could take much longer.

Preliminary reports indicate Sadrists did unexpectedly well, in coalition with the revisionist Iraqi Communist Party. Described as “patriotic” and anti-corruption because social basis among poor Shia and denounces both US and Iran. I suspect more like “Trumpist”.

Current Prime Minister Abadi said to have done “unexpectedly” badly. Actually the previous election winner “State of Law” coalition led by Shia Dawa party headed by Maliki was forced to accept compromise Prime Minister to avoid splitting under combined onslaught from US led West and Iran to facilitate unity with Sunnis against Daesh. Successfuly suppressed both Daesh and opportunist uprisings by Sadrist militia thugs and subordinated Iranian militias to national government. Ran as two coalitions in this election with Dawa members free to support either. What would be VERY surprising is if the two wings combined failed to outpoll the Sadrist/revisionist coalition and all the others.

Results will be available at wikipedia:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraqi_parliamentary_election,_2018

There really isn’t much to say before results.

I am mainly posting this to draw attention to the importance of the results and the truly remarkable phenomena of how open the genuine party contest has been despite the mass murder campaign from Baathist and Islamo-fascists. This highlights the extreme viciousness of the pseudoleft who bitterly opposed the emergence of democracy in Iraq.

Even the opportunists of the revisionist Iraqi Communist Party were not as bad the entire western pseudoleft. While nominally opposing the invasion they in fact helped setup the interim governing authority and new constitution. But for everyone pretending to be “left” and not actually living under fascist terror a clear choice was made that Iraqis should be left to deal with fascist terror by themselves.

The same choice has naturally been made for Syrians but the forces promoting that view in alliance with the rest of the far right in the west are even more discredited and even less likely to be mistaken for anything even mildly progressive.

Cultural Revolution “We’ll return admid triumphant songs and laughter”

We are coming up to the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth, 5 May 1818. That will also be the 50th anniversary of the peak month of the “sixties”, especially marked by the “events of May 1968”. China’s Cultural Revolution was a key inspiration, regarded with extreme hostility by the current regime in China as well as all “authoritative” historians.

I was struck by reading this article in “South China Morning Post” the auththoritative Hong Kong newspaper of record, now owned by Alibaba. As expected the article is totally slanted to express the regime’s hostility to rebellion. So the following excerpts are a “total distortion” of what was actually said under the headline below (especially by omitting illusions about a fake “maoist” removed from the regime’s leadership).

Why are so many Chinese nostalgic for the Cultural Revolution

Tens of thousands of Maoists marched in the Hunan hometown of late leader Mao Zedong on December 26 to mark the 122nd anniversary of his birth….

…Beyond paying their respects to the atheist revolutionary with fireworks, flowers, music and the burning of paper money, many of those in Shaoshan also expressed their nostalgia for Mao’s era, which ended with his death in 1976, and the Cultural Revolution that marked the last decade of his life.

Dai Cheng, 62, led a group of 60 people from Changzhou in Jiangsu, 800km away, to sing revolutionary songs in Shaoshan’s main square that night, as the temperature dropped to four degrees Celsius.

“We will never forget the Mao era. He made us secure throughout our lives. We didn’t need to pay for medicines, education or housing. And there was no corruption,” he said, raising his voice to be heard above the fireworks.

Dai said it was the Cultural Revolution he missed most…

…“They started a coup in 1976 immediately after the death of chairman Mao,” Dai said. “They betrayed communism. They betrayed chairman Mao. They betrayed the Chinese people.”

As he went on, criticising Deng Xiaoping, the mastermind behind China’s post-Mao market economy reforms, some in the crowd applauded and cheered.

“The Cultural Revolution was aimed at uprooting corruption,” Dai said. “Anyone who opposes it is a supporter of corruption.”

May 16 [2016] marked the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, which Mao reportedly hailed as one of his two biggest achievements but which the Communist Party declared more than three decades ago to have been a “catastrophe”…

While most people in China agree with the party’s verdict that the Cultural Revolution was a catastrophe, a minority nostalgic about it has been gaining influence. That nostalgia has grown beyond its usual supporters – retired or laid-off elderly people who were adversely affected by market reforms – to include younger people, some educated overseas, who were not alive when Mao was in power. That attraction mostly stems from dissatisfaction with today’s China , which they describe as a state with little welfare and a large wealth gap.

Many supporters of Mao’s political teachings call themselves believers in democracy, referring to the form of government during the Cultural Revolution, when many voices were given a say, not just bureaucrats.

“I admire the revolutionary committees during the Cultural Revolution, it was a reform of the government. There’s no more supervision now,” said Li Musen, a former Red Guard leader in Chongqing who later became a vice-director of the city’s governing revolutionary committee. He was 28 when the Cultural Revolution broke out.

A little over two years into the Cultural Revolution, and usually after bloody clashes backed by the military, all 29 provincial-level governments at the time had been replaced by revolutionary committees, with bureaucrats holding only a third of the seats.

Many political scholars have argued that the composition of the committees, where rebels held around half the seats, caused perpetual political instability. But Li disagreed.

“Representatives of the people, military, all had authority,” he said. “Representatives of cadres were endorsed by all. We supervised each other. What about now? The cadres are so paternal.”

Despite the fact that none of the committees were elected, Li, who calls himself a “dissident” who believes in democracy and freedom of speech, argued that they provided more checks and balances.

“In our revolutionary committee, we spoke what was on our minds … when we didn’t agree, we stood by our own opinions,” he said. “I think that should be the normal atmosphere. The different opinions themselves showcase supervision.

“Now the government just cooks up pretexts used to maintain political stability. There’s a complete lack of freedom of speech.”

China in the Mao era also struck Li as a much fairer society, where the most skilful technicians earned more than the factory director. “Deng said let some people get rich first,” he said. “It turned out to be letting the cadres get rich first.”

Some younger supporters of the Cultural revolution are attracted by the idealism of a movement they never experienced.

Li Beifang, 38, who holds a master’s degree in anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science, is considered a leading Maoist intellectual born in the post-Mao era.

Born two years after the Cultural Revolution ended following Mao’s death, and in the same year the Communist Party kicked off market reform and opening up to foreign investment, Li became a leftist while studying at Peking University.

“I realised that what’s more important than knowledge is stance and affection. Who do you place your heart closer to? The powerful and the rich, or the bullied and compromised people?” he wrote of his reasons for becoming a Maoist in a preface to a book published last year.

Like many supporters of Mao and his political teachings, Li Beifang applauded the Cultural Revolution as Mao’s attempt to create an egalitarian utopia….

“Without such an attempt, the human race’s imagination about future forms of society will be exhausted, “ Li Beifang said of the Cultural Revolution in a panel discussion in Beijing in August. “Yes, it was aimed at a utopia and its failure was no surprise. But how could the human race not have a utopia … [we] would lose direction of where to go and end up trapped in nihilism.”

Li Beifang said a vacuum of belief was to blame for widespread materialism in China, another common belief among Maoists.

“After the Cultural Revolution ended, the mental vacuity made problems generated by reform and opening up even worse,” he said, adding that the Cultural Revolution was not successful because it harmed the interests of too many senior cadres.

Li Beifang declined an interview request, citing the sensitivity of discussing the topic with media outside of mainland China.

His nostalgia for utopian Maoism is shared by Zhou Jiayu, 71, a former Red Guard leader in Chongqing who once rose to the top leadership in Sichuan province.

“Like the Paris Commune, it failed and its spirit will always be there,” Zhou said. “The spirit of the Cultural Revolution is rebelling and revolutionising towards inequality and injustice. I miss the unsparing dedication to the revolution. I miss the equality and fraternity between people.”

Each Ching Ming grave-sweeping festival, Zhou visits a cemetery where some 400 Red Guards from his faction are buried. “They gave their lives for their beliefs. They had a sublime goal,” he said. “Before they were hit, they were all chanting slogans like ‘Long live chairman Mao, long live the Cultural Revolution’.”

As Mao wrote in a poem “We’ll return amid triumphant songs and laughter”.

Notes on Trump 25

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:

https://apnews.com/df7f515f065e41aa87d21236bb780ce1

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.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/03/14/trump-is-taking-foreign-policy-into-his-own-hands-will-congress-respond/

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.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/03/12/9-things-trump-should-do-before-he-meets-with-kim-jong-un/

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.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/23/17013730/conor-lamb-rick-saccone-pennsylvania-special-election

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:

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/12/trump-tpp-trade-pact-519128

His new cable TV economic advisor saying China tariffs may not actually happen:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trumps-new-economic-adviser-says-its-possible-china-tariffs-wont-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:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/03/25/trump-china-tariffs-make-sense-editorials-debates/450914002/

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:

https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2018/03/understanding_the_strategy_behind_president_trumps_twitter_slam_of_ag_sessions.html

“…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.
Consider:

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[.]) …

[lots omitted]”

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.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/14/trump-polling-democrats-republicans-407315

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.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/trump-bounceback/553337/

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:

http://news.gallup.com/poll/203198/presidential-approval-ratings-donald-trump.aspx

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.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/prez_track_feb23

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.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/23/donald-trumps-approval-rating-rises-50-per-cent/

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:

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/trump_approval_index_history

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:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/record-gop-congressional-retirements-2018-midterms-loom/story?id=54017010

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:

https://democrats-intelligence.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=358

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:

https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2018/visualising-mueller-investigation/

https://www.aljazeera.com/topics/spotlight/mueller-probe.html

7. CNN explains that Trump is a lying demagogue. Seems accurate enough. But only talking to people who already knew that.

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/06/politics/donald-trump-immigration-politics/index.html

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.

http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/381593-when-will-the-media-accept-that-trump-is-not-a-criminal-target

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:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/commentary-what-if-trump-is-right-and-there-is-no-collusion/

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.

http://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/381201-juan-williams-gop-fears-anti-trump-wave

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:

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/could-the-us-midterm-elections-break-trump-s-presidency

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.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/03/25/former-bank-england-guru-warns-trumps-economic-madness-will/

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.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/03/trump-obama-omnibus-spending-budget/556436/

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:

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/380154-trump-i-need-allies-in-congress

11. A reasonably objective summary of the Stormy Daniels saga:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/03/25/stormy-daniels-donald-trump-60-minutes-death-shame-column/457264002/

A more typical example of the attempts to explain to jaded cynics that it is really all about abuse of power:

https://www.vox.com/2018/3/25/17162622/stormy-daniels-60-minutes-michael-avenatti-abuse-power-bullying

and of course, not prurient interest but concern that the POTUS could be blackmailed by a foreign intelligence service.

https://www.vox.com/2018/3/25/17162750/stormy-daniels-foreign-blackmail-60-minutes-anderson-cooper-donald-trump

Short response from Trump supporters in Boston Herald:

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/howie_carr/2018/03/carr_stormy_sex_reveal_doesn_t_matter_to_trump_supporters

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:

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/25/kaine-boltonsecurity-clearance-russia-483912

Masses more windows still open but I had better post this now.