Notes on Trump 37 – midterms almost over

For what it is worth I still assume most pundits are right in guessing slightly increased and more Trumpist majority in Senate and small Democrat majority in House.

But “small” is really too close to call either way for House.

Daily voter approval polls currently fluctuating around 50% for and against Trump:

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

I would have expected both sides to try harder to avoid having majority in House.

Cannot tell whether Democrat pathetic campaign is intentional or they just cannot help themselves.

GOP focus is on Senate but they could still end up with another 2 years of majority in both houses plus Supreme Court and President. That would make it harder in 2020 to blame Democrats for Trump not having achieved much.

Trump doesn’t seem able to focus hard on losing while Democrats can do that by instinct. Though he has managed to not say as much about economy as he would if he actually WANTED more GOP and less Democrats in House because he does need the opposite for ease of pre-2020 deficits infrastructure spending and healthcare plus still being able to rant about building wall and he DOES know it. Just cannot put his heart and soul into losing.

Meanwhile John Stewart has some sound advice for liberal journos, but they don’t seem capable of getting it, let alone acting onn it:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/31/media/jon-stewart-christiane-amanpour-interview/index.html

What’s DNA got to do with it? Senator Warren, tribalism and opposing the politics of ‘volk’…

US Democrat Senator, Elizabeth Warren, seems to think she has scored some kind of point against Trump by proving in a DNA test that she might have 1/64th or 1,024th Native American ancestry going back six to ten generations.  All she has achieved is making the Democrats look even sillier than they have thus far in taking every morsel of Trump bait in the absence of alternative practicable policies.

Something else she achieved was condemnation from the Cherokee Nation whose spokesman rightly saw the claim as patronizing.

But, really, for heaven’s sake, what does it matter? Has our political culture moved so far to the Right that it is now acceptable to believe that DNA is connected to culture? That one’s ‘race’ or ethnicity influences, in some organic way, one’s outlook? That there is a ‘white outlook’ and a ‘black outlook’? Etc. Etc.

I expect this when it comes from the racialist overt Right – like the Hansonites in Australia and ‘Proud Boys’ in the US – but it is just crazy when it comes from people who identify as being on the left. A core left-wing belief for at least 170 years has always been that humanity rises above the volk, and it is our common humanity that matters.

The left that I joined back in the Sixties argued that we were all one, ‘coloured’ and ‘white’ together, with a common class enemy, and that all outlooks are stamped with the brand of a class as the overriding factor, not by the brand of skin tone.

* * * *

Some comments on the above from comrades:

‘I was glad to see the Indian response was to tell Warren to go forth and multiply.
‘The disturbing and deeply reactionary undercurrent to all this is the defacto valorizing of and return to tribalism. My guess with the Cherokee position is that tribalism is a place we have come from – the Toronto piece was pretty explicit with this, speaking of Indigenous peoples as opposed to this or that tribe – not a place we wish to simply return to. Part of the synthesizing journey is to take pride in where you have come from, in other words. The current fetish with identity stuff promotes a stepping back. In the very old and tribal days other tribes people were regarded with mistrust and as not really human, meaning ‘not like us’ and were devalued accordingly. There are parts of Jared Diamond’s The World Until Yesterday, describing his lengthy contact with remotely located hill tribes in New Guinea where he describes precisely this. And I seem to have heard of a time in the 30’s and 40’s of last century when identity politics became a big ‘thing for some Ayran mob…
‘Warren is an opportunist joke. What she is appealing to is as reactionary as all blazes’.
****
‘I agree but think the point is that the Democrats like the ALP are not left. Not sure if we can rescue the “left” or socialism and I prefer to focus on the ideas and drop the labels. The democrats are right wing but it doesn’t matter just that their policies, ideas are wrong and so are the Republicans. They represent the same people and want to focus on the real difference between them, their personalities. Think most people want change and unfortunately there seems no alternative.
‘Am not sure if they are taking the Trump bait or whether Trump is aware they have no option. They cant debate policy as most of their members have the same policies’.
****

‘The Wall Street Journal had an article pointing out that millions of American whites have a speck of African or Indian. So we are all oppressed minorities now.

‘I haven’t really been following “identity politics” closely, so I can’t say too much. It seems hard to counter without being given a nasty label.  And the right is having a field day. Great for class unity, not’.

****

 

 

 

 

Notes on Trump 36 – media gives up?

On Thursday, like many other days, President Donald Trump boarded the presidential plane Air Force One. But eagle-eyed onlookers noticed something unusual was tagging along for the ride: a bit of paper stuck to the president’s left shoe.

The gaffe occurred during the president’s trip to Minnesota where he held a rally in Rochester on Thursday calling upon his supporters to reject what he called Democratic attempts to “destroy” his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

In the video, which has been widely shared on social media, Trump exits his vehicle and makes it all the way to the top of the steps, paper in tow. After he turns to wave and enters the plane, the piece of paper is dislodged.

Trump is soon followed by four men in suits, the last of whom actually bends down to pick up the paper.

The faux pas has sparked speculation about what exactly was stuck to Trump’s shoe. Many Twitter users wondered why none of his staff alerted him to the issue.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/10/05/trump-air-force-one-paper-stuck-shoe/1534322002/

Perhaps this is a reporter’s rebellion against being assigned to report twittering?

Or perhaps they have figured out that they will actually be even worse off if Democrats win the House in mid-terms than the mere catastrophe of Trump pressing home victory. It the sort of “gaffe” and “faux pas” and “speculation” that one might write about if ordered to actively campaign for liberals to stay home in despair.

That does seem to be the message from CNN:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/06/politics/donald-trump-presidency-supreme-court-economy/index.html

But it its hard to believe anybody could coordinate a campaign to cover this “news” about a piece of paper stuck to a shoe that would include:

WAPO:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/05/trump-toilet-paper-video-president-boards-air-force-one-with-what-appears-be-toilet-paper-stuck-shoe/?utm_term=.55e9e12392bc

Trump boards Air Force One with toilet paper in tow. (Or was it a napkin?)

October 5 at 9:32 AM

“Excuse me, Mr. President, I believe you have some toilet paper stuck to your shoe” — said no one.

Alas, President Trump made an embarrassing climb into Air Force One on Thursday with what appeared to be some sort of paper product attached to the bottom of his shoe.

Video showed him step out of a limousine in front of the aircraft at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and start up the staircase with a couple squares of toilet paper or, perhaps, a napkin, billowing in the wind with each step. What about the dozen or so people surrounding him? (Bueller? . . . Bueller?)

As he reached the top, the president — seemingly oblivious — turned around and waved goodbye.

Historically, toilet paper and shoes have gone together much like humiliating faux pas and deep, tear-inducing belly laughter.

Those who had the privilege to see it happen — either live or later on while watching videos on social media — couldn’t help but share it.

CNN political commentator Ana Navarro posted a clip on social media. “Starting the day with a little comic relief,” she wroteFriday on Twitter.

… [yes there’s more]

Here’s the worldwide “related coverage”.

I haven’t read any more of the first one hundred stories but its well worth scanning the headlines to get a sense of the collapse.

My guess is they really have just given up.

Meanwhile it seems the West has also given up on dealing with the rather serious issue of the Russian state use of novichok.

I wrote here earlier:

If, as is plausible, somebody with access to illegal Russian stockpiles did this without authority one would expect the Russian government to try to evade responsibility while being extremely cooperative and anxious to help establish the facts so as to ensure any culprits were found and stopped from seriously damaging Russian as well as other interests.

Instead Russia is churning out the usual stuff from Sputnik and threatening retaliation.

If that is the result of ineptitude on the part of both the British and Russian governments that is not terribly unusual.

But there is the other alternative that the Russians were deliberately testing Western responses. So far those responses are completely inadequate if based on a firm conclusion that the Russian government is either complicit in testing Western responses or unable to control its security personnel who decide to do so without authority.

I also wrote here:

The latest reports suggest that Western governments are comfortable with merely mocking the bumbling incompetence of GRU clowns:

https://www.economist.com/europe/2018/10/04/the-west-indicts-the-gru

I feel rather less comfortable about the Russian State not being able to manage its own agencies that are equipped with nerve agents.

If they weren’t clowns they would know how to remotely monitor WiFi networks instead of sitting in a car with the equipment

While enjoying the collapse of mainstream politics I would have thought there would be some insistence that the clowns with nerve gas be dealt with rather than ridiculed. Is nobody functioniing?

Notes on Trump 35 – Democrats brilliant #MeToo wins over Never Trumpers…

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/never-trumpers-unite-to-back-trumps-battle-for-kavanaugh

Wins them over to Trump of course.

Despicable Democrat treatment of GOP establishment judicial nominee has convinced important never Trumpers to back Trump for 2020.

Looks like there won’t be much of a split in GOP, while a Democrat majority in House will be split with culture wars while also passing huge deficits, infrastructure, health care, protectionism etc together with Trumpists against any remaining GOP rump.

On the other hand its getting so bad Rasmussen polls currently give Trump 50% approval so there is some risk he will be stuck with a GOP majority in House if Democrats enthusiasm for grotesque stupidity wanes and they don’t turn out as previously expected.

My guess is he’ll have to go all out on fresh outrages to ensure enough Democrats do turn out for mid-terms.

Could be a fascinating month.

Notes on Trump 34 – Reality TV

1. I take some comfort in this New York Times piece on “Why Trump Will Win a Second Term”:

It worries me that I spend so much time scanning Trump news items. But at least I don’t watch TV at all nor browse social media.

When I did catch occasional TV I found “Reality” shows especially repulsive – like twitter a reminder of how capitalist culture keeps the masses backward.

NYT confirms my view that Trump’s political skills are closely related to his skills as a reality TV “celebrity” (though they don’t mention the “professional wrestler” element or the related skillful trolling because naturally they cannot analyse his main success in encouraging the splodey heads to splode).

According to the article prime time TV audiences have doubled and at least the chattering classes are glued to the Trump reality TV show while others are inclined to vote for him as entertaining.

It would be quite impossible to analyse political developments while glued to prime time TV.

2. Recent themes from the splodey heads have wandered around more than usual, with “explosive” revelations of Stormy Daniels opinions on Trump’s genitalia, transparently vicious #MeToo maneuvers against a Supreme Court judge (with a never-Trump GOP Senator Flake achieving a brilliant own goal by forcing an FBI investigation) and endless snark about Trump being a laughing stock at the UN.

This report from “The Atlantic” seems more accurate on that last point:

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/trump-united-nations-world/571642/

As for the rest of the article it takes comfort that other nations are not inclined to actually support Trumpist anti-globalism but does not discuss the likelihood that any plausible Democrat successor to Trump will reinforce populist isolationism and protectionism.

The blind spot is highlighted in this:

The leader of a self-styled nation of immigrants had argued that the “only long-term solution to the migration crisis” is to make the countries that migrants are leaving “great again.”

That argument is self-evidently absurd to the writer. But for revolutionary internationalists solidarity with migrants is part of solidarity against the regimes whose countries are being held back and driving people to leave. We are for a world of open borders with people moving freely not being pushed out of their homes by stagnation and oppression. “Great Again” doesn’t cover it. But a long term solution very clearly does require active and indeed revolutionary measures to fix the countries that are driving people out.

3. As for the own goal there isn’t much doubt that Democrats deliberately leaked allegations at last minute to optimize chances of impacting the mid-terms (not as reported in hope of having a Senate majority after mid-terms, which is still unlikely). Here’s a hint on possible consequences of having demanded FBI involvement:

https://nypost.com/2018/09/29/trump-says-fbi-probe-into-kavanaugh-is-a-blessing-in-disguise/

Whether or not it pans out, there is clearly nobody who can think tactically, let alone strategically in a position to stop Democrats flailing around and doing whatever best suits Trump. Bill Maher’s insistence on Trump being a moron in Steve Bannon video clip confirms they aren’t able to even wrap their minds around the concept that they are being played.

4. Steve Bannon says Stormy Trump’s self-promoting lawyer could be an effective Democrat candidate fighting Trump.

WAPO intruigued.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/29/steve-bannon-thinks-michael-avenatti-could-be-threat-trump-avenatti-thinks-so-too/?utm_term=.42d514e34b56

The video clip of Steve Bannon vs Bill Maher is interesting for far more than that.

Notes on Trump 33 – even Vox starts to catch on

How Trump could win in 2020

What if President Trump did popular stuff on policy?

In particular, what if Democrats do well in the midterms and take the House and start passing bills, and then Trump takes their most popular ideas and agrees with them? Or at least with watered-down versions of them?

So maybe Trump signs a bill to hike the minimum wage to $12 an hour, a deficit-financed surge in infrastructure spending, some version of a DREAM Act paired to wall funding, and maybe even something like the Manchin-Toomey background check bill.

Up until now, Trump has governed like a very hardline conservative except on trade. But except for authoritarian views on immigration and crime, Trump doesn’t have any personal history of consistency as a conservative. And even during his 2016 campaign, he put forth a much more eclectic, heterodox version of himself than how he’s governed.

Of course, maybe that won’t change no matter what happens in 2018. Maybe he’s a true prisoner of the conservative movement. Maybe he’s always harbored Heritage Foundation sympathies and they are just now blooming. But I think a reasonable person should have some humility about his ability to foresee the future and admit that this bipartisan, populist Trump is at least a possibility.

Trump’s path to victory

One immediate consequence of this would be that it would give guys like Ben Sasse and Mike Lee, who sometimes like to position themselves as more high-minded than Trump, the opportunity to actually vote against the president sometimes. Any Trump-Pelosi deal could easily weather a dozen or so defections from the right that would allow that crew to own the brand of “true conservatives” without needing to do anything to check Trump’s corruption or authoritarianism.

Conversely, it would greatly empower the left of the Democratic Party because it would cost more moderate factions their resistance branding.

Trump’s electoral base wouldn’t mind a handful of ideological betrayals since rank-and-file Republicans are really here for the culture war stuff and not for the concrete policy anyway. So Trump would enter the 2020 campaign with his base intact but also with the brand as a freethinking moderate who’s at odds with the right wing of congressional Republicans. Democrats would end up nominating someone with a relatively extreme rejectionist profile, and Trump would be in a good position to improve his approval ratings and get reelected.

Think of it as basically a rerun of Bill Clinton in 1995-’96 with “triangulation.”

Now, of course, there are other historical models. Richard Nixon signed a lot of moderately progressive legislation to try to salvage his presidency, and it didn’t work. And the fairly productive Bush-Pelosi 110th Congress didn’t restore the GOP’s popularity.

Anyway, who knows? But I think the odds of a Trump rebound are underrated.

This is an abbreviated web version of The Weeds newsletter, a limited-run newsletter through Election Day, that dissects what’s really at stake in the 2018 midterms. Sign up to get the full Weeds newsletter from Matt Yglesias, plus more charts, tweets, and email-only content.

https://www.vox.com/2018/9/26/17905752/trump-2020-strategy

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.