Notes on Trump 32 – liberal implosion escalates all the way

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/09/14/nevada-professor-shoots-self-trump-protest/1300536002/

A college professor is facing felony charges after shooting himself on a Nevada campus last month in what police say he claimed was a protest of President Donald Trump,the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Sociology professor Mark J. Bird, 69, was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound outside a bathroom at the College of Southern Nevada, where he has taught since 1993. He was charged with discharging a gun within a prohibited structure, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and possessing a dangerous weapon on school property, according to the Review-Journal.

A student saw a wounded Bird stumble out of the bathroom after 8 a.m. on Aug. 28, before collapsing, according to a police report obtained by the Review-Journal. As witnesses worked to calm Bird and stop the bleeding, he said he had shot himself in protest of Trump.

Inside the bathroom, campus police found a $100 bill taped to a mirror with a note reading, “For the janitor,” the report said. On the floor were a .22-caliber handgun and a spent shell casing.

Notes on Trump 31

NYT’s anonymous op-ed from a “senior official” who supports the GOP resistance looks genuine and actually significant unlike most Trump news.

Reason has a plausible perspective.

https://reason.com/blog/2018/09/05/anonymous-tell-alls-in-the-new-york-time

They link to Gallup confirming significant decline in support for both parties to a little over one quarter each, with significant increase in independents to over 40%.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/15370/party-affiliation.aspx

My own take on the significance of the “deep state” oped is that it confirms collapse of the GOP. With this sort of “unsung hero” singing praises to themselves it is unclear that the globalist rump could even manage a split, so Trumpists will remain dominant.

I haven’t got time to look at the latest Woodward book with similar theme but it seems plausible that the oped writer would have been a major source for the same theme in that book and will shortly be dramatically resigning. Reactions to that should give a better picture of the real significance.

Notes on Trump 30 – Alternative Math

Ok I give up. I was so struck by this video that I looked up the studio:

https://ideamanstudios.com/about-us/our-work/

It is as subtle as a brick, but clearly plays from a teacher perspective to both sides of the current culture wars.

The parents are a liberal’s stereo type of Trumpist science denying authoritarian beleivers in “alternative facts” supported by a school board that is a Trumpist stereotype of politically correct authoritarian libtards.

I was fascinated at the first cultural intervention I have seen that sends them both up and highlights what they have in common.

But maybe that is just me.

I now suspect that it was intended purely to send up the Trumpists and was completely oblivious to also appealing to Trumpist stereotypes about the politically correct.

Could liberal film makers really be THAT oblivious? In Texas??

What do others make of it (and of the web commentary)?

Notes on Trump 29

1. Others are starting to notice that a Democrat majority in the House of Representatives will spend the next two years pointlessly impeaching etc thus improving his chances in 2020.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/16/trump-impeachment-reelection-midterms-778968

I disagree with only the last part of the article. Trump should find it quite easy to get bipartisan results from a Congress with less Clintonite Democrats and Koch brothers Republicans than the present one. As predicted the GOP primaries have consolidated Trump’s grip while the Democrats are running “moderates” in Purple States and quite a few Sanders type social democrats in safe seats (as well as lots of noisy “identity politics” types in safe seats who will irritate everybody and ensure tactical paralysis).

Trump will find it much easier to get medicare, infrastructure spending and big deficits that he needs for re-election while still being able to rant about immigration etc.

2. Meanwhile media has convinced itself that convictions of Manafort and Cohen are massive blows against trump:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-22/donald-trump-robert-mueller-victory-might-be-tipping-point/10150984

I mean MASSIVE

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/22/politics/paul-manafort-michael-cohen-donald-trump-tick-tock/index.html

The WORST

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/21/politics/michael-cohen-plea-deal-donald-trump/index.html

Like it even eclipses Omarosa.

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.